Roman Republic

Roman Pre-History

Legend of Aeneas after the

First Punic War (264 - 241 BC)

Linked pages: Legend of Aeneas before the First Punic War; Legend of Aeneas after the First Punic War

Aeneas’ Fate and Roman Scholarship


None of the works of the poet and dramatist Cn. Naevius survive, but the known titles of three of his tragedies (‘Andromache’; ‘The Trojan Horse’; and ‘Hector’s Departure’ - see the fragments translated by Eric Warmington, referenced below, at p. 111, p. 117 and p. 119 respectively) reveal his interest in the fall of Troy.  Furthermore, he specifically referred to Aeneas in his epic poem known as the ‘Bellum Punicum’, which set out the history of the First Punic War (264-241 BC): as Matthew Leigh (referenced below, at p. 273) pointed out, other surviving testimonies and fragments of this poem indicate that it was:

  1. “... composed as a single continuous narrative and only later divided into seven books ..., [and that it began with] an extensive ‘archaeology’ in which, inter alia, Aeneas:

  2. gathers a group of companions including his father Anchises and their respective wives;

  3. flees Troy in a single ship built for him by Mercury;  and

  4. is probably [but not certainly] brought into contact with the Carthage of Queen Dido.”

More importantly for our purposes, Leigh discussed (at p. 274) Macrobius’ citation of Naevius’ poem:

  1. “ ...  in Book 1 of [Virgil’s] ‘Aeneid’ [see below], a storm is described.  Venus complains [to] Jupiter of the perils facing her son, [Aeneas], and Jupiter consoles her with the prospect of the happiness of later generations.  This whole passage has been taken from Book 1 of the ‘Bellum Punicum’ of Naevius.  For:

  2. there, no less [than in the ‘Aeneid’], does Venus complain before Jupiter as the Trojans struggle in a storm; and

  3. there [too] follow the words of Jupiter consoling his daughter with the hope of what is to be”,(‘Saturnalia’, 6: 2: 30-1, translated by Matthew Leigh, referenced below, at p. 274).  

The relevant Virgilian passage has been translated as follows:

  1. “Do not fear, Lady of Cythera; your children’s fates remain unchanged.  You will see Lavinium’s city and its promised walls, [built by]  great-souled Aeneas ... [He will live until] three summers have seen him reigning in Latium ... [His son] Ascanius ... [will rule] for thirty [years] ... and shall move his throne ... [to] Alba Longa.  Here, for [300 years] shall the kingdom endure under Hector’s race, until Ilia, a royal priestess, shall bear to Mars her twin offspring.  Then Romulus ... shall take up the line, and found the walls of Mars and call the people Romans after his own name.  For these [Romans], I set no bounds in space or time; but have given [them] empire without end”, (‘Aeneid’, 1: 257 - 279, translated by H. Rushton Fairclough, referenced below, at pp. 279-81).

If Macrobius is correct in his claim that Virgil had taken Jupiter’s the words of consolation from Naevius, then he would have recorded Jupiter’s prophecy that the Romans would ultimately achieve ‘empire without end’. 

In order to assess the significance of this passage, we need to consider the political context in which Naevus wrote his poem.  Only brief details of Naevius’ biography survive:

  1. According to Cicero, Naevius died in 204 BC (‘Brutus’, 60) and this poem had been a work of his old age (‘On Old Age’, 50).

  2. According to Aulus Gellius (2nd century AD):

  3. “The epitaph of Naevius, although full of Campanian arrogance, might have been regarded as a just estimate, if he had not written it himself”, (‘Attic Nights’, 1: 24: 3).

  4. This suggests that Gellius believed that Naevius came from Campania: this information is sometimes doubted, but Denis Feeney (referenced below, at p. 66), for example, accepted it, albeit that he argued (at p. 165) that the epitaph itself dated to ca. 150 BC.

  5. Gellius (‘Attic Nights’, 17: 21: 45, translated by John Rolfe, referenced below, at p. 287) also recorded that:

  6. Naevius’ first dramatic production in Rome was staged in 235 BC; and

  7. according to a now-lost passage by Varro, he had recorded in his ‘Bellum Punicum’ that he had actually served in the First Punic War.

The literary context in which the poem was written is also important: as Denis Feeney (referenced below, at p. 184) pointed out, Naevius:

  1. “... began producing plays and writing epic shortly after Livius [Andronicus] ...”

Thus, despite its late date, this poem would have reflected the euphoria that followed Rome’s first major victory ‘at land and sea’ through the lens of a man who had actually fought in the war that had delivered it. 

Matthew Leigh (referenced below, at p. 274) drew attention to a fragment of the poem that Isodore of Seville (7th century AD) used in order to establish the meaning of the term flustrum:

  1. “... Naevius has ‘in flustris’ in the ‘Bellum Punicum’ [in the phrase]:

  2. ‘the freight-ships with their freights stood still upon the drifts’;

  3. where it is ... as if he said that they are on the open sea”, (translated by Eric Warmington, referenced below, at p. 69 and Matthew Leigh, referenced below, at p. 274).

Leigh suggested (at p. 275) that:

  1. “What Aeneas endures in the [early part of Naevius’ poem], the men of Rome endure in the [later part, which describes the events of the] First Punic War”;

and pointed out (at p. 276) that:

  1. “... Naevius could locate, in the same seas:

  2. first Aeneas; and then

  3. the Romans, [who were] descended from him and fighting to drive Carthage out of Sicily.”

This does not necessarily mean that Naevius was aware of the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon, emended to replace Homer’s rule over the Τρώεσσιν (Trojans) by rule over πάντεσσιν (all): after all, he:

puts the prophecy into the mouth of Jupiter; and

stresses the chronological rather than the geographical extent of the promised empire.

Nevertheless, he would have been aware of Homer’s text,

Naevius and Ennius

According to Servius (4th century AD), in his commentary on Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’:

  1. “Naevius and Ennius tell us that Aeneas, the founder of [Rome], was Aeneas’ grandson by his daughter”, (‘ad Aen.’, 1: 273, translated by Peter Wiseman, referenced below, 1995, at p. 167).

Thus, the two earliest Roman epic poets whose work is known to us both followed the tradition in which Rome had been founded within two generations of the fall of Troy:

  1. Cn. Naevius, who had served in the First Punic War, published his ‘Bellum Poenicum’ shortly before his death on ca. 200 BC; and

  2. Q. Ennius wrote is ‘Annales’ in ca. 180 BC.

In his commentary on Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’, Servius (4th century AD) quoted Naevius twice in relation to Aeneas’ escape from Troy:

  1. “... Naevius introduces the wives of Aeneas and Anchises departing in tears from [Troy] with these words;

  2. ‘The wives of both  were leaving Troy at night with their heads veiled, both crying as they departed’”, (‘ad Aen.’, 3: 10); and

  3. “Naevius in the first book of ‘The Punic War’ has the following [phrases related to] the flight of Anchises and Aeneas :

  4. ‘Many mortals follow’ their path’; (here, you see  [Virgil’s] ‘I, marvelling, find a great company’);

  5. ‘Many other dashing heroes from Troy ...’; (here, you see Virgil’s ‘ready in heart’); and—

  6. ‘When they forthwith were leaving there with the gold’; (here, you see Virgil’s ‘laden with their wealth.’”, (‘ad Aen.’, 2: 797);

  7. both translated by Eric Warmington, referenced below, at pp. 49-51).

