1. Education

Latinus - King Latinus of Latium



Latinus "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum" Published by Guillaume Rouille (1518?-1589)

PD Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Augustan Age epic poet Vergil (Virgil) introduces King Latinus in Aeneid 7.45-49, as the aged king of Latium, a peaceful rural and urban kingdom.

Latinus is the son of the nymph Marica, his mother, and Faunus [see Bona Dea], his father, whose own father was Picus and whose mother may have been Circe, daughter of Sol (sun). Out of jealousy, Circe turned Picus into a woodpecker. The father of Picus was Saturn [Moorton]. Rosivach thinks Picus and Faunus should perhaps be understand as divi -- human kings deified after death (a nod to Vergil's patron's adopted father, Julius Caesar) -- as well as rustic deities associated with oracles. Saturn, on the other hand, was not a human king, but the god of the golden age. Latinus' age of peace is still a golden one for the Latins he governs.

In the Aeneid, Latinus follows the oracle's advice to award his daughter, Lavinia, to the Trojan prince Aeneas. Latinus also gives Aeneas a chariot and fiery horses, descendants of those bred by Circe. Latinus' wife, Amata, loudly prefers her nephew, Turnus, of the Rutuli, who had been the local and presumed fiance. When the Trojans go hunting and unknowingly kill a pet stag, war is provoked, contrary to what Latinus wants. His wife commits suicide and Latinus gives up control.

  • "The Genealogy of Latinus in Vergil's Aeneid"
    Richard Moorton
    Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-), Vol. 118, (1988), pp. 253-259
  • "Latinus' Genealogy and the Palace of Picus (Aeneid 7. 45-9, 170-91)"
    V. J. Rosivach
    The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 1 (1980), pp. 140-152
  • "The Shield of Turnus ('Aeneid' 7.783-92)"
    M. R. Gale
    Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Oct., 1997), pp. 176-196
  • "The Tragedy of Latinus"
    Catharine Saunders
    The Classical Weekly, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Oct. 17, 1921), pp. 17-20
In Hesiod, Latinus is the son of Circe and Odysseus, which doesn't fit into Vergil's chronology.

The story told by Vergil touches on the tragedy of Latinus, but Ursula LeGuin's fictional Lavinia explores Latinus more fully.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.