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. 44-62.
Mixed Metal Sculpture by Serena Thirkell
© Serena Thirkell
(Image used with permission).
[1-44] ‘AFTER it pleased heaven’s lords to overthrow the state of Asia and Priam’s guiltless people, and proud Ilium fell, and Neptunian Troy smokes all along the ground, we are driven by divine omens to seek distant places of exile in waste lands. Right under Antandros and the mountains of Phrygian Ida we build a fleet, uncertain whither the fates carry us or where a resting-place is given, and gather the people together. Scarcely had the first summer set it, when lord Anchises bids us spread our sails to fortune, and weeping I leave the shores and havens of my country, and the plains where once was Troy. I sail to sea an exile, with my comrades and son and the gods of household and state.
‘A land of vast plains lies apart, the home of Mavors, in Thracian tillage, and sometime under warrior Lycurgus’ reign; friendly of old to Troy, and their gods in alliance while our fortune lasted. Hither I pass, and on the winding shore I lay under unfriendly fates the first foundations of a city, and from my own name fashion its name, Aeneadae.
‘I was paying sacrifice to my mother, daughter of Dione, and to all the gods, so to favour the work begun, and slew a shining bull on the shore to the high lord of the heavenly people. Haply there lay a mound hard at hand, crowned with cornel thickets and bristling dense with shafts of myrtle. I drew near; and essaying to tear up the green forest from the soil, that I might cover the altar with leafy boughs, I see a portent ominous and wonderful to tell. For from the first tree whose roots are rent away and broken from the ground, drops of black blood trickle, and gore stains the earth. An icy shudder shakes my limbs, and my blood curdles chill with terror. Yet from another I go on again to tear away a tough 45[32-70] shoot, fully to fathom its secret; yet from another black blood follows out of the bark. With many searchings of heart I prayed the woodland nymphs, and lord Gradivus, who rules in the Getic fields, to make the sight propitious as was meet and lighten the omen. But when I assail a third shaft with a stronger effort, pulling with knees pressed against the sand; shall I speak or be silent? from beneath the mound is heard a pitiable moan, and a voice is uttered to my ears: “Woe’s me, why rendest thou me, Aeneas? spare me at last in the tomb, spare pollution to thine innocent hands. Troy bore me; not alien to thee am I, nor this blood that oozes from the stem. Ah, fly the cruel land, fly the greedy shore! For I am Polydorus; here the iron harvest of weapons has covered my pierced body, and shot up in sharp javelins.” Then indeed, borne down with dubious terror, I was motionless, my hair stood up, and the voice in my throat was choked.
‘This Polydorus once with great weight of gold had hapless Priam sent in secret to the nurture of the Thracian king, when now he was losing trust in the arms of Dardania, and saw his city leaguered round about. The king, when the Teucrian power was broken and fortune withdrew, following Agamemnon’s estate and triumphant arms, severs every bond of duty; murders Polydorus, and lays strong hands on the gold. O accursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not compel human hearts! When the terror left my senses, I lay the divine tokens before the chosen princes of the people, with my father at their head, and demand their judgment. All are of one mind, to leave the guilty land, and abandoning a polluted home, to let the gales waft our fleets. So we bury Polydorus anew, and the earth is heaped high over his mound; altars are reared to his ghost, sad with dusky chaplets and black cypress; and around are the Ilian women with hair unbound in their fashion. We offer bubbling bowls of warm milk and cups of consecrated blood, and lay the spirit to rest in his tomb, and with loud voice utter the last call.
Thereupon, so soon as ocean may be trusted, and the winds leave the seas in quiet, and the soft whispering south wind 46[71-109] calls seaward, my comrades launch their ships and crowd the shores. We put out from harbour, and lands and towns sink away. There lies in mid sea a holy land, most dear to the mother of the Nereids and Neptune of Aegae, which strayed about coast and strand till the grateful Archer god chained it fast from high Myconos and Gyaros, and made it lie immoveable and defy the winds. Hither I steer; and it welcomes my weary crew to the shelter of a safe haven. We disembark and worship Apollo’s town. Anius the king, king at once of the people and priest of Phoebus, his brows garlanded with fillets and consecrated laurel, hastens to meet us, knowing Anchises, his friend of old; we clasp hands in welcome, and enter his palace.
