Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

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Æneas turned his steps. When he arrived there, he found many awaiting him, and counted [363] them carefully to make sure none were missing. All were there except Creusa, his beloved young wife; and he retraced his steps with anxious haste, hoping to find her still alive. But on the threshold of his once happy home he met her disembodied spirit, and heard her bid him seek the banks of the Tiber, where a beautiful young bride would comfort him for her loss. This speech ended, Creusa’s ghost vanished, and Æneas sadly returned to the ruined temple, where he found many fugitives ready to follow him wherever he went, and eager to obey his every command. Their preparations for departure were speedily completed, the sails unfurled, and the little exiled band soon lost sight of the shores of Troy.

“Weeping I quit the port, the shore,
The plains where Ilium stood before,
And homeless launch upon the main,
Son, friends, and home gods in my train.”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).
Arrival in Thrace.

Although they had escaped from burning Troy and the swords of the Greeks, their trials had only just begun. After many days’ sailing, they landed in Thrace, viewed the country, decided to settle there, and began to trace the foundations of a new city, which they decided to call the Æneadæ, in honor of their leader.

Their next care was to offer a sacrifice to the gods; but when Æneas, with due ceremony, cut down a sapling, he was startled to see blood flow from its severed stem. At the same time a mysterious voice was heard, bidding him forbear, for his former friend Polydorus, sent to Thrace to conceal some treasures, had been murdered there by an avaricious king, and this grove of trees had sprouted from the spear handles driven into his unhappy breast.

Delos and Crete.

After paying the customary funeral rites to appease the soul of his unfortunate friend, Æneas easily prevailed upon his followers to leave these inhospitable shores and seek another resting place. They rowed over the briny [364] deep until they came to Delos, where they stopped to consult the oracle, who bade them seek the cradle of their race, and settle there.

“‘Stout Dardan hearts, the realm of earth
Where first your nation sprang to birth,
That realm shall now receive you back:
Go, seek your ancient mother’s track.
There shall Æneas’ house, renewed
For ages, rule a world subdued.’”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).

This obscure command left them uncertain what course to pursue, until the aged Anchises remembered that one of his ancestors, Teucer, had once reigned in Crete. Thither they sailed, and hoped to settle; but a terrible pestilence came upon them, and decimated their already sparse ranks.

Æneas’ vision.

One night Æneas had a vision, in which his household gods bade him seek the Italian or Hesperian shores; and when, on waking, he imparted this advice to Anchises, the latter remembered a long-forgotten prophecy of Cassandra, purporting that they would settle there, and also that Dardanus, their first progenitor, was reported to have come from thence.

“There is a land, by Greece of old
Surnamed Hesperia, rich its mold,
Its children brave and free:
Œnotrians were its settlers: fame
Now gives the race its leader’s name,
And calls it Italy.
Here Dardanus was born, our king,
And old Iasius, whence we spring:
Here our authentic seat.”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).
Celæno, the Harpy.

Ere many days Æneas and his trusty followers were once more afloat, and forced to battle with fierce storms sent by Juno to hinder their advance. Exhausted, they landed on the Strophades Islands, where they proposed to recruit their strength by [365] a hearty meal; but no sooner was their table spread, than the meats were devoured and destroyed by the loathsome Harpies. A terrible prophecy uttered by Celæno, one of these monsters,—half woman and half bird,—made them embark again in great haste, and row on until they came to Epirus, where they again effected a landing. In this country they met the sorrowing Andromache, Hector’s widow, the slave of King Helenus, who entertained them royally and sent them on their way again, with many kindly cautions to beware of the Cyclopes and avoid Charybdis and Scylla by circumnavigating the whole island of Sicily.

Rescue of Achemenides.

This advice was duly followed by Æneas, who, while rounding one of the promontories of the island, saw and rescued Achemenides, one of Ulysses’ companions, accidentally left behind when they escaped from the rage of Polyphemus, the Cyclops. This giant now came down to the shore, and was regarded with unconcealed horror by the Trojans, who rowed away in haste. Soon after, Æneas moored his ships in the harbors of Sicania and Drepanum, and while there lost his aged father Anchises.

I lose my stay in every care,
My sire Anchises!”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).

Juno, in the mean while, had not been idle, and gloated over the dangers she had forced the unhappy Trojans to encounter during the seven years which had already elapsed since they first sailed from Troy. She was not yet weary of persecuting them, however; and as soon as she saw them once more afloat, she hurried off to Æolus, and bade him let loose his fiercest children, and scatter the fleet by a terrible storm.

“‘O Æolus! since the Sire of all
Has made the wind obey thy call
To raise or lay the foam,
A race I hate now plows the sea,
[366] Transporting Troy to Italy
And home gods reft of home:
Lash thou thy winds, their ships submerge,
Or toss them weltering o’er the surge.’”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).