Why should you read Virgil’s “Aeneid”? – Mark Robinson


In 19 B.C., the Roman poet Virgil
was traveling from Greece to Rome with the emperor Augustus. On the way, he stopped to go sightseeing
in Megara, a town in Greece. Out in the sun for too long,
he suffered heatstroke and died on his journey back to Italy. On his deathbed, Virgil thought about the manuscript
he had been working on for over ten years, an epic poem that he called the “Aeneid.” Unsatisfied with the final edit,
he asked his friends to burn it, but they refused, and soon after Virgil’s death,
Augustus ordered it to be published. Why was Augustus so interested
in saving Virgil’s poem? The Romans had little tradition
of writing serious literature and Virgil wanted to create a poem to rival the “Iliad”
and “Odyssey” of Ancient Greece. The “Aeneid,” a 9,896 line poem,
spans twelve separate sections, or books, the first six of which mirror
the structure of the “Odyssey” and the last six echo the “Iliad.” Also like the Greek epics, The “Aeneid” is written entirely
in dactylic hexameter. In this meter, each line
has six syllable groups called feet made up of dactyls which go
long, short, short, and spondees which go long, long. So the famous opening line
in the original Latin starts, “Arma Virvmqve Cano,” which can be translated as
“I sing of arms and the man,” arms, meaning battles and warfare,
another “Iliad” reference, and the man being the hero Aeneas. To understand the “Aeneid,” it’s necessary to examine the unsettled
nature of Roman politics in the second half of the 1st century B.C. In 49 B.C., Julius Caesar,
Augustus’s great uncle, triggered nearly 20 years of civil war when he led his army
against the Roman Republic. After introducing a dictatorship,
he was assassinated. Only after Augustus’s victory
over Marc Antony and Cleopatra in 31 B.C. did peace return to Rome and Augustus became the emperor. Virgil aimed to capture this sense
of a new era and of the great sacrifices
that the Romans had endured. He wanted to give the Romans
a fresh sense of their origins, their past, and their potential. By connecting the founding of Rome to the mythological stories
that his audience knew so well, Virgil was able to link his hero Aeneas
to the character of Augustus. In the epic poem, Aeneas is on a quest
to establish a new home for his people. This duty, or pietas
as the Romans called it, faces all kinds of obstacles. Aeneas risks destruction
in the ruins of Troy, agonizes over love when he meets
the beautiful Queen of Carthage, Dido, and in one of the most vivid passages
in all of ancient literature, has to pass through the underworld. On top of all that, he must then
fight to win a homeland for his people around the future sight of Rome. Virgil presents Aeneas as a sort of model
for Augustus, and that’s probably one of the reasons
the emperor was so eager to save the poem from destruction. But Virgil didn’t stop there. In some sections, Aeneas even has visions
of Rome’s future and of Augustus himself. Virgil presents Augustus as a victor,
entering Rome in triumph and shows him expanding
the Roman Empire. Perhaps most importantly, he’s hailed as
only the third Roman leader in 700 years to shut the doors of the Temple of Janus
signifying the arrival of permanent peace. But there’s a twist. Virgil only read Augustus three
selected extracts of the story and that was Augustus’s
entire exposure to it. Some of the other sections
could be seen as critical, if not subtly subversive
about the emperor’s achievements. Aeneas, again a model for Augustus,
struggles with his duty and often seems a reluctant hero. He doesn’t always live up to the
behavior expected of a good Roman leader. He struggles to balance mercy and justice. By the end, the reader is left wondering
about the future of Rome and the new government of Augustus. Perhaps in wanting the story published, Augustus had been fooled
by his own desire for self-promotion. As a result, Virgil’s story has survived
to ask questions about the nature of power
and authority ever since.

100 thoughts on “Why should you read Virgil’s “Aeneid”? – Mark Robinson

  1. Let's have some pietas for the quotes 😀
    CONIUGIUM vocat, hoc praetexit nomine culpam.
    Timeo DANAOS et dona ferentes (ferentis).
    Falsa AD caelum mittunt insomnia manes.

  2. You haven't say that this hero… Will be the father of Italian People…

  3. You’re a true Italian high schooler, if you knew eneide and knew every quote in Latin and how to translate them

  4. Did I miss where you actually answered the question? I had to translate large parts of this from Latin in school, and even among the stories of old in their originals, which definitively weren't all gold, this one was exceptionally boring. It was like a bad sequel in modern times, just rehashing a lot of other stories, but not quite as good as any of them and with connecting them only added as an afterthought. Well that's my opinion anyway.

  5. insect laughter congressional examine Bible reserve type peel vulnerable cap truck.

  6. So good. I love these videos on literature! Please keep it up! I promise, once I have a real job I'll donate 🙂

  7. It's not a strong argument to read this book because it's cool in its original Greek.

  8. Now you should do: "Why you should read" for Homer, Dante, Euriphedes, Ovid and Cervantes.

  9. Can you imagine if they did what he requested? Who would guide Dante? Homer? Psh

  10. Do the Iliad; that’s my favorite work of ancient literature, better than Odyssey, better than Aeneid

  11. The Romans never used quills to write with. Only reeds (like the Egyptians) or a pointed metal stylus.

  12. I will say this. The Illiad and the Odyssey were interesting reads, and I feel a lot can be taken away from them. But the Aeneid is the most entertaining.

