Aeneid/VII. War in Latium

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VI. The Visit to the Underworld Aeneid
VII. War in Latium
written by Virgil, translated by A. S. Kline
VIII.The Site of Rome




Caieta, Aeneas’s nurse, you too have granted
eternal fame to our shores in dying:
tributes still protect your grave, and your name
marks your bones in great Hesperia, if that is glory.
Now, as soon as the open sea was calm, having paid
the last rites due to custom, and raised a funeral mound,
Aeneas the good left the harbour and sailed on his way.
The breezes blew through the night, and a radiant moon was no
inhibitor to their voyage, the sea gleaming in the tremulous light.
The next shores they touched were Circe’s lands,
where that rich daughter of the sun makes the hidden groves
echo with continual chanting, and burns fragrant cedar
for nocturnal light in her proud palace, as she sets
her melodious shuttle running through the fine warp.
From there the angry roar of lions could be heard,
chafing at their ropes, and sounding late into the night,
and the rage of bristling wild-boars, and caged bears,
and the howling shapes of huge wolves,
whom Circe, cruel goddess, had altered from human appearance
to the features and forms of creatures, using powerful herbs.
But Neptune filled their sails with following winds, so that
Troy’s virtuous race should not suffer so monstrous a fate
entering the harbour, and disembarking on that fatal shore,
and carried them past the boiling shallows, granting them escape.
Now the sea was reddening with the sun’s rays, and saffron Aurora
in her rose-coloured chariot, shone from the heights of heaven,
when the winds dropped and every breeze suddenly fell away,
and the oars laboured slowly in the water. At this moment,
gazing from the sea, Aeneas saw a vast forest. Through it
the Tiber’s lovely river, with swirling eddies full of golden sand,
bursts to the ocean. Countless birds, around and above,
that haunt the banks and streams, were delighting
the heavens with their song and flying through the groves.
He ordered his friends to change course and turn their prows
towards land, and joyfully entered the shaded river.
Come now, Erato, and I’ll tell of the kings, the times,
the state of ancient Latium, when that foreign
troop first landed on Ausonia’s shores, and I’ll recall
the first fighting from its very beginning. You goddess,
you must prompt your poet. I’ll tell of brutal war,
I’ll tell of battle action, and princes driven to death
by their courage, of Trojan armies, and all of Hesperia
forced to take up arms. A greater order of things
is being born, greater is the work that I attempt.
King Latinus, now old in years, ruled fields
and towns, in the tranquillity of lasting peace.
We hear he was the child of Faunus and the Laurentine
nymph, Marica. Faunus’s father was Pictus, and he boasts
you, Saturn, as his, you the first founder of the line.
By divine decree, Latinus had no male heir, his son
having been snatched from him in the dawn of first youth.
There was only a daughter to keep house in so noble a palace,
now ready for a husband, now old enough to be a bride.
Many sought her hand, from wide Latium and all Ausonia,
Turnus above all, the most handsome, of powerful ancestry,
whom the queen hastened to link to her as her son-in-law
with wonderful affection. But divine omens, with their many
terrors, prevented it. There was a laurel, with sacred leaves,
in the high inner court in the middle of the palace,
that had been guarded with reverence for many years.
It was said that Lord Latinus himself had discovered it,
when he first built his fortress, and dedicated it to Apollo,
and from it had named the settlers Laurentines.
A dense cloud of bees (marvellous to tell) borne
through the clear air, with a mighty humming,
settled in the very top of the tree, and hung there,
their feet all tangled together, in a sudden swarm.
Immediately the prophet cried: ‘I see a foreign hero,
approaching, and, from a like direction, an army
seeks this same place, to rule from the high citadel.’
Then as he lit the altars with fresh pine torches,
as virgin Lavinia stood there next to her father
she seemed (horror!) to catch the fire in her long tresses,
and all her finery to burn in crackling flame, her royally
dressed tresses set alight, her crown alight, remarkable
for its jewels: then wreathed in smoke and yellow light,
she seemed to scatter sparks through all the palace.
Truly it was talked of as a shocking and miraculous sight:
for they foretold she would be bright with fame and fortune,
but it signified a great war for her people.
Then the king, troubled by the wonder, visited the oracle
of Faunus, his far-speaking father, and consulted the groves
below high Albunea, mightiest of forests, that echoed
with the sacred fountain, and breathed a deadly vapour from the dark.
The people of Italy, and all the Oenotrian lands, sought answers
to their doubts, from that place: when the priest brought
offerings there, and, found sleep, in the silent night, lying
on spread fleeces of sacrificed sheep, he saw there many ghosts
flitting in marvellous forms, and heard various voices, had speech
with the gods, and talked with Acheron, in the depths of Avernus.
And here the king, Latinus, himself seeking an answer,
slaughtered a hundred woolly sheep according to the rite,
and lay there supported by their skins and woolly fleeces:
Suddenly a voice emerged from the deep wood:
‘O my son, don’t try to ally your daughter in a Latin marriage,
don’t place your faith in the intended wedding:
strangers will come to be your kin, who’ll lift our name
to the stars by their blood, and the children
of whose race shall see all, where the circling sun
views both oceans, turning obediently beneath their feet.’
Latinus failed to keep this reply of his Father’s quiet,
this warning given in the silent night, and already
Rumour flying far and wide had carried it through
the Ausonian cities, when the children of Laomedon
came to moor their ships by the river’s grassy banks.
