Classical Texts Library >> Virgil, Aeneid >> Book 4




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] But the queen, long since smitten with a grievous love-pang, feeds the wound with her lifeblood, and is wasted with fire unseen. Oft to her mind rushes back the hero’s valour, oft his glorious stock; his looks and words cling fast to her bosom, and longing withholds calm rest from her limbs.

[6] The morrow’s dawn was lighting the earth with the lamp of Phoebus, and had scattered from the sky the dewy shades, when, much distraught, she thus speaks to her sister, sharer of her heart: “Anna, my sister, what dreams thrill me with fears? Who is this stranger guest who ahs entered our home? How noble his mien! How brave in heart and feats of arms! I believe it well – nor is my confidence vain – that he is sprung from gods. It is fear that proves souls base-born. Alas! by what fates is he vexed! What wars, long endured, did he recount! Were the purpose not planted in my mind, fixed and immovable, to ally myself with none in bond of wedlock, since my first love, turning traitor, cheated me by death; were I not tired of the bridal bed and torch, to this one fault, perhaps, I might have yielded! Anna – for I will own it – since the death of my hapless lord Sychaeus, and the shattering of our home by a brother’s murder, he alone has swayed my will and overthrown my tottering soul. I feel again a spark of that former flame. But rather, I would pray, may earth yawn for me to its depths, or may the Almighty Father hurl me with his bolt to the shades – the pale shades and abysmal night in Erebus – before, Shame, I violate you or break your laws! He who first linked me to himself has taken away my heart; may he keep it with him, and guard it in the grave!” So saying, she filled her breast with upwelling tears.

[31] Anna replies: “O you who are dearer to your sister than the light, are you, lonely and sad, going to pine away all your youth long, and know not sweet children or love’s rewards? Do you think that dust or buried shades give heed to that? Grant that until now no wooers moved your sorrow, not in Libya, not before then in Tyre; that Iarbas was slighted, and other lords whom the African land, rich in triumphs, rears; will you wrestle also with a love that pleases? And does it not come to your mind whose lands you have settled in? On this side Gaetulian cities, a race invincible in war, unbridled Numidians, and the unfriendly Syrtis hem you in; on that side lies a tract barren with drought, and Barcaeans, raging far and wide. Why speak of the wars rising from Tyre, your brother’s threats . . . ? I certainly believe that it was with the gods’ favour and Juno’s aid that the Ilian ships held their course hither with the wind. What a city you will see rise here, my sister, what a realm, by reason of such a marriage! With Teucrian arms beside us, to what heights will Punic glory soar? Only ask favour of the gods and, with sacrifice duly offered, be lavish with your welcome, and weave pleas for delay, while at sea winter rages fiercely and Orion is stormy – while the ships are shattered, and the skies intractable!”

[54] With these words she fanned into flame the queen’s love-enkindled heart, put hope in her wavering mind, and loosed the bonds of shame. First they visit the shrines and sue for peace at every altar; duly they slay chosen sheep to Ceres the law-giver, to Phoebus and father Lyaeus, above all to Juno, guardian of the bonds of marriage. Dido herself, matchless in beauty, with cup in hand, pours libation midway between the horns of a white heifer, or in presence of the gods moves slowly to the rich altars, and day by day renews her gifts, then, gazing into the opened breasts of victims, consults the quivering entrails. Ah, the blind souls of seers! Of what avail are vows or shrines to one wild with love? All the while the flame devours her tender heartstrings, and deep in her breast lives the silent wound. Unhappy Dido burns, and through the city wanders in frenzy – even as a hind, smitten by an arrow, which, all unwary, amid the Cretan woods, a shepherd hunting with darts has pierced from afar, leaving in her the winged steel, unknowing: she in flight ranges the Dictaean woods and glades, but fast to her side clings the deadly shaft. Now through the city’s midst she leads Aeneas with her, and displays her Sidonian wealth and the city built; she begins to speak and stops with the word half-spoken. Now, as day wanes, she seeks that same banquet, again in her madness craves to hear the sorrows of Ilium and again hangs on the speaker’s lips. Then when all have gone their ways, and in turn the dim moon sinks her light, and the setting stars invite sleep, alone she mourns in the empty hall, and falls on the couch he has left. Though absent, each from each, she hears him, she sees him, or, captivated by his look of his father, she holds Ascanius on her lap, in case she may beguile a passion beyond all utterance. No longer rise the towers begun, no longer do the youth exercise in arms, or toil at havens or bulwarks for safety in war; the works are broken off and idle – great menacing walls and cranes that touch the sky.

