Major props to Reid who sent me this list... You're awesome! So, basically this is a list of names of people, places, and things we have encountered so far. I added the website these came from to our Interesting Websites under "Aeneid Character List" So check it out if you want it in a more readable and printer friendly format.
The Greeks: Homer used many names for the Greeks in the Iliad, and Virgil copies him. You will find the Greeks called Danaans, Achaeans, Argives, Dolopians, Dorians indiscriminately.
Achilles: the greatest of the Greek warriors at Troy. His quarrel with the leader Agamemnon threatened to give victory to the Trojans, until Patroclus, Achilles' best friend, who was wearing Achilles' armour, was killed by Hector. Achilles returned to battle in a blazing temper and killed Hector, insulting his body by dragging it three times round the walls of Troy tied behind his chariot. But when Priam came to Achilles' tent to beg for the body, Achilles, remembering his own aged father in Greece, granted his request (this is the last scene of the Iliad). Achilles was invulnerable except for his heel (which his mother the sea-nymph Thetis had held as she dipped her baby into the river Styx). Shortly before the fall of Troy Achilles (who had said he would prefer to die young, but famous) was killed, shot in the heel by Priam's son Paris.
Agamemnon was the commander-in-chief of the Greek forces, although his leadership, rather like that of Jupiter on a higher plane, was often challenged: most famously by Achilles, who refused to continue fighting as a result of a quarrel over a woman. He was married to Helen's sister Clytemnestra, and they had three children. The eldest- Iphigeneia - was sacrificed by her father to secure a fair wind for Troy. In revenge for this Clytemnestra and her lover murdered Agamemnon on his return home from Troy. Electra and Orestes, the other two children, avenged their father's murder by killing their mother.
Apollo's oracle was at Delphi in Central Greece. Oracles were consulted in the ancient world whenever an important decision had to be made. Apollo's oracle was the most famous and most trusted: Sinon refers to it to make his lies more convincing.
Calchas: the "official" prophet to the Greek army at Troy. Very much under the thumb of Ulysses, who had also used him to undermine Agamemnon's authority over the sacrifice of Iphigeneia.
Cassandra, one of the daughters of Priam and Hecuba, refused to give herself to Apollo. He punished her by giving her the gift of prophecy, but no one would ever believe her. Thus she foretold the sack of Troy, and foresaw her own death and that of Agamemnon, who had taken her back to Mycene as his concubine. They were both murdered by Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra.See also Coroebus.
Diomedes: a powerful Greek warrior. In the Iliad, he was not afraid of wounding the gods Mars and Venus when they entered the battle on the Trojan side.
Dorian: yet another name for "Greek". Strictly the Dorians, who included the Spartans, were one of the three races of Greeks, and the last one to settle in Greece proper, which they probably did some centuries after the Trojan War. The Ionian and Aeolian Greeks were already there when the Dorians arrived. But Virgil is a poet and not an anthropologist! (And the Romans would associate Dorian with the still warlike Spartans of their own day)
Epeos: Ulysses had the idea for the Wooden Horse, but Epeos was the man who actually designed and built it.
Eurypylus: just the name of a Greek!
Helen: Daughter of Tyndareus (or sometimes Jupiter) and sister of Clytemnestra(who married Agamemnon) In Trojan eyes the evil cause of the War : in Homer she is as beautiful in her character as she is to look at (and she can't stand Paris) - but Virgil follows the tradition of Greek tragedy which paints her as an evil woman
Iphigeneia : In order to get a wind to sail from Greece towards Troy, the Greeks demanded the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, eldest daughter of Agamemnon, the commander of the army. He put his job before his family, and agreed. Her mother Clytemnestra never forgave Agamemnon, and she murdered him when he returned from Troy.
Machaon: In the Iliad he is the doctor to the Greek army - he operated on Menelaus when he was shot by Pandarus.
Menelaus Brother of Agamemnon : together they are called the Atridae - the sons of Atreus. He is a not very clearly characterised in the Aeneid. In Greek tragedy, he is usually tough, uncompromising and brutal.
The Myrmidons were the troops of the Greek warrior Achilles.
