From Virgil’s Works, The Aeneid, Eclogues, Georgics translated by J. W. Mackail, Introduction by Charles L. Durham, Ph.D., New York: the Modern Library; 1934; pp. 3-22.
Mixed Metal Sculpture by Serena Thirkell
© Serena Thirkell
[1-28]I SING of arms and the man who came of old, a fated wanderer, from the coasts of Troy to Italy and the shore of Lavinium; hard driven on land and on the deep by the violence of heaven, by reason of cruel Juno’s unforgetful anger, and hard bestead in war also, ere he might found a city and carry his gods into Latium; from whom is the Latin race, the lords of Alba, and high-embattled Rome.
Muse, tell me why, for what attaint of her deity, or in what vexation, did the Queen of heaven urge on a man excellent in goodness to circle through all those afflictions, to face all those toils? Is anger so fierce in celestial spirits?
There was a city of ancient days that Tyrian settlers dwelt in, Carthage, over against Italy and the Tiber mouths afar; plenteous of wealth, and most grim in the arts of war; wherein, they say, alone beyond all other lands had Juno her seat, and held Samos itself less dear. Here was her armour, here her chariot; even now, if fate permit, the goddess survives to nurture it for dominion over the nations. Nevertheless, she had heard that a race was issuing of the blood of Troy, which sometime should overthrow her Tyrian fortress; from it should come a people, lord of lands and tyrannous in war, the destroyer of Libya: thus the Fates unrolled their volume. Fearful of that, the daughter of Saturn, the old war in her remembrance that she fought at Troy for her beloved Argos long ago, — nor had the springs of her anger nor that bitter pain yet gone out of mind: deep stored in her soul lies the judgment of Paris, the insult of her slighted beauty, the hated race and the dignities of ravished Ganymede; fired by these also, she drove all over ocean the Trojan remnant left of the Greek host and merciless 4[30-68] Achilles, and held them afar from Latium; and many a year were they wandering driven of fate around all the seas. Such work was it to found the Roman people.
Hardly out of sight of the land of Sicily did they set their sails joyously to sea, and upturned the salt foam with brazen prow, when Juno, the undying wound still deep in her heart, thus broke out alone:
‘Am I then to abandon my baffled purpose, powerless to keep the Teucrian king from Italy? and because fate forbids me? Could Pallas lay the Argive fleet in ashes, and sink the Argives in the sea, for the guilt and madness of Oilean Ajax alone? Her hand darted Jove’s flying fire from the clouds, scattered their ships, upturned the seas in tempest; him, his pierced breast yet breathing forth the flame, she caught in a whirlwind and impaled on a spike of rock. But I, who move queen among immortals, I sister and wife of Jove, wage warfare all these years with a single people; and is there any who still adores Juno’s divinity, or will lay sacrifice with prayer on her altars?’
Such thoughts inly revolving in her fiery heart, the goddess reaches Aeolia, the home of storm-clouds, the land teeming with furious southern gales. Here in a dreary cavern Aeolus keeps under royal dominion and yokes in dungeon fetters the struggling winds and resounding storms. They with mighty moan rage indignant round their mountain barriers. In his lofty citadel Aeolus sits sceptred, assuages their temper and soothes their rage; else would they carry with them seas and lands, and the depth of heaven, and sweep them through space in their flying course. But, fearful of this, the Lord omnipotent has hidden them in caverned gloom, and laid mountains high over them, and appointed them a ruler, who under a fixed covenant should know to strain and slacken the reins at command. To him now Juno spoke thus in suppliant accents:
‘Aeolus — for to thee has the father of gods and king of men given to lull and to lift the wind-blown waves — the race I hate sails the Tyrrhene sea, carrying Ilium and her conquered 5[69-105] household-gods into Italy. Rouse thy winds to fury, and overwhelm and sink their hulls, or drive them asunder and strew ocean with their corpses. Mine are twice seven nymphs of passing loveliness, and Deïopea is most excellent in beauty of them all; her will I unite to thee in wedlock to be thine for ever; that for this thy service she may fulfil all her years at thy side, and make thee father of a beautiful race.’
Aeolus thus returned: ‘Thine, O queen, the task to search out what thou wilt; for me it is right to do thy bidding. From thee I hold all this my realm, from thee my sceptre and Jove’s grace; thou dost grant me to take my seat at the feasts of the gods, and makest me sovereign over clouds and storms.’
