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Aeneas

Location: City Museum Ancient World’s Gallery, near the Roman tomb stones and
mummy boards. Giving Instructions on how to reach the Underworld

Text: Virgil Aeneid


Aeneas............................................................................................................................1
Script..........................................................................................................................1
Likely questions and possible answers:.....................................................................2

Script
Welcome, stranger(s). I am Aeneas, the son of the goddess Venus and the mortal
Trojan prince Anchises, After the fall of Troy I wandered the world seeking the place
where I would found the Roman nation. During my search my dead father appeared
to me and bade me go to the Underworld to find him in Elysium in the radiant
councils of the just. I was guided there by a chaste Sibyl and he told me about all the
descendants who were to come after me. The descent to the Underworld was easy, but
to return to the world above, that is the task, that the toil. Now dark night has risen in
her chariot to command the vault of heaven, would you follow in my footsteps and
journey safely through the Roman underworld?

Await an answer

If it is ‘No’ say – with appropriate gestures as to their location


If you would journey to the Greek underworld speak to the goddess, Circe. If you
would journey to the Fields of Reeds and the Egyptian afterlife, visit the Egyptian
priest Nesyamun for guidance.
When more visitors approach, repeat from the beginning.

If it is ‘Yes’ say
Tell me who you are, what family you come from and what causes you to want to do
this?
Let them answer. Then say this and give them a route map [you may wish to point to
locations on it as you speak]
Though you are not descended from the gods, like Pollux or Theseus or
Hercules, who all traelled to the underworld and returned, as your desire is so great
that you wish to sail twice upon the pool of Styx and twice to see black Tartarus, I
have made it possible for you by asking the Sibyl to perform the necessary sacrifices
to Hecate. Even so, no living man may enter the hidden places of the earth without
plucking the golden foliage and fruit from a tree sacred to Proserpina, the Juno of the
underworld. For you, I have once again plucked that golden bough from its dark tree
in the sacred grove and, after sprinkling my body with fresh water, fixed it in the
doorway of Pluto’s Palace, where the ruler of the underworld dwells with Proserpina.
Because of this you may now travel safely across the River Styx with Charon, walk
through the mourning plains, the field of heroic warriors and the Elysian fields
themselves – even through black Tartarus on the road of punishment for evil-doers.
On exiting this building you will enter the Underworld. If you have no
questions [pause and look enquiringly at them – answer any they have] I give my
farewell to you (all).
Make a ‘farewell’ gesture, turn to look for more visitors approach and repeat from
the beginning.

Likely questions and possible answers:


Most questions will probably require answers relating to information about the
underworld and these may all be prefaced with this speech:
You gods who rule the world of the spirits, you silent shades, let it be right for
me to tell what I have been told, let it be with your divine blessing that I reveal
what is hidden deep in the mists beneath the earth.

Where should I/we go?


This depends on their interest, so while you could say “The map I have given
you should be sufficient to guide you on your way.” (which you could do if there are
other visitors waiting) it would be better to ask “Do you want to visit places, see
people or learn about the underworld?” And then answer appropriately.

What places of interest are there?


“In the realm of mighty Hades and dread Persephone there are many places of
interest, as detailed in the guide. Seek out particularly the River Styx in Dark Arches
and the Elysian fields where Eleusinian initiates dance happily in City Square.”

Where can I find out more information?


“You are standing in a temple of information! At each place in the guide there
is an information point. The Sibyl who guided me is in the underworld tonight, but an
expert mortal guide can answer your questions. You could seek out Circe and
Nesyamun for guidance on entering other underworlds. And on the first floor of the
Pluto’s Palace – which you may know as Parkinson Building, University of Leeds –
there is an exhibition on the Classical underworld.”

What is there that’s child-friendly?


“The goddess Ceres – who taught mankind the rituals which admit men to the
Elysian fields – is looking for her lost daughter Proserpina, who is sitting in
judgement in Minos’ Palace. You can help them to find each other and this will bring
springtime back to the earth once Ceres takes Proserpina back into the light of the sun.
You could look for them in the Elysian Fields where Eleusinian initiates dance
happily in City Square or in the Asphodel Fields in Victoria Gardens and near the
Town Hall.
The keen eyes of youth can spot the signs by which we know Leeds is the
Roman underworld on the buildings all around us – count the Roman victory wreaths,
look up to spot the ornamental urns and use the guide between locations to discover
the places known to the god Mercury, who safely guides souls to Charon in the
underworld.”

Where are there other characters?


“Tonight the door to black Dis lies open. Near the River Styx in Dark Arches
you will find the labyrinth cared temple of the Cumaean Sibyl – my underworld guide
– and Charon the ferryman, whom you should pay with the coinage in the guide.
Ceres seeks her daughter Persephone and Orpheus his dead wife Eurydice: you may
find them in the Elysian Fields where Eleusinian initiates dance happily in City
Square or in the Asphodel Fields in Victoria Gardens and near the Town Hall or in the
Vale of Mourning in Millennium Square.”

Why are you here?


“I am Aeneas, founder of the Roman people who came to these shores and
founded army camps in the city centre and in Adel and called this city of Leodis.
Tonight I chose to exit the underworld through the Gate of Horn, which allows true
shades to return to the upper air. Here I stand among my descendants: dead Romans
who went to the underworld and those purified souls who, after a thousand years,
have been allowed to leave the Elysian fields, drink from Lethe – the river of
forgetfulness – and return to the upper air. I give my blessing to you (all).”