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H P Blavatsky



Glossary of the Aeneid



H P Blavatsky cites Virgil’s Aeneid (and other works)

several times in The Secret Doctrine, The Theosophical

Glossary and other writings.


C W Leadbeater also makes reference to the Aeneid in

Glimpses of Masonic History


In speaking of evolution the following reference is made in The Secret Doctrine, Volume II page 594:-


Virgil, versed as every ancient poet was, more or less, in esoteric philosophy, sang evolution in the following strains:--


Principio coelum ac terras, camposque liquentes

Lucentemque globum lunae, Titaniaque astra

SPIRITUS intus alit; totamque infusa per artus

MENS agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet

Inde Hominum pecudumque genus, etc. (Aeneid VI. )


H P B goes on to give the following translation and elaboration


"First Divine Spirit within sustains the Heavens, the earth and watery plains, the moon's orb and shining stars and the Eternal Mind diffused through all the parts of nature, actuates the whole stupendous frame and mingles with the vast body of the universe. Thence proceed the race of men and beasts, the vital principles of the flying kind and the monsters which the Ocean breeds under its smooth crystal plane."


"All proceeds from Ether and from its seven natures" -- said the alchemists. Science knows these only in their superficial effects.


Here is an alternative translation


‘Firstly, a spirit within them nourishes the sky and earth,

the watery plains, the shining orb of the moon,

and Titan’s star, and Mind, flowing through matter,

vivifies the whole mass, and mingles with its vast frame.

From it come the species of man and beast, and winged lives,

and the monsters the sea contains beneath its marbled waves.


Reference Aeneid Book VI lines 724 -30


An overview, glossary and complete text of this epic poem is provided here as a resource.


The Aeneid (Complete Text)


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Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil)


Overview of the Aeneid


Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro 70 – 19 BCE) was writing at a time when the Romans were struggling to produce a literature that was comparable to the Greek. Virgil’s epic, The Aeneid is considered to be the greatest poem in Latin.


The Aeneid is the story of the founding of the Roman People. It follows the fortunes of the Trojan hero Aeneas and followers from their survival of and escape from the fall of Troy to their arrival in Italy. Aeneas is urged on by benevolent deities and follows a destiny laid down by Jupiter. On the downside, he is harassed and impeded by the goddess Juno. The are many adventures on the way to Italy of which the best known is his trgic love affair with  Dido, Queen of Cathage. Once in Italy, Aeneas wages war against the Italian tribes to found his his city and pave the way for the rise of Roman civilization


Although the Aeneid shares many characteristics with the Homeric epic, as an epic it is different in important ways. For this reason, the Aeneid is referred to as a literary or secondary epic in order to differentiate it from primitive or primary epics such as the Homeric poems. The terms “primitive”, “primary” and “secondary” should not be interpreted as value judgments, but merely as indications that the original character of the epic was improvisational and oral, while that of the Aeneid, composed later in the epic tradition, was basically non-oral and crafted with the aid of writing. As we have seen, the Homeric poems give evidence of improvisational techniques of composition1 involving the use of various formulas. This style of composition is suited to the demands of improvisation before an audience which do not allow the poet time to create new ways of expressing various ideas. In order to keep his performance going he must depend upon stock phrases, which are designed to fill out various portions of the dactylic hexameter2 line. On the other hand, Vergil, composing in private, obviously spent much time on creating his own personal poetic language. Thus in reading the Aeneid you will notice the absence of the continual repetition of formulas, which are unnecessary in a literary or secondary epic.


Whether the Homeric poems were originally improvised without the aid of writing or written down by the poet himself or dictated to a scribe and then recited, is not known for certain, but it is clear that they were composed in the style of improvised oral poetry.


Vergil in the Aeneid uses this traditional meter of epic poetry.Vergil, however, does imitate Homeric language without the repetitions. This is another reason for calling the Aeneid a secondary epic. For example, Vergil occasionally translates individual Homeric formulas or even creates new formulas in imitation of Homer such as "pious Aeneas", imitates other Homeric stylistic devices such as the epic simile and uses the Homeric poems as a source for story patterns. Although in this sense the Aeneid can be called derivative, what Vergil has taken from Homer he has recast in a way which has made his borrowings thoroughly Vergilian and Roman. For example, Vergil changed the value system characteristic of the Homeric epic, which celebrated heroic individualism such as displayed by Achilles in the Iliad.


