Aeneid/I. The Trojans Reach Carthage

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Book I. The Trojans Reach Carthage
written by Virgil, translated by A. S. Kline
II. The Fall of Troy

I sing of arms and the man, he who, exiled by fate,
first came from the coast of Troy to Italy, and to
Lavinian shores – hurled about endlessly by land and sea,
by the will of the gods, by cruel Juno’s remorseless anger,
long suffering also in war, until he founded a city
and brought his gods to Latium: from that the Latin people
came, the lords of Alba Longa, the walls of noble Rome.
Muse, tell me the cause: how was she offended in her divinity,
how was she grieved, the Queen of Heaven, to drive a man,
noted for virtue, to endure such dangers, to face so many
trials? Can there be such anger in the minds of the gods?
There was an ancient city, Carthage (held by colonists from Tyre),
opposite Italy, and the far-off mouths of the Tiber,
rich in wealth, and very savage in pursuit of war.
They say Juno loved this one land above all others,
even neglecting Samos: here were her weapons
and her chariot, even then the goddess worked at,
and cherished, the idea that it should have supremacy
over the nations, if only the fates allowed.
Yet she’d heard of offspring, derived from Trojan blood,
that would one day overthrow the Tyrian stronghold:
that from them a people would come, wide-ruling,
and proud in war, to Libya’s ruin: so the Fates ordained.
Fearing this, and remembering the ancient war
she had fought before, at Troy, for her dear Argos,
(and the cause of her anger and bitter sorrows
had not yet passed from her mind: the distant judgement
of Paris stayed deep in her heart, the injury to her scorned beauty,
her hatred of the race, and abducted Ganymede’s honours)
the daughter of Saturn, incited further by this,
hurled the Trojans, the Greeks and pitiless Achilles had left,
round the whole ocean, keeping them far from Latium:
they wandered for many years, driven by fate over all the seas.
Such an effort it was to found the Roman people.
They were hardly out of sight of Sicily’s isle, in deeper water,
joyfully spreading sail, bronze keel ploughing the brine,
when Juno, nursing the eternal wound in her breast,
spoke to herself: ‘Am I to abandon my purpose, conquered,
unable to turn the Teucrian king away from Italy!
Why, the fates forbid it. Wasn’t Pallas able to burn
the Argive fleet, to sink it in the sea, because of the guilt
and madness of one single man, Ajax, son of Oileus?
She herself hurled Jupiter’s swift fire from the clouds,
scattered the ships, and made the sea boil with storms:
She caught him up in a water-spout, as he breathed flame
from his pierced chest, and pinned him to a sharp rock:
yet I, who walk about as queen of the gods, wife
and sister of Jove, wage war on a whole race, for so many years.
Indeed, will anyone worship Juno’s power from now on,
or place offerings, humbly, on her altars?’
So debating with herself, her heart inflamed, the goddess
came to Aeolia, to the country of storms, the place
of wild gales. Here in his vast cave, King Aeolus,
keeps the writhing winds, and the roaring tempests,
under control, curbs them with chains and imprisonment.
They moan angrily at the doors, with a mountain’s vast murmurs:
Aeolus sits, holding his sceptre, in his high stronghold,
softening their passions, tempering their rage: if not,
they’d surely carry off seas and lands and the highest heavens,
with them, in rapid flight, and sweep them through the air.
But the all-powerful Father, fearing this, hid them
in dark caves, and piled a high mountain mass over them
and gave them a king, who by fixed agreement, would know
how to give the order to tighten or slacken the reins.
Juno now offered these words to him, humbly:
‘Aeolus, since the Father of gods, and king of men,
gave you the power to quell, and raise, the waves with the winds,
there is a people I hate sailing the Tyrrhenian Sea,
bringing Troy’s conquered gods to Italy:
Add power to the winds, and sink their wrecked boats,
or drive them apart, and scatter their bodies over the sea.
I have fourteen Nymphs of outstanding beauty:
of whom I’ll name Deiopea, the loveliest in looks,
joined in eternal marriage, and yours for ever, so that,
for such service to me as yours, she’ll spend all her years
with you, and make you the father of lovely children.’
Aeolus replied: ‘Your task, O queen, is to decide
what you wish: my duty is to fulfil your orders.
You brought about all this kingdom of mine, the sceptre,
Jove’s favour, you gave me a seat at the feasts of the gods,
and you made me lord of the storms and the tempests.’
When he had spoken, he reversed his trident and struck
the hollow mountain on the side: and the winds, formed ranks,
rushed out by the door he’d made, and whirled across the earth.
They settle on the sea, East and West wind,
and the wind from Africa, together, thick with storms,
stir it all from its furthest deeps, and roll vast waves to shore:
follows a cry of men and a creaking of cables.
Suddenly clouds take sky and day away
from the Trojan’s eyes: dark night rests on the sea.
It thunders from the pole, and the aether flashes thick fire,
and all things threaten immediate death to men.
