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Anchises 1

Aeneas, in a remembered gesture of piety, carries Anchises 1 after the fall of Troy. 3831: Aeneas carries Anchises. Work from c. 1550. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Anchises 1, who was as handsome as the gods, was loved by Aphrodite. Saved by his son Aeneas from the fire of Troy, Anchises 1 went into exile. Years later he died in Sicily, but Aeneas met him in the Elysian Fields, and learned from him some mysteries of life, including his own destiny.

Background of Anchises 1

Anchises 1, who had the fortune or misfortune of being loved by a goddess, came from Dardania, a territory near Troy named after Dardanus 1, the man who colonized it after leaving the island of Samothrace where he had lived until then. Dardanus 1, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Electra 3, was succeeded in the throne by Erichthonius 1, who inherited both the kingdom of his father and that of his maternal grandfather. And after Erichthonius 1's son Tros 1 the people of the land were called Trojans. Now, among the children of Tros 1 are named Ilus 2, the founder of Troy, Ganymedes whom Zeus carried off, and Assaracus, who became king of the Dardanians after his father. Assaracus was succeeded by Capys 1, who was still alive at the end of the Trojan War, and Capys 1 fathered Anchises 1.

Steals valuable horses

When Zeus, by reason of Ganymedes' beauty, took him to heaven, he gave Tros 1 recompense for his son in the form of some extraordinary horses, known as the MARES OF LAOMEDON 1 on account of the conflict between Heracles 1 and King Laomedon 1 of Troy involving these horses. It is told that of this stock Anchises 1 stole a breed, putting his own mares to them. King Laomedon 1 knew nothing of it, but from these a stock of six was born in Anchises 1's palace. Of these horses he kept four for himself giving the other two to his son Aeneas to fight in the war at Troy. But on the course of combat Diomedes 2 took possession of these horses, and would have also killed Aeneas, if Apollo had not saved him.

His greatest moment

The greatest moment in Anchises 1's life must have been his meeting with Aphrodite, when he was tending cattle on Mount Ida. When the goddess saw him, she was seized by desire, and went immediately to her precinct in Paphos in the island of Cyprus, where the CHARITES bathed her with heavenly oil. And having put on rich clothes and decked herself with gold, she returned to Ida, flying among the clouds. There, they say, came wolves and lions and bears and leopards, all fawning on her. And seeing them, she put desire in their breasts so that they all mated.

Aphrodite comes to Anchises 1

Herself she came to Anchises 1, who was now playing the lyre while the others followed the herds, and appeared before him with the looks and height of a maiden, but still wearing a robe of gold enriched with all kinds of needlework, twisted brooches, earrings in the form of flowers and several necklaces round her throat. When Anchises 1 saw this marvel, he understood that he was contemplating a goddess. This is why he started to promise her sacrifices, and asked her to help him become an eminent man among the Trojans, and bless him with a strong offspring, adding:

"As for my own self, let me live long and happily, seeing the light of the sun, and come to the threshold of Old Age, a man prosperous among the people." (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 5.105).

Aphrodite denies being a goddess

Yet Aphrodite denied being a goddess, saying that she was a mortal woman and the daughter of one Otreus. She explained to the incredulous Anchises 1 that she spoke his language because she had been brought up by a Trojan nurse, and that it had been Hermes who told her to become Anchises 1's wedded wife. And after adding some other incredible details she said to him:

"... take me now, stainless and unproved in love." (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 5.134).

This is how Anchises 1, not knowing what he did, lay with an immortal goddess. But after they had made love, Aphrodite put her lover to sleep, and herself put her clothes on. And so, standing by the couch, her head now reaching to the roof, she aroused him from sleep, sounding quite differently:

"Up, son of Dardanus! Why sleep you so heavily? And consider whether I look as I did when first you saw me with your eyes." (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 5.177).

The risks of loving an immortal

When Aphrodite thus revealed her true identity, Anchises 1 feared the gods would destroy him for having slept with one of the immortals. Yet Aphrodite, who herself grieved for having laid in the bed of a mortal man, assured him that he was dear to the gods and nothing would happen to him, provided he would say their child was the offspring of a Nymph, for Aphrodite disposed that the NYMPHS would rear Aeneas and that, as soon as he was a boy, he would be restored to his father. And concerning the future of their love she said:

"... if you could live on such as now you are in look and in form, and be called my husband, sorrow would not then enfold my careful heart. But, as it is, harsh Old Age will soon enshroud you—ruthless age which stands someday at the side of every man. (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 5.244).

