The Aeneid of Virgil

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The Aeneid of Virgil



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The Aeneid (/ɪˈniːɪd/ ih-NEE-id; Latin: Aenē̆is [ae̯ˈneːɪs] or [ˈae̯neɪs]) is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC,[1] that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who fled the fall of Troy and traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It comprises 9,896 lines in dactylic hexameter.

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This translation is dedicated to the memoryof my first and best Latin teacher, my father,John Henry Humphries.

laus illi debetur et a me gratia maior


VIRGIL’S AENEID IS, of course, a major poem; it is also a great and beautiful one. The scope of an epic requires, in the writing, a designed variety, a calculated unevenness, now and then some easy-going carelessness. So the reader win find, here and there, transitional passages, the stock epithet, the conventional phrase, a few lines of vamping, and, in this or that line, what the Spanish call ripios. Over and above these matters of small detail, in the large panorama the reader will find valleys as well as peaks, dry ravines as well as upland meadows: the landscape is not always the same height above sea level, and its flora and fauna vary more than a little. The epic terrain of the Odyssey differs greatly from that of the Iliad, and both Iliad and Odyssey differ from the Aeneid, but there is nothing obtrusive in Virgil’s relatively studied concern with composition. Less wild and “natural,” the demesnes of the Aeneid have their full measure of more than pleasant countryside, loftiness also, majesty, grandeur.

Virgil, we have been told, wanted to burn the Aeneid; he was not satisfied with it. This attitude, it seems to me, reflects fatigue and exhaustion of spirit rather than considered literary judgment. The last revisions are always the most enervating, and Virgil, one can well believe, having worked on the poem for over a decade, had reached the point where he felt he would rather do anything, including die, than go over the poem one more time. If we had never known the poem was believed incomplete, we would, I think, find it difficult to decide which were the unsatisfactory portions. Who wants an epic poem absolutely perfect, anyway? and how could the Aeneid be improved, really?

A charge is brought against the Aeneid that it is propaganda. I do not know when this criticism first came to be brought; I suspect it is only our own time, with its persistent devotion to all the aspects of advertising and sloganeering, that feels sufficiently guilty about these activities to project the accusation across twenty centuries. Virgil, with whatever cheerfulness his nature was capable of, would readily have agreed that the Aeneid was propaganda; but then he did not know the invidious connotations of the word,—he would have taken it to mean only “things that ought to be propagated.” An institute of propaganda analysis would be completely baffled by the Aeneid; the conclusion might be that the poem was either the best or the worst propaganda that had ever been written. What kind of propaganda is it to begin a nationalist epic with the sorrowful sigh, “It was such a great burden,—a millstone around the neck—to found the Roman race”? What kind of propaganda is it to make the enemies, by and large, more interesting and sympathetic and colorful fellows than our own side? Lausus and Mezentius, for example, are a far more engaging father-and-son combination than Aeneas-Anchises, Aeneas-Ascanius, or Evander-Pallas. Dido and Camilla command our admiration much more than the blushing Lavinia or the fading Creusa. We respond to Turnus, and are at best coldly respectful to Aeneas. What goes on here, anyway? Shouldn’t some patriotic organization investigate this subversive writer, secretly in the pay of a foreign power? On the other hand, it is just possible that this is the very best form which national propaganda can take, the implicit and pervasive doctrine that great and good as our enemies may be, we can admire them, surpass them, be just to them, and not be afraid of them, either.

A word or two about the character of Aeneas. It may be that the trouble with him is really the trouble with us. We are not mature enough to accept, as epic hero, a man who is imaginative, sensitive, compassionate (everywhere except in parts of Books IV and X), and, in short, civilized; in other words, a paradox. There seems to be almost no aggression at all in the character of Aeneas: even in his dreams he wants to get out of trouble and avoid fighting. We don’t like this; we find most satisfactory those moments when he is telling Dido off, or making bitter sarcastic speeches at Lucagus and Liger. We object, further, that when he does fight, he knows very well that he is protected by the gods and by magic armor. (Yet we do not mind the latter in the case of, for instance, Superman; and would we rather have our hero sponsored by devils?) In the matter of invulnerability we are, I think, a little unjust: Virgil takes some pains to show that he can be hurt: he rushes in, unarmed, to preserve the truce; he is grievously wounded by the death of Pallas. In any event, we need not feel too guilty if we are not crazy about Aeneas; there is little in the record to show that the Romans left enthusiastic encomia, either.

As between Virgil and Homer, there can be no real comparison. Judged by any standard, Homer is the greater writer; judged by our own, Virgil is sometimes the better one. His immediate audience consisted of men much more like ourselves than did Homer’s; and Virgil is considerate of their special sensitivities in a way that Homer did not have to bother to be. What he thought he might require of Homer, of course he went and took; it seems to me that in the taking he always modifies, often, from our point of view, improves. He will, for one thing, always design and order more carefully: Book VI, for example, is much more artistically worked out than the descent to the dead in the Odyssey. And the games in Book V, though many details are lifted entire from the Iliad, have quite their own quality, a light-heartedness in the horseplay, a humor and gaiety entirely different from the uncouth bragging and brawling of the Homeric competitors. I think it is only literary scholars who could possibly look down their noses at this book. And in his scenes and stories of battle Virgil, it seems to me, is far more respectful to the modern reader’s sense of credulity than Homer is; no student of a work rather current in 1917, Small Problems of Infantry, would have any difficulty in understanding what went wrong with the mission of Nisus and Euryalus in Book IX.

