Classical Texts Library >> Virgil, Aeneid >> Book 3




Storm, Aeneas & Dido Part I


Aeneas' Tale: Sack of Troy


Aeneas' Tale: The Voyage


Aeneas & Dido Part II


Funeral Games of Anchises


The Cumaean Sibyl
Journey to the Underworld

BOOKS 7 - 12


[1] “After it had pleased the gods above to overthrow the power of Asia and Priam’s guiltless race, after proud Ilium fell, and all Neptune’s Troy smokes from the ground, we are driven by heaven’s auguries to seek distant scenes of exile in waste lands. Close to Antandros and the mountains of Phrygian Ida we build a fleet, uncertain whither the Fates lead or where it is granted us to settle; and there we muster our men. Scarcely had the beginning of summer come when my father Anchises bade us spread sails to Fate, and then with tears I quit my native shores and harbours, and the plains, where once was Troy. An exile, I fare forth upon the deep, with my comrades and son, my household gods and the great deities.

[13] “At a distance lies the war god’s land, of widespread plains, tilled by Thracians, and once ruled by fierce Lycurgus; friendly of old to Troy, with allied gods, in happier times. To it I sail and on the winding shore found my first city, entering on the task with untoward fates, and from my own name fashion the name Aeneadae.

[19] “I was offering sacrifice to my mother, daughter of Dione, and the other gods, that they might bless the work begun, and to the high king of the lords of heaven was slaying a shining white bull upon the shore. By chance, hard by there was a mound, on whose top were cornel bushes and myrtles bristling with crowded spear shafts. I drew near, and essaying to tear up the green growth from the soil, that I might deck the altar with leafy boughs, I see an awful portent, wondrous to tell. For from the first tree which is torn from the ground with broken roots trickle drops of black blood and stain the earth with gore. A cold shudder shakes my limbs, and my chilled blood freezes with terror. Once more, from a second also I go on to pluck a tough shoot and probe deep the hidden cause; from the bark of the second also follows black blood. Pondering much in heart, I prayed to woodland Nymphs, and father Gradivus, who rules over the Getic fields, duly to bless the vision and lighten the omen. But when with greater effort I assail the third shafts, and with my knees wrestle against the resisting sands – should I speak of be silent? – a piteous groan is heard from the depth of the mound, and an answering voice comes to my ears. ‘Woe is me! why, Aeneas, do you tear me? Spare me in the tomb at last; spare the pollution of your pure hands! I, born of Troy, am no stranger to you; not from a lifeless stock oozes this blood. Ah! flee the cruel land, flee the greedy shore! For I am Polydorus. Here an iron harvest of spears covered my pierced body, and grew up into sharp javelins.’ Then, indeed, with mind borne down with perplexing dread, I was appalled, my hair stood up, and the voice choked in my throat.

[49] “This Polydorus, with great weight of gold, luckless Priam had once sent in secret to be reared by the Thracian king, when he now lost hope in the arms of Dardania and saw the city beleaguered. When the power of Troy was crushed and Fortune withdrew, the Thracian, following Agamemnon’s cause and triumphant arms, severs every sacred tie, slays Polydorus, and takes the gold perforce. To what crime do you not drive the hearts of men, accursed hunger for gold? When fear had fled my soul, I lay the divine portents before the chosen chiefs of the people, my father first, and ask what is their judgement. All are of one mind, to quit the guilty land, to leave a place where hospitality is profaned, and to give our fleet the winds. So for Polydorus we solemnize fresh funeral rites, and earth is heaped high upon the mound; altars are set up the dead, made mournful with somber rivers and black cypress; and about them stand Ilian women, with hair streaming as custom ordains. We offer foaming bowls of warm milk and cups of victims’ blood, lay the spirit at rest in the tomb, and with loud voice give the last call.

[69] “Then, as soon as we can trust the main, and the winds give us seas at peace, and the soft-whispering South calls to the deep, my comrades launch the ships and crowd the shores. We put out from port, and lands and towns fade from view. In mid-sea lies a holy land [Delos], most dear to the mother of the Nereids and Aegean Neptune, which, as it wandered round coasts and shores, the grateful archer god bound fast, to lofty Myconos and Gyaros, suffering it to lie unmoved, defying the winds. Hither I sail; and most peacefully the island welcomes our weary band in a safe haven. Landing, we do homage to Apollo’s town. King Anius – at once king of the people and priest of Phoebus – his brows bound with fillets and hallowed laurel, meets us, and in Anchises finds an old friend. We clasp hands in welcome, and pass beneath his roof.

