Aeneas (/ɪˈniːəs/; Greek:
Αἰνείας, Aineías, possibly derived from Greek αἰνή
meaning "praised") was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises
and the goddess
Aphrodite (Venus). His father was a first cousin of
Troy (both being grandsons of Ilus, founder of Troy),
Aeneas a second cousin to Priam's children (such as
Paris). He is a character in
Greek mythology and is mentioned in
Aeneas receives full treatment in Roman mythology, most
extensively in Virgil's Aeneid, where he is an ancestor of
Remus. He became the first true hero of Rome. Snorri Sturluson
identifies him with the Norse
Æsir Vidarr.
2 Greek myth and epos
2.1 Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite
2.2 Homer's Iliad
2.3 Other sources
3 Roman myth and literature
3.1 Virgil's Aeneid
3.2 Other sources
4 Medieval accounts
5 Family and legendary descendants
6 Character and physical appearance
7 Modern portrayals
7.2 Opera, film and other media
8 Depictions in art
8.1 Villa Valmarana
Aeneas flees Troy
Aeneas with Dido
9 Family tree
10 See also
12 Further reading
14 External links
Aeneas is the Latin spelling of Greek Αἰνείας (Aineías). In
the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite,
Aeneas is first introduced with
Aphrodite naming him Αἰνείας (Aineías) for the αὶνóν
ἄχος ("terrible grief") he caused her, where Aineías derives
from the adjective αὶνóν (ainon, meaning "terrible"). It is a
popular etymology for the name, apparently exploited by
Homer in the
Iliad. Later in the Medieval period there were writers who held
that, because the
Aeneid was written by a philosopher it is meant to
be read philosophically. As such, in the "natural order", the
meaning of Aeneas' name combines Greek ennos ("dweller") and demas
("body"), which becomes ennaios, meaning "in-dweller" (i.e. as a god
inhabiting a mortal body). However, there is no certainty regarding
the origin of his name.
In imitation of the Iliad,
Virgil borrows epithets of Homer,
including; Anchisiades, magnanimum, magnus, heros, and bonus. Though
he borrows many,
Aeneas two epithets of his own in the
Aeneid: pater and pius. The epithets applied by
Virgil are an example
of an attitude different from that of Homer, for whilst
Aeneas is described as pius ("pious"), which
conveys a strong moral tone. The purpose of these epithets seem to
enforce the notion of Aeneas' divine hand as father and founder of the
Roman race, and their use seem circumstantial: when
Aeneas is praying
he refers to himself as pius, and is referred to as such by the author
only when the character is acting on behalf of the gods to fulfill his
divine mission. Likewise,
Aeneas is called pater when acting in the
interest of his men.
Greek myth and epos
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite
Painting Venus and
William Blake Richmond
William Blake Richmond (1889 or 90)
The story of the birth of
Aeneas is told in the "Hymn to Aphrodite",
one of the major Homeric Hymns.
Aphrodite has caused the other god
Zeus, to fall in love with mortal women. In retaliation,
desire in her heart for Anchises, who is tending his cattle among the
hills near Mount Ida. When
Aphrodite sees him she is smitten. She
adorns herself as if for a wedding among the gods and appears before
him. He is overcome by her beauty, believing that she is a goddess,
Aphrodite identifies herself as a Phrygian princess. After they
Aphrodite reveals her true identity to him and Anchises
fears what might happen to him as a result of their liaison. Aphrodite
assures him that he will be protected, and tells him that she will
bear him a son to be called Aeneas. However, she warns him that he
must never tell anyone that he has lain with a goddess. When
Aphrodite takes him to the nymphs of Mount Ida. She directs them
to raise the child to age five, then take him to Anchises.
According to other sources,
Anchises later brags about his encounter
with Aphrodite, and as a result is struck in the foot with a
thunderbolt by Zeus. Thereafter he is lame in that foot, so that
Aeneas has to carry him from the flames of Troy.
Aeneas carrying Anchises, black-figured oinochoe, ca. 520–510 BC,
Louvre (F 118)
Aeneas is a minor character in the Iliad, where he is twice saved from
death by the gods as if for an as-yet-unknown destiny, but is an
honorable warrior in his own right. Having held back from the
fighting, aggrieved with
Priam because in spite of his brave deeds he
was not given his due share of honour, he leads an attack against
Idomeneus to recover the body of his brother-in-law
Alcathous at the
urging of Deiphobus. He is the leader of the Trojans' Dardanian
allies, as well as a second cousin and principal lieutenant of Hector,
son of the Trojan king Priam. Aeneas's mother
comes to his aid on the battlefield, and he is a favorite of Apollo.