Neoptolemus, also called Pyrrhus, was the youngest and most savage of the surviving Greek warriors. Aeneas witnesses his callous murder of the courageous old king Priam who has taken refuge at the holy altar. His behaviour is contrasted with that of his father Achilles, who at least had the humanity to allow Priam to reclaim the body of his arch-enemy Hector. But the incident serves to remind Aeneas of his own father Anchises, and he goes at once to rescue him. He was the son of Achilles, and grandson of Peleus. The three generations of this family were all heavily involved in the Trojan story. It was at the marriage of grandfather Peleus to the beautiful sea-nymph Thetis where the first act of the drama took place. Jupiter had fancied Thetis for himself, but had backed off when warned that if he married her, their son would be mightier than his father. Accordingly he arranged for her to marry the harmless mortal Peleus, and all the immortals were invited to the party - except one. Unfortunately they didn't include Eris (Strife), but she gatecrashed, and caused havoc by throwing among the revelling goddesses a golden apple, marked "for the fairest". The three most powerful of them each claimed it, but Jupiter said they should be judged on their beauty by a mortal - Paris, the son of king Priam.
Phoenix was A Greek who, after being thrown out of his home after a quarrel with his father was taken in by Peleus. He acted as a sort of tutor to Achilles, and went with him to Troy.
Sinon: he claimed to have been victimised by Ulysses for being an associate of Palamedes, a rival of his whom he had had executed. Notice how Sinon continually exploits the Trojan hatred of Ulysses.
Ulysses (Ulixes in the Latin) is the same as the Greek Odysseus. Odysseus is of course the wily and resourceful hero of Homer's Odyssey. There he is a brilliantly successful trickster and the reader is expected to admire him. In Virgil, however, he is very much a villain, the evil genius behind the Greek victory (although Aeneas' wanderings after the fall of Troy mirror his and are very much based on the Odyssey). He was responsible for the idea of the wooden horse (the actual builder was Epeos) and Sinon as you will see trades on the Trojan hatred for Ulysses. He is also called "the Ithacan" from his homeland, the island of Ithaca off the west coast of Greece (near Corfu)
Aeneas, the hero of the story, has escaped the ruin of Troy, and after many experiences , been shipwrecked on the coast of North Africa, in what is now Tunisia. He found there a new city being built, Carthage, and its young and beautiful queen, Dido, on discovering that Aeneas and his companions were refugees from Troy (even in North Africa they've heard of the story), has invited them to dine. After the meal she has asked Aeneas to tell her the whole saga. Aeneas was the son of the goddess Venus, and the Trojan Anchises. His wife, Creusa, was the daughter of King Priam, and they had a son, who is called both Iulus and Ascanius. After Creusa's death during the flight from Troy, Aeneas eventually married Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus, ruler of the Italians. She had been betrothed to the local prince Turnus, and the struggle between him and Aeneas for the hand of Lavinia is fully developed in Book XII. The image of Aeneas carrying his aged father from the smoking ruins of Troy is very important. Aeneas has depended on his father, and even after his death (end of Book III) still needed to consult him in order to understand his divine mission. Hence Aeneas' visit to the Underworld in Book VI, where Anchises shows him the future greatness of Rome to inspire him through the hardships he has to face even after he finally reaches Italy.
Ascanius is Iulus' other name: Anchises is Aeneas' father. They represent the past and the future. The continuity between Troy and the new city which will some day be founded ( Aeneas himself knows nothing about it yet) will be provided by the Penates. These are the sacred objects representing the "household gods" of Troy, responsible for its safety and protection. As the city is now beyond saving (even the gods are joining in the destruction) the Penates must be rescued and taken to a new home. (Eventually of course to Rome)
Capys A Trojan - with the right idea about the Horse. He went all the way with Aeneas and was supposedly the founder of Capua in Italy.
Deiphobus Son of Priam, brother of Hector. He became Helen's third husband after the death of Paris - Menelaus singles him out for especially brutal treatment therefore when he catches up with him. Aeneas hardly recognises his obscenely mutilated body when he meets him in the Underworld in Book 6.
Laocoön: a Trojan, priest of Neptune.
Paris was partly responsible for the whole Trojan War. While working as a shepherd on Mount Ida outside Troy, the goddesses Juno, Minerva and Venus asked him to be the judge for their beauty-contest. Juno and Minerva offered as inducements power and wisdom respectively, but Venus' bribe was the most beautiful woman in the world for his own. He duly gave Venus the prize (the golden apple), and turned Juno and Minerva irrevocably against Troy. His reward was Helen, already married, unfortunately, to Agamemnon's brother Menelaus. He went to Greece to claim her, and carried her off. The Greek chieftains had all vowed to stand by Helen's husband (because they'd all wanted her but she chose Menelaus), and so the expedition to Troy was mounted to get her back.