[90] Soon as the loved wife of Jove saw that Dido was held in a passion so fatal, and that her good name was now no bar to her frenzy, the daughter of Saturn accosts Venus thus: “Splendid indeed is the praise and rich the spoils you win, you and your boy; mighty and glorious is the power divine, if one woman is subdued by the guile of two gods! Nay, it escapes me not how, in fear of our city, you have held in suspicion the homes of high Carthage. But what shall be the end? And what is the point of all this contest now? Why do we not rather strive for an enduring peace and a plighted wedlock? What you sought with all your heart you have; Dido is on fire with love and has drawn the madness through her veins. Let us then rule this people jointly with equal sovereignty; let her serve a Phrygian husband and yield her Tyrians to your power as dowry!”

[105] To her – for she knew that with feigned purpose she had spoken, to turn the empire from Italy to Libya’s shores – Venus thus began in reply: “Who so mad as to refuse such terms, or prefer to strive against you in war, as long as Fortune favour the fulfilment of your word? But the Fates send me adrift, uncertain whether Jupiter wills that there be one city for the Tyrians and the wanderers from Troy, or approves the blending of peoples and the league of union. You are his wife; it is lawful for you to try to persuade his heart with entreaty. Go on; I will follow!” Then queenly Juno thus replied: “With me shall rest that task. Now in what way the present purpose can be achieved, hearken and I will explain in brief. Aeneas and unhappy Dido plan to go hunting together in the forest, as soon as tomorrow’s sun shows his rising and with his rays unveils the world. On them, while the hunters run to and fro and gird the glades with nets, I will pour down from above a black rain mingled with hail, and wake the whole welkin with thunder. The company shall scatter and be veiled in gloom of night; to the same cave shall come Dido and the Trojan chief. I will be there and, if I can be sure of your good will, will link them in sure wedlock, sealing her for his own; this shall be their bridal!” Yielding to her suit, the Cytherean gave assent and smiled at the guile discovered.

[129] Meanwhile Dawn rose and left the ocean. When sunlight has burst forth, there issues from the gates a chosen band of youth; with meshed nets, toils, broad-pointed hunting spears, there stream forth Massylian horsemen and their strong, keen-scented hounds. As the queen lingers in her bower, the Punic princes await her at the doorway; her prancing steed stands brilliant in purple and gold, and proudly champs the foaming bit. At last she comes forth, attended by a mighty throng, and clad in a Sidonian robe with embroidered border. Her quiver is of gold, her tresses are knotted into gold, a buckle of gold clasps her purple cloak. With her pace a Phrygian train and joyous Iulus. Aeneas himself, goodly beyond all others, advances to join her and unites his band with hers. As when Apollo quits Lycia, his winter home, and the streams of Xanthus, to visit his mother’s Delos, and renews the dance, while mingling about his altars Cretans and Dryopes and painted Agathyrsians raise their voices – he himself treads the Cynthian ridges, and with soft foliage shapes and binds his flowing locks, braiding it with golden diadem; the shafts rattle on his shoulders: so no less lightly than he went Aeneas, such beauty shines forth from his noble face! When they came to the mountain heights and pathless lairs, wild goats dislodged from the rocky peaks ran down the ridges; in another part stags scurry across the open moors and amid clouds of dust mass their bands in flight, as they leave the hills behind. But in the midst of the valleys the young Ascanius glories in his fiery steed, galloping past now these, now those, and prays that amid the timorous herds a foaming boar may be granted to his vows or a tawny lion come down from the mountain.

[160] Meanwhile in the sky begins the turmoil of a wild uproar; rain follows, mingled with hail. The scattered Tyrian train and the Trojan youth, with the Dardan grandson of Venus, in their fear seek shelter here and there over the fields; torrents rush down from the heights. To the same cave come Dido and the Trojan chief. Primal Earth and nuptial Juno give the sign; fires flashed in Heaven, the witness to their bridal, and on the mountaintop screamed the Nymphs. That day the first of death, the first of calamity was cause. For no more is Dido swayed by fair show or fair fame, no more does she dream of a secret love: she calls it marriage and with that name veils her sin.