‘I was worshipping the god’s temple, an ancient pile of stone. “Lord of Thymbra, give us an enduring dwelling-place; grant a house and family to thy weary servants and a city to abide: keep Troy’s second fortress, the remnant left of the Grecians and merciless Achilles. Whom follow we? or whither dost thou bid us go, where fix our seat? Grant an omen, O lord, and inspire our minds.” Scarcely had I spoken thus; suddenly all seemed to shake, all the courts and laurels of the god, the whole hill to be stirred round about, and the caldron to moan in the opening sanctuary. We sink low in the ground, and a voice is borne to our ears: “Stubborn race of Dardanus, the same land that bore you by parentage of old shall receive you again on her bountiful breast. Seek out your ancient mother; hence shall the house of Aeneas sway all regions, his children’s children and they who shall be born of them.” Thus Phoebus; and mingled outcries of gladness arose; all ask, what is that city? whither calls Phoebus our wandering, and bids us return? Then my father, unrolling the records of men of old, “Hear, O princes,” says he, “and learn your hopes. In mid ocean lies Crete, the island of high Jove, wherein is mount Ida, the cradle of our race. An hundred great towns are inhabited in that opulent realm; from it our forefather Teucer of old, if I recall the tale aright, sailed to the Rhoetean coasts and chose a place for his kingdom. Not yet was Ilium nor the 47[110-147] towers of Pergama reared; they dwelt in the valley bottoms. Hence came our Lady, haunter of Cybelus, the Corybantic cymbals and the grove of Ida; hence the rites of inviolate secrecy, and the lions yoked under the chariot of their mistress. Up then, and let us follow where divine commandments lead; let us appease the winds, and seek the realm of Gnosus. Nor is it a far journey away. Only be Jupiter favourable, the third day shall bring our fleet to anchor on the Cretan coast.” So spoke he, and slew fit sacrifice on the altars, a bull to Neptune, a bull to thee, fair Apollo, a black sheep to Tempest, a white to the prosperous West winds.
‘Rumour flies that Idomeneus the captain is driven forth of his father’s realm, and the shores of Crete are abandoned, that the house is void of foes and the dwellings lie empty to our hand. We leave the harbour of Ortygia, and fly along the main, by the revel-trod ridges of Naxos, by green Donusa, Olearos and snow-white Paros, and the sea-strewn Cyclades, threading the channels sown thick with isles. The seamen’s clamour rises in emulous dissonance; each cheers his comrade: Seek we Crete and our forefathers. A wind rising astern follows us forth on our way, and we glide at last to the ancient coast of the Curetes. So I set eagerly to work on the walls of my chosen town, and call it Pergamea, and exhort my people, joyful at the name, to cherish their homes and rear the castle buildings. And even now the ships were drawn up on the dry beach; the people were busy in marriages and among their new fields; I was giving statutes and homesteads; when suddenly from a tainted space of sky came, noisome on men’s bodies and pitiable on trees and crops, pestilence and a year of death. They left their sweet lives or dragged themselves on in misery; Sirius scorched the fields into barrenness; the herbage grew dry, and the sickly harvest denied sustenance. My father counsels to remeasure the sea and go again to Phoebus in his Ortygian oracle, to pray for grace and ask what issue he ordains to our exhausted state; whence he bids us search for aid to our woes, whither bend our course.
‘Night fell, and sleep held all things living on the earth. 48[148-186] The sacred images of the gods and the household deities of Phrygia, that I had borne with me from Troy out of the midst of the burning city, seemed to stand before mine eyes as I lay in sleep, clear in the broad light where the full moon poured through latticed windows; then thus addressed me, and with this speech allayed my distresses: “What Apollo has to tell thee when thou dost reach Ortygia, he utters here, and sends us unsought to thy threshold. We who followed thee and thine arms when Dardania went down in fire; we who under thee have traversed on shipboard the swelling sea; we in like wise will exalt to heaven thy children to be, and give empire to their city. Do thou prepare a mighty town for a mighty people, nor draw back from the long wearisome chase. Thou must change thy dwelling. Not to these shores did the god at Delos counsel thee, or Apollo bid thee find rest in Crete. There is a region Greeks name Hesperia, an ancient land, mighty in arms and foison of the clod; Oenotrian men dwell therein; now rumour is that a younger race have called it Italy after their captain’s name. This is our true dwelling place; hence is Dardanus sprung, and lord Iasius, the first source of our race. Up, arise, and tell with good cheer to thine aged parent this plain tale, to seek Corythus and the lands of Ausonia. Jupiter denies thee the Dictaean fields.”
