What is a written narration, you ask? Simply, it is a written paragraph in your words of any length that summarizes what you have read. Also, it is not open-book or open-notes but should come directly from your head and in your words. It is not an easy task, but as Charlotte Mason says, it will get easier as you practice.
Right now I am reading the Aeneid, by Virgil, and this is my attempt at written narration. I have only read the first ten books so far and thus have only written ten narrations, however, I will post the others here once I finish each.
Aeneas, having fought in Troy and witnessed the death and carnage of the bloody Trojan War, including the death of his dear wife, Creusa, escapes his burning city of Ilium and takes the surviving men on twenty ships to found a new home. Fate has it that he will build Lavinium in the land of the Latins. Of his crew, he has son Ascanius and father Anchises. Juno is furious with him, as she is a fan of the Greeks and not of the Trojans. She causes the wind god Aeolus to cause great storms, which take many of Aeneas’ ships far north, possibly destroying them. Aeneas and 7 of the 20 ships crash onto African soil near Carthage. After hunting and spearing seven stags, preparing and cooking them up for the men with his god-like strength, Aeneas goes off to explore the new land. His mother, Venus, disguised as a girl archer, inquires after him. He inquires of where he is, and she recounts the story of Tyre-born Dido and her escape from her tyrant brother. With all her gold and silver and her people, she embarks on her voyage, similar to Aeneas’ and founds a new city, the City of Carthage. Venus then tells Aeneas that his men are safe and coming to Libya’s shores to meet with him soon. Aeneas is empowered to go further into the city to meet this Dido. His mother shrouds him with mist so no Libyan can detect him or his men. With that protection, they venture to explore all of Carthage and notice the “building up of the grand city.” He is inspired and thinks of the founding of his city he will build soon. Aeneas observes his other men having been saved by the storms have arrived and are pleading with Dido for help and protection. She inquires, they tell their story, and she knows of Troy and the war and Aeneas. Surprised at the grand welcome and hospitality shown to his men, he bursts forth from the misty protection and shows himself. Dido is taken aback by his handsomeness and godliness and falls for him and prepares a huge feast and festival for his arrival. Aeneas sends for his son Ascanius back at the shipwreck. To protect Aeneas from Juno, Venus, sends for her other son, Cupid, to disguise himself as Ascanius and come to put love into Dido for Aeneas, ensuring protection for the hero since Juno loves Dido and will not do anything to hurt her by killing her love. The end of Book one is thick with love as Dido drools over him inquiring about his heroic life. It is pretty obvious that he will now in the next book recount the Trojan war.
Aeneas tells his story to Dido of the last hours of the Trojan War. He tells of a Greek defector, Sinon, who recounts to the Trojans that he has escaped the evil Greeks and wanted to live in Troy. He tells of the great wooden horse the Greeks built to honor the god Minerva for their victory and that the Greeks had all now left for their shores. Some wanted to take the horse into Iliam, into their city and keep it as a gift to their gods. Some were suspicious. It was settled that it would be brought in. The defeated city slept that night in peaceful slumber knowing they were safe from the Greeks, but not realizing the belly of the wooden horse contained nine of the best Greek warriors and the Grecian fleet lay off the shores hidden by a nearby island. All came quietly into the city and at once raided and eventually destroyed all who were left. Meanwhile, Hector approaches Aeneas in a dream to reveal what is happening, and that Aeneas must flee the city. He climbs to the roof of his father’s house to observe the destruction and begins to don his armor to fight. He collects comrades, and they join the battle with fury. The priest of Apollo tells him that Troy is doomed and that it is the very last day for Troy. Aeneas enters battle with his men. A Greek soldier mistakes him and his men for Greeks and quickly become victims to Aeneas, who kill him and the other Greeks to get their Grecian Armor. They don it and disguise themselves as Greeks and fight. In trying to save Cassandra, many of his men die. Only he and two men escape and arrive at Priam’s palace where they continue to battle. The Greeks break down the doors and kill all Trojans inside including King Priam and his household. Aeneas sees his mother, Venus, who warns him to stop battling and get out of the city with his family to save his posterity. He obeys and gathers them together, but his father, Anchises, refuses until they see an omen in the sky—a star shooting down. Anchises knows it is a sign to follow his son. They prepare and run for their lives, but Creusa, Aeneas’ wife, is suddenly missing. Aeneas races to secure his son and father with his men and goes back to save Creusa. Noble are his efforts for the love of his life, but he cannot see her anywhere...until Creusa’s shade appears to him denoting she has been killed and that he should flee rapidly, find a new land and marry a new bride. Upset and broken-hearted, but calm and forward-facing he runs to his son and father. Many refugees have joined the group. They head for the mountains.