It is too bad that the Aeneid, as a whole, is not better known in America. The general practice in our secondary schools has come to be that of reading Books I, II, IV, and VI, and that’s all. This seems to me a peculiar way to deal with a work of art, like looking at selected portions of the Venus of Milo. I do not see how any intelligent American boys or girls can go this slowly, unless they stop to scan every line, note every example of synecdoche or synizesis, and parse all the grammatical constructions, with special attention to the poetical dative of agent and the Greek middle voice accusative of respect. And where the impression grew that the last six books are inferior in interest to the first I do not understand. Virgil, for one, did not think so. Maius opus moveo.

It is a peculiar, paradoxical kind of great poem, this Aeneid. For us, I think, its greatness can be found in ways that may have had less appeal to the Roman mind. Its references may mean less, its music more. Not only the music of the lines, but the music of the whole: this is a composition, and the pleasure comes in listening to it as one would to a great symphony (and not too much attention, please, to the program notes). This is a composition, the Aeneid, beautifully wrought, beautifully balanced. Professor Conway has written an illuminating essay dealing with the poem in terms of its architecture; in detail, his analysis is excellent, but the central metaphor is a little unhappy if it leads you to envisage the Aeneid as an impressive pile, frozen and static. The poem moves, in more senses than one: the thing to do is to feel it and listen to it. Hear how the themes vary and recur; how the tone lightens and darkens, the volume swells or dies, the tempo rushes or lingers. Take in the poem with the mind, to be sure; take it in with the eye as well; but above all, hearken to it with the ear.

This translation is a quick and unscrupulous job. I am not being modest: a modest man would never have started, and a scrupulous one never finished. I have, nevertheless, been not entirely without principles. I have been trying to translate the poem, rather than transliterate its words. In doing so, I have transposed lines, cut some proper names and allusions where I thought they would excessively slow down reader interest, substituted the general for the specific or the specific for the general, and in short taken all kinds of liberties, such as no pure scholar could possibly approve. But I doubt if there is any such thing as an absolutely pure scholar, anyhow. A loose iambic pentameter has seemed to me the most convenient medium, though in some passages, where the tempo runs faster, you might not recognize it; and I have, by no means faithfully following Virgil, occasionally used his device of the half-line. I have preferred solecisms to archaisms: thus I have never used the second person singular pronoun. I know I have committed anachronisms, but, then, I know Virgil did too, and I have, in my opinion heroically, resisted one or two obvious temptations in this regard. What I have tried to be faithful to is the meaning of the poem as I understand it, to make it sound to you, wherever I can, the way it feels to me. Working on it, I have been impressed, more than ever through the thirty-odd years I have read it, by its richness and variety: to mention only one point, the famous Virgilian melancholy, the tone of Sunt lacrimae rerum, is, I begin to notice, a recurring, not a sustained, theme. There is much more rugged and rough, harsh and bitter, music in Virgil than you might suspect if you have only read about him. A recent essay by Mark Van Doren has given me considerable heart in offering this new translation: there is a kind of scholastic snobbishness, he points out, in the insistence that no man knows anything who has not read the classics in the original. It is better, no doubt, to read Virgil in his own Latin, but still—I hope some people may have some pleasure of him, some idea of how good he was, through this English arrangement.

Rolfe Humphries

New York City,January, 1951





Arms and the man I sing, the first who came,Compelled by fate, an exile out of Troy,To Italy and the Lavinian coast,Much buffeted on land and on the deepBy violence of the gods, through that long rage,That lasting hate, of Juno’s. And he sufferedMuch, also, in war, till he should build his townAnd bring his gods to Latium, whence, in time,The Latin race, the Alban fathers, roseAnd the great walls of everlasting Rome.

Help me, O Muse, recall the reasons: why,Why did the queen of heaven drive a manSo known for goodness, for devotion, throughSo many toils and perils? Was there slight,Affront, or outrage? Is vindictivenessAn attribute of the celestial mind?

