The notion of royalty being a part of the armed forces is not a new one and goes back thousands of years. Princes William and Harry are fulfilling a long line of royalty commitment to defence. Throughout history, there are written accounts of members of the royal family from the king to the prince/s that went to war. Some, as it were only in title but many did fight. It was their duty to lead. King Ramesses II led his legions of Egyptians during the most famous and propagandist battles of Kadesh, blazing across the desert on his chariot. The kings of the Greek city-states led their men and the leaders of the Trojan allies were commanded by kings and/or princes. One, however, was notable for his prowess as a warrior akin to Hektor was also the founding father of Rome.
Aineias/Aeneas was the son of Anchises and Aphrodite, prince of Dardania. His family, on the paternal side, was related to King Priam. In spite of Aineias’ noble lineage, King Priam did not acknowledge the former’s birth right, a slight of honour by an arrogant man.
Deiphobos, a son of Priam’s, thinks this as he approaches Aineias to help retrieve the body of the Dardanian’s brother-in-law:
‘Aineias always bore godlike Priam a grudge because Priam gave him such little respect, though he was as good a man as any.’
Book 13, Lines 460-462
Much like the United States who didn’t join the Second World War until Pearl Harbour was hit Aineias did not participate in the war against the Greeks. It was Akhilleus who impelled him to take part because the Myrmidon attacked Aineias while he tended to his flock on Mount Ida and took his cattle.
In a number of pivotal scenes, Aineias shows his skills as a warrior on the battlefield, either throwing a spear while racing into the fray on his chariot or in hand to hand combat. He even faced Akhilleus who regarded him a worthy competitor. There is a great description of the fight sequence and a lot of words exchanged between the two in Book 20. However, Aineias’ fate wasn’t to die on the plain of Troy. He was whisked away by Poseidon.
‘…Zeus might be angry if Akhilleus kills Aineias, who after all is destined to survive and save the line of Dardanos from extinction.’
Book 20, Lines 300-301
Is he a great warrior as the later epics regarded him? There are only few notable fight sequences Aineias was involved and in two, he was rescued by gods. So how did he become regarded as an esteemed soldier by both Greeks and Trojans? His courage and ability to lead. His eventual escape from Troy with his father, son and Trojan refugees allowed later bards to create a new legend of his search for a new Troy.
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