Aeneid (Conington 1866)/Book 8
When Turnus had war's ensign shown
From high Laurentum's tower,
And made the horns with hoarse harsh tone
Give forth their voice of power,
His fiery coursers chafed, and pealed
The din of battle on his shield,
Dull hearts are startled from their sloth;
All Latium joins in solemn oath,
And kindles in an hour.
Messapus, Ufens, 'mid the first,
And fierce Mezentius, scoffer cursed,
Raise succour, and from cultured plains
Sweep to the camp the sturdy swains.
And Venulus betimes is sped
On embassy to Diomed,
To crave for help, and tell the tale
That Troy has entered Latium's pale,
Æneas with his gods is there,
And boasts himself the kingdom's heir,
While many a nation joins his side,
And Latium feels his name spread wide.
What prize he seeks from war, what end,
Should Fortune smile, his hopes intend,
King Diomed may fitlier scan
Than Turnus or Latinus can.
So Latium fares: the Trojan sees,
And fluctuates in perplexities:
By thousand warring cares distraught
This way and that he whirls his thought.
As flashes light upon the face
Of water in a brazen vase
From sun or lunar rays:
From spot to spot behold it dart,
And now it takes an upward start
And on the ceiling plays.
Night came: all life was buried deep,
Man, beast, and bird, in placid sleep:
The chief beneath the cope of heaven,
His heart with thought of battle riven,
His limbs beside the river throws
And courts the quiet of repose.
When rising through the poplar wood
Appears the genius of the flood:
A grey gauze mantle wrapped him round;
With shadowy reed his brows were crowned:
Then thus he spoke, and laid to rest
The cares that racked the hero's breast.
'O seed of Heaven, who bring once more
Lost Pergamus to this our shore,
And keep old Troy in life,
Long looked for on Laurentian ground,
Behold your home, your mansion found,
Nor fear though foemen hem you round
With menaces of strife.
Heaven's anger is at length assuaged,
And ceased the feud of Gods enraged.
E'en now, lest haply you should deem
My words the coinage of a dream,
On woody banks before your eye
A thirty-farrowed sow shall lie,
Her whole white length on earth stretched out,
Her young, as white, her teats about,
Sign that when thirty years come round
White Alba shall Ascanius found.
Not vain my song: now, how to speed
In prosperous sort your pressing need,
'Tis mine to tell and yours to heed.
Arcadians here, from Pallas born,
To king Evander's service sworn,
On mountain heights have built and walled
A city, Pallanteum called.
With Latium constant war they wage:
Make them your friends, their aid engage.
Myself will be your journey's guide
And teach your oars to climb the tide.
Up, goddess-born, this instant rise,
And ere the starlight leaves the skies
Make vows to Juno: overbear
Her angry soul with gift and prayer.
When conquest crowns you in the fight,
I too will claim a patron's right.
'Tis I whose brimming flood you see
Careering through the fruitful lea,
Cerulean Tiber, first in love
And dearest to the gods above.
Lo here, arising from my bed,
My stately home, the nations' head.'
He said, and sought the river's pit,
While night and sleep Æneas quit.
Up starts the chief, and turns his eyes
In reverence to the orient skies,
In hollowed palm the water takes,
And thus his supplication makes:
'Laurentian Nymphs, from whose pure blood
The rivers have their birth,
Thou Tiber, with thy sacred flow,
The beauty of the earth,
Receive Æneas, and at length
Abate the toils that waste his strength.
Whate'er the source where, calm and still,
Thou givest a thought to this our ill,
Where'er thou spring'st to life divine,
My gifts, my worship shall be thine,
Blest power, o'er each Italian stream
The horned monarch crowned supreme.
Be near to succour us, and seal
The omen that thy words reveal.'
This said, he chooses biremes two,
Provides them oars, and arms the crew:
When lo! a sudden prodigy:
A milk-white sow is seen
Stretched with her young ones, white as she,
Along the margent green.
Æneas takes them, dam and brood,
And o'er the altar pours their blood,
To thee, great Juno, e'en to thee,
High heaven's majestic queen.
All night the Tiber calmed his flood,
And stayed its onward course, and stood,
That smooth might lie the watery floor,
Nor aught impede the toiling oar.
So speed they on 'mid joyful cries;
Careened, the vessels glide;
And waves and woods with strange surprise
See glittering steel and painted keel
Advancing up the tide.
Still rowing on, they wear away
The energies of night and day,
O'erpass fall many a lengthy reach,
'Neath alder shade or spreading beech,
And gently wind thick groves between
That lend the wave a deeper green.