[84] “I was paying homage to the god’s temple, built of ancient stone: ‘Grant us, god of Thymbra, an enduring home; grant our weary band walls, and a race, and a city that shall abide; preserve Troy’s second fortress, the remnant left by the Greeks and pitiless Achilles! Whom should we follow? Whither do you bid us go? Where fix our home? Grant, father, an omen, and inspire our hearts!’

[90] “Scarcely had I said this, when suddenly it seemed all things trembled, the doors and laurels of the god; the whole hill shook round about and the tripod moaned as the shrine was thrown open. Prostrate we fall to earth, and a voice comes to our ears: ‘Long-suffering sons of Dardanus, the land which bore you first from your parent stock shall welcome you back to her fruitful bosom. Seek out your ancient mother. There the house of Aeneas shall lord it over all lands, even his childrens’ children and their race that shall be born of them.’ Thus Phoebus; and mighty joy arose, mingled with tumult; all ask, What walls are those? Whither calls Phoebus the wanderers, bidding them return? Then my father, pondering the memorials of the men of old, cries: ‘Hear, princes, and learn your hopes. In mid-ocean lies Crete, the island of great Jove, where is Mount Ida, and the cradle of our race. There men dwell in a hundred great cities, a realm most fertile, whence our earliest ancestor Teucer, if I recall the tale aright, fist sailed to the Rhoetean shores, and chose a site for his kingdom. Not yet had Ilium and the towers of Pergamus been reared; men dwelt in the low valleys. Hence came the Mother who haunts Cybelus, the Corybantian cymbals and the grove of Ida; hence came the faithful silence of her mysteries, and yoked lions submitted to our lady’s chariot. Come then, and let us follow where the gods bidding leads, let us appease the winds and seek the realm of Cnosus! Nor is it a long run thither: if only Jupiter be gracious, the third dawn shall anchor our fleet on the Cretan coast.’ So he spoke, and on the altars slew the sacrifices due, a bull to Neptune, a bull to you, fair Apollo, a black sheep to the storm god, a white to the favouring Zephyrs.

[121] “A rumour flies that Idomeneus, the chieftain, ahs left his father’s realm for exile, that the shores of Crete are abandoned, her homes are void of foes, and the deserted abodes stand ready for our coming. We leave the harbour of Ortygia and fly over the sea, past Naxos with its Bacchic revels on the heights, and green Donysa, Olearos, snow-white Paros, and the sea-strewn Cyclades, and thread the straits sown thick with islands. The sailors’ shouts rise in varied rivalry; the crews raise the cheer: ‘On to Crete and our forefathers!’ A wind rising astern attends us as we sail, and at last we glide up to the ancient shores of the Curetes. Eagerly, therefore, I work on the walls of my chosen city, call it Pergamum, and urge my people, who rejoice at the old name, to love their hearths and build a citadel with lofty roof. And now the ships were just drawn up on the dry beach; our youth were busy with marriages and new tillage, and I was giving laws and homes, when on a sudden, from a tainted quarter of the sky, came a pestilence and season of death, to the wasting of our bodies and the piteous ruin of trees and crops. Men gave up their sweet lives, or dragged enfeebled frames; Sirius, too, scorched the fields with drought; the grass withered, and the sickly crop denied sustenance. My father urges us to recross the sea and go again to Phoebus and Ortygia’s oracle, to pray for favour, and ask what end he grants to our weary lot, whence he bids us seek aid for our distress, whither bend our course.

[147] “It was night and on earth sleep held the living world. The sacred images of the gods, the Phrygian Penates, whom I had borne with me from Troy out of the midst of the burning city, seemed as I lay in slumber to stand before my eyes, clear in the flood of light, where the full moon streamed through the inset windows. Then thus they spoke to me and with these words dispelled my cares, ‘What Apollo is going to tell you when you reach Ortygia, he here utters, and he sends us unbidden to your threshold. We followed you and your arms when Dardania was burned; under you we traversed on ships the swelling sea; we, too, shall exalt to heaven your sons that are to be, and give empire to your city. Prepare mighty walls for the mighty, and do not shrink fro the long toil of flight. You must change your home. Not these the shores the Delian Apollo counseled, not in Crete did he bid you settle. A place there is, by Greeks named Hesperia, and ancient land, mighty in arms and in richness of the soil. There dwelt Oenotrians; now the rumour is that a younger race has called it from their leader’s name Italy. This is our abiding home; hence are Dardanus sprung and father Iasius, from whom first came our race. Come, arise, and with good cheer bear to your aged parent these certain tidings, to seek Corythus and the lands of Ausonia. Jupiter denies you the Dictaean fields.’