Priam was the king of Troy, and father of many of the Trojan princes and princesses, especially Hector, Paris and Cassandra. He was married to Hecuba, and they supposedly had fifty sons and fifty daughters. All were killed in the sack of Troy, apart from Cassandra .
Ucalegon : Aeneas' next door neighbor.
Thymoetes: just the name of a Trojan - no one special.
Coroebus had come recently to Troy, in order to marry Cassandra
Dido had to leave her homeland of Phoenicia and her city of Tyre when her husband Sychaeus was brutally murdered by her brother Pygmalion. Arriving in North Africa the local ruler granted her and her followers as much land as could be covered by an ox-hide: by cutting it into fine strips, she won enough land to build the city of Carthage. Carthage was still incomplete when Aeneas arrived. She immediately, assisted by Juno and Venus, fell in love with him as he told his story. Aeneas stayed on, and gave Dido to believe that they had entered into a form of marriage. But Jupiter was displeased that his plans for Aeneas were being thwarted, and sent Mercury to tell Aeneas to pack up and leave. Ignoring Dido's pleas, Aeneas sailed away, and Dido climbed on to the funeral pyre and stabbed herself. In Book VI they meet again, but Dido's ghost turns away without speaking to Aeneas, and rejoins her former husband Sychaeus.
The home of Menelaus, Agamemnon's brother. It was from here that Paris abducted Menelaus's wife, Helen, and took her back with him to Troy. In historical times, Sparta was a leading city of Greece, famous for her dedication to war. Despite her victory over Athens in the 5th century B.C., Sparta's supremacy did not last.Capital city of modern Greece with a population of over 8,000,000. It was not an important place at the time of the Trojan War, but in the 5th century B.C. Athens became the leading city of mainland Greece, celebrated for its art, literature, drama and philosophy.
Panthus A priest of Apollo, who was the second person to tell Aeneas to leave Troy and escape (the first was the ghost of Hector who appeared in a dream). Aeneas takes no notice of him either.
Juno (Greek Hera), Jupiter's sister and wife, queen of the immortals, was the most uncompromising of all the gods in hatred of the Trojans (because of the Judgment of Paris). She persecutes Aeneas throughout the Aeneid, responsible for the tragedy of Dido (Book IV) and also for Turnus, the Italian hero whom Aeneas has to defeat when he reaches the "promised land".
Jupiter was the acknowledged king and leader of the gods. However, he was not all-powerful, and lesser gods could (and did) frequently defy him. In the Aeneid he has a very important role. He has a long-term plan for the universe in which he has selected Aeneas as a key performer - although Aeneas doesn't know it yet, and will not really understand the part he's been chosen to play until he has visited the Underworld (in Book VI). The plan involves the destruction of Troy (and so ultimately all attempts to save it are futile) and the escape of Aeneas and his son Iulus, who are destined eventually to reach Italy. There Aeneas's descendants through his Italian wife Lavinia will found Rome, while Iulus's descendants (to be called Iulii after him) will ultimately give rise to Iulius Caesar and his (adopted) son Augustus. Augustus is to be Jupiter's instrument for finally bringing order and peace to the world. Virgil is of couse writing during Augustus' reign, and the story apparently justifies the special monarchic powers that Augustus has been given.
Neptune (Greek Poseidon) : brother of Jupiter and god of the sea. He was a co-founder of Troy, with Apollo, and a staunch supporter of the Trojans. But here, as you will soon see, he is outgunned by Minerva.
Pallas was one of the names of the goddess Athena, in full Pallas Athena. The Romans usually called her Minerva. She was the daughter of Jupiter, from whose head she was supposed to have sprung fully armed. She was the goddess of wisdom and war, as well as patroness of Athens. She supported the Greeks against Troy, and her special favourite was Ulysses. In art she is normally portrayed in full armour with helmet, sword and shield.
Venus : Mother of Aeneas, but also the goddess of Love and Desire. She had been awarded the golden apple by Paris, and was thus, unlike Minerva and Juno, a staunch supporter of the Trojans. She was also the mother of Cupid (Greek Eros) by her husband Mars (Ares).
