The Transformation of Aineias to Aeneas
Aineias was a Roman hero, but to fully understand Aineias we must first look at his lineage. Aineias' mother (Aphrodite) was a playful goddess that enjoyed casting spells on the gods. Her favorite was to make the gods fall in love with mortal women. These unions would often times lead to the birth of a demigod (half human, half god). This was unacceptable in the eyes of Zeus, so he made Aphrodite fall for a mortal man, Anchises, so she too would experience the guilt and humiliation of these unions. After their coupling Aphrodite became pregnant with Aineias. Upon his birth she secretly hid him away to be raised by the nymphs of Mount Ida (thus ending her meddling with mortals and gods). However, when Aineias was five, Aphrodite returned and took her child back. She then delivered him to his father.
Although, Aineias was only half god, his life was destined for greatness. He managed to escape danger on more than one occasion on his rise to greatness, which is the major theme of his very being. As it is told, Aineias escaped the attack of Achilleus on the Mount of Ida. He fled to the town of Lynessos only to have that town destroyed by Achilleus. Aineias managed to escape this close-call, but was later attacked by Diomedes. In this battle he was rescued by Apollon and Athena, then again by Poseidon. Clearly, Aineias was destined for something huge.
Another theme we see running through the life of Aineias is that of piety - it has been noted in some Greek writings, but is most important in Roman accounts. Aineias father was instructed never to speak of his union with a goddess; however, the thrill of it got the best of him and he bragged to all who would listen. In retaliation, Zeus struck Anchises with a thunderbolt to his foot, leaving him lame in that leg. Aineias showed great piety towards his father and carried him out of the fall of Troy. In fact, it was this very piety that allowed him to leave the fallen city while carrying his lame father on his back.
Aineias never would rule over Troy, but in some accounts he did lead a number of his followers from the fallen city. He and his band boarded a ship and headed west. It is said he founded various cities, but chose to settle in Italy. Here his followers mixed with the local Latino population and these descendants founded Rome. Other accounts tell a different story. It is said that Aineias did not escape the fall of Troy, but was captured by Achilleus's son, Neoptolemos, and taken to the new land as a hostage. Whichever way the story goes, Aineias still plays a significant role in the founding of Rome.