Classical Texts Library >> Virgil, Aeneid >> Book 5




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] Meanwhile Aeneas with his fleet was now holding steadfastly his mid-sea course, and cleaving the waves that darkened under the north wind, looking back on the city walls which now gleam with unhappy Elissa’s funeral flames. What cause kindled so great a flame is unknown; but the cruel pangs when deep love is profaned, and knowledge of what a woman can do in frenzy, lead the hearts of the Trojans amid sad forebodings.

[8] When the ships gained the deep and no longer any land is in sight, but sea on all sides and on all sides sky, then overhead loomed a black rain cloud, bringing night and tempest, and the wave shuddered darkling. Even the helmsman Palinurus cries from the high stern: “Alas! why have such clouds girt the heaven? What have you in mind, Father Neptune?” So he cries, and straightway bids them gather in the tackling and bend to their stout oars, then turns the sails aslant the wind and thus speaks: “Noble Aeneas, not even if Jupiter should use his authority to guarantee it, could I hope to reach Italy with such a sky. The winds have shifted and roar athwart our course, gathering from the black west; the air thickens into cloud and we cannot resist or stem the gale. Since Fortune is victor, let us follow and turn our course whither she calls. Nor far distant, I think, are the friendly shores of your brother Eryx and the Sicilian ports, if my memory prove true as I retrace the stars I watched before.” Then loyal Aeneas: “I myself have long seen that the winds will so have it, and that in vain you steer against them. Shift the sails to a new course. Could any land be more welcome to me, any to which I would sooner steer my weary ships, than that which holds my Dardan friend Acestes, and enfolds in her embrace my father Anchises’ ashes?” This said, they make for harbour, and favouring Zephyrs fill their sails; the fleet runs swifty on the flood, and at last they gladly turn to the familiar shore.

[35] But afar off, on a high hilltop, Acestes marvels at the coming of friendly ships and hastens towards them, bristling with weapons and a Libyan she-bear’s skin – Acestes, born of a Trojan mother to the river god Crimisus. Not unmindful of his old lineage, he bids them joy on their return, gladly welcomes them with rustic wealth, and comforts their weariness with friendlier cheer.

[42] When on the morrow at early dawn bright day had put the stars to rout, Aeneas calls his comrades from all the shore together and speaks from a mounded eminence: “Great sons of Dardanus, born of heaven’s high race, with the passing of the months the circling year draws to an end since we laid in earth the dust, all that was left, of my divine father, and hallowed the altars of grief. And now, if I err not, the day is at hand which I shall keep (such, O gods, was your will) ever as a day of grief, ever as a day of honour. Were I spending it in exile in the Gaetulian Syrtes, or caught on the Argolis sea or in Mycenae’s town, yet would I perform the yearly vow with rites of solemn ordinance and pile the altars with due gifts. But now, lo! by my sire’s own dust and bones we stand – not, I think, without the purpose and will of heaven – and carried hither we enter a friendly haven. Come then, one and all, and let us solemnize the sacrifice with joy; let us pray for winds and may he grant that year by year when my city is founded I may offer these rites in temples consecrated to him! Two head of oxen Acestes, of Trojan birth, gives you for every ship; summon to the feast both your own hearth gods and those whom our host Acestes worships. Moreover, should the ninth Dawn lift her kindly light for mortals and with her rays lay bare the world, I will ordain contests for the Trojans: first of the swift ships; then whoever excels in the footrace, and who, bold in his strength, steps forward superior with the javelin and light shafts, or who dares to join battle with gloves of raw hide – let all appear and look for the palm, the prize of victory. Be silent all, and wreathe your brows with leaves.”

[72] So speaking, he crowns his brows with his mother’s myrtle. Thus does Helymus, thus Acestes, ripe of years, thus the boy Ascanius, the rest of the youth following. Then from the assembly to the mound he passed, amid many thousands, the centre of the great attending throng. Here in due libation he pours on the ground two goblets of unmixed wine, two of fresh milk, two of the blood of victims, and showering bright blossoms, thus he cries: “Hail, holy father, once again; hail, ashes, rescued though in vain, and you, soul and shade of my sire! Not with you was I suffered to seek the destined bounds and fields of Italy, nor Ausonian Tiber, whatever that name imports.” So had he spoken, when from the foot of the shrine a slippery serpent trailed seven huge coils, fold upon fold seven times, peacefully circling the mound and gliding among the altars; his back chequered with blue spots, and his scales ablaze with the sheen of dappled gold, as in the clouds the rainbow darts a thousand shifting tints athwart the sun. Aeneas was awestruck at the sight. At last, sliding with long train amid the bowls and polished cups, the serpent tasted the viands, and again, all harmless, crept beneath the tomb, leaving the altars where he fed. More eagerly, therefore, does he renew his father’s interrupted rites, knowing not whether to deem it the genius of the place or the attendant spirit of his sire. Two sheep he slays, as is meet, two swine, and as many dark-backed heifers, while he poured wine from bowls and called great Anchises’ shade and the ghost released from Acheron. Moreover, his comrades, as each has store, gladly brings gifts, heap the altars and slay the steers; others in turn set the cauldrons and, spreading over the grass, put live coals under the spits and roast the flesh.

