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The "Aeneid" of Virgil

Discover how The "Aeneid" of Virgil is an examination of leadership, a study of the conflict between duty and desire, a meditation on the relationship of the individual to society, and a Roman's reflection on the dangers—and the allure—of Hellenistic culture.

Aeneid of Virgil is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 107.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from More Excellence from Professor Vandiver I shave come to enjoy Professor Vandiver’s lectures for their integration of mythology, history and sociology.
Date published: 2022-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very informative The course itself is great-- not only in terms of making it easy to understand Virgil's epic, but also the historical and literary background as well as its future influence. I wish it were available in video though.
Date published: 2022-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Troy–Rome Connection Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s series of lectures on Virgil’s Aeneid is the fifth of her Great Courses that I have studied. Each has been truly memorable. The present course reveals not only how the Aeneid functioned as a foundation epic for the proud Roman Empire, but also how and why it has continued to serve as a model and inspiration for art, literature, and culture in the Western world during the subsequent two millennia. I am especially grateful to Dr. Vandiver for leading me to understand how much graceful and finely crafted poetry is contained in the Aeneid, as well as food for thought about love, grief, and the universal human tension between a person’s own inclinations and their duties to society. I heartily recommend this excellent course.
Date published: 2022-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Written Talent of ancient origins I found the descendant of Troy enlightenment. I get a good feeling of genetics for today.
Date published: 2021-10-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable presentation Bought to supplement online course I was taking. Very helpful
Date published: 2021-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great review of The Aeneid I am taking an online course on the Aeneid, and this is an excellent supplement to my reading of one of the translations.
Date published: 2021-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reading the Aeneid I listened to these lectures as I was rereading John Dryden’s translation. I really appreciated her understanding of the poem: how it differed from and transformed features of the Iliad and the Odyssey; its relationship to other Latin writings; the influence of contemporary Roman culture and politics; the themes and characters of the epic itself.
Date published: 2021-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent If studying the classics, I recommend this resource. I especially like Professor Elizabeth's clarity in voice and passion of the material.
Date published: 2021-05-27
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Join Professor Elizabeth Vandiver as she crafts a masterful presentation on the great national epic of ancient Rome and one of the most important works of literature ever written with The "Aeneid" of Virgil. Discover how the author Virgil weaves together a rich network of compelling human themes on duty, desire, leadership, and more. Professor Vandiver's detailed examinations of the Aeneid's background, themes, and significant episodes are a fresh take on this cornerstone of the Western literary canon.


Elizabeth Vandiver

I think many of the stories that we tell ourselves as a society–the stories that encode our hopes, aspirations, and fears–preserve the traces of classical culture and myth and are part of our classical legacy.


Whitman College

Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver is Professor of Classics and Clement Biddle Penrose Professor of Latin at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She was formerly Director of the Honors Humanities program at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she also taught in the Department of Classics. She completed her undergraduate work at Shimer College and went on to earn her MA and PhD from The University of Texas at Austin.

Prior to taking her position at Maryland, she held visiting professorships at Northwestern University, the University of Georgia, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, Loyola University of New Orleans, and Utah State University.

In 1998, The American Philological Association recognized her achievements as a lecturer with its Excellence in Teaching Award, the most prestigious teaching prize given to American classicists. In 2013 she received Whitman College's G. Thomas Edwards Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship. Her other awards include the Northwestern University Department of Classics Excellence in Teaching Award and two University of Georgia Outstanding Honors Professor Awards.

Professor Vandiver is the author of Stand in the Trench, Achilles: Classical Receptions in British Poetry of the Great War and Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History. She has also written numerous articles and has delivered many papers at national and international conferences.

By This Professor

Classical Mythology

01: Introduction

Who was Virgil? Why and how did he write this poem? Why does the "Aeneid" continue to demand—and reward—our attention? What was the Roman attitude in general, and Virgil's in particular, toward the tremendously influential model that Greek culture held out to the Roman world in the age of Augustus?

32 min
From Aeneas to Romulus

02: From Aeneas to Romulus

How does the "Aeneid" relate to the mythological background of the Trojan War and the story of Rome's foundation by Romulus? How does Virgil handle the problem of integrating these two strands of legendary material? What are the "Aeneid"'s key literary antecedents, both Greek and Latin?

