A son of Capys and Themis, the daughter of Ilus. His descent is traced by Aeneas, his son,1 from Zeus himself.2 Hyginus3 makes him a son of Assaracus and grandson of Capys. Anchises was related to the royal house of Troy and king of Dardanus on Mount Ida. In beauty he equalled the immortal gods, and was beloved by Aphrodite, by whom he became the father of Aeneas.4
According to the Homeric hymn on Aphrodite,5 the goddess had visited him in the disguise of a daughter of the Phrygian king Otreus. On parting from him, she made herself known, and announced to him that he would be the father of a son, Aeneas, but she commanded him to give out that the child was a son of a nymph, and added the threat that Zeus would destroy him with a flash of lightning if he should ever betray the real mother. When, therefore, on one occasion Anchises lost control over his tongue and boasted of his intercourse with the goddess, he was struck by a flash of lightning, which according to some traditions killed, but according to others only blinded or lamed him.6
Virgil in his Aeneid makes Anchises survive the capture of Troy, and Aeneas carries his father on his shoulders from the burning city, that he might be assisted by his wise counsel during the voyage, for Virgil, after the example of Ennius, attributes prophetic powers to Anchises.7 According to Virgil, Anchises died soon after the first arrival of Aeneas in Sicily, and was buried on Mount Eryx.8 This tradition seems to have been firmly believed in Sicily, and not to have been merely an invention of the poet, for Dionysius of Halicarnassus9 states, that Anchises had a sanctuary at Egesta, and the funeral games celebrated in Sicily in honor of Anchises seem to have continued down to a late period.10
According to other traditions Anchises died and was buried in Italy.11 A tradition preserved in Pausanias12 states, that Anchises died in Arcadia, and was buried there by his son at the foot of a hill, which received from him the name of Anchisia. There were, however, some other places besides which boasted of possessing the tomb of Anchises; for some said, that he was buried on Mount Ida, in accordance with the tradition that he was killed there by Zeus,13 and others, that he was interred in a place on the gulf of Thermus near the Hellespont.14
Anchises is usually depicted as a slender, gray-haired man on the shoulders of Aeneas, such as on a mural at the via dell'Abbondaza (reg. IX, ins. 13,5) at Pompeii.
- Homer. Iliad xx, 208 ff.
- Comp. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 12.2; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 1232.
- Fabulae, 94.
- Homer. Iliad ii, 820; Hesiod. Theogony, 1008; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Hyginus, ll.cc.
- 45 ff.
- Hyginus, l.c.; Servius on Virgil's Aeneid ii, 648.
- Aeneid ii, 687, with Servius' note.
- Aeneid iii, 710; v, 759 ff.
- i, 53.
- Ovid. Fasti iii, 543.
- Dionysius, i, 64; Strabo. Geography v, 229; Aurelius Victor. The origins of Roman Race, 10 ff.
- Description of Greece viii, 12.5.
- Eustathius on Homer, p. 894.
- Conon, 46.
- Description of Greece iii, 12.2.
- Iliad xiii, 429.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.