Antenor 1 was one of the Elders of Troy at the time of the Trojan War. During the sack of Troy, he was spared by the Achaeans, either because he advocated peace and the restoration of Helen, or because he betrayed the city. After the war, he came to northern Italy where he founded Padua.
When the seducer Paris took with him gorgeous Helen from Sparta to Troy, he did not imagine the size of the conflagration he was about to cause, nor did he fear any consequences: women had been abducted before and no one had gone to war for their sake. But this time, for reasons known to the gods and in part also to mortals, a huge coalition was formed by many kingdoms throughout the whole of Hellas, determined to sail to Troy and to obtain, either through persuasive words or through harsh force, the restoration of the Spartan queen and the property that the Trojan prince had stolen.
Some believe and feel that whereas war arouses enthusiasm, giving opportunity for courage and glory to come forth, peace tends to cause boredom, its demands being less challenging. Yet, war brings death and destruction, and that is why the desire of a peaceful settlement, makes its way even into the hearts of those who are more eager to fight. For negotiation may sometimes yield the desired results. And so, when the powerful army led by King Agamemnon reached the Troad, Odysseus and Menelaus were sent as ambassadors with the mission of persuading the Trojans to restore Helen and the Spartan property.
Antenor 1's defends the ambassadors
This embassy failed, and the Trojans, who had summoned an assembly, not only refused to restore Helen and the property, but also threatened to kill the envoys. It is then that Antenor 1, whose childhood and young years have not been preserved in any known record, comes into the story already as an aged man, intervening to protect the ambassadors and thereby averting what is normally regarded as a particularly treacherous crime. He also wished to restore Helen, as Odysseus later recalled:
"I was sent also as a bold ambassador to Ilium's stronghold and visited and entered the senate-house of lofty Troy. It was still full of heroes ... I pleaded the common cause which Greece had entrusted to me, I denounced Paris, demanded the return of Helen and the booty, and I prevailed on Priam and Antenor who sided with Priam. But Paris and his brothers and his companions in the robbery scarce restrained their impious hands from me ..." (Odysseus to the Achaeans. Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.196).
Proposal of Antimachus 5
It was Antimachus 5the most eloquent in the Trojan assemblywho defeated all proposals to give back Helen to Menelaus, and also demanded that the envoys be executed. On account of this atrocious recommendation to the assembly, Antimachus 5's sons Pisander 1 and Hippolochus 2 lost their lives. For later, when Agamemnon chanced to have them at his mercy in the battlefield, he did not spare them as they beggedalthough they offered rich treasures as ransombut instead slew them, so that they would pay for their father's foul outrage.
Antenor 1's view
Later, when Antenor 1 recalled the episode with the ambassadors, whom he had received as guests in his own house, he described Menelaus as taller than Odysseus and as a man of fluent but short speech; yet, he added, Odysseus was the more royal when they both were seated, and by far the more eloquent. Antenor 1 thought that to restore Helen was the proper thing to do, and years later, during the war, he still caused trouble by letting the Trojan assemblies know what he thought:
"Trojans, Dardanians and allies ... hear a proposal which I feel compelled to make. Let us have done now, and give Helen back to the Atrides, along with all her property. By fighting on as we are doing, we have made perjurers of ourselves. No good that I can see will ever come of that ..." (Antenor 1 to the Trojan assembly. Homer, Iliad 7.347).
Paris' opinion on Antenor 1's brains
But such ideas were too much for the Trojans, and particularly for Paris, who, although willing to restore the Spartan property, had no intention of giving up whom he called his wife. So on hearing Antenor 1's proposal Paris commented:
"... the god themselves must have addled your brains ..." (Paris to Antenor 1. Homer, Iliad 7.356).
No doubt younger men often regard as pusillanimous and confused those whom Old Age has estranged from the charms of love and war, whereas those who are older, loving words more than action and seeing themselves as wiser, usually think that the younger are possessed by some kind of folly that might easily cause their ruin.
The Elders of Troy talk rather than act
So, while the Trojan youths mainly spent their time attending love and war, as youth often does, the Elders of Troy, such as Panthous, Thymoetes 1, Lampus 2, Clytius 5, Hicetaon 1, Ucalegon and Antenor 1 himself, spent their time talking. Old Age brings action to an end. Yet the welfare of the state not seldom requires their counsel, and that is why King Priam 1, himself an old man at the time of the Trojan War, could sit in conference with these men. And when a truce was agreed, so that Paris and Menelaus could attempt, by fighting in single combat, to put an end to the conflict, Antenor 1 mounted King Priam 1's chariot and came with him to the plain where the duel was going to take place.
The Elders' chat
But even if desire for physical action had long ago deserted the Elders, they could still understand and appreciate what motivates it. That is why, on seeing Helen coming along, they could comment:
"Who on earth could blame the Trojan and Achaean men-at-arms for suffering so long for such a woman's sake? Indeed, she is the very image of an immortal goddess."
Yet, as their many years had made them acquainted with restraint and moderation, they added:
"All the same, and lovely as she is, let her sail home and not stay her to vex us and our children after us." (Antenor 1 and the Trojan Elders chatting among themselves. Homer, Iliad 3.155).
Helen did sail back home to Sparta, but not before the Trojans were utterly defeated and the city laid in ruins. She was restored to her husband Menelaus, who killed her second Trojan husband Deiphobus 1 after the death of Paris. The massacre of the Trojans occurred by night, and many were surprised and slain in their beds, both soldiers and civilians. Having little control over their own violence, the victors gave themselves to rape, executions and outrages of all kinds. Antenor 1 himself buried many of those who did not survive that devastating rage, among which King Priam 1's daughter Polyxena 1 (betrothed to Antenor 1's son Eurymachus 3), who was sacrificed by the Achaeans upon Achilles' grave.
His house spared
However, the house of Antenor 1 was respected on account of his friendly attitude towards the Achaeans, and because Odysseus and Menelaus were bound by ties of hospitality to him, established when they came to Troy as envoys. It is said that during the sack of Troy a leopard's skin was hanged over the entrance of Antenor 1's house as a sign that his house was to be left unpillaged, and some have believed that Antenor 1 and his sons betrayed the city to the Achaeans, this being the reason why they were spared
Comes to Italy and founds famous city
When the Trojan War was over and the city was destroyed, Antenor 1 migrated to Italy accompanied by the Eneti or Heneti, who until then had lived in Paphlagonia, northern Asia Minor. The Eneti, it is said, crossed over to Thrace after the capture of Troy and the death of their king Pylaemenes 1, whom Menelaus slew. Antenor 1 and his surviving children settled at the recess of the Adriatic, and subsequently founded Padua in Italy, some time before Aeneas reached Dido's Carthage. These Trojans under Antenor 1, along with the Eneti, conquered the territory which is between the inmost bay of the Adriatic and the Alps, expelling the Eugani, who dwelt there. The region has been called Veneto and the people Veneti; and as of AD 2000, there is still a city, in that Italian district, called Venice, the name of which derives from the Eneti. Or so they say ...
Another with identical name: Antenor 2 is one of the SUITORS OF PENELOPE.