The Travels of Aeneas, Fall of Troy to the Founding of Lavinium

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The travels of Aeneas, from the fall of Troy to the founding of Lavinium
The travels of Aeneas, from the fall of Troy to the founding of Lavinium are very important myths by which the Romans modeled themselves, and from which they were able to derive a sense of past and 'who they were'. Archeological evidence shows that Aeneas and his story were well known throughout ancient Rome as coins and urns were found depicting Aeneas' myth. Some of these coins were found prior to the lives of Livy and Virgil proving that the myth had been told prior to the writing of both Livy and Virgil. The storybook version told by Virgil describes the escape and travels of Aeneas as blessed by the gods, where Aeneas puts his father on his shoulders, grabs his son by the hand and under the protection of the goddess Venus, escapes the city as it is being ransacked by the Greeks. As Virgil writes the storybook version, Livy's recount is much more historical, as Livy gives meaning to situations, such as Aeneas having friendship ties with the Greeks, who allowed him to leave the city unharmed. It is likely that much of the narrative is based on non-historical details which mean to portray a strong, just and blessed man as the founding father of Rome, however this essay will focus on How Livy's portrayal of Aeneas and his journey after the Fall of Troy to the founding of Lavinium correlates or differs from other sources and authors or archeological evidence of its time.

In the beginning of Livy's "Rise of Rome - Book 1", Livy portrays Aeneas and his journey after the Fall of Troy as a lucky escape from the ransacked city. "There is general agreement, first of all, that when Troy fell the Greeks punished the other Trojans mercilessly but refrained from exercising any right of conquest in the case of two men, Aeneas and Antenor, who were connected to them by long-standing ties of friendship and have always advocated the return of Helen" (Livy). Whereas the myth states that Aeneas escapes Troy with his mother's (Venus') protection. "And here, amazed, I found that a great number of new companions had streamed in, women and men, a crowd gathering for exile, a wretched throng. They had come from all sides, ready, with courage and wealth, for whatever land I wished to lead them to, across the seas. And now Lucifer was rising above the heights of Ida, bringing the dawn, and the Greeks held the barricaded entrances to the gates, nor was there any hope of rescue. I desisted, and, carrying my father, took to the hills" (Virgil, Book II: 796-804). Here we see the difference between both author's accounts of the tale. Both Virgil and Livy show Aeneas to be a powerful man, however Virgil makes him seem much more independent, perhaps even divine as he shapes his future by his own hand, guided by the gods. Livy, on the other hand gives us a much more realistic and believable account, indicating that Aeneas must have been indeed a powerful man, having long friendship ties with the Greeks, which is why they gave him safe passage out of the city. It is interesting to note that Livy shows that basically the Greeks allowed Aeneas to live, and therefore allowed the ancestor of Rome to establish himself. This realism may have been un-tasteful to the Romans, seeing as they conquered the Greeks, although they acknowledged their culture. Overall, it is likely that much of the narrative is based on non-historical details which mean to portray a strong, just and blessed man as the founding father of Rome, however Livy's recount brings him back to the mortal level.

Following the leave of Troy, Aeneas journeys many places before he reaches Italy and the lands of king Latinus. In Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneas travels and has adventures similar to those of Odysseus. "and he turns over in his mind old Faunus’s oracle: this must be the man, from a foreign house, prophesied by the fates as my son-in-law, and summoned to reign with equal powers, whose descendants will be...
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