Even with these words, turning his spear, he struck the side of the hollow hill, and the winds, as in banded array, pour where passage is given them, and cover earth with eddying blasts. East wind and south wind together, and the gusty south-wester, falling prone on the sea, stir it up from its lowest chambers, and roll vast billows to the shore. Behind rises shouting of men and creaking of cordage. In a moment clouds blot sky and daylight from the Teucrians’ eyes; black night broods over the deep. The heavens crash with thunder, and the air quivers with incessant flashes; all menaces them with instant death. Straightway Aeneas’ frame grows unnerved and chill, and stretching either hand to heaven, he cries thus aloud: ‘Ah, thrice and four times happy they who found their doom in high-embattled Troy before their fathers’ faces! Ah, son of Tydeus, bravest of the Grecian race, that I could not have fallen on the Ilian plains, and gasped out this my life beneath thine hand! where under the spear of Aeacides lies fierce Hector, lies mighty Sarpedon; where Simoïs so often caught and whirled beneath his wave shields and helmets and brave bodies of men.’
As the cry leaves his lips, a gust of the shrill north strikes full on the sail and raises the waves up to heaven. The oars are snapped; the prow swings away and gives her side to the waves; down in a heap comes a broken mountain of water. These hang on the wave’s ridge; to these the yawning billow 6[106-45] shows ground amid the surge, where the tide churns with sand. Three ships the south wind catches and hurls on hidden rocks, rocks amid the waves which Italians call the Altars, a vast reef banking the sea. Three the east forces from the deep into shallows and quicksands, piteous to see, dashes on shoals and girdles with a sandbank. One, wherein loyal Orontes and his Lycians rode, before his very eyes a huge sea descending strikes astern. The helmsman is dashed away and rolled forward headlong; her as she lies the billow sends spinning thrice round with it, and engulfs in the swift whirl. Scattered swimmers appear in the dreary eddy, armour of men, timbers and Trojan treasure amid the water. Ere now the stout ship of Ilioneus, ere now of brave Achates, and she wherein Abas rode, and she wherein Aletes, have yielded to the storm; the framework of their sides is started, and they all let in the deadly stream through gaping leaks.
Meanwhile Neptune discerned with astonishment the loud roaring of the vexed sea, the tempest let loose from prison, and the still water boiling up from its depths, and looking forth over the deep, raised his head serene above the waves. He sees Aeneas’ fleet scattered all over ocean, the Trojans overwhelmed by the waves and the tempest of heaven. Juno’s guile and wrath lay clear to her brother’s eye; East wind and West he calls before him, and thereon speaks thus:
‘Stand you then so sure in your confidence of birth? Dare you without my warrant, O winds, confound sky and earth, and raise so huge coil? you whom I — But better to still the vexed waves; for a second transgression you shall pay me another penalty. Speed your flight, and say this to your king: not to him but to me was allotted the empire of ocean and the stern trident. His fastness is on the monstrous rocks where thou and thine, East wind, dwell: there let Aeolus glory in his court and reign over the barred prison of his winds.’
Thus he speaks, and quicker than the word he soothes the swollen seas, chases away the gathered clouds, and restores the sunlight. Cymothoë and Triton together push the ships strongly off the sharp reef; himself he eases them with his 7[146-184] trident, channels the vast quicksands, and assuages the sea, gliding on light wheels along the watery floor. Even as when oft in a throng of people strife has risen, and the base multitude rage in their minds, and now brands and stones are flying; madness lends arms; then if perchance they catch sight of one reverend for goodness and worth, they are silent and stand by with attentive ear; he with speech sways their temper and soothes their breasts; even so has fallen all the thunder of ocean, when riding with forward gaze beneath a cloudless sky the lord of the sea wheels his coursers and lets his gliding chariot fly with loosened rein.
The outworn Aeneadae hasten to run for the nearest shore, and steer for the coast of Libya. There a place lies deep withdrawn; an island forms a harbour, thrusting forth its sides, whereon all the waves break from the open sea and part into the hollows of the bay. On this side and that enormous cliffs rise threatening heaven, and twin crags beneath whose crest the sheltered water lies wide and calm; above is a background of waving forest, and a woodland overhangs dark with rustling shade. Beneath the seaward brow is a rock-hung cavern, within it fresh springs and seats in the living stone, a haunt of nymphs; here tired ships need no fetters to hold nor anchor to fasten them with crooked fang. Hither with seven sail gathered of all his company Aeneas glides in; and disembarking on the land so sorely desired the Trojans gain the chosen beach, and fling their limbs dripping with brine upon the shore. Forthwith Achates has struck a spark from the flint and caught the fire on leaves, and laying dry fuel round kindled the touchwood into flame. Then, in their weary case, they fetch out sea-soaked corn and weapons of corn-dressing, and set to parch over the fire and bruise with stones the grain that they have rescued.