[173] At once Rumour runs through Libya’s great cities – Rumour the swiftest of all evils. Speed lends her strength, and she winds vigour as she goes; small at first through fear, soon she mounts up to heaven, and walks the ground with head hidden in the clouds. Mother Earth, provoked to anger against the gods, brought her forth last, they, say as sister to Coeus and Enceladus, swift of foot and fleet of wing, a monster awful and huge, who for the many feathers in her body has as many watchful eyes beneath – wondrous to tell – as many tongues, as many sounding mouths, as many pricked-up ears. By night, midway between heaven and earth, she flies through the gloom, screeching, and droops not her eyes in sweet sleep; by day she sits on guard on high rooftop or lofty turrets, and affrights great cities, clinging to the false and the wrong, yet heralding truth. Now exulting in manifold gossip, she filled the nations and sang alike of fact and falsehood, how Aeneas is come, one born of Trojan blood, to whom in marriage fair Dido deigns to join herself; now they while away the winter, all its length, in wanton ease together, heedless of their realms and enthralled by shameless passion. These tales the foul goddess spreads here and there upon the lips of men. Straightway to King Iarbas she bends her course, and with her words fires his spirit and heaps high his wrath.

[198] He, the son of Hammon by a ravished Garamantian Nymph, set up to Jupiter in his broad realms a hundred vast temples, a hundred altars, and had hallowed the wakeful fire, the eternal sentry of the gods. The ground was fat with the blood of beasts and the portals bloomed with varied garlands. Distraught in mind and fired with the bitter tale, they say, before the altars and amid the divine presences he often besought Jove in prayer with upturned hands: “Almighty Jupiter, to whom now the Moorish race, feasting on embroidered couches, pour a Lenaean offering, do you see these things? Is it vainly, father, that we shudder at you, when you hurl your thunderbolts? And do aimless fires amid the clouds terrify our souls and stir murmurs void of purpose? This woman who, straying in our bounds, set up a tiny city at a price, to whom we gave coastland to plough and terms of tenure, has spurned my offers of marriage, and welcomed Aeneas into her realm as lord. And now that Paris with his eunuch train, his chin and perfumed locks bound with a Lydian turban, grasps the spoil; while we bring offerings to your temples, yours forsooth, and cherish an idle story.”

[219] As with such words he pleaded, clasping the altars, the Almighty gave ear and turned his eyes on the royal city and the lovers forgetful of their nobler fame. Then thus to Mercury he speaks and gives this charge: “Go forth, my son, call the Zephyrs, glide on they wings, and speak to the Dardan chief, who now at Carthage is looking forward to Tyrian cities, unmindful of those granted him by the Fates; so carry down my words through the swift winds. Not such as this did his lovely mother promise him to us, nor for this twice rescue him from Grecian arms; but he it was who should rule Italy, a land teeming with empire and clamorous with war, hand on a race from Teucer’s noble blood, and bring all the world beneath his laws. If the glory of such a fortune fires him not and for his own fame’s sake he shoulders not the burden, does he, the father, grudge Ascanius the towers of Rome? What is his plan? In what hope does he tarry among a hostile people and pays no heed to Ausonia\s race and the Lavinian fields? Let him set sail; this is the sum; be this the message from me.”

[238] He ceased. The god made ready to obey his mighty father’s bidding, and first binds on his feet the golden shoes which carry him upborne on wings over seas or land, swift as the gale. Then he takes his wand; with this he calls pale ghosts from Orcus and sends others down to gloomy Tartaurs, gives or takes away sleep and unseals eyes in death; relying on this, he drives the winds and skims the stormy clouds. And now in flight he descries the peak and steep sides of toiling Atlas, who props heaven on his peak – Atlas, whose pine-wreathed head is ever girt with black clouds, and beaten with wind and rain; fallen snow mantles his shoulders while rivers plunge down the aged chin and his rough beard is stiff with ice. Here, poised on even wings, the Cyllenian first halted; hence with his whole frame he sped sheer down to the waves like a bird, which round the shores, round the fish-haunted cliffs, flies low near to the waters. Even thus between earth and sky flew Cyllene’s nursling to Libya’s sandy shore, and cut the winds, coming from his mother’s sire.