  13. Not the greatest Latin pronounciation but still a great video on the Aeneid.

  14. I sing of arms and the *man*. The video is correct when it says man means Aeneas, but it is also a reference to the Odyssey (a story of a personal quest) in the way that arms are a reference to the Iliad.

  15. The Aeneid was Virgils way of giving Augustus the finger. Thank God Augustus was to lazy to read it.

  16. i have to write my dissertation about aeneid, gilgamesh, iliad and odyssey, they are not that cool as you make them sound : (

  17. This is the straw that broke the camel's back: signed up to Patreon 🤓

  18. The Aeneid the only piece of fanfiction of the ancient times. Atleast to my knowledge.

  19. Don't wonder why his "pupil" Dante, wrote such a poem as the Divine Comedy. They both were great in terms of literature.

  20. The Aeneid is basically what happens when a person is forced to make a fan fiction for someone and they basically copy of the source material that the person likes while also making fun of the person who commissioned the work.

  21. none of these are good reasons. the real best reason is that it was the most read book in medieval western europe other than the bible. it's influence is huge. for hundreds of years britons even believed london to be founded by trojan exiles because they were so influenced by the book.

  22. It's "timeo danaeos" instead of "danaoes" but your video is very interesting nevertheless. I like the graphics too.

  23. do one about harry potter. It is so underrated because people feel like they are going to become odd obsessed with it

  24. studied this poem at gcse, now it’s one of my favourites. the gcse was painful though my lord

  25. Türkçe çeviride hata var. M.ö 19. Yüzyıl demiyor. Yıl m.ö 19 diyor. Hata olmasın arada 2 milenyum var neredeyse 🙂

  26. He read the first line wrong when considering the accents, it should be "árma virúmque canó"

  27. Read something ? Absurd . Base one's entire reality on simplistic " Tweets " & idiotic Social Media posts .

  28. The aeneid was a distinct piece of propanganda, whereas the homeric works were organic folk tales and misremembered histories and legends blended together. To me, the homeric tales were vivid and messy, like mythology should be, but virgil was pedantic. The roman tongue versus the greek, perhaps, lawyerly poise versus bombastic gestures, but i was not engaged by virgil. True, homer was lost in the west for centuries, and virgil was the source of knowledge of pagan heroes, but it doesn't make it on a par with homer. Read it as an inspirational document available during the fall of rome. Nothing more.

  29. How did I get from sanders sides to here?..I just wanted prinxiety angst ;-;

  30. Today osama bin laden and the 911 would be call terror in BC they would write poems about it.

    Today isis youtube video is ban… but romans and greece would write epic poem about cutting head live stream

  31. Meanings of the quotations in the video:
    0:44: Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc. Parthenope; cecini pascua, rura, duces. – "Mantua gave birth to me, the Calabrians took me, now Naples holds me; I sang of pastures [the Eclogues], country [the Georgics] and leaders [the Aeneid]"
    1:27: Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris – "Of arms I sing and the man who first from the coasts of Troy"
    2:16: Alea iacta est. – "The die is cast"
    3:16: Timeo Danaoes et dona ferentes. – "I fear the Danaans [Greeks], even when they bear gifts"
    3:19: Coniugium vocat; hoc praetexit nomine culpam. – "She called it a marriage; she used this word to screen her sin."
    3:27: Nunc animis opus, Aenea, nunc pectore firmo. – "Now, O Aeneas, you stand in need of fortitude, and a resolute heart.”
    3:34: Tempestas telorum ac ferreus ingruit imber. – "Through all the air goes a thick storm of weapons, and faster falls the iron rain."
    4:31: Falsa ad caelum mittunt insomnia manes. – "Through it the dead send false dreams up toward the sky."
    4:41 O terque quaterque beati, quis ante ora patrum Troiae sub moenibus altis contigit oppetere! – "Thrice and four times happy those who under Troy's walls before their fathers died!"

  32. When you just take an exam translating Vergil's Aeneid from Latin to English before watching this video

  33. Anybody else think of Sanders sides when they saw the word Virgil?
    Anybody?
    Anybody at all?

  34. the same animation from that Icarus and the Sun video! I love it! 😍💖

  35. they never really directly answered the question of "why", and as someone whos read it in latin i can answer: you shouldnt roman poetry is hard to read

  36. It would be so cool if people still did stuff like this, imagine Obama or Trump stories being told while fighting against Aliens or Big Foot.

  37. Love this "Why should you read" series, which frees me from having to actually read them.

  38. guy plagiarism the two other books…so whats so great a out that?

  39. I read it many times.l have read an English translation and the original Latin version..A great epic poem .To fully appreciate the beauty of the language one must read the original Latin version.It is the reason why the poet and the poem has remained popular over the many centuries.

  40. so the moral of the story is don't stay out in the sun too long or you'll DIE. Thanks TED-ED.

  41. Why should we read Aeneid, because it's required if you want to pass a school year,
    Why did Augustus want to publish Aeneid, because the epic is a cross between the odyssey and the Iliad with the main protagonist being portrait as Augustus himself says some specters.

  42. The Aeneid is not a true story. The Roman’s did not come from Troy. They came from Greece. They are a shoot from Sparta and Athen politicians. The Aeneid is just fantastic fantasy. I read it and it was boring for me.

  43. The Aeneid is the greatest epic poem of all time. Read the greatest Greek and Roman poets at https://www.poetryimmortal.com

  44. Virgil died because he has feeling to hot… well this ironic to where he’s going

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