Virgil's Aeneid

A brief summary and guide

Translations of books 1,2,4 & 6 are available on the site.

Book 1

In Aeneid Book 1, Aeneas is shipwrecked on the coast of North Africa, near where Dido, the young Phoenician queen - herself a refugee from her homeland - is building a city which will become Carthage. Aeneas, who had escaped death when Troy fell to the Greeks, has been wandering in search of a new land in the west, where it has been prophesied he shall establish a race whose destiny is to rule the world in peace and prosperity. The people are the Romans, and Aeneas' mission comes from Jupiter, king of gods and men. Unfortunately, Juno, queen of heaven, is set on thwarting Aeneas - because she knows that Rome is destined to destroy Carthage, her own favorite city. But it is inevitable that Aeneas and Dido meet - and she falls hopelessly in love.

Now read my own new translation of Aeneid Book 1. To help further, there are 'magic' notes: move your mouse over the text, and notes will appear automatically. All the themes of the Aeneid are first developed in Book 1 - it's quite hard to understand Book 2, or Book 4, without reading this one first.


Aeneid 1

Book 2

Book 2 begins with Dido begging Aeneas to tell her his story. She falls more deeply in love with him as he warms to the tale. He begins with the building of the Wooden Horse, and shows the Trojans' agony at the destruction of their home and way of life. As yet he does not fully comprehend the gods - why have they allowed Troy to be destroyed? Why won't they let him die fighting gloriously for his land like any other hero? Only when the ghost of his wife Creüsa (who'd somehow disappeared in the rush to leave) tells him about a western land where he is destined to find a new bride, does he begin to have a faint glimmer of understanding of what the gods have in store for him. He does not yet know that the sack of Troy was to be the beginning of his troubles ...

You may now read the story of the brutal sack of Troy in full, with Aeneas' tragic adventures, in my own new translation. To help further, there are hypertext notes - just click on anything for information to appear instantly!


This translation was used in a broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in July 2002, to accompany The Trojans by Berlioz

Aeneid 2

Book 3

In Book 3, Aeneas carries on telling Dido about his adventures - his fruitless search for his promised land all over the Mediterranean. In Sicily his beloved father Anchises had died - but the rest of the party were soon on route for Italy, when Juno's storm brought them to Carthage instead.

Book 4

Book 4 takes up the story of Dido's deepening love for Aeneas from Book 1. She had sworn never to get involved with a man again, after the murder of her husband. But there is something about Aeneas...

You may now read a close translation of the main episodes in Book 4


Aeneid 4

Book 5

Meanwhile, in Book 5, Aeneas has returned to Sicily - where he celebrates the anniversary of his father's death with games. But Juno takes the opportunity to strike - she makes the women set fire to the ships. Most of the ships are saved, but Aeneas decides to press on to Italy with a leaner force, leaving those without the relish for further fighting behind in Sicily. At last he reaches Italy ...

Book 6

Book 6 begins here ...

You may now read the story of Aeneas' visit to the Underworld. You can read the whole story in translation, or in the original Latin - or you can switch easily between the two. If you want to try the Latin, there is a full vocabulary on the page - just scroll to the right place. There are also hypertext notes. This is a true electronic text, with text, vocabulary and notes all visible on the page and accessible instantly, and a translation as well if you need it!

Aeneid 6

Book 7

In Book 7, Aeneas finally reaches Italy - where he's welcomed by king Latinus. Latinus had a beautiful daughter, Lavinia - and there was a prophecy that she should marry a foreigner. So he at once offered her to Aeneas, angering his wife Amata. But she already had a suitor, Turnus of the Rutulians. Juno stirs up war betweeen them and the Trojans.

Book 8

Book 8. Aeneas is reluctant to fight his new hosts, but is promised help by Evander, a Greek whose capital is on the future site of Rome. Venus asks Vulcan for new armour for her son for the coming battles. The shield is decorated with scenes from the future history of Rome, right down to the Battle of Actium, where Augustus had recently defeated Antony and Cleopatra.

Book 9

Book 9 takes place while Aeneas is away. Turnus blockades the Trojan camp, but Nisus and Euryalus are killed trying to take the news to Aeneas. Iulus, Aeneas' son thwarts Turnus' bid to capture the camp.

Book 10

In Book 10 Aeneas returns, with his new allies, Pallas, young son of Evander and an Etruscan contingent. He wins a great victory over Turnus, but Pallas is killed.

Book 11

Book 11 opens with celebration and mourning, for the young hero Aeneas had promised his father he would protect. It's decided to settle the quarrel with single combat between Aeneas and Turnus, but fighting breaks out, in which Turnus' ally the Volscian warrior princess Camilla is killed.

Book 12

Book 12. Turnus and Aeneas are ready for their duel, but it is again interrupted, when Juturna, Turnus' sister, stirs up the Rutulians. Aeneas is wounded in the fighting, but healed by his mother. The Trojans take the unguarded city of Latinus, and Amata kills herself. Turnus returns and faces Aeneas at last. He is wounded, but Aeneas intends to spare his life, until he sees the spoils from Pallas that he is wearing. Aeneas in rage buries his sword in Turnus' body.