[259] As soon as with winged feet he reached the huts, he sees Aeneas founding towers and building new houses. And his sword was starred with yellow jasper, and a cloak hung from his shoulders ablaze with Tyrian purple – a gift that wealthy Dido had wrought, interweaving the web with thread of gold. At once he assails him: “Are you now laying the foundations of lofty Carthage, and building up a fair city, and all for a woman’s whim? Alas! With never a thought of your own realm and fate! The ruler of the gods himself, who sways heaven and earth with his power, sends me down to you from bright Olympus. He himself bids me bring this charge through the swift breezes: What are you planning? In what hope do you waste idle hours in Libyan lands? If the glory of such a fortune does not stir you, and for your own fame’s sake you do not shoulder the burden, have regard from growing Ascanius, the promise of Iulus your heir, to whom the kingdom of Italy and the Roman land are due.” Such words the Cyllenian spoke, and while yet speaking left the sight of men and far away from their eyes vanished into thin air.

[279] But in truth Aeneas, aghast at he sight, was struck dumb; his hair stood up in terror and the voice choked in his throat. He burns to flee away and quit that pleasant land, awed by that warning and divine commandment. Ah, what to do? With what speech now dare he approach the frenzied queen? What opening words choose first? And as he casts his swift mind this way and that, takes it in different directions and considers every possibility, this, as he wavered, seemed the better counsel; he calls Mnestheus and Sergestus, bidding them make ready the fleet in silence, gather the crews to the shore, and order the armament, but hide the cause of his altered plans. He meanwhile, since gracious Dido knows nothing, nor expects the breaking of so strong a love, will essay an approach and seek the happiest season for speech, the plan auspicious for his purpose. At once all gladly obey his command and do his bidding.

[296] But the queen – who may deceive a lover? – divined his guile, and early caught news of the coming stir, fearful even when all was safe. The same heartless Rumour brought her the maddening news that they are arming the fleet and making ready for sailing. Helpless in mind she rages, and all aflame raves through the city, like some Thyiad startled by the shaken emblems, when she has heard the Bacchic cry: the biennial revels fire her and at night Cithaeron summons her with its din. At length she thus accosts Aeneas first:

[305] “’False one! Did you really hope to cloak so foul a crime, and to steal from my land in silence? Does neither our love restrain you, nor the pledge once given, nor the doom of a cruel death for Dido? Even in the winter season do you actually hasten to labour at your fleet, and to journey over the sea in the midst of northern gales, heartless one? What! If you were not in quest of alien lands and homes unknown, were ancient Troy yet standing, would Troy be sought by your ships over stormy seas? Is it from me you are fleeing? By these tears and your right hand, I pray you – since nothing else, alas, have I left myself – by the marriage that is ours, by the nuptial rites begun, if ever I deserved well of you, or if anything of mine has been sweet in your sight, pity a falling house, and if yet there be any room for prayers, put away, I pray, this purpose. Because of you the Libyan tribes and Numidian chiefs hate me, the Tyrians are my foes; because of you I have also lost my honour and that former fame by which alone I was winning a title to the stars. To whose mercy do you leave me on the point of death, guest – since that alone is left from the name of husband? Why do I linger? Is it till Pygmalion, my brother, overthrow this city, or the Gaetulian Iarbas lead me captive? At least, if before your flight a child of yours had been born to me, if in my hall a baby Aeneas were playing, whose face, in spite of all, would bring back yours, I should not think myself utterly vanquished and forlorn.”

[331] She ceased: he by Jove’s command held his eyes steadfast and with a struggle smothered the pain deep within his heart. At last he briefly replies: “I will never deny, Queen, that you have deserved of me the utmost you can set forth in speech, nor shall my memory of Elissa be bitter, while I have memory of myself, and while breath governs these limbs. For my conduct few words will I say. I did not hope – think not that – to veil my flight in stealth. I never held out a bridegroom’s torch or entered such a compact. Had destiny permitted me to shape my life after my own pleasure and order my sorrows at my own will, my first care would be the city of Troy and the sweet relics of my king. Priam’s high house would still abide and my own hand would have set up a revived Pergamus for the vanquished. But now of great Italy has Grynean Apollo bidden me lay hold, of Italy the Lycian oracles. There is my love, there my country! If the towers of Carthage and the sight of Libyan city charm you, a Phoenician, why, pray, grudge the Trojans their settling on Ausonian land? We, too, have the right to seek a foreign realm. Each time the night with dewy shades veils the earth, each time the starry fires arise, in my dreams my father Anchises’ troubled ghost brings me warning and terror; the thought of young Ascanius comes to me and the wrong done to one so dear, whom I am cheating of a Hesperian kingdom and predestined lands. Now, too, the messenger of the gods sent from Jove himself – I sear by both our lives – has borne his command down through the swift breezes; my own eyes saw the god in the clear light of day come within our walls and these ears drank in his words. Cease to inflame yourself and me with your complaints. It is not by my wish that I make for Italy . . . “

