I am Aeneas, duty-bound, and known above high air of heaven by my fame, carrying with me in my ships our gods of hearth and home, saved from the enemy. I look for Italy to be my fatherland, and my descent is from all-highest Jove.
— Aeneas, The Aeneid

Aeneas was the demigod son of the goddess Aphrodite and Anchises, a prince of Troy. He aided the Trojan defenders during the Trojan War and was one of the few survivors who escaped Troy's sacking. He and his followers sailed throughout the Mediterranean, searching for a new home. They would finally settle in Italy, where Aeneas would rule over them as king, as would his descendants.

Aeneas fought in several battles during the Trojan War, and although he was a competent warrior, he usually found himself in peril at the hands of Achaean champions like Achilles and Diomedes. The gods of Olympus knew that Aeneas was destined for a great future, and they always delivered him from harm.

As the city of Troy burned, Aeneas, his father, and his son gathered as many survivors as could be found and sailed away from Troy. The Aeneads, as they were called, traveled about searching for a new land to make a home in. They had numerous adventures along the way, stopping at Sicily, the island of Polyphemus, and the kingdom of Carthage.

The Aeneads finally arrived in Italy, where they came into conflict with one of the local Italic tribes. After defeating them, Aeneas founded the city of Alba Longa, which would be ruled by a long series of kings. Two of Aeneas's descendants would found a city of their own, which would grow into one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. Their names were Romulus and Remus.

Battle vs. Odysseus (by Laquearius)

A crack of thunder rang out across the open water and up through the hills and forests of the island that had given shelter to Odysseus and his crew as the increasingly violent waves of the Ionian sea ravaged the rocky coastline. The wayward Ithacans would not dare to attempt passage across the sea with Poseidon in such a rage, lest they risk their ships being torn asunder by the Earthshaker’s power. Once the ships had been safely beached far away from the pull of the rough tides, Odysseus called for a muster of the captains, accompanied by Philoetius, his freedman and the second-in-command of his own ship. There he instructed them to form hunting parties to seek out whatever food the island had to offer, whether it be game, fish, or even birds. Odysseus knew the painful realities of hunger better than most, and he did not wish to take the chance that his men would be subjected to such agony before they returned to Ithaca.

Secondly, Odysseus told them he would be setting off on his own to find a tranquil spot to pray, and Philoetius would take temporary command in his place. It had been many years since his debt to Poseidon had been paid in full, and he wished to know what had occurred to invoke his wrath once more. Odysseus’s many encounters with deadly creatures on the uncharted islands of the Mediterranean had made him wise to the dangers he risked by venturing into the wilderness alone, so he armed himself well before departing from the camp. He took a stout sword, a curved bow crafted of yew and horn, and a long, ashen spear. He wore full armor, including a helm of boar’s tusks and a shield in the figure-eight style. Lastly, he took a jug of wine to pour libations with. The flask was decorated with a scene of Poseidon slaying Polybotes during the Gigantomachy, making it fitting for the occasion.

Odysseus stopped to scan the landscape as he completed his hike up the hillside: there was a forest ahead of him, above which a towering mesa was visible. Under normal circumstances, the mesa would be a fine site for prayer, but the looming thunderstorms made it a poor choice. He followed the treeline but kept his distance to avoid any potential ambushes from whatever beasts lurked within the dense forest. In time, a new sound became audible amidst the wind in the trees and the distant rolling thunder: the clanking of bronze armor. Without a moment of hesitation, Odysseus dashed across the field and took cover in the underbrush that surrounded the bases of the trees, making hardly any noise as he moved. Unlike the approaching stranger, Odysseus was well-versed in the arts of stealth. It was a risky decision, but it was far better than waiting in the open, visible and vulnerable to whoever was approaching.

As the clanking grew louder and a figure emerged from the other side of the hill, Odysseus knew he had made the right decision. Even from such a distance, the Trojan armor that the stranger wore was unmistakable. It had been nearly two decades since the sack of Troy, in which the Greeks had all but annihilated the people of Priam. The surprising matter was not that there were survivors - certainly, a lucky few would have been able to escape the burning of their city - but the fact that one of them was here, on an island in Greek waters, the territory of their mortal enemies. As Odysseus pondered this mystery, the face of the stranger came into view, and the Ithacan king’s worries worsened. He would have recognized the man’s face anywhere.

It was Aeneas, son of Anchises and prince of Troy. He had witnessed Aeneas’s performances on the battlefield of Troy many times during the war, although he had never faced the prince himself. Among the Trojans, he had ranked Aeneas’s prowess in battle only behind his second cousin Hector and Sarpedon, a son of Zeus. He was also a natural-born leader, and would certainly be capable of gaining foreign support if he desired to, perhaps, make war against the weakened Greeks. It was too much of a risk to allow the Trojan prince to live. Odysseus drew his bow from the gorytos that hung from his belt and knocked an arrow.

The arrow never reached its target. Instead, it was struck out of the air by what appeared to be no less than the hand of a god. It broke into two pieces and the remains were carried away by the wind. Aeneas heard the sound and turned to face the forest, eyes darting from side to side, desperately searching for the source of the attack, to no avail; Odysseus had already vanished into the thicket. As he raised his shield, Aeneas felt the warm touch of a hand caress his shoulder, palpable even through his thick bronze armor.