Meanwhile Aeneas scales the cliff, and scans the whole view wide over ocean, if he may see aught of Antheus and his storm-tossed Phrygian galleys, aught of Capys or of the lofty hulls that bear the arms of Caïcus. Ship in sight is none; three stags he espies straying on the shore; behind whole herds 8[185-222] follow, and graze in long train across the valleys. Stopping short, he snatched up a bow and swift arrows, the arms that trusty Achates was carrying; and first the leaders, their stately heads high with branching antlers, then the common herd he lays low, as he drives them with his shafts in a broken crowd through the leafy woods. Nor stays he till seven great victims are stretched on the sod, and the number of his ships is equalled. Thence he seeks the harbour and parts them among all his company; next the wine-casks that good Acestes had loaded on the Tinacrian beach, the hero’s gift at their departure, he shares, and assuages their sorrowing hearts with speech:
‘O comrades, for not ere now are we ignorant of ill, O tried by heavier fortunes, to these also God will appoint an end. The fury of Scylla and the roaring recesses of her crags you have come nigh, and known the rocks of the Cyclopes. Recall your courage, put sorrow and fear away. This too sometime we shall haply remember with delight. Through chequered fortunes, through many perilous ways, we steer for Latium, where destiny points us a quiet home. There the realm of Troy may rise again unforbidden. Keep heart, and endure till prosperous fortune come.’
Such words he utters, and sick with deep distress he feigns hope on his face, and keeps his anguish hidden deep in his breast. The others set to the spoil that is to be their banquet, sever chine from ribs and lay bare the flesh; some cut it into pieces and pierce it still quivering with spits; others plant caldrons on the beach and feed them with flame. Then they repair their strength with food, and lying along the grass take their fill of old wine and fat venison. After hunger is driven away by feasting, and the board cleared, they talk with lingering regret of their lost companions, swaying between hope and fear, whether they may believe them yet alive, or now meeting the last enemy and deaf to mortal call. Most does good Aeneas inly wail the loss now of valiant Orontes, now of Amycus, the cruel doom of Lycus, of brave Gyas, and brave Cloanthus.9[223-259]
And now they ceased; when Jupiter looked through the height of air on the sail-winged sea and outspread lands, the shores and broad countries, and looking stood on the cope of heaven, and cast down his eyes on the realm of Libya. To him thus troubled at heart Venus, her bright eyes brimming with tears, sorrowfully speaks:
‘O thou who dost sway mortal and immortal things in eternal lordship with the terror of thy thunderbolt, how can my Aeneas have transgressed so grievously against thee? how his Trojans? on whom, after so many deaths borne, all the world is barred for Italy’s sake. From them sometime in the rolling years the Romans were to arise indeed; from them were to be rulers who, renewing the blood of Teucer, should hold sea and all lands in dominion. This thou didst promise: why, O father, is thy decree reversed? This was my solace for the wretched ruin of sunken Troy, doom balanced against doom. Now so many woes are spent, and the same fortune still pursues them; Lord and King, what limit dost thou set to their distresses? Antenor could elude the encircling Achaeans, could thread in safety the Illyrian bays and inmost realms of the Liburnians, could scale Timavus’ source, whence through nine mouths pours the bursting tide amid dreary moans of the mountain, and covers the fields with hoarse waters. Yet here did he set Patavium town, a dwelling-place for his Teucrians, gave his name to a nation and hung up the armour of Troy; now settled in peace, he rests and is in quiet. We, thy children, we whom thou beckonest to the heights of heaven, our fleet miserably cast away for a single enemy’s anger, are betrayed and severed far from the Italian coasts. Is this the reward of goodness? is it thus thou dost restore our throne?’
Smiling on her with that look which clears sky and storms, the parent of men and gods lightly kissed his daughter’s lips; then answered thus:
‘Spare thy fear, Cytherean; thy people’s destiny abides unshaken. Thine eyes shall see the city Lavinium, their promised fortress; thou shalt exalt to the starry heaven thy noble 10[260-298] Aeneas; nor is my decree reversed. He whom thou lovest (for I will speak, since this care keeps torturing thee, and will unroll further the secret records of fate) shall wage a great war in Italy, and crush warrior nations; he shall appoint his people a law and a city; till the third summer see him reigning in Latium, and three winters’ camps are overpast among the conquered Rutulians. But the boy Ascanius, whose surname is now Iülus — Ilus he was while the Ilian state stood sovereign — thirty great circles of rolling months shall he fulfil in government; he shall carry the kingdom from its seat in Lavinium, and make a strong fortress of Alba the Long. Here the full space of thrice an hundred years shall the kingdom endure under the race of Hector’s kin, till the royal priestess Ilia from Mars’ embrace shall give birth to a twin progeny. Thence shall Romulus, gay in the tawny hide of the she-wolf that nursed him, take up their line, and name them Romans after his own name. To these I ordain neither period nor boundary of empire: I have given them dominion without end. Nay, harsh Juno, who in her fear now troubles earth and sea and sky, shall change to better counsels, and with me shall cherish the lords of the world, the gowned race of Rome. Thus is it willed. A day will come in the lapse of cycles, when the house of Assaracus shall lay Phthia and famed Mycenae in bondage, and reign over conquered Argos. From the fair line of Troy a Caesar shall arise, who shall limit his empire with ocean, his glory with the firmament, Julius, inheritor of Iülus’ name. Him one day, thy care done, thou shalt welcome to heaven loaded with Eastern spoils; to him too shall vows be addressed. Then shall war cease, and the iron ages soften. Hoar Faith and Vesta, Quirinus and Remus brothers again, shall deliver statutes. The dreadful steel-clenched gates of War shall be shut fast; inhuman Fury, his hands bound behind him with an hundred rivets of brass, shall sit within on murderous weapons, shrieking with ghastly blood-stained lips.’