[362] As thus he spoke, all the while she gazes on him askance, turning her eyes to and fro, and with silent glances scans the whole man; then thus, inflamed, cries out: “False one, no goddess was your mother, nor was Dardanus the founder of your line, but rugged Caucasus on his flinty rocks begot you, and Hyrcanian tigresses suckled you. For why hide my feelings? For what greater wrongs do I hold myself back? Did he sigh while I wept? Did he turn on me a glance? Did he yield and shed tears or pity her who loved him? What shall I say first? What next? Now, neither mighty Juno nor the Saturnian sire looks on these things with righteous eyes! Nowhere is faith secure. I welcomed him, a castaway on the shore, a beggar, and madly gave him a share of my throne; his lost fleet I rescued, his crews I saved from death. Alas! I am whirled on the fires of frenzy. Now prophetic Apollo, now the Lycian oracles, now the messenger of the gods sent from Jove himself, brings through the air this dread command. Truly, this is work for gods, this is care to vex their peace! I detain you not; I dispute not your words. Go, make for Italy with the winds; seek your kingdom over the waves. Yet I trust, if the righteous gods have any power, that on the rocks midway you will drain the cup of vengeance and often call on Dido’s name. Though far away, I will chase you with murky brands and, when chill death has severed soul and body, everywhere my shade shall haunt you. Relentless one, you will repay! I shall hear, and the tale will reach me in the depths of the world below!” So saying, she breaks off her speech midway and flees in anguish from the light, turning away, tearing herself from his sight, and leaving him in fear and much hesitance, and ready to say much. Her maids support her, carry her swooning form to her marble bower, and lay her on her bed.

[393] But loyal Aeneas, though longing to soothe and assuage her grief and by his words turn aside her sorrow, with many a sigh, his soul shaken by his mighty love, yet fulfils Heaven’s bidding and returns to the fleet. Then, indeed, the Teucrians fall to and all along the shore launch their tall ships. The keels, well-pitched, are set afloat; the sailors, eager for flight, bring from the woods leafy boughs for oars and logs unhewn . . . One could see them moving away and streaming forth from all the city. Even as when ants, mindful of winter, plunder a huge heap of corn and store it in their home; over the plain moves a black column, and through the grass they carry the spoil on a narrow track; some strain with their shoulders and heave on the huge grains, some close up the ranks and rebuke the delay; all the path is aglow with work. What feelings then were yours, Dido, at such a sight! or what sighs did you utter, viewing from the top of the fortress the beach aglow far and near, and seeing before your eyes the whole sea astir with loud cries! O relentless Love, to what do you not drive the heats of men. Once more she must needs break into tears, once more assail him with prayer, and humbly bow down her pride to love, lest she leave anything untried and go to death in vain.

[416] “Anna, you see the bustle all along the shore; from all sides they have gathered; already the canvas invites the breeze, and the joyous sailors have crowned the stern with garlands. If I have had strength to foresee this great sorrow, I shall also, sister, have strength to endure it. Yet this one service, Anna, do for me – for you alone that traitor made his friend, to you he confided even his secret thoughts, you alone will know the hour for easy access to him – go, sister, and humbly address our haughty foe. I never conspired with the Danaans at Aulis to root out the Trojan race; I never sent a fleet to Pergamus, nor tore up the ashes and disturbed the spirit of his father Anchises. Why does he refuse to admit my words to his stubborn ears? Whither does he hasten? This, the last boon, let him grant his poor lover: let him await an easy flight and favouring winds. No more do I plead for the old marriage tie which he forswore, nor that he give up fair Latium and resign his realm: for empty time I ask, for peace and reprieve for my frenzy, till fortune teach my vanquished soul to grieve. This last grace I crave – pity your sister – which, when he has granted it, I will repay with full interest in my death.”

[437] Such was her prayer and such the tearful pleas the unhappy sister bears again and again. But by no tearful pleas is he moved, nor in yielding mood does he pay heed to any words. Fate withstands and heaven seals his kindly, mortal ears. Even as when northern Alpine winds, blowing now hence, now thence, emulously strive to uproot an oak strong with the strength of years, there comes a roar, the trunk quivers and the high leafage thickly strews the ground, but the oak clings to the crag, and as far as it lifts its top to the airs of heaven, so far it strikes its roots down towards hell – even so with ceaseless appeals, from this side and from that, the hero is buffeted, and in his mighty heart feels agony: his mind stands steadfast; his tears fall without effect.

