From The Bibliophile Library of Literature, Art, & Rare Manuscripts, Vol. IV, compiled and arranged by Nathan Haskell Dole, Forrest Morgan, and Caroline Ticknor; The International Bibliophile Society, New York-London; 1904; pp. 1076-1098.
[“PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS MARO, the great Roman epic poet, was born near Mantua, B.C. 70, and finely educated. Stripped of his estate in Augustus’ confiscations, he regained it, like Horace, through Mæcenas’ influence; became the friend of both, and also of Augustus, with whom he was traveling when he died, B.C. 19. His works are the “Eclogues” or “Bucolics,” modeled on Theocritus’ idyls, but only part of them pastorals; the “Georgics,” a poetical treatise on practical agriculture which made farming the fashionable “fad” for a time; and the “Æneid,” an epic of the adventures of Æneas, the mythical founder of Rome, — imitative of Homer’s form and style .]
[“SIR CHARLES SYNGE CHRISTOPHER BOWEN: An English judge and translator; born at Gloucestershire, England, in 1835; died April 9, 1894. he was educated at Rugby, and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he took three of the great university prizes. Called to the bar in 1861, he became judge of the Queen’s Bench in 1879, and lord justice in the Court of Appeal in 1882. His literary reputation rests upon a translation into English verse of Virgil’s “Eclogues” and the first six books of the “Æneid.”]
WEEPING, he spake, then gave to his flying vessels the rein
Gliding at last on the wind to Eubœan Cumæ’s plain.
Seaward the bows are pointed; an anchor’s hook to the land
Fastens the ships, and the sterns in a long line border the strand.
Troy’s young warriors leap with exultant hearts from the bark
Forth upon Italy’s soil. Some look for the fiery spark
Hid in the secret veins of the flint; some scour the profound
Forest, and wild beast’s cover, and show where waters abound.
While the devout Æneas a temple seeks on the height,
Phœbus’s mountain throne, and a cavern vast as the night,
Where in mysterious darkness the terrible Sibyl lies,
Maiden upon whose spirit the Delian seer of the skies
Breathes his immortal thought, and the knowledge of doom untold.
Soon they arrive at Diana’s grove and her palace of gold.
1077 Flying, as legends tell, from the thraldom of Minos the king,
Dædalus, trusting the heavens, set forth on adventurous wing,
Sailed for the ice-bound north by a way unimagined and strange;
Airily poising at last upon this Chalcidian range,
Here first touching the land, to Apollo hallowed his light
Oarage of wings; and a temple colossal built on the site.
Graved on the doors is the death of Androgeos; yonder in turn
Atttica’s land, condemned each year in atonement to yield
Seven of her children; the lots are drawn, still standing the urn;
Rising from midmost ocean beyond them, Crete is revealed.
Here is the gloomy romance of the bull, and Pasiphae’s blind
Fantasy. Here the twiformed Minotaur, two bodies combined,
Record of lawless love; there, marvelous labor, were shaped
Palace and winding mazes, from whence no feet had escaped,
Had not Dædalus pitied the lorn princess and her love,
And of himself unentangled the woven trick of the grove,
Guiding her savior’s steps with a thread. Thee, too, he had wrought,
Icarus, into the picture, had grief not baffled the thought.
Twice he essayed upon gold to engrave thine agony, twice
Faltered the hands of the father, and fell. Each noble device
Long their eyes had perused, but Achates now is in sight;
With him the priestess comes, dread servant of Phœbus and Night,
Daughter of Glaucus the seer. To the Trojan monarch she cries:
“’Tis not an hour, Æneas, for feasting yonder thine eyes.
Better to slaughter herds unyoked seven oxen and seven
Ewes of the yester year, as a choice oblation to Heaven.”
Then, as the ministers hasten the rites ordained to prepare,
Into the depth of the temple she bids Troy’s children repair.
There is a cavern hewn in the mountain’s enormous side,
Reached by a hundred gates, and a hundred passages wide.
Thence roll voices a hundred, the seer’s revelations divine.
When by the doors they stood: “’Tis the hour to inquire of the shrine,”
Cried the illumined maiden: “The God ! lo, here is the God !”
Even as she spake, while still on the threshold only she trod,
Sudden her countenance altered, her cheek grew pale as in death,
Loose and disordered her fair hair flew, heart panted for breath,
Bosom with madness heaved. More lofty than woman’s her frame,
More than mortal her voice, as the presence of Deity came
Nearer upon her. “And art thou slow to petition the shrine,
Troy’s Æneas a laggard at prayer ? — naught else will incline
This charmed temple,” she cries, “its colossal doors to unclose.”
Then stands silent. The veteran bones of the Teucrians froze,
Chilled with terror, and prayer from the heart of the monarch arose:
“Phœbus ! compassionate ever to Troy in the hour of her woe,
1078 Who against haughty Achilles of old didst proper the bow
Bent by the Dardan Paris, beneath auspices led
Many a sea I have traveled around great continents spread,
Far as Massylian tribes and the quicksands lining their plain.
Italy’s vanishing regions, behold, thy people attain !
Here may the evil fate of the Trojans leave us at last !
Spare, for ’tis mercy’s hour, this remnant of Pergama’s race,
Gods and goddesses all, whose jealous eyes in the past
Looked upon Ilion’s glories ! From thee I implore one grace,
Prophet of Heaven, dark seer of the future. Grant us the debt,
Long by the destinies owed us — a kingdom promised of yore —
Foot upon Latium’s borders at length may Teucrians set,
Bearing their household gods by the tempests tossed evermore !
I, their votary grateful, in Phœbus’ and Trivia’s praise
Hewn from the solid marble a glorious fane will raise,
Call by Apollo’s name his festival. Also for thee
Shall in our future kingdom a shrine imperial be.
There shall thine own dark sayings, the mystic fates of our line,
Gracious seer, be installed, and a priesthood chosen be thine.
Only intrust not to leaves thy prophecy, maiden divine,
Lest in disorder, the light winds’ sport, they be driven on the air;
Chant thyself the prediction.” His lips here ended from prayer.
Still untamed of Apollo, to stature terrible grown,
Raves the prophetic maid in her cavern, fain to dethrone
This great God who inspires her — the more with bit doth he school
Fiery mouth and rebellious bosom and mold her to rule.
Wide on a sudden the hundred enormous mouths of her lair
Fly, of themselves unclosing, and answer floats on the air:
“Thou who hast ended at last with the dangers dread of the sea,
Greater on land still wait thee. Lavinium’s kingdom afar
Teucria’s children shall find — of that ancient terror be free —
Yet shall repent to have found it. I see grim visions of war,
Tiber foaming with blood. Once more shall a Simois flow,
Xanthus be there once more, and the tents of a Dorian foe.
