The Aeneid: Character Profiles
Achates : Achates is the loyal companion of Aeneas, always referred to as the faithful Achates. He has no distinctive character otherwise.
Aeneas : Aeneas is the protagonist of the Aeneid. He is the son of a mortal, Anchises, of the royal house of Troy, and a goddess, Venus. During the Trojan War, he was second only to Hector among the Trojan warriors, and he is known as outstanding for his pietas: he always obeys the gods, and he saved his father from the ruins of Troy by carrying him on his shoulders.
Amata : Amata is the wife of King Latinus and mother of Lavinia. She wants her daughter to marry Turnus, and once she has been enraged by a Fury, she contributes to the war against Aeneas.
Anchises : Anchises is the father of Aeneas. He supports, guides, and inspires his son until he dies, and the tie between them is so strong that his son goes down to the Underworld to see him once more. He speaks for destiny, and the glory of Rome to be.
Ascanius, or Iulus : Ascanius, or Iulus, is the young son of Aeneas. His age is left vague: he is little more than an infant when Troy falls, and he is young enough when the Trojans land on the shores of Carthage seven years later that Dido can naturally take him on her lap during a feast, yet old enough that he kills his first man after the Trojans land in Italy, less than a year later. His character is not developed.
Dido : Dido is the sister of the Phoenician (Punic) ruler of Tyre, Pygmalion, Dido was married young to a wealthy landowner. Her brother coveted the wealth and had Dido's husband killed. Dido escaped with a group of Tyrians who were sick of the rule of this tyrant, and was granted land on the coast of Libya, where she founded and ruled the city of Carthage. As the story of the Aeneid opens, she has vowed to be true to her dead husband, but Venus sets Cupid on her, and soon she is deeply in love with Aeneas, neglects her city, calls the relationship that begins between the two of them marriage, and is driven wild by grief and kills herself when Aeneas must leave to follow his destiny.
Drances : Drances is an aged Latin, too old to be of use in battle himself, a counselor and a stirrer up of trouble. On his mother's side he is of noble birth, but on his father's he is low-born. He envies the glory of Turnus and urges the Latins to stop fighting and let Turnus fight Aeneas alone.
Evander : Evander is a Greek from the region called Arcadia, associated by tradition with pastoral simplicity, who came to Italy before the fall of Troy with other banished Arcadians and built a town called Pallanteum on the site where later Rome would be built. There he reigns as king, living very simply. He is too old to fight, but he helps Aeneas in every way he can, remembering how when he was young he exchanged gifts of friendship with Aeneas's father. He is a model of a righteous king who despises riches, and when he calls for the death of Turnus to avenge the death of his son, Pallas, his words carry weight.
Juno : Juno is the Roman name for Hera, the wife of Jupiter and the queen of the gods. She is irrational, vindictive, hungry to have her power recognized and eager to destroy all those she feels have shown her less than the respect she deserves, as well as all those related to them.
Jupiter : Jupiter is the Roman name for Zeus. He is the all-powerful father of the gods, at whose word everyone is still, yet apparently he is reluctant to use his power against the will of Juno.
Latinus : Latinus is the ruler of Latium, dwelling in the city of Laurentum; an old man, without the power to withstand those who cry out for war with Aeneas. Latinus would have obeyed the oracle and given his daughter to Aeneas, and in the end he is happy to do so.
Lausus : Lausus is the son of the tyrant Mezentius, but worthy of a better father. A young, brave, and beautiful man, who dares to fight Aeneas in order to save his father. Aeneas kills him.
Lavinia : Lavinia is a silent, modest, beautiful maiden, daughter of King Latinum and Queen Amata. She never speaks a word, as would have been considered appropriate for someone in her position, but some think Virgil is implying that she would rather marry Turnus than this older stranger, Aeneas, who has come by the will of the gods to claim her hand.
Mezentius : Mezentius is a bloody, god-scorning tyrant, so cruel that the Etruscans he rules have cast him out. Turnus has taken him in, and the Etruscans willingly go to battle under the command of Aeneas in order to avenge themselves on the tyrant who oppressed them. His only virtue is his love for his son Lausus, and he willingly dies in battle against Aeneas after Aeneas kills his son.
Neptune : Neptune is the Roman name for Poseidon, the god of the sea. He saved Aeneas from destruction at the hands of Achilles during the Trojan War, and Virgil describes him as saving Aeneas from the storm caused by Juno at the beginning of the Aeneid.
Palinurus : Palinurus is the helmsman of the flagship of the Trojan fleet. His only distinction is that he tries his best to stay awake and do his duty of steering the fleet on the voyage to consult the Sibyl and enter the Underworld, but the god of sleep overpowers him, and he falls overboard. One life instead of many, Neptune tells Venus, and one more loss for Aeneas to mourn.
Pallas : Pallas is the son of King Evander of the Arcadians. A young, brave, and beautiful man, experiencing battle for the first time, he dares to fight Turnus and is killed.
Turnus : Turnus is king of the Rutulians, one of several tribes in the part of Italy called Latium where Aeneas lands. He is young, proud, brave, and a powerful fighter, and he hopes to marry Lavinia, the daughter of the king of all Latium, Latinus. When Latinus, following an oracle, plans to give her to Aeneas instead, a Fury drives Turnus wild with rage, and he incites war.
Venus : Venus is the Roman name for Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, and the mother of Aeneas. She pleads for her son and grandson, trying to persuade Jupiter to protect them from the anger of Juno, and she uses her powers of persuasion to convince her husband, Vulcan, to make divine arms for Aeneas. She is lovely, seductive, and powerful. She has little patience with her son when he is unhappy, and does not give him the love he longs for.