[104] The looked-for day had come, and now the steeds of Phaëthon ushered in the ninth Dawn with cloudless light. The name and fame of noble Acestes had stirred the countryside; in merry groups the people thronged the shore, some to see the sons of Aeneas, and some ready to contend. First of all the prizes are laid out to view in the midst of the course – sacred tripods, green garlands and palms, the victors’ reward; armour and purple-dyed garments, with a talent’s weight of silver and gold. Then from the central mound the trumpet proclaims the opening of the games.

[114] For the first contest enter four well-matched ships of heavy oars, picked from all the fleet. Mnestheus with his eager crew drives the swift Sea Dragon, soon to be Mnestheus of Italy, from whose name comes the Memmian line; Gyas the huge Chimaera of huge bulk, a city afloat, driven forward by the Dardan youth in triple tier, with oars rising in threefold rank. Sergestus, from whom the Sergian house has its name, rides in the great Centaur; and in the sea-blue Scylla Cloanthus, whence comes your family, Cluentius of Rome!

[124] Far out at sea, over against the foaming shores, lies a rock which at times the swollen waves beat and submerge, when stormy Northwesters hide the stars; in time of calm it is voiceless, and rises from the placid wave a level surface, and a welcome haunt for sun-loving gulls. Here as a mark father Aeneas set up a green goal of leafy ilex, for the sailors to know whence to return and where to double round the long course. Then they choose places by lot, and on the sterns the captains themselves shine forth afar in glory of gold and purple; the rest of the crews are crowned with poplar wreaths, and their naked shoulders glisten, moist with oil. They man the thwarts, their arms strained to the oars; straining, they await the signal, while throbbing fear and eager passion for glory drain each bounding heart. Then, when the clear trumpet sounded, all at once shot forth from their starting places; the mariners’ shouts strike the heavens; as arms are drawn back the waters are turned into foam. They cleave the furrows abreast, and all the sea gapes open, uptorn by the oars and triple-pointed beaks. Now with such headlong speed in the two-horse chariot race do the cars seize the plain and dart forth from their stalls! Not so wildly over their dashing steeds do the charioteers shake the waving reins, bending forward to the lash. Then with applause and shouts of men, and zealous cries of partisans, the whole woodland rings; the sheltered beach rolls up the sound, and the hills, smitten, echo back the din.

[151] Gyas flies in front of the rest and glides foremost on the waves amid confusion and uproar; next Cloanthus follows close, better manned but held back by his pine’s slow bulk. After them, at equal distance, the Dragon and Centaur strive to win the lead; and now the Dragon has it, now the huge Centaur winds past her, now both move together with even prows, and plough the salt waters with long keel. And now they neared the rock and were close to the turn, when Gyas, still first, and leader in the half-course, loudly hails his ship’s pilot, Menoetes: “Whither, man, so far off to the right? Direct her path this way; hug the shore, and let the oar blade graze the rocks on the left; let others keep to the deep!” He spoke; but Menoetes, fearing hidden rocks, wrenches the prow aside towards the open sea. “Whither so far off the course? Make for the rocks, Menoetes!” again shouted Gyas to call him back; when lo! he sees Cloanthus hard behind and keeping the nearer course. Between Gyas’ ship and the roaring rocks he grazes his way nearer on the left, suddenly passes his leader, and leaving the goal behind gains safe water. Then indeed anger burned deep in the young man’s frame; tears sprang to his cheeks, and heedless alike of his own pride and his crew’s safety, he heaves timid Menoetes from the high stern sheer into the sea; himself steersman and captain, he steps to the helm, cheers on his men, and turns the rudder shoreward. But Menoetes, when with difficulty he rose at last from the sea bottom, old as he was and dripping in his drenched clothes, made heavily for the top of the crag and sat down on the dry rock. The Teucrians laughed as he fell and swam, and they laugh as he spews the salt waters from his chest.

[183] Here a joyful hope was kindled in the two behind, Sergestus and Mnestheus, to pass the laggard Gyas. Sergestus takes the lead and nears the rock; but he is ahead not by a whole boat’s length; he leads by a part, but the rival Dragon overlaps a part with her prow. Then, pacing amidships among his crew, Mnestheus cheers them on: “Now, now, rise to the oars, comrades of Hector, you whom in Troy’s last hour I chose as my followers; now put forth that strength, that courage, which you showed in Gaetulian quicksands, on the Ionian sea, and amid Malea’s racing waves! No longer do I, Mnestheus, seek the first place, no longer do I strive to win; yet oh! – but let those conquer to whom you, Neptune, have granted it – it would be shame to return last! Win but this, my countrymen, and ward off disgrace!” Straining to the utmost, his men bend forward; with their mighty strokes the brazen poop quivers, and the sea floor flies from under them. Then rapid panting shakes their limbs and parched mouths, and sweat streams down all their limbs. Mere chance brought them the glory they craved. For while Sergestus, mad at heart, drives his prow inward towards the rocks and enters on the perilous course, he stuck on a jutting reef. The cliffs were jarred, on the sharp flint the oars struck and snapped; the bow hung where it crashed. Up spring the sailors and, clamouring loudly at the delay, get out iron-shod pikes and sharp-pointed poles, or rescued from the flood their broken oars. But Mnestheus, cheered and enlivened by his very success, with swift play of oars and a prayer to the winds, seeks the shoreward waters and glides down the open sea. Just as, if startled suddenly from her cave, a dove whose home and sweet nestlings are in the rocky coverts, wings her flight to the fields and, frightened from her home, flaps loudly with her wings; soon, gliding in the peaceful air, she skims her liquid way and stirs not her swift pinions – so Mnestheus, so the Dragon of herself, cleaves in flight the final stretch, so her mere sped carries her on her winged course. And first he leaves Sergestus behind, struggling on the high rock and in shallow waters, making vain appeals for help and learning to race with broken oars. Then he overhauls Gyas, even the Chimaera with her huge bulk; she gives way, robbed of her helmsman.