[172] “Awed by this vision and the voice of gods – nor was that a mere dream, but openly I seemed to know their looks, their filleted hair, and their living faces; and a cold sweat bedewed all my limbs – I snatch myself from my bed, raise my voice and upturned hands to heaven, and offer pure gifts upon the hearth. This rite fulfilled, I gladly tell Anchises the tale and reveal all in order. He recognized the twofold stock and double parentage, and his own confusion through a new error touching ancient lands. Then he speaks: ‘Son, tested by Ilium’s fate, Cassandra alone declared to me this fortune. Now I recall her foretelling this as due to our race, often naming Hesperia, often the Italian realm. But who was to believe that Teucrians should come to Hesperia’s shores? And whom would Cassandra’s prophecies then sway? Let us yield to Phoebus and at his warning pursue a better course.’ So he says and we all obey his speech with joyfulness. This home, too, we quit and, leaving some behind, spread our sails and speed in hollow keels over the waste sea.

[192] “After our ships gained the deep, and now no longer any land is seen, but sky on all sides and on all sides sea, then a murky rain cloud loomed overhead, bringing night and tempest, while the wave shuddered darkling. Straightway the winds roll up the waters and great seas rise; we are tossed hither and thither in the vast abyss. Storm clouds enwrapped the day, and a night of rain blotted out the sky; oft from the rent clouds dark lightning fires. We are hurled from our course and wander on the blind waves. Even Palinurus avows that he knows not day from night in the sky nor remembers the way amid the waters. For full three days, shrouded in misty gloom, we wander on the deep, for as many starless nights. On the fourth day at length land first was seen to rise, disclosing mountains far and curling smoke. The sails come down; we bend to the oars; without delay the sailors lustily churn the foam and sweep the blue waters.

[209] “Saved from the waves, I am received first by the shores of the Strophades – Strophades the Greek name they bear – islands set in the great Ionian sea, where dwell dread Celaeno and the other Harpies, since Phineus’ house was closed on them, and in fear they left their former tables. No monster more baneful than these, no fiercer plague or wrath of the gods ever rose from the Stygian waves. Maiden faces have these birds, foulest filth they drop, clawed hands are theirs, and faces ever gaunt with hunger . . . When hither borne we entered the harbour, lo! we see goodly herds of cattle scattered over the plains and flocks of goats untended no the grass. We rush upon them with the sword, calling the gods and Jove himself to share our spoil; then on the winding shore we build couches and banquet on the rich dainties. But suddenly, with fearful swoop from the mountains the Harpies are upon us, and with loud clanging shake their wings, plunder the feast; and with unclean touch mire every dish. Once more, in a deep recess under a hollowed rock, closely encircled by trees and quivering shade, we spread the tables and renew the fire on the altars; once more, from an opposite quarter o the sky and from a hidden lair, the noisy crowd with taloned feet hovers round the prey, tainting the dishes with their lips. Then I bid my comrades seize arms and declare war on the fell race. They do as they are bidden lay their swords in hiding in the grass, and bury their shields out of sight. So when, swooping down, the birds screamed along the winding shore, Misenus on his hollow brass gave the signal from his watch aloft. My comrades charge, and essay a strange combat, to despoil with the sword those filthy birds of ocean. Yet they feel now blows on their feathers, nor wounds on their backs, but, soaring skyward with rapid flight, leave the half-eaten prey and their foul traces.

[245] Only one, Celaeno, ill-boding seer, alights on a lofty rock, and breaks forth with this cry: ‘Is it even war, in return for slaughtered cattle and slain bullocks, is it war you are ready to bring upon us, sons of Laomedon, and would you drive the guiltless Harpies from their father’s realm? Take then to heart and fix there these words of mine. What the Father omnipotent foretold to Phoebus and Phoebus Apollo to me, I, eldest of the Furies, reveal to you. That you may reach Italy you sail the seas and invoke the winds: to Italy you shall go and freely enter her harbours; but you shall not gird with walls your promised city until dread hunger and the wrong of violence towards us force you to gnaw with your teeth and devour your very tables!’