The heroic values of an Achilles would have been anachronistic and inappropriate in a poem written for readers in Rome of the first century B.C., who required their leaders to live according to a more social ideal suited to a sophisticated urban civilization. Therefore, although Vergil set the action of his poem in a legendary age contemporary with the Trojan War before Rome existed, one must judge the characters of his poem by the standards of the poet's own times


Historical Background


Virgil 70-19 (BCE) lived through the politically violent and chaotic years of the failing Republic, and his writings very clearly show the influence of the events of this period. Thus, an understanding of the history of this era is critical to the interpretation of the Aeneid.


In 63 (BCE), a conspiracy to overthrow the Roman government led by the infamous Catiline was discovered and defeated through the efforts of Cicero, the consul of that year. There were, however, other threats to the existing order soon to follow. After the powerful general Pompey returned from his extensive conquests in the East in 62, the refusal of the Senate to approve his settlement of affairs there alienated him from the Optimates.


As a result, he joined in political alliance with the leaders of the Populares: Julius Caesar and Marcus Crassus. The alliance has come to be known as the First Triumvirate and was sealed by the marriage of Pompey to Caesar’s daughter. Employing the threat of Pompey’s military power, these three men were able to impose their will on Rome. In this way Caesar insured his own election to the consulship in 59 BCE and in the following year, his assignment to the governorship of Gaul, which required the command of a large army to subdue the warlike natives.


Caesar enjoyed great military successes against the Gauls for almost a ten-year period, but what meant most to him was the fact that he now had an army loyal to himself, making him equal to Pompey, who had for so long overshadowed him in military power.  3When Vergil has Anchises predict the civil war between these two leaders, their names are not mentioned, but they are referred to as father-in-law and son-in-law (6.828-831).


In the late 50’s (BCE) with Caesar in Gaul and Pompey virtually ruler at Rome, a split between the two leaders became increasingly evident, especially after the death of Caesar’s daughter, which removed the last tie between them. Civil war was inevitable. As the poet Lucan put it: “Caesar is able to tolerate no man as his superior; Pompey, no man as his equal” (1.125-126). The war between Caesar and Pompey ended with the latter’s defeat in Greece and his assassination in Egypt.


After his victory Caesar assumed the dictatorship at Rome, which ultimately was granted to him for life. Caesar was now sole ruler of Rome. Resentment at the loss of political freedom resulted in his assassination by Brutus, Cassius, and others in 44. (BCE) Caesar’s army passed in good part into the possession of his eighteen-year- old grand-nephew, Octavian, his chief heir, who was adopted as Caesar’s son according to the terms of his will. Because of his youth, no one expected Octavian to be of any consequence in the political arena, but with a maturity beyond his years he won over Caesar’s veterans and was determined to avenge his adoptive father’s death. Octavian came into immediate conflict with Caesar’s lieutenant, Antony, who felt that his close association with the dictator earned him the right to succeed Caesar. Cicero sided with Octavian and attacked

Antony in a set of speeches called the Philippics, which resulted in Antony’s being declared a public enemy.


After Antony suffered a defeat at the hands of a coalition of military leaders (including Octavian), Antony and Octavian decided it would be in their own best interests to join in political alliance. They along with Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate (43 B.C.) and revived Sulla’s technique of proscription in order to rid themselves of their political enemies. One of the most prominent victims of this proscription was Cicero himself, whose death was demanded by Antony in revenge for the Philippics and reluctantly agreed to by Octavian. At Antony’s command Cicero’s head and hands were cut off and placed on the speaker’s platform in the Forum. This barbaric act serves as a vivid symbol of the bloody violence of the last years of the Republic.


Following the proscriptions Antony and Octavian turned their attention to the assassins of Caesar and defeated them in Greece at the battle of Philippi (42 B.C.). Their alliance was weakened when Antony’s brother revolted against Octavian while Antony was in Egypt, but was reconfirmed by the marriage of Antony and Octavian’s sister. There were two more temporarily successful attempts to prevent a split between Octavian and Antony, but Antony’s romantic involvement with Cleopatra,4 the queen of Egypt, which resulted in his rejection and ultimate divorce of Octavia, permanently alienated the two leaders. In addition, Antony’s obvious intention to use the wealth of Egypt as a basis of power for uniting the East under his control made war unavoidable. The final conflict was a naval battle off Actium (31 B.C.) on the western coast of Greece, in which Antony and Cleopatra were routed by Octavian’s fleet. The defeated pair later committed suicide in Alexandria.


Cleopatra was a member of the Ptolemies, the Greek ruling family of Egypt, which had controlled Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great. As was the custom, she was married to her brother Ptolemy XIII, and after his death, to another brother Ptolemy XIV. During his campaign in the East after his victory over Pompey, Julius Caesar had an affair with her and fathered a son.


