Teaching The Aeneid
Shmoop sings of arms and of a man.
The Aeneid is a tough text to crack, even when it's already been translated into English. With our handy dandy teaching guide, there's no need for gods to intervene to get things going in the classroom.
In this guide you will find
- an activity mapping Aeneas' journey.
- an after-the-journey activity to decide if Aeneas is a good hero after all.
- modern pop culture connections to Monty Python and Battlestar Galactica.
Shmoop favors the brave, and we have your back in this battle.
What's Inside Shmoop's Literature Teaching Guides
Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring literature to life.
Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:
- 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students.
- Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
- Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
- Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
- A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.
Instructions for You
Objective: Students will map the general wanderings of Aeneas and his crew to gain a better sense of place and history while reading the Aeneid. They will also track place names and allusions within epic similes and obtain images of these place, so that they can see the parallel that Virgil meant to draw for his readers.
This assignment may be done in stages (at the end of each book), or as a more global project, after the entire work has been read. If a one-time activity, this project should last approximately two to three class periods.
- Computers with access to the internet
- Google Earth software (free download available here)
Step 1: As your students begin reading the Aeneid, ask them to track place names, especially as they occur in similes. Simply using Post-it tabs to mark the place in the text will work best, since it allows immediate reference and full context.
Step 2: Once the students have gathered place names/similes, let them work in groups of two or three to locate and visualize each place on Google Earth. You have some options when assigning tasks to each group:
- If the entire work has been read, each group might be responsible for tracking place names in one book of the Aeneid and creating a map for it.
- If this is an ongoing assignment, each group can be responsible for tracking the place names in one section/simile and creating an individual map for it.
Step 3: Have each group begin by visiting Google Lit Trips Downloads in order to download the general map for the Aeneid. Once they have the map of Aeneas's journeys open, they can locate the place names specific to their book or section, "stick a pin" in the map, and label it accordingly.
Step 4: Ask students to zoom into each place as close as they can so that they can see the topography of the land. Allow them time to explore the area as much as they can and then to analyze the text of the simile or passage in which the place name appears. Ask them to note: How does the reference to place help readers understand the text?
Step 5: Allow time for each group to share what they have found with the class as a whole. Discuss how the place references might help a reader visualize the setting and also understand more abstract ideas.
(California English Language Arts Standards Met: Grades 9 & 10 Writing 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 2.6; Reading 3.7, 3.8, 3.12. Grades 11 & 12: Reading 2.2, 2.5, 3.0, 3.2, 3.4, 3.7.)
Instructions for Your Students
After setting out from Troy (which is in modern Turkey), Aeneas's fleet ricochets like a pinball off the major landmarks of the Ancient Mediterranean: Thrace, the Greek islands, Crete, Epirus, Sicily, North Africa, and finally Italy. (Who's operating the paddles of this pinball machine? The gods, of course.) In this activity, you'll be mapping the wanderings of Aeneas and his crew to gain a better sense of place and history while reading the Aeneid. You will also track place names and allusions within epic similes and obtain images of these places, so that you can visualize the parallel that Virgil meant to draw for his readers.
Step 1: While you are reading the Aeneid, keep track of the place names that pop up, especially as they occur in similes. Simply using Post-it tabs to mark the place in your book will work best.
Step 2: Once you've gathered your place name references, work with your group to locate and explore each place on Google Earth. Start by going to Google Lit Trips to download a general map of Aeneas's journey.
Step 3: With this map open, locate the place names specific to your assigned section of the Aeneid, "stick a pin" in the map, and label each place accordingly (use the book and line numbers to label). Zoom in as close as you can get to each place and explore the topography of the land.
Step 4: Look at the text associated with each place. Make notes about how seeing the places themselves might help you understand the passage or simile it was in. Be prepared to share your map and other findings with the class.
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Common Core Standards
The following standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4