What is the background of the Aeneid?
Aeneus and Virgil’s Aeneid
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An epic poem which tells the story of the founding of Rome based on the legend of the hero Aeneas, the Aeneid was commissioned by Augustus himself. The emperor wanted a truly Roman epic that would be comparable to the works of Homer but that would express Roman rather than ancient Greek values and traditions. Augustus had a particular interest in the story of Aeneas as a means of justifying his own reign. It was generally believed that Julius Caesar was a direct descendant of Aeneas. Aeneas’s son Ascanius was also called Iulus (Julus). Because he was the nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, Augustus saw himself also as a descendent of Aeneas and, therefore, as the rightful leader of Rome. The Aeneid would be the story of his family’s founding of Rome.