Book 1

Juno holds anger toward Aeneas, a surviving Trojan from the Trojan War who travels to Italy to establish a new home. Carthage, Juno’s favorite city, is prophesized to be destroyed by a race descended from the Trojans. On Mount Olympus, Jupiter tells Venus, Aeneas’s mother, that Aeneas will find a home in Italy and his descendants, Romulus and Remus, will establish the mightiest empire in the world. After landing in Carthage, Aeneas encounters Venus in disguise who advises Aeneas to go to the city and talk to Queen Dido.

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Book 2

Aeneas explains to Dido how the Greeks tricked the Trojans into accepting a wooden horse filled with soldiers who killed the Trojan guards and opened the gates to allow their forces to attack. The Trojans are outnumbered, and eventually, the Greeks, led by Pyrrhus, break into the palace and kill King Priam and his son Polites. Aeneas is persuaded to not kill Helen, the cause of the war, and instead to flee, but not before retrieving his father, Anchises, his wife, Creusa, and his son. Creusa gets lost and later Aeneas meets her spirit, who tells him not to mourn.

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Book 3

Aeneas continues the story of his travels after the fall of Troy by detailing how they went from Thrace to Delos, to Crete, to Strophades, where they endured a battle with the Harpies, to his encounter with Andromachë, who advised the Trojans to avoid Charybdis and Scylla. Continuing their journey, they met a Greek soldier escaping a Cyclops, and upon landing, Anchises died.

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Book 4

Dido’s love for Aeneas grows, which Juno sees as a way to keep Aeneas from going to Italy because if they marry, the Trojans and the Tyrians will be at peace, and she and Venus could end their feud. Juno casts a storm upon Aeneas and his hunting group, allowing for Aeneas and Dido to wind up in a cave, where they become lovers. Mercury reminds Aeneas that his destiny lies in Italy, and he must set sail immediately. The news of Aeneas’s imminent departure leads to Dido killing herself.

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Book 5

After landing in Eryx, where Acestes rules, Aeneas proposes eight days of sacrificial offerings and a ninth day of competitive games. Meanwhile, Juno convinces the Trojan women to burn the ships so that the men will be forced to build their new city in Sicily, and though the men stop the fire, Aeneas is shaken and seeks the guidance of Nautes, who suggests they leave some Trojans behind with Acestes. Venus begs Neptune to grant Aeneas safe passage to Italy, which he agrees to do, as long as one of the crew perish as a sacrifice.

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Book 6

After arriving in Italy and following the advice of the Sybil, Aeneas returns with a golden branch and she takes him to the gates of Dis. Aeneas goes through a sea of suffering souls, then to Dido in the Fields of Mourning, where Aeneas sheds tears for his lost love, to the field of war heroes, where he sees casualties from the Trojan War, and lastly to the place where Aeneas sees Anchises. He reveals the reason for Aeneas’s journey to the underworld: to learn of his future lineage in Italy.

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Book 7

Virgil describes the political situation in Latium, sharing how the oracle tells King Latinus that his daughter should marry a foreigner. Aeneas sends emissaries to King Latinus, requesting a share of the land for the foundation of a new city, which Latinus agrees to, suggesting that Aeneas marry his daughter Lavinia. Juno dispatches Allecto to rouse anger on the part of the natives against the Trojans, persuading Turnus to assemble his army and drive the Trojans out of Italy. They plead with King Latinus to launch an assault on the Trojans. 

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Book 8

Aeneas forges an alliance with the Arcadian King, Evander, who offers his troops to aid against their common enemy. Venus approaches her husband, Vulcan, to make Aeneas weapons and armor that will give him an advantage. Vulcan appears to Aeneas at the army camp and presents him with a new set of arms, in particular a shield that depicts the story of the Roman glory that awaits Italy. 

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Book 9

Juno’s messenger, Iris, informs Turnus that Aeneas is away from his camp, prompting Turnus to travel there. Finding no obvious weakness in the fortress, Turnus decides to make camp around it. After Turnus lights a tower on fire, the Trojans panic, but Ascanius fires an arrow through the head of a Latin captain, allowing the Trojans to attack. Turnus suppresses the Trojans’ surge, forcing them to retreat. Turnus kills many Trojans until he is outnumbered and escapes. 

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Book 10

Jupiter decrees that he will not help either side. Aeneas and the Trojans disembark on the beach. A battle between Turnus and Pallas commences, in which Turnus kills Pallas and enrages Aeneas. Terrified by the sight of Aeneas slaughtering the Latin troops, Jupiter allows Juno to spare Turnus, but Aeneas’s aggressive fighting ensures defeat for the Latin army. 

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Book 11

After the battle, Aeneas sends  Pallas’s body back to King Evander, who forgives Aeneas and wishes for the death of Turnus. Latin messengers arrive and request a twelve-day truce so that both sides may bury their dead. During a council, the Latin soldiers say they have lost the will to fight, and they encourage Turnus to fight Aeneas alone, ending the war once and for all. A messenger warns that the Trojans are marching toward the city.

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Book 12

Turnus decides to fight Aeneas alone, drawing up an appropriate treaty in the process. Juno convinces Turnus’s sister to break the treaty, leading to a fight between the Trojans and Latins, and while Aeneas tries to stop his men from fighting, he is struck by an arrow that forces him off the battlefield. Turnus lays waste to a slew of Trojan soldiers. When Aeneas returns, he leads soldiers into the city, where Queen Amata hangs herself. Juno consents to abandon her grudge against Aeneas if the Trojans take on the name and language of the Latins. Aeneas sees Pallas’s belt tied around Turnus’s shoulder, and in Pallas’s name, Aeneas kills Turnus.

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