Today’s installment concludes Fall of Troy,
our selection from History of Greece by George Grote published in 1846. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of eight thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Fall of Troy.
Time: 1184 BC
We see by this poem that Odysseus was represented as the mythical ancestor of the Thesprotian kings, just as Neoptolemus was of the Molossian.
It has already been mentioned that Antenor and Æneas stand distinguished from the other Trojans by a dissatisfaction with Priam and a sympathy with the Greeks, which was by Sophocles and others construed as treacherous collusion, — a suspicion indirectly glanced at, though emphatically repelled, by the Æneas of Vergil. In the old epic of Arctinus, next in age to the Iliad and Odyssey, Æneas abandons Troy and retires to Mount Ida, in terror at the miraculous death of Laocoon, before the entry of the Greeks into the town and the last night battle: yet Lesches, in another of the ancient epic poems, represented him as having been carried away captive by Neoptolemus. In a remarkable passage of the Iliad, Poseidon describes the family of Priam as having incurred the hatred of Zeus, and predicts that Æneas and his descendants shall reign over the Trojans: the race of Dardanus, beloved by Zeus more than all his other sons, would thus be preserved, since Æneas belonged to it. Accordingly, when Æneas is in imminent peril from the hands of Achilles, Poseidon specially interferes to rescue him, and even the implacable miso-Trojan goddess Here assents to the proceeding. These passages have been construed by various able critics to refer to a family of philo-Hellenic or semi-Hellenic Æneadæ, known even in the time of the early singers of the Iliad as masters of some territory in or near the Troad, and professing to be descended from, as well as worshipping, Æneas. In the town of Scepsis, situated in the mountainous range of Ida, about thirty miles eastward of Ilium, there existed two noble and priestly families who professed to be descended, the one from Hector, the other from Æneas. The Scepsian critic Demetrius (in whose time both these families were still to be found) informs us that Scamandrius, son of Hector, and Ascanius, son of Æneas, were the archegets or heroic founders of his native city, which had been originally situated on one of the highest ranges of Ida, and was subsequently transferred by them to the less lofty spot on which it stood in his time. In Arisbe and Gentinus there seem to have been families professing the same descent, since the same archegets were acknowledged. In Ophrynium, Hector had his consecrated edifice, while in Ilium both he and Æneas were worshipped as gods: and it was the remarkable statement of the Lesbian Menecrates that Æneas, “having been wronged by Paris and stripped of the sacred privileges which belonged to him, avenged himself by betraying the city, and then became one of the Greeks.”
One tale thus among many respecting Æneas, and that, too, the most ancient of all, preserved among natives of the Troad, who worshipped him as their heroic ancestor, was that after the capture of Troy he continued in the country as king of the remaining Trojans, on friendly terms with the Greeks. But there were other tales respecting him, alike numerous and irreconcilable: the hand of destiny marked him as a wanderer (fato profugus) and his ubiquity is not exceeded even by that of Odysseus. We hear of him at Ænus in Thrace, in Pallene, at Æneia in the Thermaic Gulf, in Delos, at Orchomenus and Mantineia in Arcadia, in the islands of Cythera and Zacynthus, in Leucas and Ambracia, at Buthrotum in Epirus, on the Salentine peninsula and various other places in the southern region of Italy; at Drepana and Segesta in Sicily, at Carthage, at Cape Palinurus, Cumæ, Misenum, Caieta, and finally in Latium, where he lays the first humble foundation of the mighty Rome and her empire. And the reason why his wanderings were not continued still further was, that the oracles and the pronounced will of the gods directed him to settle in Latium. In each of these numerous places his visit was commemorated and certified by local monuments or special legends, particularly by temples and permanent ceremonies in honor of his mother Aphrodite, whose worship accompanied him everywhere: there were also many temples and many different tombs of Æneas himself. The vast ascendancy acquired by Rome, the ardor with which all the literary Romans espoused the idea of a Trojan origin, and the fact that the Julian family recognized Æneas as their gentile primary ancestor, — all contributed to give to the Roman version of this legend the preponderance over every other. The various other places in which monuments of Æneas were found came thus to be represented as places where he had halted for a time on his way from Troy to Latium. But though the legendary pretensions of these places were thus eclipsed in the eyes of those who constituted the literary public, the local belief was not extinguished; they claimed the hero as their permanent property, and his tomb was to them a proof that he had lived and died among them.
Antenor, who shares with Æneas the favorable sympathy of the Greeks, is said by Pindar to have gone from Troy along with Menelaus and Helen into the region of Cyrene in Libya. But according to the more current narrative, he placed himself at the head of a body of Eneti or Veneti from Paphlagonia, who had come as allies of Troy, and went by sea into the inner part of the Adriatic Gulf, where he conquered the neighboring barbarians and founded the town of Patavium (the modern Padua); the Veneti in this region were said to owe their origin to his immigration. We learn further from Strabo that Opsicellas, one of the companions of Antenor, had continued his wanderings even into Iberia, and that he had there established a settlement bearing his name. Thus endeth the Trojan war, together with its sequel, the dispersion of the heroes, victors as well as vanquished.
This ends our series of passages on Fall of Troy by George Grote from his book History of Greece published in 1846. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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