Aeneas - The protagonist of the Aeneid. Aeneas is a survivor of the siege of Troy, a city
on the coast of Asia Minor. His defining characteristic is piety, a respect for the will of
the gods. He is a fearsome warrior and a leader able to motivate his men in the face of
adversity, but also a man capable of great compassion and sorrow. His destiny is to found
the Roman race in Italy and he subordinates all other concerns to this mission. The
Aeneid is about his journey from Troy to Italy, which enables him to fulfill his fate.
Dido - The queen of Carthage, a city in northern Africa, in what is now Libya, and lover
of Aeneas. Dido left the land of Tyre when her husband was murdered by Pygmalion, her
brother. She and her city are strong, but she becomes an unfortunate pawn of the gods in
their struggle for Aeneas’s destiny. Her love for Aeneas, provoked by Venus, proves to
be her downfall. After he abandons her, she constructs a funeral pyre and stabs herself
upon it with Aeneas’s sword.
Turnus - The ruler of the Rutulians in Italy. Turnus is Aeneas’s major antagonist among
mortals. He is Lavinia’s leading suitor until Aeneas arrives. This rivalry incites him to
wage war against the Trojans, despite Latinus’s willingness to allow the Trojans to settle
in Latium and Turnus’s understanding that he cannot successfully defy fate. He is brash
and fearless, a capable soldier who values his honor over his life.
Ascanius - Aeneas’s young son by his first wife, Creusa. Ascanius (also called Iulus) is
most important as a symbol of Aeneas’s destiny—his future founding of the Roman race.
Though still a child, Ascanius has several opportunities over the course of the epic to
display his bravery and leadership. He leads a procession of boys on horseback during the
games of Book V and he helps to defend the Trojan camp from Turnus’s attack while his
father is away.
Anchises - Aeneas’s father, and a symbol of Aeneas’s Trojan heritage. Although
Anchises dies during the journey from Troy to Italy, he continues in spirit to help his son
fulfill fate’s decrees, especially by guiding Aeneas through the underworld and showing
him what fate has in store for his descendants.
Creusa - Aeneas’s wife at Troy, and the mother of Ascanius. Creusa is lost and killed as
her family attempts to flee the city, but tells Aeneas he will find a new wife at his new
Sinon - The Greek youth who pretends to have been left behind at the end of the Trojan
War. Sinon persuades the Trojans to take in the wooden horse as an offering to Minerva,
then lets out the warriors trapped inside the horse’s belly.
Latinus - The king of the Latins, the people of what is now central Italy, around the Tiber
River. Latinus allows Aeneas into his kingdom and encourages him to become a suitor of