So speaking, he sends Maia’s son down from above, that the lands and towers of Carthage, the new town, may receive 11[299-335] the Trojans with open welcome; lest Dido, ignorant of doom, might debar them her land. Flying through the depth of air on winged oarage, the fleet messenger alights on the Libyan coasts. At once he does his bidding; at once, for a god willed it, the Phoenicians allay their haughty temper; the queen above all takes to herself grace and compassion towards the Teucrians.
But good Aeneas, nightlong revolving many and many a thing, issues forth, so soon as bountiful light is given, to explore the strange country; to what coasts the wind has borne him, who are their habitants, men or wild beasts, for all he sees is wilderness, this he resolves to search, and bring back the certainty to his comrades. The fleet he hides close in embosoming groves beneath a caverned rock, amid rustling shadow of the woodland; himself, Achates alone following, he strides forward, clenching in his hand two broad-headed spears. And amid the forest his mother crossed his way, wearing the face and raiment of maiden, the arms of a maiden of Sparta, or like Harpalyce of Thrace when she tries her coursers and outstrips the winged speed of Hebrus in her flight. For in huntress fashion had she slung the ready bow from her shoulder, and left her blown tresses free, bared her knee, and knotted together her garments’ flowing folds. ‘Ho, gallants,’ she begins, ‘shew me if haply you have seen a sister of mine straying here girt with quiver and dappled lynx-pelt, or pressing with shouts on the track of a foaming boar.’
Thus Venus, and Venus’ son answering thus began:
‘Sound nor sight have I had of sister of thine, O maiden, how may I name thee? for thy face is not mortal, nor thy voice of human tone; O goddess assuredly! sister of Phoebus perchance, or one of the nymphs’ blood? Be thou gracious, whoso thou art, and lighten our distress; deign to instruct us beneath what skies, on what coast of the world, we are thrown. Driven hither by wind and desolate waves, we wander in a strange land among unknown men. Many a sacrifice shall fall by our hand before thine altars.’
Then Venus: ‘Nay, to no such offerings do I aspire. Tyrian 12[336-374] maidens are wont ever to wear the quiver, to tie the purple buskin high above their ankle. Punic is the realm thou seest, Tyrian the people, and the city of Agenor’s kin; but their borders are Libyan, a race untameable war. Dido sways the sceptre, who flying her brother set sail from the Tyrian town. Long is the tale of crime, long and intricate; but I will follow its argument in brief. Her husband was Sychaeus, wealthiest in lands of the Phoenicians, and loved of her with all-fated passion; to whom with virgin rites her father had given her maidenhood in wedlock. But the kingdom of Tyre was in her brother Pygmalion’s hands, a monster of guilt unparalleled. Between these madness came; the unnatural brother, blind with lust of gold, and reckless of his sister’s love, lays Sychaeus low before the altars with stealthy unsuspected weapon; and for long he hid the deed, and by many a crafty pretence cheated her love-sickness with hollow hope. But in slumber came the very ghost of her unburied husband, lifting up a face pale in wonderful wise; he exposed the cruel altars and his breast stabbed through with steel, and unwove all the blind web of household guilt. Then he counsels hasty flight and abandonment of her country, and to aid her passage discloses treasures long hidden underground, an untold mass of silver and gold. Stirred thereby, Dido gathered a company for flight. All assemble in whom hatred of the tyrant was relentless or terror keen; they seize on ships that chanced to lie ready, and load them with the gold. Pygmalion’s hoarded wealth is borne overseas; a woman guides the enterprise. They came at last to the land where thou wilt descry a city now great, New Carthage, and her rising citadel, and bought ground, called thence Byrsa, as much as a bull’s hide would encircle. But who, I pray, are you, or from what coasts come, or whither hold you your way?’