There was an ancient city, Carthage, onceFounded by Tyrians, facing ItalyAnd Tiber’s mouth, far-off, a wealthy town,War-loving, and aggressive; and Juno heldEven her precious Samos in less regard.Here were her arms, her chariot, and here,Should fate at all permit, the goddess burnedTo found the empire of the world forever.But, she had heard, a Trojan race would come,Some day, to overthrow the Tyrian towers,A race would come, imperious people, proudIn war, with wide dominion, bringing doomFor Libya. Fate willed it so. And JunoFeared, and remembered: there was the old warShe fought at Troy for her dear Greeks; her mindStill fed on hurt and anger; deep in her heartParis’ decision rankled, and the wrongOffered her slighted beauty; and the hatredOf the whole race; and Ganymede’s honors—All that was fuel to fire; she tossed and harriedAll over the seas, wherever she could, those TrojansWho had survived the Greeks and fierce Achilles,And so they wandered over many an ocean,Through many a year, fate-hounded. Such a struggleIt was to found the race of Rome!They were happySpreading the sail, rushing the foam with bronze,And Sicily hardly out of sight, when Juno,Still nourishing the everlasting wound,Raged to herself: “I am beaten, I suppose;It seems I cannot keep this Trojan kingFrom Italy. The fates, no doubt, forbid me.Pallas, of course, could burn the Argive ships,Could drown the sailors, all for one man’s guilt,The crazy acts of Ajax. Her own handHurled from the cloud Jove’s thunderbolt, and shatteredTheir ships all over the sea; she raised up stormAnd tempest; she spiked Ajax on the rocks,Whirled him in wind, blasted his heart with fire.And I, who walk my way as queen of the gods,Sister of Jove, and wife of Jove, keep warringWith one tribe through the long, long years. Who caresFor Juno’s godhead? Who brings sacrificeDevoutly to her altars?”Brooding, burning,She sought Aeolia, the storm-clouds’ dwelling,A land that sweeps and swarms with the winds’ fury,Whose monarch, Aeolus, in his deep cave rulesImperious, weighing down with bolt and prisonThose boisterous struggling roarers, who go ragingAround their bars, under the moan of the mountain.High over them their sceptered lord sits watching,Soothing, restraining, their passionate proud spirit,Lest, uncontrolled, they seize, in their wild keeping,The land, the sea, the arch of sky, in ruinSweeping through space. This Jupiter feared; he hid themDeep in dark caverns, with a mass of mountainPiled over above them, and a king to give themMost certain regulation, with a knowledgeWhen to hold in, when to let go. Him JunoApproached in supplication:—“Aeolus,Given by Jove the power to still the waters,Or raise them with a gale, a tribe I hateIs on its way to Italy, and they carryTroy with them, and their household gods, once beaten.Shake anger into those winds of yours, turn overTheir ships, and drown them; drive them in all directions,Litter the sea with bodies! For such serviceThe loveliest nymph I have, Deiopea,Shall be your bride forever, and you will fatherFair children on her fairness.” AeolusMade answer: “Yours, O Queen, the task of seekingWhatever it is you will; and mine the dutyTo follow with performance. All my empire,My sceptre, Jove’s indulgence, are beholdenTo Juno’s favor, by whose blessing IAttend the feasts of the gods and rule this storm-land.”His spear-butt struck the hollow mountain-side,And the winds, wherever they could, came sweeping forth,Whirled over the land, swooped down upon the ocean.East, South, Southwest, they heave the billows, howl,Storm, roll the giant combers toward the shore.Men cry; the rigging creaks and strains; the cloudsDarken, and men see nothing; a weight of darknessBroods over the deep; the heavy thunder rumblesFrom pole to pole; the lightning rips and dazzles;There is no way out but death. Aeneas shuddersIn the chill shock, and lifts both hands to heaven:—“O happy men, thrice happy, four times happy,Who had the luck to die, with their fathers watchingBelow the walls of Troy! Ah, Diomedes,Bravest of Greeks, why could I not have fallen,Bleeding my life away on plains of IliumIn our encounter there, where mighty HectorWent down before Achilles’ spear, and hugeSarpedon lay in dust, and Simois riverRolled to the sea so many noble heroes,All drowned in all their armor?” And the galeHowls from the north, striking the sail, head on;The waves are lifted to the stars; the oarsAre broken, and the prow slews round; the shipLies broadside on; a wall of water, a mountain,Looms up, comes pouring down; some ride the crest,Some, in the trough, can see the boil of the sand.The South wind hurls three ships on the hidden rocks,That sea-reef which Italians call the Altars;The West takes three, sweeping them from the deepOn shoal and quicksand; over the stern of one,Before Aeneas’ eyes, a great sea falls,Washing the helmsman overboard; the shipWhirls thrice in the suck of the water and goes downIn the devouring gulf; and here and thereA few survivors swim, the Lycian menWhose captain was Orontes; now their arms,Their Trojan treasures, float with the broken timbersOn the swing and slide of the waves. The storm, triumphant,Rides down more boats, and more; there goes Achates;Abas, Aletes, Ilioneus,Receive the hostile water; the walls are broken;The enemy pours in.

But meanwhile NeptuneSaw ocean in a welter of confusion,The roar of storm, and deep and surface mingled.Troublesome business, this; he rose, majestic,From under the waves, and saw the Trojan vesselsScattered all over the sea by the might of the wavesAnd the wreck of sky; he recognized the angerAnd cunning of his sister, and he summonedThe winds by name:—“What arrogance is this,What pride of birth, you winds, to meddle hereWithout my sanction, raising all this trouble?I’ll—No, the waves come first: but listen to me,You are going to pay for this! Get out of here!Go tell your king the lordship of the ocean,The trident, are not his, but mine. His realmReaches no further than the rocks and cavernsYou brawlers dwell in; let him rule that palace,Big as he pleases, shut you in, and stay there!”

This said, he calmed the swollen sea and cloud,Brought back the sun; Cymothoe and Triton,Heaving together, pulled the ships from the reef,As Neptune used his trident for a lever,Opened the quicksand, made the water smooth,And the flying chariot skimmed the level surface.Sometimes, in a great nation, there are riotsWith the rabble out of hand, and firebrands flyAnd cobblestones; whatever they lay their hands onIs a weapon for their fury, but should they seeOne man of noble presence, they fall silent,Obedient dogs, with ears pricked up, and waiting,Waiting his word, and he knows how to bring themBack to good sense again. So ocean, roaring,Subsided into stillness, as the sea-godLooked forth upon the waters, and clear weatherShone over him as he drove his flying horses.

