Classics and Religious Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Classical Philology 112 (2017): 45–62


© 2017 by The University of Chicago.


Book 8 of the Aeneid opens with Aeneas finally reaching the future site of Rome, where he meets Evander and the Arcadians sacrificing to Hercules in a grove near the banks of the Tiber. Evander invites the Trojans to share the Arcadians’ feast, and after he sates his guests with food and wine he recounts the origins of the Arcadians’ ritual, relating how Hercules vanquished the robber-monster Cacus, erstwhile landlord of the Aventine. Evander’s initial description of Hercules reveals a triumphant hero, a victor arriving in Rome with the spolia from his prior conquest in tow (8.200–204):

attulit et nobis aliquando optantibus aetas / auxilium adventumque dei. nam maximus ultor / tergemini nece Geryonae spoliisque superbus / Alcides aderat taurosque hac victor agebat / ingentis, vallemque boves amnemque tenebant.

Time brought to us in our time of need the aid and arrival of a god. For there came that mightiest avenger, the victor Hercules, proud with the slaughter and the spoils of threefold Geryon, and he drove the mighty bulls here, and the cattle filled both valley and riverside.

Interpreters predominantly read the spoils of threefold (tergeminus) Geryon as a precursor to the triple triumph Vergil envisions Augustus celebrating at the Temple of Apollo Palatinus, depicted on the shield of Aeneas at the book’s conclusion (at Caesar, triplici invectus . . . triumpho, 8.714).3 The textual bond between Hercules and Augustus finds historical support in the “chronological flattening” of Book 8: Aeneas first encounters the Arcadians celebrating the feast of Hercules Invictus at the Ara Maxima on August 12, the same date