The sun was at his midday height,
When tower and rampire loom in sight,
And dwellings thinly strown:
Now to the skies Rome's power makes soar
That city: then 'twas scant and poor,
Evander's humble throne.
Soon as they see, to land they steer
Their ships, and to the town draw near.
The Arcadian monarch chanced that day
A high solemnity to pay
Before the city, in a grove,
To Hercules, the seed of Jove.
His rustic senators are there,
And Pallas too, his kingdom's heir,
With censers charged: the spilt life-stream
Sends up a sacrificial steam.
Soon as the gallant ships they saw
Mid the thick forest nearer draw
In still swift cadence oared,
A sudden terror takes their eyes:
In wild confusion all uprise
And quit the banquet-board.
Bold Pallas chides their panic start,
Takes in his hand a beamy dart,
And from a mound afar
'Speak, gallant youths! what cause' he cries
'Has driven you here on strange emprise?
What seek you as your journey's aim?
Say, what your home, your race, your name:
Or bring you peace, or war?'
Æneas from the lofty stern
With outstretched olive makes return:
'Born Trojans we: our warlike gear
Your Latian enemies may fear:
Driven from their coast by sword and spear
Evander's court we seek.
Go, tell your king, Dardania's power
Has sent us here, the nation's flower,
His succour to bespeak.'
That mighty name struck Pallas dumb:
'Whoe'er you are' he answers 'come,
Speak with my father face to face,
Our welcome take, our mansion grace.'
With friendly grasp he took and pressed
The hand of his illustrious guest:
Advancing, through the grove they wind,
And leave the river's bank behind.
And now with many a courteous word
The prince of Troy his suit preferred.
'Worthiest and best of Danaan race,
Whom Fortune bids me sue for grace
With signs of suppliant need,
I feared not to approach you, I,
Though sprung from Grecian Arcady,
Allied to Atreus' seed.
Heaven's oracles and conscious worth,
Your own fair fame, that fills the earth,
And kindred ancestry—'tis these
Have made us one in sympathies,
And driven me to your royal gate,
The willing instrument of fate.
Old Dardanus, Troy's founder styled,
Declared by Greece Electra's child,
To Teucer's nation came;
And Atlas was Electra's sire,
Whose sinewy strength, unused to tire,
Supports the starry frame.
Your sire is Mercury, whom of yore
Maia, his radiant mother, bore
In cold Cyllene's air:
But Maia, if report say true,
Her birth from that same Atlas drew
Whose shoulders heaven upbear.
'Tis thus one fountain-head contains
The stream that flows in either's veins.
Thus armed, I made no first essay
By embassies to sound the way:
My life I jeopardied, my own,
And came in person to your throne.[errata 1]
The Daunian hunts us as his prey,
Your own inveterate foe:
If us they banish, nought, they say,
Shall save Hespcria from their sway;
The upper sea shall soon obey,
And that which rolls below.
Exchange we friendship: martial powers,
Stout hearts, and practised arms are ours.'
He said. Evander's keen eyes scan
Eyes, features, mien, and all the man:
Then thus he speaks: 'How great my joy
To hail you, bravest son of Troy!
How truly, fondly I recall
Anchises' look, voice, language, all!
I mind, when Priam came to see
His sister's realm, Hesione,
On to Arcadia's bounds he passed
And breathed our cold inclement blast.
A boy was I, a stripling lad,
My cheek with youth's first blossom clad;
I gazed at Priam and his train
Of Trojan lords, and gazed again:
But great Anchises, princely tall,
Was more than Priam, more than all.
With boyish zeal I schemed and planned
To greet the chief, and grasp his hand.
I ventured, and with eager zest
To Pheneus brought my honoured guest.
A Lycian quiver he bestowed
At parting, with its arrowy load,
A gold-wrought scarf, and bridle reins
Of gold, which Pallas still retains.
So now the troth you ask I plight,
And soon as morning lends her light
A troop shall lead you on your way
And ample stores your need purvey.
Meanwhile, since happy chance invites
Your presence, share these annual rites
Which Heaven forbids us to postpone,
And make our friendly boards your own.'
Once more he calls for wine and meats,
And sets the chiefs on grassy seats,
Æneas first on maple throne
With lion's shaggy hide bestrown;
While youths attendant on the priest
Bring roasted flesh of victim beast,
Wrought Ceres' gifts in baskets pile,
And make the cups with Bacchus smile.
So, plied with food, the strangers dine
On entrails and on bullock's chine.