After Actium Octavian embarked on a program of restoring order by reuniting the Roman present with its old moral, religious and political traditions. He made a show of restoring the free Republic, but Octavian with his control over the Roman army and finances was in fact the sole ruler of Rome and its empire. In 27(BCE) the Roman Senate bestowed upon

him the honorific title of Augustus, which symbolized his special

position of authority in the state. Octavian was welcomed as a savior by such writers as Vergil and Horace, the great lyric poet, and by the vast majority of Romans, because he had brought peace to Rome after a century of civil conflict. The admiration expressed by the poets for Octavian’s accomplishments, although its effusiveness is sometimes offensive to modern taste, should not be interpreted as mere servile praise and political propaganda, but as an honest appreciation of a political leader who had brought an end to the horrors of civil war and was able to act with moderation after his victory.


The title “Augustus” had special religious associations and was etymologically related to the Latin word auctoritas ‘authority’.



The Aeneid (Complete Text)



Achates A companion and friend of Aeneas in his wanderings, and styled by Vergil fidus Achates, so that his fidelity has become proverbial.  Aeneas Son of Aphrodite (Venus) and Anchises, a mortal Trojan prince, and the hero of Virgil’s Aeneid. After Troy’s fall, he journeyed to Italy, where he founded a dynasty that eventually produced Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.


Allecto One of the Furies called up from the Underworld in the Aeneid.


Amata Queen of Latium and mother of Lavinia, whom Aeneas married. 


Anchises Trojan prince, father of the hero Aeneas by Aphrodite. After the fall of Troy, Anchises was carried from the city by his son, Aeneas.  Anchises died and was buried in Sicily. Aeneas later visited Hades and saw his father again.


Antenor A Trojan prince related to Priam. He was the husband of Theano , daughter of Cisseus, king of Thrace, and father of nineteen sons, of whom the most known were Polybus, Acamas, Agenor, Polydamas, Helicaon, Archilochus, and Laodocus. He is accused by some of having betrayed his country, not only because he gave a favourable reception to Diomedes, Odysseus, and MenelaŸs, when they came to Troy, as ambassadors from the Greeks, to demand the restitution of Helen, but also because he withheld the fact of his recognizing Odysseus, at the time that hero visited the city under the guise of a mendicant (Od. iv. 335). After the conclusion of the war Antenor , according to some, migrated with a party of followers into Italy, and built Patavium. According to others, he went with a colony of the Heneti, or Veneti, from Paphlagonia to the shores of the Hadriatic, where the new settlers established themselves in the district called by them Venetia ( Liv.i. 1; Plin.iii. 13; Verg. Aen. i. 242; Tac. xvi. 21). Arcadia A mountainous region in the south of Greece, sacred to Pan, Hermes, and Apollo, and associated with shepherds.


Ascanius In Greek and Roman mythology, Ascanius was a son of Aeneas and Creusa. After the Trojan War, Aeneas escaped to Latium in Italy with his father and fought in the Italian Wars. Virgil’s Aeneid says he had a role in the founding of Rome as the first king of Alba Longa. He was also called Iulus or Julus. From this name comes the Gens Julia, the Julian family to which Julius Caesar belonged.


Camilla A queen of the Volsci, and daughter of Metabus and Casmilla. Her father, who reigned at Privernum, having by his tyranny rendered himself odious to his subjects, was by them expelled from his dominions, and forced to take refuge from their fury in the lonely woods. Here he bred up the infant Camilla, the sole companion of his flight; and, having dedicated her to the service of Diana, he instructed her in the use of the bow and arrow, and accustomed her to the practice of martial and sylvan exercises. She was so remarkable for her swiftness that she is described by the poets as flying over the corn without bending the stalks, and skimming over the surface of the water without wetting her feet. Attended by a train of warriors, she led the Volscians to battle against Aeneas. Many brave chiefs fell by her hand; but she was at length herself killed by a soldier of the name of Aruns, who, from a place of concealment, aimed a javelin at her. Diana, however, who had foreseen this fatal event, had commissioned Opis, one of her nymphs, to avenge the death of Camilla, and Aruns was slain in his flight from the combat by the arrows of the goddess.


Carthage Powerful colony of Tyre on the north coast of Africa, directly south of Rome. The chief threat to Roman imperialism, it was destroyed by Scipio Aemilianus in 146 B.C.