Instantly Aeneas groans, his limbs slack with cold:
stretching his two hands towards the heavens,
he cries out in this voice: ‘Oh, three, four times fortunate
were those who chanced to die in front of their father’s eyes
under Troy’s high walls! O Diomede, son of Tydeus
bravest of Greeks! Why could I not have fallen, at your hand,
in the fields of Ilium, and poured out my spirit,
where fierce Hector lies, beneath Achilles’s spear,
and mighty Sarpedon: where Simois rolls, and sweeps away
so many shields, helmets, brave bodies, of men, in its waves!’
Hurling these words out, a howling blast from the north,
strikes square on the sail, and lifts the seas to heaven:
the oars break: then the prow swings round and offers
the beam to the waves: a steep mountain of water follows in a mass.
Some ships hang on the breaker’s crest: to others the yawning deep
shows land between the waves: the surge rages with sand.
The south wind catches three, and whirls them onto hidden rocks
(rocks the Italians call the Altars, in mid-ocean,
a vast reef on the surface of the sea) three the east wind drives
from the deep, to the shallows and quick-sands (a pitiful sight),
dashes them against the bottom, covers them with a gravel mound.
A huge wave, toppling, strikes one astern, in front of his very eyes,
one carrying faithful Orontes and the Lycians.
The steersman’s thrown out and hurled headlong, face down:
but the sea turns the ship three times, driving her round,
in place, and the swift vortex swallows her in the deep.
Swimmers appear here and there in the vast waste,
men’s weapons, planking, Trojan treasure in the waves.
Now the storm conquers Iloneus’s tough ship, now Achates,
now that in which Abas sailed, and old Aletes’s:
their timbers sprung in their sides, all the ships
let in the hostile tide, and split open at the seams.
Neptune, meanwhile, greatly troubled, saw that the sea
was churned with vast murmur, and the storm was loose
and the still waters welled from their deepest levels:
he raised his calm face from the waves, gazing over the deep.
He sees Aeneas’s fleet scattered all over the ocean,
the Trojans crushed by the breakers, and the plummeting sky.
And Juno’s anger, and her stratagems, do not escape her brother.
He calls the East and West winds to him, and then says:
‘Does confidence in your birth fill you so? Winds, do you dare,
without my intent, to mix earth with sky, and cause such trouble,
now? You whom I – ! But it’s better to calm the running waves:
you’ll answer to me later for this misfortune, with a different punishment. Hurry, fly now, and say this to your king:
control of the ocean, and the fierce trident, were given to me,
by lot, and not to him. He owns the wild rocks, home to you,
and yours, East Wind: let Aeolus officiate in his palace,
and be king in the closed prison of the winds.’
So he speaks, and swifter than his speech, he calms the swollen sea,
scatters the gathered cloud, and brings back the sun.
Cymothoë and Triton, working together, thrust the ships
from the sharp reef: Neptune himself raises them with his trident,
parts the vast quicksand, tempers the flood,
and glides on weightless wheels, over the tops of the waves.
As often, when rebellion breaks out in a great nation,
and the common rabble rage with passion, and soon stones
and fiery torches fly (frenzy supplying weapons),
if they then see a man of great virtue, and weighty service,
they are silent, and stand there listening attentively:
he sways their passions with his words and soothes their hearts:
so all the uproar of the ocean died, as soon as their father,
gazing over the water, carried through the clear sky, wheeled
his horses, and gave them their head, flying behind in his chariot.
The weary followers of Aeneas made efforts to set a course
for the nearest land, and tacked towards the Libyan coast.
There is a place there in a deep inlet: an island forms a harbour
with the barrier of its bulk, on which every wave from the deep
breaks, and divides into diminishing ripples.
On this side and that, vast cliffs and twin crags loom in the sky,
under whose summits the whole sea is calm, far and wide:
then, above that, is a scene of glittering woods,
and a dark grove overhangs the water, with leafy shade:
under the headland opposite is a cave, curtained with rock,
inside it, fresh water, and seats of natural stone,
the home of Nymphs. No hawsers moor the weary ships
here, no anchor, with its hooked flukes, fastens them.
Aeneas takes shelter here with seven ships gathered
from the fleet, and the Trojans, with a passion for dry land,
disembarking, take possession of the sands they longed for,
and stretch their brine-caked bodies on the shore.
At once Achates strikes a spark from his flint,
catches the fire in the leaves, places dry fuel round it,
and quickly has flames among the kindling.
Then, wearied by events, they take out wheat, damaged
by the sea, and implements of Ceres, and prepare to parch
the grain over the flames, and grind it on stone.
Aeneas climbs a crag meanwhile, and searches the whole prospect
far and wide over the sea, looking if he can see anything
of Antheus and his storm-tossed Phrygian galleys,
or Capys, or Caicus’s arms blazoned on a high stern.
