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Recounts events after the fall of Troy (9th century BCE), and written as a secondary, or literary, epic by Virgil in 14CE. Out of the destruction of Troy came an heroic figure who would found a new state. The Aeneid is a story of return that is providentially ruled by the gods. Aeneas’ story is one of founding and rebirth that is very different from the Homeric epics, but borrows from them in important ways.

Virgil uses the Greek tradition of the epic, but made it a Roman expression; he wanted to find a place in the Greek history without claiming kinship — to disassociate by association. Aeneas, having been saved by Poseidon from certain death at the hands of Achilles in book XX of the Iliad (“it is destined that he shall be a survivor”), provided Virgil (and the Romans) a link to the rich tradition begun by the Greeks.

Virgil wrote the Aeneid for Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. He recast the traditional Roman foundation story in its enduring form in order to authenticate the Roman myth by tying it to the past. It presents the Roman ideals and their mission: to conquer the known world by a sense of duty to family, state, and the gods (pietas).

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