Yonder in Latium rises a second Achilles, and born,
Even as the first, of a goddess; and neither at night nor at morn
Ever shall Juno leave thee, the Trojans’ enemy sworn,
While thou pleadest for succor, besieging in misery sore
Each far people and city around Ausonia’s shore !
So shall a bride from the stranger again thy nation destroy,
Once more foreign espousals a great woe bring upon Troy.
Yield not thou to disasters, confront them boldly, and more
Boldly — as destiny lets thee — and first from a town of the Greek,
Marvel to say, shall be shown thee the way salvation to seek.”
1079 So from her awful shrine the Cumæan Sibyl intones
Fate’s revelation dread, till the cavern echoes her groans,
Robing her truths in gloom. So shakes, as she fumes in unrest,
Phœbus his bridle reins, while plunging the spur in her breast,
After her madness ceased and her lips of frenzy were still,
Thus Æneas replied: “No vision, lady, of ill
Comes unimagined now to the exile here at thy door;
Each has he counted and traversed already in spirit before.
One sole grace I entreat — since these be the gates, it is said,
Sacred to Death and the twilight lake by the Acheron fed —
Leave to revisit the face of the sire I have loved so well;
Teach me the way thyself, and unlock yon portals of hell.
This was the sire I bore on my shoulders forth from the flame,
Brought through a thousand arrows, that vexed our flight as we came,
Safe from the ranks of the foeman. He shared my journey with me;
Weak as he was, braved ocean, the threats of the sky and of sea;
More than the common strength or the common fate of the old.
’Tis at his bidding, his earnest prayer long since, I am fain
Thus in petition to seek thy gate. With compassion behold
Father and son, blest maid, for untold thy power, nor in vain
Over the groves of Avernus hath Hecate set thee to reign.
Grace was to Orpheus granted, his bride from the shadows to bring,
Strong in the power of his lyre and its sounding Thracian string.
Still in his turn dies Pollux, a brother’s life to redeem,
Travels and ever retravels the journey. Why of the great
Theseus tell thee, or why of Alcides mighty relate ?
My race, even as theirs, is descended from Jove the supreme.”
So evermore he repeated, and still to the altar he clung.
She in reply: “Great Hero, of heaven’s high lineage sprung,
Son of Anchises of Troy, the descent to Avernus is light;
Death’s dark gates stand open, alike through the day and the night.
But to retrace thy steps and emerge to the sunlight above,
This is the toil and the trouble. A few, whom Jupiter’s love
Favors, or whose bright valor has raised them thence to the skies,
Born of the gods, have succeeded. On this side wilderness lies,
Black Cocytus around it his twilight waters entwines.
Still, if such thy desire, and if thus thy spirit inclines
Twice to adventure the Stygian lake, twice look on the dark
Tartarus, and it delights thee on quest so wild to embark,
Learn what first to perform. On a tree no sun that receives
Hides one branch all golden — its yielding stem and its leaves —
Sacred esteemed to the queen of the shadows. Forests of night
Cover it, sloping valleys inclose it around from the light.
Subterranean gloom and its mysteries only may be
Reached by the mortal who gathers the golden growth of the tree.
1080 This for her tribute chosen the lovely Proserpina needs
Aye to be brought her. The one bough broken, another succeeds,
Also of gold, and the spray bears leaf of a metal as bright.
Deep in the forest explore, and if once thou find it aright,
Pluck it; the branch will follow, of its own grace and design,
Should thy destiny call thee; or else no labor of thine
Ever will move it, nor ever thy hatchet conquer its might.
Yea, and the corpse of a friend, although thou know’st not,” she saith,
“Lies upon shore unburied, and taints thy vessels with death,
While thou tarriest here at the gate thy future to know.
Carry him home to his rest, in the grave his body bestow;
Death’s black cattle provide for the altar; give to the shades
This first lustral oblation, and so on the Stygian glades,
Even on realms where never the feet of the living come,
Thou shalt finally look.” Then, closing her lips, she was dumb.
Sadly, with downcast eyes, Æneas turns to depart,
Leaving the cave; on the issues dark foretold by her words
Pondering much in his bosom. Achates, trusty of heart,
Paces beside him, plunged in a musing deep as his lord’s.
Many the troubled thoughts than in ranging talk they pursue —
Who is the dead companion the priestess spake of, and who
Yonder unburied lies? And advancing thither, they find
High on the beach Misenus, to death untimely consigned,
Æolus-born Misenus, than whom no trumpeter bright
Blew more bravely for battle, or fired with music the fight;
Comrade of Hector great, who at Hector’s side to the war
Marched, by his soldier’s spear and his trumpet known from afar.
After triumphant Achilles his master slew with the sword,
Troy’s Æneas he followed, a no less glorious lord.
Now while over the deep he was sounding his clarion sweet,
In wild folly defying the Ocean Gods to compete,
Envious Triton, lo ! — if the legend merit belief —
Drowned him, before he was ware, in the foaming waves of a reef.
All now, gathered around him, uplift their voices in grief,
Foremost the faithful chieftain. Anon to their tasks they hie;
Speed, though weeping sorely, the Sibyl’s mission, and vie
Building the funeral altar with giant trees to the sky.
Into the forest primeval, the beasts’ dark cover, they go;
Pine trees fall with a crash and the holm oaks ring to the blow.
Ash-hewn timbers and fissile oaks with the wedges are rent;
Massive ash trees roll from the mountains down the descent.
Foremost strides Æneas, as ever, guiding the way,
Cheering his men, and equipped with a forester’s ax as they.
1081 Long in his own sad thoughts he is plunged — then raising his eyes
Over the measureless forest, uplifts his prayer to the skies.
“O that in this great thicket the golden branch of the tree
Might be revealed ! For in all she related yonder of thee
Ever, alas ! Misenus, the prophetess spake too true.”
Lo ! at the words twain doves came down through the heavenly blue,
And at his side on the green turf lighted. The hero of Troy
Knows the celestial birds of his mother, and cries with joy:
“Guide us, if ever a way be, and cleaving swiftly the skies,
Wing for the grove where in shadow a golden branch overlies
One all-favored spot. Nor do thou in an hour that is dark,
Mother, desert they son !” So saying, he pauses to mark
What be the omens, and whither the birds go. They in their flight,
Soaring, and lighting to feed, keep still in the Teucrians’ sight.
When they have come to the valley of baleful Avernus, the pair
Shooting aloft, float up through a bright and radiant air;
Both on a tree they have chosen at length their pinions fold
Through whose branches of green is a wavering glimmer of gold.
As in the winter forest a mistletoe often ye see
Bearing a foliage young, no growth of its own oak tree,
Circling the rounded boles with a leafage of yellowing bloom;
Such was the branching gold, as it shone through the holm oak’s gloom,
So in the light wind rustled the foil. Æneas with bold
Ardor assails it, breaks from the tree the reluctant gold;
Then to the Sibyl’s palace in triumph carries it home.
