Book 3 Notes from The Aeneid

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The Aeneid Book 3

Troy had fallen and the exiles looked for a place to settle. Anchises told them to go to sea and they ended up in Thrace where they traced out a city. Nearby, there was a thick cluster of bushes and Aeneas started to pull up the roots. When he did this, blood flowed from the soil. As he tore more out, a voice rose from the roots:

"'"Why are you mangling me, Aeneas? Spare
my body. I am buried here. Do spare
the profanation of your pious hands.
I am no stranger to you; I am Trojan.
The blood you see does not flow from a stem.
Flee from these cruel lands, this greedy shore,
for I am Polydorus; here an iron
harvest of lances covered my pierced body;"'"
Book 3, lines 52-59

Polydorus told him that he had been sent by Priam with gold to entreat the king of the region for help. The king, already enticed by offers from the Greeks, and afraid of opposing them, killed the messenger. Aeneas had a funeral for Polydorus and they returned to the sea. They stayed on an island with a hospitable king and Aeneas asked the gods at a temple if he was allowed to stay there. A voice rose from the sacrificial tripod telling them to go to the land of their ancestors. Anchises interpreted this as Crete because this was where he thinks Teucer came from. Having heard that Crete was abandoned by its native ruler, the Trojans set sail. Where they landed they traced out a city that was to be called Pergamum. As they began to build the community, a plague of drought struck. Anchises thought that they should leave and soon after Aeneas had a vision at night. His household gods came alive and told him he must go to Italy from where Dardanus came. Aeneas awoke and poured a libation and then told the vision to his father. Anchises remembered Cassandra foretelling the same thing.

They returned to the sea and the waters heaved with a storm for three days. On the fourth, they made landfall on an ill-fated island ruled by Harpies. When they beached the ships, they saw flocks of sheep and goats and they killed them for feasting. As they began to eat, the harpies flew down and snatched away the food. The Trojans rose to defend themselves and fought them back. One, their leader Celaeno remained. She prophesied that they sought Italy where they would arrive but that they would not found their city "'"until an awful hunger and your wrong/ in slaughtering my sisters has compelled/ your jaws to gnaw as food your very tables."'" Book 3, lines 333-5. They were frightened and their spirits were broken as Anchises pleaded with the gods for the prophecy to be false. They left the island and sailed past Ithaca to Leucata where they held games in triumph for passing so many Greek cities undetected. Aeneas fastened a shield onto a temple door inscribed with a message asserting that he did this.

They sailed into the city of Buthrotum where they had heard that by some twist of fate the Trojan Helenus was ruling with Andromache as his wife. When Andromache saw the Trojans, specifically Aeneas, she wept, wondering whether he was a god or a ghost. Aeneas spoke to her and asked her how events had put two Trojans in charge of a Greek city. She told him that the Trojan women were taken across the sea and Pyrrhus gave her to Helenus, his slave, when he wanted another wife. When Orestes killed Pyrrhus, part of his kingdom was given to Helenus. There were many Trojan exiles with Helenus and they all feasted that night. Aeneas, asked Helenus, also a prophet, to interpret the words of Celaeno. Helenus made a sacrifice and then spoke, admitting that he was mostly ignorant but knew that they would make it to Italy somehow. He told them to avoid the eastern shores of Italy where the Greeks had made many settlements and that they should make their settlement where they find:

"'"[A]long the banks beneath the branching ilex,
a huge white sow stretched out upon the ground
together with a new-delivered litter
of thirty suckling white pigs at her teats,"'"
Book 3, lines 507-10

He told them to pray under a purple shroud as a matter of custom once they got there. Then he warned them about the dangers of the sea: Scylla and Charybdis. He advised that the longer way around Sicily was safer than navigating these dangers. He finally warned them to appease Juno chiefly of all the gods. When they are to arrive in Italy they are to seek out a prophetess called the Sibyl at Cumae. Her prophecy will give them their final instructions for their settlement in Italy.

Helenus stopped prophesying and offered the Trojans gifts of ivory, gold and silver. Anchises readied the ships and Helenus instructed him in which direction to head. Andromache, mourning their departure, presented them with gifts of clothing for Ascanius because he reminded her of her deceased son. Aeneas promised Helenus a treaty once his own city was founded and they sailed off near Italy. Night set and the helmsman, Palinurus steered the ship. During their travel, they saw grazing horses and a temple and recognized the work of Greek settlers. Anchises read this as the fulfillment of an omen because these were horses of war and peace: usable for cavalry or plowshares. They prayed to Minerva as they sailed towards the tip of Sicily. They passed Scylla and Charybdis in the distance and landed on the island of the Cyclops. They hid in the forest, afraid of the sound of the Cyclops. Suddenly, they were stunned by the appearance of a stranger. He was terrified of them because they were Trojans, but he spoke anyway. He admitted that he was Greek and asked for their mercy or at least for them to kill him so he would have the benefit of dying at the hands of men. Anchises offered him his hand and asked his name. He responded, "'"I am of Ithaca and sailed for Troy,/ a comrade of unfortunate Ulysses;/ my name is Achaemenides,"'" Book 3, lines 794-6.

Achaemenides told them that he was left in the cave of the Cyclops by Ulysses. He watched his comrades being eaten and was stuck behind as Ulysses snuck out. The Trojans saw the blinded cyclops leading his flocks to graze in the distance. They quietly prepared the ships to leave, but the cyclops heard them. He roared and the other cyclops came running and hurling boulders at the Trojans as they slipped away. They did not want to sail through Scylla and Charybdis, so they kept sailing around Sicily and stopped at one city. There, Anchises died and Aeneas laments as he finishes his story. After they left land, they were hit by the storm that brought them to Africa.

Topic Tracking: Historical Subtext 2
Topic Tracking: Women 3
Topic Tracking: Omens 3
Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 3

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