Lavinia (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lavinia Novel.JPG
First edition cover
Author Ursula K. Le Guin
Country United States
Language English
Genre Parallel novel
Publisher Harcourt United States
Publication date
April 21, 2008
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 288 pp
ISBN 0-15-101424-8
OCLC 145733040
813/.54 22
LC Class PS3562.E42 L38 2008

Lavinia is a Locus Award winning[1] 2008 novel by American author Ursula K. Le Guin. It relates the life of Lavinia, princess of Laurentum, a minor character in Vergil's epic poem the Aeneid.[2]


Lavinia, daughter of the king of the Latins, is sought after by neighbouring kings, but knows she is destined to marry a stranger. This is Aeneas from the Trojan War, who arrives with a large body of Trojans.

An agreement is made but then breaks down and there is war, which is won by the outnumbered Trojans. They found a new city, called Lavinium, but Aeneas is killed after three years. Aeneas's elder son Ascanius founds Alba Longa and marries but fails to produce an heir. Lavinia removes her son Silvius from his control and he eventually becomes king of the Latins.

Rome already exists, but as a small settlement that plays no part in events.

Lavinia herself retreats from the world and at the end seems to have turned into an owl. She has all along regarded the world she lives in as unreal, a product of Vergil's imagination.


The book is based on the last six books of the Aeneid. Lavinia talks to the poet and it seems she only exists in the context of the poem, and knows it. It is not meant to be history. Le Guin says that "The Trojan War was probably fought in the thirteenth century BC; Rome was founded, possibly, in the eighth, though there is no proper history of it for centuries after that. That Priam's nephew Aeneas of Troy had anything at all to do with the founding of Rome is pure legend, a good deal of it invented by Vergil himself".[3]

She also explains that her work is a translation of the last six books of the Aeneid into prose, with extra details and changes where they felt right.


  1. ^ "2009 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  2. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (2009-05-23). "The princess with flaming hair". Guardian Books (London). Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  3. ^ Afterword to Lavinia.

External links[edit]