Weeping for dead Misenus the Trojan host on the shore
Now to his thankless ashes the funeral offerings bore.
Rich with the resinous pine and in oak-hewn timbers cased
Rises a giant pyre, in its sides dark foliage laced;
Planted in front stand branches of cypress, gifts to the grave;
Over it hang for adornment the gleaming arms of the brave.
Some heat fountain water, the bubbling caldron prepare;
Clay-cold limbs then wash and anoint. Wails sound on the air.
Dirge at an end, the departed is placed on the funeral bed;
O’er him they fling bright raiment, the wonted attire of the dead.
Others shoulder the ponderous bier, sad service of death;
Some in ancestral fashion the lighted torches beneath
Hold with averted eyes. High blaze on the burning pyre
Incense, funeral viands, and oil outpoured on the fire.
After the ashes have fallen and flames are leaping no more,
Wine on the smouldering relics and cinders thirsty they pour.
Next in a vessel of brass Corynæus gathers the bones,
Thrice bears pure spring water around Troy’s sorrowing sons,
1082 Sprinkles it o’er them in dew, from the bough of an olive in bloom,
Gives lustration to all, then bids farewell to the tomb.
But the devout Æneas a vast grave builds on the shore,
Places upon it the warrior’s arms, his trumpet and oar,
Close to the sky-capped hill that from hence Misenus is hight,
Keeping through endless ages his glorious memory bright.
Finished the task, to accomplish the Sibyl’s behest they sped.
There was a cavern deep, — with a yawning throat and a dread, —
Shingly and rough, by a somber lake and a forest of night
Sheltered from all approach. No bird wings safely her flight
Over its face, — from the gorges exhales such poisonous breath,
Rising aloft to the skies in a vapor laden with death.
Here four sable oxen the priestess ranges in line;
Empties on every forehead a brimming beaker of wine;
Casts on the altar fire, as the first fruits due to the dead,
Hair from between both horns of the victim, plucked from its head;
Loudly on Hecate calls, o’er heaven and the shadows supreme.
Others handle the knife, and receive, as it trickles, the stream
Warm from the throat in a bowl. Æneas with falchion bright
Slays himself one lamb of a sable fleece to the fell
Mother and queen of the Furies, and great Earth, sister of Night,
Killing a barren heifer to thee, thou mistress of Hell.
Next for the Stygian monarch a twilight altar he lays;
Flings on the flames whole bodies of bulls unquartered to blaze,
Pours rich oil from above upon entrails burning and bright.
When, at the earliest beam of the sun, and the dawn of the light,
Under his feet earth mutters, the mountain forests around
Seem to be trembling, and hell dogs bay from the shadow profound,
Night’s dark goddess approaching.
“Avaunt, ye unhallowed, avaunt !”
Thunders the priestess. “Away from a grove that is Hecate’s haunt.
Make for the pathway, thou, and unsheath thy sword; thou hast need,
Now, Æneas, of all thy spirit and valor indeed !”
When she had spoken, she plunged in her madness into the cave;
Not less swiftly he follows, with feet unswerving and brave.
Gods ! whose realm is the spirit world, mute shadows of might,
Chaos, and Phlegethon thou, broad kingdoms of silence and night,
Leave vouchsafe me to tell the tradition, grace to exhume
Things in the deep earth hidden and drowned in the hollows of gloom.
So unseen in the darkness they went by night on the road
Down the unpeopled kingdom of Death, and his ghostly abode,
1083 As men journey in woods when a doubtful moon has bestowed
Little of light, when Jove has concealed in shadow the heaven,
When from the world by somber Night Day’s colors are driven.
Facing the porch itself, in the jaws of the gate of the dead,
Grief, and Remorse the Avenger, have built their terrible bed.
There dwells pale-cheeked Sickness, and Old Age sorrowful-eyed,
Fear, and the temptress Famine, and Hideous Want at her side,
Grim and tremendous shapes. There Death with Labor is joined,
Sleep, half-brother of Death, and the Joys unclean of the mind.
Murderous Battle is camped on the threshold. Fronting the door
The iron cells of the Furies, and frenzied Strife, evermore
Wreathing her serpent tresses with garlands dabbled in gore.
Thick with gloom, an enormous elm in the midst of the way
Spreads its time-worn branches and limbs: false Dreams, we are told,
Make their abode thereunder, and nestle to every spray.
Many and various monsters, withal, wild things to behold,
Lie in the gateway stabled — the awful Centaurs of old;
Scyllas with forms half-human; and there with his hundred hands
Dwells Briareus; and the shapeless Hydra of Lerna’s lands,
Horribly yelling; in flaming mail the Chimæra arrayed;
Gorgons and Harpies, and one three-bodied and terrible Shade.
Clasping his sword, Æneas in sudden panic of fear
Points its blade at the legion; and had not the Heaven-taught seer
Warned him the phantoms are thin apparitions, clothed in a vain
Semblance of form, but in substance a fluttering bodiless train,
Idly his weapon had slashed the advancing shadows in twain.
Here is the path to the river of Acheron, ever by mud
Clouded, forever seething with wild, insatiate flood
Downward, and into Cocytus disgorging its endless sands.
Sentinel over its waters an awful ferryman stands.
Charon, grisly and rugged; a growth of centuries lies
Hoary and rough on his chin; as a flaming furnace his eyes.
Hung in a loop from his shoulders a foul scarf round him he ties;
Now with his pole impelling the boat, now trimming the sail,
Urging his steel-gray bark with its burden of corpses pale,
Aged in years, but a god’s old age is unwithered and hale.
Down to the bank of the river the streaming shadows repair,
Mothers, and men, and the lifeless bodies of those who were
Generous heroes, boys that are beardless, maidens unwed,
Youths to the death pile carried before their fathers were dead.
1084 Many as forest leaves that in autumn’s earliest frost
Flutter and fall, or as birds that in bevies flock to the coast
Over the sea’s deep hollow, when winter, chilly and frore,
Drives them across far waters to land on a sunnier shore.
Yonder they stood, each praying for earliest passage, and each
Eagerly straining his hands in desire of the opposite beach.
Such as he lists to the vessel the boatmen gloomy receives,
Far from the sands of the river the rest he chases and leaves.
Moved at the wild uproar, Æneas, with riveted eyes;
“Why thus crowd to the water the shadows, priestess?” he cries;
“What do the spirits desire? And why go some from the shore
Sadly away, while others are ferried the dark stream o’er?”
Briefly the aged priestess again made answer and spake:
“Son of Anchises, sprung most surely from gods upon high,
Yon is the deep Cocytus marsh, and the Stygian lake.