[258] “She spoke and, borne away on her wings, fled back to the forest. But my comrades’ blood chilled and froze with sudden fear; their spirit fell, and no longer with arms, but with vows and prayers they now bid me sue for peace, whether these be goddesses, or dread and ill-omened birds. And father Anchises, with hands outstretched, from the beach calls upon the mighty gods, and proclaims the sacrifices due: ‘O gods, stay their threats! Gods, turn aside this misfortune and graciously save the guiltless!’ Then he bids them tear the cable from the shore, uncoil and loose the sheets. South winds stretch the sails; we flee over foaming waves, where breeze and pilot called our course. Now amid the waves appear wooded Zacynthus, Dulichium, and Same, and Neritus with its steepy crags. We flee past the rocks of Ithaca, Laertes’ realm, and curse the land that nursed cruel Ulysses. Soon, too, Mount Leucata’s storm-capped peaks come in view, and Apollo’s shrine, dreaded by sailors. Hither we wearily sail, and draw near the little town; the anchor is cast from the prow, the sterns stand ranged on the shore.

[278] “So having at last won land unhoped for, we offer to Jove dues of cleansing, kindle the altars with offerings, and throne the Actian shores in the games of Ilium. My comrades strip and, sleek with oil, engage in their native wrestling bouts, glad to have slipped past so many Argive towns, and kept on their flight through the midst of foes. Meanwhile the sun wheels round the mighty circuit of the year, and icy winter ruffles the waters with northern blasts. A shield of hollow brass, once borne by great Abas, I fix on the entrance pillars nad mark the even with a verse: These arms Aeneas from victorious Greeks.
Then I bid them quit the harbour and man the benches; with rival strokes my comrades lash the sea and sweep the waters. Soon we lose from sight the towering heights of the Phaeacians, skirt the shores of Epirus, enter the Chaonian harbour, and draw near Buthrotum’s lofty city.

[294] “Here the rumour of a tale beyond belief fills our ears, that Priam’s son Helenus, is reigning over Greek cities, having won the wife and kingdom of Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, and that Andromache has again passed to a husband of her own race. I was amazed, and my heart burned with wondrous desire to address him and learn of this strange fortune. I advance from the harbour, leaving shore and fleet, just when, as it happened, Andromache, in a grove outside the city, by the waters of a mimic Simois, was offering her yearly feast and gifts of mourning to the dust, and calling the ghost to Hector’s tomb – the empty mound of green turf that she had hallowed with twin altars, there to shed her tears. When she caught sight of me coming, and saw to her amazement the arms of Troy around, awed by these great marvels she stiffened even as she gazed, and the warmth forsook her limbs. She swoons, and at last after a long time speaks: ‘Are you real form, a real messenger, coming to me, goddess-born? Are you alive? Or if the light of life has left you, where is Hector?’ She spoke, and shedding a flood of tears filled all the place with her cries. To her in her frenzy I can scarcely make a brief reply, a deeply moved gasp with broken words: ‘I live indeed, and drag on my life through all extremes; doubt not, for what you see is real . . . Ah! What face has befallen you, since you lost such a husband? What fortune worthy of you, Hector’s Andromache, is yours again? Are you still wedded to Pyrrhus?’ She cast down her eyes, and with lowered voice spoke:

[321] “’O happy beyond all others, maiden daughter of Priam, bidden to die at a foeman’s tomb, beneath Troy’s lofty walls, who never bore the lot’s award, nor knew, as captive, a conquering master’s bed! We, our homeland burnt, borne over distant seas, have endured the pride of Achilles’ son and his youthful insolence, bearing children in slavery; afterwards, seeking Leda’s Hermione and a Spartan marriage, he passed me over to Helenus’ keeping – a bondmaid and to a bondman. But him Orestes, fired with strong desire for his stolen bride, and goaded by the Furies of his crimes, catches unawares and slays at his father’s altar. By the death of Neoptolemus a portion of the realm passed as his due to Helenus, who called the plains Chaonian from Chaon of Troy, and placed on the heights a Pergamus, this Ilian citadel. But to you what winds, what fates gave a course? What god has driven you unknowing on our coasts? What of the boy Ascanius? Lives he yet and feeds he on the air of heaven? Whom no, lo, when Troy . . . Has the lad none the less some love for his lost mother? Do his father Aeneas and his uncle Hector arouse him at all to ancestral valour and to manly spirit?’ Such words she poured forth weeping, and was vainly raising a long lament, when the hero Helenus, Priam’s son, draws near from the city with a great company. He knows us for his kin, joyfully leads us to the gates, and freely pours forth tears at every word. I advance, and recognize a little Troy, with a copy of great Pergamus, and a dry brook that takes its named from Xanthus, and embrace the portals of a Scaean gate. No less, too, my Teucrians enjoy with me the friendly city. The king welcomed them amid broad colonnades; in the centre of the hall they poured libations of wine and held the bowls, while the feast was serve on gold.