Aeneas lands at Cumae and consults the Sibyl, who keeps the gate of the Underworld. She asks him to pray to Apollo to ask permission to enter into the Underworld. He prays and asks for no more than what Fate decrees. The Sibyl prophesies that he and his people will surely make it to Latium, but not before facing some of the greatest trials of war and bloodshed. He states that he can handle this and begs to please go down and meet with his father, Anchises. She tells him the descent is easy, but the ascent is impossible unless Aeneas does two things. He must bury a friend who has polluted his soul and must reach a golden bough and break it off. Only will it break off if he is the selected one of the fates. Aeneas contemplates who the body is that he must bury and discovers it is Misenus, who foolishly challenged Triton to a contest on the trumpet. Aeneas begins to organize the funeral rites for him, and the poet tells the story. Next, Aeneas searches for the golden bough and upon finding it rips it off easily and takes it to the Sybil. Having done both of these tasks, he now can enter into the Underworld with the Sybil. The Poet now invokes the gods to ask permission to tell the story of his journey there. Aeneas is shown Death, Sleep, Disease, Old Age, Dread and Hunger, Poverty and many others. Then, he sees many shades that are forced to wander having never had a proper funeral. Palinurus is one of them and begs to be carried to a safer place, but the Sybil assures him that his body will be recovered and will receive a proper burial and funeral. He is calmed and reassured and leaves them. Charon refuses to take Aeneas across the Styx. However, the Sybil reminds him that this is the Fated Aeneas and that he must do so. She shows Charon the golden bough, and he understands and obeys, taking them across. They reach Limbo, a place for shades of the untimely deaths. Aeneid sees many, but most notably, he sees Tragic Dido, who is still furious with him. He meets her with love, but she will not accept it. He sees his comrades in war, including Deiphobus, Priam’s son and hears his story. Aeneas had searched for his body at the time of death, but could not find it. Deiphobus asks Aeneas why he is in the Underworld but is not allowed to hear the answer as the Sybil moves them onward. Now they come to Tartarus, the place of the wicked and damned souls. She tells of their names and their punishments. It is similar to Dante’s Inferno. Finally, they leave Tartarus and enter into Elysium to seek for Anchises. Aeneas must place the golden bough here to enter in. They meet and embrace and then Anchises shows Aeneas the spirits who have yet to be born and those who will have a second body (reincarnation). These spirits are to become his race and will be heroes. Such names as Romulus and Augustus Caesar, who is stronger than Hercules, according to the poet, and many others who will make Rome a great kingdom. He then warns not to have a civil war and to rule with all his power. One last shade comes into view as he sees Marcellus and his son who will die an early death. Marcellus will be famed in the Second Punic War. Anchises leads his son with stories of glory and tells him of the wars he must wage with the Laurentine peoples and of Latinus’ city and to shun or shoulder each ordeal as he meets it. With this, both the Sibyl and Aeneas leave the Underworld.
Aeneas’ nurse dies and is buried. They sail past the land of Circe and reach the mouth of the Tiber River. The poet invokes the muse and begins to tell the story of Italy and King Latium, whose daughter Lavinia is betrothed to Turnus, but that the Oracles say she is to marry a foreigner--a stranger. Dismayed by the signs, the King seeks out his father, Faunus, who prophesies that she is to marry a foreigner. Meanwhile, Aeneas and his people arrive at Italian shores and make a banquet and feast. Aeneas feels he has finally arrived at the home of his fate. Then he prays, and Jove receives his prayer with happiness. Aeneas sends an embassy to the king and a herald before him. They arrive at the beautiful palace and describe what they see. Latinas welcomes him and his people with open arms and asks from whence they come. Ilioneus answers that they come from Troy by way of Fate and promises no ill will from the Trojans. They offer gifts from Troy and King Priam. The king tells Aeneas of the Oracle and gives his daughter to Aeneas, as he is the proper husband for her, according to the prophecies. Juno discovers that Aeneas has arrived on Italian shores and is livid. She rouses the powers of Hell to exact a heavy toll of bloodshed on the Trojans before the Alliance is created. Quickly, Juno flies to the Underworld to wake Allecto and with fiery words, explains all her fury and commands that Allecto tempt key people to start the war. She obeys and visits Amata, the mother of Lavinia, to tempt her about the marriage between Lavinia and Turnus. Amata falls into a frenzy and rouses the women of Latium to join her. Next, she works on Turnus from a deep sleep, but he mocks her profusely. She changes her disguise and sends to fiery serpents upon him and riles him up for war. Following this, Allecto turns toward Iulus (Ascanius), Aeneas’ son, whose hunting dogs find Sylvia’s pet stag and Iulus, not realizing the stag is a pet, shoots it down and kills it, which suddenly upsets her and the town. War is about to break out. Allecto sounds the war cry and then returns to the heavens to report to Juno that she has completed the tasks given her. Juno sends her back to the Underworld. Turnus moves toward Latium and is ready for battle, and the people are ready for action and approach King Latinus to approve the fight. He stands firm and will not. They beg him to open the gate, which is customary for the commencements of battles, but he refuses and prophesies that the people will pay dearly for their outrage and puts the blame on Turnus, with a warning that he will have a dreadful end. Then, King Latinus locks himself into his palace. Juno intervenes and opens the gate for the people. The battle begins. The poet then invokes the Muse once again. Virgil now goes through the catalog of Italian heroes, including Mezentius, who is the epitome of the uncivilized, barbaric type in Italy and ends with the story of Camilla.