Reading Vergil’s Aeneid over the past 9 days and visiting new cities helped us not only to expand our Latin knowledge, but also experience amazing places. One of our favorite parts of this Calder Classics trip was our dinners at the villa because we would stay and would all work together in the kitchen to prepare big Italian dinners for everyone.
We stayed in a beautiful villa near Monte San Savino with rustic buildings, a pool, jacuzzi, and sauna. Another fun part of this trip was reading and relaxing in the sun.
During Latin sessions, we read primarily Book VI of the Aeneid and explored Vergil’s depiction of the underworld, meeting characters such as Charon, the ferryman, and the Cumaean Sibyl, a prophetess who guides Aeneas through the underworld. To expand upon the Aeneid, we read Vergil’s Eclogue IV, which mentions the Sibyl and describes the hope for a golden age. For example, Vergil describes how sheeps’ wool would naturally come in a myriad of colors, and that men would therefore not have to dye them. So it was entertaining that later in the day when we visited Siena, a storefront displayed ceramic statuettes of rainbow sheep!
It was also fascinating to draw parallels between the Odyssey and Aeneid in order to interpret what Vergil was implying about the true consequences of building an empire.
After reading such texts, we were able to visit nearby Roman and Etruscan sites, especially tombs, where depictions of the underworld were particularly prominent. In addition, we travelled to Siena and saw the inside of its famed Duomo, where prophecies of various Sibyls are carved.
We had the most extraordinary time with Calder Classics in Italy. The Etruscan countryside complemented our readings as it allowed us to study further ancient perspectives of the underworld. Our readings of Aeneid Book 6 and Eclogue IV paralleled the Siena’s Duomo with its carving of the Cumaean Sibyl.