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Virgil’s Aeneid: The Founding of Nations in the Will of God

Join Dr. Russell in this study of Virgil’s Aeneid, a classic piece of literature that has influenced Western civilization for centuries. This epic poem presents ethical and moral dilemmas that we will address through the lens of our Catholic faith. As a bonus, studying the Aeneid will enhance your understanding of ancient Roman culture and mythology.

Total classes: 13

Prerequisite: The ability to read, understand, and enjoy The Aeneid by Virgil

Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade

Suggested credit: One semester Literature or Ancient Literature


When we visit Washington, DC, the great buildings are not imitations of Greek, but of Roman architecture. Our country was founded not as a democracy, but as a Republic. George Washington was called “The Father of His Country.” Each of these three facts, and many more, are due to the enduring and world-wide influence of Virgil’s Aeneid.
In a Rome weakened by wealth and pleasure, then shattered by civil war, only to unite under an emperor, Virgil celebrated the subordination of individual ambition and pleasure to pietas—a triune duty to God, to the nation built under God’s will, and to the future of the family. Building on the brilliance of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as Platonic philosophy, Virgil expanded the quest from the restoration of the family and one’s individual relation to God to the restoration of the whole nation and its relation to heavenly power. This was the original conception of our nation which our Founding Fathers honored in so many ways, and which we are in great peril as we now forget.
Dante, the greatest of all poets, chose Virgil as his heaven-sent fictional guide, not merely through Hell but Purgatory as well, signaling the seeds of vast Christian wisdom which he found.


Week 1: Why bother with Virgil? and Rome: From petty kings to world dominion.

Week 2:  Aeneid Book I

Week 3: Aeneid, Book II

Week 4: Aeneid, Book III

Week 5: Aeneid, Book IV

Week 6: Aeneid, Book V

Week 7: Aeneid, Book VI

Week 8: Aeneid, Book VII

Week 9: Aeneid, Book VIII

Week 10: Aeneid, Book IX

Week 11: Aeneid, Book X

Week 12:  Aeneid, Book XI

Week 13:  Aeneid, Book XII

Materials and Homework

Course materials: Dr. Russell recommends Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of the Aeneid. You are free to use any translation you like, but you should have one with line numbers or it will be almost impossible to follow along with frequent references to the author’s words.

Homework: Approximately two hours of reading each week. Computer-graded quizzes will be available each week, as well as a Final.

Important Dates

Class dates: Tuesdays, January 16 to April 23, 2024 (No class Feb. 27 or March 26)

Starting time: 10:00 AM Eastern (9:00 Central, 8:00 Mountain, 7:00 Pacific)

Duration per class: 55 minutes

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