Aeneas was a Roman demigod, the son of Venus and the Trojan prince Anchises. He is the eponymous hero of Virgil's epic poem, the Aeneid as well as Rome's ancestral founder, being the ancestor of Romulus, the founder and first king of Rome.
Aeneas was born a demigod, the son of Aphrodite (Roman Venus) and a mortal shepherd named Anchises. He was conceived when Aphrodite, charmed by Zeus to be filled with lust for a mortal man, descended to Earth to lay with Anchises. So as to not arouse suspicion, Aphrodite disguised herself as a beautiful maiden and approached the young shepherd, telling him that she was a Phyrgian princess. Anchise was fooled by the disguise and he took the goddess back to his home on Mount Ida, where he proceeded to lie with her. The following morning, Aphrodite awoke and shed her disguise, as Anchises was seized with fear upon disovering the true identity of the "maiden". The goddess calmed Anchises and informed him that she would give birth to a son and that he will be raised by the nymphs of Mount Ida, after which she will bring him to him. She further advises Anchises, saying that if anyone should ask him who the mother of the son is, he will tell them that it is one of the nymphs of Ida for Zeus will strike him down if he reveals that it is Aphrodite. Having said so, Aphrodite left and made her back up to Olympus.
Anchises kept his word, and he raised their son, named Aeneas, to be a mighty warrior. During the Trojan War, Aeneas fought bravely on the side of the Trojans, as he lead the Dardanians (a tribe allied with the Trojans) into battle against the Greeks. When Troy fell, Aeneas was instructed by the gods to flee and so he gathered his family, his friends and the statues of the household gods of Troy and sailed away. It was fated that Aeneas would find his people a new home which would eventually grow to become a mighty empire that would go on to conquer half the known world.
On his journeys, he met or passed by many of the trials that Odysseus met, such as Polyphemus and Circe, but he also met new characters such as Dido, queen of Carthage, and Deiphobe, daughter of Glaucus (who was also the Cumaean Sibyl). He also entered the Underworld to see his father's spirit in Elysium. He spent a good part of his mission in friendly island or cities, especially in Carthage, a city that some decades later would become the greatest enemy of Rome. Aeneas didn't found Rome directly, but was the predecessor of Romulus and Remus. Instead he founded the city that three centuries later would help in the foundation of Rome.
When Troy fell and started to burn, Aeneas fled with his father, Anchises, on his back. The two of them went to the beach and encountered other survivors, including some of Troy's princes. They built a small fleet and within a month, left the coast and traveled to Thrace. There, after cutting a tree, they discovered the land was cursed by a horrendous murder so they left as soon as they could. After leaving Thrace, they headed to Crete and there they found a city. After a few months, Aeneas and his father heard a prophecy saying that their destination was Italy. So they went back in the ships and headed to Italy. In the middle of the sea, a tempest hit them and they traveled without a course for three days. When it finally stopped, they landed on an island apparently without inhabitants. What they did not know was that the Harpies lived there, and after a furious attack, they were forced to leave the island.
After a long trip through the sea, they finally saw Italy, but because a war was prophesied to start on that land if they left the boat, they choose to continue looking for a place to live. When they arrived at Polyphemus' island, it was night and they couldn't see a thing. They come across a Greek soldier named Achaemenides (a member of Odysseus' crew who had been left marooned on the island) who told them where they were, and they left again as fast as they could. They passed close to Charybdis, but they survived without any damage. They arrived at Sicily a few days later.
As soon as they left Sicily, Juno, who was determined to not let Aeneas fulfill the prophecy, also knowing that if Aeneas reached Italy, his offspring would destroy Carthage.
Aeneas and his men arrived in Italy, in the central western region of Latium, and found refuge in the court of Latinus, king of the Latins, who gave his daughter, Lavinia, to Aeneas to be the latter's wife. (Latinus had received a vision in which he was told that his daughter should be betrothed to a person from another land, the first one to arrive on his shores). This act would eventually lead to war, however, as Lavinia had already been promised to Turnus, king of the Rutuli.
Afterwards, Aeneas and Lavinia settled down and the latter founded a new city, named Lavinium in honor of his wife. Aeneas proved to be a wise and just king and ruled for many years until his death, whereupon his eldest son Ascanius (also known as Iulus), born to Aeneas and his wife Creusa, took to the throne as king of Lavinium. Ascanius would ultimately relinquish his rule of Lavinium and establish the city of Alba Longa, which would later be of major importance to the foundation of Rome, being eventually defeated by it.
Aeneas was mentioned by Aphrodite in a dream message to Piper McLean, as well as by Aeolus, when he was talking about Roman demigods. Clovis also mentioned that his father's Roman form, Somnus, killed Aeneas's helmsman when they were sailing from Troy because the helmsman fell asleep on duty.
- The name Aeneas is derived from the Greek word ainos (“dreadful, awful”), as Aphrodite felt ashamed that she had lain with a mortal man and dreaded the fact that her son, being mortal, would grow old and die.
- He was the ancestor of Romulus and Remus through their mother, Rhea Silvia, who was the offspring of a long line of Alban kings, the first of which was Aeneas' son Ascanius. Therefore, Romulus and Remus would be legacies of Venus, as well as demigod sons of Mars.