Even the Immortals fear to attest its presence and lie !
These are a multitude helpless, of spirits lacking a grave;
Charon the ferryman; yonder the buried, crossing the wave.
Over the awful banks and the hoarse-voiced torrents of doom
None may be taken before their bones find rest in a tomb.
Hundreds of years they wander, and flit round river and shore,
Then to the lake they long for are free to return once more.”
Silent the hero gazed and his footstep halted, his mind
Filled with his own sad thoughts and compassion of doom unkind.
Yonder he notes, in affliction, deprived of the dues of the dead,
Near Leucaspis, Orontes who Lycia’s vessels had led.
Over the wind-tossed waters from Troy as together they drave,
One wild storm overtook them, engulfing vessels and brave.
Yonder, behold, Palinarus the pilot gloomily went,
Who, while sailing from Libya’s shores, on the planets intent,
Fell but of late from the stern, and was lost in a watery waste.
Hardly he knows him at first, as in shadow sadly he paced;
Then at the last breaks silence and cries: “What God can it be
Robbed us of thee, Palinarus, and drowned thee deep in the sea?
Answer me thou ! For Apollo I ne’er found false till to-day;
Only in this one thing hath his prophecy led us astray.
Safe with life from the deep to Italian shores, we were told,
Thou shouldst come at the last ! Is it thus that his promises hold?”
“Son of Anchises,” he answers, “Apollo’s tripod and shrine
Have not lied; no god overwhelmed me thus in the brine.
True to my trust I was holding the helm, stood ruling the course,
1085 When by sad misadventure I wrenched it loose, and perforce
Trailed it behind in my fall. By the cruel waters I swear
Fear of mine own life truly I knew not, felt but a care
Lest thy bark, of her rudder bereft, and her helmsman lost,
Might be unequal to combat the wild seas round her that tossed.
Three long nights of the winter, across great waters and wide,
Violent south winds swept me; at fourth day’s dawn I descried
Italy’s coast, as I rose on the crest of a wave of the sea.
Stroke by stroke I was swimming ashore, seemed nearly to be
Safe from the billows; and weighted by dripping garments I clave,
Clutching my hands, to the face of a cliff that towered on the wave.
When wild people assailed me, a treasure-trove to their mind.
Now are the waves my masters; I toss on the beach in the wind.
O ! by the pleasant sun, by the joyous light of the skies,
By thy sire, and Iulus, the rising hope of thine eyes,
Save me from these great sorrows, my hero ! Over me pour
Earth, as in truth thou canst, and return to the Velian shore.
Else, if a heavenly mother hath shown thee yonder a way, —
Since some god’s own presence, methinks, doth guide thee, who here
Seekest to cross these streams, and the Stygian marshes drear, —
Give thy hand to thy servant, and take him with thee to-day,
So that in quiet places his wearied head he may lay !”
Thus, sad phantom, he cried; thus answered the seer of the shrine:
“Whence, Palinarus, comes this ill-omened longing of thine?
Thou cast eyes, unburied, on Stygian waves, the severe
Stream of the Furies, approach unbidden the banks of the mere !
Cease thy dreams, that the Fates by prayer may be ever appeased,
Yet keep this in remembrance, that so thy lot may be eased: —
Many a neighboring people from cities far and unknown,
Taught by prodigies dire of the skies, thy bones shall atone,
Building thy tomb, and remitting their gifts each year to thy ghost;
So Palinarus’ name shall forever cleave to the coast.”
Thus his affliction she soothes. For a little season his sad
Spirit has comfort; he thinks on his namesake land and is glad.
Thence they advance on the journey and now draw near to the flood.
Soon as the boatman saw them, from where on the water he stood,
Move through the silent forest and bend their steps to the beach,
Ere they arrive he accosts them, and first breaks silence in speech:
“Stranger, approaching in arms our river, whoever thou art,
Speak on the spot thine errand, and hold thee further apart.
This is the kingdom of shadows, of sleep and the slumberous dark;
Bodies of living men are forbidden the Stygian bark.
Not of mine own good will was Alcides over the wave
Yonder, or Theseus taken, nor yet Pirithous brave,
1086 Though from gods they descended, and matchless warriors were;
One from the monarch’s presence to chains sought boldly to bear
Hell’s unslumbering warder, and trailed him trembling away.
Two from her bridal chamber conspired Death’s queen to convey.”
Briefly again makes answer the great Amphrysian seer:
“Here no cunning awaits thee as theirs was, far be the fear.
Violence none our weapons prepare; Hell’s warder may still
Bay in his cavern forever, affrighting the phantoms chill;
Hell’s chaste mistress keep to her kinsman’s halls if she will.
Troy’s Æneas, a son most loving, a warrior brave,
Goes in the quest of his sire to the deepest gloom of the grave.
If thou art all unmoved at the sight of a love so true” —
Here she displays him the bough in her garment hidden from view —
“Know this branch.” In his bosom the tempest of anger abates.
Further he saith not. Feasting his eyes on the wand of the Fates,
Mighty oblation, unseen for unnumbered summers before,
Charon advances his dark-blue bows, and approaches the shore;
Summons the rest of the spirits in row on the benches who sate
Place to resign for the comers, his gangway clears, and on board
Takes Æneas. The cobbled boat groans under his weight.
Water in streams from the marshes through every fissure is poured.
Priestess and hero safely across Death’s river are passed,
Land upon mud unsightly, and pale marsh sedges, at last.
Here huge Cerberus bays with his triple jaws through the land,
Crouched at enormous length in his cavern facing the strand.
Soon as the Sibyl noted his hair now bristling with snakes,
Morsels she flings him of meal, and of honeyed opiate cakes.
Maddened with fury of famine his three great throats unclose;
Fiercely he snatches the viand, his monstrous limbs in repose
Loosens, and, prostrate laid, sprawls measureless over his den.
While the custodian sleeps, Æneas the entrance takes,
Speeds from the bank of a stream no traveler crosses again.
Voices they heard, and an infinite wailing, as onward they bore,
Spirits of infants sobbing at Death’s immediate door.
Whom, at a mother’s bosom, and strangers to life’s sweet breath,
Fate’s dark day took from us, and drowned in untimeliest death.
Near them are those who, falsely accused, died guiltless, although
Not without trial, or verdict given, do they enter below;
Here, with his urn, sits Minos the judge, convenes from within
Silent ghosts to the council, and learns each life and its sin.
Near them inhabit the sorrowing souls, whose innocent hands
Wrought on themselves their ruin, and strewed their lives on the sands,
1087 Hating the glorious sunlight. Alas ! how willingly they
Now would endure keen want, hard toil, in the regions of day !
Fate forbids it; the loveless lake with its waters of woe
Holds them, and nine times round them entwined, Styx bars them below.
