Epic journeys need impressive beginnings. Virgil obliges. He uses the same stately metre as the Homeric poems, the Iliad and the Odysssey, which stood at the pinnacle of both Greek and Roman literary culture, and echoes the opening lines of each.

There is a recording of the opening lines of the Aeneid here, along with links that you can use to compare it with the openings of both Homeric poems in Greek with a translation. Pantheon Poets also now contains many other extracts from the Aeneid, and you can follow them in narrative order by navigating from the links at the foot of Virgil’s poet page here.

The Trojan War, and all the trouble that came from it for both the Greeks and the Trojans, including Aeneas, began when the Trojan, Paris, was asked to judge a beauty contest between three goddesses. Understandably, but unwisely, he chose Venus, who promised him the most beautiful woman in the world as a reward. Juno, the Queen of the Gods and the goddess of marriage, was not amused. Siemiradski’s painting reconstructs the scene.