Aeneid for Boys and Girls - Alfred J. Church


So Æneas married the fair Lavinia, and built a city which he called after her name. This city soon grew to be a great place, for the people in the country round about heard the fame of the great Æneas, how brave he was in battle, and how just, and they came in great numbers to be his subjects. Yet he had enemies, for those whom he had overcome in war wished to be revenged, nor did they like that a man from foreign parts should rule over them. So they gathered a great army together, and marched against the new city. Æneas went out to meet them, and put them to flight; but he never came back to his city. Some said that he was drowned in a river which runs into the sea not far from those parts; others, that his mother Venus carried him away. Certainly he was never seen again by any man.

By this time Lavinia had a little son, and Ascanius thought that it would be well to leave the city Lavinium to his young brother, and to found a new one for himself. There were, indeed, by this time so many people, Trojans, and Latins, and Tuscans, and Greeks, who had come from the city of Evander, that one place was not big enough to hold them. So Lavina had charge of the city which had been called after her, till her son should be old enough to take the kingdom, and Ascanius built a new town for himself, and called it Alba Longa—that is, the Long White Town.

Not long after this the old King Evander died, and as he left no son to succeed him, the little town which he had built among the seven hills by the Tiber was deserted, and the people joined themselves either to Ascanius at Alba, or to Lavinia and her son at the other city.

For many years the place was without inhabitants. Then by degrees a little village grew up. For one thing, the country about Alba was not a little troubled with earthquakes, but these did not reach as far as the valley of the Tiber. People, too, who got into trouble at home, were often glad to flee to this out-of-the way place across the river.

Then a wonderful thing happened: just what the Fire-god had shown on the shield which he made for Æneas. Two babies, children of a princess descended from Æneas, were left out to die by a cruel uncle; but a she-wolf which had lost her own cubs suckled them, and they grew up to be the strongest men in the country. As time went on the village was turned into a town, and the town was made a strong place. The people who lived in it called themselves Romans. Some of their neighbours they conquered, and with some they made friends. Little by little they made wider their boundaries and increased their power. Many troubles they had, from quarrels among themselves and from enemies without. More than once their city was taken. Still, however low it fell, it rose again stronger than before. It conquered first all Italy, and then the countries nearest to it, and then far-away nations in Asia and Africa. Our own island of Britain was almost the last of its conquests. We may still see the ruins of the splendid houses which the Romans built here, and the camps which their soldiers made. Most wonderful of all the things which they left behind them is the great Wall which was made right across the island to keep out the savages of the North. "Most wonderful," I say, but still greater than this was what we have from them of Law and Order. But this is a matter of which you will hear more when you are older.