When hunger's rage at length was stayed,
And craving appetite allayed,
Evander speaks: 'This solemn day,
The feast we serve, the rites we pay,
Not these the freaks of fancy strange,
Blind to the past and bent on change:
No, Trojan guest; deliverance wrought
From direful ill the lesson taught:
The yearly honours we renew
But render thanks where thanks are due.
Behold yon beetling cliff o'erhung,
Those crags in wild confusion flung,
That mountain-dwelling, all forlorn,
And rocks from their foundations torn.
Beneath the hill a cavern ran
Where Cacus lived, half beast, half man:
No sunbeam e'er came in:
The wet ground reeked with fresh-spilt gore,
And human heads adorned the door
With foul and ghastly grin.
Dark Vulcan was the monster's sire:
He vomited Vulcanian fire,
And, glorying in so proud a birth,
Shook with his bulk the solid earth.
We, too, when yearning to be freed,
Found heavenly succour in our need.
At length a strong avenger came,
Alcides, in the glow of fame
From Geryon spoiled and killed:
His captured bulls he led this way
Victorious, and the stately prey
Bank-side and valley filled.
But Cacus, spurred by Furies on
To leave no wickedness undone,
Four bulls, four heifers, beauteous all,
Bears off in plunder from the stall:
And these, to hide their track, he trails
Back through the valley by their tails,
And thus, the footprints all reversed,
Conceals them in his lair accursed.
No sign, no mark the foray gave
To lead the seeker to the cave:
Till when at last Amphitryon's son
Removed his herd, their pasture done,
And stood prepared to go,
The oxen at departing fill
With noisy utterance grove and hill,
And breathe a farewell low:
When hark! a heifer from the den
Makes answer to the sound again,
And mocks her wily foe.
Black choler filled Alcides' heart:
He snatches club and bow and dart,
And scales the mountain's height:
Then, nor till then, was Cacus seen
With quailing eye, and troubled mien:
Swifter than swiftest wind he flies
At once, and to the cavern hies,
While terror wings his flight.
Scarce had he gained the cavern door
And lowered the rock that hung before
Fixed by his father's art: the strain
Makes the stout doorposts start again:
When lo! the fierce Tirynthian came,
His vengeful spirit all on flame,
Darts here and there his blazing eye,
If haply entrance he may spy,
And grinds for rage his teeth;
And thrice the mountain he surveyed,
Thrice the blocked gate in vain essayed,
Thrice rested, and took breath.
A pointed rock, on all sides steep,
Rose high above that dungeon-keep,
Abrupt and craggy, fitted best
For noisome birds to build their nest.
This, as it frowned above the tide,
He pushed from the remoter side,
And from its socket tore:
Then hurled it down: the high heavens crack,
The river to its source runs back,
And shore recoils from shore.
Then Cacus' mansion stood displayed;
The cave revealed its depth of shade;
As though by some strange might
Earth, parting to her inmost core,
Should show the realms that gods abhor,
The vast abyss lie bare to day,
And spectres huddle in dismay
At influx of the light.
There as surprised with sudden glare
The monster, pent within his lair,
In hideous fashion roars,
Alcides plies him from on high
With all his dread artillery,
And trunk and millstone pours.
He, powerless to elude or flee,
Black smoke disgorges, dire to see,
With darkness floods the room,
Blots out all prospect from the sight,
And makes another, deeper night,
Half lightning and half gloom.
Alcides, chafing as for shame,
Dashed onward headlong through the flame,
Where thickest spout the jets of smoke,
And blackest clouds the cavern choke.
There, as in vain he fumed and hissed,
He locked him in a deadly twist,
And cleaving, clinging, throttling, strained
His starting eyes, his throat blood-drained.
The victor now, the doors down-torn,
The loathsome den reveals,
Displays the oxen, late forsworn,
And the foul carcase drags in scorn
To daylight by the heels.
The rustics view with wild surprise
The body o'er and o'er,
That shaggy breast, those dreadful eyes,
Those jaws that flame no more.
Henceforth our tribes observance pay
And keep with joy this solemn day,
Potitius foremost, and the line
Pinarian, warders of the shrine.
'Twas here he fixed this altar-stone,
In name and fact our greatest known.
Come then, in memory of such worth
The garland don, the cup hold forth,
Invoke the god we both revere,
And pour the wine with hearty cheer.'
He ceased: the poplar's sacred shade,
The blended white and green,
Hung from his brow: the cup displayed
High in his hand was seen:
With equal zeal his guests outpour
The votive wine, the gods adore.
Meantime the sun has stooped from high,
And nears the downfall of the sky.
Potitius and the priestly band
Come, clad in skins, with torch in hand.