Aeneas’ weary children make for harbor,Whichever lies most near, and the prows are turnedTo Libya’s coast-line. In a bay’s deep curveThey find a haven, where the water liesWith never a ripple. A little island keepsThe sea-swell off, and the waves break on its sidesAnd slide back harmless. The great cliffs come downSteep to deep water, and the background shimmers,Darkens and shines, the tremulous aspen movingAnd the dark fir pointing still. And there is a caveUnder the overhanging rocks, aliveWith water running fresh, a home of the Nymphs,With benches for them, cut from the living stone.No anchor is needed here for weary ships,No mooring-cable. Aeneas brings them in,Seven weary vessels, and the men are gladTo be ashore again, to feel dry sandUnder the salt-stained limbs. Achates strikesThe spark from the flint, catches the fire on leaves,Adds chips and kindling, blows and fans the flame,And they bring out the soaked and salty corn,The hand-mills, stone and mortar, and make ready,As best they can, for bread.

Meanwhile AeneasClimbs to a look-out, for a view of the ocean,Hoping for some good luck; the Phrygian galleysMight meet his gaze, or Capys’ boats, or a pennonOn a far-off mast-head flying. There is nothing,Nothing to see out yonder, but near the waterThree stags are grazing, with a herd behind them,A long line browsing through the peaceful valley.He reaches for the bow and the swift arrowsBorne by Achates, and he shoots the leaders,High-antlered, routs the common herd, and ceasesOnly when seven are slain, a number equalTo the ships’ tally, and then he seeks the harbor,Divides the spoil, broaches the wine AcestesHad stowed for them at Drepanum on their leaving,A kingly present, and he calms their trouble,Saying: “O comrades, we have been through evilTogether before this; we have been through worse,Scylla, Charybdis, and the Cyclops’ dwelling,The sounding rocks. This, too, the god will end.Call the nerve back; dismiss the fear, the sadness.Some day, perhaps, remembering even thisWill be a pleasure. We are going onThrough whatsoever chance and change, untilWe come to Latium, where the fates point outA quiet dwelling-place, and Troy recovered.Endure, and keep yourself for better days.”He kept to himself the sorrow in the heart,Wearing, for them, a mask of hopefulness.They were ready for the feasting. Part lay bareThe flesh from the torn hides, part cut the meatImpaling it, still quivering, on spits,Setting the kettles, keeping the water boiling,And strong with food again, sprawling stretched outOn comfortable grass, they take their fillOf bread and wine and venison, till hungerIs gone, and the board cleared. And then they talkFor a long time, of where their comrades are,Are, or may be, hopeful and doubtful both.Could they believe them living? or would a cryFall on deaf ears forever? All those captains,Brave Gyas, brave Cloanthus, Amycus,Lycus, Orontes,—in his secret heartAeneas mourns them.Meanwhile, from the heavenJupiter watched the lands below, and the seasWith the white points of sails, and far-off people,Turning his gaze toward Libya. And VenusCame to him then, a little sadly, tearsBrimming in those bright eyes of hers. “Great father,”She said, “Great ruler of the worldOf men and gods, great wielder of the lightning,What has my poor Aeneas done? what outrageCould Trojans perpetrate, so that the worldRejects them everywhere, and many a deathInflicted on them over Italy?There was a promise once, that as the yearsRolled onward, they would father Rome and rulersOf Roman stock, to hold dominion overAll sea and land. That was a promise, father;What changed it? Once that promise was my comfort;Troy fell; I weighed one fate against anotherAnd found some consolation. But disasterKeeps on; the same ill-fortune follows after.What end of it all, great king? One man, Antenor,Escaped the Greeks, came through Illyrian watersSafe to Liburnian regions, where TimavusRoars underground, comes up nine times, and reachesThe floodland near the seas. One man, Antenor,Founded a city, Padua, a dwellingFor Trojan men, a resting-place from labor,And shares their quietude. But we, your children,To whom heaven’s height is granted, we are betrayed,We have lost our ships, we are kept from Italy,Kept far away. One enemy—I tell youThis is a shameful thing! Do we deserve it?Is this our rise to power?”He smiled, in answer,The kind of smile that clears the air, and kissed her.“Fear not, my daughter; fate remains unmovedFor the Roman generations. You will witnessLavinium’s rise, her walls fulfill the promise;You will bring to heaven lofty-souled Aeneas.There has been no change in me whatever. Listen!To ease this care, I will prophesy a little,I will open the book of fate. Your son AeneasWill wage a mighty war in Italy,Beat down proud nations, give his people laws,Found them a city, a matter of three yearsFrom victory to settlement. His son,The boy Ascanius, named Ilus once,When Troy was standing, and now called Iulus,Shall reign for thirty years, and great in powerForsake Lavinium, transfer the kingdomTo Alba Longa, new-built capital.Here, for three hundred years, the line of HectorShall govern, till a royal priestess bearsTwin sons to Mars, and Romulus, rejoicingIn the brown wolf-skin of his foster-mother,Takes up the tribe, and builds the martial wallsAnd calls the people, after himself, the Romans.To these I set no bounds in space or time;They shall rule forever. Even bitter JunoWhose fear now harries earth and sea and heavenWill change to better counsels, and will cherishThe race that wears the toga, Roman mastersOf all the world. It is decreed. The timeWill come, as holy years wheel on, when TroyWill subjugate Mycenae, vanquish Phthia,Be lord of Argos. And from this great lineWill come a Trojan, Caesar, to establishThe limit of his empire at the ocean,His glory at the stars, a man called JuliusWhose name recalls Iulus. Welcome waitsFor him in heaven; all the spoils of AsiaWill weigh him down, and prayer be made before him.Then wars will cease, and a rough age grow gentler,White Faith and Vesta, Romulus and Remus,Give law to nations. War’s grim gates will close,Tight-shut with bars of iron, and inside themThe wickedness of war sit bound and silent,The red mouth straining and the hands held tightIn fastenings of bronze, a hundred hundred.”