Aeneas, handsome Iulus, and the foremost leaders,
settled their limbs under the branches of a tall tree,
and spread a meal: they set wheat cakes for a base
under the food (as Jupiter himself inspired them)
and added wild fruits to these tables of Ceres.
When the poor fare drove them to set their teeth
into the thin discs, the rest being eaten, and to break
the fateful circles of bread boldly with hands and jaws,
not sparing the quartered cakes, Iulus, jokingly,
said no more than: ‘Ha! Are we eating the tables too?’
That voice on first being heard brought them to the end
of their labours, and his father, as the words fell
from the speaker’s lips, caught them up
and stopped him, awestruck at the divine will.
Immediately he said: ‘Hail, land destined to me
by fate, and hail to you, O faithful gods of Troy:
here is our home, here is our country. For my father
Anchises (now I remember) left this secret of fate with me:
‘Son, when you’re carried to an unknown shore, food is lacking,
and you’re forced to eat the tables, then look for a home
in your weariness: and remember first thing to set your hand
on a site there, and build your houses behind a rampart.’
This was the hunger he prophesied, the last thing remaining,
to set a limit to our ruin…come then,
and with the sun’s dawn light let’s cheerfully discover
what place this is, what men live here, where this people’s city is,
and let’s explore from the harbour in all directions.
Now pour libations to Jove and call, with prayer,
on my father Anchises, then set out the wine once more.
So saying he wreathed his forehead with a leafy spray,
and prayed to the spirit of the place, and to Earth the oldest
of goddesses, and to the Nymphs, and the yet unknown rivers:
then he invoked Night and Night’s rising constellations,
and Idaean Jove, and the Phrygian Mother, in order,
and his two parents, one in heaven, one in Erebus.
At this the all-powerful Father thundered three times
from the clear sky, and revealed a cloud in the ether,
bright with rays of golden light, shaking it with his own hand.
Then the word ran suddenly through the Trojan lines
that the day had come to found their destined city.
They rivalled each other in celebration of the feast, and delighted
by the fine omen, set out the bowls and crowned the wine-cups.
Next day when sunrise lit the earth with her first flames,
they variously discovered the city, shores and limits
of this nation: here was the pool of Numicius’s fountain,
this was the River Tiber, here the brave Latins lived.
Then Anchises’s son ordered a hundred envoys, chosen
from every rank, all veiled in Pallas’s olive leaves
to go to the king’s noble fortress, carrying gifts
for a hero, and requesting peace towards the Trojans.
Without delay, they hastened as ordered, travelling
at a swift pace. He himself marked out walls with a shallow ditch,
toiled at the site, and surrounded the first settlement on those shores
with a rampart and battlement, in the style of a fortified camp.
And now his men had pursued their journey and they saw
Latinus’s turrets and high roofs, and arrived beneath the walls.
Boys, and men in the flower of youth, were practising
horsemanship outside the city, breaking in their mounts
in clouds of dust, or bending taut bows, or hurling firm spears
with their arms, challenging each other to race or box:
when a messenger, racing ahead on his horse, reported
to the ears of the aged king that powerful warriors in unknown
dress had arrived. The king ordered them to be summoned
to the palace, and took his seat, in the centre, on his ancestral throne.
Huge and magnificent, raised on a hundred columns,
his roof was the city’s summit, the palace of Laurentian Picus,
sanctified by its grove and the worship of generations.
It was auspicious for a king to receive the sceptre here and first lift
the fasces, the rods of office: this shrine was their curia,
their senate house, the place of their sacred feasts, here the elders,
after lambs were sacrificed, sat down at an endless line of tables.
There standing in ranks at the entrance were the statues of ancestors
of old, in ancient cedar-wood, Italus, and father Sabinus, the vine-grower,
depicted guarding a curved pruning-hook, and aged Saturn,
and the image of Janus bi-face, and other kings from the beginning,
and heroes wounded in battle, fighting for their country.
Many weapons too hung on the sacred doorposts,
captive chariots, curved axes, helmet crests, the massive bars
of city gates, spears, shields and the ends of prows torn from ships.
There Picus, the Horse-Tamer, sat, holding the lituus, the augur’s
Quirinal staff, and clothed in the trabea, the purple-striped toga,
and carrying the ancile, the sacred shield, in his left hand,
he, whom his lover, Circe, captivated by desire, struck
with her golden rod: changed him with magic drugs
to a woodpecker, and speckled his wings with colour.
Such was the temple of the gods in which Latinus, seated
on the ancestral throne, called the Trojans to him in the palace,
and as they entered spoke first, with a calm expression:
‘Sons of Dardanus (for your city and people are not unknown
to us, and we heard of your journey towards us on the seas),
what do you wish? What reason, what need has brought
your ships to Ausonian shores, over so many azure waves?
Whether you have entered the river mouth, and lie in harbour,
after straying from your course, or driven here by storms,
such things as sailors endure on the deep ocean,
don’t shun our hospitality, and don’t neglect the fact
that the Latins are Saturn’s people, just, not through constraint or law,
but of our own free will, holding to the ways of the ancient god.
And I remember in truth (though the tale is obscured by time)
that the Auruncan elders told how Dardanus, sprung
from these shores, penetrated the cities of Phrygian Ida,
and Thracian Samos, that is now called Samothrace.