Once more the banquet is restored;
Rich dainties grace the second board;
The victim's choicest parts, bestowed
On bending plates, the altars load.
The Salian minstrels come, their brows
Engarlanded with poplar boughs,
Two bands, one old, one young:
The deeds of Hercules they sing,
How, o'er his stepdame triumphing,
The serpents' neck he wrung;
How mighty towns he overthrew,
Great Troy and great Œchalia too;
What countless tasks, assigned
By king Eurystheus, he fulfilled,
When haughty Juno, iron-willed,
With Destiny combined.
'Thy conquering arm the cloud-born twain,
Hylæus, Pholus, both has slain;
Thou lay'st the Cretan monster low,
And that fell beast, that met his foe
In Nemea's mountain glen.
The Stygian lake beheld and feared,
And Orcus' warder, blood-besmeared,
Growling o'er gory bones half-cleared
Down in his gloomy den.
No grisly shape thy soul could fright,
Nor e'en Typhoeus, as for fight
In arms he towered erect;
No lack was thine of counsel shrewd,
When like a legion round thee stood
The Hydra hundred-necked.
All hail, great Jove's authentic race,
Who e'en to heaven canst lend a grace!
Vouchsafe thy presence here to-day
To us and to the rites we pay.'
So mingle they their praise and prayer,
And add, to crown his fame,
Grim Cacus in his robber-lair
Outbreathing smoke and flame.
The sacred forest, thrilled with sound,
Re-echoes and the hills rebound.
And now the train, their worship o'er,
Back to the city wend once more.
Heavy with age, the king moves on,
And keeps Æneas and his son
Close at his side, while various talk
Makes light the burden of the walk.
Admiringly the Trojan plies
From side to side his glancing eyes,
Feels every charm, and asks and hears
Each record of departed years.
Then spoke the venerable king,
From whom, O Rome, thy glories spring:
'This forest ground, from time's first dawn,
Was held by natives, Nymph and Faun,
Men who from stocks their birth had drawn
And oaks of hardest grain:
No arts were theirs: they knew not how
To couple oxen to the plough,
To store their treasured goods or spare:
The teeming boughs supplied their fare
And beasts in hunting slain.
Then from Olympus' height came down
Good Saturn, exiled from his crown
By Jove, his mightier heir:
He brought the race to union first,
Erewhile on mountain-tops dispersed,
And gave them statutes to obey,
And willed the land wherein he lay
Should Latium's title bear.
That was the storied age of gold,
So peacefully, serenely rolled
The years beneath his reign;
At length stole on a baser age,
And war's indomitable rage,
And greedy lust of gain.
Ausonians and Sicanians came,
And Saturn's land oft changed her name:
Came too the monarchs, Tibris grim,
The royal giant, large of limb,
Whose name thenceforth the river bore,
And Albula was known no more.
Myself, an exile from my home,
Went wandering far along the foam,
Till mighty chance and destined doom
Constrained my errant choice:
So came I to these regions, driven
By warning from my mother given
And Phœbus' awful voice.'
Then, as they take their onward ways,
A gate and altar he displays,
Rome's own Carmental gate:
In after years such honour found
Evander's mother, nymph renowned,
Carmentis, first of seers who sung
The heroes from Æneas sprung
And Pallanteum's fate.
Next at the grove their feet are stayed
Which Romulus the Asylum made:
Lupercal's gelid cave they see,
Named from the god of Arcady.
Then shows he Argiletum's wood,
Appealing to the scene of blood,
And tells the tale of Argus' end,
Perfidious Argus, once his friend.
Then to Tarpeia's dread abode
And Capitol he points the road.
Now all is golden; then 'twas all
O'ergrown with trees and brushwood tall.
E'en then rude hinds the spot revered:
E'en then the wood, the rock they feared.
'Here in this grove, these wooded steeps
Some god unknown his mansion keeps:
Arcadia's children deem
Their eyes have looked on Jove's own form,
When oft he summons cloud and storm,
And seen his ægis gleam.
See you yon towers in hoar decay,
The relics and memorials grey
Of old ancestral fame?
This Janus, that king Saturn walled,
And this Janiculum was called,
That bore Saturnia's name.
So talking on, at length they come
To poor Evander's lowly home:
There, where Carinæ's mansions shine,
Where spreads the Forum, lowed the kine.
The palace reached, 'These gates' he cried
'Alcides entered in his pride,
This house the god contained:
Thou too take courage, wealth despise,
And fit thee to ascend the skies,
Nor be a poor man's courtesies
Rejected or disdained.'
He spoke, and through the narrow door
The great Æneas led,
And heaped a couch upon the floor
With leaves and bear-skin spread.