There’s no ship in sight: he sees three stags wandering
on the shore: whole herds of deer follow at their back,
and graze in long lines along the valley.
He halts at this, and grasps in his hand his bow
and swift arrows, shafts that loyal Achates carries,
and first he shoots the leaders themselves, their heads,
with branching antlers, held high, then the mass, with his shafts,
and drives the whole crowd in confusion among the leaves:
The conqueror does not stop until he’s scattered seven huge
carcasses on the ground, equal in number to his ships.
Then he seeks the harbour, and divides them among all his friends.
Next he shares out the wine that the good Acestes had stowed
in jars, on the Trinacrian coast, and that hero had given them
on leaving: and speaking to them, calmed their sad hearts:
‘O friends (well, we were not unknown to trouble before)
O you who’ve endured worse, the god will grant an end to this too.
You’ve faced rabid Scylla, and her deep-sounding cliffs:
and you’ve experienced the Cyclopes’s rocks:
remember your courage and chase away gloomy fears:
perhaps one day you’ll even delight in remembering this.
Through all these misfortunes, these dangerous times,
we head for Latium, where the fates hold peaceful lives
for us: there Troy’s kingdom can rise again. Endure,
and preserve yourselves for happier days.’
So his voice utters, and sick with the weight of care, he pretends
hope, in his look, and stifles the pain deep in his heart.
They make ready the game, and the future feast:
they flay the hides from the ribs and lay the flesh bare:
some cut it in pieces, quivering, and fix it on spits,
others place cauldrons on the beach, and feed them with flames.
Then they revive their strength with food, stretched on the grass,
and fill themselves with rich venison and old wine.
When hunger is quenched by the feast, and the remnants cleared,
deep in conversation, they discuss their missing friends,
and, between hope and fear, question whether they live,
or whether they’ve suffered death and no longer hear their name.
Aeneas, the virtuous, above all mourns the lot of fierce Orontes,
then that of Amycus, together with Lycus’s cruel fate,
and those of brave Gyus, and brave Cloanthus.
Now, all was complete, when Jupiter, from the heights of the air,
looked down on the sea with its flying sails, and the broad lands,
and the coasts, and the people far and wide, and paused,
at the summit of heaven, and fixed his eyes on the Libyan kingdom.
And as he weighed such cares as he had in his heart, Venus spoke
to him, sadder still, her bright eyes brimming with tears:
‘Oh you who rule things human, and divine, with eternal law,
and who terrify them all with your lightning-bolt,
what can my Aeneas have done to you that’s so serious,
what have the Trojans done, who’ve suffered so much destruction,
to whom the whole world’s closed, because of the Italian lands?
Surely you promised that at some point, as the years rolled by,
the Romans would rise from them, leaders would rise,
restored from Teucer’s blood, who would hold power
over the sea, and all the lands. Father, what thought has changed
your mind? It consoled me for the fall of Troy, and its sad ruin,
weighing one destiny, indeed, against opposing destinies:
now the same misfortune follows these men driven on by such
disasters. Great king, what end to their efforts will you give?
Antenor could escape through the thick of the Greek army,
and safely enter the Illyrian gulfs, and deep into the realms
of the Liburnians, and pass the founts of Timavus,
from which the river bursts, with a huge mountainous roar,
through nine mouths, and buries the fields under its noisy flood.
Here, nonetheless, he sited the city of Padua, and homes
for Teucrians, and gave the people a name, and hung up
the arms of Troy: now he’s calmly settled, in tranquil peace.
But we, your race, to whom you permit the heights of heaven,
lose our ships (shameful!), betrayed, because of one person’s anger,
and kept far away from the shores of Italy.
Is this the prize for virtue? Is this how you restore our rule?
The father of men and gods, smiled at her with that look
with which he clears the sky of storms,
kissed his daughter’s lips, and then said this:
‘Don’t be afraid, Cytherea, your child’s fate remains unaltered:
You’ll see the city of Lavinium, and the walls I promised,
and you’ll raise great-hearted Aeneas high, to the starry sky:
No thought has changed my mind. This son of yours
(since this trouble gnaws at my heart, I’ll speak,
and unroll the secret scroll of destiny)
will wage a mighty war in Italy, destroy proud peoples,
and establish laws, and city walls, for his warriors,
until a third summer sees his reign in Latium, and
three winter camps pass since the Rutulians were beaten.
But the boy Ascanius, surnamed Iulus now (He was Ilus
while the Ilian kingdom was a reality) will imperially
complete thirty great circles of the turning months,
and transfer his throne from its site at Lavinium,
and mighty in power, will build the walls of Alba Longa.
Here kings of Hector’s race will reign now
for three hundred years complete, until a royal priestess,
Ilia, heavy with child, shall bear Mars twins.
Then Romulus will further the race, proud in his nurse
the she-wolf’s tawny pelt, and found the walls of Mars,
and call the people Romans, from his own name.