Setting out from here, from his Etruscan home, Corythus,
now the golden palace of the starlit sky grants him a throne,
and he increases the number of divine altars.’
He finished speaking, and Ilioneus, following, answered so:
‘King, illustrious son of Faunus, no dark tempest, driving
us though the waves, forced us onto your shores,
no star or coastline deceived us in our course:
we travelled to this city by design, and with willing hearts,
exiled from our kingdom, that was once the greatest
that the sun gazed on, as he travelled from the edge of heaven.
The founder of our race is Jove, the sons of Dardanus enjoy
Jove as their ancestor, our king himself is of Jove’s high race:
Trojan, Aeneas, sends us to your threshold.
The fury of the storm that poured from fierce Mycenae,
and crossed the plains of Ida, and how the two worlds of Europe
and Asia clashed, driven by fate, has been heard by those whom
the most distant lands banish to where Ocean circles back,
and those whom the zone of excessive heat, stretched
between the other four, separates from us.
Sailing out of that deluge, over many wastes of sea,
we ask a humble home for our country’s gods, and a harmless
stretch of shore, and air and water accessible to all.
We’ll be no disgrace to the kingdom, nor will your reputation
be spoken of lightly, nor gratitude for such an action fade,
nor Ausonia regret taking Troy to her breast.
I swear by the destiny of Aeneas, and the power of his right hand,
whether proven by any man in loyalty, or war and weapons,
many are the peoples, many are the nations (do not scorn us
because we offer peace-ribbons, and words of prayer, unasked)
who themselves sought us and wished to join with us:
but through divine destiny we sought out your shores
to carry out its commands. Dardanus sprang from here,
Apollo recalls us to this place, and, with weighty orders, drives us
to Tuscan Tiber, and the sacred waters of the Numician fount.
Moreover our king offers you these small tokens of his
former fortune, relics snatched from burning Troy.
His father Anchises poured libations at the altar from this gold,
this was Priam’s burden when by custom he made laws
for the assembled people, the sceptre, and sacred turban,
and the clothes, laboured on by the daughters of Ilium.’
At Ilioneus’s words Latinus kept his face set firmly
downward, fixed motionless towards the ground, moving his eyes
alone intently. It is not the embroidered purple that moves
the king nor Priam’s sceptre, so much as his dwelling
on his daughter’s marriage and her bridal-bed,
and he turns over in his mind old Faunus’s oracle:
this must be the man, from a foreign house, prophesied
by the fates as my son-in-law, and summoned to reign
with equal powers, whose descendants will be illustrious
in virtue, and whose might will take possession of all the world.
At last he spoke, joyfully: ‘May the gods favour this beginning,
and their prophecy. Trojan, what you wish shall be granted.
I do not reject your gifts: you will not lack the wealth
of fertile fields, or Troy’s wealth, while Latinus is king.
Only, if Aeneas has such longing for us, if he is eager
to join us in friendship and be called our ally, let him come
himself and not be afraid of a friendly face: it will be
part of the pact, to me, to have touched your leader’s hand.
Now you in turn take my reply to the king:
I have a daughter whom the oracles from my father’s shrine,
and many omens from heaven, will not allow to unite
with a husband of our race: sons will come from foreign shores,
whose blood will raise our name to the stars: this they prophesy
is in store for Latium,. I both think and, if my mind foresees
the truth, I hope that this is the man destiny demands.’
So saying the king selected stallions from his whole stable
(three hundred stood there sleekly in their high stalls):
immediately he ordered one to be led to each Trojan by rank,
caparisoned in purple, swift-footed, with embroidered housings
(gold collars hung low over their chests, covered in gold,
they even champed bits of yellow gold between their teeth),
and for the absent Aeneas there was a chariot, with twin horses,
of heaven’s line, blowing fire from their nostrils,
bastards of that breed of her father’s, the Sun, that cunning
Circe had produced, by mating them with a mortal mare.
The sons of Aeneas, mounting the horses, rode back
with these words and gifts of Latinus, bearing peace.
But behold, the ferocious wife of Jove returning
from Inachus’s Argos, winging her airy way,
saw the delighted Aeneas and his Trojan fleet,
from the distant sky, beyond Sicilian Pachynus.
She gazed at them, already building houses, already confident
in their land, the ships deserted: she halted pierced by a bitter pang.
Then shaking her head, she poured these words from her breast:
‘Ah loathsome tribe, and Trojan destiny, opposed to my
own destiny! Could they not have fallen on the Sigean plains,
could they not have been held as captives? Could burning Troy
not have consumed these men? They find a way through
the heart of armies and flames. And I think my powers must
be exhausted at last, or I have come to rest, my anger sated.
Why, when they were thrown out of their country I ventured
to follow hotly through the waves, and challenge them on every ocean.
The forces of sea and sky have been wasted on these Trojans.
What use have the Syrtes been to me, or Scylla, or gaping
Charybdis? They take refuge in their longed-for Tiber’s channel,
indifferent to the sea and to me. Mars had the power
to destroy the Lapiths’ vast race, the father of the gods himself
conceded ancient Calydon, given Diana’s anger,
and for what sin did the Lapiths or Calydon, deserve all that?
But I, Jove’s great Queen, who in my wretchedness had the power
to leave nothing untried, who have turned myself to every means,
am conquered by Aeneas. But if my divine strength is not
enough, I won’t hesitate to seek help wherever it might be:
if I cannot sway the gods, I’ll stir the Acheron.