Aeneas from combat with
Diomedes of Argos,
who nearly kills him, and carry him away to
Pergamos for healing. Even
Poseidon, who normally favors the Greeks, comes to Aeneas's rescue
after he falls under the assault of Achilles, noting that Aeneas,
though from a junior branch of the royal family, is destined to become
king of the Trojan people. Bruce Louden presents
Aeneas as a "type" in
the tradition of Utnapishtim, Baucis and Philemon, and Lot; the just
man spared the general destruction. Apollodorus explains that
"...the Greeks let him alone on account of his piety".
The Roman mythographer
Gaius Julius Hyginus (c. 64 BCE – CE 17) in
his Fabulae credits
Aeneas with killing 28 enemies in the Trojan
Aeneas also appears in the Trojan narratives attributed to Dares
Phrygius and Dictys of Crete
Roman myth and literature
Aeneas and Anchises
The history of
Aeneas was continued by Roman authors. One influential
source was the account of Rome's founding in Cato the Elder's
Aeneas legend was well known in Virgil's day and
appeared in various historical works, including the Roman Antiquities
of the Greek historian
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus (relying on Marcus
Terentius Varro), Ab Urbe Condita by
Livy (probably dependent on
Quintus Fabius Pictor, fl. 200 BCE), and
Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus (now
extant only in an epitome by Justin).
Venus as Huntress Appears to Aeneas, by Pietro da Cortona
Aeneid explains that
Aeneas is one of the few Trojans who were not
killed or enslaved when
Troy fell. Aeneas, after being commanded by
the gods to flee, gathered a group, collectively known as the Aeneads,
who then traveled to
Italy and became progenitors of Romans. The
Aeneads included Aeneas's trumpeter Misenus, his father Anchises, his
friends Achates, Sergestus, and Acmon, the healer Iapyx, the helmsman
Palinurus, and his son
Ascanius (also known as Iulus, Julus, or
Ascanius Julius). He carried with him the
Lares and Penates, the
statues of the household gods of Troy, and transplanted them to Italy.
Several attempts to find a new home failed; one such stop was on
Sicily, where in Drepanum, on the island's western coast, his father,
Anchises, died peacefully.
Dido about the fall of Troy, by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
After a brief but fierce storm sent up against the group at Juno's
Aeneas and his fleet made landfall at
Carthage after six
years of wanderings.
Aeneas had a year-long affair with the
Dido (also known as Elissa), who proposed that the
Trojans settle in her land and that she and
Aeneas reign jointly over
their peoples. A marriage of sorts was arranged between
Aeneas at the instigation of Juno, who was told that her favorite city
would eventually be defeated by the Trojans' descendants. Aeneas's
mother Venus (the Roman adaptation of Aphrodite) realized that her son
and his company needed a temporary respite to reinforce themselves for
the journey to come. However, the messenger god Mercury was sent by
Jupiter and Venus to remind
Aeneas of his journey and his purpose,
compelling him to leave secretly. When
Dido learned of this, she
uttered a curse that would forever pit
Carthage against Rome, an
enmity that would culminate in the Punic Wars. She then committed
suicide by stabbing herself with the same sword she gave
they first met.
After the sojourn in Carthage, the Trojans returned to
Aeneas organized funeral games to honor his father, who had died a
year before. The company traveled on and landed on the western coast
Aeneas descended into the underworld where he met
turned away from him to return to her husband) and his father, who
showed him the future of his descendants and thus the history of Rome.
Aeneas defeats Turnus, by Luca Giordano, 1634–1705. The genius of
Aeneas is shown ascendant, looking into the light of the future, while
Turnus is setting, shrouded in darkness
Latinus, king of the Latins, welcomed Aeneas's army of exiled Trojans
and let them reorganize their lives in Latium. His daughter Lavinia
had been promised to Turnus, king of the Rutuli, but
a prophecy that
Lavinia would be betrothed to one from another land
— namely, Aeneas.
Latinus heeded the prophecy, and Turnus
consequently declared war on
Aeneas at the urging of Juno, who was
aligned with King
Mezentius of the Etruscans and Queen
Amata of the
Latins. Aeneas's forces prevailed.
Turnus was killed, and Virgil's
account ends abruptly.
The rest of Aeneas's biography is gleaned from other ancient sources,
Livy and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Livy,
Latinus died in the war.
Aeneas founded the city of
Lavinium, named after his wife. He later welcomed Dido's sister, Anna
Perenna, who then committed suicide after learning of Lavinia's
jealousy. After Aeneas's death, Venus asked Jupiter to make her son
immortal. Jupiter agreed. The river god
Aeneas of all
his mortal parts and Venus anointed him with ambrosia and nectar,
making him a god.
