The beginning of Book VI

Book VI begins with the arrival of the Trojan survivors in Italy. They land on the west coast not far from where Naples now is, at a place called Cumae. This was where Daedalus, who'd escaped from the evil empire of king Minos on Crete by flying away on wings he had designed, had finally landed and built a temple to Apollo in gratitude for his safe landing. Aeneas sees his tragic story carved on the temple doors: tragic, because Icarus, Daedalus' son, had died on the journey.

The reason for Aeneas' visit to the temple is to consult he Sibyl, the aged shrivelled priestess of Apollo who has the gift of prophecy. He wants to know what lies ahead for him, now that he has finally reached the promised land. The temple leads into a vast cave, and in these mysterious surroundings Aeneas meets her. She tells him that the dangers of the sea are past, but the dangers of the land are still to come. There will be a new Achilles, new danger from a marriage with a foreign bride, and, as always, Juno's implacable enmity.

Aeneas has heard that the place they are was near the entrance to the Underworld: he asks if he could be allowed to go down into it see his father. Anchises had requested this visit in a dream, and Aeneas feels he needs advice and guidance from his father before tackling the war to establish himself in Italy. Other descendants of gods, such as Hercules, have been allowed - so why not him?

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