[356] “And now day after day has passed; the breezes call to the sails, and the canvas fills with the swelling South. With these words I approach the seer, and thus make quest: ‘O son of Troy, interpreter of the gods, who know the will of Phoebus, the tripod and laurel of the Clarian, the stars, and tongues of birds and omens of the flying wing, come, tell me – for every sign from heaven has uttered favourable words to me about my journey, and all the gods in their oracles have counseled me to make for Italy and explore lands remote; only Celaeno the Harpy prophesies a startling portent, horrible to tell of, and threatens baleful wrath and foul famine – what perils am I first to shun? And by what course may I surmount such suffering? Then Helenus, first sacrificing steers in due form, craves the grace of heaven and unbinds the fillets of his hallowed brow; with his own hand he leads me to your gates, Phoebus, thrilled with your full presence, and then with a priest’s inspired lips thus prophesies:

[374] “’Goddess-born, since there is clear proof that under higher auspices you journey over the sea – for thus the king of the gods allots the destinies and rolls the wheel of change, and such is the circling course – a few things out of many I will unfold to you in speech, that so more safely you may traverse the seas of your sojourn, and find rest in Ausonia’s haven; for the Fates forbid Helenus to know more and Saturnian Juno stays her utterance. First of all, the Italy which now you deem so near, and whose harbours you are, unwitting one, prepared to enter as if they were close by, a distant path which is no path sunders widely. Firstly in the Trinacrian wave you must strain the oar, and traverse with your ships the salt Ausonian main, past the nether lakes and Aeaean Circe’s isle, before you can build your city in a land of safety. I will declare tokens to you; keep them stored in your mind. When, in your distress, by the waters of a secluded stream, you find a sow lying under the oaks on the shore, just delivered of a litter of thirty young, a white mother reclining on the ground, and white the young at her teats – there shall be the city’s site, there a sure rest from your toils. And fear not he gnawing of tables that awaits you; the Fates will find a way, and Apollo be present at your call. But these lands, and this nearest border of the Italian shore, that is washed by the tide of our own sea, avoid; in all the towns dwell evil Greeks! Here the Narycian Locri have built a city, and Lyctian Idomeneus has beset with soldiery the Sallentine plains; here is the famous town of Philoctetes, the Meliboean captain – tiny Petelia, strong within her wall. Moreover, when your ships have crossed the seas and anchored, and when you then raise altars and pay vows on the shore, veil your hair with the covering of a purple robe, that in the worship of the gods no hostile face may intrude amid the holy fires and mar the omens. Hold to this mode of sacrifice, you and your company; let your children’s children in purity stand fast.

[410] “’But when, on departing thence, the wind has borne you to the Sicilian coast, and the barriers of narrow Pelorus open out, make for the land on the left and the seas on the left, long though the circuit be; shun the shore and waters on the right. These lands, they say, of old broke asunder, torn by force of mighty upheaval – such vast change can length of time effect – when the two countries were one unbroken whole. The sea came in force between, cut off with its waters the Hesperian from the Sicilian coast, and with narrow tideway washes fields and cities on severed shores. Scylla guards the right side; insatiate Charybdis the left; and at the bottom of her seething chasm thrice she sucks the vast waves into the abyss, and again in turn throws them upwards, lashing the stars with spray. But Scylla a cavern confines in dark recesses, from which she thrusts forth her mouths and draws ships on to her rocks. Above she is of human form, down the waist a fair-bosomed maiden; below, she is a sea dragon of monstrous frame, with dolphins’ tails joined to a belly of wolves. Better is it slowly to round the promontory of Trinacrian Pachynus and double back on a long course than once get sight of misshapen Scylla in her vast cavern, and of the rocks that echo with her sea-green hounds. Moreover, if Helenus has any foresight, if the seer may claim any faith, if Apollo fills his soul with truths, this one thing, Goddess-born, this one in lieu of all I will foretell, and again and again repeat the warning: mighty Juno’s power honour first with prayer; to Juno joyfully chant vows, and win over the mighty mistress with suppliant gifts. So at last you will leave Trinacria behind and be sped triumphantly to the bounds of Italy. And when, thither borne, you draw near to the town of Cumae, the haunted lakes, and Avernus with its rustling woods, you will see an inspired prophetess, who deep in a rocky cave sings the Fates and entrusts to leaves signs and symbols. Whatever verses the maid has traced on leaves she arranged in order and stores away in the cave. These remain unmoved in their places and do not quit their rank; but when at the turn of a hinge a light breeze has stirred them, and the open door has scattered the tender foliage, never thereafter does she care to catch them, as they flutter in the rocky cave, nor to recover their places and unite the verses; in inquirers depart no wiser than they came, and loathe the Sibyl’s seat. Here let no loss of time by delay be of such importance in your eyes – though comrades chide, though the voyage urgently calls your sails to the deep and you have the chance to swell their folds with favouring gales – that you do not visit the prophetess and with prayers plead that she herself chant the oracles, and graciously open her lips in speech. The nations of Italy, the wars to come, how you are to flee or face each toil, she will unfold to you; and, reverently besought, she will grant you a prosperous voyage. These are the warnings that you are permitted to hear from my voice. Go, then, and by your deeds exalt Troy in greatness unto heaven!’