Aeneas was recognized as the god Jupiter
Snorri Sturlason in the Prologue of The Edda, tells of the world as
parted in three continents: Africa,
Asia and the third part called
Europe or Enea  . Snorri also tells of a Trojan named Munon or
Menon, who marries the daughter of the
High King (Yfirkonungr) Priam
Troan and travels to distant lands, marries the Sybil and got a
son, Tror, who, as Snorri tells, is identical to Thor. This tale
resemble some episodes of the
Aeneid . Continuations of Trojan
matter in the Middle Ages had their effects on the character of Aeneas
as well. The 12th-century French
Roman d'Enéas addresses Aeneas's
Virgil appears to deflect all homoeroticism onto
Nisus and Euryalus, making his
Aeneas a purely heterosexual character,
in the Middle Ages there was at least a suspicion of homoeroticism in
Roman d'Enéas addresses that charge, when Queen Amata
opposes Aeneas's marrying Lavinia, claiming that
Medieval interpretations of
Aeneas were greatly influenced by both
Virgil and other Latin sources. Specifically, the accounts by Dares
and Dictys, which were reworked by 13th-century Italian writer Guido
delle Colonne (in Historia destructionis Troiae), colored many later
readings. From Guido, for instance, the
Pearl Poet and other English
writers get the suggestion that Aeneas's safe departure from Troy
with his possessions and family was a reward for treason, for which he
was chastised by Hecuba. In
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (late
14th century) the Pearl Poet, like many other English writers,
Aeneas to establish a genealogy for the foundation of
Britain, and explains that
Aeneas was "impeached for his perfidy,
proven most true" (line 4).
Family and legendary descendants
Aeneas and the god Tiber, by Bartolomeo Pinelli
Aeneas had an extensive family tree. His wet-nurse was Caieta, and
he is the father of
Ascanius with Creusa, and of Silvius with Lavinia.
Ascanius, also known as
Iulus (or Julius), founded
Alba Longa and
was the first in a long series of kings. According to the mythology
Virgil in the Aeneid,
Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus were both
Aeneas through their mother Rhea Silvia, making Aeneas
the progenitor of the Roman people. Some early sources call him
their father or grandfather, but considering the commonly accepted
dates of the fall of
Troy (1184 BC) and the founding of
Rome (753 BC),
this seems unlikely. The Julian family of Rome, most notably Julius
Cæsar and Augustus, traced their lineage to
Ascanius and Aeneas,
thus to the goddess Venus. Through the Julians, the
this claim. The legendary kings of Britain – including King Arthur
– trace their family through a grandson of Aeneas, Brutus.
Character and physical appearance
Dido and Aeneas, from a Roman fresco, Pompeian Third Style (10 BC - 45
AD), Pompeii, Italy
Aeneas's consistent epithet in
Virgil and other Latin authors is pius,
a term that connotes reverence toward the gods and familial
In the Aeneid,
Aeneas is described as strong and handsome, but neither
his hair colour nor complexion are described. In late antiquity
however sources add further physical descriptions. The De excidio
Dares Phrygius describes
Aeneas as ‘‘auburn-haired,
stocky, eloquent, courteous, prudent, pious, and charming.’’
There is also a brief physical description found in John Malalas'
Chronographia: ‘‘Aeneas: short, fat, with a good chest, powerful,
with a ruddy complexion, a broad face, a good nose, fair skin, bald on
the forehead, a good beard, grey eyes.’’
Dido are the main characters of a 17th-century broadside
ballad called "The Wandering Prince of Troy." The ballad ultimately
alters Aeneas's fate from traveling on years after Dido's death to
joining her as a spirit soon after her suicide.
In modern literature,
Aeneas is the speaker in two poems by Allen
Aeneas at Washington" and "
Aeneas at New York." He is a main
character in Ursula K. Le Guin's Lavinia, a re-telling of the last six
books of the
Aeneid told from the point of view of Lavinia, daughter
Latinus of Latium.
Aeneas appears in David Gemmell's
Troy series as a main heroic
character who goes by the name Helikaon.
In Rick Riordan's book series, The Heroes of Olympus,
regarded as the first Roman demigod, son of Venus rather than
Opera, film and other media
Aeneas is a title character in Henry Purcell's opera
Dido and Aeneas
(c. 1688), and one of the principal roles in
Hector Berlioz' opera Les
Troyens (c. 1857). Canadian composer James Rolfe composed his opera
Dido (2007; to a libretto by André Alexis) as a companion
piece to Purcell's opera.