I accept it’s not granted to me to withhold the Latin kingdom,
and by destiny Lavinia will still, unalterably, be his bride:
but I can draw such things out and add delays,
and I can destroy the people of these two kings.
Let father and son-in-law unite at the cost of their nations’ lives:
virgin, your dowry will be Rutulian and Trojan blood,
and Bellona, the goddess of war, waits to attend your marriage.
Nor was it Hecuba, Cisseus’s daughter, alone who was pregnant
with a fire-brand, or gave birth to nuptial flames.
Why, Venus is alike in her child, another Paris,
another funeral torch for a resurrected Troy.’
When she had spoken these words, fearsome, she sought the earth:
and summoned Allecto, the grief-bringer, from the house
of the Fatal Furies, from the infernal shadows: in whose
mind are sad wars, angers and deceits, and guilty crimes.
A monster, hated by her own father Pluto, hateful
to her Tartarean sisters: she assumes so many forms,
her features are so savage, she sports so many black vipers.
Juno roused her with these words, saying:
‘Grant me a favour of my own, virgin daughter of Night,
this service, so that my honour and glory are not weakened,
and give way, and the people of Aeneas cannot woo
Latinus with intermarriage, or fill the bounds of Italy.
You’ve the power to rouse brothers, who are one, to conflict,
and overturn homes with hatred: you bring the scourge
and the funeral torch into the house: you’ve a thousand names,
and a thousand noxious arts. Search your fertile breast,
shatter the peace accord, sow accusations of war:
let men in a moment need, demand and seize their weapons.’
So Allecto, steeped in the Gorgon’s poison, first searches out
Latium and the high halls of the Laurentine king,
and sits at the silent threshold of Queen Amata, whom
concerns and angers have troubled, with a woman’s passion,
concerning the Trojan’s arrival, and Turnus’s marriage.
The goddess flings a snake at her from her dark locks,
and plunges it into the breast, to her innermost heart, so that
maddened by the creature, she might trouble the whole palace.
Sliding between her clothing, and her polished breast,
it winds itself unfelt and unknown to the frenzied woman,
breathing its viperous breath: the powerful snake becomes her
twisted necklace of gold, becomes the loop of her long ribbon,
knots itself in her hair, and roves slithering down her limbs.
And while at first the sickness, sinking within as liquid venom,
pervades her senses, and clasps her bones with fire,
and before her mind has felt the flame through all its thoughts,
she speaks, softly, and in a mother’s usual manner,
weeping greatly over the marriage of her daughter to the Trojan:
‘O, have you her father no pity for your daughter or yourself?
Have you no pity for her mother, when the faithless seducer
will leave with the first north-wind, seeking the deep, with the girl
as prize? Wasn’t it so when Paris, that Phrygian shepherd,
entered Sparta, and snatched Leda’s Helen off to the Trojan cities?
What of your sacred pledge? What of your former care for your own
people, and your right hand given so often to your kinsman Turnus?
If a son-in-law from a foreign tribe is sought for the Latins,
and it’s settled, and your father Faunus’s command weighs on you,
then I myself think that every land free of our rule
that is distant, is foreign: and so the gods declare.
And if the first origins of his house are traced, Inachus
and Acrisius are ancestors of Turnus, and Mycenae his heartland.’
When, though trying in vain with words, she sees Latinus
stand firm against her, and when the snake’s maddening venom
has seeped deep into her flesh, and permeated throughout,
then, truly, the unhappy queen, goaded by monstrous horrors,
rages madly unrestrainedly through the vast city.
As a spinning-top, sometimes, that boys intent on play thrash
in a circle round an empty courtyard, turns under the whirling lash,
- driven with the whip it moves in curving tracks: and the childish crowd
marvel over it in innocence, gazing at the twirling boxwood:
and the blows grant it life: so she is driven through the heart
of cities and proud peoples, on a course that is no less swift.
Moreover, she runs to the woods, pretending Bacchic possession,
setting out on a greater sin, and creating a wider frenzy,
and hides her daughter among the leafy mountains,
to rob the Trojans of their wedding and delay the nuptials,
shrieking ‘Euhoe’ to Bacchus, crying ‘You alone are worthy
of this virgin: it’s for you in truth she lifts the soft thyrsus,
you she circles in the dance, for you she grows her sacred hair.’
Rumour travels: and the same frenzy drives all the women,
inflamed, with madness in their hearts, to seek strange shelter.
They leave their homes, and bare their head and neck to the winds:
while others are already filling the air with vibrant howling
carrying vine-wrapped spears, and clothed in fawn-skins.
The wild Queen herself brandishes a blazing pine-branch
in their midst, turning her bloodshot gaze on them, and sings
the wedding-song for Turnus and her daughter, and, suddenly
fierce, cries out: ‘O, women of Latium, wherever you are, hear me:
if you still have regard for unhappy Amata in your pious hearts,
if you’re stung with concern for a mother’s rights,
loose the ties from your hair, join the rites with me.’
So Allecto drives the Queen with Bacchic goad, far and wide,
through the woods, among the wild creatures’ lairs.
