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Unit 1 Overview: Vergil, Aeneid, Book 1

5 min readβ€’january 24, 2023

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AP LatinΒ πŸ›

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Unit 1 Overview

Salvete! Welcome to AP Latin, and welcome (if you're new here) to studying the works of Vergil and Julius Caesar! This unit covers Book 1 of The Aeneid.
In order to prepare for the exam, you'll be reading book 1 in Latin (Lines 1-209, 418-440, and 494-578). Reading over the Unit 1 checklist is important in making sure you understand the correct skill categories each unit tackles.

Unit 1 Guide: At a Glance

In AP Latin and other languages, there are no key concepts like there are in other AP subjects. Instead, we will practice skill categories in the form of different style questions to help you prepare for the exam. Then, we will break down the lines within that particular section of the book.
Also, there are 7 different themes within the course catalog that students should be able to know, as well as understand the focus of each theme and its relevance to the text. As it is Unit 1, all the themes will be listed down below however in future units we will go with each the themes relevant to that unit. Also, for Unit 1, the relevant themes are Literary Style and Genre (LIT), Leadership (LDR), and Human Beings and the Gods (HBG).

Themes of AP Latin

ThemeDescription of Theme
Literary Style and Genre (LIT) 1) What should we expect from a Latin epic or commentarii in terms of form and content? 2) How do the authors confirm or challenge our expectations? 3) What are the purposes and effects of Vergil's and Caesar's style? 4) What points of view do Vergil and Caesar take when describing events? 5) How do they represent themselves and for what purposes? 6) What means do the authors use to develop characters in the works? 7) How do the authors portray female characters? 8) How do the authors use characterization to develop key themes?
Roman Values (RMV) 1) What values and ideals are portrayed as characteristically Roman? 2) How do these values and ideals differ based on gender, ethnicity, or other criteria? 3) What strengths and weaknesses of character are exemplified by individuals in the works? 4) How do the texts confirm characteristic Roman values? 5) What questions do the texts raise about Roman values?
War and Empire (WAE) 1) Why do wars happen? What questions do these works raise about the consequences of war? 2) What questions do the works raise about diplomacy, negotiation, and peacemaking? 3) What are the perspectives of Vergil and Caesar concerning Roman imperialism? What are the perceived purposes, benefits, and costs of the empire? 4) What are the effects of war on women and non-combatants? 5) How do the texts portray enemy groups?
Leadership (LDR) 1) What different types of leaders (both male and female) and leadership styles do we see in these works? 2) How do leaders deal with setbacks and failures? 3) How does a leader inspire others to follow?
Views of Non-Romans (VNR) 1) In what ways do the authors portray the various non-Roman peoples that appear in the works? 2) What criteria do they use to evaluate these groups? 3) To what extent do the authors reinforce or challenge stereotypes of these groups? 4) How do the authors use these portrayals in their works?
History and Memory (HIS) 1) How do these works reflect the conflicts of the era in which they were written, both explicitly and implicitly? 2) In what ways do the works reflect the impact of an individual on historical events? 3) Within these works, how does shared experience build and sustain communities? 4) How do the authors use historical exempla (heroic ancestors, critical events), and for what purposes? 5) How do individuals in these works use their understanding of the past to create their present and future? 6) How do the authors see the importance of historical events for the Roman people?
Human Beings and the Gods (HBG) 1) What roles do the gods play and how are they perceived? To what extent do the gods of other peoples resemble those of the Romans? 2) How do the authors portray fate? How does fate affect human beings? 3) How and why do human beings and gods communicate with one another?

Contextualization for The Aeneid

Vergil

The Aeneid is an epic poem written by a Roman poet named Publius Vergilius Maro (or as we call him today, Vergil) from around 30 BCE to 19 BCE. Vergil also wrote two other major works, The Eclogues and The Georgics however for our purposes they are, while interesting reads, unrelated for further discussion. By far Vergil's most major work is The Aeneid. The Aeneid was partially inspired by Vergil's experiences in life as he lived through the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire under Augustus.

Dactylic Hexameter

The poem is written in dactylic hexameter (the verse scheme used for epic poetry). In dactylic hexameter, every vowel is called a foot and each line has six feet (hexa=six). A dactyl is a long followed by two shorts, and a spondee is two consecutive longs. It also features two types of elision, which is a literary mechanism that omits a sound or syllable when speaking. Type 1 is when the word ends with a vowel, and the next word starts with a vowel, then sometimes the vowel and the "m" elide and drop out of grammatical existence. Type 2 is when a word ends with a vowel and the next word starts with a vowel, the ending vowel has to elide.

Additional Information

The epic also deals with metaphorical meanings so some parts of the poem require a more abstract thought paradigm to truly grasp the content, and those will be pointed out as they appear.
1st Foot: long, long or long, short, short
2nd Foot: long, short, short or long, long
3rd Foot: long, short short or long, long
4th Foot: long, short, short or long, long
5th Foot: can only be long, short short
6th Foot: long, short or long
A vowel "long by position" is when a vowel, followed by two consonants, is usually a long vowel.

Example of Dactylic Hexameter:

Arma vir|umque can|o. Troi|ae qui| primus ab| oris.
|= To The left, is one foot.
Great Resource for Dactylic Hexameter Review: http://myweb.ecu.edu/stevensj/LATN2004/hexameter.pdf

Ready, Set, Go!

Let's get started with Book One of The Aeneid, shall we?
Browse Study Guides By Unit
πŸ”₯Unit 3 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 2
πŸ‡Unit 4 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 4
πŸ‘‘Unit 5 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 4
☠️Unit 8 – Vergil, Aeneid, Books 6, 8, & 12
βš”οΈUnit 1 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 1
πŸ₯—Unit 2 – Caesar, Gallic War, Books 1 & 6
πŸ₯ŠUnit 6 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Part I
πŸ§„Unit 7 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 5, Part II, Book 6, & Book 7
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