Despite its many dramatic elements, Aeneas's story has generated
little interest from the film industry. Portrayed by Steve Reeves, he
was the main character in the 1961 sword and sandal film Guerra di
Troia (The Trojan War). Reeves reprised the role the following year in
the film The Avenger, about Aeneas's arrival in
Latium and his
conflicts with local tribes as he tries to settle his fellow Trojan
The most recent cinematic portrayal of
Aeneas was in the film Troy, in
which he appears as a youth charged by Paris to protect the Trojan
refugees, and to continue the ideals of the city and its people. Paris
Aeneas Priam's sword, in order to give legitimacy and continuity
to the royal line of
Troy – and lay the foundations of Roman
culture. In this film, he is not a member of the royal family and does
not appear to fight in the war.
In the role-playing game Vampire: The Requiem by White Wolf Game
Aeneas figures as one of the mythical founders of the Ventrue
in the action game Warriors: Legends of Troy,
Aeneas is a playable
character. The game ends with him and the Aeneans fleeing Troy's
destruction and, spurned by the words of a prophetess thought crazed,
goes to a new country (Italy) where he will start an empire greater
than Greece and
Troy combined that shall rule the world for 1000
years, never to be outdone in the tale of men (The Roman Empire).
In the 2018 TV miniseries Troy: Fall of a City,
Aeneas will be
portrayed by Alfred Enoch.
Depictions in art
Scenes depicting Aeneas, especially from the Aeneid, have been the
focus of study for centuries. They have been the frequent subject of
art and literature since their debut in the 1st century.
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was commissioned by Gaetano
1757 to fresco several rooms in the Villa Valmarana, the
family villa situated outside Vicenza. Tiepolo decorated the palazzina
with scenes from epics such as Homer's
Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid.
Cupid Dressed as
Ascanius to Dido, by Tiepolo
Venus Appearing to
Aeneas on the Shores of Carthage, by Tiepolo
Mercury Appearing to Aeneas, by Tiepolo (1757).
Venus and Vulcan, by Tiepolo (between 1762 and 1766).
Aeneas flees Troy
Aeneas from Troy, by
Girolamo Genga (between 1507 and 1510).
Aeneas and his Father Fleeing Troy, by
Simon Vouet (c. 1635).
Aeneas & Anchises, by Pierre Lepautre (c. 1697).
Aeneas fleeing from Troy, by
Pompeo Batoni (c. 1750).
Aeneas with Dido
Dido and Aeneas, by
Rutilio Manetti (c. 1630)
The Meeting of
Dido and Aeneas, by Nathaniel Dance-Holland
Dido and Aeneas, by Thomas Jones (1769)
Dido meeting Aeneas, by Johann Heinrich the Elder Tischbein (3 January
Family tree of Aeneas
Brutus of Britain
The Golden Bough
Latin kings of Alba Longa
^ "Aeneas". Merriam-Webster. 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
^ Gregory Nagy (Translator), Homeric Hymn to
Aphrodite 198-199: "His
name will be Aineias [Aeneas], since it was an unspeakable [ainos]
akhos that took hold of me—grief that I had fallen into the bed of a
^ Andrew Faulkner, The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite: Introduction, Text,
and Commentary (2008) p.257
^ Marilynn Desmond, Reading Dido: Gender, Textuality, and Medieval
Aeneid (1994) pp. 85-86
^ John of Salisbury, Polycraticus 8.24-25; Bernard Sylvestris of
Tours, Commentum supra sex libros Eneidos Vergilii
^ Milman Parry (Author), Adam Parry (Editor), The Making of Homeric
Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry (1971) p.169
^ "Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite." trans by Gregory Nagy, University of
^ Virgil, The Aeneid
^ Homer, The Iliad, Book XIII, (Samuel Butler, trans.)
^ Louden, Bruce. "
Aeneas in the Iliad: the One Just Man", 102nd Annual
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^ Apollodorus, Epitome, (James G. Frazer ed.), Chap.V, 21
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^ Edda Snorra Sturlusonar GUÐNI JÓNSSON bjó til prentunar. Prologus
The Prose Edda
The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturlson Translated by Arthur Gilchrist
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Boroff (trans.). New York: Norton. p. 3.
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Antenor, incorrectly, as Tolkien argues.
Aeneid 1983 1.267
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Romulus by Plutarch
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities I.70.4
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Aeneas Look like?, Mark Griffith, Classical Philology,
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manuscripts of the major and minor prophets Penn State Press, 1988, p.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aeneas.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Iliad II. 819–21; V. 217–575; XIII. 455–544; XX.
Apollodorus, Bibliotheca III. xii. 2; Epitome III. 32–IV. 2; V. 21.
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