Eric Warmington (referenced below, at p. xv) observed that Naevius, who had been producing plays in Rome since ca. 235 BC:

  1. “... invented a new kind of play, the fabula praetexta or historical Roman play, by composing one (‘Clastidium’) that dealt with the victory won at Clastidium by M. Marcellus in 222 BC; another one, ‘Romulus’, perhaps followed soon afterwards.”

  1. “If Ennius accepted [this] canonical date for the Trojan War, ... he must have dated Romulus’ foundation to around 1000 BC.  This raises a problem regarding Ennius' treatment of the Regal period.  In the developed Roman tradition [based on the foundation in 753 BC], seven kings ruled for a period of 245 years ... [However], Ennius could not have made seven kings rule for 6oo years ... How then are we to account for this discrepancy?  We cannot imagine that Ennius was unaware of the chronological difficulty (although that may have been true of Naevius and earlier Greek scholars who had made Romulus the son or grandson of Aeneas), because he would certainly have read Fabius Pictor [see below], who had taken account of it in his history.”

Fabius Pictor

As we have seen, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (7 BC) observed that:

  1. “The arrival of Aeneas and the Trojans in Italy is attested by all the Romans ... ”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 49: 3).

In this broad statement, Dionysius presumably included all of the Roman historians whose works were available to him, but most of this material has been lost.  However, it was certainly true of Q. Fabius Pictor (died after 216 BC), who, as Edward Bispham and Timothy Cornell (in Cornell T. J. (editor), referenced below, Vol. I, at p. 163) pointed out:

  1. “... was the first Roman to write a history of his city ... , and he did so in Greek.”

Furthermore, we know that Fabius associated Aeneas’ presence in Italy with the subsequent foundation of Rome: a fragmentary inscription (2nd century BC ?) from a library at Tauromenium on Sicily referred to a book by Fabius that:

  1. “... recorded the arrival of Herakles (Hercules) in Italy and ... of Lanoios ... by Aeneas and ... much later there were Romulus and Remus, and the foundation of Rome by Romulus ...”, (‘Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum’, 26: 11: 23: F3: Col. A, translated by Edward Bispham and Timothy Cornell, in T. J. Cornell (editor), referenced below, Vol. II, at p. 39).

This indicates that Fabius wrote about:

  1. Hercules (presumably in the context of his presence in Rome);

  2. Lanoios (presumably the eponymous founder of Lanuvium in Latium); and

  3. Aeneas (presumably in the context of his arrival in Latium after the fall of Troy and his foundation of Lavinium); and

  4. the ‘much later’ existence of Romulus and Remus (presumably identified as Aeneas’ descendants) and Romulus’ foundation of Rome. 

However, we have no means of knowing how Fabius and the other early Roman historians rationalised Aeneas’ fortunate arrival in Latium or, more specifically:

  1. whether they considered Aeneas’ arrival in Latinum  in the light of the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon; and/ or

  2. whether they considered it to have been a necessary precursor to the Romans’ victory over the Carthaginians (at land and sea) in 241 BC.

Dionysius of Halicarnusus

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (7 BC) observed that:

  1. “The arrival of Aeneas and the Trojans in Italy is attested by all the Romans, and evidences of it are to be seen in the ceremonies observed by them in both their sacrifices and festivals, as well as in the Sibyl's utterances, in the Pythian oracles, and in many other things that should not be dismissed as invented for the sake of embellishment.  Among the Greeks also, many distinct monuments remain to this day on the coasts where [the Trojans] landed and among the people with whom they stayed when detained by unfavourable weather”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 49: 3).

Dionysius then offered a long list of these Greek ‘monuments’, which ended only at 1: 53: 3: he explained that:

  1. “It was necessary for me to relate these things and to make this digression, since:

  2. some historians affirm that [he] did not even come into Italy with the Trojans;

  3. others say that it was another Aeneas, not the son of Anchises and Aphrodite, [who did so]; while

  4. yet others say that it was his son, Ascanius, or even name other persons.

  5. Furthermore, there are those who claim that [it was, indeed], Aeneas, the son of Aphrodite, [who led the Trojans to Italy, but that], after he had settled his company [there, he] returned home, reigned over Troy and, having died there, left his kingdom to his son, Ascanius, whose posterity possessed it for a long time”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 53: 4).

Dionysius asserted that, in his opinion:

  1. “... these writers are deceived by mistaking the sense of Homer's verses in the ‘Iliad’ in which he represents Poseidon as foretelling the future splendour of Aeneas and his posterity:

  2. ‘But now indeed, the power of Aeneas will rule over the Trojans (Τρώεσσιν), and so will the children of his children, and those who will come afterwards.’

  3. ... But, it was not impossible for Aeneas to reign over the Trojans that he had taken with him, even though they were settled in another country”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 53: 5, with Dionysius version of the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon translated by Beatrice Poletti, referenced below, at p. 103).

Hellanicus of Mytilene/Lesbos

Dionysius began his account of Aeneas’ voyage with what he considered to be:

  1. “... the most credible account of Aeneas’ flight [from Troy], which is the one that Hellanicus ... adopts in his ‘Troica’”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 48: 1).

Dionysius almost certainly referred here to the ‘Troica’ of Hellanicus of Mytilene (5th century BC), which (as its name name indicates) was concerned with the history of the Troad.  Dionysius’ summary of Hellanicus’ account began after Aeneas had assembled the other Dardanian survivors on Mount Ida.  He then:

  1. “... sent Ascanius, his eldest son, with some of the allies, chiefly Phrygians, to the country of Dascylium, in which lies the Ascanian lake, since he had been invited by the inhabitants to reign over them.  Ascanius did not stay there long: when Scamandrius and the other descendants of Hector, who had been permitted by [the Achaean commander] Neoptolemus to return home from Greece, came to him, he went to Troy in order to restore them to their ancestral kingdom.  Regarding Ascanius, then, this is all that is told.  As for Aeneas, ... he embarked with his father, [Anchises] and the rest of his sons and, taking with him the images of his gods, he crossed the Hellespont ...”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 47: 5-6). 

It is convenient to discuss here a passage from Strabo’s parallel account (see below) in which he cited Hellanicus: he believed that Homer’s Troy had been located at what he called the ‘Village of the Ilians’, some 5 km east of the city of Ilium, but explained to his readers that:

  1. “... in order to gratify the Ilians ... , Hellanicus agrees with them that the present Ilium is the same as the ancient [city of Troy]”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 42).