When she saw she had stirred these first frenzies enough,
and had disturbed Latinus’s plans, and his whole household,
the grim goddess was carried from there, at once, on dark wings,
to the walls of Turnus, the brave Rutulian, the city they say
that Danae, blown there by a violent southerly, built
with her Acrisian colonists. The place was once called Ardea
by our ancestors, and Ardea still remains as a great name,
its good-fortune past. Here, in the dark of night,
Turnus was now in a deep sleep, in his high palace.
Allecto changed her fierce appearance and fearful shape,
transformed her looks into those of an old woman,
furrowed her ominous brow with wrinkles, assumed
white hair and sacred ribbon, then twined an olive spray there:
she became Calybe, Juno’s old servant, and priestess of her temple,
and offered herself to the young man’s eyes with these words:
‘Turnus, will you see all your efforts wasted in vain,
and your sceptre handed over to Trojan settlers?
The king denies you your bride and the dowry looked for
by your race, and a stranger is sought as heir to the throne.
Go then, be despised, offer yourself, un-thanked, to danger:
go, cut down the Tuscan ranks, protect the Latins with peace!
This that I now say to you, as you lie there in the calm of night,
Saturn’s all-powerful daughter herself ordered me to speak openly.
So rise, and ready your men, gladly, to arm and march
from the gates to the fields, and set fire to the painted ships
anchored in our noble river, and the Trojan leaders with them.
The vast power of the gods demands it. Let King Latinus
himself feel it, unless he agrees to keep his word and give you
your bride, and let him at last experience Turnus armed.’
At this the warrior, mocking the priestess, opened his mouth in turn:
‘The news that a fleet has entered Tiber’s waters
has not escaped my notice, as you think:
don’t imagine it’s so great a fear to me.
Nor is Queen Juno unmindful of me.
But you, O mother, old age, conquered by weakness
and devoid of truth, troubles with idle cares, and mocks
a prophetess, amidst the wars of kings, with imaginary terrors.
Your duty’s to guard the gods’ statues and their temples:
men will make war and peace, by whom war’s to be made.’
Allecto blazed with anger at these words.
And, as the young man spoke, a sudden tremor seized his body,
and his eyes became fixed, the Fury hissed with so many snakes,
such a form revealed itself: then turning her fiery gaze on him,
she pushed him away as he hesitated, trying to say more,
and raised up a pair of serpents amidst her hair,
and cracked her whip, and added this through rabid lips:
‘See me, conquered by weakness, whom old age, devoid of truth,
mocks with imaginary terrors amongst the wars of kings.
Look on this: I am here from the house of the Fatal Sisters,
and I bring war and death in my hand.’
So saying, she flung a burning branch at the youth,
and planted the brand, smoking with murky light, in his chest.
An immense terror shattered his sleep, and sweat, pouring
from his whole body drenched flesh and bone.
Frantic, he shouted for weapons, looked for weapons by the bedside,
and through the palace: desire for the sword raged in him,
and the accursed madness of war, anger above all:
as when burning sticks are heaped, with a fierce crackling,
under the belly of a raging cauldron, and the depths
dance with the heat, the smoking mixture seethes inside,
the water bubbles high with foam, the liquid can no longer
contain itself, and dark vapour rises into the air.
So, violating the peace, he commanded his young leaders
to march against King Latinus, and ordered the troops to be readied,
to defend Italy, to drive the enemy from her borders:
his approach itself would be enough for both Trojans and Latins.
When he gave the word, and called the gods to witness his vows,
the Rutuli vied in urging each other to arm.
This man is moved by Turnus’s youth and outstanding nobility
of form, that by his royal line, this one again by his glorious deeds.
While Turnus was rousing the Rutulians with fiery courage,
Allecto hurled herself towards the Trojans, on Stygian wings,
spying out, with fresh cunning, the place on the shore
where handsome Iulus was hunting wild beasts on foot with nets.
Hades’s Virgin drove his hounds to sudden frenzy,
touching their muzzles with a familiar scent,
so that they eagerly chased down a stag: this was a prime
cause of trouble, rousing the spirits of the countrymen to war.
There was a stag of outstanding beauty, with huge antlers,
that, torn from its mother’s teats, Tyrrhus and his sons had raised,
the father being the man to whom the king’s herds submitted,
and who was trusted with managing his lands far and wide.
Silvia, their sister, training it to her commands with great care,
adorned its antlers, twining them with soft garlands, grooming
the wild creature, and bathing it in a clear spring. Tame to the hand,
and used to food from the master’s table, it wandered the woods,
and returned to the familiar threshold, by itself, however late at night.
Now while it strayed far a-field, Iulus the huntsman’s
frenzied hounds started it, by chance, as it moved
downstream, escaping the heat by the grassy banks.
Iulus himself inflamed also with desire for high
honours, aimed an arrow from his curved bow,
the goddess unfailingly guiding his errant hand,
and the shaft, flying with a loud hiss, pierced flank and belly.
But the wounded creature fleeing to its familiar home,
dragged itself groaning to its stall, and, bleeding, filled
the house with its cries, like a person begging for help.
Silvia, the sister, beating her arms with her hands in distress, was
the first to call for help, summoning the tough countrymen.
They arrived quickly (since a savage beast haunted the silent woods)
one with a fire-hardened stake, one with a heavy knotted staff:
anger made a weapon of whatever each man found
as he searched around. Tyrrhus called out his men:
since by chance he was quartering an oak by driving
wedges, he seized his axe, breathing savagely.
