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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
If the tale of Romulus and Remus appears the more popular Roman founding tale today, then the tale of Aeneas, harking back to yet earlier times, was perhaps the more popular in the days of the Roman Empire. In fact, through Virgil, the Aeneid became the national epic of the Roman empire and the most famous poem of the Roman era.
Aeneas was to have been a hero fighting the Greeks in the Trojan wars. The son of Venus and a mortal father, he escaped as the great city of Troy was sacked and, after quite an odyssey, he landed in Latium through which the river Tiber flows. Aeneas married the daughter of King Latinus, only to aggrieve King Turnus of Rutuli who himself had his eye on her. As usual in ancient tales, there ensued a war for the princess between Turnus and Aeneas, who was by then supported by King Tarchon of the Etruscans. Naturally, Aeneas, son of Venus, was triumphant.
The sack of Troy is dated to around 1220 BC. To fill the years from Aeneas to Romulus, the Romans, therefore, were required to produce a string of fictional Kings to make the tale work. This was done across all the generations with some ease from Ascanius, son of Aeneas to Numitor.
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