What Do You Know About Aeneas?

The Last of the Trojans

Aeneas carrying Anchises. Attic black-figure oinochoe, ca. 520–510 BC.
Aeneas carrying Anchises. Attic black-figure oinochoe, ca. 520–510 BC. Public Domain. Bibi Saint-Pol

Aeneas is the big dog of Roman mythology. He's the son of the goddess Aphrodite and the mortal Anchises. Anchises was a cousin of King Priam of Troy, which made Aeneas a Trojan prince. He also claimed relationship to the king through his marriage to one of his daughters, Creusa.Aeneas, the son of a goddess who had no intention of raising him herself, was raised first by nymphs and then by his father. He's is the hero of Vergil's (Virgil's) 12-book epic poem, the Aeneid. In the Aeneid, the tragic queen Dido of Carthage commits suicide when Aeneas abandons her.

During the Trojan War, he fought for Troy. Then, when the city was burned, Aeneas set out, leading a band of followers, with his aged father on his shoulders, the household gods (penates) in hand, and accompanied by Ascanius, his and Creusa's son (who would later be called Iulus).

Aeneas traveled to Thrace, Carthage (where he met Queen Dido), and the Underworld, before settling down in Latium (in Italy). There he married the king's daughter, Lavinia, and founded Lavinium. Their son, Silvius, became the king of Alba Longa. Along with Romulus, Aeneas is considered one of the founders of Rome.

Aeneas is described as large, manly, pious (in a Roman sense), and a capable leader. He is also persistent and frequently weary. As shown in "The Many Faces of Aeneas," by Agnes Michels; (The Classical Journal, Vol. 92, No. 4 (Apr. - May 1997), pp. 399-416), Aeneas fails to exhibit some of the expected heroic qualities. While victorious in battle, he doesn't love warfare, he is unconcerned about his fame, and he doesn't exhibit profound intelligence/cleverness. He also tends to get very angry. Vergil provides a multi-faceted, challenging-to-interpret psychological portrait of his hero.

-Edited by Carly Silver