[225] And now, hard on the very goal, Cloanthus alone is left. For him Mnestheus makes, striving with all his might and pressing hard. Then indeed the shouts redouble, all together with cheers hearten the pursuer, the sky echoes to their din. These think it shame not to keep the honour that is theirs, the glory they have won, and would barter life for fame: those success heartens; strong are they, for strong they deem themselves. And now that their prows were abreast, they might perhaps have won the prize, had not Cloanthus, stretching both hands seawards, poured forth prayers, and called the gods to hear his vows. “You gods, whose kingdom is the deep, over whose waters I run, gladly, in discharge of my vow, will I on this shore set before your altars a snow-white bull, and fling entrails into the salt flood and pour liquid wine!” He spoke, and under the deep waves the whole band of Nereids and of Phorcus, and the virgin Panopea, heard him, and the sire Portunus with his own great hand drove him on his way. Swifter than wind or winged arrow the ship speeds landward, and found shelter in the deep harbour.

[244] Then the son of Anchises, duly summoning all, by loud cry of herald proclaims Cloanthus victor, and with green bay wreathes his brows; next, as gifts for each ship, bids him choose and take away three bullocks, wine, and a large talent of silver. For the captains themselves he adds special honours; to the winner, a cloak wrought with gold, about which ran deep Meliboean purple in double waving line, and, woven in, the royal boy [Ganymedes], with javelin and speedy foot, on leafy Ida tires fleet stags, eager and seemingly breathless; him Jove’s swift armour bearer [the eagle] has caught up aloft from Ida in his talons; his aged guardians in vain stretch their hands to the stars, and the savage barking of dogs rises skyward. But to him, who next by merit won the second place, a coat of mail, linked with polished hooks of triple gold, once town by his own hand from Demoleos, when he worsted him swift Simois under lofty Ilium, he gives to keep – a glory and defence in battle. Scarce could the servants, Phegeus and Sagaris, bear its folds with straining shoulders; yet, clad in this, Demoleos of yore drove full speed the scattered Trojans. The third prize he makes a pair of brazen cauldrons, and bowls wrought in silver and rough with reliefs.

[268] And now all had their gifts and, proud of their wealth, wee going their way, their brows bound with purple fillets, when with great difficulty, by dint of much skill, cleared from the cruel rocks, oars lost, and one tier crippled, Sergestus, amid jeers, brought in his inglorious barque. Just as often, when caught on the highway, a serpent which a brazen wheel has crossed aslant, or with blow of a heavy stone a wayfarer has crushed and left half-dead, vainly tries to escape and trails its long coils; part defiant, his eyes ablaze and his hissing neck raised aloft; part, maimed by the wound, holding him back, as he twists in coils and twines himself upon his own limbs – with such oarage, the ship moved slowly on; but it hoists sail and under full sail makes the harbour’s mouth. Aeneas presents Sergestus with his promised reward, glad that the ship is saved and the crew brought back. A slave-woman is given him, not unskilled in Minerva’s tasks, Pholoë of Cretan stock, with twin boys at her breast.

[286] This contest sped, loyal Aeneas moves to a grassy plain, girt all about with winding hills, well-wooded, where, at the heart of the valley, ran the circuit of a theatre. To this spot, with many thousands, the hero betook himself into the midst of the company and sat down on a raised seat. Here, for any who might perhaps wish to vie in speed of foot, he lures valour with hope of rewards and sets up prizes. From all sides flock Trojans and Sicilians among them, Nisus and Euryalus foremost . . . Euryalus famed for beauty and flower of youth, Nisus for tender love for the boy. Next followed princely Diores, of Priam’s noble race; then Salius and Patron together; of these one was an Arcanian, the other of Arcadian blood, a Tegean born; then two Sicilian youths, Helymus and Panopes, inured to the forests and attendants of old Acestes; with many besides, whose fame is hidden in darkness. Then in their midst Aeneas thus spoke: “Take these words to heart and pay cheerful heed. None of this number shall leave without a gift from me. To each will I give two Cretan arrows, gleaming with polished steel, and an axe chased with silver to bear away; all alike shall have this same reward. The three first shall receive prizes, and have pale-green olive crown their heads. Let the first take as winner a horse splendid with trappings; the second an Amazonian quiver, filled with Thracian arrows, girt about with a broad belt of gold and clasped by a buckle with polished gem; with this Argive helmet let the third depart content.”