30 min
Rome, Augustus, and Virgil

03: Rome, Augustus, and Virgil

No understanding of the "Aeneid" is complete without considering its historical context. We briefly examine Roman history, especially the crucial events of the late 1st century BCE, than the lecture reviews the political and social reforms made by Augustus and discusses his role as a patron of poets. Finally, we discuss Virgil himself, his method of composition, and the task that he conceived for himself in writing the "Aeneid."

30 min
The Opening of the Aeneid

04: The Opening of the Aeneid

The "Aeneid"'s preface stresses its debt to and its difference from Homer. Which crucial concepts and characters are introduced in Book I? How do these opening scenes highlight Virgil's overarching themes, including the "fated" character of Rome, the concepts of "pietas" (duty) and "furor" (passion); and the gap that separates Aeneas the public man from Aeneas the private individual?

31 min
From Troy to Carthage

05: From Troy to Carthage

In Book II, Aeneas tells of the Fall of Troy. His words are the fullest extant account of this legendary event in all of ancient literature. Next we learn how he escaped the burning city at the head of a band of survivors, and began his voyage west. Virgil continues to both imitate and depart from the Homeric model. We note especially his handling of the gods' role in the Sack of Troy and of the prophecies that Aeneas hears concerning his destiny as the founder of the Roman people.

31 min
Unhappy Dido

06: Unhappy Dido

In Book IV, Virgil recounts one of history's most famous love affairs: the ill-fated liaison between Aeneas and Dido, the queen of Carthage. We consider the structure of the book, Virgil's presentation of the two characters involved, and the great (and unresolved) critical question of how we are supposed to interpret Aeneas's actions in this portion of the epic.

30 min
Funeral Games and a Journey to the Dead

07: Funeral Games and a Journey to the Dead

Book V recalls "The Iliad" with its description of the funeral games that Aeneas stages in memory of Anchises. In Book VI, parallels with (and differences from) Odysseus move to the fore as Aeneas embarks on his journey to the land of the dead.

31 min
Italy and the Future

08: Italy and the Future

In Virgil's version of the Underworld, Aeneas encounters the shades of Dido, the Trojan prince Deiphobus, and most importantly, Anchises. The abode of the dead becomes a window on the future as father and son witness a pageant of Roman heroes yet to come. Book VIII reiterates Aeneas's divine mission, and closes with Virgil's description of the mighty shield of Aeneas, forged for him by the god Vulcan.

31 min
Virgil's Iliad

09: Virgil's Iliad

We examine Books IX and X, the most "Iliadic" section of the "Aeneid," paying close attention to the scenes depicting the deaths of Nisus and Euryalus. Then we consider Turnus's "aristeia" (scene of special valor), which culminates in his slaying of Pallas—a death that in turn inspires Aeneas with "furor." Finally, we consider Aeneas's killing of Lausus and his father Mezentius.

30 min
The Inevitable Doom of Turnus

10: The Inevitable Doom of Turnus

We analyze the last two books of the "Aeneid," in which the narrative builds inexorably to the death of Turnus at the hands of Aeneas. Finally, the lecture considers how the characters of the two warrior-maidens, Camilla and Juturna, underline and highlight both the inevitability of Turnus's death and several aspects of his character.

31 min
The Gods and Fate

11: The Gods and Fate

What role do the Olympian deities (as opposed to the household gods or Penates) play in the action of the "Aeneid"? What is the role of "fatum" (fate), and how does it relate to the actions of the Olympians? The lecture concludes with a consideration of the character of Juno and her crucial role in the epic.

31 min
The End of the

12: The End of the "Aeneid" and Beyond

The most widely discussed critical question raised by the "Aeneid" asks: How should we interpret the epic's conclusion? Is Aeneas justified in killing Turnus, or should he have been merciful? We review some of the arguments on both sides, and whether the final scene as we have it is how Virgil actually intended his poem to end. We then turn to considering the "Aeneid"'s influence on later Western culture.

30 min