‘Astonished at this vision and divine utterance (nor was that slumber; but openly I seemed to know their countenances, their veiled hair and gracious faces, and therewith a cold sweat broke out all over me) I spring from my bed and raise my voice and upturned hands skyward and pay pure offering on the hearth. The sacrifice done, I joyfully tell Anchises, and relate all in order. He recognises the double descent and twofold parentage, and the later wanderings among ancient lands that had deceived him. Then he speaks: “O son, hard wrought by the destinies of Ilium, Cassandra only foretold me this fortune. Now I recall how she prophesied this destiny to our race, and often cried of Hesperia, often of an Italian realm. But who was to believe that Teucrians should come to Hesperian shores? or whom might 49[187-226] Cassandra then move by prophecy? Yield we to Phoebus, and follow the better way he counsels.” So says he, and we all rejoicingly obey his speech. This dwelling likewise we abandon; and leaving some few behind, spread our sails and run over the waste sea in our hollow plank.
‘After our ships held the high seas, nor any land now appears, the sky all round us and all round us the deep, a dusky shower drew up overhead carrying night and tempest, and the wave shuddered and gloomed. Straightway the winds upturn the main, and great seas rise; we are tossed asunder over the dreary gulf. Storm-clouds enwrap the day, and rainy gloom blots out the sky; out of the bursting clouds fire flashes fast upon fire. Driven from our course, we go wandering on the blind waves. Palinurus himself professes he cannot tell day from night on the sky, nor keep reckoning of the way amid the waters. Three dubious days of blind darkness we wander on the deep, as many nights without a star. Not till the fourth day was land at last seen to rise, discovering distant hills and sending up wreaths of smoke. The sails drop; we swing back to the oars; without delay the sailors strongly toss up the foam, and sweep through the green water. The shores of the Strophades first receive me thus won from the waves, Strophades the Greek name they bear, islands lying in the great Ionian sea, which boding Celaeno and the other Harpies inhabit since Phineus’ house was shut on them, and they fled in terror from the board of old. Than these no deadlier portent or any fiercer plague of divine wrath has issued from the Stygian waters; winged things with maidens’ countenance, bellies dropping filth, and clawed hands and faces ever wan with hunger. . . .
‘When borne hitherward we enter the haven, lo! we see goodly herds of oxen scattered on the plains, and goats flocking untended over the grass. We attack them with the sword, and call the gods and Jove himself to share the spoil. Then we build seats on the winding shore and banquet on the dainty food. But suddenly the Harpies are upon us, swooping awfully from the mountains, and shaking their wings with 50[227-266] loud clangour, plunder the feast, and defile everything with unclean touch, spreading a foul smell, and uttering dreadful cries. Again, in a deep recess under a caverned rock, we array the board and renew the altar fires; again, from their blind ambush in diverse quarters of the sky, the clanging swarm swoop with taloned feet around their prey, defiling the feast with their lips. Then I bid my comrades take up arms, and proclaim war on the accursed race. Even as I bade they do, range their swords in cover among the grass, and hide their shields out of sight. So when they swooped clamorously down along the winding shore, Misenus from his watch-tower on high signals on the hollow brass; my comrades rush in and essay the strange battle, to imbrue their sword in the winged horrors of the sea. But they take no violence on their plumage, nor wounds on their bodies; and soaring into the firmament with rapid flight, leave their foul traces on the spoil they had half consumed. Celaeno alone, prophetess of ill, alights on a towering cliff, and thus breaks forth in speech:
‘ “War is it for your slaughtered oxen and steers cut down, O children of Laomedon, war is it you would declare, and drive the guiltless Harpies from their ancestral kingdom? Take then to heart and fix fast these words of mine; which the Lord omnipotent foretold to Phoebus, Phoebus Apollo to me, I eldest born of the Furies reveal to you. To Italy you point your course, wooing the winds; to Italy you shall go, and enter her harbours unhindered. Yet shall you not wall round your ordained city, ere this murderous outrage on us compel you, in portentous hunger, to eat your trenchers with gnawing teeth.”