Then the cruel goddess, seeing the moment to do harm,
found the stable’s steep roof, and sounded the herdsmen’s
call, sending a voice from Tartarus through the twisted horn,
so that each grove shivered, and the deep woods echoed:
Diana’s distant lake at Nemi heard it: white Nar’s river,
with its sulphurous waters, heard: and the fountains of Velinus:
while anxious mothers clasped their children to their breasts.
Then the rough countrymen snatching up their weapons, gathered
more quickly, and from every side, to the noise with which
that dread trumpet sounded the call, nor were the Trojan
youth slow to open their camp, and send out help to Ascanius.
The lines were deployed. They no longer competed
with solid staffs, and fire-hardened stakes, in a rustic quarrel,
but fought it out with double-edged blades, and a dark crop
of naked swords bristled far and wide: bronze shone
struck by the sun, and hurled its light up to the clouds:
as when a wave begins to whiten at the wind’s first breath,
and the sea swells little by little, and raises higher waves,
then surges to heaven out of its profoundest depths.
Here young Almo, in the front ranks, the eldest
of Tyrrhus’s sons, was downed by a hissing arrow:
the wound opened beneath his throat, choking the passage
of liquid speech, and failing breath, with blood.
The bodies of many men were round him, old Galaesus
among them, killed in the midst of offering peace, who was
one of the most just of men, and the wealthiest in Ausonian land:
five flocks bleated for him, five herds returned
from his fields, and a hundred ploughs furrowed the soil.
While they fought over the plain, in an equally-matched contest,
the goddess, having, by her actions, succeeded in what she’d promised,
having steeped the battle in blood, and brought death in the first skirmish,
left Hesperia, and wheeling through the air of heaven
spoke to Juno, in victory, in a proud voice:
‘Behold, for you, discord is completed with sad war:
tell them now to unite as friends, or join in alliance.
Since I’ve sprinkled the Trojans with Ausonian blood,
I’ll even add this to it, if I’m assured that it’s your wish
I’ll bring neighbouring cities into the war, with rumour,
inflaming their minds with love of war’s madness, so that they come
with aid from every side: I’ll sow the fields with weapons.’
Then Juno answered: ‘That’s more than enough terror and treachery:
the reasons for war are there: armed, they fight hand to hand,
and the weapons that chance first offered are stained with fresh blood.
Such be the marriage, such be the wedding-rites that this
illustrious son of Venus, and King Latinus himself, celebrate.
The Father, the ruler of high Olympus, does not wish you
to wander too freely in the ethereal heavens.
Leave this place. Whatever chance for trouble remains
I will handle.’ So spoke Saturn’s daughter:
Now, the Fury raised her wings, hissing with serpents,
and sought her home in Cocytus, leaving the heights above.
There’s a place in Italy, at the foot of high mountains,
famous, and mentioned by tradition, in many lands,
the valley of Amsanctus: woods thick with leaves hem it in,
darkly, on both sides, and in the centre a roaring torrent
makes the rocks echo, and coils in whirlpools.
There a fearful cavern, a breathing-hole for cruel Dis,
is shown, and a vast abyss, out of which Acheron bursts,
holds open its baleful jaws, into which the Fury,
that hated goddess, plunged, freeing earth and sky.
Meanwhile Saturn’s royal daughter was no less active,
setting a final touch to the war. The whole band of herdsmen
rushed into the city from the battle, bringing back the dead,
the boy Almo, and Galaesus, with a mangled face,
and invoking the gods, and entreating Latinus.
Turnus was there, and ,at the heart of the outcry,
he redoubled their terror of fire and slaughter:
‘Trojans are called upon to reign: Phrygian stock
mixes with ours: I am thrust from the door.’
Then those whose women, inspired by Bacchus, pranced about
in the pathless woods, in the god’s dance (for Amata’s name is not trivial),
drawing together from every side, gathered to make their appeal to Mars.
Immediately, with perverse wills, all clamoured for war’s
atrocities, despite the omens, despite the god’s decrees,.
They vied together in surrounding King Latinus’s palace:
like an immoveable rock in the ocean, he stood firm,
like a rock in the ocean, when a huge breaker falls,
holding solid amongst a multitude of howling waves,
while round about the cliffs and foaming reefs roar, in vain,
and seaweed, hurled against its sides, is washed back again.
As no power was really granted him to conquer
their blind will, and events moved to cruel Juno’s orders,
with many appeals to the gods and the helpless winds,
the old man cried: ‘Alas, we are broken by fate, and swept away
by the storm! Oh, wretched people, you’ll pay the price yourselves
for this, with sacrilegious blood. You, Turnus, your crime and its punishment await you, and too late you’ll entreat the gods with prayers.
My share is rest, yet at the entrance to the harbour
I’m robbed of all contentment in dying.’ Speaking no more
he shut himself in the palace, and let fall the reins of power.
There was a custom in Hesperian Latium, which
the Alban cities always held sacred, as great Rome
does now, when they first rouse Mars to battle,
whether they prepare to take sad war in their hands
to the Getae, the Hyrcanians, or the Arabs, or to head East
pursuing the Dawn, to reclaim their standards from Parthia:
there are twin gates of War (so they are named),
sanctified by religion, and by dread of fierce Mars:
a hundred bars of bronze, and iron’s eternal strength,
lock them, and Janus the guardian never leaves the threshold.