If we combine this fragment with Dionysius’ citations of Hellanicus, it seems that Hellanicus originally recorded that:

  1. Priam’s capital was located on the later site of Ilium; and

  2. after the Achaeans destroyed it:

  3. Aeneas fled from the Troad by crossing the Hellespont; while

  4. Ascanius left for Phrygia and then returned to Troy, where he helped Scamandrius, the grandson of Priam, to:

  5. -retake and presumably restore the ruined city; and

  6. -re-establish his family’s rule over the Trojans.

There is no reason to think that Hellanicus paid any particular attention to the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon: as Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 102) pointed out:

  1. “... there is no suggestion here that Ascanius and his family continued to rule.”

Peter Smith (referenced below, at p. 301) suggested that, when he:

  1. “... brings Ascanius back from rule in Phrygia and Scamandrius back from captivity in Greece in order to join in a re-establishment of Troy, we should see this as ... [a] response to a local (or other antiquarian) tradition.  We may grant that Hellanicus had heard of this tradition the 5h century BC, and it may have been the accepted story among the [Greek] inhabitants of Ilium [at that time].”

As we shall see, at least twelve other cities in the Troad seem subsequently to have claimed Ascanius and Scamandrius as their founders, in spite of Poseidon’s prophecy that the line of Priam, which included Scamandrius, would not survive the fall of Troy.

Dionysius’ Use of the Testimony of Hellanicus

Dionysius probably privileged Hellanicus’ account because it was the earliest of which he was aware in which Aeneas fled westwards after the fall of Troy.  However, he was also aware that, in accepting this as his starting point, he had to answer to those (like Strabo - see below) who insisted that it was precluded by the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon: his answer was that Aeneas did indeed live to rule ‘over the Trojans’ and to pass his rule on to his descendants, albeit that he did so in Italy.

However, another aspect of Hellanicus’ testimony was potentially problematic for Dionysius: Hellanicus’ claim that Ascanius remained in the Troad contradicted the view of the Romans (and, in particular, of the gens Julia) that Ascanius was Aeneas’ successor in Latium.  This probably explains a later passage in which Dionysius recorded that, when Aeneas died in Latium:

  1. “... [in] about the 7th year after the fall of Troy, Euryleon, who had been renamed Ascanius during the flight [from Troy], succeeded to the rule over the Latins”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 65: 1).

As Beatrice Poletti (referenced below, at p. 95, note 108) observed:

  1. “Dionysius seems to have been aware of [the tradition that Aeneas had a son called Euryleon], and may have used it to adapt Hellanicus’ story to the [Roman tradition, in which] ... Ascanius (also named Julus) founded Alba Longa as well as the Julian lineage”.

In other words, it is possible that Dionysius accounted for  Hellanicus’ testimony that Aeneas left his eldest son, Ascanius, in the Troad by inventing or making use of another ‘tradition’ in which Aeneas renamed another of his sons, Euryleon, as Ascanius during their voyage from Troy to Latium.


The ancient Troad (adapted from map in this web page of Wikiwand)

Strabo’s ‘Geography’ is another important source for the Greek traditions relating to Aeneas in the aftermath of the Trojan War.   This work was broadly contemporary with that of Dionysius, but more difficult to date precisely: as Duane Roller (referenced below, 2014, at p. 13) pointed out, Strabo might well have begun collecting data for it in ca. 20 BC and seems to have continued working on it until his death in the 20s AD.  Roller observed (at p. 17) that:

  1. “Lurking everywhere [in this work] is an intense Homeric commentary; although generally geographically oriented, it can overwhelm the flow of the work.”

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Book 13: Part 1, which deals with the geography of the ancient Troad, which, according to Strabo:

  1. “... now lies in ruins and in desolation, [although it still] prompts extraordinary prolixity in writers [because of its fame as the site of the Trojan War].  ... And my discussion is further prolonged by the number of the peoples who have colonised the country, both Greeks and barbarians, and by the [number of] historians who write different things on the same subjects, nor always clearly either.  Among the first of these is Homer, who leaves us to guess about most things.  And it is necessary for me to arbitrate between his statements and those of the others”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 1).

Laura Pfuntner (referenced below, at p. 42) observed that Strabo would not normally pay much attention to a region in this ruinous condition, but:

  1. “He must give Troy a presence in his geographical text by defining its ... place in the Troad [as recorded by Homer] and assessing how it came to be completely obliterated from the physical (but not the mental) landscape.” 

Homer’s Troy and the ‘Present Ilium’

Location of Homer’s Troy, according to Strabo

Adapted from the map in this webpage of the University of Cincinnati

Strabo and the Site of Homer’s Troy

As was saw in the section above, Hellanicus, who was writing in the 5th century BC, located Homer’s Troy of the site of Ilium.  This tradition still lived on at the time of Strabo, causing him to complain that:

  1. “The Ilians of today say that the city was, in fact, not completely wiped out at its capture by the Achaeans, and even claim that it was never deserted”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 40).

However, he felt bound to reject these claims because:

  1. “Homer expressly states that the [original] city was destroyed [in the Trojan War]:

  2. ‘A day shall come when sacred Ilios shall perish’, [‘Iliad’, 6: 448];

  3. ‘We, [the Achaeans], have utterly destroyed the lofty city of Priam’, [‘Odyssey’, 3: 130]; ...

  4. ‘... in the 10th year [of the war], the city of Priam was destroyed’, [based on ‘Iliad’, 12: 15]”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 41).

He argued (not very convincingly) that:

  1. “... those who later thought of re-founding the city regarded that site as ill‑omened ..., (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 42

Strabo used a very convoluted argument based of the works of both Homer and Plato to find the ‘true’ location of Homer’s Troy (see ‘Geography’, 13: 1: 25 and the commentaries on it by Duane Roller, referenced below, 2018, at p. 752 and Laura Pfuntner, referenced below, at pp. 39-40).  His conclusion was that Ilus, its original founder:

  1. “ ... did not found [it] at the place where [Ilium] now is, but about 30 stadia higher up, towards the east, and towards Mount Ida and Dardania, at the place now called the  ‘Village of the Ilians’”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 25).

In a slightly later passage, he identified its original location more precisely:

  1. “The hill of Kallikolone is:

  2. 10 stadia above the ‘Village of the Ilians’; and

  3. 5 stadia from where the Simoeis flows”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 35).

I have indicated this location in relation to that of Ilium itself on the map above. 

