Aeneas

After Hector's death, the greatest of the remaining Trojan warriors was Aeneas, whose father was Anchises and whose mother was Venus, the goddess of love.

On the night when Troy fell, as the Greeks climbed down from the wooden horse and threw open the gates, Aeneas awoke, heard the clamor in the streets, and rushed out from his house to defend the city. But a vision appeared to him. He saw the ghost of Hector, returned from the underworld to bring a message from the gods. Hector told him that the gods had appointed that the city would be utterly destroyed that very night. Aeneas only, and those he took with him, would escape. But if he would take the household gods of Troy, the lares and penates from Priam's palace, the gods had granted that Aeneas would found a great city far away, which one day would rule over even the proud Greeks.

So Aeneas ran through the streets to the palace, which was already burning, and rescued from it Priam's household gods. Then, gathering his aged father Anchises, his young son Ascanius, and all the other men and women of Troy that he could find, Aeneas led them out of Troy by a secret way that the Greeks did not know. When they were safely in the hills, far above the city, they looked back and saw the flames leaping high from the city of the sloping walls. They held each other and wept as they thought of all those whose lives were lost.

Through many adventures, Aeneas led the survivors of Troy. They sailed far across the sea, and often they were tossed by storms because the goddess Juno resented the people of Troy, and the son of Venus in particular. After many years of wandering, they reached a city called Carthage on the northern shores of Africa. There a beautiful queen named Dido ruled. She gave the Trojans a place to rest and food to eat, and soon she fell in love with Aeneas. She asked him to stay forever, marry her and help her rule her city of Carthage.

Aeneas was tired of wandering and wanted to stay with the beautiful queen, but Jupiter sent him a message in a dream commanding that he continue his journey. Ever faithful to the will of the gods, Aeneas gave secret orders to his men to load supplies onto their ships and make ready. Then, without a word to Dido, Aeneas and his men sailed away.

When she found out she had been abandoned by the man she loved, Queen Dido went mad with rage. She placed a terrible curse upon Aeneas and all his descendants, saying that her city would be devoted to their destruction. Then, to seal her curse in the eyes of the gods, and because without her love she had lost all hope, she killed herself. Aboard his ship, Aeneas saw on the horizon the glow of the great funeral pyre which the Carthaginians made for their queen, but he did not know what it was, or that Dido's curse would one day bring war between her people and his.

Protected from further storms by Jupiter, Aeneas and his men sailed at last to Italy. There he married Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus, the king of Latium. Aeneas and the Trojans founded a new city, which he named Lavinium after his new wife.

Lavinia and Aeneas had a son named Silvius, and when Silvius grew up he left Lavinium to found yet another city, which was named Alba Longa. There Silvius ruled as king, and took for himself a new name: Julius.

Go back to: Elementary Program: Volume One

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