[315] This said, they take their place, and suddenly, the signal heard, dash over the course, and leave the barrier, streaming forth like a storm-cloud. As soon as they sight the goal, away goes Nisus first, and far in front of all darts forth, swifter than the winds or than winged thunderbolt. Next to him, but next by a long distance, follows Salius; then, with some space left between them, Euryalus third . . . and, after Euryalus, Helymus; then, close upon him, lo! Diores flies, now grazing foot with foot and pressing close at his shoulder. And had more of the course remained, he would have shot past him to the fore or left the issue in doubt. And now, with course well-nigh covered, panting they neared the very goal, when Nisus, luckless one, falls in some slippery blood, which, split by chance where steers were slain, had soaked the ground and greensward. Here, even in the joy of triumph, the youth could not hold his stumbling steps on the ground he trod, but fell prone, right in the filthy slime and blood of sacrifice. Yet not of Euryalus, not of his love was he forgetful; for as he rose amid the sodden ground he threw himself in the way of Salius, who, rolling over, fell prostrate on the clotted sand. Euryalus darts by and, winning by grace of his friend, takes first place, and flies on amid favouring applause and cheers. Behind come Helymus, and Diores, now third prize.

[340] Hereupon Salius fills with loud clamour the whole concourse of the great theatre and the gazing elders in front, claiming that the prize wrested from him by fraud be given back. Good will befriends Euryalus, and his seemly tears and worth, that shows more winsome in a fair form. Diores backs him, making loud protest; he has reached the palm, but in vain won the last prize, if the highest honours are restored to Salius. Then said father Aeneas: “Your rewards remain assured to you, my lads, and no one alters the prizes’ order; be it mine to pity the mischance of a hapless friend!” So saying, he gives to Salius the huge hide of a Gaetulian lion, heavy with shaggy hair and gilded claws. Then said Nisus: “If such be the prize for defeat, and you have pity for the fallen, what fit reward you give Nisus? The first crown I had earned by merit, had not Fortune’s malice fallen on me, as on Salius.” And with these words he displayed his face and limbs foul with wet filth. The gracious father smiled on him and bade a shield be brought out, the handiwork of Didymaon, that Greeks had taken down from Neptune’s hallowed doorway. This he bestows on the noble youth, a lordly prize.

[362] Then, when the races were ended and the gifts assigned, “Now,” he cries, “whoever ahs valour in his breast and a stout heart, let him come and lift up his arms with hidebound hands.” So he speaks, and sets forth a double prize for the fray; for the victor, a steer decked with gold and fillets; a sword and noble helmet to console the vanquished. Forthwith, without delay, Dares shows himself in all his huge strength, rising amid a mighty murmuring of the throng – Dares, who alone was wont to face Paris: he it was who, by the mound where great Hector lies, smote the champion Butes, offspring of Amycus’ Bebrycian race, as he strode forward in his huge bulk, and stretched him dying on the yellow sand. Such was Dares, who at once raises his head high for the fray, displays his broad shoulders, stretches his arms, spars right and left, and lashes the air with blows. For him a match is sought; but none from all that throng durst face him or draw the gloves on to his hands. So, exultant and thinking all resign the prize, he stood before Aeneas’ feet; then, tarrying no longer, grasps the bull by the horn with his left hand, speaking thus: “Goddess-born, if no man dare trust himself to the fray, what end shall there be to my standing here? How long is it fitting to keep me waiting? Bid me lead your gift away!” At once all the Dardans shouted applause, and bade the promised prize be duly given him.

[387] At this Acestes sternly chides Entellus, as he sat next him on the green couch of grass: “Entellus, once bravest of heroes, though in vain, will you so tamely let gifts so great be carried off without a struggle? Where now, pray, is the divine Eryx, whom you called your teacher – all in vain? Where is your renown over all Sicily, and those spoils that hung in your house?” At this he said: “No cowardice has banished love of honour or thought of renown; but my blood is chilled and dulled by sluggish age, and my strength of body is numb and lifeless. Had I that which once I had, in which yonder braggart boldly exults – had I now that youth, then not from lure of prize or goodly steer would I have come forward, nor care I for gifts!” So he spoke and thereon threw into the ring a pair of gloves of giant weight, wherewith valiant Eryx was wont to enter contests, binding his arms with the tough hide. Amazed were the hearts of all, so vast were the seven huge oxhides, all stiff with insewn lead and iron. Above all Dares himself is dazed and, shrinking back, declines the contest; while Anchises’ noble son turns this way and that the thongs’ huge and ponderous folds. Then the old man spoke thus from his breast: “What if any had seen the gloves and arms of Hercules himself, and the fatal feud on this very shore? These arms your brother Eryx once wore; you see them still stained with blood and spattered brains. With these he faced great Alcides; with these was I wont to fight, while sounder blood gave me strength, nor yet had envious age sprinkled my temples with snow. But if the Trojan Dares declines these weapons of ours, and this is resolved on by good Aeneas and approved by my patron Acestes, let us make the battle even. At your wish I waive the gauntlets of Eryx; dismiss your fears; and take off your Trojan gloves!” So speaking, from his shoulders he threw back his twofold cloak, stripped his great joints and limbs, his great bones and thews, and stood a giant in the arena’s midst.

