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Definition: Aeneid from Collins English Dictionary


1 an epic poem in Latin by Virgil relating the experiences of Aeneas after the fall of Troy, written chiefly to provide an illustrious historical background for Rome

Summary Article: Aeneid from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Latin narrative poem or epic by Virgil in 12 books, composed in the traditional Homeric metre of hexameters. Written during the last ten years of the poet's life (29–19 BC), it celebrates Roman imperial values in the role of its Trojan hero Aeneas, who is destined to found a new city in Italy. After the fall of Troy, Aeneas wanders the Mediterranean with his companions until, landing in North Africa, he falls in love with Dido, Queen of Carthage. He later deserts her and establishes the Trojans in Latium, where the king of the Latini offers him his daughter Lavinia in marriage. Aeneas is opposed by Turnus, a rival suitor, but eventually kills the latter in single combat. The poem is indebted to many predecessors (Apollonius of Rhodes and the Latin writers Ennius and Lucretius) in addition to Homer's Odyssey and Iliad.

The Aeneid was completed but, not having revised it, Virgil expressed a wish that it might be destroyed. It was published after his death by order of the emperor Augustus.

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