‘She spoke, and winged her way back to the shelter of the wood. But my comrades’ blood froze chill with sudden affright; their spirits fell; and no longer with arms, nay with vows and prayers they bid me entreat favour, whether these be goddesses, or winged things boding and foul. And lord Anchises from the beach calls with outspread hands on the mighty gods, ordering fit sacrifices: “Gods, avert their menaces! Gods, turn this woe away, and graciously save the 51[267-303] righteous!” Then he bids pluck the cable from the shore and shake loose the sheets. Southern winds stretch the sails; we scud over the foam-flecked waters, whither wind and pilot called our course. Now wooded Zacynthos appears amid the waves, and Dulichium and Same and the sheer rocks of Neritos. We fly past the cliffs of Ithaca, Laërtes realm, and curse the land, fostress of cruel Ulysses. Soon too Mount Leucata’s cloudy peaks are sighted, and Apollo dreaded of sailors. Hither we steer wearily, and stand in to the little town. The anchor is cast from the prow; the sterns lie aground on the beach.
‘So at last having attained to land beyond our hopes, we purify ourselves in Jove’s worship, and kindle altars of offering, and make the Actian shore gay with the games of Ilium. My comrades strip, and, slippery with oil, exercise their ancestral contests; glad to have got past so many Argive towns, and held on their flight through the surrounding foe. Meanwhile the sun rounds the great circle of the year, and icy winter ruffles the waters with Northern gales. I fix against the doorway a hollow shield of brass, that tall Abas had borne, and mark the story with a verse: These arms Aeneas from the conquering Greeks. Then I bid leave the harbour and sit down at the thwarts; emulously my comrades strike the water, and sweep the seas. Soon we see the cloud-capped Phaeacian towers sink away, skirt the shores of Epirus, and enter the Chaonian haven and approach high Buthrotum town.
‘Here the rumour of a story beyond belief comes on our ears; Helenus son of Priam is reining over Greek towns, master of the bride and sceptre of Pyrrhus the Aeacid; and Andromache has again fallen to a husband of her people. I stood amazed; and my heart kindled with marvellous desire to accost him and learn of so strange a fortune. I advance from the harbour, leaving the fleet and the shore; just when haply Andromache, in a grove before the town, by the waters of a feigned Simoïs, was making oblation of ritual feasts and gifts of sorrow to Hector’s ashes, and calling on his ghost by 52[304-343] an empty mound of green turf with two altars, that she had hallowed for a place of weeping. When she caught sight of me coming, and saw distractedly the encircling arms of Troy, terror-stricken at the vision marvellously shewn, her gaze fixed, and warmth left her frame. She swoons away, and hardly at last speaks after long interval: “Comest thou then a real face, a real messenger to me, goddess-born? livest thou? or if sweet light is fled, ah, where is Hector?” She spoke, and bursting into tears filled all the place with her cries. Hardly do I slip in a few words amid her frenzy, and deeply moved gasp out in broken accents: “I live indeed, I live on through all extremities; doubt not, for real are the forms thou seest . . . Alas! after such an husband, what fate receives they fall? or what worthier fortune revisits Hector’s Andromache? Keepest thou bonds of marriage with Pyrrhus?” She cast down her countenance, and spoke with lowered voice:
‘ “O single in happy eminence that maiden daughter of Priam, sentenced to die under high Troy town at an enemy’s grave, who never bore the shame of the lot, nor came a captive to her victorious master’s bed! We, sailing over strange seas from our burning land, have endured the haughty youthful pride of Achilles’ seed, and borne children in slavery: he thereafter, wooing Leda’s Hermione and a Lacedaemonian marriage, passed me over to Helenus’ keeping, a bondwoman to a bondman. But him Orestes, aflame with passionate desire for his stolen bride, and driven by the furies of crime, catches unguarded and murders at his ancestral altars. At Neoptolemus’ death a share of his realm fell to Helenus’ hands, who named the plains Chaonian, and called all the land Chaonia after Chaon of Troy, and built withal a Pergama and this Ilian citadel on the hills. But to thee how did winds, how fates give passage? or whose divinity landed thee all unwitting to our coasts? what of the boy Ascanius? lives he yet, and draws breath, thy darling, whom Troy even now . . . Yet has the child some thought for his lost mother? does his father Aeneas, does his uncle Hector kindle aught in him of ancient valour and the pride of manhood?”53[344-380]
‘Such words she poured forth weeping, and broke out vainly in long lament; when the hero Helenus son of Priam approaches from the town with a great company, knows us for his kin, and leads us joyfully to his gates, shedding a many tears at every word. I advance and recognise a little Troy, and a copy of the great Pergama, and a dry book with the name of Xanthus, and clasp a Scaean gateway. Therewithal my Teucrians make holiday in the friendly town. The king entertained them in his spacious porches; in the central hall they poured goblets of wine in libation, and held the cups while the feast was served on gold.