Strabo on the ‘Present Ilium’

Strabo acknowledged that the the people of the ‘present Ilium’ claimed that their city stood on the original site of Troy, but he insisted that it:

  1. “... does not appear to have been the Homeric city.  Other inquirers also find that the city changed its site several times, but at last settled permanently [on the site of the ‘present Ilium’] at about the time of Croesus, [King of Lydia, 560-546 BC] ... It is said that the ...[ this settlement still remained] a mere village [until at least the time of Alexander the Great]”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 25-6).

He added that it had still been merely:

  1. “... a kind of village-city when the Romans had first set foot on Asia and expelled Antiochus the Great from the country this side of Taurus Mountains [i.e., in 190-88 BC].  At any rate, Demetrius of Scepsis [see below] says that, when he lived [there] as a youth at about that time, it was so neglected that the buildings did not even have tiled roofs”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 27).

In a later passage, he insisted that:

  1. “It was [only] in the time of the Lydians [in ca. 550 BC] that the present [city of Ilium] was founded ... But Hellanicus, to gratify the Ilians, ... agrees with them that the present Ilium is the same as the ancient”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 41).

One wonders why he did not take this occasion to use the ‘evidence’ of the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon in order to refute Hellanicus claim that Scamandrius had re-established the line of Priam here.

Demetrius of Scepsis on Ilium

John Luce (referenced below, at p. 132) argued that Demetrius would have been Strabo’s main source for much of his account of Ilium.   The evidence for this view mostly comes from Strabo himself, who named a number of scholars from Scepsis, including:

  1. “... Demetrius, whom I often mention ...”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 55).

Alexandra Trachsel (referenced below, at pp. 226-8) listed the numerous occasions on which Strabo did indeed mention Demetrius, whom he characterised as: 

  1. “... the grammarian who wrote a commentary on the marshalling of the Trojan forces, and who was born at about the same time as Crates and Aristarchus”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 55).

Trachsel identified (at p. 4) the Homeric scholars to whom Strabo referred here as:

  1. Aristarchos of Samothrace (ca. 216 - 144 BC); and

  2. Crates of Mallus, who visited Rome in ca. 168 BC;

thus confirming that Demetrius was active in the decades that followed the arrival of the Romans in the Troad in ca. 190 BC.  Strabo also described the nature of the work by Demetrius from which he drew so much local knowledge:

  1. “I take it for granted that we must give heed to [Demetrius of Scepsis] as a man who:

  2. was acquainted with the [Troad] and a native of it; and

  3. gave enough thought to this subject to write 30 books of commentary on a little more than 60 lines of Homer: that is, on the [Homeric] catalogue of the Trojans [who were defeated by the Achaeans (‘Iliad’, 2: 816-877)]”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 45).

We know from Athenaeus (early 2nd century AD) that the formal title of Demetrius’ work was ‘Τρωικοῦ Διακόσμου’’, which is usually translated as  the ‘Trojan Catalogue’ (see for example the translation of Athenaeus’ ‘Deipnosophistae’, 14: 644a by Alexandra Trachsel, referenced below, at p. 86).  John Luce (referenced below, at p. 132) reasonably argued that Strabo’s rejection of the Illians’ clam of Trojan heritage would have reflected the opinion of Demetrius:

  1. “As a citizen of Scepsis, at the heart of ancient Dardania, he [arguably] despised the upstart population of Hellenistic Ilium, ... [and] could not bring himself to accept that [it] had a more glorious past than than his own city." 

That might well be true: as we shall see, there are certainly grounds for the assertion that Demetrius took pains to burnish the credentials of his native city.  However, there is no surviving evidence that he:

  1. denied the Homeric credentials of Ilium; and/or

  2. located Homer’s Troy at Strabo’s ‘Village of the Ilians’. 

Strabo and Demetrius on Scepsis 

Duane Roller (referenced below, 2018, at p. 764) observed that, in the ‘Geography’,  Strabo:

  1. “... discussed Scepsis in greater detail than any other city in the Troad except Ilium, presumably summarising Demetrius’ history of his own town.”

It is true that Strabo devoted four paragraphs to Scepsis, although we can pass over the last two, which deal with the leading scholars who had been born there (with Demetrius mentioned at the start of paragraph 55). 

The material in the two paragraphs of interest to us does not flow in an easily understandable manner:

  1. Paragraph 52 deals (without citation of the source(s)) with:

  2. the original location of Scepsis;

  3. its re-foundation on its ‘present’ site by Scamandrius and Ascanius and its continuing association with their descendants; and

  4. the temporary incorporation of the Scepsians into the nearby Antigonia/Alexandria in Troas in 306-1 BC.

  5. Paragraph 53:

  6. starts with the observation that:

  7. “Demetrius thinks that Scepsis was also the royal residence of Aeneas”; and

  8. subsequently indicates with Strabo’s own views on some of the  material in paragraph 52:

  9. “... the oft‑repeated story of Aeneas, [in which he ended up in Macedonian Olympus, in Capyae in Arcadia, or in Latium (via Sicily)], are not in agreement with the account which I have just given of the founders of Scepsis [i.e. Scamandrius and Ascanius]. ... [Furthermore], Homer ... clearly indicates that Aeneas remained in Troy and succeeded to the empire and bequeathed the succession thereto to his sons' sons, the family of Prima]  having been wiped out.  ...  [This being the] case, one cannot even save from rejection the succession of Scamandrius.”

It seems to me that we can indeed reasonably assume that Strabo took all of the material n paragraph 52 from Demetrius and then rejected  Demetrius’ claim for the re-foundation of Scepsis on its ‘present’ site by Scamandrius and Ascanius in paragraph 53.

Demetrius on Scepsis

If the analysis above is correct, then Demetrius was Strabo’s source for the information that:

  1. the precursor of Scepsis had stood:

  2. “... above Cebren, near the highest part of Mount Ida”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 52); and

  3. Scepsis itself had been the location of:

  4. “... the basileion (royal residence) of Aeneas, since it lies midway between:

  5. the territory subject to Aeneas; and

  6. Lyrnessus, to which, according to Homer [‘Iliad’, 20: 190], he fled when he was being pursued by Achilles”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 53).

Peter Smith (referenced below, at p. 39), who took this view, argued that:

  1. “The lack of evidence [that was] available to Demetrius is made especially clear by his belief that Scepsis had been the site of Aeneas’ basileion even before the migration from Old Scepsis.  In support of this idea, he could claim only ... that [this] was probable on geographical grounds.  [Furthermore, his] geographical argument was extraordinarily weak: even if we accept ... that:

  2. ‘the district subject to Aeneas’ should located in the middle valley of the Scamander; and

  3. Lyrnessos should be placed somewhere in the plain of Thebe (later Adramyttion);

  4. we would hardly be forced by Achilles' boast ... to place Aeneas' capital midway between these two places (or to place it anywhere at all).  It looks rather as though there was no tradition older than Demetrius himself connecting Aeneas with either Old Scepsis or Scepsis itself:

  5. if [Aeneas] had been associated with Old Scepsis, Demetrius would have felt no need to place him in Scepsis instead; and

  6. if tradition hd already associated [Aeneas] with Scepsis, Demetrius would not have had to defend his claim with the very weak argument on which Strabo tells us he relied.

