Aeneid (Williams)/Book III
<poem> When Asia’s power and Priam’s race and throne, Though guiltless, were cast down by Heaven’s decree, When Ilium proud had fallen, and Neptune’s Troy In smouldering ash lay level with the ground, To wandering exile then and regions wild 5 The gods by many an augury and sign Compelled us forth. We fashioned us a fleet Within Antander’s haven, in the shade Of Phrygian Ida’s peak (though knowing not Whither our fate would drive, or where afford 10 A resting-place at last), and my small band Of warriors I arrayed. As soon as smiled The light of summer’s prime, my reverend sire Anchises bade us on the winds of Fate To spread all sail. Through tears I saw recede 15 My native shore, the haven and the plains Where once was Troy. An exile on the seas, With son and followers and household shrines, And Troy’s great guardian-gods, I took my way.
There is a far-off land where warriors breed, 20 Where Thracians till the boundless plains, and where The cruel-eyed Lycurgus once was king. Troy’s old ally it was, its deities Had brotherhood with ours before our fall. Thither I fared, and on its winding shores 25 Set my first walls, though partial Fate opposed Our entrance there. In memory of my name I called its people the Æneadæ. Unto Dione’s daughter, and all gods Who blessed our young emprise, due gifts were paid; 30 And unto the supreme celestial King I slew a fair white bull beside the sea. But haply near my place of sacrifice A mound was seen, and on the summit grew A copse of cornel and a myrtle tree, 35 With spear-like limbs outbranched on every side. This I approached, and tried to rend away From its deep roots that grove of gloomy green, And dress my altars in its leafy boughs. But, horrible to tell, a prodigy 40 Smote my astonished eyes: for the first time, Which from the earth with broken roots I drew, Dripped black with bloody drops, and gave the ground Dark stains of gore. Cold horror shook my frame, And every vein within me froze for fear. 45 Once more I tried from yet another stock The pliant stem to tear, and to explore The mystery within,—but yet again The foul bark oozed with clots of blackest gore! From my deep-shaken soul I made a prayer 50 To all the woodland nymphs and to divine Gradivus, patron of the Thracian plain, To bless this sight, to lift its curse away. But when at a third sheaf of myrtle spears I fell upon my knees, and tugged amain 55 Against the adverse ground (I dread to tell!), A moaning and a wail from that deep grave Burst forth and murmured in my listening ear: “Why wound me, great Æneas, in my woe? “O, spare the dead, nor let thy holy hands 60 “Do sacrilege and sin! I, Trojan-born, “Was kin of thine. This blood is not of trees. “Haste from this murderous shore, this land of greed. “O, I am Polydorus! Haste away! “Here was I pierced; a crop of iron spears 65 “Has grown up o’er my breast, and multiplied “To all these deadly javelins, keen and strong.” Then stood I, burdened with dark doubt and fear I quailed, my hair rose and my utterance choked. For once this Polydorus, with much gold, 70 Ill-fated Priam sent by stealth away For nurture with the Thracian king, what time Dardania’s war looked hopeless, and her towers Were ringed about by unrelenting siege. That king, when Ilium’s cause was ebbing low, 75 And fortune frowned, gave o’er his plighted faith To Agamemnon’s might and victory; He scorned all honor and did murder foul On Polydorus, seizing lawlessly On all the gold. O, whither at thy will, 80 Curst greed of gold, may mortal hearts be driven?
Soon as my shuddering ceased, I told this tale Of prodigies before the people’s chiefs, Who sat in conclave with my kingly sire, And bade them speak their reverend counsel forth. 85 All found one voice; to leave that land of sin, Where foul abomination had profaned A stranger’s right; and once more to resign Our fleet unto the tempest and the wave. But fit and solemn funeral rites were paid 90 To Polydorus. A high mound we reared Of heaped-up earth, and to his honored shade Built a perpetual altar, sadly drest In cypress dark and purple pall of woe. Our Ilian women wailed with loosened hair; 95 New milk was sprinkled from a foaming cup, And from the shallow bowl fresh blood out-poured Upon the sacred ground. So in its tomb We laid his ghost to rest, and loudly sang, With prayer for peace, the long, the last farewell. 100
After these things, when first the friendly sea Looked safe and fair, and o’er its tranquil plain Light-whispering breezes bade us launch away, My men drew down our galleys to the brine, Thronging the shore. Soon out of port we ran, 105 And watched the hills and cities fading far.