With that, he sent down Mercury from heavenThat Carthage might be kindly, and her landAnd new-built towers receive them with a welcome,And their queen, Dido, knowing the will of fate,Swing wide her doors. On the oarage of his wingsHe flies through the wide sweep of air to Libya,Where, at the will of the god, the folk make readyIn kindliness of heart, and their queen’s purposeIs gracious and gentle.

All night long AeneasHad pondered many a care, and with bright morningResolved to reconnoiter; the winds have brought himTo a new country: who lives in it, menOr only beasts? The fields appear untended.The fleet lies under a hollow cliff, surroundedBy spikes of shade, and groves arch overhead,Ample concealment. Aeneas and AchatesWent forth together, armed, down the trail in the forest,And there his mother met him, a girl, it seemed,From Thrace or Sparta, trim as any huntressWho rides her horses hard, or outspeeds riversIn her swift going. A bow hung over her shoulder,Her hair blew free, her knees were bare, her garmentsTucked at the waist and knotted. As she saw them,“Ho there, young men,” she cried, “have you seen my sisterAround here anywhere? She wears a quiver,And a spotted lynx-hide; maybe you have heard herHunting the boar and shouting?”But her sonResponded: “No; we have heard no sounds of hunting.We have seen no one here. But tell me, maiden,What name to call you by? In voice and featureYou are, I think, no mortal; a goddess, surely,—Nymph, or Apollo’s sister? Whoever you are,Be kind to us, lighten our trouble, tell usUnder what sky, along what coast of the world,We wander, knowing neither land nor people,Driven by gales and billows. Many a victimWe shall make ready for your altar.” VenusAnswered: “I have no title to such honor.The Tyrian girls all wear these crimson leggingsLake mine, and carry quivers. Tyrian folkLive here; their city is Carthage; over the borderLies Libya, warlike people. Our queen, Dido,Came here from Tyre; she was fleeing from her brother,—A long and complicated story; outrage,—No matter; here it is, in brief. Her husbandWas Sychaeus, wealthiest of all Phoenicians,At least in land, and Dido loved him dearlySince first her father gave her to him, virgin,And then unlucky bride. She had a brother,Pygmalion, king of Tyre, a monster, evilIn wickedness, and madness came betweenThose men, the two of them. Pygmalion murderedSychaeus at the altar; he was crazyAnd blind for gold and crafty; what did he careAbout his sister’s love? And he kept it quietFor a long time, kept telling Dido somethingTo fool her with false comfort, but SychaeusCame to her in a dream, a ghost, unburied,With the wounds in his breast, the story of the altar,The pale lips blurting out the secret horror,The crime in the dark of the household. Flee, he told her,Forsake this land; and he told her where the treasureLay hidden in earth, uncounted gold and silver.Dido was moved to flight, secured companions,All those possessed by fear, all those whom hatredHad made relentless; ships were standing ready,As it so happened; they put the gold aboard,And over the sea the greedy tyrant’s treasureWent sailing, with a woman for a captain.They came here; you will see the walls arisingAnd the great citadel of the town called Carthage.Here they bought ground; they used to call it Byrsa,That being a word for bull’s hide; they bought onlyWhat a bull’s hide could cover. And now tell meWho you might be yourselves? what land do you come from,Bound for what coast?”And he began his answerWith a long sigh: “O goddess, if I told youAll from the first beginning, if you had leisureTo listen to the record of our trouble,It would take me all day long. From ancient Troy,In case that name means anything, we comeDriven over many seas, and now a stormHas whipped us on this coast. I am Aeneas,A good, devoted man; I carry with meMy household gods, saved from the Greeks; I am knownIn heaven; it is Italy I seek,A homeland for me there, and a race descendedFrom lofty Jove. With a score of ships we startedOver the Phrygian ocean, following fateAnd the way my mother pointed. Only sevenAre left us now, battered survivors, afterThe rage of wind and wave. And here I wanderThe wastes of Libya, unknown and needy,Driven from Europe and Asia.” And his motherBroke in on his complaining:—“Whoever you are,Some god must care for you, I think, to bring youHere to the city of Carthage. Follow on,Go to the royal palace. For, I tell you,Your comrades have returned, your fleet is safe,Brought to good haven by the turn of the winds,Unless the augury my parents taught meWas foolish nonsense. In the heaven yonderYou see twelve swans, rejoicing in long column,Scattered, a little while ago, and drivenBy the swooping eagle, over all the sky,But now, it seems, they light on land, or watchThose who came down before them; as they circleIn company, and make a cheerful soundWith whir of wing or song, so, let me tell you,Your ships and men already enter harborOr near it under full sail. Keep on, go forwardWhere the path leads.”And as she turned, her shouldersShone with a radiant light; her hair shed fragrance,Her robes slipped to her feet, and the true goddessWalked in divinity. He knew his mother,And his voice pursued her flight: “Cruel again!Why mock your son so often with false phantoms?Why may not