Young Folks' History of Rome HTML version
2. The Wanderings Of Æneas
You remember in the Greek history the burning of Troy, and how Priam and all his
family were cut off. Among the Trojans there was a prince called Æneas, whose father
was Anchises, a cousin of Priam, and his mother was said to be the goddess Venus. When
he saw that the city was lost, he rushed back to his house, and took his old father
Anchises on his back, giving him his Penates, or little images of household gods, to take
care of, and led by the hand his little son Iulus, or Ascanius, while his wife Creusa
followed close behind, and all the Trojans who could get their arms together joined him,
so that they escaped in a body to Mount Ida; but just as they were outside the city he
missed poor Creusa, and though he rushed back and searched for her everywhere, he
never could find her. For the sake of his care for his gods, and for his old father, he is
always known as the pious Æneas.
In the forests of Mount Ida he built ships enough to set forth with all his followers in
quest of the new home which his mother, the goddess Venus, gave him hopes of. He had
adventures rather like those of Ulysses as he sailed about the Mediterranean. Once in the
Strophades, some clusters belonging to the Ionian Islands, when he and his troops had
landed to get food, and were eating the flesh of the numerous goats which they found
climbing about the rocks, down on them came the harpies, horrible birds with women's
faces and hooked hands, with which they snatched away the food and spoiled what they
could not eat. The Trojans shot at them, but the arrows glanced off their feathers and did
not hurt them. However, they all flew off except one, who sat on a high rock, and croaked
out that the Trojans would be punished for thus molesting the harpies by being tossed
about till they should reach Italy, but there they should not build their city till they should
have been so hungry as to eat their very trenchers.
They sailed away from this dismal prophetess, and touched on the coast of Epirus, where
Æneas found his cousin Helenus, son to old Priam, reigning over a little new Troy, and
married to Andromache, Hector's wife, whom he had gained after Pyrrhus had been
killed. Helenus was a prophet, and gave Æneas much advice. In especial he said that
when the Trojans should come to Italy, they would find, under the holly-trees by the river
side, a large white old sow lying on the ground, with a litter of thirty little pigs round her,
and this should be a sign to them where they were to build their city.
By his advice the Trojans coasted round the south of Sicily, instead of trying to pass the
strait between the dreadful Scylla and Charybdis, and just below Mount Etna an
unfortunate man came running down to the beach begging to be taken in. He was a
Greek, who had been left behind when Ulysses escaped from Polyphemus' cave, and had
made his way to the forests, where he had lived ever since. They had just taken him in
when they saw Cyclops coming down, with a pine tree for a staff, to wash the burning
hollow of his lost eye in the sea, and they rowed off in great terror.
Poor old Anchises died shortly after, and while his son was still sorrowing for him, Juno,
who hated every Trojan, stirred up a terrible tempest, which drove the ships to the south,
until, just as the sea began to calm down, they came into a beautiful bay, enclosed by tall
cliffs with woods overhanging them. Here the tired wanderers landed, and, lighting a fire,
Æneas went in quest of food. Coming out of the forest, they looked down from a hill, and
beheld a multitude of people building a city, raising walls, houses, towers, and temples.
Into one of these temples Æneas entered, and to his amazement he found the walls
sculptured with all the story of the siege of Troy, and all his friends so perfectly
represented, that he burst into tears at the sight.