This talk considers Vergil's Aeneid against the background of the history and the politics of the period of the poet’s life and the poem’s composition (c.70-19 BC). This was a tumultuous period indeed in the history of Rome, which saw the collapse of the Roman republic and the rise of a new style of monarchy with the establishment of the principate under Augustus. It looks at allusions to historical characters, both the several appearances of Augustus himself in the poem through the device of prophesying the future, and the poem’s potential use of symbolism and analogy: how far can its hero Aeneas be a version of Augustus, or its tragic heroine Dido a version of Cleopatra? It considers the range of political views to be found  in the Aeneid: is the poem supportive of Augustus, and how does it deal with the painful topic of civil war? And what are we to make of the way the poem finishes at the very moment when Aeneas kills his main adversary Turnus, without further interpretation or comment?

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones ( by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at