I’ve fixed no limits or duration to their possessions:
I’ve given them empire without end. Why, harsh Juno
who now torments land, and sea and sky with fear,
will respond to better judgement, and favour the Romans,
masters of the world, and people of the toga, with me.
So it is decreed. A time will come, as the years glide by,
when the Trojan house of Assaracus will force Phthia
into slavery, and be lords of beaten Argos.
From this glorious source a Trojan Caesar will be born,
who will bound the empire with Ocean, his fame with the stars,
Augustus, a Julius, his name descended from the great Iulus.
You, no longer anxious, will receive him one day in heaven,
burdened with Eastern spoils: he’ll be called to in prayer.
Then with wars abandoned, the harsh ages will grow mild:
White haired Trust, and Vesta, Quirinus with his brother Remus
will make the laws: the gates of War, grim with iron,
and narrowed by bars, will be closed: inside impious Rage will roar
frighteningly from blood-stained mouth, seated on savage weapons,
hands tied behind his back, with a hundred knots of bronze.’
Saying this, he sends Mercury, Maia’s son, down from heaven,
so that the country and strongholds of this new Carthage
would open to the Trojans, as guests, and Dido, unaware of fate,
would not keep them from her territory. He flies through the air
with a beating of mighty wings and quickly lands on Libyan shore.
And soon does as commanded, and the Phoenicians set aside
their savage instincts, by the god’s will: the queen above all
adopts calm feelings, and kind thoughts, towards the Trojans.
But Aeneas, the virtuous, turning things over all night,
decides, as soon as kindly dawn appears, to go out
and explore the place, to find what shores he has reached,
on the wind, who owns them (since he sees desert)
man or beast, and bring back the details to his friends.
He conceals the boats in over-hanging woods
under an arching cliff, enclosed by trees
and leafy shadows: accompanied only by Achetes,
he goes, swinging two broad-bladed spears in his hand.
His mother met him herself, among the trees, with the face
and appearance of a virgin, and a virgin’s weapons,
a Spartan girl, or such as Harpalyce of Thrace,
who wearies horses, and outdoes winged Hebrus in flight.
For she’d slung her bow from her shoulders, at the ready,
like a huntress, and loosed her hair for the wind to scatter,
her knees bare, and her flowing tunic gathered up in a knot.
And she cried first: ‘Hello, you young men, tell me,
if you’ve seen my sister wandering here by any chance,
wearing a quiver, and the hide of a dappled lynx,
or shouting, hot on the track of a slavering boar?’
So Venus: and so Venus’s son began in answer:
‘I’ve not seen or heard any of your sisters, O Virgin –
or how should I name you? Since your looks are not mortal
and your voice is more than human: oh, a goddess for certain!
Or Phoebus’s sister? Or one of the race of Nymphs?
Be kind, whoever you may be, and lighten our labour,
and tell us only what sky we’re under, and what shores
we’ve landed on: we’re adrift here, driven by wind and vast seas,
knowing nothing of the people or the country:
many a sacrifice to you will fall at the altars, under our hand.’
Then Venus said: ‘I don’t think myself worthy of such honours:
it’s the custom of Tyrian girls to carry a quiver,
and lace our calves high up, over red hunting boots.
You see the kingdom of Carthage, Tyrians, Agenor’s city:
but bordered by Libyans, a people formidable in war.
Dido rules this empire, having set out from Tyre,
fleeing her brother. It’s a long tale of wrong, with many
windings: but I’ll trace the main chapters of the story.
Sychaeus was her husband, wealthiest, in land, of Phoenicians
and loved with a great love by the wretched girl,
whose father gave her as a virgin to him, and wed them
with great solemnity. But her brother Pygmalion, savage
in wickedness beyond all others, held the kingdom of Tyre.
Madness came between them. The king, blinded by greed for gold,
killed the unwary Sychaeus, secretly, with a knife, impiously,
in front of the altars, indifferent to his sister’s affections.
He concealed his actions for a while, deceived the lovesick girl,
with empty hopes, and many evil pretences.
But the ghost of her unburied husband came to her in dream:
lifting his pale head in a strange manner, he laid bare the cruelty
at the altars, and his heart pierced by the knife,
and unveiled all the secret wickedness of that house.
Then he urged her to leave quickly and abandon her country,
and, to help her journey, revealed an ancient treasure
under the earth, an unknown weight of gold and silver.
Shaken by all this, Dido prepared her flight and her friends.
Those who had fierce hatred of the tyrant or bitter fear,
gathered together: they seized some ships that by chance
were ready, and loaded the gold: greedy Pygmalion’s riches
are carried overseas: a woman leads the enterprise.
The came to this place, and bought land, where you now see
the vast walls, and resurgent stronghold, of new Carthage,
as much as they could enclose with the strips of hide
from a single bull, and from that they called it Byrsa.
But who then are you? What shores do you come from?
