The wanderings of Aeneas.
You remember in the Greek history the burning of Troy, and how Priam and all his family were cut off. Among the Trojans there was a prince called AEneas, whose father was Anchises, a cousin of Priam, and his mother was said to be the goddess Venus. When he saw that the city was lost, he rushed back to his house, and took his old father Anchises on his back, giving him his Penates, or little images of household gods, to take care of, and led by the hand his little son Iulus, or Ascanius, while his wife Creusa followed close behind, and all the Trojans who could get their arms together joined him, so that they escaped in a body to Mount Ida; but just as they were outside the city he missed poor Creusa, and though he rushed back and searched for her everywhere, he never could find her. For the sake of his care for his gods, and for his old father, he is always known as the pious AEneas.
In the forests of Mount Ida he built ships enough to set forth with all his followers in quest of the new home which his mother, the goddess Venus, gave him hopes of. He had adventures rather like those of Ulysses as he sailed about the Mediterranean. Once in the Strophades, some clusters belonging to the Ionian Islands, when he and his troops had landed to get food, and were eating the flesh of the numerous goats which they found climbing about the rocks, down on them came the harpies, horrible birds with women’s faces and hooked hands, with which they snatched away the food and spoiled what they could not eat. The Trojans shot at them, but the arrows glanced off their feathers and did not hurt them. However, they all flew off except one, who sat on a high rock, and croaked out that the Trojans would be punished for thus molesting the harpies by being tossed about till they should reach Italy, but there they should not build their city till they should have been so hungry as to eat their very trenchers.
[Illustration: The coast.]
They sailed away from this dismal prophetess, and touched on the coast of Epirus, where AEneas found his cousin Helenus, son to old Priam, reigning over a little new Troy, and married to Andromache, Hector’s wife, whom he had gained after Pyrrhus had been killed. Helenus was a prophet, and gave AEneas much advice. In especial he said that when the Trojans should come to Italy, they would find, under the holly-trees by the river side, a large white old sow lying on the ground, with a litter of thirty little pigs round her, and this should be a sign to them where they were to build their city.
By his advice the Trojans coasted round the south of Sicily, instead of trying to pass the strait between the dreadful Scylla and Charybdis, and just below Mount Etna an unfortunate man came running down to the beach begging to be taken in. He was a Greek, who had been left behind when Ulysses escaped from Polyphemus’ cave, and had made his way to the forests, where he had lived ever since. They had just taken him in when they saw Cyclops coming down, with a pine tree for a staff, to wash the burning hollow of his lost eye in the sea, and they rowed off in great terror.