[424] Then, with a father’s care, the son of Anchises brought out gloves of like weight and with equal weapons bound the hands of both. Straightway each took his stand, poised on his toes, and, undaunted, lifted his arms high in air. Raising their heads high and drawing them far back from blows, they spar, hand with hand, and provoke the fray, the one nimbler of foot and confident in his youth, the other mighty in massive limbs; yet his slow knees totter and tremble and a painful gasping shakes his huge frame. Many hard blows they launch at each other to no avail, but many they rain on hollow flank, while their chests ring loudly; hands flash about ears and brows, and cheeks rattle under the hard strokes. Solidly stands Entellus, motionless, unmoved in stance, shunning blows with body and watchful eyes alone. The other, lie one who assails some high city with siege works or besets a mountain stronghold in arms, tries not this approach and now that, skillfully ranges over all the ground, and presses with varied but vain assaults. Then Entellus, rising, put forth his right, lifted high; the other speedily foresaw the down-coming blow and, slipping aside with nimble body, foiled it. Entellus spent his strength on air, and in his huge bulk this mighty man fell in his might to earth, as at times falls on Erymanthus or mighty Ida a hollow pine, uptorn by the roots. Eagerly the Teucrians and men of Sicily rise up; a shout mounts to heaven, and first Acestes runs forward, and in pity raises his aged friend from the ground. But neither downcast nor dismayed by the fall, the hero returns keener to the fray, and rouses violence with wrath. Shame, too, and conscious valour kindle his strength, and in fury he drives Dares headlong over the whole arena, redoubling his blows, now with the right hand, and now with the left. No stint, not stay is there – thick as the hail when storm clouds rattle on the roof, so thick are the blows from either hand as the hero beast and batters Dares.

[461] Then father Aeeneas suffered not their fury to go farther, nor Entellus to rage in bitterness of soul, but set an end to the fray and rescued the sore-spent Dares, speaking thus in soothing words: “Unhappy man! How could such frenzy seize your mind? Do you not see the strength is another’s and the gods are changed? Yield to heaven!” He spoke, and with his voice broke off the fight. But Dares his loyal mates lead to the ships, his feeble knees trailing, head swaying from side to side, while he spat from his mouth clotted gore and teeth mingled with the blood. At summons, they receive the helmet and the sword; the palm and the bull they leave to Entellus. At this the victor, triumphant in spirit and glorying in the bull, cries: “O Goddess-born and you Trojans, learn what strength I had in my youthful frame, and from what a death you recall and rescue Dares.” He spoke, and set himself in face of the confronting steer as it stood by, the prize of battle; then drew back his right hand and, at full height, swung the hard gauntlet just between the horns, and broke into the skull, scattering the brains. Outstretched and lifeless, the bull falls quivering on the ground. Above it he pours forth from his breast these words: “This better life I offer you, Eryx, instead of the death of Dares; here victorious I lay down the gauntlet and my art!”

[485] Straightway Aeneas invites all, who may so wish, to contend with swift arrows, and proclaims the prizes. With his mighty hand he raises the mast from Sergestus’ ship, and from the high pole, on a cord passed round her, suspends a fluttering dove as mark for their shafts. The rivals gather, and a brazen helmet received the lots thrown in. First before all, amid warm cheers, comes forth the turn of Hippocoon, son of Hyrtacus; on his follows, Mnestheus, but now victor in the ship race – Mnestheus, wreathed in green olive. Third is Eurytion, your brother, famous Pandarus who of old, when bidden to confound the treaty, first hurled a shaft amid the Achaeans. Last, and in the helmet’s depths, lay Acestes himself, daring to lay hand to the task of youth.

[500] Then with might and main they bend their bows into a curve, each for himself, and draw shafts from quivers. And first through the sky, from the twanging string, the dart of the son of Hyrtacus cleft the fleet breezes, reached its mark, and struck full in the wood of the mast. The mast quivered, the bird fluttered her wings in terror, and the whole place rang with loud applause. Next valiant Mnestheus took his stand with bow bent, aiming aloft, and eyes and shaft leveled alike; yet could not, alas! hit the bird herself with the bolt, but severed the knots and hemp bands tying her foot, as from the high mast she hung; off to the south winds and black clouds she sped in flight. Then quickly Eurytion, who had long held his bow ready and dart drawn, called upon his brother to hear his vow, marked the dove, now exulting in the free sky, and pierced her as she flapped her wings under a dark cloud. Down she fell dead, left her life amid the stars of heaven, and, falling, brought down the arrow that pierced her. Acestes alone was left, the prize now lost; yet upward into the air he aimed his bolt, displaying his veteran skill and the twanging of his bow. On this a sudden portent meets their eyes, destined to prove of mighty consequence, as momentous events revealed later, when in after years fear-inspiring seers declared its import. For, flying amid the misty clouds, the reed caught fire, marked its path with flames, then vanished away into thin air – as often shooting stars, unfastened from the firmament, speed across the sky, their tresses streaming in their wake. In amazement the Trinacrians and Trojans stood rooted, praying to the powers above. Nor did great Aeneas reject the omen, but, embracing glad Acestes, loaded him with noble gifts, and spoke thus: “Take them, father, for the great king of Olympus has willed by these auspices that you are to receive honours, though not sharing the lost. You shall have this gift, once the ages Anchises’ own, a bowl embossed with figures, that in days gone by, as a princely prize, Cisseus of Thrace gave to my father Anchises, a memorial of himself and a pledge of his love.” So speaking, he binds his brows with green laurel and hails Acestes victor, first above them all; nor did good Eurytion grudge the prize to him who was preferred, though he alone brought down the bird from high heaven. Next for the reward comes he who cut the cord; last is he whose winged shaft had lodged in the mast.