What course do you take?’ He sighed as she questioned him,
and drawing the words from deep in his heart he replied:
‘O goddess, if I were to start my tale at the very beginning,
and you had time to hear the story of our misfortunes,
Vesper would have shut day away in the closed heavens.
A storm drove us at whim to Libya’s shores,
sailing the many seas from ancient Troy,
if by chance the name of Troy has come to your hearing.
I am that Aeneas, the virtuous, who carries my household gods
in my ship with me, having snatched them from the enemy,
my name is known beyond the sky.
I seek my country Italy, and a people born of Jupiter on high.
I embarked on the Phrygian sea with twenty ships,
following my given fate, my mother, a goddess, showing the way:
barely seven are left, wrenched from the wind and waves.
I myself wander, destitute and unknown, in the Libyan desert,
driven from Europe and Asia.’ Venus did not wait
for further complaint but broke in on his lament like this:
‘Whoever you are I don’t think you draw the breath of life
while hated by the gods, you who’ve reached a city of Tyre.
Only go on from here, and take yourself to the queen’s threshold,
since I bring you news that your friends are restored,
and your ships recalled, driven to safety by the shifting winds,
unless my parents taught me false prophecies, in vain.
See, those twelve swans in exultant line, that an eagle,
Jupiter’s bird, swooping from the heavens,
was troubling in the clear sky: now, in a long file, they seem
to have settled, or be gazing down now at those who already have.
As, returning, their wings beat in play, and they circle the zenith
in a crowd, and give their cry, so your ships and your people
are in harbour, or near its entrance under full sail.
Only go on, turn your steps where the path takes you.’
She spoke, and turning away she reflected the light
from her rose-tinted neck, and breathed a divine perfume
from her ambrosial hair: her robes trailed down to her feet,
and, in her step, showed her a true goddess. He recognised
his mother, and as she vanished followed her with his voice:
‘You too are cruel, why do you taunt your son with false
phantoms? Why am I not allowed to join hand
with hand, and speak and hear true words?’
So he accuses her, and turns his steps towards the city.
But Venus veiled them with a dark mist as they walked,
and, as a goddess, spread a thick covering of cloud around them,
so that no one could see them, or touch them,
or cause them delay, or ask them where they were going.
She herself soars high in the air, to Paphos, and returns to her home
with delight, where her temple and its hundred altars
steam with Sabean incense, fragrant with fresh garlands.
Meanwhile they’ve tackled the route the path revealed.
And soon they climbed the hill that looms high over the city,
and looks down from above on the towers that face it.
Aeneas marvels at the mass of buildings, once huts,
marvels at the gates, the noise, the paved roads.
The eager Tyrians are busy, some building walls,
and raising the citadel, rolling up stones by hand,
some choosing the site for a house, and marking a furrow:
they make magistrates and laws, and a sacred senate:
here some are digging a harbour: others lay down
the deep foundations of a theatre, and carve huge columns
from the cliff, tall adornments for the future stage.
Just as bees in early summer carry out their tasks
among the flowery fields, in the sun, when they lead out
the adolescent young of their race, or cram the cells
with liquid honey, and swell them with sweet nectar,
or receive the incoming burdens, or forming lines
drive the lazy herd of drones from their hives:
the work glows, and the fragrant honey’s sweet with thyme.
‘O fortunate those whose walls already rise!’
Aeneas cries, and admires the summits of the city.
He enters among them, veiled in mist (marvellous to tell)
and mingles with the people seen by no one.
There was a grove in the centre of the city, delightful
with shade, where the wave and storm-tossed Phoenicians
first uncovered the head of a fierce horse, that regal Juno
showed them: so the race would be noted in war,
and rich in substance throughout the ages.
Here Sidonian Dido was establishing a great temple
to Juno, rich with gifts and divine presence,
with bronze entrances rising from stairways, and beams
jointed with bronze, and hinges creaking on bronze doors.
Here in the grove something new appeared that calmed his fears
for the first time, here for the first time Aeneas dared to hope
for safety, and to put greater trust in his afflicted fortunes.
While, waiting for the queen, in the vast temple, he looks
at each thing: while he marvels at the city’s wealth,
the skill of their artistry, and the products of their labours,
he sees the battles at Troy in their correct order,
the War, known through its fame to the whole world,
the sons of Atreus, of Priam, and Achilles angered with both.
He halted, and said, with tears: ‘What place is there,
Achates, what region of earth not full of our hardships?
See, Priam! Here too virtue has its rewards, here too
there are tears for events, and mortal things touch the heart.
Lose your fears: this fame will bring you benefit.’
So he speaks, and feeds his spirit with the insubstantial frieze,
sighing often, and his face wet with the streaming tears.
For he saw how, here, the Greeks fled, as they fought round Troy,
chased by the Trojan youth, and, there, the Trojans fled,
with plumed Achilles pressing them close in his chariot.
