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Who Was… Aeneas?

Content of the article: "Who Was… Aeneas?"

You've had Romans, Predecessor Romans, and Successor Romans, but have you tried Ancestor Romans? If that's what floats your boat, then you may be interested in Aeneas, who the Romans believed that they were descended from.

Aeneas is a true demigod. His father is a mortal, but his mother is Aphrodite (Zeus, in an act of revenge, made her fall in love with a mortal for all the times she did the same to him). Aeneas's main claim to fame prior to Virgil's Aeneid is that he is destined to be king of the Trojans, which you think would have set off alarm bells in Hector's head, but no one ever really talks about that.

Aeneas first appears in the Iliad, having two major appearances where he fights Diomedes and Achilles, followed shortly by losses to both these heroes, before being saved by the Gods. Unexpected reoccurring theme in these fights: giant rocks being thrown. There's a kind of funny exchange where Achilles asks if Aeneas remembers that one time that Achilles razed the city that Aeneas had been hiding out in after Achilles nearly killed him in a previous battle (Aeneas's response is "STFU, my mom is more important than your mom").

In the Epic Cycle, Aeneas will have two more appearances remarked upon. First, when the Trojans are looking at the Trojan Horse and debating whether to burn it or take it into the city (by, uh, knocking down part of the walls because it's too big for the gates), Aeneas's followers go to Mount Ida after it's decided to take the horse inside Troy (in fairness, sea serpents strangled the most vocal dude who was for burning the horse, which is a fairly convincing argument). Secondly, he carries his lame father on his back out of the burning Troy, being a symbol of filial piety.

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Now, Aeneas gets a round two of adventures in the Aeneid, an epic poem composed (several hundred years after the Iliad) by Virgil on behalf of Emperor Augustus. You see, Augustus, for some strange reason known only to him, wasn't that jazzed that Rome's founding myth at the time involved the overthrow of a tyrant who had unjustly seized power, and so wanted a different myth that involved a whole lot more "obey higher authority" and "put aside your personal feelings for the state".

Virgil's Aeneid, the totally not bitter account of what happened after the Trojan War, involves Aeneas basically having his own Iliad AND his own Odyssey (although in reverse order). It's filled with fascinating tales like how Aeneas is so much better at sailing the Mediterranean than Odysseus, and how Carthage hates Rome because their Queen was heartbroken over Aeneas, and that the culmination of all of Rome was Emperor Augustus. Ghosts give advice to Aeneas several times during the Aeneid (Hector's ghosts warns him of Troy's fall, Aeneas's wife's ghost talks to him, and his father's ghost tells him about the future Rome), which is likely where CA got his Stygian voices mechanic from.

Long story short, Aeneas ends up founding Rome after arriving in Italy and a prophecy states that a foreigner will be the one to inherit the land (which is an irony the Romans probably didn't appreciate several hundred years later when knock, knock, it's the Vandals, Franks, Goths, Visigoths and Huns). Fun magical times include Aeneas's ships turning into sea nymphs when people try to burn them (because they were made from blessed wood, duh) and Aeneas getting armor from the gods (just like Achilles, but better!).

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So that's Aeneas. Doesn't have too much of a role in the Iliad, but the major player in Rome's Epic poem/founding myth, the Aeneid.


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