All this happened because Zeus disposed that not even Aphrodite, who ensnares the gods and joins them with mortals, should be innocent of a mortal's love.

Aphrodite loved Anchises 1, and later protected their son Aeneas. 5028: Aphrodite from Aphrodisium in Asia Minor. Roman, 2C AD. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

What perhaps happened next

Anchises 1, some say, did not keep the goddess' instructions and, having drunk much wine, he praised himself among his friends for being Aphrodite's lover, and for this reason he was struck by Zeus' thunderbolt, which perhaps only crippled him. Others have said that Anchises 1 killed himself, but they neither say when nor give any details.

Aeneas' remembered gesture

At the end of the Trojan War, when the city was on fire, Aeneas snatched both his son and his father from death. Anchises 1 was at that time an old man broken down with years, and then Aeneas, with a remembered gesture of piety, set his father on his shoulders, leading his young son Ascanius 2 by his hand. This action in which three generations were rescued was, some believe, the work of Aphrodite who guided them through the roar of fight and destruction. For it is told that wherever they walked the flames gave back before them. And when the seer Calchas saw the Achaeans hurl spears at them, he exclaimed:

"Forbear against Aeneas' noble head to hurl the bitter dart, the deadly spear! Fated he is by the high Gods' decree to pass from Xanthus, and by Tiber's flood to found a city holy and glorious ..." (Calchas to the Achaeans. Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy 13.335).

And referring to Aeneas' gesture of piety added Calchas:

"From him too is it meet we hold our hands because he has preferred his father and son to gold, to all things that might profit a man who flees exiled to an alien land." (Calchas to the Achaeans. Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy 13.345).

There are those who say that when Troy was being taken, Aeneas and his men seized a part of the city and held off the intruders. In the negotiations that took place under a truce, the Achaeans let them depart, agreeing to allow each man to carry with him as many of his possessions as he could. And whereas many chose to take silver and gold, Aeneas lifted his father upon his shoulders, bearing him away. This is how Anchises 1 left the burning Troy, and sailed with his son and grandson from Antandrus, the harbor south of Mount Ida where Aeneas built his fleet.


On account of this gesture, the Achaeans gave Aeneas again permission to choose among his household possessions, and then he carried out his household gods, later called the PENATES. These, they say, which were placed at Lavinium in Italy were later removed from the city and taken to the new city of Alba, but during the night they returned by themselves to Lavinium. The PENATES, represented by artists as two youths holding spears, were long considered to be the gods of the race, of the family, of house and property, of the inner house, and of the front court.

Death of Anchises 1

Some have said that Aeneas came first to Laconia in the Peloponnesus, founding the cities Aphrodisias and Etis, and that there Anchises 1 died being buried at the foot of the mountain called Anchisia after him. But Anchises 1, sailing with his son, has also been reported to have landed in the island of Delos, where King Anius, the father of the WINEGROWERS presented him with a sceptre. Anchises 1, others say, died at port Drepanum in Sicily, where he was buried before Aeneas sailed to Carthage where he met Queen Dido (see map at Aeneas).

Aeneas meets his father in the Underworld

Father and son met yet once when Aeneas, having landed in Italy, descended to the Underworld through the entrance at Cumae, guided by a Sibyl. After having passed the threshold where Grief, Anxiety, Diseases, Old Age, Fear, Hunger, Death, Agony, Hypnos, and other creatures dwell, he came to the Elm from which False Dreams cling. Next Aeneas followed the road to the river Acheron and there he saw the souls of the unburied whom Charon refused to take to the other side. Charon accepted to ferry Aeneas when he saw the Golden Bough that Aeneas was carrying. On the other bank, they first met the hound Cerberus 1, whom the Sibyl put to sleep with a cake of honey and wheat infused with sedative drugs. In the fields behind the cave of Cerberus 1, Aeneas saw those who died in childhood, those who had been condemned to death on a false charge, and those who killed themselves. Next he came to the Vale of Mourning where those who were consumed by unhappy love dwell, and in the farthest fields, before the dividing road, he saw those who were famous in war. Then Aeneas came to the place where the road forks, the left hand leading to Tartarus and the right, beneath the Palace of Hades to Elysium. In the entrance of the Palace, Aeneas put down his passport—the Golden Bough—and then proceeded to Elysium, where he met his father.

