The Eternal City

The relentless power of Ancient Rome led to many of its citizens to believe that the city would go on forever.  The poet Virgil wrote the Aeneid, which incorporates the various legends of Aeneas and makes him the founder of Roman greatness.  Written between 29 and 19BC, it refers to the everlasting empire that Aeneas, a mythical Trojan hero, who was prophesied to have a hand in creating the eternal city and ancient Romans claimed Aeneas was an ancestor of Romulus.  Aeneas was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite who is known to the Romans as the goddess Venus.  Juno harbors anger toward Aeneas, because Carthage is her favorite city, and a prophecy holds that the race descended from the Trojans will someday destroy Carthage.  Aeneas was a fearsome warrior and a great leader, that was able to motivate his men in the face of adversity, but he was also a man that was capable of great compassion and sorrow and he always showed respect for the will of the gods.  It had been prophesied that Aeneas would establish a race, whose destiny was to rule the world in peace and prosperity.

After the sack of Troy, Aeneas went to Carthage.  Dido left the land of Tyre when her husband was murdered by her brother Pygmalion.  Dido became the founder and the first Queen of the Phoenician city of Carthage and that is where she fell in love with Aeneas.  The queen of Carthage became an unfortunate pawn of the gods, in their struggle for Aeneas’s destiny, as her love for Aeneas proved to be her downfall.  Aeneas left Dido to travel to Italy, and after he abandoned her, she constructed a funeral pyre and stabbed herself to death upon it with Aeneas’s sword.  Aeneas knew of all the Greek gods, but when he arrived in Italy, he felt that he should create new gods in this new land.  When Aeneas and the Trojans arrived in Italy, Latinus decided to give his daughter to Aeneas, because of the instructions that he had received from the gods indicating that his daughter should marry a foreigner.  Turnus was outraged at this, because he was a suitor of his cousin Lavinia, so he decided to lead his people against the Trojans in war.

Several gods and goddesses got involved in this conflict, with Venus siding with her son Aeneas and Juno who was still angry for not winning the beauty contest sided with the Latini against the Trojans.  The outcome of this conflict however, had long been foretold by the Fates, who predicted that a stranger from a land far away shall marry Lavinia and succeed Latinus as king.  When Latinus allowed his daughter Lavinia to be engaged to marry Aeneas instead of Turnus, her presumed fiancé, the goddess Juno, who hated the Trojans, started to drive Turnus mad, so he would fight Aeneas.  Turnus the warrior king of the city of Ardea and prince of the Rutulians went to the city of the Latins and declared that he wanted to fight Aeneas in one-on-one combat.

Aeneas was sleeping when he saw Tiberinus, the god of the River Tiber appear before him.  Tiberinus told him that the gods weren’t mad at him anymore, and that he shouldn’t be afraid of the war to come.  Tiberinus says, “In case you think this is only a dream, you’re going to find under some trees by the shore a white sow nursing thirty piglets, and this will mean that after thirty years your offspring will found a city called Alba Longa.”  Aeneas became the father of Ascanius who founded the Etruscan province of Alba Longa and he became its first king.

Latinus tried to convince Turnus to take another woman as his wife and leave Lavinia to Aeneas.  Turnus got his chariot-team ready and armed himself for battle.  The next morning, both armies were awaiting the coming battle between the two champions.  Juno expressed some fondness for Juturna, despite the fact that she had attracted Jupiter’s lustful attentions.  Juno watched what was going on and she told Juturna that she would help her brother as long as she could, but the Fates were against him.  Down on the plain, the leaders from both sides were meeting, and Aeneas prayed, saying that, if Turnus wins, the Trojans would leave Italy, but if he wins, he would not enslave them, but instead ask the Italians to join him as equal citizens in a new nation.

Aeneas tried to stop his men from fighting, but then somebody hit him with an arrow, he was wounded but it was not fatal.  Turnus raced forward with his chariot team and started killing many Trojans.  Venus healed her son Aeneas and he went back into the battle.  Aeneas led the Trojans in a counterattack and they killed many of their enemies.  Juturna did not like what she was seeing, so she knocked Turnus’s charioteer onto the ground and she took his place and started driving her brother erratically over the battlefield, keeping him out of Aeneas’s reach.  Venus told Aeneas to take a stand on a hilltop overlooking the city, and order his captains to level the city of Lavinium, unless they surrender immediately.  Turnus rushed back to the city to meet his destiny, ignoring his sister’s pleas, knowing in his heart that he must face Aeneas, as death no longer frightened him.

When Aeneas heard that Turnus was coming, he stopped attacking the city and went to meet him.  A space was cleared for them to fight, and soon they were throwing spears at each other and then they fought with swords.  While they were fighting, Jupiter raised a scale and he placed each man’s destiny in it, saying whosever’s sinks toward the ground will die.  Turnus gave Aeneas a mighty blow with his sword, but his blade shattered on impact, because it was no match for Aeneas’s divine armor, which Venus had her husband Vulcan make.  Juturna gave Turnus another sword and Venus gave Aeneas a spear and Jupiter forbid Juno to interfere with Aeneas any more.  Juno agreed as long as the Latins wouldn’t have to change their name after they lose to the Trojans.

Aeneas stood face to face with Turnus, they exchanged some hostile words, then Turnus picked up a huge rock to throw at Aeneas, but he wasn’t strong enough, and it fell short.  Aeneas threw his spear and it was able to puncture Turnus’s shield and ended up stabbing him in the thigh.  Turnus fell to the ground and asked Aeneas to spare his life, as he relinquished his claim to the hand of his cousin Lavinia.  Aeneas debated with himself about what he should do, and then he saw what was hanging on Turnus shoulder, was the belt that he stole from the dead body of his good friend Pallas.  Aeneas was enraged at seeing the belt of his friend being worn by his enemy, so he shouted that Pallas is taking his revenge, then he stabbed Turnus and killed him.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge 237 where today’s theme is “Zeitgeist”.

13 thoughts on “The Eternal City

  1. Very interesting read Jim. How are you my friend? No Thursday Inspiration post or Wednesday thoughts from you! I was a bit worried. Hope everything is okay?

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