1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aeneas
AENEAS, the famous Trojan hero, son of Anchises and Aphrodite, one of the most important figures in Greek and Roman legendary history. In Homer, he is represented as the chief bulwark of the Trojans next to Hector, and the favourite of the gods, who frequently interpose to save him from danger (Iliad, v. 311). The legend that he remained in the country after the fall of Troy, and founded a new kingdom (Iliad, xx. 308; Hymn to Aphrodite, 196) is now generally considered to be of comparatively late origin. The story of his emigration is post-Homeric, and set forth in its fullest development by Virgil in the Aeneid. Carrying his aged father and household gods on his back and leading his little son Ascanius by the hand, he makes his way to the coast, his wife Creusa being lost during the confusion of the flight. After a perilous voyage to Thrace, Delos, Crete and Sicily (where his father dies), he is cast up by a storm, sent by Juno, on the African coast. Refusing to remain with Dido, queen of Carthage, who in despair puts an end to her life, he sets sail from Africa, and after seven years' wandering lands at the mouth of the Tiber. He is hospitably received by Latinus, king of Latium, is betrothed to his daughter Lavinia, and founds a city called after her, Lavinium. Turnus, king of Rutuli, a rejected suitor, takes up arms against him and Latinus, but is defeated and slain by Aeneas on the river Numicius. The story of the Aeneid ends with the death of Turnus. According to (i. 1. 2), Aeneas, after reigning a few years over Latium, is slain by the Rutuli; after the battle, his body cannot be found, and he is supposed to have been carried up to heaven. He receives divine honours, and is worshipped under the name of Jupiter Indiges (Dionysius Halle. i. 64).
Romances.—The story of Aeneas, as a sequel to the legend of Troy, formed the subject of several epic romances in the middle ages. The Roman d'Énéas (c. 1160, or later), of uncertain authorship (attributed by some to Benoit de Sainte-More), the first French poem directly imitated from the Aeneid, is a fairly close adaptation of the original. The trouvère, however, omits the greater part of the wanderings of Aeneas, and adorns his narrative with gorgeous descriptions, with accounts of the marvellous properties of beasts and stones, and of single combats among the knights who figure in the story. He also elaborates the episodes most attractive to his audience, notably those of Dido and Aeneas and Lavinia, the last of whom plays a far more important part than in the Aeneid. Where possible, he substitutes human for divine intervention, and ignores the idea of the glorification of Rome and Augustus, which dominates the Virgilian epic. On this work were founded the Eneide or Eneit (between 1180 and 1190) of Heinrich von Veldeke, written in Flemish and now only extant in a version in the Thuringian dialect, and the Eneydos, written by William Caxton in 1490.