The tricky thing about mythology is keeping all the gods and goddesses and the children of gods and mortals and then mortals straight. Part of the reason I like to write about my reading is to try and fix it all in my mind, and short of that have somewhere I can look to get a little refresher on my reading. So, onward to Aeneas. Virgil is the main source for this story, which was written in Latin. To complicate things, the names used are Roman/Latin versions, but thankfully it wasn't too confusing.
With Aeneas (the son Venus by the way), we get a different perspective as he was a Trojan. He comes second only to Hector in terms of heroism and he had the good luck to escape Troy after its defeat. He eventually settles in Italy, which was then known as Hesperia, the Western Country, but first his journey was a long and difficult one.
Since the Fates have foretold Aeneas will found Rome, we know he'll get there in the end, but roadblocks (thanks to Juno, Jupiter's wife) are going to be thrown in his way. First he and his fellow sailors must avoid the reach of the Cyclopes, which they unknowingly encounter as they round the island of Sicily. Once out of their reach they think it'll be smooth sailing, but a violent storm throws them off course and they end up in Carthage (destined to be sacked/conquered one day). Juno thinks she might be able to use this all to her advantage. She conspires to have him fall for Dido, the ruler of Carthage keeping him well away from Italy.
"He lived at ease with a beautiful woman and a powerful Queen to love him and provide everything for him and arrange hunting parties for his amusement and not only permit him, but beg him, to tell her over and over again the tale of his adventures."
Brought to you by the goddess Juno. What man would ever want to leave, right? It takes a little gentle prodding from Mercury (sent by Jupiter) to draw Aeneas out of his indolence, but crushes Dido at the same time as she kills herself after he leaves (men seem to have this effect on women a lot in Greek Mythology). Aeneas makes a detour to the underworld where he speaks with his father and receives advice and instructions on how to establish his new home in Italy.
Aeneas arrives in Italy without further ado and all should be well, right? But Juno decides to make more trouble. She stirs up the various rulers and creates a war, and a bloody and long one at that. The story spirals down into horror--so many that they cease to horrify Edith Hamilton notes. The redeeming part of this latter section is a story of friendship between two Trojans, Nisus and Euryalus, who die in battle (reminiscent of Achilles and Patroclus to me). Aeneas marries at the end of the war and goes on to found the Roman race. According to Virgil the Romans,
"left to other nations such things as art and science, and ever remembered that they were destined to bring under their empire the peoples of earth, to impose the rule of submissive nonresistance, to spare the humbled and to crush the proud."
Why does that not seem wholly accurate to me?
Coming so soon after the Trojan War and the Adventures of Odysseus, I must admit my enjoyment of all things Greek is waning a tiny bit. Too much war and bloodshed. I need a gentle story next (can we go back to Cupid and Psyche?). I'm ready to begin a new section, however, the Great Families of Mythology and first up is the House of Atreus. I think there are not many happy stories in Greek Mythology, are there? I do look forward to next week's reading, however, since it is taken from Aeschylus' Oresteia, a play I do want to read eventually.