When the final decision of the city fathers is for battle,
the Consul himself, dressed in the Quirine toga, folded
in the Gabine manner, unbars these groaning doors, himself,
and himself invokes the battle: then the rest of the men
do so too, and bronze horns breathe their hoarse assent.
Latinus was also commanded to declare war in this way
on Aeneas’s people, and unbolt the sad gates,
but the old man held back his hand, and shrank
from the vile duty, hiding himself in dark shadows.
Then the Queen of the gods, gliding from the sky,
set the reluctant doors in motion, with her own hand:
Saturn’s daughter forced open the iron gates of War
on their hinges. Italy, once peaceful and immoveable, was alight.
Some prepared to cross the plains on foot, others stirred
the deep dust on noble horses: all demanded weapons.
Others polished smooth shields, and bright javelins,
with thick grease, and sharpened axes on grindstones:
they delighted in carrying standards and hearing the trumpet call.
So five great cities set up anvils and forged
new weapons: powerful Atina, proud Tibur,
Ardea, Crustumeri, and towered Antemnae.
They beat out helmets to protect their heads, and wove
wickerwork frames for shields: others hammered
breastplates of bronze, and shiny greaves of malleable silver:
to this they yielded pride in the share’s blade and the sickle, all their
passion for the plough: they recast their father’s swords in the furnace.
And now the trumpets began to sound, the word that signalled war
went round: this man, in alarm, snatched his helmet from his home,
another harnessed quivering horses to the yoke, took up his shield,
and triple-linked coat of mail, and fastened on his faithful sword.
Now Muses, open wide Helicon, and begin a song
of kings who were roused to war: what ranks of followers
each one had, filling the plain: with what men even then
Italy’s rich earth flowered: with what armies she shone:
since, goddesses, you remember, and have the power to tell:
while a faint breath of their fame has barely reached us.
First fierce Mezentius enters the war, that scorner of gods,
from the Tuscan shore, and rouses his troops to arms.
His son, Lausus, is beside him, than whom no other is
more handsome in form, except Laurentine Turnus.
Lausus, the tamer of horses, who subdues wild beasts,
leads a thousand men from Agylla’s town, who follow him
in vain, deserving to be happier than under his father’s
rule, a father who might perhaps not be a Mezentius.
Aventinus follows them, the handsome son of handsome Hercules,
displaying his palm-crowned chariot and victorious horses,
over the turf, and carries his father’s emblem on his shield:
a hundred snakes, and the Hydra wreathed with serpents:
the priestess Rhea brought him to the shores of light,
in a secret birth, in the woods, on the Aventine Hill,
a woman mated to a god when Tyrinthian Hercules,
the conqueror who slew Geryon, came to the Laurentine fields,
and bathed his Spanish cattle in the Tuscan stream.
His men carry javelins and grim pikes, in their hands, to war,
and fight with polished swords and Sabellian spears.
He himself, on foot, a huge lion skin swinging,
with terrifying unkempt mane, and with its white teeth
crowning his head, enters the royal palace, just like that,
a savage, with Hercules’s clothing fastened round his shoulders.
Then twin-brothers, Catillus, and brave Coras,
Argive youths, leaving the walls of Tibur,
and a people named after their brother Tiburtus,
borne into the forefront of the army, among the dense spears,
like cloud-born Centaurs descending from a high peak
in the mountains, leaving Homole and snow-covered Othrys
in their swift course: the vast woods give way as they go,
and, with a loud crash, the thickets yield to them.
Nor is Caeculus the founder of Praeneste’s city missing,
who as every age has believed was born a king, to Vulcan,
among the wild cattle, and discovered on the hearth,
he’s followed by a rustic army drawn from far and wide,
men who live in steep Praeneste, and the fields of Juno
of Gabii, and beside cool Anio, and among the Hernican rocks
dew-wet from the streams: those you nurture, rich Anagnia,
and you father Amasenus. They don’t all have weapons
or shields, or rumbling chariots: most fling pellets of blue lead,
some carry twin darts in their hand, and have reddish
caps of wolf-skin for headgear: the left foot is bare
as they walk, a boot of raw hide protects the other.
And Messapus, Neptune’s son, tamer of horses,
whom no one’s permitted to fell with fire or steel,
now suddenly calls to arms his settled tribes, and troops
unused to war, and grasps the sword again.
These hold Fescennium’s lines and Aequi Falisci’s,
those Soracte’s heights and Flavinium’s fields,
and Ciminus’s lake and hill, and Capena’s groves.
They march to a steady beat, and sing of their king:
as the river Cayster and the Asian meadows, struck from afar,
echo sometimes, when the snowy swans, among the flowing clouds,
return from pasture, and make melodious music from their long throats.
No one would think that bronze-clad ranks were joined
in such a crowd, but an airy cloud of strident birds
driving shore-wards from the deep gulf.
Behold, Clausus, of ancient Sabine blood, leading
a great army, and worth a great army in his own right.
Now the Claudian tribe and race has spread, from him,
through Latium, since Rome was shared with the Sabines.