Further faring, they see that beyond and about them are spread
Fields of the Mourners, for so they are called in worlds of the dead.
Here dwell those whom Love, with his cruel sickness, hath slain.
Lost in secluded walks, amid myrtle groves overhead,
Hiding they go, nor in death itself are they eased of the pain.
Phædra and Procris, here, Eriphyle here they behold,
Sadly displaying the wounds that her wild son wrought her of old.
Yonder Pasiphæ stood and Evadne; close to them clung
Laodamia, and Cænis, a man once, woman at last,
Now by the wheel of the Fates in her former figure recast.
Fresh from her death wound still, here Dido, the others among,
Roamed in a spacious wood. Through shadow the chieftain soon
Dimly discerned her face, as a man, when the month is but young,
Sees, or believes he has seen, amid cloudlets shining, the moon.
Tears in his eyes, he addressed her with tender love as of old:
“True, then, sorrowful Dido, the messenger fires that told
Thy said death, and the doom thou soughtest of choice by they hand !
Was it, alas ! to a grave that I did thee? Now by the bright
Stars, by the Gods, and the faith that abides in the realms of the Night,
’Twas unwillingly, lady, I bade farewell to thy land.
Yet, the behest of Immortals — the same which bids me to go
Through these shadows, the wilderness mire and the darkness below —
Drove me imperiously thence, nor possessed I power to believe
I at departing had left thee in grief thus bitter to grieve.
Tarry, and turn not away from a face that on thine would dwell;
’Tis thy lover thou fliest, and this is our last farewell !”
So, with a burning heart and with glowering eyes she went,
Melting vainly in tears, he essayed her wrath to relent;
She with averted gaze upon earth her countenance cast,
Nothing touched in her look by her lover’s words to the last,
Set as a marble rock of Marpessus, cold as a stone.
After a little she fled, in the forest hurried to hide,
Ever his foe; Sychæus, her first lord, there at her side,
Answers sorrow with sorrow, and love not less than her own.
1088 Thence on the path appointed they go, and the uttermost plain
Reach erelong, where rest in seclusion the glorious slain.
Tydeus here he discerns, here Parthenopæus of old,
Famous in arms, and the ghost of Adrastus, pallid and cold.
Wailed in the world of the sunlight long, laid low in the fray,
Here dwell Ilion’s chiefs. As his eyes on the gallant array
Lighted, he groaned. Three sons of Antenor yonder they see,
Glaucus and Medon and young Thersilochus, brethren three;
Here Polyphætes, servant of Heaven from his earliest breath;
There Idæus, the shield and the reins still holding in death.
Thickly about him gather the spectral children of Troy:
’Tis not enough to have seen him, to linger round him is joy,
Pace at his side, and inquire why thus he descends to the dead.
But the Achæan chiefs, Agamemnon’s legions arrayed,
When on the hero they looked, and his armor gleaming in shade,
Shook with an infinite terror; and some turned from him and fled,
As to the Danaan vessels in days gone by they had sped.
Some of the air raise thinnest of voices; the shout of the fray
Seems, upon lips wide parted, begun, then passing away.
Noble Deiphobus here he beholds, all mangled and marred,
Son of the royal Priam; — his visage cruelly scarred,
Visage and hands; from his ravaged temples bloodily shorn
Each of his eats, and his nostrils with wounds inglorious torn.
Hardly he knew him in sooth, for he trembled, seeking to hide
These great wrongs; but at last, in a voice most loving, he cried:
“Gallant Deiphobus, born of the Teucrian lineage bright,
Who had the heart to revenge him in this dire fashion and dread?
Who dared thus to abuse thee? On Troy’s last funeral night,
Weary of endless slaughter and Danaan blood, it was said
Thou hast laid thee to die on a heap of the nameless dead.
Yea ! and a vacant mound upon far Rhœtæum’s coast
I there built thee, and thrice bade loud farewell to thy ghost.
Hallowed the spot by thine armor and name. Ere crossing the wave,
Never, friend, could I find thee, nor give thee an Ilian grave.”
“Nothing was left undone, O friend!” he replies. “Thou hast paid
All that Deiphobus claims, all debt that was due to his shade.
’Twas my destiny sad, and the crime accursed of the Greek
Woman, in woe that plunged me, and wrote this tale on my cheek.
Well thou knowest — for ah ! too long will the memory last —
How Troy’s funeral night amid treacherous pleasures we passed;
When Fate’s terrible steed overcame our walls at a leap,
Carrying mailclad men in its womb towards Pergama’s steep;
How, a procession feigning, the Phrygian mothers she led
1089 Round our city in orgy, with lighted torch at their head
Waving herself the Achæans to Ilion’s citadel keep.
I, that night, overburdened with troubles, buried in sleep,
Lay in the fatal chamber, delicious slumber and deep
Folding mine eyelids, like the unbroken rest of the slain.
She, meanwhile, my glorious spouse, from the palace has ta’en
Every weapon, and drawn from the pillow the falchion I bore,
Then Menelaus summons, and straightway loosens the door,
Hoping in sooth that her lover with this great boon might be won,
Deeming the fame of her guilt in the past might so be undone.
Why on the memory linger? The foe streamed in at the gate
Led by Ulysses, the plotter. May judgment, Immortals, wait
Yet on the Greeks, if of vengeance a reverent heart may be fain !
Tell me in turn what sorrow has brought thee alive and unslain
Hither?” he cries; “art come as a mariner lost on the main,
Or by the counsel of Heaven? What fortune drives thee in quest,
Hither, of sunless places and sad, the abodes of unrest?”
Morn already with roseate steeds, while talk they exchange,
Now in her journey has traversed the half of the heavenly range,
And peradventure thus the allotted time had been passed,
Had not the faithful Sibyl rebuked him briefly at last.
“Night draws nigh, Æneas. In tears we are spending the hours.
Here is the place where the path is divided. This to the right,
Under the walls of the terrible Dis — to Elysium — ours.
Yonder, the left, brings doom to the guilty, and drives them in flight
Down to the sinful region where awful Tartarus lowers.”
“Terrible priestess, frown not,” Deiphobus cries; “I depart,
Join our shadowy legion, restore me to darkness anon.
Go, thou joy of the race; may the Fates vouchsafe thee a part
Brighter than mine !” And behold, as he uttered the word, he was gone.
Turning his eyes, Æneas sees broad battlements placed
Under the cliffs on his left, by a triple rampart incased;
Round them in torrents of ambient fire runs Phlegethon swift,
River of Hell, and the thundering rocks sends ever adrift.
One huge portal in front upon pillars of adamant stands;
Neither can mortal might, nor the heavens’ own warrior bands,
Rend it asunder. An iron tower rears over the door,
Where Tisiphone seated in garments dripping with gore
Watches the porch, unsleeping, by day and by night evermore.