[450] Then, indeed, awed by her doom, luckless Dido prays for death; she is weary of gazing on the arch of heaven. And to make her more surely fulfil her purpose and leave the light, she saw, as she laid her gifts on the altars ablaze with incense – fearful to tell – the holy water darken and the outpoured wine change into loathsome gore. Of this sight she spoke to no one – not even her sister. Moreover, there was in the palace a marble chapel to her former lord, which she cherished in wondrous honour, wreathing it with snowy fleeces and festal foliage. Thence she heard, it seemed, sounds and speech as of her husband calling, whenever darkling night held the world; and alone on the housetops with ill-boding song the owl would oft complain, drawing out its lingering notes into a wail; and likewise many a saying of the seers of old terrifies her with fearful boding. In her sleep fierce Aeneas himself drives her in her frenzy; and ever she seems to be left lonely, ever ending, companionless, an endless way, and seeking her Tyrians in a land forlorn – even as raving Pentheus sees the Bacchants’ bands, and a double sun and two-fold Thebes rise to view; or as when Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, hounded by the Furies, flees from his mother, who is armed with brands and black serpents, while at the doorway crouch avenging Fiends.

[474] So when, outworn with anguish, she caught the madness and resolved to die, in her own heart she determines the time and manner, and accosts her sorrowful sister, with mien that veils her plan and on her brow a cloudless hope. “Sister mine, I have found a way – wish your sister joy – to return him to me or release me from my love for him. Near Ocean’s bound and the setting sun lies Ethiopia, farthest of lands, where mightiest Atlas on this shoulders turns the sphere, inset with gleaming stars. Thence a priestess of Massylian race has been shown me, warden of the fane of the Hesperides, who gave dainties to the dragon and guarded the sacred bows on the tree, sprinkling dewy honey and slumberous poppies. With her spells she professes to set free the hearts of whom she wills, but on others to bring cruel love pains; to stay the flow of rivers and turn back the stars; she awakes the ghosts of night; and you will see earth rumbling under your feet and ash trees coming down the mountains. I call heaven to witness and you, dear sister mine, and your dear life, that against my will I arm myself with magic arts! Secretly raise up a pyre in the inner court under the sky, and heap up on it’s the arms that heartless one left hanging in my bower, and all his attire and the bridal bed that was my undoing. I want to destroy all memorials of the abhorred wretch, and the priestess to directs.” Thus she speaks and is silent; pallor the while overspreads her face. Yet Anna thinks not that her sister veils her death under these strange rites; her mind dreams not of such frenzy nor does she fear anything worse than when Sychaeus died. So she makes ready as bidden . . .

[505] But the queen, when in the heart of her home the pyre rose heavenward, piled high with pine logs and hewn ilex, hangs the place with garlands and crowns it with funeral boughs. On top, upon the couch, she lays the dress he wore, the sword he left, and an image of him, knowing what was to come. Round about stand altars, and with streaming hair the priestess calls in thunder tones on thrice a hundred gods, Erebos and Chaos, and threefold Hecate, triple-faced maiden Diana. Waters, too, she had sprinkled feigned to be from the spring of Avernus, and herbs were sought, cut by moonlight with brazen sickles, and juicy with milk of black venom; sought, too, was the love charm, torn from the brow of a colt at birth before the mother snatched it . . . She herself, with holy meal and holy hands, stood beside the altars, one for unsandalled and girdle loosened; soon to die, she calls on the gods and on the stars, witnesses of her doom; then she prays to whatever power, righteous and mindful, watches over lovers unequally allied.