  7. His very choice of the word basileion shows that had no evidence for any city before the (alleged) foundation by Scamandrius and Ascanius.  He may have been trying to counter, or simply pre-empt, the claim of any other city to have been Aeneas' ancestral home.”

As Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 107) pointed out, it although some scholars claim that Demetrius had recorded that Aeneas had left the Troad after the fall of Troy, this is far from certain: all we can infer from the passage by Strabo is that, according to Demetrius:

  1. “... Scamandrius, the son of Hector, and Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, moved the inhabitants [of Old Scepsis] to the present Scepsis, some 60 stadia below: and their two families are said to have held the kingship over Scepsis for a long time.  After this, [the government of Scepsis] changed to an oligarchy, and then Milesians settled with [the inhabitants] as fellow-citizens, and they began to live under a democracy.  But the heirs of the royal family ... continued to be called kings and retained certain prerogatives”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 52).

Peter Smith (referenced below, at pp. 36-7, note 32) pointed out that a scholiast on Euripides’ ‘Andromache’, 10, citing Lysimachus of Alexandria (ca. 200 BC), recorded that Dionysius of Chalcis (who has been variously dated within the period from the 4th to the early 2nd century BC):

  1. “... wrote that the Athenian Akamas, [the son of the mythical King Theseus], had founded a number cities in the Troad, including Scepsis, after the Trojan War, ... but had generously allowed Scamandrius and Ascanius to be proclaimed as founders.”

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 107) listed these cities as Gergis, Perkote, Kolonai, Chyrse, Ophrynion, Sidene, Astyra, Scepsis, Polichna, Daskyleion, Iliou Kolone and Arisbe, and observed (at p. 108) that:

  1. “Akamas’ role in the founding of these cities is likely to have been developed in conjunction with Athenian territorial ambitions in the Troad.  Several occasions might have seemed suitable for the promulgation of such a myth [in the period ca. 600 - 450 BC].  The strange altruism of Akamas in allowing others to get the credit for the foundation of these cities is most easily explained if he is being incorporated into earlier stories that held [Scamandrius and Ascanius] to be the founders and that were probably current locally well before the 5th century BC.  The whole myth presented by Dionysius [of Chalcis] strongly suggests that the [Greek] cities in the Troad had a keen sense of affinity with their Trojan precursors, and that this feeling was widespread and long-standing.”

In other words, the passage on the re-foundation of Scepsis attributed above to Demetrius was based on an already established local tradition that was shared with a number of cities in the Troad.

Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at pp. 106-7) observed that:

  1. “Demetrius has often been held up as a prime example of a writer who used Trojan myth as a means of ... rejecting Rome’s own version of its origins and denying the [newly-arrived] Romans a creditable place in the Greek past. ... [However, this] argument takes insufficient account of the Hellenistic context and thus ignores the vitality of competing local traditions.  Once Demetrius is placed within the [prevailing political culture in the] Troad, it becomes clear that he was far more interested in these local traditions than in [those of] Rome.”

It seems to me that Demetrius faced at least three problems when he attempted to establish the pre-eminence of Scepsis within this local tradition:

  1. the tradition that Aeneas had left the Troad after the fall of Troy, never to return, dated back to at least the time of Hellanicus and, as Andrew Erskine (referenced below, at p. 110) pointed out:

  2. “Many [putative] burial places are known for Aeneas, but none in the Troad itself”;

  3. the tradition that that Scamandrius had subsequently ruled over the Trojans from Ilium also dated back to at least the time of Hellanicus; and

  4. the tradition that Scamandrius and Ascanius had jointly assumed the role of ruling the Trojans and had founded or re-founded many cities in the region in addition to Scepsis dated back to at least the time of Dionysius of Chalcis.

However, it seems that he did not let these problems deter him, arguing that:

  1. the ‘present’ Ilium, which was only ‘a kind of village-city’ in his own time,  had not even existed before the time of King Croesus of Lydia (560-546 BC); while

  2. Scepsis:

  3. had been the site of Aeneas’ old royal residence even before Scamandrius and Ascanius had established it as the centre of their joint rule over all the cities of the Troad, and

  4. had remained associated with the ‘royal family’ for generations thereafter, notwithstanding the subsequent emergence of non-monarchical forms of government.

If this is correct, then Demetrius did not see any problem arising from the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon.

Strabo, Scamandrius and Poseidon’s Prophecy

It seems then that Strabo:

  1. recorded Demetrius’ view that Scamandrius and Ascanius had established their new capital on the site of Aeneas’ royal residence at Scepsis in paragraph 52; and

  2. gave his own opinion on the matter in paragraph 53, the subject of the present section.

After a long digression about Antenor and Aeneas that had little, if anything, to do with Scepsis (see below), he pointed out that Homer disagreed with:

  1. “... the above account of the founders of Scepsis [i.e. Scamandrius and Ascanius].  Indeed, he shows clearly that Aeneas remained in [the Troad after the fall of] Troy and succeeded to the sovereignty and bequeathed the succession to his children’s children, since the descendants of Priam [who included Scamandrius] had been destroyed:

  2. ‘For already the race of Priam was hated by [Zeus]; and now, the mighty Aeneas will rule over the Trojans and the children of his children, those who will in time be born’, [taken from Poseidon’s prophecy: ‘Iliad’, 20: 306-8)]”

  3. Thus, the succession of Scamandrius [to the rule of the Trojans and his re-foundation, with Ascanius, of Scepsis] must be rejected”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 53).

We should now turn to Strabo’s prior digression (although we can safely ignore the part of it that relates to Antenor, which is irrelevant to the present discussion): in the passage of interest here, Strabo addressed the tradition in which, after the fall of Troy:

  1. “... Aeneas collected a host of followers and set sail with his father Anchises and his son Ascanius:

  2. some say that he settled near the Macedonian Olympus;

  3. others say that he founded Capyae near Mantineia in Arcadia, deriving the name he gave to the settlement from [his fellow-Dardanian,], Capys; and

  4. yet others say that he landed at Aegesta in Sicily with Elymus the Trojan and took possession of Eryx and Lilybaeum, and gave the names Scamander and Simoeis to rivers near Aegesta, and that thence he went into the Latin country and made it his abode, in accordance with an oracle which bade him abide where he should eat up his table, and that this took place in the Latin country in the neighbourhood of Lavinium, where a large loaf of bread was put down for a table, for want of a better table, and eaten up along with the meats upon it.

  5. Homer, however, appears to disagree with ... [these] stories ...”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 53).

