Aeneas (or Aineias) was a Trojan hero, son of prince Anchises and the goddess Venus. He is one of the most important figures in Greek and Roman history. The journey of Aeneas from Troy, which led to the founding of a city that would one day become Rome, is recounted in Virgil's Aeneid. Aeneas is also a character in Homer's Iliad and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
In the Iliad, Aeneas is the leader of the Dardans (allies of the Trojans), and a comrade of Hector, son of the Trojan king Priam. His mother Venus frequently interposed to aid him. Aeneas is said to have remained in the country after the fall of Troy for a short while before founding a new kingdom (Iliad, xx. 308).
When Troy was sacked by the Greeks, Aeneas gathered a group collectively known as the Aeneads, traveled to Italy and became a progenitor of the Romans. The Aeneads included his trumpeter Misenus, father Anchises, friends Achates, Sergestus and Acmon, healer Iapyx, son Ascanius, and guide Mimas. He carried with him the Lares and Penates, the statues of the household gods of Troy, transplanting them to Italy. He also took with him AchAemenides , one of Odysseus' crew from Sicily.
During his journey he stopped in Carthage and there had a brief affair with the Queen Elissa, also known as Dido. However, the messenger god Hermes was sent by Juno and Venus to remind Aeneas of his journey and his purpose, thus compelling him to leave secretly and continue on his way. When Dido learned of this, she ordered a funeral pyre to be constructed for herself; and standing on it, she uttered a famous curse that forever would pit Carthage against the Trojans. She then committed suicide by stabbing herself in the chest. Reputedly, when Aeneas went to Hades, he called to her ghost but she neither spoke or acknowledged him.
In Sicily, Aeneas was welcomed by Acestes. Soon after arriving in Italy, Aeneas made war against the city of Falerii. Latinus, king of the Latins, welcomed Aeneas' army of exiled Trojans and let them reorganize their life in Latium. His daughter Lavinia had been promised to Turnus, king of the Rutuli , but he received a prophecy that to Lavinia would be betrothed one from another land — namely, Aeneas. Latinus followed the prophecy, and Turnus consequently declared war on Aeneas at the urging of Hera), who was aligned with King Tarchon of the Etruscans and Queen Amata of the Rutuli . Aeneas' forces prevailed, and Turnus was killed.
Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, also known as Iulus, founded Albalonga and was the first in a long series of kings.
He later welcomed Dido's sister, Anna Perenna, who then committed suicide after learning of Lavinia's jealousy. Aeneas founded the city Lavinium, named after his wife.
After his death, Aeneas became the god Indiges. Inspired by the work of James Frazer some have posited that Aeneas was originally a life-death-rebirth deity.
Aeneas had an extensive family tree.
He was the father of Ascanius with Creusa.
Aeneas and Lavinia had one son, Silvius.
Aeneas' wet-nurse was named Caieta.
According to the mythology outlined by Virgil's the Aeneid, Romulus and Remus were both descendants of Aeneas through their mother, and thus Aeneas was responsible for founding the Roman people.
The Julian family (Gens Julia) of Rome, whose most famous member was Julius Caesar, traced their lineage to Aeneas's son Ascanius and, in turn, the goddess Venus.
The legendary kings of Britain also trace their family through a grandson of Aeneas, Brutus.
Aeneas has an extensive list of direct descendants.
Homer, Iliad II, 819-21; V, 217-575; XIII, 455-544; XX, 75-352; Apollodorus, Bibliotheke III, xii, 2; Apollodorus, Epitome III, 32-IV, 2; V, 21; Virgil, Aeneid; Ovid, Metamorphoses XIV, 581-608; Ovid, Heroides , VII.