[545] But father Aeneas, before the match was over, calls to him Epytides, guardian and companion of young Iulus, and thus speaks into his faithful ear: “Go now,” he cries, “and tell Ascanius, if he has his company of boys ready, and has marshaled his cavalcade, to lead forth his troops in his grandsire’s honour and show himself in arms.” He himself bids all the streaming throng to quit the long course and leave the field clear. On come the boys, and in even array glitter before their fathers’ eyes on bridled steeds; as they pass by, the men of Trinacria and Troy murmur in admiration. All have their hair duly crowned with a trimmed garland; each carries two cornel spearshafts tipped wit iron; some have polished quivers on their shoulders; high on the breast around the neck passes a pliant circlet of twisted gold. Three in number are the troops of horses and three the captains that ride to and fro; each is followed by twice six boys, glittering in tripartite array under their respective trainers. One line of youths in triumphal joy is led by a little Priam, renewing his grandsire’s name – your noble seed, Polites, and destined to swell the Italian race! Him a Thracian horse bears, dappled with spots of white, showing white pasterns as it steps and a white, high-towering brow. The second is Atys, from whom the Latin Atii have drawn their line – little Atys, the boyish love of the boy Iulus. Last, and in beauty excelling all, Iulus rode on a Sidonian horse, that fairest Dido had given in remembrance of herself and as a pledge of her love. The rest of the youth ride on the Sicilian steeds of old Acestes . . .

[575] The Dardans welcome the anxious boys with applauses and rejoice, as they gaze, to recognize in them the features of their departed fathers. When they had ridden gaily round the whole concourse before the yes of their kin, Epytides, as they stood expectant, shouted the signal from afar and cracked his whip. Thereupon they galloped apart in marching order, the three troops breaking their column and dividing into their separate squads; then at the word of command they wheeled about and charged each other with levelled lances. Next they perform other movements and countermovements, confronting one another in the lists; they weave circle with alternate circle, and with real arms awake the mimicry of war. Now they turn their backs in flight, now point their spears aggressively, and now ride side by side in peace. As once in high Crete, it is said, the Labyrinth held a path woven with blind walls, and a bewildering work of craft with a thousand ways, where the tokens of the trail were broken by the indiscoverable and irretraceable maze: even in such a course do the sons of Troy entangle their steps, weaving in sport their flight and conflict, like dolphins that, swimming through the wet main, cleave the Carpathian or Libyan seas and play amid the waves. This manner of horsemanship, these contests Ascanius first revived when he girt Alba Longa with walls, and taught the early Latins, even as he himself solemnized them in boyhood, and with him the Trojan youth. The Albans taught their children; from them in turn mighty Rome received the heritage and kept it as an ancestral observance; and today the boys are called Troy and the troop Trojan. Thus far were solemnized the sports in honour of the holy sire.

[604] Here first Fortune changed and broke her faith. While at the tomb with various games they pay the due rites, Juno, daughter of Saturn, sends Iris down from heaven to the Ilian fleet, and breathes fair wins to waft her on, pondering many a thought and with her ancient grudge still unsated. Iris, speeding her way along her thousand-hued rainbow, runs swifty down her path a maiden seen of none. She views the vast throng, scans the shore, and sees the harbour forsaken and the fleet abandoned. But far apart on the lonely shore the Trojan women wept for Anchises’ loss, and all, as they wept, gazed on the fathomless flood. “Ah, for weary folk what waves remain, what wastes of sea!” Such is the one cry of all. It is a city they crave; of the sea’s hardships they have had enough. So into their midst, well versed in working ill, Iris flings herself, and lays aside the face and robe of a goddess. She becomes Beroë, aged wife of Tmarian Doryclus, who had once family, fame, and children, and in this form joins the throng of Dardan mothers. “Ah, wretched we,” she cries, “whom Achaean hands dragged not to death in war beneath our native walls! Ah, hapless race, for what destruction does Fortune reserve you? The seventh summer is now on the wane since Troy’s overthrow and we measure in our course all seas and lands, with many rocks and stars inhospitable, while over the great deep we chase a fleeing Italy and toss upon the waves. Here are the lands of our brother Eryx, and here is our host Acestes. Who forbids us to cast up walls and give our citizens a city? O fatherland, O household gods, in vain rescued from the foe, shall not town hereafter be called Troy’s? Shall I nowhere see a Xanthus and a Simois, the rivers of Hector? Nay, come! and burn with me these accursed ships. For in my sleep the phantom of Cassandra, the soothsayer, seemed to give me blazing brands: ‘Here seek Troy,’ she said; ‘here is your home.’ Now it is time that deeds be done; such portents brook no delay. Lo, four altars to Neptune! The god himself lends the brands and the resolve.”

[641] Thus speaking, she first fiercely seized the deadly flame, and raising her brand aloft, with full force brandished it and threw. Startled are the minds of the Trojan women, their wits bewildered. At this one from out their throng, and she the eldest, Pyrgo, royal nurse for Priam’s many sons, spoke: “This, look, mothers, is not Beroë; this is not the Rhoeteian wife of Doryclus. Mark the signs of divine beauty and the flashing eyes; what fire she has, what lineaments, the sound of her voice, or her step as she moves. I myself but even now left Beroë behind, sick, and fretting that she was alone had no part in such a rite, nor could pay to Anchises the offerings due!” So she spoke . . . But at first the matrons were gazing on the ships doubtfully and with jealous eyes, torn between an unhappy yearning for the land now reached and the destined kingdom that beckons them on, when the goddess on poised wings rose through the sky, cleaving in flight the mighty bow beneath the clouds. Then, indeed, amazed at the marvels and driven by frenzy, they cry aloud, and some snatch fire from the hearths within; others strip the altars, and throw on leaves and twigs and brands. With free rein Vulcan riots amid thwarts and oars and hulls of painted pine.

