The first chapter of this novel goes into great literary detail about the creation and rise of the Roman empire. Like I mentioned in my previous post, the story of the Iliad lies at the very roots of Roman identity. Greek heroes such as Achilles and Menelaus and Hercules, are ever present in Roman stories and culture.
“If the fall of Troy giving birth to Rome is historically accurate than that would mean that the Roman population had ties to the peoples of what is now Turkey, in addition to Greece and Italy.” (Rise Of Rome by Anthony Everitt.)
The ancient city of Troy was located on the coast of what is now northwestern Turkey, and after it was brought to its knees by Menelaus’ massive army, it is said that a whole host of refugees were able to escape the city under protection of the great warrior and prince of the city, Aeneus. This group of disparaged travelers would eventually land upon the shores of Italy’s central western coastline.
The indigenous Latini people of this region were largely of greek descent. They were the descendants of Greek farmers who had hopped peninsulas looking for abundantly unclaimed and fertile farmlands of which to graze their cattle and grow their crops.
The first chapter of this book also discusses the creation of the ancient North African city state of Carthage, the eternal enemy of Ancient Rome. Allegedly, the city was founded by a bunch of expats from the port city of Tyre, located in modern day Lebanon. The ruler of this group of settlers was a Queen, who went by the name Dido.
After the city of Troy had been put to the sword, those that had escaped alive found themselves shipwrecked on the North African coast after a mighty storm. The refugees then came upon the ancient city of Carthage, and were taken in by the queen Dido. Aeneus and Dido soon fell in love, and would have stayed in Carthage if he had not been commanded by the gods to sail to Italy.
Broken hearted Dido stabbed herself to death, cursing her former lover and the empire of which he had left her to create. And that rivalry did not end.