65 pages 2 hours read



Fiction | Novel/Book in Verse | Adult | BCE

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Important Quotes

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“Arms and the man I sing of Troy, who first from its seashores, / Italy-bound, fate’s refugee, arrived at Lavinia’s / Coastlands.” 

(Book 1, Lines 1-3)

In an ancient epic, the first lines of the poem summarize its theme. Homer’s Iliad identifies the rage of Achilles, his Odyssey the resourcefulness of Odysseus. Virgil signals his intent to synthesize—and surpass—his epic predecessors by declaring that his epic will cover both poems: the Iliad (“arms”) and the Odyssey (“man”).

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“Much the same happens within a great nation, where lawlessness often / Bursts into riots, where people become mobs savage with passion, / Firebrands, stones start flying through air (fury furnishes weapons) / Then, if they happen to glimpse a man worth their respect for his righteous / Conduct, they’re silence. They prick up their ears and await his instructions, / He, with his words, brings passions to heel, lulls panting to calmness.”

(Book 1, Lines 148-152)

Evoking Augustus quelling the civil wars, this image of Neptune calming the winds in Book 1 provides an early model of the ruler Aeneas must become.

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“[…] Take heart once again and dispel your fears and depression. / Maybe the day’ll come when even this will be a joy to remember […]” 

(Book 1, Lines 202-203)

Virgil adeptly switches between the public persona Aeneas must maintain and the private, vulnerable experience of the man. This line from Book 1—Aeneas’s pep talk for his men while he despairs, privately, in his heart—is one of the most famous quotes from the poem.