[664] To the tomb of Anchises and the seats of the theatre Eumelus bears tidings of the burning ships, and looking back, their own eyes see the black ash floating in a smoky cloud. And first Ascanius, as gaily as led galloping troops, eagerly spurred his horse to the bewildered camp, nor can the breathless trainers hold him back. “What strange madness is this?” he cries. “Whither now, wither are you bound, my wretched countrywomen? It is not the foe, not the hostile Argive camp you burn, but your own hopes. I am your own Ascanius!” And before his fleet he flung the empty helmet wherewith he was arrayed as he awoke in sport the mimicry of battle. Thither hastens Aeneas, too; thither, too, the Trojan bands. But the women scatter in dismay over the shores this way and that, and make stealthily for the woods and the hollow rocks they anywhere can find. They loathe the deed and the light of day; with changed thoughts they know their kin, and Juno is shaken from their hearts.

[680] But not for that did the burning flames lay aside their unquelled fury; under the wet oak the tow is alive, slowly belching smoke; the smouldering heat devours the keels, a plague sinking through the whole frame, nor can the heroes’ strength, nor the floods they pour, avail. Then loyal Aeneas rent the garment from his shoulders, and called the gods to his aid, lifting up his hands: “Almighty Jupiter, if you do not yet utterly abhor the Trojans to their last man, if your loving-kindness of old has any regard for human sorrows, grant to the fleet to escape the flame even now, Father, and snatch from doom the slender fortunes of the Trojans! Or if I deserve it, do you with leveled thunderbolt send me down to death the little that remains, and here overwhelm us with your hand.” Scarce had he uttered this when with streaming showers a black tempest rages unrestrained; with thunder tremble hills and plains; from the whole sky rushes down a fierce storm of rain, pitch-black with laden south winds. The ships are filled to overflowing, the half-burnt timbers are soaked, till all heat is quenched, and all the hulls save our are rescued from destruction.

[700] But father Aeneas, stunned by the bitter blow, now this way, now that, within his heart turned over mighty cares, pondering whether, forgetful of fate, he should settle in Sicilian fields, or aim to reach Italian shores. Then aged Nautes, whom, above all, Tritonian Pallas taught, and with deep lore made famous – she it was who gave him answers, telling either what the mighty wrath of the gods portended, or what the course of fate demanded – he with these words essays to comfort Aeneas: “Let us go, goddess-born, where the Fates, in their ebb and flow, draw us; come what may, endurance must master every fortune. You have Trojan Acestes, of divine stock; take him to share your counsels, a willing partner; to him entrust those who have grown weary of your great emprise and of your fortunes. Choose out the old men full of years and sea-worn matrons, and all of your company who are weak and fearful of peril, and let the wearied find their city in this land. This city, if you permit the name, they shall call Acesta.”

[719] Then, indeed, kindled by these words of his aged friend, he is torn asunder in soul amid his cares. And now, borne upwards in her chariot, black Night held the sky, when there seemed to glide down from heaven the likeness of his father Anchises and suddenly to utter thus his words: “Son, dearer to me than life, in days when life was mine; son, tested by Ilium’s fate! I come hither by Jove’s command, who drove the fire from your fleet, and at last has had pity from high heaven. Obey the fair advice that aged Nautes now gives; chosen youths, the bravest hearts, lead to Italy. A people hard and rugged in nurture must you subdue in Latium. Yet first approach the nether halls of Dis, and through the depths of Avernus seek, my son, a meeting with me. For impious Tartarus, with its gloomy shades, holds me not, but I dwell in Elysium amid the sweet assemblies of the blest. Hither, with much blood of black sheep, the pure Sibyl will lead you; and then you will learn of all your race, and what city is given to you. And now farewell; dewy Night wheels her midway course, and the cruel East has breathed on me with panting steeds.” He spoke, and passed like smoke into thin air. “Where are you rushing now?” cries Aeneas. “Where are you hurrying? Whom do you flee, or who bars you from our embraces?” So speaking, he rouses the embers of the slumbering fires, and with holy meal and full censer humbly worships the Lar of Troy and the shrine of hoary Vesta.

[746] Straightway he summons his comrades – Acestes first – and instructs them of Jove’s command, the counsel of his dear father, and the resolve now settled in his soul. Not long is their debate; nor does Acestes refuse his bidding. They enroll the matrons for the town, and set on shore the folk who wish it so – souls with no craving for high renown. They themselves renew the thwarts, and replace the fire-charred timbers of the ships, and fit up oars and rigging – scant of number, but a brave band alive for war. Meanwhile Aeneas marks out the city with a plough and alots homes; this he bids be Ilium and these lands Troy. Trojan Acestes delights in his kingdom, proclaims a court, and gives laws to the assembled senate. Then, on the crest of Eryx, a shrine, nigh to the stars, is founded to Venus of Idalia, and to Anchises’ tomb is assigned a priest with breadth of hallowed grove.