Night falls, and earth and living things
Are folded in her sable wings.
But Venus, with a mother's dread
At Latium's wild alarm,
To Vulcan on the golden bed
Spoke, breathing on each word she said
Sweet love's enticing charm:
'When Greece was labouring to destroy
The fated battlements of Troy,
No aid from thee I cared to ask
For Troy's unhappy race,
Nor chose in vain for arms to task
Thy labour or thy grace,
Though much to Priam's sons I owed,
And oft my tears of pity flowed
For my Æneas' case.
And now his foot, by Jove's command,
Is planted on Rutulian land.
Thus then behold me suppliant here,
Low at those knees I most revere:
Behold a tender mother plead:
Arms are the boon, her son's the need.
Not vainly Nereus' daughter pled:
Not vain the tears Aurora shed.
What nations, see, what towns combine,
To draw the sword 'gainst me and mine!'
She ceased: her snowy arms enwound
Her faltering husband round and round.
The wonted fire at once he feels:
Through all his veins the passion steals,
Swift as the lightning's fiery glare
Runs glimmering through the thunderous air.
His spouse in conscious beauty smiled
To see his heart by love beguiled.
Smit to the core with heavenly fire
In fondling tone returns the sire:
'Why stray so far thy pleas to seek?
Has trust in Vulcan grown so weak?
Had such, my queen, been then thy bent,
E'en then to Troy had arms been lent,
Nor Jove nor Fate refused to give
To Priam ten more years to live.
And now, if war be in the air
And battle's need thy present care,
What molten gold or iron can
With fire to fuse and winds to fan,
All shall be thine: thy power confess,
Nor seek by prayers to feign it less.'
He said, and to his bosom pressed
His beauteous queen, and sank to rest.
The night had crowned the cope of heaven,
And sleep's first fading bloom had driven
The slumber from men's eyes;
E'en at the hour when prudent wife,
Who day by day, to eke out life,
Minerva's distaff plies,
Relumes her fire, o'erreaching night,
And tasks her maidens by its light,
To keep her husband's bed from stain
And for their babes a pittance gain;
So, nor less swift, at labour's claim
Springs from his couch the Lord of flame.
Fast by Æolian Lipare
And fair Sicania's coast
An island rises from the sea
With smoking rocks embossed;
Beneath, a cavern drear and vast,
Hollowed by Cyclopean blast,
Rings with unearthly sound;
Bruised anvils clang their thunder-peal,
Hot hissing glows the Chalyb steel,
And fiery vapour fierce and fast
Pants up from underground;
The centre this of Vulcan's toil,
And Vulcan's name adorns the soil.
Here finds he, as he makes descent,
The Cyclops o'er their labour bent:
Brontes and Steropes are there,
And gaunt Pyracmon, stripped and bare.
The thunderbolt was in their hand,
Which Jove sends down to scourge the land;
A part was barbed and formed to kill,
A part remained imperfect still.
Three rays they took of forky hail,
Of watery cloud three rays,
Three of the winged southern gale,
Three of the ruddy blaze:
Now wrath they mingle, swift to harm,
And glare, and noise, and loud alarm.
Elsewhere for Mars they plan the car
Wherewith he maddens into war
Strong towns and spearmen bold,
And burnish Pallas' shirt of mail,
The Ægis, bright with dragon's scale
And netted rings of gold:
The twisted serpent-locks they shape
And Gorgon's head, lopped at the nape:
Her dying eyes yet rolled.
'Away with these' he cried 'away,
My sons, and list what now I say:
A mighty chief of arms has need:
Now prove your skill, your strength, your speed.
Begone, delay!' No further speech:
Each takes the part assigned to each,
And plies the work with zeal:
In streams the gold, the copper flows,
And in the mighty furnace glows
The death-inflicting steel.
A shield they plan, whose single guard
May all the blows of Latium ward,
And fold on fold together bind,
Seven circles round one centre twined.
Some make the windy billows heave,
Now give forth air, and now receive:
The copper hisses in the wave:
The anvils press the groaning cave.
With measured cadence each and all
The giant hammers rise and fall:
The griping pincers, deftly plied,
Turn the rough ore from side to side.
While thus in distant caves the sire
Bestirs the brethren of the fire,
The gracious dawn, the vocal bird
Beneath his eaves at daybreak heard
Bid old Evander rise:
A linen tunic he indues,
And round his feet Tyrrhenian shoes
In rustic fashion ties:
A sword he fastens to his side,
And wears for scarf a panther's hide.
Two watch-dogs from the palace gate
Come forth, and on their master wait.
