I. Readings in the Aeneid

Notate Bene: An easy and logical way to begin would be to read Book I of the Aeneid in English, perhaps informing it with Professor Boyd's helpful guide, Introduction, pp. xxvi-xxviii ("Characters and Plot"). The suggestions below for some further reading are only suggestions: you have more than a few Latin hexameters to read, o Whippersnappers and:
Interea tempus fugit!
The best foundation would be a reading of books i-vi in English. Indeed the first ("Odyssean") half of the Aeneid has received more attention over the centuries than the "Iliadic" second half (books vii-xii) and most of our readings are drawn from books i-vi.
The complete list of our readings appears on the page "Latin Readings", but for our first meeting the Latin texts which we will examine are:
I.
Aeneid I: Prologue: lines 1-33
Aeneid I: Juno and Aeolus: lines 34-80
Aeneid I: Venus‘ Complaint: lines 229-253
§ Dactylic Hexameter Verse (Our first "truth and beauty" topic).


II. The Homeric Poems
The Iliad and Odyssey stand at the very foundation of Vergil's narrative and poetic technique. The complexity (indeed, ambiguity) of this relationship is well described by Joseph Farrell as one in which Virgil "is sure of his right to stand alongside the great poets of the past, yet too worshipful of their acheivements to molest them with willful revisionism":

"..Virgil’s ability to make his text part of something greater than itself, as if it were merely an episode within a greater, continuous text of almost unimaginable scope..... The aim of this poet is to create a text that will knit together any number of cherished 'pre-texts' into a vast, continuous intertext - a project which Virgil did not begin or complete, but that he did much to advance."
[Joseph Farrell, “The Virgilian intertext” in The Cambridge Companion to Virgil. Cambridge University Press. 1997.]

The Homeric poems are monumental and somewhat forbidding, but a way of beginning a comparative study might be to focus on fundamental thematic parallels:

• The Odyssey: For the Odyssean half of the Aeneid (books i-vi) the passages of greatest interest are Odysseus' arrival and acceptance on Scheria in books v and vi of the Odyssey (a sequence that parallels Aeneas' arrival at Carthage in Aeneid I) and the journey to the world of the dead (the Nekuia of Odyssey xi) as remade in Aeneid vi where Aeneas guided by the Sibyl undertakes the passage to Hades to speak with his dead father.

• The Iliad: The second half of the Aeneid deepens the typological link between Aeneas and Achilles, both goddess-born heroes who seek and attain a terrible vengeance for the loss of a dear companion. It is worth reading the end of the Iliad (book xxiv) with its transcendently beautiful recognition and recociliation of Priam and Achilles, and the horrific contrast with the "corresponding" scene which ends the Aeneid.