Aeneas and his encounters in the
Underworld
An important aspect of Book VI is
Aeneas’ various encounters with key
people from his past.
One of his first important meetings is
with PALINURUS
• Who was Palinurus?
He was Aeneas’ helmsmen who was lost overboard
at the end of Book V.
Aeneas presumed him drowned, but in this
conversation in the underworld, Palinurus
explains that he actually survived in the ocean
after falling overboard, but was killed by “savage
tribesmen” just as he reached the shores of Italy.
Because he was not buried, Palinurus is stuck
with the other unburied souls, unable to cross
the river Styx.
A second important meeting is with
DIDO
• In which area of the underworld does Aeneas
meet Dido? (clue: pg.160)
in the Fields of Mourning (the home of
those who died of love)
• Aeneas now tries to explain his actions, hoping to
gain forgiveness from Dido, but she refused to
speak to him or even look at him. She instead
returns to the comfort of her husband Sychaeus,
with whom she has been reunited.
Following this, Aeneas comes to the fields
inhabited by the spirits of men famous in
battle, among them DEIPHOBUS
• Who was Deiphobus?
He was another of Priam’s sons. He had been one of the brave
warriors at the fall of Troy and he was still “mutilated in every
part of his body” when Aeneas meets him in the underworld.
Deiphobus represents all who died when Troy fell.
• How does this meeting affect Aeneas?
He appears to feel guilt, but Deiphobus encourages him: “Go on
your way, you, the glory of our Troy, and meet a happier fate
than mine”.
From now on Aeneas must concentrate on the future and happier
fates, rather than on the unhappy events of the past.
And now comes Aeneas’ most
important reunion: he meets his father
Anchises
• Where do they meet and what ‘key’ does
Aeneas use to enter this area? (clue: pg.166)
Aeneas places the golden bough on the
threshold as an offering, and is thus permitted
to enter Elysium (the Elysian Fields) – the land
of joy, the fortunate woods, the homes of the
blessed...
After an emotional reunion and some
discussion about death and
reincarnation, Anchises guides Aeneas
and the sibyl to a higher place where
they could see the PARADE OF SOULS
This is the key reason for Aeneas visiting the underworld.
Anchises shows Aeneas his descendents – a roll call of
key historical personalities who would have been very
familiar to Virgil's Roman readers, but who are
described from the vantage point of Aeneas and
Anchises in Elysium as belonging to the future of a city
yet to be founded.
The list of names was not in chronological order. It
included...
THE ALBAN KINGS (legendary)
These included:
• Sylvius (Aeneas’ last born child)
• The grandparents of Romulus and Remus
(they mythical founders of Rome)
• Romulus himself, son of Mars and Rhea Silvia
The Caesar
This is AUGUSTUS –
the adopted son of
Julius Caesar who
will bring back the
golden age of peace.
Virgil is very generous
to Augustus and
extent of his
achievements.
The Kings of Rome
• Only some are included...
–
–
–
–
Numa
Tullus
Ancus
The Tarquins
Rulers of the Republic
• Brutus – the republic was set up and Brutus
became one of the first consuls in 509BC
Caesar and Pompey
• The leaders of the Civil War (ie. Just before
Augustus)
– Pompey: Military and political leader of the late Roman Republic.
Initially an ally of Julius Caesar
– Julius Caesar: Roman statesman, general and author, famous for
the conquest of Gaul (modern France and Belgium) and his
subsequent coup d'état. He changed the Roman republic into a
monarchy and a truly Mediterranean empire.
At this point Anchises also mentions Cato, the Gracchi
and other republicans
Marcellus
• Two of them are mentioned:
– Marcellus I – the older who was a leading general
at the time of the Second Punic War against
Carthage
– Marcellus II – the younger who was to be
Augustus’ heir but who died in 23BC  thus
Anchises actually ends his speech on a note of
sadness.
Basically...
Anchises describes what will become of the
Trojan descendants: Romulus will found Rome,
a Caesar will eventually come from the line of
Ascanius, and Rome will reach a Golden Age of
rule over the world.
Finally, Aeneas grasps the profound significance
of his long journey to Italy.

Aeneas and his encounters in the Underworld