hand be joined to hand, and wordsExchanged in truthfulness?” So, still reproachful,He went on toward the city, with Achates,But Venus cast dark air around their going,A veil of mist, so that no man might see themOr lay a hand on them, or halt them, askingThe reasons of their coming. She soared upwardTo Paphos, happily home to temple and altarsSteaming with incense, redolent with garlands.And they went on, where the little pathway led themTo rising ground; below them lay the city,Majestic buildings now, where once were hovels,A wonder to Aeneas, gates and bustleAnd well-paved streets, the busy Tyrians toilingWith stones for walls and citadel, or markingFoundations for their homes, drainage and furrow,All under ordered process. They dredge harbors,Set cornerstones, quarry the rock, where somedayTheir theater will tower. They are like beesIn early summer over the country flowersWhen the sun is warm, and the young of the hive emerge,And they pack the molten honey, bulge the cellsWith the sweet nectar, add new loads, and harryThe drones away from the hive, and the work glows,And the air is sweet with bergamot and clover.“Happy the men whose walls already rise!”Exclaims Aeneas, gazing on the city,And enters there, still veiled in cloud—a marvel!—And walks among the people, and no one sees him.There was a grove in the middle of the city,Most happy in its shade; this was the placeWhere first the Tyrians, tossed by storm and whirlwind,Dug up the symbol royal Juno showed them,The skull of a war-horse, a sign the race to comeWould be supreme in war and wealth, for ages,And Dido here was building a great templeIn Juno’s honor, rich in gifts, and blessedWith the presence of the goddess. Lintel and rafterWere bronze above bronze stairways, and bronze portalsSwung on bronze hinges. Here Aeneas firstDared hope for safety, find some reassuranceIn hope of better days: a strange sight met him,To take his fear away. Waiting the queen,He stood there watching, under the great temple,Letting his eyes survey the city’s fortune,The artist’s workmanship, the craftsman’s labor,And there, with more than wonder, he sees the battlesFought around Troy, and the wars whose fame had travelledThe whole world over; there is Agamemnon,Priam, and Menelaus, and Achilles,A menace to them all. He is moved to tears.“What place in all the world,” he asks Achates,“Is empty of our sorrow? There is Priam!Look! even here there are rewards for praise,There are tears for things, and what men suffer touchesThe human heart. Dismiss your fear; this storyWill bring some safety to you.” Sighing often,He could not turn his gaze away; it was onlyA picture on a wall, but the sight affordedFood for the spirit’s need. He saw the Greeks,Hard-pressed, in flight, and Trojans coming after,Or, on another panel, the scene reversed,Achilles in pursuit, his own men fleeing;He saw, and tears came into his eyes again,The tents of Rhesus, snowy-white, betrayedIn their first sleep by bloody DiomedesWith many a death, and the fiery horses drivenInto the camp, before they ever tastedThe grass of Troy, or drank from Xanthus’ river.Another scene showed Troilus, poor youngster,Running away, his arms flung down; AchillesWas much too good for him; he had fallen backwardOut of his car, but held the reins, and the horsesDragged him along the ground, his hair and shouldersBounding in dust, and the spear making a scribble.And there were Trojan women, all in mourning,With streaming hair, on their way to Pallas’ temple,Bearing, as gift, a robe, but the stern goddessKept her gaze on the ground. Three times AchillesHad dragged the body of Hector around the walls,And was selling it for money. What a groanCame from Aeneas’ heart, seeing that spoil,That chariot, and helpless Priam reachingHis hands, unarmed, across the broken body!And he saw himself there, too, fighting in battleAgainst Greek leaders, he saw the Eastern columns,And swarthy Memnon’s arms. Penthesilea,The Amazon, blazes in fury, leadingHer crescent-shielded thousands, a golden buckleBelow her naked breast, a soldieressFighting with men.And as he watched these marvelsIn one long fascinated stare of wonder,Dido, the queen, drew near; she came to the templeWith a great train, all majesty, all beauty,As on Eurotas’ riverside, or whereMount Cynthus towers high, Diana leadsHer bands of dancers, and the Oreads followIn thousands, right and left, the taller goddess,The quiver-bearing maiden, and LatonaIs filled with secret happiness, so DidoMoved in her company, a queen, rejoicing,Ordering on her kingdom’s rising glory.At Juno’s portal, under the arch of the temple,She took her throne, a giver of law and justice,A fair partitioner of toil and duty,And suddenly Aeneas, from the crowd,Saw Trojan men approaching, brave Cloanthus,Sergestus, Antheus, and all those othersWhom the black storm had driven here and yonder.This he cannot believe, nor can Achates,Torn between fear and joy. They burn with ardorTo seek their comrades’ handclasp, but confusionStill holds them in the cloud: what can have happened?They watch from the cover of mist: men still were comingFrom all the ships, chosen, it seemed, as pleadersFor graciousness before the temple, callingAloud: what fortune had been theirs, he wonders,Where had they left the ships; why were they coming?They