Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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The Aeneid

The Aeneid

Analysis

The Aeneid as Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: The Quest Plot

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type :

The Call

In the flashback narratives of Books 2 and 3 (Book 1 doesn't really count here; it's more like a prelude to the flashback), Aeneas receives various messages from the gods telling him he has to go found a new city.

Aeneas's home city is destroyed in flames, and he has no future there. The only way he can do good for himself, his descendants, and his people, is by hitting the road.

The Journey

Aeneas's journeys beginning in Book 3, continuing through his affair with Dido in Book 4, his stay in Sicily in Book 5, and his descent to the underworld in Book 6.

Throughout all of these books, Aeneas has to overcome various challenges that threaten to derail him on his quest. This leads up to the ultimate challenge of going down to the underworld, which only ends up making him more gung-ho about finishing what he's started.

Arrival and Frustration

Aeneas's arrival in Latium in Book 7 and the eruption of war in that book and in Book 8.

Just when Aeneas thinks he's home free, he learns he'll have to meet one final challenge – war against the Italians – before he can claim the kingdom promised to him by the gods.

The Final Ordeals

Aeneas's journey to the Arcadians in Book 8, his battles against the Italians in Books 9, 10, 11, and 12.

The challenge of warfare becomes a reality in these books. Aeneas has to endure the pain of seeing Pallas, whom he had taken into his care, die at the hands of Turnus.

The Goal

Aeneas kills Turnus; alternatively, we never see the goal.

By killing Turnus, Aeneas has surmounted the final challenge. That said, it's a pretty abrupt and brutal end to the adventures we've been following up to this point. We're expecting to see a scene of reconciliation – say, Aeneas and Lavinia getting hitched – but Virgil doesn't take us there. Thus the poem ends on a note of uncertainty.

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