With him, a vast company from Amiternum, and ancient Quirites
from Cures, all the forces of Eretum, and olive-clad Mutusca:
those who live in Nomentum town, and the Rosean fields, by Lake
Velinus, those from Tetrica’s bristling cliffs, and from Mount Severus,
and Casperia and Foruli, and from beside Himella’s stream,
those who drink the Tiber and Fabaris, those cold Nursia sent,
and the armies of Horta and the Latin peoples,
and those whom Allia, unlucky name, flows between and divides:
as many as the waves that swell in Libya’s seas,
when fierce Orion’s buried by the wintry waters,
or thick as the ears of corn scorched by the early sun,
in the plain of Hermus, or Lycia’s yellow fields.
The shields clang, and the earth is terrified by the tramp of feet.
Next Halaesus, Agamemnon’s son, hostile to the Trojan name,
harnesses his horses to his chariot, and hastens a thousand
warlike tribes to Turnus, men who turn the fertile
Massic soil for Bacchus, and those the Auruncan elders
have sent from the high hills, and the Sidicine levels nearby,
those who have left Cales behind, and those who live
by Volturnus’s shallow river, and by their side the rough
Saticulan and the Oscan men. Polished javelins are their
weapons, but their custom is to attach a flexible leash.
A shield protects their left, with curved swords for close fighting.
Nor shall you, Oebalus, go un-sung in our verses,
you whom they say the nymph Sebethis bore to Telon,
who is old now, when he held the throne of Teleboan
Capreae: but not content with his father’s fields,
even then the son exercised his power over
the Sarrastrian peoples, and the plains that Sarnus waters,
and those who hold Rufrae and Batulum and Celemna’s fields,
who are used to throwing their spears in the Teuton fashion:
and those apple-growers that the ramparts of Abella look down on,
whose head-cover is bark stripped from a cork-tree:
and their bronze shields gleam, their swords gleam with bronze.
And you too Ufens, sent to battle from mountainous Nersae,
well known to fame, and fortunate in arms, whose people
of the hard Aequian earth, are especially
tough, and hunt extensively in the forests.
They plough the earth while armed, and always delight
in carrying off fresh spoils, and living on plunder.
There came a priest as well, of the Marruvian race,
sent by King Archippus, sporting a frond of fruitful olive
above his helmet, Umbro the most-valiant,
who, by incantation and touch, was able to shed sleep
on the race of vipers and water-snakes with poisonous breath,
soothing their anger, and curing their bites, by his arts.
But he had no power to heal a blow from a Trojan spear-point,
nor did sleep-inducing charms, or herbs found on Marsian hills,
help him against wounds. For you, Angitia’s grove wept:
Fucinus’s glassy wave, for you: for you, the crystal lakes.
And Virbius, Hippolytus’s son, most handsome, went
to the war, whom his mother Aricia sent in all his glory,
He was reared in Egeria’s groves, round the marshy shores,
where Diana’s altar stands, rich and forgiving.
For they tell in story that Hippolytus, after he had fallen prey
to his stepmother Phaedra’s cunning, and, torn apart by stampeding
horses, had paid the debt due to his father with his blood,
came again to the heavenly stars, and the upper air beneath
the sky, recalled by Apollo’s herbs and Diana’s love.
Then the all-powerful father, indignant that any mortal
should rise from the shadows to the light of life,
hurled Aesculapius, Apollo’s son, the discoverer
of such skill and healing, down to the Stygian waves.
But kindly Diana hid Hippolytus in a secret place,
and sent him to the nymph Egeria, to her grove,
where he might spend his life alone, unknown,
in the Italian woods, his name altered to Virbius.
So too horses are kept away from the temple of Diana
Trivia, and the sacred groves, they who, frightened
by sea-monsters, spilt chariot and youth across the shore.
Turnus himself went to and from, among the front ranks, grasping
his weapons, pre-eminent in form, overtopping the rest by a head.
His tall helmet was crowned with a triple plume, holding up
a Chimaera, breathing the fires of Etna from its jaws,
snarling the more, and the more savage with sombre flames
the more violent the battle becomes, the more blood is shed.
But on his polished shield was Io, with uplifted horns,
fashioned in gold, already covered with hair, already a heifer,
a powerful emblem, and Argus, that virgin’s watcher,
and old Inachus pouring his river out of an engraved urn.
A cloud of infantry followed, and the ranks with shields
were thick along the plain, Argive men
and Auruncan troops, Rutulians and old Sicanians,
and the Sacranian lines, and Labicians, their shields painted:
and those who farmed your woodland pastures, Tiber,
and Numicius’s holy shore, and those whose ploughshare
turns Rutulian hills or Circe’s headland, those whose fields
Jupiter of Anxur guards, or Feronia, pleased with her green groves:
those from where Satura’s black marsh lies, and from where
chill Ufens finds his valley’s course, and is buried in the sea.
Besides all these came Camilla, of the Volscian race,
leading her line of horse, and troops gleaming with bronze,
a warrior girl, her hands not trained to Minerva’s distaff,
and basket of wool, but toughened to endure a fight,
and, with her quickness of foot, out-strip the winds.
She might have skimmed the tips of the stalks of uncut
corn, and not bruised their delicate ears with her running:
or, hanging above the swelling waves, taken her path through
the heart of the deep, and not dipped her quick feet in the sea.
All of the young men flooding from houses and fields,
and the crowds of women marvelled, and gazed, at her as she went by,
in open-mouthed wonder at how the splendour of royal purple
draped her smooth shoulders, how her brooch clasped her hair
with gold, how she herself carried her Lycian quiver,
and a shepherd’s myrtle staff, tipped with the point of a spear.