were given audience; Ilioneus,Senior to all, began: “O Queen, whom JoveHas given the founding of a great new city,Has given to bridle haughty tribes with justice,We, pitiful Trojans, over every oceanDriven by storm, make our appeal: keep from usThe terrible doom of fire; protect our vessels;Have mercy on a decent race; considerOur lot with closer interest. We have not comeTo ravish Libyan homes, or carry plunderDown to the shore. We lack the arroganceOf conquerors; there is no aggression in us.There is a place which Greeks have given a name,The Land in the West; it is powerful in arms,Rich in its soil; Oenotrians used to live there,And now, the story goes, a younger peopleInhabit it, calling themselves ItaliansAfter their leader’s name. We were going thereWhen, big with storm and cloud, Orion risingDrove us on hidden quicksands, and wild windsScattered us over the waves, by pathless rocksAnd the swell of the surge. A few of us have driftedHere to your shores. What kind of men are these,What barbarous land permits such attitudes?We have been denied the welcome of the beach,Forbidden to set foot on land; they rouseAll kinds of war against us. You despise,It may be, human brotherhood, and armsWielded by men. But there are gods, remember,Who care for right and wrong. Our king AeneasMay be alive; no man was ever more just,More decent ever, or greater in war and arms.If fate preserves him still, if he still breathesThe welcome air, above the world of shadows,Fear not; to have treated us with kindly serviceNeed bring you no repentance. We have citiesIn Sicily as well, and King AcestesIs one of us, from Trojan blood. We ask youTo let us beach our battered fleet, make readyBeams from the forest timber, mend our oarage,Seek Italy and Latium, glad at knowingOur king and comrades rescued. But if safetyIs hopeless for him now, and Libyan waterHas been his grave, and if his son IulusIs desperate, or lost, grant us permissionAt least to make for Sicily, whence we came here,Where king Acestes has a dwelling for us.”The Trojans, as he ended, all were shouting,And Dido, looking down, made a brief answer:“I am sorry, Trojans; put aside your care,Have no more fear. The newness of the kingdomAnd our strict need compel to me such measures—Sentries on every border, far and wide.But who so ignorant as not to knowThe nation of Aeneas, manly bothIn deeds and people, and the city of Troy?We are not as dull as that, we folk from Carthage;The sun shines on us here. Whether you seekThe land in the west, the sometime fields of Saturn,Or the Sicilian realms and king Acestes,I will help you to the limit; should you wishTo settle here and share this kingdom with me,The city I found is yours; draw up your ships;Trojan and Tyrian I treat alike.Would, also, that your king were here, Aeneas,Driven by that same wind. I will send good menAlong the coast to seek him, under ordersTo scour all Libya; he may be wanderingSomewhere, in woods or town, surviving shipwreck.”Aeneas and Achates both were eagerTo break the cloud; the queen inspired their spiritWith her address. Achates asked Aeneas:—“What do we do now, goddess-born? You seeThey all are safe, our vessels and our comrades,Only one missing, and we saw him drowning,Ourselves, beneath the waves; all other thingsConfirm what Venus told us.” And as he finished,The cloud around them broke, dissolved in air,Illumining Aeneas, like a god,Light radiant around his face and shoulders,And Venus gave him all the bloom of youth.Its glow, its liveliness, as the artist addsLuster to ivory, or sets in goldSilver or marble. No one saw him comingUntil he spoke:—“You seek me; here I am,Trojan Aeneas, saved from the Libyan waves.Worn out by all the perils of land and sea,In need of everything, blown over the great world,A remnant left by the Greeks, Dido, we lackThe means to thank our only pitierFor offer of a city and a home.If there is justice anywhere, if goodnessMeans anything to any power, if godsAt all regard good people, may they giveThe great rewards you merit. Happy the age,Happy the parents who have brought you forth!While rivers run to sea, while shadows moveOver the mountains, while the stars burn on,Always, your praise, your honor, and your name,Whatever land I go to, will endure.”His hand went out to greet his men, Serestus,Gyas, Cloanthus, Ilioneus,The others in their turn. And Dido marvelledAt his appearance, first, and all that troubleHe had borne up under; there was a moment’s silenceBefore she spoke: “What chance, what violence,O goddess-born, has driven you through danger,From grief to grief? Are you indeed that sonWhom Venus bore Anchises? I rememberWhen Teucer came to Sidon, as an exileSeeking new kingdoms, and my father helped him,My father, Belus, conqueror of Cyprus.From that time on I have known about your city,Your name, and the Greek kings, and the fall of Troy.Even their enemies would praise the Trojans,Or claim descent from Teucer’s line. I bid youEnter my house. I, too, am fortune-drivenThrough many sufferings; this land at lastHas brought me rest. Not ignorant of evil,I know one thing, at least,—to help the wretched.”And so she led Aeneas to the palace,Proclaiming sacrifice at all the templesIn honor of his welcome, and sent presentsTo his comrades at the shore, a score of bullocks,A hundred