The Aeneid
The Aeneid
by Virgil

The Aeneid Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Fate and Free Will

The theme of Fate is hugely important in the Aeneid. Heck, it seems like every five minutes we're being reminded that the Trojans are going to found a new city in Italy. When we see the souls of fu...

Power

Virgil wrote the Aeneid during a period when Roman territory had just experienced significant expansion, first under Julius Caesar, and then, more recently, under Caesar Augustus (a.k.a. Octavian),...

Love

The Aeneid is deeply respectful of love – a respect shading into fear. That is because it recognizes that love is an extremely powerful, and unpredictable, force. From the very first moments...

Warfare

In his transition from the first half of the Aeneid, which is mostly about travel and adventures, to the second half, which is mostly about war, Virgil announces that "A greater history opens befor...

Duty

In the Aeneid, the themes of Duty, Religion, and Family are very closely intertwined. The nexus of all these ideas comes in the epithet "pius," by which Virgil regularly refers to Aeneas. Although...

Mortality

To understand the Aeneid's take on the theme of mortality, its useful to compare its view with that of the epic poems of Homer, from which Virgil took so many of his ideas. In Homer's Iliad and Ody...

Religion

As already noted under the theme of Duty, religion for the Romans was very tied up in ideas of obligations, not only to the gods, but to one's family and nation as well. Just bear that in mind so y...

Memory and The Past

One way of thinking about the structure of the Aeneid as a whole is as divided between the first half, in which Aeneas is oriented toward the past, and the second half, in which he is oriented towa...

Family

As we've pointed out under the themes of Duty and Religion, for the Romans, family formed part of a deeply interrelated set of concepts far beyond what we experience today. For example, the Romans...

Primitiveness

Images of primitiveness in the Aeneid help to situate the action in the distant past, from the perspective of Virgil's day. You can see this most clearly in the scene where Aeneas and his men sail...

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