What is the Aeneid?

The Aeneid is the final and finest poem of Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BCE), commonly known as Vergil (or Virgil, if you’re so inclined). An epic in twelve books, it chronicles the quest of Trojan refugee Aeneas to found a new home for his people in Italy. This new home is the city of Lavinium, which in several generations will see the birth of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome; thus, Vergil paints Aeneas (a preexisting legendary figure) as the de facto founder of Roman civilization. The poem itself, modeled on Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, is an effort to create a nationalist founding story for Roman culture. Vergil’s patron of the arts, Maecenas, was a counselor of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor, who had recently taken power after decades of civil war. A great deal of ink has been spilled on the question of whether the poem venerates or criticizes Augustus; see here (link minus paywall) and here for further reading.

Born a peasant in the Italian countryside, Vergil in his time was seen as Rome’s greatest poet. Before the Aeneid, he penned the Eclogues, a set of ten pastoral poems, and the Georgics, a four-book pastoral poem on farming and the land. The Aeneid is his longest work, at roughly ten thousand lines, and written in dactylic hexameter. Vergil died before finishing the poem; classical tradition has it that he asked his friends to burn the unfinished work, a request they thankfully disobeyed.

More information about the historical context of the Aeneid can be found here, more information about its relation to Homeric works here and here.

What is Aeneid Daily?

In the fashion of Ovid Daily and e-pistulae, Aeneid Daily emails you Vergil’s epic in daily chunks of roughly 100 lines each. Each post will include the selected lines in English, as translated by A.S. Kline, as well as in Latin, as accessed from thelatinlibrary.com. For those new to Vergil or to classics, fear not! Explanatory footnotes and links to further reading will appear when necessary. Questions can be directed to aeneiddaily@gmail.com or the project’s blog!

The newsletter is scheduled to start on June 1st, 2023, and run until the second week of September. Subscribe for boats, battles, bleeding bushes, journeys to the Underworld, women warriors, unspecified dirty activities in a cave, arms, men, and, of course, pietas.

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arma virumque cano (the Aeneid, in short bursts, every day)


Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenope; cecini pascua, rura, duces.