Strabo then made the argument discussed above, which led him to reject the claim that Scamandrius had ruled over the Trojans with Ascanius from Scepsis because it contradicted the testimony of Homer.  He then insisted that:

  1. “Homer is in even greater disagreement with those who speak of Aeneas as having wandered as far as Italy and make him die there, [even though] some write:

  2. ‘... the family of Aeneas will rule over all, and the children of his children’;

  3. meaning [that Aeneas’ rule will eventually pass to] the Romans”, (‘Geography’, 13: 1: 53).

In other words, some scholars fraudulently replace Homer’s Τρώεσσιν (Trojans) with the word πάντεσσιν (all).  Strabo could not ignore the Romans’ own views on the matter, however un-Homeric they might be, but he dealt with this in his account of the geography of Latium by delicately observing that:

  1. It is said that Aeneas, along with his father Anchises and his son Ascanius, after putting in at Laurentum, which was on the shore near Ostia and the Tiber, founded a city a little above the sea, within about 24 stadia from it ... ”, (‘Geography’, 5: 3: 2, my bold italics).

Aeneas after the Fall of Troy: Conclusions 


One of the earliest examples of the modification of Poseidon’s prophecy in order to identify the all- conquering Romans as the descendants of Aeneas comes in two passages in an obscure Greek poem entitled ‘Alexandra’, which is devoted to the prophecies of the Trojan princess who is better known as Cassandra.  The relevant passages are as follows:

  1. In the first, Cassandra prophesied that the descendants of Aeneas would rule ‘over land and sea’:

  2. “The glory of the race of my grandfathers will be greatly increased by their descendants.  With their spears, they will win the the victory-wreath and the first spoils, taking sceptre and kingship over land and sea.  Nor, my miserable fatherland, will you hide your renown, withered away in darkness.  My kinsman will leave behind him such twin lion-whelps - a race of outstanding strength - he who is the offspring of [Aphrodite], best in counsel and far from contemptible in battle”,  (‘Alexandra’, 1226-35, translated by Simon Hornblower, referenced below, 2015, at pp. 437-441).

  3. In the accompanying commentary, Hornblower observed that:

  4. the race of Cassandra’s grandfathers (line 1226) meant the race of the ancestors that she shared with Aeneas;

  5. their descendants whom she prophesied (at line 1229) would:

  6. “... with their spears, ... win the victory wreath and the first spoils, obtaining the sceptre and monarchy of earth and sea”;

  7. were the Romans;

  8. her kinsman, the offspring of Aphrodite (lines 1232 and 1235), was Aeneas himself;

  9. Aeneas’ descendants, the “twin lion-whelps” (line 1233), were Romulus and Remus; and

  10. the “race of outstanding strength (rhome)” (line 1233) were also the Romans.

  11. In the second, Cassandra prophesied that the Romans’ dominion would extend over many generations:

  12. “With him, after six generations, my kinsman, a unique wrestler, after joining in a spear-fight, shall come to an agreement of reconciliation about sea and land, and be celebrated as the greatest among his friends, taking the first choice of the spear-won spoils”, (‘Alexandra’, 1446-55, translated by Simon Hornblower, referenced below, 2015, at pp. 495-9).

  13. In the accompanying commentary, Hornblower observed that:

  14. the person with whom Cassandra’s kinsman would be reconciled after six generations (i.e. the ‘him’ at the start of line 1446) was a Macedonian king who lived six generations after Alexander the Great (reigned 332–323  and who was the ‘fierce lion’ of line 1439);

  15. this later king:

  16. “... is accordingly Philip V [reigned 221–179 BC]: the six generations between Alexander and Philip V are inclusive”; and

  17. Cassandra’s kinsman, a unique wrestler’ (lines 1446-7), who was clearly a Roman (since the Romans were Cassandra’s kin because of her blood-relationship with Aeneas), must be  T. Quinctius ] Flamininus, whose ‘reconciliation about sea and land’ (line 1449) was with Philip V, after he had defeated him at the Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC.

The significance of these enigmatic passages clearly depends upon the identity of Lycophron and the date of his poem.  Simon Hornblower (referenced below, 2018, at p. 6 and note 19) observed that:

  1. “... the attribution of  the ‘Alexandra’ [to a poet called] Lycophron was early, but it cannot be quite proved that it went back to the author himself, [although] I think it did.”

In other words, the poet probably did identify himself as Lycophron.  The Byzantine encyclopaedia known as the ‘Suda’ (10th century AD) contained the following entry for a scholar of this name:

  1. “Grammarian and maker of tragedies.  At any rate, he is one of the seven who were called the Pleias [the group of seven leading tragic poets who worked at Alexandria in the early 3rd century BC].  ... He also wrote the play called ‘Alexandra’, the obscure poem (τὸ σκοτεινὸν ποίημα)”, (translated by Alexander and Gilbert Mair, referenced below, at p. 307).

This indicates that, at least in the 10th century AD, the ‘Alexandra’ was attributed to Lycophron of Chalcis, who was the librarian at Alexandria in the early 3rd century AD.  However, a number of scholars believe that it was written perhaps a century after his time: for example:

  1. Simon Hornblower (referenced below, 2018 at p. 3) argued that the characterisation of the Romans as the race that had won “the sceptre and monarchy of earth and sea” would have been:

  2. “... impossible before the First Punic War of 264-241 BC, which gave the Romans their first overseas possessions, Sicily and Sardinia”; and

  3. Charles McNelis and Alexander Sens (referenced below, at p. 9) argued that the poem was written in:

  4. “... the early years of the 2nd century BC, when Rome’s military dominance in the east had been firmly established.  Throughout this book, we refer to the author of the poem as Lycophron, and it is indeed possible that this was his name, but, if so, he lived and wrote in a period later that the scholar-playwright from Chalcis.”

The other important clue to the date of the poem comes in the form of the ‘unique wrestler’: if Hornblower is correct in arguing that he was Flamininus, the victor of 197 BC, then this would obviously constitute a terminus post quem for the poem.  Support for this hypothesis comes from Plutarch’s account that, after this victory over Philip V, Flamininus made two dedications at Delphi that alluded to the descent of both Flaminus himself and the Romans more generally from Aeneas:

  1. “For in dedicating some silver bucklers and his own long shield at Delphi, [Flamininus] provided them with this inscription: 

  2. ‘O sons of Zeus, who take pleasure in nimble horsemanship, O children of Tyndareus, rulers of Sparta, Titus [Flamininus], a descendant of Aeneas, bestowed on you a great gift when he brought

  3. about freedom for the children of the Greeks.’

  4. He also dedicated a golden wreath to Apollo, and it bore this inscription:

  5. ‘It is right for this shiny golden wreath to lie on your ambrosial hair, O son of Leto.  The great leader of the children of Aeneas [i.e. Flamininus, the leader of the Romans] gave this wreath [to you]: so, far-shooting Apollo, give the glory of valour’ to god-like Titus [Flamininus]", (‘Life of Flamininus’, 12: 6-7, with the wording of the inscriptions here based on the translation by Charles McNellis, referenced below, 2018, at p.3).