Hence come groans on the breezes, the sound of a pitiless flail,
Rattle of iron bands, and the clanking of fetters that trail.
1090 Silent the hero stands, and in terror rivets his eyes.
“What dire shapes of impiety these? Speak, priestess !” he cries.
“What dread torment racks them, and what shrieks yonder arise?”
She in return: “Great chief of the Teucrian host, as is meet
Over the threshold of sinners may pass no innocent feet.
Hecate’s self, who set me to rule the Avernian glade,
Taught me of Heaven’s great torments, and all their terrors displayed.
Here reigns dread Rhadamanthus, a king no mercy that knows,
Chastens and judges the guilty, compels each soul to disclose
Crimes of the upper air that he kept concealed from the eye,
Proud of his idle cunning, till Death brought punishment nigh.
Straightway then the Avenger Tisiphone over them stands,
Scourges the trembling sinners, her fierce lash arming her hands;
Holds in her left uplifted her serpents grim, and from far
Summons the awful troop of her sisters gathered for war !
Then at the last with a grating of hideous hinges unclose
Hell’s infernal doors. Dost see what warders are those
Crouched in the porch? What presence is yonder keeping the gate?
Know that a Hydra beyond it, a foe still fiercer in hate,
Lurks with a thousand ravening throats. See ! Tartarus great
Yawning to utter abysses, and deepening into the night,
Twice as profound as the space of the starry Olympian height.
“Here the enormous Titans, the Earth’s old progeny, hurled
Low by the lightning, are under the bottomless waters whirled.
Here I beheld thy children, Aloeus, giants of might,
Brethren bold who endeavored to pluck down heaven from its height,
Fain to displace great Jove from his throne in the kingdom of light.
Saw Salmoneus too, overtaken with agony dire
While the Olympian thunder he mimicked and Jove’s own fire.
Borne on his four-horse chariot, and waving torches that glowed,
Over the Danaan land, through the city of Elis, he rode,
Marching in triumph, and claiming the honors due to a god.
Madman, thinking with trumpets and tramp of the steeds that he drove
He might rival the storms, and the matchless thunders of Jove !
But the omnipotent Father a bolt from his cloudy abyss
Launched — no brand from the pine, no smoke of the torchlight this —
And with an awful whirlwind blast hurled Pride to its fall.
Tityos also, the nursling of Earth, great mother of all,
Here was to see, whose body a long league covers of plain;
One huge vulture with hooked beak evermore at his side
Shears his liver that dies not, his bowel fruitful of pain.
1091 Searches his heart for a banquet, beneath his breast doth abide,
Grants no peace to the vitals that ever renew them again.
“Why of Pirithous tell, and Ixion, Lapithæ tall,
O’er whose brows is suspended a dark crag, ready to fall,
Ever in act to descend? Proud couches raised upon bright
Golden feet are shining, a festal table in sight
Laden with royal splendor. The Furies’ Queen on her throne
Sits at the banquet by — forbids them to taste it — has flown
Now to prevent them, with torch uplifted, and thundering tone.
“All who have hated a brother in lifetime, all who have laid
Violent hands on a parent, the faith of a client betrayed;
Those who finding a treasure have o’er it brooded alone,
Setting aside no portion for kinsmen, a numerous band;
Those in adultery slain, all those who have raised in the land
Treason’s banner, or broken their oath to a master’s hand,
Prisoned within are awaiting an awful doom of their own.
“Ask me not, what their doom, — what form of requital or ill
Whelms them below. Some roll huge stones to the crest of the hill
Some on the spokes of a whirling wheel hang spread to the wind.
Theseus sits, the unblest, and will ever seated remain;
Phlegyas here in his torments a warning voice to mankind
Raises, loudly proclaiming throughout Hell’s gloomy abodes:
‘Learn hereby to be just, and to think no scorn of the Gods !’
This is the sinner his country who sold, forged tyranny’s chain,
Made for a bribe her laws, for a bribe unmade them again.
Yon wretch dared on a daughter with eyes unholy to look.
All some infamy ventured, of infamy’s gains partook,
Has I a thousand tongues, and a thousand lips, and a speech
Fashioned of steel, sin’s varying types I hardly could teach,
Could not read thee the roll of the torments suffered of each !”
Soon as the aged seer of Apollo her story had done,
“Forward,” she cries, “on the path, and complete thy mission begun.
Hasten the march ! I behold in the distance battlements great,
Built by the Cyclops’ forge, and the vaulted dome at the gate
Where the divine revelation ordains our gifts to be laid.”
Side by side at her bidding they traverse the region of shade,
Over the distance hasten, and now draw nigh to the doors.
Fronting the gates Æneas stands, fresh water he pours
Over his limbs, and the branch on the portal hangs as she bade.
After the rite is completed, the gift to the goddess addressed,
Now at last they come to the realms where Joy has her throne;
1092 Sweet green glades in the Fortunate Forests, abodes of the blest,
Fields in an ampler ether, a light more glorious dressed,
Lit evermore with their own bright stars and a sun of their own.
Some are training their limbs on the wrestling green, and compete
Gayly in sport on the yellow arenas, some with their feet
Treading their choral measures, or singing the hymns of the god;
While some Thracian priest, in a sacred garment that trails,
Chants them the air with the seven sweet notes of his musical scales,
Now with his fingers striking, and now with his ivory rod.
Here are the ancient children of Teucer, fair to behold,
Generous heroes, born in the happier summers of old, —
Ilus, Assaracus by him, and Dardan, founder of Troy.
Far in the distance yonder are visible armor and car
Unsubstantial, in earth their lances are planted, and far
Over the meadows are ranging the chargers freed from employ.
All the delight they took when alive in the chariot and sword,
All of the loving care that to shining coursers was paid,
Follows them now that in quiet below Earth’s breast they are laid.
Banqueting here he beholds them to right and to left on the sward,
Chanting in chorus the Pæan, beneath sweet forests of bay,
Whence, amid wild wood covers, the river Eridanus, poured,
Rolls his majestic torrents to upper earth and the day.
Braves for the land of their sires in the battle wounded of yore,
Priests whose purity lasted until sweet life was no more,
Faithful prophets who spake as beseemed their god and his shrine,
All who by arts invented to life have added a grace,
All whose services earned the remembrance deep of the race,
Round their shadowy foreheads the snow-white garland entwine.
Then, as about them the phantoms stream, breaks silence the seer,
Turning first to Musæus, — for round him the shadows appear
Thickest to crowd, as he towers with his shoulders over the throng, —
“Tell me, ye joyous spirits, and thou, bright master of song,
Where is the home and the haunt of the great Anchises, for whom
Hither we come, and have traversed the awful rivers of gloom?”