At her question he, sighing and drawing speech deep from his breast, thus replied:
‘Ah goddess, should I go on retracing from the fountain head, were time free to hear the history of our woes, sooner will the evening star lay day asleep in the closed gates of 13[375-411] heaven. Us, as from ancient Troy (if the name of Troy has haply passed through your ears) we sailed over distant seas, the tempest at his own wild will has driven on the Libyan coast. I am Aeneas the good, who carry in my fleet the household gods I rescued from the enemy; my fame is known high in heaven. I seek Italy my country, and my kin of Jove’s supreme blood. With twenty sail did I climb the Phrygian sea; oracular tokens led me on; my goddess mother pointed the way; scarce seven survive the shattering of wave and wind. Myself unknown, destitute, driven from Europe and Asia, wander over the Libyan wilderness.’
But staying longer complaint, Venus thus broke in on his half-told sorrows:
‘Whoso thou art, not hated I think of the immortals dost thou draw the breath of life, who hast reached the Tyrian city. Only go on, and betake thee hence to the courts of the queen. For I declare to thee thy comrades are restored, thy fleet driven back into safety by the shifted northern gales, except my parents were pretenders, and unavailing the augury they taught me. Behold these twelve swans in joyous line, whom, stooping from the tract of heaven, the bird of Jove routed over the open sky; now in long train they seem either to take the ground or already to look down on the ground they took. As these again disport with clapping wings, and utter their notes as they circle the sky in company, even so do those ships and crews of thine either lie fast in harbour or glide under full sail into the harbour mouth. Only go on, and point thy steps where the pathway leads thee.’
Speaking she turned away, and her neck shone roseate, the immortal tresses on her head breathed the fragrance of deity; her raiment fell flowing down to her feet, and a very goddess was manifest in her tread. He knew her for his mother, and with this cry pursued her flight: ‘Thou also merciless! why mockest thou thy son so often in feigned likeness? why is it forbidden to clasp hand in hand, to hear and to reply in true speech?’ Thus reproaching her he bends his steps towards the city. But Venus girt them in their going with dim 14[412-489] mist, and her deity wrapped them deep in clothing of cloud, that none might descry them, none touch them, or work delay, or ask wherefore they came. Herself she speeds through the sky to Paphos, and joyfully revisits her habitation, where the temple and its hundred altars steam with Sabaean incense, and are fresh with fragrance of chaplets in her worship.
They meantime have hasted along where the pathway points, and now were climbing the hill which hangs enormous over the city, and looks down on its facing towers. Aeneas marvels at the mass of building, pastoral huts once of old, marvels at the gateways and hum of the paved streets. The Tyrians are hot at work to trace the walls, to rear the citadel, and roll up great stones by hand, or to choose a place for their dwelling and enclose it with a furrow. They ordain justice and magistrates, and the august senate. Here some are digging harbours, here others lay the deep foundations for theatres, and hew out of the cliff vast columns, the lofty ornaments of the stage to be: even as bees when summer is fresh over the flowery country ply their task beneath the sun when they lead forth their nation’s grown brood, or when they press the liquid honey and strain their cells with nectarous sweets, or relieve the loaded incomers, or in banded array drive the idle herd of drones far from their folds; the hive is aswarm, and the odorous honey smells sweet of thyme. ‘Happy they whose city already rises!’ cries Aeneas, looking on the town roofs below. Girt in the cloud he passes amid them, wonderful to tell, and mingling with the throng is descried of none.
In the mid town was a grove deep with luxuriant shade, wherein first the Phoenicians, buffeted by wave and whirlwind, dug up the token Queen Juno had appointed, the head of a war-horse: thereby was their race to be through all ages illustrious in war and at ease in living. Here to Juno was Sidonian Dido founding a vast temple, rich with offerings and her godhead’s presence: brazen steps rose on the threshold, the beams were clamped with brass, doors of brass grated on the hinge. First in this grove did a strange chance meet his 15[451-489] steps and allay his fears; first here did Aeneas dare to hope for safety and have fairer trust in his shattered fortunes. For while he closely scans the temple that towers above him, while, awaiting the queen, he inly marvels at the fortune of the city, at her craftsmen’s handiwork and labouring toil, he sees ranged in order the battles of Ilium, that war whose fame was already rumoured through all the world, the sons of Atreus, and Priam, and Achilles whom both found pitiless. He stopped and cried weeping, ‘What land is left, Achates, what tract on earth that is not full of our agony? Behold Priam! Here too is the meed of honour, here are tears over fortune and mortal estate touches the soul. Dismiss thy fears; the fame of this will somehow, I deem, bring salvation.’