[463] “When the seer had thus spoken with friendly lips, he next gives commands that gifts of heavy gold and sawn ivory be brought to the ships, stows in the hulls massive silver and cauldrons of Dodona, a breastplate triple-woven with hooks of gold, and a brilliant pointed helm with crested plumes, the arms of Neoptolemus. There are gifts, too, for my father. He includes horses and includes guides . . . he fills up our crews, and also equips my comrades with arms.

[472] “Meanwhile Anchises bade us fit the ships with sails, so that the favouring wind would meet no delay. Him the interpreter of Phoebus with deep respect addresses: ‘Anchises, deemed worthy of lofty wedlock with Venus, the gods’ charge, twice rescued from the fall of Pergamus, see! before you is the land of Ausonia! Make sail and seize it! And yet past this shore you must drift upon the sea; far away is that part of Ausonia which Apollo reveals. Go forth,’ he cries, ‘blest in your son’s love. Why do I continue further, and with speech delay the rising winds? Andromache, too, sad at the last parting, brings robes figured with inwoven gold, and for Ascanius a Phrygian scarf, nor does she fail in courtesy, but loads him with gifts from the loom, and thus speaks: ‘Take these last gifts of your kin, you sole surviving image of my Astyanax! Such was he in eyes, in hands and face; even now would his youth be ripening in equal years with yours!’ My tears welled up as I spoke to them my parting words: ‘Live and be happy, as should those whose destiny is now achieved; we are still summoned from fate to fate. Your rest is won. No seas have you to plough, nor have you to seek Ausonian fields that move for ever backward. You see a copy of Xanthus and a Troy, which your own hands have built, under happier omens, I pray, and better shielded from Greeks. If ever I enter the Tiber and Tiber’s neighbouring fields and look on the city walls granted to my race, hereafter of our sister cities and allied peoples, Hesperia allied to Epirus – who have the same Dardanus for ancestor and the same disastrous story – of these two shall make one Troy in spirit. May that duty await our children’s children!’

[506] “Along the sea we speed, by the near Ceraunian cliffs, whence is the way to Italy and the shortest voyage over the waves. Meanwhile the sun sets and the hills lie dark in shade. Having allotted the oars, we fling ourselves down near the water on the bosom of the welcome land and refresh ourselves on the dry beach; sleep bedews our weary limbs. Not yet was Night, driven by the Hours, entering her mid course, when Palinurus springs, alert, from his couch, tries all the winds, and with eager ear catches the breeze; he marks all the stars gliding in the silent sky, Arcturus, the rainy Hyades, and the twin Bears, and he scans Orion, girt with golden armour. When he sees that all is calm in a cloudless sky, he gives a loud signal from the stern; we break up camp, venture on our way, and spread the wings of our sails. And now the stars were put to rout and Dawn was blushing, when far off we see dim hills and low-lying Italy. ‘Italy!’ cries Achates the foremost; Italy my comrades hail with joyful cry. Then father Anchises wreathed a great bowl, filled it with wine, and standing on the lofty stern called on the gods . . . ‘Oh gods, lords of the sea and earth and storms, carry us onward with easy wind, and blow with favouring breath!’ The longed-for breezes freshen, a haven opens as we now draw near, and a temple is seen on Minerva’s Height. My comrades furl the sails and shoreward turn the prows. There a harbour is bent bow-like by the eastern surge; its jutting reefs foam with the salt spray, itself lying hid; towering crags let down arms of twin walls, and the temple lies away from the shore. Here, as a first omen, four steeds I saw on the turf, grazing at large over the plain, as white as snow. Then father Anchises: ‘Tis war you bring, land of our reception; for war are horses armed, war these herds portend. But yet,’ he cries, ‘those same steeds at times are wont to come under the chariot and beneath the yoke to bear the bit in concord; there is hope also of peace!’ Then we pray to the holy power of Pallas, queen of clashing arms, who first welcomed our cheers, before the altar veil our heads in Phrygian robe, and, following the urgent charge which Helenus had given, duly offer to Argive Juno the prescribed sacrifice.

