Latinus (Latin: Latinus; Ancient Greek: Λατῖνος) was a figure in both Greek and Roman mythology. He is often associated with the heroes of the Trojan War, namely Odysseus and Aeneas. Although his appearance in the Aeneid is irreconcilable with his appearance in Greek mythology, the two pictures are not so different that he cannot be seen as one character.
In Hesiod's Theogony, Latinus was the son of Odysseus and Circe who ruled the Tyrsenoi, presumably the Etruscans, with his brothers Ardeas and Telegonus. Latinus is also referred to, by much later authors, as the son of Pandora II and brother of Graecus, although according to Hesiod, Graecus had three brothers, Hellen, Magnetas, and Macedon, with the first being the father of Doros, Xuthos, and Aeolus. Latinus' possible siblings were Melera and Pandorus.
In later Roman mythology (notably Virgil's Aeneid), Latinus, or Lavinius, was a king of the Latins. He is sometimes described as the son of Faunus and Marica, and father of Lavinia with his wife, Amata. He hosted Aeneas's army of exiled Trojans and offered them the chance to reorganize their life in Old Latium. His wife Amata wished his daughter Lavinia to be betrothed to Turnus, king of the Rutuli, but Latinus and the gods insisted that he give her instead to Aeneas; consequently, Turnus declared war on Aeneas and was killed two weeks into the conflict. Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, later founded Alba Longa and was the first in a long series of kings leading to Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.
This version is not compatible with the Greek one: the Trojan War had ended only eight years earlier, and Odysseus only met Circe a couple of months later, so any son of the pair could only be seven years old, whereas the Roman Latinus had an adult daughter by then. The Roman Latinus from the Aeneid, son of Faunus, is a completely different person from the Greek Latinus, son of Circe and Odysseus.
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- Hard, Robin, The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology: Based on H.J. Rose's "Handbook of Greek Mythology", Psychology Press, 2004, ISBN 9780415186360. Google Books.
- Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:1-2
- Virgil, Aeneid, VII, 45, 52, 69, 96.
- Pseudo-Clement, Recognitions from Ante-Nicene Library Volume 8, translated by Smith, Rev. Thomas. T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh. 1867. Online version at theio.com
- Publius Vergilius Maro, Aeneid. Theodore C. Williams. trans. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1910. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Publius Vergilius Maro, Bucolics, Aeneid, and Georgics. J. B. Greenough. Boston. Ginn & Co. 1900. Latin text available at the Perseus Digital Library.