Virgil, Aeneid (Book VI)



This unit has four main aims:

  1. To extend your ability to read, understand and translate accurately and fluently into idiomatic English a major example of Latin epic poetry;
  2. To develop an insight into the attitudes and literary techniques of a Roman epic writer whom Tennyson described as "wielder of the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man";
  3. To provide an understanding of the literary, mythological and historical references encountered in the text prescribed;
  4. To identify key elements of grammar and syntax encountered in the text prescribed, comparing and contrasting them with the usage of orthodox Classical prose.


We assume for the purposes of this programme that you have access to R. G. Austin's annotated edition of Vergil, Aeneid, Book Six (Oxford University Press, 1977).

It is important that you do everything you can through your own efforts with a particular portion of text before reading the relevant notes and translation: try it as a piece of unseen translation, write up unknown vocabulary and jot down your own thoughts about what you have read. What follows is not intended to provide a solution to problems of which you are as yet unaware and which you yourself have not yet tackled, but rather to guide, confirm, correct and supplement your own enterprise. The programme contains many notes on grammar and syntax to help your understanding of the text. A minority of these, which appear in red, are significant enough to be regarded as fair game for an examination question.

You will find it helpful to begin by reading:
(a) the article on Vergil in The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford, 3rd edition, 1996), pp. 1602-1607;
(b) the article on epic in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (Oxford, 2nd edition, 1997), pp. 213-214, particularly the first paragraph and the section on Roman epic.


In the notes below references will be made to the following works by the abbreviations given in brackets:

Barrett, D. S. Greek and Roman Coins in the University of Queensland (2nd edn, 1982) (GRC)
Chevalier, J. & Gheerbrant, A., tr. Buchanan-Brown, J. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (1996) (PDS)
Cooper, C. G. An Introduction to the Latin Hexameter (1952) (ILH)
Cooper, C. G. Journey to Hesperia: Scenes from the First Six Books of Vergil's Aeneid (2nd edn, 1965) (JH)
Cuddon, J. A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (3rd edn, 1992) (PDLT)
Fletcher, F., ed. Virgil, Aeneid VI (1941) (Fletcher)
Fowler, H. W. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1937) (MEU)
Gildersleeve, B. L. & Lodge, G. Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar (3rd edn, 1943) (GL)
Graves, Robert. Greek Myths (4th edn, 1969) (Graves)
Hornblower, Simon & Spaworth, Anthony, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn, 1996) (OCD)
Howatson, M. C., ed. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (2nd edn, 1997) (OCCL)
Kennedy, B. H., rev. Mountford, J. The Revised Latin Primer (1958) (KMP)
Lempriere, J. A Classical Dictionary (n.d.) (Lempriere)
Lewis, C. T. & Short, C. A Latin Dictionary (1879) (Lewis & Short)
Mountford, J. F., ed. 'Bradley's Arnold' Latin Prose Composition (1938) (MBA)
Oxford Latin Dictionary (1968-1982) (OLD)
Palmer, L. R. The Latin Language (3rd edn, 1961)
Quinn, K., ed. Virgil's Aeneid: A Critical Description (1968) (Quinn)
Ramsay, W., rev. Lanciani, R. A Manual of Roman Antiquities (18th edn, 1894) (RL)
Stevenson, Seth W. A Dictionary of Roman Coins (1889, reprinted 1964) (Stevenson)
Woodcock, E. C. A New Latin Syntax (1959) (Woodcock)