So speaks he, and feeds his soul with the painted show, sighing often the while, and his face wet with an abundant flood. For he saw, how warring round the Trojan citadel here the Greeks fled, the men of Troy hard upon them; here the Phrygians, plumed Achilles in his chariot pressing their flight. Not far away he know, weeping, the snowy canvas of Rhesus’ tents, which, betrayed in their first sleep, the blood-stained son of Tydeus has laid desolate in heaped slaughter, and turns the fiery steeds away to the camp ere ever they tasted Trojan fodder or drunk of Xanthus. On another panel Troïlus, his armour flung away in flight — luckless boy, ill-matched to meet Achilles! — is borne along by his horses, and thrown back entangled with his empty chariot, still clutching the reins; his neck and hair are dragged over the ground, and his reversed spear scores the dust. Meanwhile the Ilian women went with disordered tresses to unfriendly Pallas’ temple, and bore the votive garment, mournfully beating their breasts with open hands: the goddess turning away held her eyes fast on the ground. Thrice had Achilles whirled Hector round the walls of Troy, and was selling the lifeless body for gold; then at last he heaves a loud and heart-deep groan, as he descried the spoils, the chariot, the very body of his friend, and Priam outstretching unarmed hands. Himself too he saw and knew joining battle with the foremost Achaeans, knew the Eastern 16[490-528] ranks and swart Memnon’s armour. Penthesilea leads her crescent-shielded Amazonian columns in furious courage with thousands around her, clasping a golden belt under her naked breast, a warrior maiden who dares the battle-shock of men.
While these marvels meet Dardanian Aeneas’ eyes, while he hangs rapt in one long breathless gaze, Dido the queen entered the precinct, beautiful exceedingly, a youthful train thronging round her. Even as on Eurotas’ banks or along the Cynthian ridges Diana wheels the dance, while behind her a thousand mountain nymphs crowd to left and right; she carries quiver on shoulder, and as she moves overtops all her goddesses. Latona’s heart thrills with silent joy; such was Dido, so she joyously advanced amid the throng, urging on the toils of her rising empire. Then in the gates of the goddess, beneath the central vaulting of the temple, she took her seat girt with arms and high enthroned. And now she gave justice and laws to her people, and adjusted or allotted their taskwork in due portion; when suddenly Aeneas sees advancing with a great crowd about them Antheus and Sergestus and brave Cloanthus, and other of his Trojans, whom the black squall had sundered at sea and borne far away on the coast. Dizzy with the shock of joy and fear he and Achates together were on fire with eagerness to clasp their hands; but in confused uncertainty they keep hidden, and clothed in the sheltering cloud wait to espy what fortune befalls them, where they are leaving their fleet ashore, why they now come; for they advanced, chosen men from all the ships, praying for grace, and clamorously sought the temple.
After they entered in, and public speech was granted, aged Ilioneus with placid mien thus began:
‘Queen, to whom Jupiter has given to found this new city, and lay the yoke of justice upon haughty tribes, we beseech thee, we wretched Trojans storm-driven over all the seas, stay the dreadful flames from our ships; spare a guiltless race, and bend a gracious regard on our fortunes. We are not come to deal slaughter through Libyan homes, or to drive plundered spoils to the coast. Such violence sits not in our mind, nor is a 17[529-569] conquered people so insolent. There is a place Greeks name Hesperia an ancient land, mighty in arms and foison of the clod; Oenotrian men dwelt therein; now rumour is that a younger race from their captain’s name have called it Italy. This was our course . . . when Orion rising on us through the cloudrack with sudden surge bore us on blind shoals, and scattered us afar with his boisterous gales and whelming brine over waves and trackless reefs. To these your coasts we have floated, a scanty remnant. What race of men, what land how barbarous soever, allows such a custom for its own? We are debarred a resting-place on the beach; they rise in war, and forbid us to set foot on the brink of the land. If you slight human kinship and mortal arms, yet look for gods who mark innocence and guilt. Aeneas was our king, foremost of men in righteousness, incomparable in goodness as in warlike arms; whom if fate still preserves, if he draws the breath of heaven and lies not yet low in dispiteous gloom, fear we have none; nor mayest thou repent of challenging the contest of service. In Sicilian territory too are cities and arms, and Acestes himself is of the high Trojan blood. Grant us to draw ashore our storm-shattered fleet, to shape forest trees into planks and strip them for oars; so, if to Italy we may steer with our king and comrades found, Italy and Latium shall we gladly seek; but if salvation is clean gone, if the Libyan gulf holds thee, kindest lord of thy Trojans, and Iülus our hope survives no more, seek we then at least the straits of Sicily, the homes open for us whence we sailed hither, and Acestes for our king.’