There is a sacred island in mid-seas, To fruitful Doris and to Neptune dear, Which grateful Phœbus, wielder of the bow, The while it drifted loose from land to land, 110 Chained firmly where the crags of Gyaros And Myconos uptower, and bade it rest Immovable, in scorn of wind and wave. Thither I sped; by this my weary ships Found undisturbed retreat and haven fair. 115 To land we came and saw with reverent eyes Apollo’s citadel. King Anius, His people’s king, and priest at Phœbus’ fane, Came forth to meet us, wearing on his brow The fillets and a holy laurel crown. 120 Unto Anchises he gave greeting kind, Claimed old acquaintance, grasped us by the hand, And bade us both his roof and welcome share.
Then, kneeling at the shrine of time-worn stone: “Thou who at Thymbra on the Trojan shore 125 “Hast often blessed my prayer, O, give to me “A hearth and home, and to this war-worn band “Defensive towers and offspring multiplied “In an abiding city; give to Troy “A second citadel, that shall survive 130 “Achilles’ wrath and all our Argive foe. “Whom shall we follow? Whither lies our way? “Where wilt thou grant us an abiding-place? “Send forth, O King, thy voice oracular, “And on our spirits move.” Scarce had I spoke 135 When sudden trembling through the laurels ran And smote the holy portals; far and wide The mighty ridges of the mountain shook, And from the opening shrine the tripod moaned. Prostrate to earth we fall, as on our ears 140 This utterance breaks: “O breed of iron men, “Ye sons of Dardanus! the self-same land “Where bloomed at first your far-descended stem “Shall to its bounteous bosom draw ye home. “Seek out your ancient Mother! There at last 145 “Æneas’ race shall reign on every shore, “And his sons’ sons, and all their house to be.”
So Phœbus spoke; and mighty joy uprose From all my thronging people, who would know Where Phœbus’ city lay, and whitherward 150 The god ordained the wandering tribe’s return. Then spake my father, pondering olden days And sacred memories of heroes gone: “Hear, chiefs and princes, what your hopes shall be! “The Isle of Crete, abode of lofty Jove, 155 “Rests in the middle sea. Thence Ida soars; “There is the cradle of our race. It boasts “A hundred cities, seats of fruitful power. “Thence our chief sire, if duly I recall “The olden tale, King Teucer sprung, who first 160 “Touched on the Trojan shore, and chose his seat “Of kingly power. There was no Ilium then “Nor towered Pergama; in lowly vales “Their dwelling; hence the ancient worship given “To the Protectress of Mount Cybele, 165 “Mother of Gods, what time in Ida’s grove “The brazen Corybantic cymbals clang. “Or sacred silence guards her mystery, “And lions yoked her royal chariot draw. “Up, then, and follow the behests divine! 170 “Pour offering to the winds, and point your keels “Unto that realm of Minos. It is near. “If Jove but bless, the third day’s dawn should see “Our ships at Cretan land.” So, having said, He slew the victims for each altar’s praise. 175 A bull to Neptune, and a bull to thee, O beauteous Apollo! A black lamb Unto the clouds and storms; but fleece and snow To the mild zephyrs was our offering.
The tale was told us that Idomeneus, 180 From his hereditary kingdom driven, Had left his Crete abandoned, that no foe Now harbored there, but all its dwellings lay Untenanted of man. So forth we sailed Out of the port of Delos, and sped far 185 Along the main. The mænad-haunted hills Of Naxos came in view; the ridges green Of fair Donysa, with Olearos, And Paros, gleaming white, and Cyclades Scattered among the waves, as close we ran 190 Where thick-strewn islands vex the channelled seas. With rival shout the sailors cheerly called: “On, comrades! On, to Crete and to our sires!” Freely behind us blew the friendly winds, And gave smooth passage to that fabled shore, 195 The land of the Curetes, friends of Jove. There eagerly I labored at the walls Of our long-prayed-for city; and its name Was Pergamea; to my Trojan band, Pleased with such name, I gave command to build 200 Altar and hearth, and raise the lofty tower. But scarce the ships were beached along the strand (While o’er the isle my busy mariners Ploughed in new fields and took them wives once more,— I giving homes and laws) when suddenly 205 A pestilence from some infectious sky Seized on man’s flesh, and horribly exhaled O’er trees and crops a fatal year of plague. Some breathed their last, while others weak and worn Lived on; the dog-star parched the barren fields; 210 Grass withered, and the sickly, mouldering corn Refused us life. My aged father then Bade us re-cross the waves and re-implore Apollo’s mercy at his island shrine; If haply of our weariness and woe 215 He might vouchsafe the end, or bid us find Help for our task, or guidance o’er the sea.