Briefly in turn makes answer the hero: “None has a home
In fixed haunts. We inhabit the dark thick glades, on the brink
Of moss-banked rivers, and water meadows that drink
Living streams. But if onward your heart thus wills ye to go,
Climb this ridge. I will set ye in pathways easy to know.”
Forward he marches, leading the way; from the heights at the end
Shows them a shining plain, and the mountain slopes they descend.
There withdrawn to a valley of green in a fold of the plain
Stood Anchises the father, his eyes intent on a train —
1088 Prisoned spirits, soon to ascend to the sunlight again; —
Numbering over his children dear, their myriad bands,
All their destinies bright, their ways, and the work of their hands.
When he beheld Æneas across these flowery lands
Moving to meet him, fondly he strained both arms to his boy,
Tears on his cheek fell fast, and his voice found slowly employ.
“Here thou comest at last, and the love I counted upon
Over the rugged path has prevailed. Once more, O my son,
I may behold thee, and answer with mine thy voice as of yore.
Long I pondered the chances, believed this day was in store,
Reckoning the years and the seasons. Nor was my longing belied.
O’er how many a land, past what far waters and wide,
Hast thou come to mine arms ! What dangers have tossed thee, my child !
Ah ! how I feared lest harm should await thee in Libya wild !”
“Thine own shade, my dear sire, thine own disconsolate shade,
Visiting oft my chamber, has made me seek thee,” he said.
“Safe upon Tuscan waters the fleet lies. Grant me to grasp
Thy right hand, sweet father, withdraw thee not from the clasp.”
So he replied; and a river of tears flowed over his face.
Thrice with his arms he essayed the beloved one’s neck to embrace;
Thrice clasped vainly, the phantom eluded his hands in flight,
This as the idle breezes, and like some dream of the night.
There Æneas beholds in a valley withdrawn from the rest
Far-off glades, and a forest of boughs that sing in the breeze;
Near them the Lethe river that glides by abodes of the blest.
Round it numberless races and peoples floating he sees.
So on the flowery meadows in calm, clear summer, the bees
Settle on bright-hued blossoms, or stream in companies round
Fair white lilies, till every plain seems ringing with sound.
Strange to the scene Æneas, with terror suddenly pale,
Asks of its meaning, and what be the streams in the distant vale,
Who those warrior crowds that about yon river await.
Answer returns Anchises: “The spirits promised by Fate
Life in the body again. Upon Lethe’s watery brink
These of the fountain of rest and of long oblivion drink.
Ever I yearn to relate thee the tale, display to thine eyes,
Count thee over the children that from my loins shall arise,
So that our joy may be deeper on finding Italy’s skies.”
“O my father ! and are there, and must we believe it,” he said,
“Spirits that fly once more to the sunlight back from the dead?
1094 Souls that anew to the body return and the fetters of clay?
Can there be any who long for the light thus blindly as they?”
“Listen, and I will resolve thee the doubt,” Anchises replies.
Then unfolds him in order the tale of the earth and the skies.
“In the beginning, the earth, and the sky, and the spaces of night,
Also the shining moon, and the sun Titanic and bright
Feed on an inward life, and with all things mingled, a mind
Moves universal matter, with Nature’s frame is combined.
Thence man’s race, and the beast, and the feathered creature that flies
All wild shapes that are hidden the gleaming waters beneath.
Each elemental seed has a fiery force from the skies,
Each, its heavenly being, that no dull clay can disguise,
Bodies of earth ne’er deaden, nor limbs long destined to death.
Hence, their fears and desires; their sorrows and joys; for their sight,
Blind with the gloom of a prison, discerns not the heavenly light.
“Nor when at last life leaves them, do all sad ills, that belong
Unto the sinful body, depart; still many survive
Lingering within them, alas ! for it needs must be that the long
Growth should in wondrous fashion at full completion arrive.
So, due vengeance racks them, for deeds of an earlier day
Suffering penance, and some to the winds hang viewless and thin
Searched by the breezes; from others, the deep infection of sin
Swirling water washes, or bright fire purges, away.
Each in his own sad ghost we endure; then, chastened aright,
Into Elysium pass. Few reach to the fields of delight,
Till great Time, when the cycles have run their courses on high,
Takes the inbred pollution, and leaves to us only the bright
Sense of the heaven’s own ether, and fire from the springs of the sky.
When for a thousand years they have rolled their wheels through the night,
God to the Lethe river recalls this myriad train,
That with remembrance lost once more they may visit the light,
And, at the last, have desire for a life in the body again.”
When he had ended, his son and the Sibyl maiden he drew
Into the vast assembly — the crowd with its endless hum;
There on a hillock plants them, that hence they better may view
All the procession advancing, and learn their looks as they come.
“What bright fame hereafter the Trojan line shall adorn,
What far children be theirs, from the blood of Italians born,
Splendid souls, that inherit the name and the glory of Troy,
Now will I tell thee, and teach thee the fates thy race shall enjoy.
1095 Yon fair hero who leans on a lance unpointed and bright,
Granted the earliest place in the world of the day and the light,
Half of Italian birth, from the shadow first shall ascend,
Silvius, Alban of name, thy child though born at the end,
Son of thy later years by Lavinia, consort of thine,
Reared in the woods as a monarch and sire of a royal line.
Next to him Procas, the pride of the race; then Capys, and far
Numitor; after him one who again thy name shall revive,
Silvius, hight Æneas, in pious service and war
Noble alike, if to Alba’s throne he shall ever arrive.
Heroes fair ! how grandly, behold ! their manhood is shown,
While their brows are shaded by leaves of the citizen crown !
These on the mountain ranges shall set Nomentum the steep,
Gabii’s towers, Fidenæ’s town, Collatia’s keep;
Here plant Inuus’ camp, there Cora and Bola enthrone,
Glorious names erelong, now a nameless land and unknown.
Romulus, scion of Mars, at the side of his grandsire see —
Ilia fair his mother, the blood of Assaracus he !
See on his helmet the doubled crest, how his sire has begun
Marking the boy with his own bright plumes for the world of the sun.
Under his auspices Rome, our glorious Rome, shall arise,
Earth with her empire ruling, her great soul touching the skies.
Lo ! seven mountains enwalling, a single city, she lies,
Blest in her warrior brood ! So crowned with towers ye have seen
Ride through Phrygia’s cities the great Berecynthian queen,
Proud of the gods her children, a hundred sons at her knee,
All of them mighty immortals, and lords of a heavenly fee !
Turn thy glance now hither, behold this glorious clan,
Romans of thine. See Cæsar, and each generation of man
Yet to be born of Iulus beneath heaven’s infinite dome.