So, mindful of his plighted word,
He seeks his guest, the Trojan lord.
Æneas too with willing feet
As early moves his host to meet.
Achates on his chief attends:
Beside Evander walks his son:
Each, guest and host, his hand extends:
They sit them down, and talk as friends,
When thus the king begun:
'Great chief of Troy, whose safety shows
That Ilium still survives her foes,
Albeit a mighty name be ours,
Yet scanty are our martial powers;
Here Tiber bounds us, there the din
Of Rutule warfare hems us in:
Strong succour ne'ertheless I bring,
Great nations, rich with many a king:
By chance they stand before our gate:
You join us at the call of fate.
Far hence Agylla's city stands,
Built, like our own, by alien hands:
There warlike Lydia's ancient stock
Is planted on the Etruscan rock.
Long years of prosperous empire past,
Mezentius took the throne at last,
By arms compelled them to obey,
And governed with a tyrant's sway.
Why tell the blood the monster spilt,
Each freak of madness or of guilt?
Nay—Heaven return it on his head!—
He chained the living to the dead,
Hand joined to hand and face to face
In noisome pestilent embrace;
So trickling down with foul decay
They wore their lingering lives away.
But wearied out with tyrannies
In arms at length his people rise,
Besiege his gates, his guards lay low,
And firebrands to his roof-tree throw.
He 'mid the tumult of the strife,
So Fortune willed, escapes with life,
To haughty Turnus' kingdom flies,
And hides him with his old allies.
Etruria glows with righteous ire:
All, sheathed in arms, his head require.
Now gallant guest, this numerous band
I offer to your sole command:
Around the shore their vessels crowd
And call for action, fierce and loud:
An aged seer their speed restrains,
Rehearsing things which Heaven ordains:
'Brave sons of brave Mæonian sires,
Whom dark Mezentius' rule inspires
With wrath and righteous grief,
No leader of Italian blood
May head so vast a multitude:
Choose ye a foreign chief.'
Scared by Heaven's voice, the Etruscan train
Sits down in arms in yonder plain.
An envoy, sent from Tarchon, brings
The sceptre of Etruria's kings,
And bids me join the camp, and wear
The crown, and be the kingdom's heir.
But envious age, for war too late,
Forbids Evander to be great.
My son perchance the host might lead,
But, born of Sabine mother's seed,
A half Italian he:
You, blest alike in age and race,
Assume, brave prince, the chieftain's place
O'er Troy and Italy.
Nay more, my hope, my only joy,
I give you too, my noble boy:
The martial lore of service stern
Beneath your conduct he shall learn,
With reverence on your actions gaze,
And tread your steps from earliest days.
Two hundred men, with each his steed,
I send with him, Arcadia's breed,
And Pallas from his own good store
Shall furnish forth two hundred more.'
He ended, and in musing mood
Æneas and Achates stood:
Dark thoughts came thick, when lo! from heaven
A sudden sign, by Venus given.
Swift runs athwart the sky's clear field
A thunder and a glare:
All Nature to her centre reeled,
And east and west through ether pealed
The Tyrrhene trumpet's blare.
They look: yet once and once again
Deep growls the thunder in his den;
And armour veiled in cloud is seen
High in the azure space serene
To glimmer with a ruddy sheen
And hurtle in the air.
The rest are fixed in awe profound:
Æneas hails the expected sound
And owns his mother's hand.
'Ask not' he cries 'much honoured friend,
What chance these prodigies portend:
'Tis I the skies demand:
This sign to send my mother vowed,
If war was on the wing:
Herself to aid me through the cloud
Vulcanian arms would bring.
Alas! what havoc soon shall seize
Laurentum's wretched families!
What reckoning, Turnus, yours to pay!
What burdens shalt thou roll,
Helmets and shields and mangled clay
Where dwelt a warrior's soul,
Hoar Tiber! Call to arms, and break
With treacherous ease the leagues ye make!'
He said, and from his throne upleapt,
Awakes the altar-fires that slept,
And pays the rites of morning hours
To Hercules and home-god powers.
The Trojans and Arcadia's king
Alike their chosen victims bring.
Then, turning shoreward, he reviews
His vessels, and arrays the crews:
Of these the first in martial might
He takes to follow him in fight:
The rest drop down the stream, to bear
Iulus tidings how they fare,
His father and the cause.
Each has his steed of all the train
That marches to the Tuscan plain:
A charger for the chief is led
With tawny lion's hide bespread
That shines with gilded claws.
Fame to the little town relates
The horse are marching to the gates.
