Did the Romans always believed they derived from Troy?

Vergil’s Aeneid is based on the Roman legend that Rome derived ultimately from the ancient, lost civilization of Troy. When Troy fell to the Greeks, the prince [url=]Aeneas (son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite) fled with some family and followers; wandered around the Mediterranean for a while; finally settled on the west coast of central Italy, was welcomed as an ally by Latinus, king of the Latins; founded the city of Lavinium; fathered Ascanius, a/k/a Iulus, who was the founder and first king of Alba Longa (and purported ancestor of Rome’s patrician gens of the Julians, including Caesar the Dictator); and, finally, he was the direct ancestor of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.

What I want to know is: Did the Romans always believe that? Did they believe it before they came into cultural contact with the Greeks and started reading the Iliad? Did they believe it in the early Republic, or under the rule of the kings? If not, when and how did they acquire this belief?

The Romans did have contact with the Greeks, who were colonizing Italy from I believe 750 BC. I read that Aeneas appeared in the Roman foundation myths, which were kind of all over the place, but wasn’t the founder of Rome until Virgil wrote the definitive version, just at the time that Rome needed a national myth.

The Hellenocentric view of the Mediterranean world was in large part a reflection of the fact that the historians, at the beginning, were Greek. So no, it seems unlikely that the Romans originally thought they were derived from Greek and/or Trojan origins.

The best proof of this is that the native foundation myth, that of Romulus, had the Aeneas myth artificially grafted on to it by making Aeneas Romulus’ father or grandfather. Later historians, such as Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Livy realized the problem with this - it was generally acknowledged that Troy fell somewhere around 1200-1300 BCE, while Rome was founded by Romulus in 753 BCE. The solution was to say that Aeneas (and Iulus) were the founders of the dynasty in Alba Longa, from which line Romulus eventually descended.

A thought-- by the time Etruscan culture really came out on top in Tuscany their culture and religion was greatly influenced by the Greeks (an Apollo god named Apulu, temple architecture, etc). As the Romans emerged and the cultures slowly flipped with the republic’s founding, that set of myths was probably well entrenched by the time they began to think of themselves as “Roman”, no?

But Roman religion – complex, elaborately ceremonial, and very important to the Romans, known as “the most religious people in Italy” – was from the start very different from Greek religion. The Romans mostly did not anthropomorphize their gods, many of whom were represented by no images at all. They did not tell stories about the gods’ soap-opera antics. They really had no “mythology” to speak of. It was only later that they started to identify Venus with Aphrodite, Jupiter with Zeus, etc.

The Romans never beleived that. The Aeneid was a piece of propaganda, ordered by Octavian. Beautiful poetry, but still propaganda.
The Romans lived with a sense of being upstarts or Noveau Riche, as compared to the older civilizations around the Med. And Octavian was from the equestrian class, though nobility, not patrician, in spite of his relationship to Julius Caesar. There was clearly a need for an epic on the scale of the Iliad justifying Rome’s place as the center of the universe and Octavian’s place in that center.

CliffsNotes has a good essay.

Well, yes it was Augustan propaganda, but it’s absolutely not the case that Vergil made up the Aeneas myth out of whole cloth. The idea that they were somehow connected to him was probably made very early, as early as the 6th century BCE (according to T. J. Cornell). However, ‘early’ is not ‘originally’, and they didn’t get the idea that they had come from Aeneas all by themselves.

As a side note, BrainGlutton, Cornell also suggests that from a very early period, the Romans did worship anthropomorphic, ‘Hellenized’ gods, especially based on evidence of votive tablets. This is part of a larger theory which suggests that direct Greek-Roman contact happened much earlier than was suspected (and wasn’t mediated by the Etruscans) and that the evolutionist theory, which sought to depict the Romans as less advanced than the Greeks, had been one of the prime reasons to suggest that early Roman religion was somehow primitive.