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Vergil’s Aeneid


Vergil’s Aeneid

  • Course ID:LATIN 437
  • Semesters:1
  • Department:Classics
  • Course Rank:Honors
  • Teachers:Gerard Babendreier

Description and Objectives

The Aeneid, an epic poem written by Publius Vergilius Maro in the first century B.C., is considered one of the most important works of world literature. T.S. Eliot deemed it “the classic of all Europe”. All ninth graders at The Heights read the Aeneid in translation in their English classes and in this course we will explore it in the original Latin. We will read the selections of the poem from the A.P. syllabus, and the primary focus of the course is to foster an appreciation of Vergil’s Aeneid.




Vergil’s Aeneid edited by Barbara Weiden Boyd (Copyright 2004)


Scholarly Articles:

“The Aeneid and the Myth of Rome” by Jasper Griffin

“The Serpent and the Flame” by Bernard Knox

“The Tragedy of Dido” by E.L. Harrison

“Aeneas, Daedalus, and the Labyrinth” by William Fitzgerald

Course Requirements

Each quarter grade of this course is determined by an overall point system. There will be different assignments (quizzes, tests, papers, take-home essays, etc.) of varying point values depending on their size and importance throughout the quarter. Every day, specific lines from the Aeneid will be assigned to be prepared for the following day. Either individual students will be called upon to translate orally, or a pop quiz will be given covering some or all of the day’s assignment. In addition, the entire Aeneid will be read in English. As well as reading the poem in both Latin and English, we will examine the historical, social, cultural, and political context of the Aeneid. Specific topics will be discussed each week. The topics will involve the particular text we are reading as well as themes that run through the poem as a whole.

There will be frequent quizzes, the majority of which will be on the Latin reading. These will be unannounced, but will always cover the reading for that day only. Some quizzes will require sight reading. Others will cover a list of vocabulary words, a topic discussed in class (such as Vergil’s poetic devices), or scansion. These will always be announced. As explained above, quizzes will have different point values depending on their size.

We will have two major tests per quarter. The tests will cover about 200 lines of Latin text, various portions of the Aeneid in English, and all topics discussed. They will contain multiple choice sections, literal translations from the text, and interpretive essays on the Aeneid and Latin and in translation. Tests will always be announced three or four days ahead of time.

Papers and take-home essays will also be assigned frequently and with varying point values. Each paper will generally be an abstract of a scholarly article on the Aeneid. Take-home essays will involve written analysis and critical interpretation of the poem with particular attention to Vergil’s use of stylistic and metrical techniques. Many of these will be taken directly from former A.P. Tests.

Successful Students

The successful student in the course is one who is able to stay on top of the demanding syllabus. It is important to retain the Vergilian vocabulary and grammar as we encounter it, so that eventually translation at sight is possible. The student who masters this course will not only perform well on the A.P. Test, but will also enjoy the rare treat of experiencing this excellent poet in his native language.