Roman Mythology

Aeneus and Virgil’s Aeneid

Who was Aeneas, and where did his myth originate?

In the eighth century B.C.E. Homer includes Aeneas in the Iliad as a cousin of the great Trojan hero Hector and as the son of the goddess Aphrodite (Venus in Rome). In the Iliad, Poseidon says Aeneas is destined to be king of Troy, which the Romans would have seen as the New Troy, Rome. Furthermore, we know that as early as the seventh century B.C.E., parts of an Aeneas story were popular in Old Latium. It had long been a tradition that heroes returning from the Trojan War settled in Italy and Sicily, legendary founders of the Greek colonies that developed there. As Rome gained power on the peninsula and as Romans sought to free themselves from what even they saw as the cultural superiority of Greece, Aeneas became popular as a survivor of the Trojan War who fought against the Greeks. According to the legend, Aeneas managed to escape the burning city and accepted the mission of founding the New Troy, Rome.


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