*C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), Chapter 6: “Virgil and the Subject of Secondary Epic”
“The Aeneid by Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro; traditional dates 15 October 70 BC – 21 September 19 BC, usually called Virgil or Vergil) describes the journey of Aeneas after the fall of Troy. Anchises, the father of Aeneas, is a character in the epic. Even though Anchises is dead for most of the epic, he still makes multiple appearances in it, oftentimes to advise Aeneas.
Aeneas carrying Anchises from Troy. 520-510 BC.
Anchises’ first major appearance comes in Book 2. He is mentioned while Aeneas is telling Dido about the fall of Troy. During the fall of Troy, Aeneas makes his way home to save Anchises, his wife Creusa, and his son Ascanius. At first Anchises refuses to go with Aeneas and tells Aeneas to leave without him. Aeneas refuses to leave Anchises and declares that they will all die in Troy. Creusa argues with Aeneas over his decision and while they are arguing a painless flame appears on Ascanius’ head. Anchises notices this and prays to Jupiter for a sign that they must leave. Just then they hear thunder and see a falling star. This convinces Anchises to go willingly with Aeneas. Aeneas carries Anchises on his back, Anchises carries their household gods, and Ascanius walks beside his father as they all flee Troy. Creusa was following behind them but is killed during the escape. As they leave Troy they meet up with other fleeing Trojans.
Anchises is mentioned in Book 3 while Aeneas continues his tale of how the Trojans came to be in Carthage. Anchises serves as a leader and advisor for the fleeing Trojans. After leaving Troy, the refugees make their way to Thrace and then to Delos. In Delos. Apollo tells them that they must make their new home in the original home of their ancestors. Anchises misinterprets this to mean Crete and so the Trojans head for Crete. There they establish a city but they are soon overwhelmed by a plague. Anchises instructs Aeneas to seek out the Delian oracle. Before he does, he is visited in his dreams by their household gods who inform him they are in the wrong place and they must go to Italy. Aeneas tells Anchises of this dream. Anchises realizes that Apollo must have meant for them to establish a home in Italy and so the Trojans head toward Italy. Italy is far away and the Trojans must make many stops. Anchises dies in Sicily before the Trojans make it to Italy.
Anchises is mentioned in Book 5 after the Trojans leave Carthage. Storms force them to stop in Sicily and Aeneas recalls that it has been a year since his father died. Aeneas declares that they will hold a festival in honor of the deceased Anchises. Rituals are performed and sacrifices are made at the tomb of Anchises. On the ninth day, Aeneas holds funeral games for his father that consist of a boat race, a foot race, boxing, archery, and a mock battle. Anchises was buried with great honor. After the funeral games the Trojan women, tired of traveling, set fire to the ships. Even though the most ships are saved by Jupiter, Aeneas loses heart and contemplates staying in Sicily. The ghost of Anchises then appears to Aeneas and offers him advice. He tells Aeneas that Jupiter sent him and that Jupiter saved the ships. He encourages Aeneas to continue his journey, informing him that he should leave the weary Trojans in Sicily and take the strongest Trojans with him to Italy. Anchises also instructs Aeneas to visit him in the underworld. Aeneas follows Anchises’ advice and leaves Sicily but establishes that Anchises’ tomb should have a priest and a tract of woodland before leaving.
Anchises is mentioned in Book 6 when Aeneas goes to the underworld. When Aeneas finds his father in the underworld they have a tearful reunion. Aeneas tries to hug Anchises but is unable to. Then Aeneas observes swarms of people gathered around a river. He ask his father about the river and the people surrounding it. Anchises tells him that the people are his future descendants and the river is Lethe. He expands that after suffering and being cleansed in the underworld, souls that are meant to be reincarnated go to the river Lethe to forget their memories so that they can be reincarnated. Anchises then shows Aeneas some of his descendants and discusses some of their deeds. He first mentions a son, Silvius, that will be born from Aeneas and Lavinia after Aeneas is dead. Anchises also mentions Romulus who is descended from Silvius, the Caesarian line that is descended from Ascanius, and that the Romans will prosper. Aeneas sees Marcellus and asks Anchises who he is. Anchises tells him how Marcellus will be a great grief for the Romans because he will hold great promise and die too young. Then Anchises leads Aeneas through the gates of horn and ivory and out of the underworld. This is the last major appearance of Anchises.”