Lavinia is a minor character in the Aeneid – even though she ends the poem as Aeneis’ wife. She never even gets to speak. Lavinia is her story.

A quick recap of the Aeneid. Aeneis was a Trojan who was in the city of Troy when the Greeks snuck in via the famous wooden horse. His house was burned down, but he and his father and his son escaped during the ensuing battle (the Trojans lost). Aeneis sails around the Mediterranean similarly to Odysseus in the Odyssey. Eventually, he ends up in Italy, where he founds the ancient city of Rome, thus giving the Romans a bit of classical shine. At least this is the story that Ovid would have us believe.

Lavinia is a chief’s daughter in ancient Italy, of a small but successful tribe. Aeneis and his men end up, kind of against their will, in battle with them. Lavinia is the prize that Aeneis wins, but according to this story, anyway, they love each other and it works out. She is a practical person.

Lavinia is entertaining if you’re in the mood – like I often am – for some ancient European content that actually centers women. (It doesn’t exist, at least not much, so we have to create it.)