Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Aeneas fleeing Troy (Barocci)
THE ARROW OF APOLLO by Philip Womack



Aeneas was a Trojan prince. His father, Anchises, was a first cousin of Priam, King of Troy; his mother was the goddess Aphrodite, who at one point during the fighting pulled him off the battlefield, veiled in mist. When the Greeks eventually attacked at night with the Trojan Horse, Aeneas rallied his men and fought hard; when it became apparent that the city was lost, he collected a group of survivors, including his son Iulus, and took them on a long journey around the Mediterranean.

Along the way he had many adventures; including meeting Helenus, another exiled Trojan prince, who had founded a city. Aeneas' love for Dido, Queen of Carthage is well known, and its tragic outcome matter for much music and art.

When the Trojans finally reached Italy, they entered into a war with the local Latins, which they eventually won; Aeneas married a Latin princess, Lavinia, with whom he had a son, Silvius.

Aeneas is an important figure in THE ARROW OF APOLLO, providing advice to Silvius, and also relating to the general theme of fathers and sons. He is deeply protective of Silvius, a half-Latin, half-Trojan boy, who represents the future of his new state.

In art Aeneas is usually depicted leaving Troy, carrying his father on his back and leading his little son by the hand, representing the virtue of duty for which he was renowned. Virgil's great poem, The Aeneid, is not only one of the most beautiful things in existence, but is also a clever riff on its predecessors, The Iliad and The Odyssey: Virgil was moulding a new hero, for a new time. In THE ARROW OF APOLLO, Aeneas is ageing. Will he be able to let his son take up new challenges to keep the city safe?

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