Jupiter (Zeus) The sky, thunder, king of the gods
Juno (Hera) Queen of the gods
Minerva (Athena) Wisdom - "The Warrior Maid"
Apollo The sun, music, the arts, prophecy
Mercury (Hermes) The messenger, luck, streets, thieves, guide of the dead
Ceres (Demeter) Agriculture
Dis (Pluto / Hades) The underworld
Neptune (Poseidon) The Sea, earthquakes, horses
Vulcan (Hephaestus) "The Lame Smith"
Diana (Artemis) "The Virgin Huntress"
Mars (Ares) War
Venus (Aphrodite) Love
Carthage: The city founded by Dido, it is precious to Minerva but destined to be destroyed by those of Trojan blood
Hesperia means "the land of the evening" - that is the west. The western land in question turned out to be Italy, although Aeneas has no inkling of this as yet.
Ida: the mountain near Troy. The scene of the Judgment of Paris.
One of the cities of Greece: Mycene or Mycenae belonged to the acknowledged leader of the Greek contingent, Agamemnon. Mycene was excavated in the 19th century by the German archaeologist Schliemann. Although the city of Argos is distinct and some miles away, Virgil often confuses them, and the name "Argives" (men of Argos) is also used as a general term for Greeks. (compare "Danaans")
Olympus: the highest mountain in Greece. It is usually snow-capped, even in summer, and the summit is frequently shrouded in mist. It was the obvious choice for the home of the main Greek gods (the twelve Olympians). The ruler is of course Jupiter (Zeus in Greek).
Scyros - an island midway bbetween Greece and Troy where Neoptolemus grew up. Achilles had been sent there by his mother, who wanted him to dodge the draft when the heroes were being called up for Troy - improbably he was dressed as a girl, and lived among the king's daughters - unsurprisingly, after Achilles disguise was rumbled by Ulysses, one of the maidens found herself pregnant - and gave birth to Neoptolemus some months later. .
Sigeum A town on the actual strait between Europe and Asia.
The city of Troy stood near the entrance to the Black Sea, in the North-western corner of what is now Turkey. Its fabulous wealth must have come from its position. The Hellespont would have been too difficult to sail up for ships going into the Black Sea, and the Trojans would have charged to carry ships and cargo overland. Neither Homer nor Virgil are interested in such sordid economics, however, and preferred a more colorful explanation for the Trojan War
Auster is the South Wind.
The dramatic death of Laocoon and his two sons is the subject of a famous ancient Greek sculpture, known from a Roman copy in the Vatican Museum. Virgils' zoologically improbable sea-snakes exhibit every possible feature of snakes, both real and imagined. In fact sea-snakes (possibly the most abundant reptile on earth) are confined to the warm water of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are highly poisonous, but swim - like all snakes - with transverse movements. Interestingly they can tie themselves in knots. This passage may be the origin of the "Loch Ness Monster" type of sea-monster which swims with "humps"!
Lie of Sinon: The convincing lie that Sinon has just told explained how Minerva had ordered the Greeks to build the wooden horse to make amends for the desecration of her sacred image, the Palladium. The Palladium, so he said, would have protected Troy as long as it remained inside Troy: so Ulysses and Diomedes stole it, but spoiled the whole operation by killing some guards and touching the sacred statue with blood still on their hands. They now had to leave the wooden horse and return to Greece, in order to begin the whole expedition afresh. The horse had been deliberately made too big to pass through the gate into Troy, because if the Trojans damaged it their city would be destroyed: while if it were brought into the city intact, Troy would be strong enough to attack the Greeks in their homeland. Note that Sinon could hardly have used Minerva's name to back up his lies unless she was in fact supporting him.
Penates: house-hold gods of Troy which Aeneas takes with him. They were given to Aeneas by Hector in his dream
Lucifer: the morning star. ("Bringer of Light")
Snakes - a recurrent motif in the book : the two sea-snakes kill Laocoön; Androgeos is like a man who stepped on a snake, and Neoptolemus (Pyrrhus) is compared to a snake who's just sloughed its skin.
Tenedos: an island off the coast of Troy where the Greeks hid, pretending to have sailed all the way back home to Greece.
The Winds Zephyrus is the West wind (usually balmy and gentle - but not this time), Notus is a South Wind (compare Auster) and Eurus is the East