Simon Hornblower (referenced below, 2018 at p. 5) suggested that Lycophron’s earlier reference (at line 1227, above) to the winning of ‘sceptre and kingship over land and sea’ might relate more generally to the events of the late 190s BC, embracing three victories over the Seleucid Antiochus III that were secured:

  1. on land, by:

  2. M’ Acilius Glabrio, at Thermopylae in 191 BC; and

  3. L. Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus and P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus, at Magnesia in 190 BC; and

  4. at sea, by L. Aemilius Regillus at Myonnesos, also in 190 BC.

He suggested (at p. 102) a date for the poem before 168 BC at the latest but, more probably:

  1. “... between 197 and 178 BC, and perhaps very soon after 190 BC.”

Charles McNelis , in his review (referenced below, 2017) of the Hornblower’s book of 2015,  expressed the view that:

  1. “Hornblower provides a thoroughly consistent account that puts the ‘Alexandra’ in the period 197–168 BC.  Alternative views are generously cited [in this earlier work] but, hereafter, [Hornblower’s] study of the entire poem ... will be the starting point [for any discussion of its dating].”

In other words, the likelihood is that the poem reflects the political relations between Greeks and Romans following the Roman victories over Philip V and Antiochus III in the 190s BC.

Charles McNelis and Alexander Sens (referenced below, at p. 202) argued that Cassandra’s prophecy in the ‘Aexandria’ mirrors that of Poseidon in the ‘Iliad’:

  1. Cassandra’s ‘race of my grandfathers’ reflects Poseidon’s ‘race of Dardanus’;

  2. Cassandra’s ‘kinsmen’ are (or, at least, include) Poseidon’s Aeneas and his descendants; and

  3. Cassandra’s prophecy that her ‘miserable fatherland’ would not hide its renown, ‘withered away in darkness’ reflects Poseidon’s prophecy that ‘the race of Dardanus ... [will] not die, blotted out without seed’.

However, they pointed out (at p. 203) that:

  1. “... Poseidon makes clear in his prophecy that, [while] Aeneas and his branch of Dardanus’ line will survive, ... Hector and the family of Priam will perish.  ... [However], Cassandra effaces the distance between the to lines... passing over the Homeric distinction between [the children of Priam and those of Anchises].

Thus, Cassandra’s prophecy did not prelude Scamandrius’ survival after the fall of Troy and his joint rule with Ascanius in the Troad.  They further observed that Cassandra moved seamlessly from ‘the race of my grandfathers’ to its culmination in the ‘race of greatest strength’ of Romulus and Remus and observed that:

  1. “... by reworking the [Homeric] prophecy as the introduction to the story of the foundation of Rome, Lycothron asserts a position about which ancient critics disagreed.”

As we have seen, these ‘ancient critics’ had asserted that, in the ‘Iliad’, Poseidon had prophesied that Aeneas would rule the Trojans in Troy.   However, it seems to me that the most interesting thing about this reworking of the Homeric prophecy is that it reflects the emendation of that Strabo had criticised: perhaps inevitably, after the Roman victories over the Greeks’ in the 190s BC, Aeneas was characterised as the ancestor of the race of outstanding strength who would rule, not o over just the Trojans, but over all. 

Cephalon of Gergis

‘Cephalon of Gergis’ is a more intriguing figure: three fragments from Athenaeus (early 2nd century AD) indicate that this name was a pseudonym used by Hegesianax of Alexandria Troas, a courtier of Antiochus III of Syria (222 - 187 BC):

  1. “Hegesianax of Alexandria, who composed the work entitled ‘Cephalon's Troica’, says that Cycnus, who fought in single combat against Achilles, was reared in Leucophrys by the bird, [a swan], whose name he bore”, (‘Deipnosophistae’, 9: 393d).

  2. “Demetrius of Scepsis (2nd century BC), in Book 15 of  ‘The Trojan Battle Order’ says that:

  3. ‘At the court of Antiochus the Great, it was the habit ... to dance under arms at dinner.  But, when it was the turn of Hegesianax, the historian from Alexandria in Troas, he asked the king:

  4. ‘... would you rather see me dance very badly or hear me recite from my own works very well ?'”, (‘Deipnosophistae’, 4: 155b).

  5. “Demetrius of Scepsis, in Book 15 of  ‘The Trojan Battle Order’, says that those who abstain from eating figs have good voices.  At any rate, he says that Hegesianax of Alexandria, who wrote the ‘Histories’, was at first a poverty-stricken actor of tragedies, but afterwards became a skilled actor with a voice of pleasing resonance, having not tasted figs for 18 years”, (‘Deipnosophistae’, 3: 80e).

Relations between Antiochus and Rome had deteriorated from ca. 200 BC, when Antiochus attempted to incorporated mainland Greece into his empire.  Hegesianax served as an envoy of Antiochus:

  1. to T. Quinctius Flamininus at Corinth in 196 BC (see Polybius, ‘Histories’, 18: 47: 4); and

  2. to Rome in 194/3 BC (see Livy, ‘History of Rome’, 34: 57: 6).

Marijn Visscher (referenced below, at pp. 63-4) characterised Hegesianax’  Troika or  Histories as an extensive work on the history of Troy that :

  1. “... created an elaborate charade in the interest of maximising his authority: he told the oldest history of Troy, it would seem, through the voice of his alter-ego, Cephalon of Gergis, [the ‘ancient and reputable’ man whom Dionysius thought he was consulting].”

She observed (at note 9) that:

  1. “Unfortunately, the fragments we have do not indicate in what ways Hegesianax introduced Cephalon and integrated his account of history into his ‘Troika’.  He might have presented himself as a transmitter of Cephalon’s old manuscripts or paraphrased him less directly.”

Since Hegesianax claimed that Aeneas died at Pallene, it is odd that, according to Dionysius, he also recorded that:

  1. “... [Rome] was built in the 2nd generation after the Trojan war by those who had escaped from Troy with Aeneas, and that it was founded by Rhomus, ... one of Aeneas' sons.  He added that Aeneas had four sons: Ascanius; Euryleon; Rhomylus, and Rhomus”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 72: 1).

According to the Augustan grammarian M. Verrius Flaccus, as epitomised by Festus (2nd century AD):

  1. “Cephalon of Gergis, who seems to have written about Aeneas' arrival in Italy, says that Rome was named for a companion of Aeneas.  This man, who lived a hill called the Palatine, established a city there and called it Rhome”, (‘De verborum significatu’, pp. 326- L, translated by Jaclyn Neel, referenced below, at p. 23).

The wording of this entry implies that Flaccus had not consulted the work by ‘Cephalon’ directly, which possibly explains why he described Rhomus as a companion rather than a son of Aeneas.  However, the reference to the city on the Palatine might well have been in the original, since Hegesianax had presumably been exposed to this tradition during his visit to Rome.