‘And now a day and another day is sped; the breezes woo our sails, and the canvas blows out to the swelling south. With these words I accost the prophet, and thus make request:
‘ “Son of Troy, interpreter of the gods, whose sense is open to Phoebus’ influences, his tripods and his Clarian laurels, to stars and tongues of birds and auguries of prosperous flight, tell me now, — for the voice of revelation was all favourable to my course, and all divine influence counselled me to seek Italy and explore remote lands; only Celaeno the Harpy prophesies of strange portents, a horror to tell, and cries out of wrath and bale and foul hunger, — what perils are the first to shun? or in what guidance may I overcome these sore labours?”
‘Hereat Helenus, first suing for divine favour with fit sacrifice of steers, and unbinding from his head the chaplets of consecration, leads me in his hand to thy courts, O Phoebus, thrilled with the fulness of the deity, and then utters these prophetic words from his augural lips:
‘ “Goddess-born, since there is clear assurance that under high omens thou dost voyage through the deep; so the king of the gods allots destiny and unfolds change, this is the circle of ordinance; a few things out of many I will unfold to thee in speech, that so thou mayest more safely traverse the seas of thy sojourn, and find rest in the Ausonian haven; for the destinies forbid Helenus to know, and Juno daughter of 54[381-419] Saturn to utter more. First of all, the Italy thou deemest now nigh, and close at hand, unwitting! the harbours thou wouldst enter, far are they sundered by a long and trackless track through a length of lands. First must the Trinacrian wave season thine oar, and thy ships traverse the salt Ausonian plain, by the infernal pools and Aeaean Circe’s isle, ere thou mayest build thy city in safety on a peaceful land. I will tell thee the token, and do thou keep it close in thine heart. When in thy perplexity, beside the wave of a sequestered river, a great sow shall be discovered lying under the ilex-wood on the brink, with her newborn litter of thirty, couched white on the ground, her white brood about her teats; that shall be the place of the city, that the appointed rest from thy toils. Neither shrink thou at the [bitten] tables that await thee; the fates will find a way, and Apollo aid thy call. These lands moreover, on this nearest border of the Italian shore that our own sea’s tide washes, flee thou: evil Greeks dwell in all their towns. Here the Locrians of Narycos have placed their city, and here Lyctian Idomeneus beset the Sallentine plains with soldiery; here is the town of the Meliboean captain, Philoctetes’ little Petelia propped on her wall. Nay more, when thy fleets have crossed overseas and lie at anchor, when now thou rearest altars and payest vows on the beach, veil thine hair with a purple garment for covering, that no hostile face at thy divine worship may meet thee amid the holy fires and make void the omens. This fashion of sacrifice keep thou, thyself and thy comrades, and let thy children abide taintless in this observance. But when at thy departure the wind has borne thee to the Sicilian coast, and the barred straits of Pelorus open out, steer for the left-hand country and the long circuit of the seas on the left hand; shun the shore and water on thy right. These lands, they say, of old broke asunder, torn and upheaved by vast force (so strong to change is the long antiquity of time), when either country ran on as one; the ocean burst in between, cutting off with its waves the Hesperian from the Sicilian coast, and with narrow tide washes tilth and town along the disparted shore. On the 55[420-458] right Scylla keeps guard, on the left unassuaged Charybdis, who thrice swallows the vast flood sheer down her swirling gulf, and ever again hurls it upward, lashing the sky with water. But Scylla lies prisoned in her cavern’s blind recesses, thrusting forth her mouths and drawing ships upon the rocks. In front her face is human, and her breast fair as a maiden’s to the waist down; behind she is a sea dragon of monstrous frame, with dolphins’ tails joined on her wolf-girt belly. Better to track the goal of Trinacrian Pachynus, for all the delay, and fetch a long circuit in thy course, than once catch sight of misshapen Scylla deep in her dreary cavern, and of the rocks that ring to her sea-coloured hounds. Moreover, if Helenus the seer has aught of foresight or of assurance, if Apollo fills his spirit with the truth, this one thing, goddess-born, one thing for all will I foretell thee, and again and again repeat my counsel: to great Juno’s deity be thy first prayer and worship; to Juno utter thy willing vows, and overcome the mighty mistress with gifts and supplications; so at last thou shalt leave Trinacria behind, and be sped in triumph to the Italian borders. When borne hither thou drawest nigh the Cymaean city, the haunted lakes and rustling woods of Avernus, thou shalt behold the raving prophetess who deep in the rock chants of fate, and marks down her words on leaves. What verses she writes thereon, the maiden sorts into order and shuts behind her in the cave; they stay in their places unstirred and quit not their rank. But when at the turn of the hinge the light wind from the doorway stirs them, and disarranges the delicate foliage, never after does she trouble to capture them as they flutter about the hollow rock, nor restore their places or join the verses; men depart without counsel, and hate the Sibyl’s dwelling. Here let no waste in delay be of such account to thee (though thy company chide, and the passage call thy sails strongly to the deep, and thou mayest fill out their folds to thy desire) that thou do not approach the prophetess, and plead with prayers that she herself utter her oracles and deign to loose the voice from her lips. The nations of Italy and the wars to come, and the 56[459-500] fashion whereby every toil may be avoided or endured, she shall unfold to thee, and grant her worshipper prosperous passage. Thus far is our voice allowed to counsel thee: go thy way, and exalt Troy to heaven by thy deeds.”