[548] “At once, soon as our vows are paid in full, we point seaward the horns of our sail-clad yards, and leave the homes of the Greek-born race and the fields we distrust. Next is descried the bay of Tarentum, a town of Hercules, if the tale be true; while over against it rise the Ladinian goddess [Hera], the towers of Caulon and shipwrecking Scylaeceum. Then in the distance out of the waves appears Trinacrian Aetna, and from afar we hear the loud moaning of the main, the beating of the rocks, and recurrent crash of waves upon the shore; the shoals dash up and the sands mingle with the surge. Then father Anchises: ‘Surely here is that Charybdis; these are the crags, these the dreaded rocks that Helenus foretold. To the rescue, comrades, and rise together over the oars!’ Even as bidden they do, and first Palinurus swung the groaning prow to the waves leftward; leftward all our force plied with oars and wind. We mount up to heaven on the arched billow and again, with the receding wave, sink down to the depths of hell. Thrice amid the rocky caverns the cliffs uttered a cry; thrice we saw the showered spray and the dripping stars. Meanwhile, at sundown he wind failed our weary band and, in ignorance of the way, we drift up to the Cyclopes’ coast.

[570] “There lies a harbour, safe from the winds’ approach and spacious in itself, but near at hand Aetna thunders with terrifying crashes, and now hurls forth to the sky a black cloud, smoking with pitch-black eddy and glowing ashes, and uplifts balls of flame and licks the stars – now violently vomits forth rocks, the mountain’s top uptorn entrails, and whirls molten stone skyward with a roar, and boils up from its lowest depths. The story runs that Enceladus’ form, scathed by the thunderbolt, is weighed down by that mass, and mighty Aetna, piled above, from its burst furnaces breathes forth flame; and ever as he turns his weary side all Trinacria moans and trembles, veiling the sky in smoke. All that night we hide in the woods, enduring monstrous horrors, and see not from what cause comes the sound. For neither did the stars show their fires, nor was heaven bright with sunlight, but mists darkened the sky and the dead of night held fast the moon in cloud.

[588] “And now the next day was rising with the earliest morning star, and Dawn had scattered from the sky the dewy shades, when on a sudden out of the woods comes forth the strange shape of an unknown man, outworn with uttermost hunger, and of piteous guise, and towards the beach stretches suppliant hands. We gaze at him. Ghastly in his squalor, with unshorn beard, and garb fastened with thorns, he was yet in all else a Greek, and had one been sent to Troy in his country’s arms. When far off he saw the Dardan dress and the Trojan weapons, affrighted at the sight he stopped awhile and checked his steps; then rushed headlong to the shore with tears and prayers: ‘by the stars I beseech you, by the gods above and this lightsome air we breathe, take me, Trojans, carry me away to any lands whatever; that will be enough. I know that I am one from the Danaan ships, and own that I warred against the gods of Ilium. For that, if my guilt hath done so much wrong, strew me piecemeal over the waves or plunge me in the vast sea. If I die, it will be a boon to have died at the hands of men!’ He ceased, and clung to our knees, clasping them and groveling there. We urge him to tell who he is, of what blood born, and then what fortune pursues him. My father Anchises himself, with little delay, gives the youth his hand and comforts his heart with the present pledge. At last he lays aside his fear and speaks thus:

