A Trojan hero, the son of Anchises and Aphrodite. Through his father, the son of Capys, Aeneas was a descendant of the race of Dardanus, and hence of Zeus himself (Table 7). For the circumstances of his birth, see Anchises. In early childhood Aeneas was brought up in the mountains; when he was five he was taken to the city by his father and entrusted to his brother-in-law Alcathus (husband of his sister Hippodamia) who took charge of his education. Later Aeneas stood out as the bravest of the Trojans after Hector. He was not a member of the reigning house, but predictions had been made at his birth which foretold that power would one day be his. Indeed when Aphrodite revealed her identity to Anchises, after he had coupled with her she said: 'You will have a son, who will rule over the Trojans, and sons will be born to his sons, and so on for all eternity.'

The first encounter between Aeneas and Achilles during the Trojan War took place on Mount Ida, during a series of raids mounted by Achilles on Aeneas' herds. Aeneas' attempts to stand up to the hero were in vain and he had to seek refuge at Lyrnessos, whence he was rescued by Zeus' protecting hand when Achilles sacked the city. On several occasions Aeneas took part in the fighting around Troy. Once he was wounded by Diomedes; Aphrodite tried to save him but she herself received a wound. Apollo then hid Aeneas in a cloud and spirited him far away from the battlefield, but he soon returned to the fray, where he slew Crethon and Orsilocus.

He was equally successful during the attack on the Achaean camp. He confronted Idomeneus, though without achieving victory. Then he killed a large number of Greeks and was at Hector's side when the latter put the Achaeans to flight. He was among those fighting around the body of Patroclus, and crossed swords again with Achilles, who of all the Greeks was the only one who was likely to succeed in killing him, but in the nick of time Poseidon snatched Aeneas away from his enemy by enveloping him in a cloud, having remembered Aphrodite's prophecy that Aeneas would one day reign over the Trojans, and that his children and his children's children would keep this position of supremacy. So in the Homeric saga Aeneas appeared as a hero protected by the gods (whom he obeyed with due respect) and destined for a great role: in him lay the future of the Trojan race. All these components were woven together by Virgil in the Aeneid, and given expression within the framework of the Roman legend.

Poets after Homer showed Aeneas taking part in the final struggles around Troy, filling the role of the dead Hector in the defence of the city; after the fall of Troy his importance increased still further. Following the extraordinary events surrounding Laocoon and his sons, he realized that the fall of the city was imminent, and on the advice of his father Anchises and with Aphrodite to guide him, he made his escape to the mountains with Anchises, his wife Creusa and his little son Ascanius. A more fanciful version of the legend claimed that Aeneas was taken by surprise by the Greek attack on the city. He made his escape amid the flames, with old Anchises on his back and Ascanius in his arms - carrying in addition the Penates, the most sacred of the Trojan gods, and also the Palladium. With these relics he withdrew to Mount Ida where he gathered together the scattered Trojans who had survived the massacre and founded another city over which he reigned, thus fulfilling the prediction of Aphrodite - who, it was said, had instigated the Trojan War only in order to strip Priam of the throne and give it to her own descendants (see also Ascanius).

The most widely circulated legend, the one which formed the basis for Virgil's epic poem, was the story of Aeneas' travels. After a short stay on Mount Ida (see Oxynius), the hero left for Hesperia - the lands of the western Mediterranean. The stages of his journey were as follows: after calling at Samothrace, he went to Thrace and Macedonia, then on the Crete via Delos, and thence to Cythera and so on into Laconia and Arcadia; from there he went to Zacynthus, then to Leucas, and so up the coast of Epirus, landing at Bothrotum, where he met Helenus and Andromache. Finally he reached southern Italy where he harried the many Greek colonies that had been established throughout the region. He then decided to sail around Sicily, avoiding the Straits of Messine (the habitat of Scylla and Charybdis), and making a stop at Drepanum, where Anchises died. When he set sail again, a storm cast him onto the Carthaginian coast (see Dido). From there he resumed his journey at the order of the gods, who had no wish for him to establish himself peacefully in the city destined to be Rome's rival; he landed at Cumae, which Virgil made the scene of Aeneas' visit to the Sybil and his descent into Hades.

He soon left Cumae, and made his way along the shores of Italy to the north-west. He stopped at Caieta (Gaeta) to pay his last respects to his old nurse (see Caieta), carefully avoided a stop at Circe's island, and finally reached the mouth of the Tiber, where he became embroiled in a series of battles with the Rutuli. Leaving the majority of his companions in the camp that had been set up on the coast, Aeneas himself went up the Tiber as far as the city of Pallanteum, which was later to become the site of the city of Rome (the Palatine); there he sought an alliance with old king Evander, who was of Arcadian origin, but who had in former days been a guest of Anchises, and as such was not hostile to the Trojans. Evander gave Aeneas a warm welcome and sent a body of troops to his rescue, led by his own son Pallas.

On Evander's advice Aeneas then went to Agylla, in Etruria, where he encouraged the rebellious subjects of King Mezentius to take up arms against their ruler. But in his absence the troops of Turnus, the Rutulian king, attacked the Trojans' camp and tried to set fire to their fleet. The battle was about to go against the Trojans when the arrival of Aeneas with the allied troops reversed the situation. Aeneas soon killed his enemy Turnus in single combat. Virgil's epic poem comes to an end with this victory of Aeneas; it makes no direct reference to the later events recorded by the historians - the founding of Lavinium, the struggles against the various local tribes, and the disappearance of Aeneas during a storm. According to these legends, the founder of Rome was merely one of Aeneas' descendants, Romulus. Aeneas' son Ascanius (or Iulus) founded Alba Longa, the metropolis of Rome. For the versions of the legend before Virgil, see Latinus.

Some obscure traditions speak of Aeneas as the direct founder of Rome (see Nanus, and Odysseus); others gave him four sons - Ascanius, Euryleon, Romulus, and Remus. It is apparent that Virgil's version set the tradition for all the later writers, and that it was the only one still current after the first century AD. The legend of Aeneas had the merit of giving Rome the stamp of respectability by tracing its founders' race back to the very beginnings of recorded time, and attributing to it divine ancestors - Zeus and Aphrodite. Furthermore Rome's grandeur seemed to have been foretold by Homer himself. Finally, in the heart of its empire, Rome seemed to have effected the reconciliation of the two enemy races, the Trojans and the Greeks.

Some of the silver denarii minted on during the reign of Julius Caesar depict, on the reverse, a scene showing Aeneas carrying his father Anchises and the Palladium from the sack of Troy.


Table of Sources:
- Hesiod, Theog. 1008ff.
- Homeric Hymn on Aphrodite, esp. 196ff.
- Hom. Il. 2, 819ff.; 5, 166ff.; 297ff.; 431ff.; 512ff.; 541ff.; 12, 98; 13, 458ff.; 540ff.; 15, 332ff.; 16, 608ff.; 17, 333ff.; 491ff.; 752; 761; 20, 75ff.
- Dion. Hal. 1, 46ff.; 1, 72
- Livy 1, 1ff.
- Virgil, Aen.
- Ovid, Her. 7
- Arnobius, Adv. Nat. 2, 71
- See W. A. Camps, An Introduction to Virgil's Aeneid, pp. 75ff
- N. Horsfall, JRS 63 (1973), 68ff

(uh nee' uhs) GREEK: AINEAS

The apostle Peter made several journeys to exhort and encourage the faithful of the early church. On a trip to Lydda, a town on the plain of Sharon some 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem, he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Telling Aeneas that "Jesus Christ heals you" (Acts 9:34), Peter cured him - a miracle that converted many.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}

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