“You have an enemy here, my son,” spoke the voice of Aphrodite, the Olympian goddess of love. “He is Odysseus, the wiliest of all Greeks. You must be on your guard, lest you be defeated through trickery.”

“I understand. Thank you, mother,” the prince responded. “I will be careful.”

Aeneas lowered his spear and pursued his unseen enemy into the forest. Moving through the thick underbrush was difficult, and Aeneas often had to stop and hack away with the blade of his spear at a tangle of roots, bushes, and fallen branches that halted his progress. Meanwhile, Odysseus made much quicker progress through the intervention of his own patroness: Athena, goddess of strategy. The fastest and most efficient path was revealed before him, distinguishing itself with a subtle glow that hinted at the proper direction to take. The gods were not the sort to easily forgive and forget - Odysseus knew that better than anyone. Even decades after the destruction of Troy, the resentment between the Olympians who had taken opposing sides was still very much alive, and it was no surprise that Athena had stepped in to help her own champion against her rival’s. For once, Odysseus welcomed the gods’ unforgiving nature.

Satisfied with the distance he had put between his opponent and himself, Odysseus took cover behind a tree and set down his spear before equipping his bow once more. He knocked another arrow, pulled the string taut, and spun around the tree, expecting to take his target by surprise with an arrow to the face or legs. Instead of the sight of his enemy, Odysseus was greeted by a thick cloud of mist that was slowly flooding the forest, obscuring everything behind it. He hesitated and slackened his bowstring, but a spontaneous burst of confidence in the back of his mind led him to take aim once more. Trusting in what he thought was a sign from Athena, he loosed his arrow into the haze. A sudden shriek of pain from beyond the impenetrable mist confirmed that his arrow had found his target.

Aeneas staggered to one knee, dropping his spear; the burning pain flowing through his right arm made it nearly impossible to maintain a grip. The arrow loosed by his enemy had not only found its mark from the other side of the mist, but it had struck him in the underarm, one of the few unarmored spots on his upper body. The shot was so unlikely yet so precise that not even his divine protectress anticipated it.

Confident that he would now have the advantage in a struggle at close quarters, Odysseus put one of his legendary schemes into play. Three more arrows, one after another, flew into the mist at the wounded Aeneas, but this time the demigod was ready. He raised his shield up with his good arm, harmlessly deflecting the arrows away. Aeneas kept his gaze focused on the direction the attacks had come from, expecting to see another barrage of projectiles, or perhaps the attacker himself, coming after him, but nothing happened. Aeneas struggled back to his feet and glanced around as the fog finally began to disperse. He turned around just in time to see Odysseus’s spear flying straight at him. The spear struck him square in the middle of the chest, knocking him off of his feet. The bronze breastplate he wore, forged by Hephaestus’s skillful hand, protected him from the spear’s point, but there was still great power in Odysseus’s arm.

Odysseus, sword in hand, rushed forward at his downed foe, prepared to strike a quick and fatal blow. Aeneas managed to stand up again, but barely, and his spear was too far away for him to reach before Odysseus attacked. Instead, he drew his own sword, ready to fight with all his strength. As Odysseus came nearer, the warmth of Aphrodite surrounded him and the searing pain in his body faded away.

Aeneas reacted far faster than Odysseus anticipated, blocking his strike with skill and power as if his previous wounds had never occurred at all. Odysseus adapted his style quickly, perfectly capable of performing in a drawn-out swordfight rather than a quick execution like he had hoped for, but this was an opponent like he had never seen before. He gave his all, but Aeneas was too fast and too strong, and the Ithacan was barely managing to stay alive. Odysseus’s strength wavered as the battle carried on, the Trojan never seemed to tire in the slightest. Finally, Odysseus’s fatigue overtook him and he failed a critical parry. Aeneas’s sword entered his right shoulder, piercing through his armor with a powerful thrust.

Odysseus stumbled backward, growling in pain. Aeneas rushed after him and struck him in the chest with the rim of his shield, knocking him onto the ground. The Trojan approached his fallen enemy, with his sword pointed at his throat. Odysseus, his breathing labored and his body soaked with sweat, stared his opponent in the eye. No sign from Athena came now, but the Ithacan king wasn’t out of tricks yet. In one quick motion, Odysseus drew a hidden dagger from behind his scabbard and thrust it at the Trojan. Aeneas was too quick. He dropped his sword and caught Odysseus’s wrist, squeezing it until the pain forced him to drop his weapon.

“Enough, Odysseus!” Aeneas shouted. He snatched up the dagger and tossed it away into the underbrush. “There has been more than enough bloodshed between Trojans and Greeks to last an eternity. I will not be the one to perpetuate this cycle of madness.” Aeneas offered his hand. Odysseus hesitated for a moment, but he took it, and the Trojan helped the Greek to his feet. Aeneas took up both their spears and handed Odysseus his.

“Come. We should hurry and find our own men and inform them of our truce before they find each other.”

Odysseus slowly turned and headed off in the opposite direction, his pride shattered, but thankful to be alive.

Winner: Aeneas

Expert's Opinion

The result of this battle came down to equipment, where Odysseus was sorely lacking. For all of the Ithacan king’s smarts, he simply wasn’t prepared to fight against someone like Aeneas, who was equipped with god-forged weaponry and armor and had the help of a goddess who was much more willing to get involved in the fight.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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