I have just finished and like others, I found the final books a hard slog. I felt I was wading through rivers of blood and some of the descriptions were pretty gruesome. At the same time, I didn't get the sense of its being violence for its own sake, as some (many?) films seem to be these days, for example. In Book 12, lines 584-9, Virgil says (Fagles translation):
"Now what god can unfold for me so many terrors?
Who can make a song of slaughter in all its forms -
the deaths of captains down the entire field,
dealt now by Turnus, now by Aeneas, kill for kill?
Did it please you so, great Jove, to see the world at war,
the peoples clash that would later live in everlasting peace?"
I found Fagles' Translator's Postscript very interesting. For example, in terms of the two voices - "the public 'official' voice of imperial triumph ... and the muted, intimate voice of loss and suffering". (page 398)
And given our earlier discussion about things such as the scenes from the Trojan War that Aeneas sees in Carthage, and also the scenes of later events in Roman history on Aeneas' shield, on page 391 there is a comment about this and Virgil's use of the historic present through the poem. I liked Fagles' reference to T S Eliot's "Burnt Norton" which fits the situation perfectly:
"Time present and time past
are both perhaps present in time future,
and time future contained in time past."
All in all, a thought-provoking experience to have read this extraordinary work, even if not as polished as Virgil would have liked it to be. We are indebted to Augustus for saving it from being destroyed.
Thanks for encouraging us to take the journey, issybird.