Guarded with this, and guided by the Sybil, after a great sacrifice, AEneas passed into a gloomy cave, where he came to the river Styx, round which flitted all the shades who had never received funeral rites, and whom the ferryman, Charon, would not carry over. The Sybil, however, made him take AEneas across, his boat groaning under the weight of a human body. On the other side stood Cerberus, but the Sybil threw him a cake of honey and of some opiate, and he lay asleep, while AEneas passed on and found in myrtle groves all who had died for love, among them, to his surprise, poor forsaken Dido. A little further on he found the home of the warriors, and held converse with his old Trojan friends. He passed by the place of doom for the wicked, Tartarus; and in the Elysian fields, full of laurel groves and meads of asphodel, he found the spirit of his father Anchises, and with him was allowed to see the souls of all their descendants, as yet unborn, who should raise the glory of their name. They are described on to the very time when the poet wrote to whom we owe all the tale of the wanderings of AEneas, namely, Virgil, who wrote the AEneid, whence all these stories are taken. He further tells us that AEneas landed in Italy just as his old nurse Caieta died, at the place which is still called Gaeta. After they had buried her, they found a grove, where they sat down on the grass to eat, using large round cakes or biscuits to put their meat on. Presently they came to eating up the cakes. Little Ascanius cried out, “We are eating our very tables;” and AEneas, remembering the harpy’s words, knew that his wanderings were over.
[Illustration: Roman soldier.]
The founding of Rome.
Virgil goes on to tell at much length how the king of the country, Latinus, at first made friends with AEneas, and promised him his daughter Lavinia in marriage; but Turnus, an Italian chief who had before been a suitor to Lavinia, stirred up a great war, and was only captured and killed after much hard fighting. However, the white sow was found in the right place with all her little pigs, and on the spot was founded the city of Alba Longa, where AEneas and Lavinia reigned until he died, and his descendants, through his two sons, Ascanius or Iulus, and AEneas Silvius, reigned after him for fifteen generations.
The last of these fifteen was Amulius, who took the throne from his brother Numitor, who had a daughter named Rhea Silvia, a Vestal virgin. In Greece, the sacred fire of the goddess Vesta was tended by good men, but in Italy it was the charge of maidens, who were treated with great honor, but were never allowed to marry under pain of death. So there was great anger when Rhea Silvia became the mother of twin boys, and, moreover, said that her husband was the god Mars. But Mars did not save her from being buried alive, while the two babes were put in a trough on the waters of the river Tiber, there to perish. The river had overflowed its banks, and left the children on dry ground, where, however, they were found by a she-wolf, who fondled and fed them like her own offspring, until a shepherd met with them and took them home to his wife. She called them Romulus and Remus, and bred them up as shepherds.