Aeneas’s big, new shield

On the new shield that Venus has just given to Aeneas, her husband Vulcan has depicted many scenes from the future of Rome. They go from Romulus and Remus to Virgil’s present day, so it is a big shield! At the political level, the whole purpose of the Aeneid is to suggest that Augustus’s ascendancy is divinely sanctioned and the culmination of the history of Rome so far. No wonder, then, that Virgil does not hold back when he comes to describe how the shield shows his defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium, and his triumphant reception by the City.

The illustration is a Roman cameo of the first century showing Augustus in triumph.

Hear the Latin and follow in English here.