Virgil was a poet during Augustus’ reign in Rome. Therefore he uses the Aeneid to push through political messages that would please both the emperor and the Roman people. However Virgil also uses the epic to not just push through political messages, but also to illustrate social, moral & religious values which would be relevant to the Augustan audience at the time whilst still producing an entertaining epic. He illustrates the majority of these values through the actions of the protagonist Aeneas, whom is modelled as an ideal Roman. However rather than portraying Aeneas as a divine and perfect being, Virgil presents him as a human being that the Roman audience can relate to. A man who does his best to follow his duty and remain pious; however he does not always get it right at times.
Jupiter’s speech in book 1 of the Aeneid is a clear glorification of Rome as Jupiter explains to Venus that in three hundred and thirty three years from the time Aeneas lands in Italy, Rome will be born. He then goes on to state “On them I impose no limits of time or place. I have given them an empire that will know no end.” Translating in Latin to “imperium sine fine”. This political message would particularly please the Roman audience, as they would feel their existence and empire is supported by the gods. Further political messages include Anchises showing Aeneas important Roman figures in the underworld in book 6, waiting to be born. Amongst them is the emperor Augustus, whom Anchises explains is “the man who will bring back the golden years to fields of Latium… and extend Rome’s empire beyond the Indians and the Garamantes to a land beyond the stars”. This political message follows in line with current affairs at the time period. The Aeneid was composed immediately after the battle of Actium in 31 BC, where Augustus defeated Antony and a long period of civil war came to an end. It was after this war that Augustus sought to rebuild Rome, by restoring the traditional values & qualities that once made Rome great. Therefore following in line with Anchises prophecy that he will “bring back the golden years” Rome.
Virgil uses book 8 to illustrate political messages about Rome, firstly through Aeneas’ walk with Evander back to his house from dinner. King Evander points out a number of sites that were still in existence during Virgil's time, thereby underscoring the fact that Rome's greatness was preordained. Later Venus gives Aeneas his shield that was forged by Vulcan. On the face of the shield, the images depict the future of Rome and most notably the battle of Actium. Virgil particularly focuses on Augustus’ victory and the subsequent celebrations - “The streets resounded with joy and festivities and applause. He himself was seated at the white marble threshold of gleaming white Apollo, inspecting the gift brought before him…”
However Virgil also used the Aeneid to portray ideal Roman values. Aeneas duty to his country, family and mission would be greatly admired by the Roman audience. His unbinding loyalty to his father can be seen in book 2 when he carries him out of Troy and the nervousness that overcame him as a result – “…so afraid both for the man I carried and for the child at my side”, in book 5 when he hosts a funeral games in honour of him in Sicily and in book 6 when they share a emotional encounter in the underworld – “I knew your devotion would prevail over all the rigour of the journey and bring you to your father”. His strong devotion to his son Ascanius is also evident throughout the play, in book 1 he refuses to settle down for dinner in Dido’s palace without his son & orders Achates to go and find him. “But a father’s love allowed Aeneas’ mind no rest, and he asked Achates to go quickly ahead to the ships to take…