Not far away, through his tears, he recognises Rhesus’s
white-canvassed tents, that blood-stained Diomede, Tydeus’s son,
laid waste with great slaughter, betrayed in their first sleep,
diverting the fiery horses to his camp, before they could eat
Trojan fodder, or drink from the river Xanthus.
Elsewhere Troilus, his weapons discarded in flight,
unhappy boy, unequally matched in his battle with Achilles,
is dragged by his horses, clinging face-up to the empty chariot,
still clutching the reins: his neck and hair trailing
on the ground, and his spear reversed furrowing the dust.
Meanwhile the Trojan women with loose hair, walked
to unjust Pallas’s temple carrying the sacred robe,
mourning humbly, and beating their breasts with their hands.
The goddess was turned away, her eyes fixed on the ground.
Three times had Achilles dragged Hector round the walls of Troy,
and now was selling the lifeless corpse for gold.
Then Aeneas truly heaves a deep sigh, from the depths of his heart,
as he views the spoils, the chariot, the very body of his friend,
and Priam stretching out his unwarlike hands.
He recognised himself as well, fighting the Greek princes,
and the Ethiopian ranks and black Memnon’s armour.
Raging Penthesilea leads the file of Amazons,
with crescent shields, and shines out among her thousands,
her golden girdle fastened beneath her exposed breasts,
a virgin warrior daring to fight with men.
While these wonderful sights are viewed by Trojan Aeneas,
while amazed he hangs there, rapt, with fixed gaze,
Queen Dido, of loveliest form, reached the temple,
with a great crowd of youths accompanying her.
Just as Diana leads her dancing throng on Eurotas’s banks,
or along the ridges of Cynthus, and, following her,
a thousand mountain-nymphs gather on either side:
and she carries a quiver on her shoulder, and overtops
all the other goddesses as she walks: and delight
seizes her mother Latona’s silent heart:
such was Dido, so she carried herself, joyfully,
amongst them, furthering the work, and her rising kingdom.
Then, fenced with weapons, and resting on a high throne,
she took her seat, at the goddess’s doorway, under the central vault.
She was giving out laws and statutes to the people, and sharing
the workers labour out in fair proportions, or assigning it by lot:
when Aeneas suddenly saw Antheus, and Sergestus,
and brave Cloanthus, approaching, among a large crowd,
with others of the Trojans whom the black storm-clouds
had scattered over the sea and carried far off to other shores.
He was stunned, and Achates was stunned as well
with joy and fear: they burned with eagerness to clasp hands,
but the unexpected event confused their minds.
They stay concealed and, veiled in the deep mist, they watch
to see what happens to their friends, what shore they have left
the fleet on, and why they are here: the elect of every ship came
begging favour, and made for the temple among the shouting.
When they’d entered, and freedom to speak in person
had been granted, Ilioneus, the eldest, began calmly:
‘O queen, whom Jupiter grants the right to found
a new city, and curb proud tribes with your justice,
we unlucky Trojans, driven by the winds over every sea,
pray to you: keep the terror of fire away from our ships,
spare a virtuous race and look more kindly on our fate.
We have not come to despoil Libyan homes with the sword,
or to carry off stolen plunder to the shore: that violence
is not in our minds, the conquered have not such pride.
There’s a place called Hesperia by the Greeks,
an ancient land, strong in men, with a rich soil:
There the Oenotrians lived: now rumour has it
that a later people has called it Italy, after their leader.
We had set our course there when stormy Orion,
rising with the tide, carried us onto hidden shoals,
and fierce winds scattered us far, with the overwhelming surge,
over the waves among uninhabitable rocks:
we few have drifted here to your shores.
What race of men is this? What land is so barbaric as to allow
this custom, that we’re denied the hospitality of the sands?
They stir up war, and prevent us setting foot on dry land.
If you despise the human race and mortal weapons,
still trust that the gods remember right and wrong.
Aeneas was our king, no one more just than him
in his duty, or greater in war and weaponry.
If fate still protects the man, if he still enjoys the ethereal air,
if he doesn’t yet rest among the cruel shades, there’s nothing
to fear, and you’d not repent of vying with him first in kindness.
Then there are cities and fields too in the region of Sicily,
and famous Acestes, of Trojan blood. Allow us
to beach our fleet, damaged by the storms,
and cut planks from trees, and shape oars,
so if our king’s restored and our friends are found
we can head for Italy, gladly seek Italy and Latium:
and if our saviour’s lost, and the Libyan seas hold you,
Troy’s most virtuous father, if no hope now remains from Iulus,
let us seek the Sicilian straits, from which we were driven,
and the home prepared for us, and a king, Acestes.’
So Ilioneus spoke: and the Trojans all shouted with one voice.
Then, Dido, spoke briefly, with lowered eyes:
‘Trojans, free your hearts of fear: dispel your cares.
Harsh events and the newness of the kingdom force me to effect
such things, and protect my borders with guards on all sides.
