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Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 162

Chapter XXIV

Adventures of AEneas The Harpies Dido Palinurus

We have followed one of the Grecian heroes, Ulysses, in his wanderings, on his return home from Troy, and now we propose to share the fortunes of the remnant of the conquered people, under their chief AEneas, in their search for a new home, after the ruin of their native city. On that fatal night when the wooden horse disgorged its contents of armed men, and the capture and conflagration of the city were the result, Aeneas made his escape from the scene of destruction with his father, and his wife, and young son. The father, Anchises, was woo old to walk with the speed required, and AEneas took him upon his shoulders. Thus burdened, leading his son and followed by his wife, he made the best of his way out of the burning city; but in the confusion, his wife was swept away and lost.

On arriving at the place of rendezvous, numerous fugitives, of both sexes, were found, who put themselves under the guidance of Aeneas. Some months were spent in preparation and at length they embarked. They first landed on the neighboring shores of Thrace, and were preparing to build a city, but AEneas was deterred by a prodigy. Preparing to offer sacrifice, he tore some twigs from one of the bushes. To his dismay the wounded part dropped blood. When he repeated the act, a voice from the ground cried out to him, "Spare me, AEneas; I am your kinsman, Polydore, here murdered with many arrows, from which a bush has grown, nourished with my blood." These words recalled to the recollection of AEneas that Polydore was a young prince of Troy, whom his father had sent with ample treasures to the neighboring land of Thrace, to be there brought up, at a distance from the horrors of war. The king to whom he was sent had murdered him, and seized his treasures. AEneas and his companions hastened away, considering the land to be accursed by the stain of such a crime.

They next landed on the island of Delos, which was once a floating island, till Jupiter fastened it by adamantine chains to the bottom of the sea. Apollo and Diana were born there, and the island was sacred to Apollo. Here AEneas consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received an answer, as ambiguous as usual "Seek your ancient mother; there the race of AEneas shall dwell, and reduce all other nations to their sway." The Trojans heard with joy, and immediately began to ask one another, "Where is the spot intended by the oracle?" Anchises remembered that there was a tradition that their forefathers came from Crete, and thither they resolved to steer. They arrived at Crete, and began to build their city, but sickness broke out among them, and the fields that they had planted failed to yield a crop. In this gloomy aspect of affairs, AEneas was warned in a dream to leave the country, and seek a western land, called Hesperia, whence Dardanus, the true founder of the Trojan race, had originally migrated. To Hesperia, now called Italy, therefore, they directed their future course, and not till after many adventures and the lapse of time sufficient to carry a modern navigator several times round the world, did they arrive there.


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