The Aeneid, Books I-II
Study Questions

Book I

1. What is the role of the gods in Vergil? How do Aeolus, Juno, Neptune, Venus, and Zeus affect the action among the human characters? How do gods get other gods to do what they want? (There may be more than one possibility for each of these questions.)

2. What is the situation when the Aeneid begins? What decision or event gets the action of the Aeneid underway? What is the motivation for that decision (or event)?

3. What is Aeneas doing when we first see him in this poem? What does he do when his ships reach land? Is he a good leader?

4. How do the Trojans end up in Carthage? Was that their destination?

5. What is Jupiter's plan for the future Rome? What is Aeneas' role in founding Rome?

6. What does Aeneas learn from his talk with his mother? When does he find out she's his mother? Who did he think she was before?

7. What kind of woman is Dido? How much do we know about here before she appears? Is she a sympathetic character? Does our opinion of her change when we (and Aeneas) actually meet her?

8. Aeneas is still trying to found his own city. What is the effect on him when he sees the Carthaginians busily building their new city? What animals do they resemble? Busy beavers?

9. How dramatic is the first meeting of Dido and Aeneas? Why does she feel that she already knows him? What has she heard about him, and what has she seen?

10. Why does Venus send her grandson Ascanius to Cyprus? Just what is she plotting?

11. How complex is Book 1? How many different plot threads are started in it?

Book II

1. Why does Aeneas keep returning to battle, even when he is told not to?
To put it another way, what kind of man would he be if he had left Troy when first told to go?

2. What does Sinon say (and how) that is so persuasive? (The gods send a pair of divine snakes to eat up those who disagree with him, which obviously helps, but what about his words -- and his silences?)

3. Does Priam get his wish that Pyrrhus (= Neoptolemus) get what he deserves for slaughtering a son in front of his father? (Hint: you may have to look ahead to Book 3 to answer this.)

4. Is wearing someone else's armor a good idea? (Hint: this question will return in later books.) How about just taking it as a prize?

5. In your opinion, what was the most pathetic scene in all of Book 2? Justify your choice by distinguishing it from the numerous other pathetic scenes in the book.

6. Note the highlights of Aeneas' story of the Greek conquest of Troy. Be sure you can relate in some detail the role of Ulysses. Who was Laocoon? What happened to Priam?

7. Who were Anchises and Ascanius? How did Aeneas manage to escape Troy?