[613] “’I come from the land of Ithaca, a companion of luckless Ulysses, Achaemenides by name, and, since my father Adamastus was poor – and would to heaven my luck had continued thus! – I set out for Troy. Here my comrades, when running away from the grim gateway, thoughtlessly left me in the Cyclops’ vast cave. It is a house of gore and bloodstained feasts, dark and huge within. The master, gigantic, strikes the stars on high – O gods, take such a pest away from earth! – in aspect forbidding, in speech to be accosted by none. He feeds on the flesh of wretched men and their dark blood. I myself saw when he seized in his huge hand two of our company and, as he lounged in the midst of the cave, smashed them on the rock, and the spattered courts swam with gore; I watched while he devoured their limbs, all dripping with black blood-clots, and the warm joints quivered beneath his teeth. But not unpunished! Ulysses did not stand for this, nor did the man of Ithaca forget who he was at this dreadful time. For when, gorged with the feast and drowned in wine, the monster rested his drooping neck, and lay in endless length throughout the cave, in his sleep vomiting gore and morsels mixed with blood and wine, we prayed to the great gods, then, with our parts allotted, pour round him on every side, and with pointed weapon pierce the one huge eye that lay deep-set beneath his savage brow, like an Argive shield or the lamp of Phoebus. And so at last we gladly avenged our dead comrades. But flee, hapless ones, flee and cut your cables from the shore! . . . For in shape and size like Polyphemus, as he pens his fleecy flocks in the rocky cave and drains their udders, a hundred other monstrous Cyclopes dwell all along these curved shores and roam the high mountains. For the third time now the moon’s horns are filling with light since I began to drag out my life in the woods among the lonely lairs and haunts of wild beasts, viewing form a rock the huge Cyclopes and trembling at their cries and tramping feet. A sorry living, berries and stony cornels, the boughs supply; and plants feed me with their uptorn roots. Scanning all the view, I saw this fleet drawing to shore. To it, prove what it might, I surrendered myself. It is enough to have escaped that accursed brood! Take away this life of mine – it is better so – by any death whatever!’

[655] “Scarce had he spoken when on the mountaintop we saw the giant himself, the shepherd Polyphemus, moving his mighty bulk among his flocks and seeking the well-known shore – a monster awful, hideous, huge, and eyeless. In his hand a lopped pine guides and steadies his steps. His fleecy sheep attend him – his sole joy they, sole solace of his woe! . . . As soon as he touched the deep waves and reached the sea, he washed therein the oozing blood from his eye’s socket, gnashing his teeth and groaning, then strides through the open sea; nor has the wave yet wetted his towering sides. Desperately we speed our flight far from there, taking on board a suppliant so deserving, and silently cut the cable; then, bending forward, sweep the seas silently with eager oars. He heard, and turned his steps towards the sound of the splash. But when no power is given him to lay hands on us, and he cannot in his pursuit keep up with the Ionian rollers, he raises a mighty roar, at which the sea and all its waves shuddered and the land of Italy was terrified far within, and Aetna bellowed in its winding caverns. But the race of Cyclopes, roused from the woods and high mountains, rush to the harbour and throng the shores. We see them, standing impotent with glaring eye, the Aetnean brotherhood, their heads towering to the sky, a grim conclave: even as when on a mountaintop lofty oaks or cone-clad cypresses stand in mass, a high forest of Jove or grove of Diana. In headlong speed, sharp fear drives us to fling out our sheets for any course between Scylla and Charybdis – a passage which on either side is but a hair’s breadth removed from death. It is resolved to sail back again, when the North Wind comes blowing from the narrow strait of Pelorus. Past Pantagia’s mouth with its living rock I voyage – past he Megarian bay and low-lying Tapsus. Such wee the coasts pointed out by Achaemenides, comrade of the luckless Ulysses, as he retraced his former wanderings.

[692] “Stretched in front of a Sicanian bay lies an island, over against wave-beated Plemyrium; men of old called it Ortygia. Hither, so runs the tale, Alpheus, river of Elis, forced a secret course beneath the sea, and now at your fountain, Arethusa, mingles with Sicilian waves. As bidden, we worship the great gods o the land, and thence I passed the wondrous rich soil of marshy Helorus. Next we skirt the high reefs and jutting rocks of Pachynus; and far off Camerina – Fate forbade that she ever be disturbed – is seen with the Geloan plains, and Gela, named after its impetuous river. Then steep Acragas, once the breeder of noble steeds, shows in the distance her mighty walls; and, with favourable winds granted by the gods, I leave you behind, palm-girt Selinus, and skirt the shoals of Lilybaeum, perilous with blind rocks. Next the harbour of Drepanum and its joyless shore receive me. Here I, who have been driven by so many ocean-storms, lose, alas! my father Anchises, solace of every care and chance; here, best of fathers, you leave me in my weariness, snatched, alas! from such mighty perils all for naught. Nor did the seer Helenus, though he warned me of many horrors, nor grim Celaeno fortell me this grief. This was my last trial, this the goal of my long voyaging; departing thence, the god drove me to your shores.”

[716] Thus father Aeneas, before an eager throne, alone recounted the dooms ordained of heaven, and taught the story of his wanderings. At last he ceased, and, here ending, took his rest.