“Now, now,” he cries, “for us no more delay!
I follow; and wherever you may lead,
Gods of my country, I will go! Guard then
My family, my little grandson guard.
This august is yours; and yours the power
That watches Troy. And now, my son, I yield,
Nor will refuse to go along with you.”
Anchises initially refuses to flee Troy with Aeneas but accedes upon seeing a sign from the gods. This scene shows that Anchises is a deeply pious person. His duty to the gods supersedes his duty to his city, whose capture devastates him, and to his own son, who pleads with him to go. If the gods want him to leave Troy, he will put his faith in them and do so.
Once more across the sea
To the Ortygian oracle, my sire
Advises us to send, and supplicate
Apollo, and implore his grace, and ask
What end may be to our distressed affairs;
Where turn for help, and whither bend our course.
Anchises interpreted Apollo’s first prophecy to mean the Trojans should sail for Crete, but in face of drought and death, he wants Aeneas to return to the oracle for better information. Despite all the misfortune that has come his way, much of it at behest of the gods, Anchises still has faith in the gods’ ability and intention to help his family. Throughout all their ordeals, Anchises maintains his religious duty.
“Ah, where then do you go?” Aeneas cried
Why do you hasten away? Whom do you flee?
Or who constrains you from your son’s embrace?”
Anchises’s ghost appears to Aeneas to impart advice, and Aeneas regrets his father’s leave-taking. Even in death, Anchises remains a valued adviser to his son Aeneas, revealing that filial duty transcends the physical world. Not only has he helped Aeneas decide what to do about leaving Sicily, he also counsels Aeneas to journey to the underworld to speak with him, suggesting he has more wisdom to share.
”Hear now what fame henceforward shall attend
The Dardan race, and what posterity
From Italy shall come, illustrious souls,
And who they are succeeding to our name:
This will I show you, and your own fates foretell.”
Anchises reveals to Aeneas why he asked him to pay a visit to the underworld: He wants to tell Aeneas about his future. This future, however, is not limited to Aeneas but to his descendants, who will make up the leaders of the great Roman Empire. Thus Anchises performs another service by making Aeneas understand the full import of his fate and his journey to Italy.
And when Anchises thus
Had led his son through each, and had inflamed
His mind with strong desire of future fame,
He tells him of the wars that would be waged;
The city of Latinus, and the lands
Of the Laurentian tribes; and how to bear,
How shun, the hardships of his future lot.
Before Aeneas leaves the underworld, Anchises gives him practical advice on the hardships he will face to establish his lineage in Rome. Even Anchises’s death won’t stop him from serving as Aeneas’s advisor. Without Anchises’s guidance, Aeneas made some questionable decisions that only the gods’ interference could rectify. With this council, however, Aeneas may be able to avoid more mistakes in the future.