Prophecy played an overt role in bringing Aeneas to Latium in Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ (ca. 17 BC), as exemplified in Jupiter’s promise to Venus when she began to worry that Aeneas’ journey would never end:

Virgil also used prophecy to explain why Aeneas had finally settled in Latium: his first stop after sailing away from Troy was at Delos, where the oracle of Apollo pronounced as follows:

  1. “Hardy sons of Dardanus, the land that first bore you from the stock of your parents will welcome you back with a rich bosom.  Seek out your ancient mother.  In this place, the house of Aeneas will rule over all shores, and his children’s children and those who will be born from them”, (‘Aeneid’, 3: 94-8, translated by Charles McNelis, referenced below, 2018, at p. 12).

Mc Nelis pointed out that this passage reflects some aspects of the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon, albeit that Apollo’s statement that the house of Aeneas will rule over ‘all shores’ seems to reflect the variant reading of the Homeric text to which Strabo (above) strongly objected.  However, Apollo did not specify where Aeneas should look for his ‘ancient mother’, so there was nothing so far to link the house of Aeneas to the Romans.   Anchises suggested (at ‘Aeneid’, 3: 108-9) that Apollo might have directed them to Crete, since he thought that their ‘earliest ancestor’, Teucer, had established his kingdom there.  However, the Trojans realised their mistake when they were struck by a plague as they tried to settle there.  Aeneas therefore sought the advice of the household gods that he had saved from Troy, and they directed him to proceed to a place that the Greeks called Hesperia, the ancient land of Dardanus (at ‘Aeneid’, 3: 161-8).  It was at this point that Anchises recalled that:

  1. “... tested by Ilium’s fate, Cassandra alone declared to me this fortune: now I remember her foretelling this as due to our race, often naming Hesperia, often the Italian realm”, (‘Aeneid’, 3: 182-5, translated by H. Rushton Fairclough, referenced below, at p. 305).

Charles McNelis and Alexander Sens (referenced below, at p. 212) pointed out that, in these combined passages, Virgil:

  1. “... transfers the Homeric prediction from the mouth of Poseidon to [those] of Apollo and ... Cassandra.”

Some scholars argue that a late interpolator had inserted the passage at ‘Alexandra’, 1226-35 into Lycophron’s original, drawing on these two separate passages from the ‘Aeneid’.  However, Charles McNelis and Alexander Sens (referenced below, at p. 213) pointed out that similar prophecies appear throughout the ‘Aeneid (see, for example, the prophecy of Jupiter, above).  They therefore argued for the opposite conclusion, since:

  1. “... it is extremely difficult to imagine that an interpolator of the Alexandra’ has combined specific details drawn from [different places in] the ‘Aeneid’ because they featured prophecies.  [A] more plausible explanation is that the ‘Alexandra’ mediates [Virgil’s] engagement with the Homeric prophecy.  In that sense, Anchises’ sudden recollection of Casssandra’s earlier prophecy is indeed a marker of Virgil’s reworking of Lycophron.”

It seems to me that Virgil probably decided to rework Lycophron’s version of the prophecy precisely because, unlike the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon, it was predicated on the assumption that Aeneas would eventually settle in Latium and that his descendants would go on to found Rome. 


The earliest surviving account of Aeneas journey from Troy to Latium is that of Livy (ca. 27 BC).  In the preface of his work. he had warned his readers that:

  1. “The traditions of what happened prior to the foundation of Rome and while it was being built are more fitted to adorn the creations of the poet than the authentic records of the historian, and I have no intention of establishing either their truth or their falsehood.  This much licence is conceded to the ancients: that they may confer a more august dignity on the origins of states by intermingling human actions with divine.  Now, if any nation ought to be allowed to claim a sacred origin and point back to a divine paternity, that nation is Rome.  For, her renown in war is such that, when she chooses to represent Mars as her own and as the father of her founder, the nations of the world accept the statement with the same equanimity with which they accept her dominion”, (‘History of Rome’, preface  6-8)

Even in the light of this warning, Livy’s account of Aeneas in Latium is surprisingly brief:

  1. “... it is well established that, after the fall of Troy, [while the Achaeans] mercilessly punished the Trojans, they refrained from exercising any right of conquest in the cases of ... Aeneas and Antenor ... Thereafter:

  2. Antenor, after various vicissitudes, came into the northernmost bay of the Adriatic with a body of the Heneti, who  ... were in search both of a settlement and a leader ... The Heneti and Trojans, expelled the [indigenous] Euganei, who lived between the sea and the Alps, and took possession of the country; and the place where they first landed is called Troy... ; and

  3. Aeneas was driven from home by a similar misfortune, but ad maiora rerum initia ducentibus fatis (the fates led him to the beginning of greater things).  He travelled first to Macedonia ... [and then] sailed Sicily in quest of a settlement.  From Sicily, he made for the Laurentine territory; this place also has the name of Troy”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 1: 1-4: see Rex Stem, referenced below, at p. 441, note 22 for the translation of the key Latin phrase, which I have italicised).

Livy conspicuously failed to spell out what his readers already knew:

  1. that Antenor was the putative founder of his native Patavium (Padua), a point that Virgil recorded (at ‘Aeneid’, 1: 247); and

  2. that, according to tradition, the fates had led Aeneas to Latium in order to initiate a chain of events in which:

  3. Mars would subsequently impregnate one of his descendants, and their child would found Rome; and

  4. the nations of the world come to accept the dominion of the children of this child.

Nevertheless, the combined evidence of Livy’s preface and his passage at 1: 4 suggests that he was well aware of the Homeric prophecy of Poseidon, emended to replace Homer’s rule over the Τρώεσσιν (Trojans) by rule over πάντεσσιν (all).

Read more:

Trachsel A., “Demetrius of Scepsis and His Troikos Diakosmos: Ancient and Modern Readings of a Lost Contribution to Ancient Scholarship”, (2021) cambridge MA and London

Visscher M. S., “Poets and Politics: Antiochos the Great, Hegesianax and the War with Rome”, in:

  1. Coşkun A. and Engels D. (editors), “Rome and the Seleukid East: Selected Papers from Seleukid Study Day V, Brussels, 21–23 August 2015”, (2019) Leuven, at pp. 61-86

Hornblower S., “Lykophron's Alexandra, Rome, and the Hellenistic World”, (2018) Oxford

Poletti B., “Dionysius of Halicarnassus and the 'Founders' of Rome: Depicting Characters in the Roman Antiquities”, (2018), thesis of the University of Alberta

Roller D., “A Historical and Topographical Guide to the Geography of Strabo”, (2018) Cambridge and New York

McNelis C., “Mythical and Literary Genealogies: Aeneas and the Trojan Line in Homer, Ennius and Virgil”, in:

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