Who doesn’t know of Aeneas’s race, and the city of Troy,
the bravery, the men, or so great a blaze of warfare,
indeed, we Phoenicians don’t possess unfeeling hearts,
the sun doesn’t harness his horses that far from this Tyrian city.
Whether you opt for mighty Hesperia, and Saturn’s fields,
or the summit of Eryx, and Acestes for king,
I’ll see you safely escorted, and help you with my wealth.
Or do you wish to settle here with me, as equals in my kingdom?
The city I build is yours: beach your ships:
Trojans and Tyrians will be treated by me without distinction.
I wish your king Aeneas himself were here, driven
by that same storm! Indeed, I’ll send reliable men
along the coast, and order them to travel the length of Libya,
in case he’s driven aground, and wandering the woods and towns.’
Brave Achetes, and our forefather Aeneas, their spirits raised
by these words, had been burning to break free of the mist.
Achates was first to speak, saying to Aeneas: ‘Son of the goddess,
what intention springs to your mind? You see all’s safe,
the fleet and our friends have been restored to us.
Only one is missing, whom we saw plunged in the waves:
all else is in accord with your mother’s words.’
He’d scarcely spoken when the mist surrounding them
suddenly parted, and vanished in the clear air.
Aeneas stood there, shining in the bright daylight,
like a god in shoulders and face: since his mother
had herself imparted to her son beauty to his hair,
a glow of youth, and a joyful charm to his eyes:
like the glory art can give to ivory, or as when silver,
or Parian marble, is surrounded by gold.
Then he addressed the queen, suddenly, surprising them all,
saying: ‘I am here in person, Aeneas the Trojan,
him whom you seek, saved from the Libyan waves.
O Dido, it is not in our power, nor those of our Trojan race,
wherever they may be, scattered through the wide world,
to pay you sufficient thanks, you who alone have pitied
Troy’s unspeakable miseries, and share your city and home
with us, the remnant left by the Greeks, wearied
by every mischance, on land and sea, and lacking everything.
May the gods, and the mind itself conscious of right,
bring you a just reward, if the gods respect the virtuous,
if there is justice anywhere. What happy age gave birth
to you? What parents produced such a child?
Your honour, name and praise will endure forever,
whatever lands may summon me, while rivers run
to the sea, while shadows cross mountain slopes,
while the sky nourishes the stars.’ So saying he grasps
his friend Iloneus by the right hand, Serestus with the left,
then others, brave Gyus and brave Cloanthus.
Sidonian Dido was first amazed at the hero’s looks
then at his great misfortunes, and she spoke, saying:
‘Son of a goddess, what fate pursues you through all
these dangers? What force drives you to these barbarous shores?
Are you truly that Aeneas whom kindly Venus bore
to Trojan Anchises, by the waters of Phrygian Simois?
Indeed, I myself remember Teucer coming to Sidon,
exiled from his country’s borders, seeking a new kingdom
with Belus’s help: Belus, my father, was laying waste
rich Cyprus, and, as victor, held it by his authority.
Since then the fall of the Trojan city is known to me,
and your name, and those of the Greek kings.
Even their enemy granted the Teucrians high praise,
maintaining they were born of the ancient Teucrian stock.
So come, young lords, and enter our palace.
Fortune, pursuing me too, through many similar troubles,
willed that I would find peace at last in this land.
Not being unknown to evil, I’ve learned to aid the unhappy.’
So she speaks, and leads Aeneas into the royal house,
and proclaims, as well, offerings at the god’s temples.
She sends no less than twenty bulls to his friends
on the shore, and a hundred of her largest pigs with
bristling backs, a hundred fat lambs with the ewes,
and joyful gifts of wine, but the interior of the palace
is laid out with royal luxury, and they prepare
a feast in the centre of the palace: covers worked
skilfully in princely purple, massive silverware
on the tables, and her forefathers’ heroic deeds
engraved in gold, a long series of exploits traced
through many heroes, since the ancient origins of her people.
Aeneas quickly sends Achates to the ships
to carry the news to Ascanius (since a father’s love
won’t let his mind rest) and bring him to the city:
on Ascanius all the care of a fond parent is fixed.
He commands him to bring gifts too, snatched
from the ruins of Troy, a figured robe stiff with gold,
and a cloak fringed with yellow acanthus,
worn by Helen of Argos, brought from Mycenae
when she sailed to Troy and her unlawful marriage,
a wonderful gift from her mother Leda:
and the sceptre that Ilione, Priam’s eldest daughter,
once carried, and a necklace of pearls, and a double-coronet
of jewels and gold. Achates, hastening to fulfil
these commands, took his way towards the ships.
But Venus was planning new wiles and stratagems
in her heart: how Cupid, altered in looks, might arrive
in place of sweet Ascanius, and arouse the passionate queen
by his gifts, and entwine the fire in her bones: truly she fears
the unreliability of this house, and the duplicitous Tyrians:
unyielding Juno angers her, and her worries increase with nightfall.