[522] It was night, and over the earth weary creatures were tasting the peace of slumber; the woods and wild seas had sunk to rest – the hour when stars roll midway in their gliding course, when all the land is still, and beasts and coloured birds, both those that far and near haut the limpid lakes, and those that dwell in the thorny thickets of the countryside, are couched in sleep beneath the silent night. They were soothing their cares, their hearts oblivious of sorrows. But not so the soul-racked Phoenician queen; she never sinks into sleep, nor draws darkness into eyes or heart. Her pangs redouble, and her love, swelling up, surges afresh, as she heaves with a mighty tide of passion. Thus then she begins, and thus alone revolves her thoughts in her heart: “See, hwat am I do do? Shall I once more make trial of my old wooers, only to be mocked, and shall I humbly sue for marriage with Numidians, whom I have scorned so often as husbands? Shall I then follow the Ilian ships and the Trojan’s uttermost commands? Is it because they are thankful for aid once given, and gratitude for past kindness stands firm in their mindful hearts? But who – suppose that I wished it – will suffer me, or take on so hated on those haughty ships? Ah! lost one, do you not yet understand nor perceive the treason of Laomedon’s race? What then? Shall I on my own accompany the exultant sailors in their flight? Or, surrounded by all my Tyrian band, shall I pursue, and shall I again drive seaward the men whom I could scarce tear from the Sidonian city, and bid them unfurl their sails to the winds? Nay, die as you deserve, and with the sword end your sorrow. Won over by my tears, you, my sister, you were the first to load my frenzied soul with these ills, and drive me on the foe. Ah, that I could not spend my life apart from wedlock, a blameless life, like some wild creature, and not know such cares! The faith vowed to the ashes of Sychaeus I have not kept.” Such were the cries that kept bursting from her heart.

[554] But now that all was duly ordered, and now that he was resolved on going, Aeneas was snatching sleep on his vessel’s high stern. In his sleep there appeared to him a vision of the god, as he came again with the same aspect, and once more seemed to warn him thus, in all aspects like Mercury, in voice and colouring, in golden hair and the graceful limbs of youth: “Goddess-born, when such hazard threatens, can you still slumber? Do you not see the perils that from henceforth hem you in, madman? Do you not hear the kindly breezes blowing? She, resolved on death, revolves in her heart fell craft and crime, and awakens the swirling surge of passion. Will you not flee hence in haste, while hasty flight is possible? Soon you will see the waters a welter of timbers, see fierce brands ablaze, and soon the shore flashing with flames, if dawn finds you lingering in these lands. Up then, break off delay! A fickle and changeful thing is woman ever.” So he spoke and melted into the black night.

[571] Thus indeed Aeneas, scared by the sudden vision, tears himself from sleep and bestirs his comrades. “Make haste, my men, awake and man the benches! Unfurl the sails with speed! A god sent from high heaven again spurs us to hasten our flight and cut the twisted cables. We follow you, holy among gods, whoever you are, and again joyfully obey your command. Oh, be with us, give your gracious aid, and in the sky vouchsafe kindly stars!” He spoke, and from its sheath snatches his flashing sword and strikes the hawser with the drawn blade. The same zeal catches all at once; with hurry and scurry they have quitted the shore; the sea is hidden under their fleets; lustily they churn the foam and sweep the blue waters.

[584] And now early Dawn, leaving the saffron bed of Tithonus, was sprinkling her fresh rays upon the earth. Soon as the queen from her watchtower saw the light whiten and the fleet move on with even sails, and knew the shores and harbours were void of oarsmen, thrice and four times she struck her comely breast with her hand, and tearing her golden hair, “O God,” she cries, “shall he go? Shall the intruder have made of our realm a laughingstock? Will pursuers not fetch arms and give chase from all the city, and some of them speed ships from the docks? Go, haste to bring fire, serve arms, ply oars! What say I? Where am I? What madness turns my brain? Unhappy Dido, do only now your sinful deeds come home to you? Then was the time, when you gave your crown away. Behold the pledge and promise of him who, so they say, carries wit him his ancestral gods and bore his worn-out father on his shoulders! Could I not have seized him, torn him limb from limb, and scattered the pieces on the waves? Could I not have put his men to the sword, and Ascanius himself, and served him up as a meal at his father’s table? But perhaps the issue of battle had been doubtful? Suppose it had been: doomed to death, whom had I to fear? I should have carried fire to his camp, filled his decks with flame, blotted out father and son together with the whole race, and immolated myself on top of all. O Sun, whose rays survey all that is done on earth; and Juno, agent and witness of unhappy love; Hecate, whose name is wailed by night in city streets; and Avenging Furies and gods of dying Elissa: hear me now; turn your anger upon the sins that merit it, and listen to my prayers! If that accursed wretch must needs reach harbour and come to shore, if Jove’s ordinances so demand and this is the outcome fixed: yet even so, harassed in war by the arms of a fearless nation, expelled from his territory and torn from Iulus’ embrace, let him plead for aid an see his friends cruelly slaughtered! Nor yet, when he has submitted to the terms of an unjust peace, may he enjoy his kingship or the life he longs for, but perish before his time and lie unburied on a lonely strand! This is my prayer; this last utterance I pour out with my blood. Then do you, Tyrians, persecute with hate his stock and all the race to come, and to my dust offer this tribute! Let no lover or treaty unite the nations! Arise from my ashes, unknown avenger, to harass the Trojan settlers with fire and sword – today, hereafter, whenever strength be ours! May coast with coast conflict, I pray, and sea with sea, arms with arms; war may they have, themselves and their children’s children!”

