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Ασκανιος

The son of Aeneas and Creusa. He was the grandson of Priam on his mother's side and on his father's the grandson of Aphrodite (see Anchises and Table 34). Another tradition makes his mother Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus in which case he could not have been born until after the arrival of Aeneas in Italy. In the oldest version of the story Ascanius is said to have been taken away by his father, together with Creusa and Anchises, after the fall of Troy. Thereafter he is said to have been sent by his father to the Propontis where he ruled until the day he returned to the Troad with Scamandrius, the son of Hector, to refound the city of Troy, though according to another tradition Ascanius lived with his father in Italy. Aeneas in his old age is supposed to have come back to Asia with him, ruled in Troy and on his death left the kingdom to his son. The strongest tradition and the one related to the Roman legend of Aeneas, depicts Ascanius as settled in Italy, where he was the first of his line.

The character of the young Ascanius is most highly developed in the Aeneid, where Virgil depicts him as an adolescent, still just a child, but about to reach manhood. He competes in the Trojan Games, founded in honour of Anchises after his death, goes hunting in the forests of Latium and unwisely kills a sacred roe deer, which triggers off hostilities with the native population. He is dearly loved by his father, embodies the hopes of the outlawed Trojans and is much spoilt by his grandmother, Venus. Legend says that after Aeneas' death, Ascanius ruled over the Latini. He is shown fighting hard against the Etruscans, and is said to have won a victory over them on the shores of Lake Numicius. Thirty years after the foundation of Lavinium by Aeneas Ascanius founded Alba Longa, the mother city of Rome, on the spot where Aeneas had sacrificed a white sow and her litter of thirty piglets long before. He was compelled to do so by the hostility of the Latini, who took the side of Lavinia, the widow of Aeneas and stepmother of Ascanius, against him. Lavinia, pregnant after the death of Aeneas, had fled into the forest since she was afraid that her stepson might kill her unborn child. She sought refuge with a shepherd called Tyrrhus, or Tyrrhenus, and her child Silvius was born in his home. Tyrrhus roused the people of Latium to anger against Ascanius and, on his death, Ascanius was succeeded on the throne of Alba by Silvius. Ascanius is often referred to as Iulus and this was the name which allowed the Roman family of the Iulii (Julii) to claim him as their ancestor (see Aphrodite).

{E2 DICTIONARY OF CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY}

Table of Sources:
- Virgil, Aen. passim, esp. 7, 483ff.
- Livy, 1, 1ff.
- Serv. on Virgil, Aen. passim
- Dion. Hal. 1, 53ff.
- Conon, Narr. 41
- Hyg. Fab. 254; 273
- Arnobius, Adv. Nat. 2, 71

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