‘This the seer uttered with friendly lips; then orders gifts to be carried to my ships, of heavy gold and carved ivory, and loads the hulls with massy silver and caldrons of Dodona, a mail coat triple-woven with links of gold, and a helmet splendid with spike and tressed plumes, the armour of Neoptolemus. My father too has his gifts. Horses besides he brings, and grooms . . . fills up the tale of our oarsmen, and equips my crews with arms.
‘Meanwhile Anchises bade the fleet set their sails, that the fair wind might meet no delay. Him Phoebus’ interpreter accosts with high courtesy: “Anchises, honoured with the splendour of Venus’ espousal, the gods’ charge, twice rescued from the fallen towers of Troy, lo! the land of Ausonia is before thee; sail thou and seize it. And yet needs must thou glide past it on the sea; far away lies the quarter of Ausonia that Apollo discloses. Go,” he continues, “happy in thy son’s affection: why do I run on further, and delay the rising winds in talk?” Andromache too, sad at this last parting, brings figured raiment with woof of gold, and a Phrygian scarf for Ascanius, and falls not short in courtesy, loading him with gifts from the loom. “Take these too,” so says she, “my child, to be memorials to thee of my hands, and testify long hence the love of Andromache wife of Hector. Take these last gifts of thy kinsfolk, O sole surviving likeness to me of my own Astyanax! Such was he, in eyes and hands and features; and now his equal age were growing into manhood like thine.”
‘To them as I departed I spoke with starting tears: “Live happily, you whose fortunes have reached their goal! We are summoned ever from fate to fate. For you rest is won, and no ocean floor to furrow, no ever-retreating Ausonian fields to pursue. You see a pictured Xanthus, and a Troy your own hands have built; with better omens, I pray, and to be less open to the Greeks. If ever I enter Tiber and Tiber’s bordering 57[501-541] fields, and see a city granted to my nation, then both these kindred towns and allied peoples, which have the same Dardanus for founder, and whose story is one, will our hearts make a single Troy, Hesperia one with Epirus. Let that charge await our posterity.”
‘We put out to sea, keeping the Ceraunian mountains close at hand, whence is the shortest passage and seaway to Italy. The sun sets meanwhile, and the dusky hills grow dim. We choose a place, and fling ourselves on the lap of earth at the water’s edge, and, allotting the oars, spread ourselves on the dry beach for refreshment: the dew of slumber falls on our weary limbs. Not yet had Night driven of the Hours climbed her mid arch; Palinurus rises alert from his couch, explores all the winds, and listens to catch a breeze; he marks the constellations gliding together through the silent sky, Arcturus, the rainy Hyades and the twin Oxen, and scans Orion in his armour of gold. When he sees the clear sky quite unbroken, he gives from the stern his shrill signal; we disencamp and explore the way, and spread the wings of our sails. And now reddening Dawn had chased away the stars, when we descry afar dim hills and low line of Italy. Achates first raises the cry of Italy; and with joyous shouts my comrades salute Italy. Then lord Anchises enwreathed a great bowl and filled it up with wine; and called on the gods, standing on the high stern . . . “Gods sovereign over sea and land and weather! bring wind to ease our way, and breathe favourably.” The breezes freshen at his prayer, and now a harbour opens out nearer at hand, and a temple appears on the Fort of Minerva. My comrades furl the sails and swing the prows to the shore. The harbour is scooped into a bow by the Eastern flood; reefs run out and foam with the salt spray; itself it lies concealed; turreted walls of rock spread their arms on either hand, and the temple retreats from the beach. Here, for a first augury, four horses of snowy whiteness are grazing abroad on the grassy plain. And lord Anchises: “War dost thou carry, land of our sojourn; horses are armed in war, and menace of war is in this herd. But yet these same creatures are wont in time to 58[542-580] enter harness, and carry yoke and bit in concord; there is hope of peace too,” says he. Then we pray to the holy deity, Pallas of the clangorous arms, the first to welcome our cheers. And before the altars we veil our heads in Phrygian garments, and duly, after the counsel Helenus had urged deepest on us, pay the bidden burnt-sacrifice to Juno of Argos.
