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

Page: 167

Hecuba, his wife, was clinging to him, imploring him to remain, when suddenly Polites, their son, rushed into their presence, closely followed by Pyrrhus, or Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, who thrust his sword into the youth, and then murdered Priam also.

“So Priam’s fortunes closed at last:
So passed he, seeing as he passed
His Troy in flames, his royal tower
Laid low in dust by hostile power,
Who once o’er land and peoples proud
Sat, while before him Asia bowed:
Now on the shore behold him dead,
A nameless trunk, a trunkless head.”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).

Æneas, who arrived just too late to hinder this frightful catastrophe, now suddenly remembered that a similar fate awaited his aged father Anchises, his wife Creusa, and little son Iulus, who were at home without any protector near them. The hero therefore madly cut his way through the foe, and rushed through the once magnificent palace, which was now stripped of its rarest treasures and desecrated by an enemy’s tread.

Venus appears to Æneas.

There, in one of the abandoned halls, he saw Helen, the fair [362] cause of all this war and bloodshed,—who, after Paris’ death, had married Deiphobus, his brother,—and for a moment he determined to take her life; but ere he could do so, Venus, his mother, stayed his hand, and bade him remember that the immortal gods had long ago decreed that the city should fall, and that Helen was merely the pretext used to induce the rival nations to fly to arms.

Further to convince him of the truth of her assertions, she enabled him to see what was hidden from mortal eyes: i.e., Neptune, Minerva, Juno, and Jupiter even, fighting and leveling the walls with mighty blows. She then vehemently implored her son to leave this scene of carnage, and fly, with his family and followers, to some safe place without the city, whence he could embark, and sail away to a more fortunate land; and her entreaties finally prevailed.

Anchises’ escape.

Æneas rushed home and bade his father prepare to leave Troy; but Anchises obstinately refused to leave his post, until he saw a bright flame hover for a moment above his grandson’s head, which sign he interpreted as an omen that his race should endure. He no longer resisted; and, as he was too weak to walk, Æneas bade him hold the Lares and Penates, and, taking him on his back, carried him off, while with one hand he led his little son, and bade Creusa closely follow him.

“‘Come, mount my shoulders, dear my sire:
Such load my strength shall never tire.
Now, whether fortune smiles or lowers,
One risk, one safety shall be ours.
My son shall journey at my side,
My wife her steps by mine shall guide,
At distance safe.’”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).