As far as I remembered, there are two dominant structural theories of the Aeneid:

  • The Homer Theory (a name I made up, I forgot the official one), claiming that the first 6 books resemble the Odyssey with odysseys and books 7-12 resembling the Iliad with all the fighting.

  • A structuring by Niklas Holzberg, which split the text into 3 parts and, as far as I can recall, linked them to the history of Rome (kings, republic, emperors or something like that). I have done a search through my sources but couldn't find anything on that.

Can anyone provide me with a summary of Holzberg theory or a link to his published theory?

I do speak German, so if somebody only finds German articles (given that Holzberg is German), that would work as well.

  • 2
    Is there a specific question here? From what I gather in the question, you are asking about either the validity of these theories or where you might find commentaries on these ideas, but there is no explicit question, so that clarification would be greatly appreciated.
    – Sam K
    Oct 16, 2017 at 17:19
  • @SamK I’m looking for the idea as such. I remember a bit of it but I couldn’t find published information on Holzberg’s idea anywhere. I’m looking for a summary of the theory either by the author himself or a secondary source. That might not have been clear and I’ve updated my question.
    – Narusan
    Oct 16, 2017 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


Looking at Niklas Holzbergs list of publications seems unproductive for this. His Sammlung Tusculum book does not look like what you want.

This seems to be a mixup: Nicholas Horsfall has published on this too!

And this looks like what you want to get at: Nicholas Horsfall: "The Epic Distilled. Studies in the Composition of the Aeneid" ? He has much more published on Virgil than Holzberg.

Although I am unsure which "theory" you have in mind in particular.


I‘ve found it. Holzberg did at least propagate the idea in this lecture (from 2:00):

On a closer look, it can be regrouped into 3 parts of 4 books each, the first four of whom take place in Carthage, interestingly enough. The epos is not linearly structured, but in a sort of retrospective. [...]

in the fifth book, Aeneas goes on more Odysseus, he visits the underworld in book 6 with the showing of heroes, until he sets his first foot on Latium in book seven. Because his ancestors were from Latium, the seventh book was basically a home-coming of Aeneas parallel to the homecoming of Odysseus at the end of the Odyssey. In book eight, Aeneas is looking for partners to combat Turnus and the residents of Latium and Italy. He travels near to the place that will become Rome eventually, having finally reached his destiny. At the end of book eight, he receives a shield and further weaponry from Volcanos, with the depiction of the future heroes of Rome. He is basically at his goal here, he has returned as Odysseus, but he still has to fight in the last 4 books.

Turnus is angry that Latinus, king of Latium, has promised his daughter - former betrothed of Turnus - to Aeneas. The issue at hand is a women again, similar to the Iliad. Long story short, Aeneas wins the final duel between him and Turnus.

Rather free translation by myself. I’ve omitted quite a bit about books 1-4 because it is fairly obvious why they should belong together.

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