So she speaks these words to winged Cupid:
‘My son, you who alone are my great strength, my power,
a son who scorns mighty Jupiter’s Typhoean thunderbolts,
I ask your help, and humbly call on your divine will.
It’s known to you how Aeneas, your brother, is driven
over the sea, round all the shores, by bitter Juno’s hatred,
and you have often grieved with my grief.
Phoenician Dido holds him there, delaying him with flattery,
and I fear what may come of Juno’s hospitality:
at such a critical turn of events she’ll not be idle.
So I intend to deceive the queen with guile, and encircle
her with passion, so that no divine will can rescue her,
but she’ll be seized, with me, by deep love for Aeneas.
Now listen to my thoughts on how you can achieve this.
Summoned by his dear father, the royal child,
my greatest concern, prepares to go to the Sidonian city,
carrying gifts that survived the sea, and the flames of Troy.
I’ll lull him to sleep and hide him in my sacred shrine
on the heights of Cythera or Idalium, so he can know
nothing of my deceptions, or interrupt them mid-way.
For no more than a single night imitate his looks by art,
and, a boy yourself, take on the known face of a boy,
so that when Dido takes you to her breast, joyfully,
amongst the royal feast, and the flowing wine,
when she embraces you, and plants sweet kisses on you,
you’ll breathe hidden fire into her, deceive her with your poison.’
Cupid obeys his dear mother’s words, sets aside his wings,
and laughingly trips along with Iulus’s step.
But Venus pours gentle sleep over Ascanius’s limbs,
and warming him in her breast, carries him, with divine power,
to Idalia’s high groves, where soft marjoram smothers him
in flowers, and the breath of its sweet shade.
Now, obedient to her orders, delighting in Achetes as guide,
Cupid goes off carrying royal gifts for the Tyrians.
When he arrives the queen has already settled herself
in the centre, on her golden couch under royal canopies.
Now our forefather Aeneas and the youth of Troy
gather there, and recline on cloths of purple.
Servants pour water over their hands: serve bread
from baskets: and bring napkins of smooth cloth.
Inside there are fifty female servants, in a long line,
whose task it is to prepare the meal, and tend the hearth fires:
a hundred more, and as many pages of like age,
to load the tables with food, and fill the cups.
And the Tyrians too are gathered in crowds through the festive
halls, summoned to recline on the embroidered couches.
They marvel at Aeneas’s gifts, marvel at Iulus,
the god’s brilliant appearance, and deceptive words,
at the robe, and the cloak embroidered with yellow acanthus.
The unfortunate Phoenician above all, doomed to future ruin,
cannot pacify her feelings, and catches fire with gazing,
stirred equally by the child and by the gifts.
He, having hung in an embrace round Aeneas’s neck,
and sated the deceived father’s great love,
seeks out the queen. Dido, clings to him with her eyes
and with her heart, taking him now and then on her lap,
unaware how great a god is entering her, to her sorrow.
But he, remembering his Cyprian mother’s wishes,
begins gradually to erase all thought of Sychaeus,
and works at seducing her mind, so long unstirred,
and her heart unused to love, with living passion.
At the first lull in the feasting, the tables were cleared,
and they set out vast bowls, and wreathed the wine with garlands.
Noise filled the palace, and voices rolled out across the wide halls:
bright lamps hung from the golden ceilings,
and blazing candles dispelled the night.
Then the queen asked for a drinking-cup, heavy
with gold and jewels, that Belus and all Belus’s line
were accustomed to use, and filled it
with wine. Then the halls were silent. She spoke:
‘Jupiter, since they say you’re the one who creates
the laws of hospitality, let this be a happy day
for the Tyrians and those from Troy,
and let it be remembered by our children.
Let Bacchus, the joy-bringer, and kind Juno be present,
and you, O Phoenicians, make this gathering festive.’
She spoke and poured an offering of wine onto the table,
and after the libation was the first to touch the bowl to her lips,
then she gave it to Bitias, challenging him: he briskly drained
the brimming cup, drenching himself in its golden fullness,
then other princes drank. Iolas, the long-haired, made
his golden lyre resound, he whom great Atlas taught.
He sang of the wandering moon and the sun’s labours,
where men and beasts came from, and rain and fire,
of Arcturus, the rainy Hyades, the two Bears:
why the winter suns rush to dip themselves in the sea,
and what delay makes the slow nights linger.
The Tyrians redoubled their applause, the Trojans too.
And unfortunate Dido, she too spent the night
in conversation, and drank deep of her passion,
asking endlessly about Priam and Hector:
now about the armour that Memnon, son of the Dawn,
came with to Troy, what kind were Diomed’s horses,
how great was Achilles. ‘But come, my guest, tell us
from the start all the Greek trickery, your men’s mishaps,
and your wanderings: since it’s the seventh summer now
that brings you here, in your journey, over every land and sea.’