[762] And now for nine days all the folk have feasted and offerings been paid at the altars; gentle winds have lulled the seas, and the South, breathing often upon them, calls them again to sea. Along the winding shore arises a mighty wail, embracing one another, they linger a night and a day. Now the very mothers, the very men to whom once the face of the sea seemed cruel and its power intolerable, are ready to go out and bear all toil of exile. These good Aeneas comforts with kindly words, and commends with tears to his kinsman Acestes. Then he bids slay three steers to Eryx and a lamb to the Tempests, and duly loose the moorings. He himself, with temples bound in leaves of trimmed olive, standing apart on the prow, holds the cup, flings the entrails into the salt flood, and pours the liquid wine. A wind, rising astern, attends them on their way. With rival strokes his comrades lash the sea and sweep the waters.

[779] But Venus meanwhile, distressed with cares, speaks thus to Neptune, and from her heart pours out her plaint: “Juno’s fell wrath and implacable heart constrain me, O Neptune, to stoop to every prayer. Her no lapse of time, nor any goodness softens, nor does she rest, still unbent by Fate and Jove’s command. It is not enough that from the midst of the Phrygian race in her fell hate she had devoured their city and dragged through utmost vengeance the remnants of Troy; the very ashes and dust of the slaughtered race she still pursues. The causes of such madness be it hers to know. You are yourself my witness what sudden turmoil she raised of late in the Libyan waters; all the seas she mingled with the sky, in vain relying on the storms of Aeolus; and this she dared in your realm . . . And, wickedly driving the Trojan matrons, she has foully burnt their ships, and forced them – their fleet lost – to abandon their comrades to an unknown shore. Grant, I pray, that the remnant may commit their sails safely to you across the waters; grant them to gain Laurentine Tiber, if I ask what is right, if those walls are granted by the Fates.”

[799] Then Saturn’s son, lord of the deep sea, spoke thus: “You have every right, Cytherean, to put trust in this, my realm, from which you were born. This, too, I have earned; often have I checked the fury and mighty rage of sea and sky. Nor less on land – I call Xanthus and Simois to witness – has my care been for Aeneas. When Achilles in his pursuit hurled the Trojan bands in panic on their walls, and sent many thousands to death, when the choked rivers groaned, and Xanthus could not find his way or roll out to sea – then it was I who, in a hollow cloud, caught Aeneas as he confronted the brave son of Peleus and neither the gods nor his strength were in his favour, even though I was eager to uproot from their base the walls of perjured Troy that my own hands had built. Now, too, my purpose stands the same; dispel your fears. In safety, as you pray, shall he reach the haven of Avernus. One only shall there be whom, lost in the flood, you will seek in vain; one life shall be given for many . . . “

[816] when with these words he had soothed to gladness the goddess’s heart, the Sire yokes his wild steeds with gold, fastens their foaming bits, and lets all the reins stream freely in his hand; then over the water’s surface lightly he flies in azure car. The waves sink to rest, beneath the thundering axle the sea of swollen water is smoothed, and the storm clouds vanish from the wide sky. Then come the diverse forms of his train – monstrous whales, the aged company of Glaucus, with Ino’s son, Palaemon, the swift Tritons, and the whole host of Phorcus. Thetis and Melite keep the left, and maiden Panopea, Nesaea and Spio, Thalia and Cymodoce.

[827] At this, soothing joys in their turn thrill father Aeneas’ anxious heart. He bids all the masts be raised with speed and the yards spread with sails. Together all set the sheets and all at once, now to the left and now to the right, they let out the canvas; together they turn to and fro the yardarms aloft; favouring breezes bear on the fleet. First before all, leading the close column, was Palinurus; by him the rest are bidden to shape their course. And now dewy Night had reached its mid-goal in heaven; the sailors, stretched in quiet rest; when Sleep, sliding lightly down from the stars of heaven, parted the dusky air and cleft the gloom, seeking you, Palinurus, and bringing you baleful dreams, guiltless one! There on the high stern sat the god, in semblance of Phorbas, and pours these accents from his lips: “Palinurus, son of Iasus, the seas of themselves bear on the fleet; the breezes breathe steadily; the hour is given to rest. Lay down you head and steal your weary eyes from toil. I myself for a space will take your duty in your stead.” To him, scarce lifting his eyes, speaks Palinurus: “Me do you bid shut my eyes to the sea’s calm face and peaceful waves? Me put faith in this monster? And Aeneas – why, indeed, am I to trust him to the treacherous breezes, I whom a clear sky has so often deceived?” Such words he said and, clinging fast to the tiller, never let loose his hold, and kept his eyes upturned to the stars. But lo! the god, shaking over his temples a bough dripping with Lethe’s dew and steeped in drowsy might of Styx, despite his efforts relaxes his swimming eyes. Hardly had a sudden slumber begun to unbend his limbs when, leaning above, Sleep flung him headlong into the clear waters, tearing away, as he fell, the helm and part of the stern, and calling vainly on his comrades again and again. The god himself winged his way in flight to the thin air above. None the less the fleet speeds safely on its course over the sea and, trusting in Father Neptune’s promises, glides on unafraid. And now, onward borne, it was nearing the cliffs of the Sirens, perilous of old and white with the bones of many men – at this time with the ceaseless surf the rocks afar were booming hoarsely – when the sire found that his ship was drifting aimlessly, her pilot lost, and himself steered her amid the waves of night, often sighing and stunned at heart by his friend’s mischance. “Ah, too trustful in the calm of sky and sea, naked you will lie, Palinurus, on an unknown strand!”