The first clear result is: yes you can read epics with your standard contemporary reader's mind and it does make quite some sense - see two lessons in Italian culture below.
As a very unartistic fellow, I missed much of the aesthetic beauty and felt in awe of the epic propaganda effort that's how you sanction a people's superiority and roots by making up a myth and bolstering it with thousands of lines.
With hindsight, it may be better for those who understand even a basic Latin to read it in double version, so one can capture a few of the most impressive phrases in the original.
Two points struck me as uncannily capturing what is Italian culture to this day:
- Aenea's apology to Dido - "yes, I am leaving you after eternal love promises, and after you fell for it as a jerk, but it's somebody else's fault - and I would marry you if I could, and I never quite promised anything anyway"
- at the end of the athletic games, losers generously cheat to help their friends win against other winners, then each player takes parts according to self interest, finally additional prizes are given to those cheated to keep the everybody happy and the party going.