Thus Ilioneus, and all the Dardanian company murmured assent. . . . Then Dido, lowering her eyes upon them, briefly speaks:
‘Cheer your anxious hearts, O Teucrians; put by your care. Hard fortune in a strange realm forces me to this task, to keep watch and ward on my wide frontiers. Who can be ignorant of the race of Aeneas’ people, who of Troy town and her men and deeds, or of the great war’s consuming fire? Not so dull are the hearts of our Punic wearing, not so far does the sun yoke his steeds from our Tyrian town. Whether your choice 18[570-603] be broad Hesperia, the fields of Saturn’s dominion, or Eryx for your country and Acestes for your king, my escort shall speed you in safety, my arsenals supply you need. Or will you even find rest here with me and share my kingdom? The city I establish is yours; draw your ships ashore; Trojan and Tyrian shall be held by me in even balance. And would that he your king, that Aeneas were here, storm-driven to this same haven! But I will send messengers along the coast, and bid them trace Libya to its limits, if haply he strays shipwrecked in forest or town.’
Stirred by these words brave Achates and lord Aeneas both ere now burned to break through the cloud. Achates first accosts Aeneas: ‘Goddess-born, what purpose now rises in thy spirit? Thou seest that all is safe, that our fleet and comrades are restored. One only is wanting, whom our eyes saw whelmed amid the waves; all else answers to thy mother’s words.’
Scarce had he spoken when the encircling cloud suddenly parts and melts into clear air. Aeneas stood discovered in sheen of brilliant light, like a god in face and shoulders; for his mother’s self had shed on her son the grace of clustered locks, the radiant light of youth, and the lustre of joyous eyes; as when ivory takes beauty under the artist’s hand, or when silver or Parian stone is inlaid in gold. Then breaking in on all with unexpected speech he thus addresses the queen:
‘I whom you seek am here before you, Aeneas of Troy, snatched from the Libyan waves. O thou who alone hast pitied Troy’s untold agonies, thou who with us, a remnant of the Grecian foe, the cup of misfortune drained on land and sea, with us in our utter want dost share thy city and home! to render meet recompense is not possible for us, O Dido, nor for all who scattered over the wide world are left of our Dardanian race. The gods grant thee worthy reward, if their deity turn any regard on goodness, if aught avails justice and conscious purity of soul. What happy ages bore thee? what mighty parents gave birth to a soul like thine? While rivers run into the sea, while the mountain shadows move across their slopes, while the stars feed in the fields of heaven, ever shall thine 19[604-650] honour, thy name and praises endure in whatsoever lands may summon me.’ With these words he advances his right hand to dear Ilioneus, his left to Serestus; then to the rest, brave Gyas and brave Cloanthus.
Dido the Sidonian stood astonished, first at the sight of him, then at his strange fortunes, and then broke into speech:
‘What fate follows thee, goddess-born, through perilous ways? what violence throws thee on this evil coast? Art thou that Aeneas whom Venus the bountiful bore to Dardanian Anchises by the wave of Phrygian Simoïs? And well I remember how Teucer came to Sidon, when exiled from his native land he sought Belus’ aid to gain new realms; Belus my father even then ravaged rich Cyprus and held it under his conquering sway. From that time forth have I known the fall of the Trojan city, known thy name and the Pelasgian princes. Their very foe would extol the Teucrians with highest praises, and boasted himself a branch of the ancient Teucrian stem. Come therefore, O men, and enter our house. Me too has a like fortune driven through many a woe, and willed at last to find my rest in his land. Not ignorant of ill I learn to succour the afflicted.’
With such tale she leads Aeneas into the royal house, and orders sacrifice in the gods’ temples. Therewith she sends to his crews on the shore twenty bulls, an hundred great bristly-backed swine, an hundred fat lambs and their mothers with them, gifts of the day’s gladness. . . . But the palace within is decked with splendour of royal state, and a banquet made ready amid the halls. The coverings are curiously wrought in splendid purple; on the tables is massy silver and deeds of ancestral valour graven in gold, all the long course of history drawn through many a heroic name from the nation’s primal antiquity.
Aeneas — for a father’s affection let not his spirit rest — sends Achates speeding to his ships, to carry this news to Ascanius, and lead him to the town; in Ascanius is fixed all the parent’s loving care. Presents likewise he bids him bring saved from the wreck of Ilium, a mantle stiff with gold embroidery, 20[651-689] and a veil with woven border of yellow acanthus-flower, that once decked Helen of Argos, her mother Leda’s wondrous gift; Helen had borne them from Mycenae, when she sought Troy towers and a lawless bridal; the sceptre too that Ilione, Priam’s eldest daughter, once had worn, a beaded necklace, and a double circlet of jewelled gold. Achates, hasting on his message, bent his way towards the ships.
