The capacity of proper names to condense concepts, descriptions, or short narratives can tell us a lot about the Aeneid. But names only 'suggest' or 'evoke' meaning, which can be elicited and/or understood properly only by viewing it in a reading of the epic as a whole. Virgil's epic reveals recurrent semantic patterns, which show that names are substituta ble semantic units. One way to elicit their meaning is by exploring the semantic environment in which they occur as well as related semantic environments elsewhere in the narrative, and by examining the way names combine with semantic units of transparent meaning. This study offers a complete semantic analysis of the Aeneid by book, based on the discussion of semantic components and semantic sequences, and using the Laocoon-Horse sequence as a model. The analysis reveals a sustained, pervasive, and deep-going exploitation of the meaning of names. It yields new interpretations for every episode in the epic and provides the semantic features of most major characters.
It sheds new light on the significance of Polydorus, the death of Anchises at Drepanum, the Nisus and Euryalus relationship, and Camilla's features in relation to the spearthrow of Metabus. It shows the authenticity of the Helen episode, as well as the significance of the catalogue of the of sinners in Tartarus, and of the deaths of Pallas and Turnus.