Following the fall of Troy Aeneas, son of Priam, a Trojan hero second only to Hector, fled the fortress; he lost his wife in the escape, himself carrying his aged father on his back and leading his young son by the hand. This is the way Virgil, in the first century before our era, imagined the beginning of Aeneas’ travels; but already before Virgil, the fate of Aeneas was the subject of poetic tradition. Virgil’s creation is regarded as the greatest of Roman epics; Virgil, however, studied the subject drawing on Greek authors.

Upon visiting Thrace and the islands of the Aegean Sea, and following a sojourn on Crete, Aeneas and his little band of companions landed at Carthage; there Queen Dido fell in love with him; his refusal to make Carthage his home and Dido his wife caused her, upon his departure, to take her own life.

Aeneas’ further wanderings brought him finally to Latium in Italy, the land of the Latini. According to the Roman legendary tradition, he became the progenitor of the Romans through his son Ascanios, the first king to reign in the new capital of Latium, Alba Longa, of which Rome was a dependent city; or, in another version, through Numitos in direct descent from Ascanios. But a more popular tradition had Aeneas himself as the founder of Rome; the Greek historian Timaios (ca. -346 to ca. -250) followed this tradition. A still better known legend has Romulus for the founder of Rome; sometimes Romulus is made a descendant of Aeneas and Ascanios.

Rome was founded, according to Varro, in -753.1

As to Carthage, the generally accepted view is that it was founded in the second half of the ninth century; Timaios placed its foundation in the year -814. Timaios was the first to fix the chronology of the Olympiads.2

Philistos, a Greek author, born in -435, placed Carthage’s foundation “a man’s life length” before the Trojan War; but Philistos’ dating of the Trojan War is unknown. Philistos’ date for the foundation of Carthage, sixty or seventy years before the fall of Troy, is thought to be in conflict with Timaios’ date because the Trojan War would need to be placed in the middle of the eighth century, shortly before the foundation of Rome. But is there a conflict between the founding dates of Carthage in Timaios and in Philistos?

A refugee from Troy in the first half of the twelfth century could not find Carthage, a city built almost three centuries later by colonists from Phoenicia; and he could not be associated with the founding of Rome either directly or by one of his descendants of several generations, the gap between -1183, the conventional year of Troy’s fall, and -753, the traditional date of Rome’s foundation, being more than four centuries wide.


  1. Fabius Pictor gave -747 as the date of Rome’s founding.

  2. He was a native of Sicily, the history of which he wrote from the earliest times to -264; of that history, regarded as authoritative in antiquity, only single passages survived in authors who quoted him; Carthage is across the straits from Sicily.