swine, a hundred ewes and lambsIn honor of the joyous day. The palace,Within, is made most bright with pomp and splendor,The halls prepared for feasting. Crimson coversAre laid, with fine embroidery, and silverIs heavy on the tables; gold, engraven,Recalls ancestral prowess, a tale of heroesFrom the race’s first beginnings.And Aeneas,Being a thoughtful father, speeds AchatesBack to the ships, with tidings for Iulus,He is to join them; all the father’s fondnessIs centred on the son. Orders are givenTo bring gifts with him, saved from the Trojan ruins,A mantle stiff with figures worked in gold;A veil with gold acanthus running through it,Once worn by Helen, when she sailed from SpartaToward that forbidden marriage, a wondrous giftMade by her mother Leda; and the sceptreThat Ilione, Priam’s eldest daughter,Had carried once; a necklace hung with pearls;A crown of gold and jewels. Toward the shipsAchates sped the message.Meanwhile VenusPlotted new stratagems, that Cupid, changedIn form and feature, should appear insteadOf young Ascanius, and by his giftsInspire the queen to passion, with his fireBurning her very bones. She feared the houseHeld dubious intentions; men of TyreWere always two-faced people, and Juno’s angerVexed her by night. She spoke to her wingèd son:—“O my one strength and source of power, my son,Disdainful of Jove’s thunderbolt, to youI come in prayer for help. You know that JunoIs hateful toward Aeneas, keeps him tossingAll over the seas in bitterness; you have oftenGrieved with me for your brother. And now DidoHolds him with flattering words; I do not trustJuno’s ideas of welcome; she will neverPause at a point like this. Therefore I purposeTo take the queen by cunning, put around herA wall of flame, so that no power can change her,So that a blazing passion for AeneasWill bind her to us. Listen! I will tell youHow you can manage this. The royal boy,My greatest care, has heard his father’s summonsTo come to the city, bringing presents, rescuedFrom the flames of Troy and the sea; and he is ready.But I will make him drowsy, carry him offIn slumber over Cythera, or hide himDeep on Idalium in a secret bowerBefore he learns the scheme or interrupts it.You, for one night, no more, assume his features,The boy’s familiar guise, yourself a boy,So that when Dido takes you to her bosomDuring the royal feast, with the wine flowing,And happiness abounding, you, receivingThe sweetness of her kiss, will overcome herWith secret fire and poison.”For his motherCupid put off his wings, and went rejoicingWith young Iulus’ stride; the real IulusVenus had lulled in soft repose, and borne himWarm in her bosom to Idalian groves,Where the soft marjoram cradled him with blossomExhaling shadowy sweetness over his slumber.And, with Achates leading, Cupid cameObedient to his mother, bringing gifts.The queen receives them, on a golden couchBelow the royal tapestries, where spreadsOf crimson wait Aeneas and his Trojans.Servants bring water for their hands, and breadIn baskets, and fine napkins. At the fireAre fifty serving-maids, to set the feast,A hundred more, girls, and a hundred boysTo load the tables, and bring the goblets round,As through the happy halls the Tyrians throng,Admire the Trojan gifts, admire Iulus,The young god with the glowing countenance,The charming words, the robe, the saffron veilEdged with acanthus. More than all the rest,Disaster-bound, the unhappy queen takes fire,And cannot have enough of looking, movedAlike by boy and gifts. She watches himCling to his father’s neck, or come to herFor fondling, and her eyes, her heart, receive him,Alas, poor queen, not knowing what a godIs plotting for her sorrow. He remembersWhat Venus told him; she forgets a littleAbout Sychaeus; the heart unused to loveStirs with a living passion.When the first quiet settled over the tables,And the boards were cleared, they set the great bowls down,Crowning the wine with garlands. A great humRuns through the halls, the voices reach the rafters,The burning lamps below the fretted gold,The torches flaring, put the night to rout.The queen commands the loving-cup of Belus,Heavy with gems and gold, and fills it full,And silence fills the halls before her prayer:—“Jupiter, giver of laws for host and guest,Grant this to be a happy day for all,Both Tyrians and travellers from Troy,And something for our children to remember!May Bacchus, giver of joy, attend, and JunoBe kind, and all my Tyrians be friendly!”She poured libation on the table, touchedThe gold rim with her lips, passed on the bowlTo Bitias, who dove deep, and other lordsTook up the challenge. And a minstrel playedA golden lyre, Iopas, taught by Atlas:Of the sun’s labors and the wandering moonHe sang, whence came the race of beasts and man,Whence rain and fire, the stars and constellations,Why suns in winter hasten to the sea,Or what delay draws out the dawdling nights.The Tyrians roar, applauding, and the TrojansRejoice no less, and the poor queen prolongsThe night with conversation, drinking deepOf her long love, and asking many questionsOf Priam, Hector; of the arms of Memnon;How big Achilles was; and Diomedes,What were his horses like? “Tell us, my guest,”She pleads, “from the beginning, all the story,The treachery of the Greeks, the wanderings,The perils of the seven tiresome years.”