Creusa Daughter of Priam and Hecuba, and wife of Aeneas. When Troy was surprised by the Greeks, she fled in the night with her husband, but they were separated during the confusion, nor was her absence observed until the other fugitives arrived at the spot appointed for assembling. Aeneas a second time entered the burning city in quest of his wife; but while he was seeking for her through every quarter of Troy, Creusa appeared to him as a deified personage, and appeased his alarm by informing him that she had been adopted by Cybele among her own attendant nymphs; and she then urged him to pursue his course to Italy, with an intimation of the good fortune that awaited him in that land ( Verg. Aen. ii. 562 ff.).  Cumaean Sibyl Italian counterpart of the Delphic Oracle, her shrine was located at Cumae, the oldest Greek colony in the Bay of Naples region. In the Aeneid, she acted as Aeneas’s guide through the Underworld.  Dido Queen and founder of Carthage, she befriended the shipwrecked Aeneas and was later deserted by him at Jupiter’s command.  Elysium or Elysian fields. A posthumous realm of earthly delights reserved for those especially favored by the gods.


Evander A figure in Latin mythology. He was said to be the son of Hermes and an Arcadian nymph (Pausan. viii. 43. 2; Quaest. Rom. 53). Sixty years before the Trojan War he led a Pelasgian colony to Latium from Pallantium in Arcadia, and founded a city, Pallantium, near the Tiber, on the hill which was afterwards named after it the Palatine. Further it was said that he taught the rude inhabitants of the country writing, music, and other arts; and introduced from Arcadia the worship of certain gods, in particular of Pan, whom the Italians called Faunus, with the festival of the Lupercalia, which was held in his honour. Evander was worshipped at Rome among the heroes of the country, and had an altar on the Aventine Hill. In Vergil, Pallas, the son of Evander, marches, at the command of his father, to assist Aeneas, and falls in single combat with Turnus. (See Verg. Aen. viii. 575.) Evander had also two daughters, Romé and Dyna.  Hannibal General of the Carthaginians who led the invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War.


Iris A personification of the rainbow and Hera’s special messenger, she was married to Zephyrus, the West Wind.


Juturna The nymph of a fountain in Latium, famous for its healing qualities, whose water was used in many of the sacrifices. A pond in the Forum, between the temples of Castor and Vesta, was called Lacus Iuturnae. The nymph is said to have been beloved by Iupiter, who rewarded her with immortality and dominion over the waters. Vergil calls her the sister of Turnus.  Latinus Son of Faunus and of the nymph Marica (or, according to another story, of Heracles and Fauna, or of Odysseus and Circe). He was king of Latium and father of Lavinia, the wife of Aeneas. He hosted Aeneas’ army of exiled Trojans and let them reorganize their life in Latium. His daughter Lavinia had been promised to Turnus, king of the Rutuli, but Latinus preferred to offer her to Aeneas. Turnus consequently declared war on Aeneas (at the urging of Hera). The outcome was that Turnus was killed and his people captured. Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, founded Alba Longa and was the first in a long series of kings.


Latium Region south of the Tiber River in Italy where the Latins lived. Rome was founded near its northern border.


Lausus Son of Mezentius, king of the Etruscans, slain by Aeneas.  Lavinia The daughter of Latinus and Amata, betrothed to Turnus, but married to Aeneas.


Lethe In Hades, the River of Forgetfulness.


Mercury Roman name for Hermes, messenger of the Olympian gods.  Mezentius A king of Caere in Etruria. He aided Turnus of Ardea against Aeneas, but was killed in battle by the latter or by his son Ascanius.  Dionysius, however, relates that Mezentius finally concluded a peace with Ascanius and became his ally (Dionys. i. 64). Still another tradition states that Mezentius demanded of the Latini the produce of their vineyards, but that they vowed the firstfruits to Iupiter and thereby won the victory (Quaest. Rom. 45).


Pallas In the Aeneid, a son of Evander whom Turnus kills.  Punic Wars A series of three wars between Rome and Carthage that began in 264 B.C. and ended in 146 B.C. with the total destruction of Carthage, foreshadowed in the Aeneid by Dido’s fatal affair with Aeneas.  Tartarus The dark abyss beneath Hades’ realm where Zeus chained the fallen Titans and where the wicked suffered torment.  Turnus King Turnus of the Rutuli was an ancient king killed by Aeneas. The son of Daunus and Venilia, brother of Iuturna, king of the Rutulians at Ardea. He was induced by Amata, the sister of his mother, and wife of Latinus, to make war upon Aeneas for his bride Lavinia, who had already been betrothed to himself. He was a close ally of Queen Camilla of the Volsci, who helped him fight Aeneas. After many hard fights he was slain in single combat by his rival. His name is probably connected with Tyrrhenus, and in the legends is associated with that of Mezentius; so that the story is supposed by some to refer to a struggle of the Latins against the Etruscans.


Vulcan Roman name for Hephaestus, god of fire and the forge.




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