Yonder behold thy hero, the promised prince, upon whom
Often thy hopes have dwelt, Augustus Cæsar, by birth
Kin to the godlike dead, who a golden age upon earth
Yet shall restore where Saturn in Latium’s plains was lord,
Ruling remote Garamantes and India’s tribes with his sword.
Far beyond all our planets the land lies, far beyond high
Heaven, and the sun’s own orbit, where Atlas, lifting the sky,
Whirls on his shoulders the sphere, inwrought with its fiery suns !
Ere his arrival, lo ! through shivering Caspia runs
Fear, at her oracle’s answers. The vast Mæotian plain,
Sevenfold Nile and his mouths, are fluttered and tremble again;
Ranges of earth more wide than Alcides every surveyed,
Though he pursued deer brazen of limb, tamed Erymanth’s glade,
Lerna with arrows scared, or the Vine God, when from the war
Homeward with ivied reins he conducts his conquering car,
1096 Driving his team of tigers from Nysa’s summits afar. —
Art thou loath any longer with deeds our sway to expand?
Can it be fear forbids thee to hold Ausonia’s land?
“Who comes yonder the while with the olive branch on his brow,
Bearing the sacred vessels? I know yon tresses, I know
Yon gray beard, Rome’s monarch, the first with law to sustain
Rome yet young; from the lordship of Cures’ little domain
Sent to an empire’s throne. At his side goes one who shall break
Slumberous peace, to the battle her easeful warriors wake,
Rouse once more her battalions disused to the triumph so long,
Tullus the king ! Next, Ancus the boastful marches along,
See, overjoyed already by praises breathed from a crowd !
Yonder the royal Tarquins are visible; yonder the proud
Soul of avenging Brutus, with Rome’s great fasces again
Made Rome’s own; who first to her consul’s throne shall attain,
Hold her terrible axes; his sons, the rebellious pair,
Doom to a rebel’s death for the sake of Liberty fair.
Ill-starred sire ! let the ages relate as please them the tale,
Yet shall his patriot passion and thirst of glory prevail.
Look on the Decii there, and the Drusi; hatchet in hand
See Torquatus the stern, and Camillus home to his land
Marching with rescued banners. But yonder spirits who stand
Dressed in the shining armor alike, harmonious now
While in the world of shadows with dark night over their brow —
Ah ! what battles the twain must wage, what legions array,
What fell carnage kindle, if e’er they reach to the day !
Father descending from Alpine snows and Monœcus’s height,
Husband ranging against him an Eastern host for the fight !
Teach not your hearts, my children, to learn these lessons of strife;
Turn not a country’s valor against her veriest life.
Thou be the first to forgive, great child of a heavenly birth,
Fling down, son of my loins, thy weapons and sword to the earth !
“See, who rides from a vanquished Corinth in conqueror’s car
Home to the Capital, decked with Achæan spoils from the war !
Argos and proud Mycenæ a second comes to dethrone,
Ay, and the Æacus-born, whose race of Achilles is sown,
Venging his Trojan sires and Minerva’s outraged fane !
Who would leave thee, Cato, untold? thee, Cossus, unknown?
Gracchus’ clan, or the Scipio pair, war’s thunderbolts twain,
Libya’s ruin; — forget Fabricius, prince in his need;
Pass unsung Serranus, his furrows sowing with seed?
Give me but breath, ye Fabians, to follow ! Yonder the great
Fabius thou, whose timely delays gave strength to the state.
1097 Others will mold their bronzes to breathe with a tenderer grace,
Draw, I doubt not, from marble a vivid life to the face,
Plead at the bar more deftly, with sapient wands of the wise
Trace heaven’s courses and changes, predict us stars to arise.
Thine, O Roman, remember, to reign over every race !
These be thine arts, thy glories, the ways of peace to proclaim,
Mercy to show to the fallen, the proud with battle to tame !”
Thus Anchises, and then — as they marveled — further anon:
“Lo, where decked in a conqueror’s spoils Marcellus, my son,
Strides from the war ! How he towers o’er all of the warrior train !
When Rome reels with the shock of the wild invaders’ alarm,
He shall sustain her state. From his war steed’s saddle, his arm
Carthage and rebel Gaul shall destroy, and the arms of the slain
Victor a third time hang in his father Quirinus’ fane.”
Then Æneas, — for near him a youth seemed ever to pace,
Fair, of an aspect princely, with armor of glittering grace,
Yet was his forehead joyless, his eye cast down as in grief —
“Who can it be, my father, that walks at the side of the chief?
Is it his son, or perchance some child of his glorious race
Born from remote generations? And hark, how ringing a cheer
Breaks from his comrades round ! What a noble presence is here !
Though dark night with her shadow of woe floats over his face !”
Answer again Anchises began with a gathering tear:
“Ask me not, O my son, of thy children’s infinite pain !
Fate one glimpse of the boy to the world will grant, and again
Take him from life. Too puissant methinks to immortals on high
Rome’s great children had seemed, if a gift like this from the sky
Longer had been vouchsafed ! What wailing of warriors bold
Shall from the funeral plain to the War God’s city be rolled !
What sad pomp thine eyes will discern, what pageant of woe,
When by his new-made tomb thy waters, Tiber, shall flow !
Never again such hopes shall a youth of the lineage of Troy
Rouse in his great forefathers of Latium ! Never a boy
Nobler pride shall inspire in the ancient Romulus land !
Ah, for his filial love ! for his old-world faith ! for his hand
Matchless in battle ! Unharmed what foeman had offered to stand
Forth in his path, when charging on foot for the enemy’s ranks,
Or when plunging the spur in his foam-flecked courser’s flanks !
Child of a nation’s sorrow ! if thou canst baffle the Fates’
Bitter decrees, and break for a while their barrier gates,
Thine to become Marcellus ! I pray thee, bring me anon
Handfuls of lilies, that I bright flowers may strew on my son,
1098 Heap on the shade of the boy unborn these gifts at the least,
Doing the dead, though vainly, the last sad service.”
So from region to region they roam with curious eyes,
Traverse the spacious plains where shadowy darkness lies.
One by one Anchises unfolds each scene to his son,
Kindling his soul with a passion for glories yet to be won.
Speaks of the wars that await him beneath the Italian skies,
Rude Laurentian clans and the haughty Latinus’ walls,
How to avoid each peril, or bear its brunt, as befalls.
Sleep has his portals twain; one fashioned of horn, it is said,
Whence come true apparitions by exit smooth from the dead;
One with the polished splendor of shining ivory bright.
False are the only visions that issue thence from the night.
Thither Anchises leads them, exchanging talk by the way,
There speeds Sibyl and son by the ivory gate of the day.
Straight to his vessels and mates Æneas journeyed, and bore
Thence for Caieta’s harbor along the Italian shore.
* From “Aeneid.” By permission of Mr. Murray. 8vo., price 12s.