Chapter Summaries & Analyses
After burying Aeneas’s nurse, Caieta, who dies suddenly at the beginning of the book, the Trojans sail past Aeaea, the island of the enchantress Circe from Homer’s Odyssey, and make their way into Italy up the river Tiber (1-24). Virgil appeals to Erato, the muse of erotic poetry, to help him describe the socio-political state of Italy at the time. The ruler of Latium was king Latinus. His daughter Lavinia was betrothed to Turnus, a local ruler favored by the queen, Amata (45-55). Now, portents suggest complications to the plan: A swarm of bees’ nests in the local sacred laurel tree, meaning that a foreign army is coming to settle here, and Lavinia appears to catch flame but is unharmed (59-80). Troubled, Latinus consults the oracle of his father, the forest god Faunus, who orders him to marry Lavinia to a foreigner (97-101). As in Carthage in Book 4, Rumor begins to spread through the countryside.
Meanwhile, the Trojans observe omens of their own. When they are driven by hunger to eat the flatbread they have rested their food on, Ascanius observes that they are eating their tables, fulfilling the prophecy of the Harpies from Book 3 and indicating they have found the land they’re meant to settle (107-29).