Perverse craving puzzles Aeneas

Aeneas embraced his father, whom he found standing in a green valley, and both were moved to see each other again. But seeing the river Lethe (Oblivion) and a crowd of people swarming along its banks, Aeneas asked him the meaning of it. Anchises 1 then explained that these were the souls destined for reincarnation, whose troubles are quenched by its waters. Yet Aeneas could not understand, and that is why he wondered:

"But, father, must it be deemed that some souls ascend from here to our earthly scene? re-enter our dull corporeal existence? Why ever should so perverse a craving for earth possess them?" (Aeneas to Anchises 1. Virgil, Aeneid 6.718).

Anchises 1 reveals mysteries of life and death

So in order to answer this reasonable question, Anchises 1, who being an Elysian soul was now in possession of a higher knowledge, told him the kind of things that cause so many brains to spin: that everything on earth and in heaven is sustained by a spirit within, that immanent mind flowing through all parts of the world makes it work, that the source of life-force is celestial, and that the fears, desires, pains and joys of the soul come from it being encased in the dark prison of the body, which also prevents it from discerning the heavenly light. From its long contact with the body, Anchises 1 continued, the soul clings, even after death, to all evils that come from it; and that is why souls are disciplined after death by paying the due penalties. These Anchises 1 described as follows: hanging, being stretched to the blast of vacuum winds, being washed in a vast whirlpool, or being cauterized with fire. When each soul has found his own level and paid the penalty, a few are released to wander in the happy fields of Elysium where, in the course of time, all evils are purged leaving just the pure ethereal sentience, and the spirit's essential flame. This is accomplished, Anchises 1 proceeded, after a one thousand-year cycle has been completed; it is then that the souls come in crowds to the river Lethe, and having there their memories deleted, they wish to be born again and revisit the earth.

Anchises 1 shows Aeneas the future and sends him back through the gate of the false dreams

This was Anchises 1's answer to his son, and since no further questions were asked, he straightaway showed Aeneas his destiny and his descendants, in the form of souls who were to be born on earth with Italian blood in their veins and lay the foundations of Roman power. And after Anchises 1 had shown Aeneas the plains in which they wandered, he told him of the wars he would have to fight to gain his kingdom, and instructed him as to how to evade or endure the difficulties upon his way. When this last meeting was over, Anchises 1 sent his son and the Sibyl back through the Ivory Gate, which is the gate of the false dreams.

Anoher with identical name

Anchises 2 is father of Echepolus 2, a man from Sicyon.


Parentage (two versions)




Capys 1 & Themiste

Capys 1 & Hieromneme

Capys 1 was son of Assaracus, son of Tros 1, son of Erichthonius 1, son of Dardanus 1, son of Zeus and Electra 3, daughter of Atlas.
Themiste was daughter of Ilus 2, son of Tros 1.
Hieromneme was a Naiad, daughter of the river god Simois.



Lyrus died childless.


Hippodamia 5

Hippodamia 5, daughter of Anchises 1, married Alcathous 2, a son of Aesyetes who was killed by King Idomeneus 1 of Crete during the Trojan War.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Aeneas, Alcathous 2, Amata, Anchises 1, Aphrodite, Ascanius 2, Assaracus, Atlas, Capys 1, Creusa 2, Dardanus 1, Electra 3, Erichthonius 1, Hecabe 1, Hippodamia 5, Ilus 2, Laomedon 1, Latinus 1, Lyrus, Pleione, Priam 1, Silvius, Themiste, Tros 1, Zeus.

Related sections

Aeneas, Troy


Apd.3.12.2; Apd.Ep.5.21; DH.1.62.2; Dio.4.75.5, 7.4.1; Hes.The.1008; Hom.Aph.5.70; Hom.Il.5.265, 5.313, 13.429, 23.290; Hyg.Fab.94; Ov.Met.13.680; Pau.8.12.8; QS.13.317ff.; Vir.Aen.3.709, 6.679, 6.711ff.