The matrons with redoubled zeal
Make vows to Heaven in wild appeal:
Fear closer treads on danger's heel,
And larger looms the fray:
The tears roll down Evander's face,
He holds his child in strict embrace,
And thus begins to say:
'Ah! would but Jupiter restore
The strength I had in days of yore,
When conqueror in Præneste's fields
I fired a pile of foemen's shields,
And hurried with my own right hand
King Erulus to the darksome land:
Three lives inspired that monstrous frame
When from Feronia's womb he came:
Three swords he wielded 'gainst the foe:
Three deaths it cost to lay him low:
Yet thrice this hand shed out his gore,
And thrice stripped off the arms he wore.
Ah! never then should war's alarms
Dispart me from my darling's arms,
Nor had Mezentius done despite
So foully to a neighbour's right,
Or made my widowed city feel
The havoc of his ruthless steel.
Yet O ye gods, and O great Jove,
Have pity on a father's love
And hear Evander's prayer:
If 'tis your purpose to restore
My Pallas to my arms once more;
If living is to see his face,
Then grant me life, of your dear grace:
No toil too hard to bear.
But ah! if Fortune be my foe,
And meditate some crushing blow,
Now, now the thread in mercy break,
While hope sees dim and cares mistake,
While still I clasp thee, darling boy,
My latest and my only joy,
Nor let assurance, worse than fear.
With cruel tidings wound my ear.'
His speech grows faint, his limbs give way;
His slaves their master home convey.
Now through the open gates at last
The mounted company had passed:
Æneas and Achates lead:
The other lords of Troy succeed.
Young Pallas in the midst is seen
With broidered scarf and armour sheen:
Like Lucifer, the day-spring's star,
To radiant Venus dearest far
Of all the sons of light,
When, bathed in ocean's wave, he rears
His sacred presence 'mid the spheres,
And dissipates the night.
The matrons on the rampart stand:
Their straining eyes pursue
The dusty cloud, the mail-clad band
Far flashing on the view.
Through thicket and entangled brake
The nearest road the warriors take,
And hark! the war-cry's sound;
The line is formed, and horny feet
Recurrently the champaign beat
And shake the crumbling ground.
A grove by Cære's river grows;
Ancestral reverence round it throws
A terror far and wide:
The shelving hills around have made
A girdle for the pine-wood shade,
Set close on every side.
'Twas there Pelasgian tribes, men say,
Who dwelt in Latium's clime of old,
Kept good Silvanus' holiday,
The guardian god of field and fold.
Hard by encamped there held their post
Brave Tarchon and his Tyrrhene host,
And from the hill-top might be seen
Their legions stretching o'er the green
The Trojans join them on the mead,
And seek refreshment, man and steed.
But careful Venus, heavenly fair,
Had journeyed through the clouds of air,
Her present in her hands:
Deep in the vale her son she spied
Reposing by the river-side,
And thus before him stands:
'Lo, thus the gods their word fulfil:
Behold the arms my husband's skill
Has fashioned in a day:
Fear not conclusions soon to try
With Latium's braggarts, but defy
E'en Turnus to the fray.'
Then to her son's embrace she flew:
The armour 'neath an oak in view
She placed, all dazzling bright.
He, glorying in the beauteous prize,
From point to point quick darts his eyes
With ever-new delight.
Now wondering 'twixt his hands he turns
The helm that like a meteor burns,
The sword that rules the war,
The breastplate shooting bloody rays,
As dusky clouds in sunlight blaze,
Refulgent from afar,
The polished greaves of molten gold,
The spear, the shield with fold on fold,
A prodigy of art untold.
There, prescient of the years to come,
Italia's times, the wars of Rome,
The fire's dark lord had wrought:
E'en from Ascanius' dawning days
The generations he portrays,
The fights in order fought.
There too the mother wolf he made
In Mars's cave supinely laid:
Around her udders undismayed
The gamesome infants hung,
While she, her loose neck backward thrown,
Caressed them fondly, one by one,
And shaped them with her tongue.
Hard by, the towers of Rome he drew
And Sabine maids in public view
Snatched 'mid the Circus games:
So 'twixt the fierce Romulean brood
And Tatius with his Cures rude
A sudden war upflames.
And now the kings, their conflict o'er,
Stand up in arms Jove's shrine before,
From goblets pour the sacred wine,
And make their peace o'er bleeding swine.
There too was Mettus' body torn
By four-horse cars asunder borne;
Ah, well for thee, had promise sworn,
False Alban, held thee true!
And Tullus dragged the traitor's flesh
Through wild and wood: the briars looked fresh
With sprinkled gory dew.