But in the Cytherean’s breast new arts, new schemes revolve; that Cupid, changed in form and feature, may come in sweet Ascanius’ room, and his gifts kindle the queen to madness and set her inmost sense aflame. Verily she fears the uncertain house, the double-tongued race of Tyre; cruel Juno frets her, and at nightfall her care floods back. Therefore to winged Love she speaks these words:
‘Son, who art my strength and sovereignty, son, who alone scornest the mighty father’s Typhon-quelling shafts, to thee I fly for succour, and sue humbly to thy deity. How Aeneas thy brother is driven about all the sea-coasts by bitter Juno’s malignity, thou knowest, and hast often grieved in our grief. Now Dido the Phoenician holds him stayed with soft words, and I tremble to think how the welcome of Juno’s house may issue; she will not be idle where all hinges on the event. Wherefore I counsel to prevent her wiles and circle the queen with flame, that, unalterable by any deity, she may be held on my side by passionate love of Aeneas. Take now my thought how to do this. The boy prince, my chiefest care, makes ready at his dear father’s summons to go to the Sidonian city, carrying gifts that survive the sea and the flames of Troy. Him will I hide deep asleep in my holy habitation, high on Cythera’s hills or in Idalium, that he may not know nor cross our wiles. Do thou but for one night feign his form, and, boy as thou art, put on the familiar face of a boy; so when in festal cheer, amid royal dainties and streaming wine, Dido shall take thee to her lap, shall fold thee in her clasp and kiss thee close and sweet, thou mayest imbreathe a hidden fire and unsuspected poison.’
Love obeys his dearest mother’s words, lays by his wings, and 21[690-730] walks rejoicingly with Iüus’ tread. But Venus pours gentle dew of slumber on Ascanius’ limbs, and lifts him lulled in her lap to the tall Idalian groves of her deity, where soft amaracus folds him round with the shadowed sweetness of its odorous blossoms. And now, obedient to her words, Cupid went merrily in Achates’ guiding, with the royal gifts for the Tyrians. Already at his coming the queen has taken her seat in the midmost on her golden throne under the splendid tapestries; now lord Aeneas, now too the men of Troy gather, and all recline on the strewn purple. Servants pour water on their hands, deal corn from baskets, and bring napkins with close-cut pile. Fifty handmaids are within, whose task is in their course to keep unfailing store and kindle the household fire. An hundred others, and as many pages all of like age, are charged to load the board with food and array the cups. Therewithal the Tyrians are gathered full in the wide feasting chamber, and take their appointed places on the broidered cushions. They marvel at Aeneas’ gifts, marvel at Iülus, at the god’s burning face and feigned speech, at the mantle and veil broidered with yellow acanthus-flower. Above all the hapless Phoenician, victim to coming doom, cannot satiate her soul, but, stirred alike by the boy and the gifts, she gazes and takes fire. He, when hanging clasped on Aeneas’ neck he had satisfied all the deluded parent’s love, makes his way to the queen; the queen clings to him with her eyes and all her soul, and ever and anon fondles him in her lap, ah, poor Dido! witless how mighty a deity sinks into her breast; but he, mindful of his mother the Acidalian, begins touch by touch to efface Sychaeus, and sows the surprise of a living love in the long-since-unstirred spirit and disaccustomed heart.
Soon as the noise of banquet ceased and the board was cleared, they set down great bowls and enwreathe the wine. The house is filled with hum of voices eddying through the spacious chambers; blazing cressets hang from netted gold, and torches rout the night with flame. Now the queen called for a heavy cup of jewelled gold, and filled it with pure wine; therewith was the use of Belus and all of Belus’ race: then the 22[731-756] hall was silenced. ‘Jupiter,’ she cries, ‘for thou art reputed lawgiver of hospitality, grant that this be a joyful day to the Tyrians and the voyagers from Troy, a day to live in our children’s memory. Bacchus, the giver of gladness, be with us, and gracious Juno; and you, O Tyrians, do full honour to our gathering.’ She spoke, and poured liquid libation on the board, which done, she first herself touched it lightly with her lips, then handed it to Bitias in challenge; he valiantly drained the foaming cup, and drew a deep draught from the brimming gold. The other princes followed. Long-haired Iopas, he whom ancient Atlas taught, chants to his gilded lyre; he sings of the wandering moon and the sun’s travails; whence is the human race and the brute, whence water and fire; of Arcturus, the rainy Hyades, and the twin Ploughing-oxen; why wintry suns make such haste to dip in ocean, or what delay clogs the lingering nights. Tyrians and Trojans after them redouble applause. Therewithal luckless Dido wore the night in changing talk, and drank long draughts of love, asking many a thing of Priam, many a thing of Hector; now in what armour the son of the Morning came; now of what breed were Diomede’s horses; now of the stature of Achilles. ‘Nay, come,’ she cries, ‘tell to us, O guest, from their first beginning the stratagems of the Grecians, thy people’s woes, and thine own wanderings; for this is now the seventh summer that bears thee a wanderer over all lands and seas.’