Homeric Story. Aeneas was the son of Anchises and Aphrodite, and born on mount Ida. On his father's side he was a greatgrandson of Tros, and thus nearly related to the royal house of Troy, as Priam himself was a grandson of Tros. He was educated from his infancy at Dardanus, in the house of Alcathous, the husband of his sister.
At the beginning of the war of the Greeks against Troy he did not take any part in it, and the poet intimates that there existed an ill feeling between him and Priam, who did not pay sufficient honour to Aeneas. This probably arose from a decree of destiny, according to which Aeneas and his descendants were to rule over Troy, since the house of Priam had drawn upon itself the hatred of Cronion.
Ara Pacis: Aeneas sacrificing 13-9 BCE. Rome.
[ See: The Prophecy Of Helenus ]
One day when Aeneas was tending his flocks on mount Ida, he was attacked by Achilles, who took his cattle and put him to flight. But he was rescued by the gods.
This event, however, and the admonition of Apollo, roused his spirit, and he led his Dardanians against the Greeks. Henceforth he and Hector are the great bulwarks of the Trojans against the Greeks, and Aeneas appears beloved and honoured by gods and men.
He is among the Trojans what Achilles is among the Greeks. Both are sons of immortal mothers, both are at feud with the kings, and both possess horses of divine origin. Achilles himself, to whom Hector owns his inferiority, thinks Aeneas a worthy competitor. The place which Aeneas occupies among the Trojans is well expressed in Philostratus, who says that the Greeks called Hector the hand, and Aeneas the soul of the Trojans.
On one occasion he was engaged in a contest with Diomedes, who hurled a mighty stone at him and broke his hip. Aeneas fell to the ground, and Aphrodite hastened to his assistance, and when she too was wounded, Apollo carried him from the field of battle to his temple, where he was cured by Leto and Artemis.
In the attack of the Trojans upon the wall of the Greeks, Aeneas commanded the fourth host of the Trojans. He avenged the death of Alcathous by slaying Oenomaus and Aphareus, and hastened to the assistance of Hector, who was thrown on the ground by Ajax.
The last feat Homer mentions is his fight with Achilles. On this as on all other occasions, a god interposed and saved him, and this time it was by Poseidon, who although in general hostile towards the Trojans, yet rescued Aeneas, that the decrees of destiny might be fulfilled, and Aeneas and his offspring might one day rule over Troy.
Thus far only is the story of Aeneas to be gathered from the Homeric poems, and far from alluding to Aeneas having emigrated after the capture of Troy, and having founded a new kingdom in a foreign land, the poet distinctly intimates that he conceives Aeneas and his descendants as reigning at Troy after the extinction of the house of Priam.
Later Stories. According to the Homeric hymn on Aphrodite, Aeneas was brought up by the nymphs of mount Ida, and was not taken to his father Anchises, until he had reached his fifth year, and then he was, according to the wish of the goddess, given out as the son of a nymph. Xenophon says, that he was instructed by Cheiron, the usual teacher of the heroes. According to the "Cypria," he even took part in carrying off Helen. His bravery in the war against the Greeks is mentioned in the later traditions as well as in the earlier ones.
According to some accounts Aeneas was not present when Troy was taken, as he had been sent by Priam on an expedition to Phrygia, while according to others he was requested by Aphrodite, just before the fall of the city, to leave it, and accordingly went to mount Ida, carrying his father on his shoulders.
A third account makes him hold out at Troy to the last, and when all hopes disappeared, Aeneas with his Dardanians and the warriors of Ophrynium withdrew to the citadel of Pergamus, where the most costly treasures of the Trojans were kept.
Here he repelled the enemy and received the fugitive Trojans, until he could hold out no longer. He then sent the people ahead to mount Ida, and followed them with his warriors, the images of the gods, his father, his wife, and his children, hoping that he would be able to maintain himself on the heights of mount Ida. But being threatened with an attack by the Greeks, he entered into negotiations with them, in consequence of which he surrendered his position and was allowed to depart in safety with his friends and treasures.