‘Without delay, once our vows are fully paid, we round to the arms of our sailyards and leave the dwellings and untrusted fields of the Grecian people. Next is descried the bay of Tarentum, town, if rumour is true, of Hercules. Over against it the goddess of Lacinium rears her head, with the towers of Caulon, and Scylaceum wrecker of ships. Then Trinacrian Aetna is descried in the distance rising from the waves, and we hear from afar a great roaring of the sea on beaten rocks, and broken noises by the shore: the channels boil up, and the surge churns with sand. And lord Anchises: “Of a surety here is that Charybdis; of these cliffs, these awful rocks did Helenus prophesy. Out, O comrades, and rise together to the oars.” Even as bidden they do; and first Palinurus swung the gurgling prow leftward through the water; to the left all our squadron bent with oar and wind. We are lifted skyward on the arching wave, and again sunk deep into the nether world as the water is sucked away. Thrice amid their rocky caverns the cliffs uttered a cry; thrice we see the foam flung out, and the stars through a dripping veil. Meanwhile the wind falls with sundown; and weary and ignorant of the way we glide on to the Cyclopes’ coast.
‘There lies a harbour, unstirred by the winds’ entrance, and large; but nigh it Aetna thunders awfully in wrack, and ever and again hurls a black cloud into the sky, smoking with boiling pitch and white hot embers, and heaves balls of flame flickering up to the stars: ever and again vomits out on high crags from the torn entrails of the mountain, tosses up masses of molten rock with a groan, and boils forth from the depth below. Rumour is that this mass weighs down the body of Enceladus, half-consumed by the thunderbolt, and mighty Aetna laid over him suspires the flame that 59[581-618] bursts from her furnaces; and so often as he changes his weary side, all Trinacria shudders and moans, veiling the sky in smoke. That night we spend in cover of the forest among portentous horrors, and see not what causes the sound. For neither did the stars show their fires, nor was the vault of constellated sky clear; but vapours blotted heaven, and the moon was held in a storm-cloud through dead of night.
‘And now the morrow was rising in the early east, and the dewy darkness rolled away from the sky by Dawn, when sudden out of the forest advances a human shape strange and unknown, worn with uttermost hunger and pitiably attired, and stretches entreating hands towards the shore. We turn to look. Filthy and wretched, with shaggy beard and a covering pinned together with thorns, he was yet a Greek, and had been sent of old to Troy in his ancestral armour. And he, when he saw afar the Dardanian habits and arms of Troy, hung back a little in terror at the sight, and stayed his steps; then ran headlong to the shore with weeping and prayers: “By the heavens I beseech you, by the powers above and this luminous sky that gives us breath, take me up, O Trojans, carry me away to any land soever, and it will be enough. I know I am one out of the Grecian fleets, I confess I warred against the household gods of Ilium; for that, if our wrong and guilt is so great, throw me piecemeal on the flood or plunge me in the waste sea. If I perish, gladly will I perish at human hands.” He ended; and clung clasping our knees and grovelling on his own. We encourage him to tell who he is and of what blood born, and to reveal how Fortune pursues him since then. Lord Anchises after little delay gives him his hand, and strengthens his courage by visible pledge. At last, laying aside his terror, he speaks thus:
‘ “I am from an Ithacan home, Achemenides by name, set out for Troy in luckless Ulysses’ company; poor was my father Adamastus, and would God fortune had stayed at that! Here my comrades abandoned me in the Cyclops’ vast cave, mindless of me while they hurry away from the savage gates. 60[619-659] It is a house of gore and blood-stained feasts, dim and huge within. Himself he is great of stature and knocks at the lofty sky, (gods, take away a curse like this from earth!) to none gracious in aspect or courteous of speech. He feeds on the flesh and dark blood of wretched men. I myself saw, when he caught the bodies of two of us with his great hand, and lying back in the middle of the cave crushed them on the rock, and the courts splashed and swam with gore; I saw when he champed the flesh oozing with dark clots of blood, and the warm limbs quivered under his teeth. Yet not unavenged; Ulysses brooked not this, nor in such straits did the Ithacan forget himself. For so soon as he, gorged with his feast and buried in wine, lay with bent neck sprawling huge over the cave, in his sleep vomiting gore and gobbets mixed with wine and blood, we, with prayers to the great gods and with parts allotted, pour at once all round him, and pierce with a sharp weapon the huge eye that lay sunk single under his savage brow, in fashion of an Argolic shield or the lamp of Phoebus; and at last we exultingly avenge the ghosts of our comrades. But fly, O wretched men, fly and pluck the cable from the beach. . . . For even in the shape and stature of Polyphemus, when he shuts his fleeced flocks and drains their udders in the cave’s covert, an hundred other horrible Cyclopes haunt these winding shores and stray on the mountain heights. Thrice now does the horned moon fill out her light, while I linger in life among desolate lairs and haunts of wild beasts in the woodland, and from a rock survey the giant Cyclopes and shudder at their cries and echoing feet. The boughs yield a miserable sustenance, berries and stony sloes, and plants torn up by the root feed me. Sweeping all the view, I at last espied this fleet standing in to shore. On it, whatsoever it were, I cast myself; it is enough to have escaped the accursed tribe. Do you rather destroy this life by what death you will.”