Porsenna there with pride elate
Bids Rome to Tarquin ope her gate:
With arms he hems the city in:
Æneas' sons stand firm to win
Their freedom with their blood:
Enraged and menacing his air,
That Cocles dares the bridge to tear,
And Clœlia breaks her bonds, bold fair,
And swims across the flood.
There Manlius on Tarpeia's steep
Stood firm, the Capitol to keep:
The ancient palace-roof you saw
New bristling with Romulean straw.
A silver goose in gilded walls
With flapping wings announced the Gauls;
And through the wood the invaders crept,
And climbed the height, while others slept.
Golden their hair on head and chin:
Gold collars deck their milk-white skin:
Short cloaks with colours checked
Shine on their backs: two spears each wields
Of Alpine make; and oblong shields
Their brawny limbs protect.
Luperci here of raiment stripped
And dancing Salii move,
And flamens with their caps wool-tipped,
And shields that fell from Jove;
And high-born dames parade the streets
In pensile cars with cushioned seats.
Far off he sets the gates of Dis,
And Tartarus' terrible abyss,
And dooms to guilt assigned:
There Catiline on frowning steep
Hangs poised above the infernal deep
With Fury-forms behind:
And righteous souls apart he draws,
With Cato there to give them laws.
'Twixt these in wavy outline rolled
The swelling ocean, all of gold,
Though hoary showed the spray:
Gay dolphins, sheathed in silver scales,
Lash up the water with their tails,
And 'mid the surges play.
There in the midmost meet the sight
The embattled fleets, the Actian fight:
Leucate flames with warlike show,
And golden-red the billows glow.
Here Cæsar, leading from their home
The fathers, people, gods of Rome,
Stands on the lofty stern:
The constellation of his sire
Beams o'er his head, and tongues of fire
About his temples burn.
With favouring gods and winds to speed
Agrippa forms his line:
The golden beaks, war's proudest meed,
High on his forehead shine.
There, with barbaric troops increased,
Antonius, from the vanquished East
And distant Red-sea side,
To battle drags the Bactrian bands
And Egypt; and behind him stands
(Foul shame!) the Egyptian bride.
Each from his moorings, on they pour,
And three-toothed beak and back-drawn oar
Plough up in foam the marble floor.
Who saw had deemed that Cyclads, torn
From their firm roots, were onward borne
Colliding on the surge,
That hills with hills in conflict meet:
The mighty chiefs their tower-armed fleet
With such propulsion urge.
With hand or enginery they throw
Live darts ablaze with fiery tow:
The sea-god's verdant fields look red,
Incarnadined with heaps of dead.
Her native timbrel in her hand,
The queen to battle calls her band,
Infatuate!—nor perceives as yet
Two snakes behind with fangs a-whet.
Anubis and each monster strange
That Egypt's land reveres
'Gainst Neptune, Venus, Pallas range,
And shake their uncouth spears.
There where they battle, host and host,
Raves grisly Mars, in steel embossed:
The Furies frown on high:
With mantle rent glad Discord walks,
Bellona fierce behind her stalks,
Her scourge of crimson dye.
Then Actian Phœbus bends his bow:
Scared by that terror, flies the foe,
Arabia, Egypt, Ind:
The haughty dame in wild defeat
Is shaking out her loosened sheet,
And standing to the wind.
She, wanning o'er with death foreseen,
Through corpses flies, devoted queen,
By wave and Zephyr sped:
While mighty Nile, through all his frame
Deep shuddering for his people's shame,
His ample vesture opened wide,
Invites the vanquished host to hide
Within his azure bed.
Cæsar, of triple triumph proud,
Pays to Rome's gods the gift he vowed,
Three hundred fanes of stone:
The live streets ring with shouts and games
Each shrine is thronged by grateful dames,
Each floor with victims strown.
Himself, bright Phœbus' gate before,
At leisure tells the offerings o'er,
And fastens on the gorgeous door
The first-fruits of the prey:
There march the captives, all and each,
In garb as diverse as in speech,
A multiform array.
The houseless Nomad there is shown,
And Afric tribes that wear no zone,
And Morini, extreme of men,
And Dahæ, masterless till then:
Gelonians too, with bended bows,
And Leleges, and Carian foes:
Euphrates droops his head, and flows
With less of billowy pride:
Old Rhine extends his branching horns,
And passion-chafed Araxes scorns
The bridge that spans his tide.
Such legends traced on Vulcan's shield
The wondering chief surveys:
On truth in symbol half revealed
He feasts his hungry gaze,
And high upon his shoulders rears
The fame and fates of unborn years.
- Original: throne, was amended to throne.: detail