Others again related that he was led by his hatred of Paris to betray Ilion to the Greeks, and was allowed to depart free and safe in consequence. Livy (i. 1) states, that Aeneas and Antenor were the only Trojans against whom the Greeks did not make use of their right of conquest, on account of an ancient connexion of hospitality existing between them, or because Aeneas had always advised his countrymen to restore Helen to Menelaus.
Aeneas and the Harpies. p. 314 1908 Edition of Bulfinch's Age Of Fable
The farther part of the story of Aeneas, after leaving mount Ida with his friends and the images of the gods, especially that of Pallas presents as many variations as that relating to the taking of Troy. All accounts, however, agree in stating that he left the coasts of Asia and crossed over into Europe. According to some he went across the Hellespont to the peninsula of Pallene and died there; according to others he proceeded from Thrace to the Arcadian Orchomenos and settled there.
By far the greater number of later writers, however, anxious to put him in connexion with the history of Latium and to make him the ancestorial hero of the Romans, state that he went to Italy, though some assert that the Aeneas who came to Italy was not the son of Anchises and Aphrodite, and others that after his arrival in Italy he returned to Troy, leaving his son Ascanius behind him.
A description of the wanderings of Aeneas before he reached the coast of Latium, and of the various towns and temples he was believed to have founded during his wanderings, is given by Dionysius, whose account is on the whole the same as that followed by Virgil in his Aeneid, although the latter makes various embellishments and additions, some of which, as his landing at Carthage and meeting with Dido, are irreconcilable with chronology.
From Pallene (Thrace), where Aeneas stayed the winter after the taking of Troy, and founded the town of Aeneia on the Thermaic gulf, he sailed with his companions to Delos, Cythera (where he founded a temple of Aphrodite), Boiae in Laconia (where he built Etis and Aphrodisias, Paus. iii. 22. § 9), Zacynthus (temple of Aphrodite), Leucas, Actium, Arabracia, and to Dodona, where he met the Trojan Helenus. From Epirus he sailed across the Ionian sea to Italy, where he landed at the Iaprgian promontory. Hence he crossed over to Sicily, where he met the Trojans, Elymus and Acestes, and built the towns of Elyme and Aegesta.
From Sicily he sailed back to Italy, landed in the port of Palinurus, came to the island of Leucasia, and at last to the coast of Latium. Various signs pointed out this place as the end of his wanderings, and he and his Trojans accordingly settled in Latium.
The place where they had landed was called Troy. Latinus, king of the Aborigines, when informed of the arrival of the strangers, prepared for war, but afterwards concluded an alliance with them, gave up to them a part of his dominions, and with their assistance conquered the Rutulians, with whom he was then at war. Aeneas founded the town of Lavinium, called after Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus, whom he married.
A new war then followed between Latinus and Turnus, in which both chiefs fell, whereupon Aeneas became sole ruler of the Aborigines and Trojans, and both nations united into one. Soon after this, however, Aeneas fell in a battle with the Rutulians, who were assisted by Mezenthis, king of the Etruscans. As his body was not found after the battle, it was believed that it had been carried up to heaven, or that he had perished in the river Numicius.
The Latins erected a monument to him, with the inscription "To the father and native god".
Two other accounts somewhat different from those mentioned above are preserved in Servius and in Tzetzes. Dionysius places the landing of Aeneas in Italy and the building of Lavinium about the end of the second year after the taking of Troy, and the death of Aeneas in the seventh year. Virgil on the other hand represents Aeneas landing in Italy seven years after the fall of Troy, and comprises all the events in Italy from the landing to the death of Turnus within the space of twenty days.
The story about the descent of the Romans from the Trojans through Aeneas was generally received and believed at Rome at an early period, and probably arose from the fact, that the inhabitants of Latium and all the places which Aeneas was said to have founded, lay in countries inhabited by people who were all of the same stock — Pelasgians hence also the worship of the Idaean Aphrodite in all places the foundation of which is ascribed to Aeneas.
Aeneas himself, therefore, such as he appears in his wanderings and final settlement in Latium, is nothing else but the personified idea of one common origin. In this character he was worshipped in the various places which traced their origin to him.
Aeneas was frequently represented in statues and paintings by ancient artists. On gems and coins he is usually represented as carrying his father on his shoulder, and leading his son Ascanius by the hand.
[ See: The Story Of Æneas ]