[630] With this curse she turned her mind in every direction, seeking how most quickly to end the life she loathed. Then briefly she addressed Barce, the nurse of Sychaeus, for the pyre’s black ashes held her own back in her country of long ago. “Dear nurse, bring my sister Anna here. Bid her hasten to sprinkle her body with river water and bring with her the victims and offerings ordained for atonement. This done, let her come; and veil your brows, too, with a pure chaplet. I am minded to fulfil the rites of Stygian Jove that I have duly ordered and begun, to put an end to my owes, and give over to the flames the pyre of that Dardan wretch.” She spoke; the nurse hastened her steps with an old woman’s zeal. But Dido, trembling and frantic with her dreadful design, rolling bloodshot eyes, her quivering cheeks flecked with burning spots, and pale at the imminence of death, bursts into the inner courts of the house, climbs the high pyre in a frenzy and unsheathes the Dardan sword, a gift south for no such purpose. Then, as she saw the Trojan garb and the familiar bed, pausing awhile in tearful thought, she threw herself on the couch and spoke her last words: “O relics once dear, while God and Fate allowed, take my spirit, and release me from my woes! My life is done and I have finished the course that Fortune gave; and now in majesty my shade shall pass beneath the earth. A noble city I have built; my own walls I have seen; avenging my husband, I have exacted punishment from my brother and foe – happy, too happy, had but the Dardan keels never touched our shores!” She spoke, and burying her face in the couch, “I shall die unavenged,” she cries, “but let me die! Thus, I go gladly into the dark! Let the cruel Dardan’s eyes drink in this fire from the deep, and carry with him the omen of my death!”

[663] She ceased; and even as she spoke her handmaids see her fallen on the sword, the blade reeking with blood and her hands bespattered. A scream rises to the lofty roof; Rumour riots through the stricken city. The palace rings with lamentation, with sobbing and women’s shrieks, and heaven echoes with loud wails – as though all Carthage or ancient Tyre were falling before the inrushing foe, and fierce flames were rolling on over the roofs of men, over the roofs of gods.

[672] Swooning, her sister heard, and in dismay rushed through the throng, tearing her face with her nails, and beating her breast with her fists, as she called on the dying woman by name. “Was this your purpose, sister? Did you aim your fraud at me? Was this for me the meaning of your pyre, this the meaning of your altar and fires? Forlorn, what shall I first lament? Did you scorn in death your sister’s company? You should have summoned me to share your fate; the same sword stroke, the same moment would have taken us both! Did these hands indeed build the pyre, and did my voice call on our father’s gods, in order that, when you were lying thus, I, cruel one, should be far away? You have destroyed yourself and me together, sister, the Sidonian senate and people, and your city! Bring me water to bathe her wounds and catch with my lips whatever last breath may linger!” Thus speaking, she had climbed the high steps, and, throwing her arms round her dying sister, sobbed and clasped her to her bosom, stanching with her dress the dark streams of blood. She, trying to lift her heavy eyes, swoons again, and the deep-set wound gurgles in her breast. Thrice rising, she struggles to prop herself on her elbow, thrice the bed rolled back, with wandering eyes sought high heaven’s light, and when she found it, moaned.

[693] Then almighty Juno, pitying her long agony and painful dying, sent Iris down from heaven to release her struggling soul from the prison of her flesh. For since she perished neither in the course of fate nor by a death she had earned, but wretchedly before her day, in the heat of sudden frenzy, not yet had Propserpine taken from head the golden lock and consigned her to the Stygian underworld. So Iris on dewy saffron wings flits down through the sky, trailing athwart the sun a thousand shifting tints, and halted above her head. “This offering, sacred to Dis, I take as bidden, and from your body set you free”: so she speaks and with her hand severs the lock; and therewith all the warmth passed away, and the life vanished into the winds.