‘Scarcely had he spoken thus, when on the mountain top we see shepherding his flocks a vast moving mass, Polyphemus himself seeking the shores he knew, a horror ominous, shapeless, huge, bereft of sight. A lopped pine guides his hand and 61[660-699] steadies his footsteps. His fleeced sheep attend him, this his single delight and solace in suffering. . . . After he has touched the deep flood and come to the sea, he washes in it the blood that oozes from his eye-socket, grinding his teeth with groans; and now he strides through the sea up to his middle, nor yet does the wave wet his towering sides. We hurry far away in quickened flight, taking on board the suppliant who had deserved so well; and silently cut the cable, and bending forward upturn the sea with emulous oars. He heard, and turned his steps towards the echoing sound. But when he may in no wise reach his hand to us, nor can fathom the Ionian waves in pursuit, he raises a vast cry, at which the sea and all his waves shuddered, and the deep land of Italy was startled, and Aetna’s vaulted caverns moaned. But the tribe of the Cyclopes, roused from the high wooded hills, run to the harbour and fill the shore. We descry the Aetnean brotherhood standing impotent with scowling eye, their stately heads up to heaven, a dreadful consistory; even as on a mountain summit stand oaks high in air or coned cypresses, a high forest of Jove or covert of Diana. Sharp fear urges us to shake out the sheets in reckless haste, and spread our sails to the favouring wind. Yet Helenus’ commands counsel that our course keep not by Scylla and Charybdis, so narrow the remove from death between either way. We are resolved to back our sails, when lo! from the narrow fastness of Pelorus the north wind comes down and reaches us. I sail past Pantagias’ mouth in the live rock, the Megarian bay, and low-lying Thapsus. Such names did Achemenides, of luckless Ulysses’ company, point out as he retraced his wanderings along the returning shores.
‘Stretched in front of a bay of Sicily lies an islet over against wavebeat Plemyrium; they of old called it Ortygia. Hither Alpheus the river of Elis, such is the tale, has cloven a secret passage beneath the sea, and now through thy well-head, Arethusa, mingles with the Sicilian waves. We adore as bidden the great deities of the ground; and thence I cross the fertile soil of Helorus in the marsh. Next we graze the high 62[700-718] reefs and jutting rocks of Pachynus; and far off appears Camarina, forbidden for ever by oracles to move, and the Geloan plains, and vast Gela named after its river. Then Acragas on the steep, once the breeder of noble horses, displays its massive walls in the distance; and with granted breeze I leave thee behind, palm-girt Selinus, and thread the difficult shoals and blind reefs of Lilybaeum. Thereon Drepanum receives me in its haven and joyless border. Here, driven over so many tempestuous seas, I lose, alas! the solace of every care and chance, Anchises my sire. Here thou, dearest father, abandonest me in weariness, alas! rescued in vain from peril and doom. Not Helenus the prophet, though he counselled of many a terror, not boding Celaeno foretold me of this grief. This was the last toil, this the goal of the long ways; thence it was I had departed when a god landed me on your coasts.”
Thus lord Aeneas with all attent retold alone the divine doom and the history of his goings. At last he was hushed, and here ending took his rest.
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