’T was night, and sleep possessed all breathing things; When, lo! the sacred effigies divine, The Phrygian gods which through the flames I bore 220 From fallen Troy, seemed in a vision clear To stand before me where I slumbering lay, Bathed in bright beams which from the moon at full Streamed through the latticed wall: and thus they spoke To soothe my care away. “Apollo’s word, 225 “Which in far Delos the god meant for thee, “Is uttered here. Behold, he sends ourselves “To this thy house, before thy prayer is made. “We from Troy’s ashes have companioned thee “In every fight; and we the swollen seas, 230 “Guided by thee, in thine own ships have crossed; “Our prayer divine shall set among the stars “Thy seed to be, and to thy city give “Dominion evermore. For mighty men “Go build its mighty walls! Seek not to shun 235 “The hard, long labors of an exile’s way. “Change this abode! Not thine this Cretan shore, “Nor here would Delian Phœbus have thee bide. “There is a land the roving Greeks have named “Hesperia. It is a storied realm 240 “Made mighty by great wars and fruitful glebe. “Œnotrians had it, and their sons, ’t is said, “Have called it Italy, a chieftain’s name “To a whole region given. That land alone “Our true abode can be; for Dardanus 245 “Was cradled there, and old Iasius, “The venerated sire of all our line. “Arise! go forth and cheer thy father gray “With the glad tidings! Bid him doubt no more! “Ausonia seek and Corythus; for Jove 250 “Denies this Cretan realm to thine and thee.”
I marvelled at the heavenly presences So vocal and so bright, for ’t was not sleep; But face to face I deemed I could discern Each countenance august and holy brow, 255 Each mantled head; and from my body ran Cold sweat of awe. From my low couch I sprang, Lifting to heaven my suppliant hands and prayer, And o’er my hearth poured forth libations free. After th’ auspicious offering, I told 260 Anchises the whole tale in order due.
He owned our stock two-branched, of our great sires The twofold line, and that his thought had strayed, In new confusion mingling ancient names; Then spoke: “O son, in Ilium’s doom severe 265 “Afflicted ever! To my ears alone “This dark vicissitude Cassandra sang. “I mind me now that her wild tongue foretold “Such destiny. For oft she called aloud “‘Hesperia!’ oft ‘Italia’s kingdom!’ called. 270 “But who had faith that Teucer’s sons should come “To far Hesperia? What mortal ear “Gave heed to sad Cassandra’s voice divine? “Now Phœbus speaks. Obedient let us be, “And, warned by him, our happier lot pursue!” 275
He spoke: with heart of hope we all obeyed; Again we changed abode; and, leaving there A feeble few, again with spreading sails We coursed in hollow ship the spacious sea. When from the deep the shores had faded far, 280 And only sky and sea were round our way, Full in the zenith hung a purple cloud, Storm-laden, dark as night, and every wave Grew black and angry, while perpetual gales Came rolling o’er the main, and mountain-high 285 The wreckful surges rose; our ships were hurled Wide o’er the whirling waters; thunder-clouds And misty murk of night made end of all The light of heaven, save where the rifted storm Flashed with the oft-reiterate shaft of Jove. 290 Then went we drifting, beaten from our course, Upon a trackless sea. Not even the eyes Of Palinurus could tell night from noon Or ken our way. Three days of blinding dark, Three nights without a star, we roved the seas; 295 The fourth, land seemed to rise. Far distant hills And rolling smoke we saw. Down came our sails, Out flew the oars, and with prompt stroke the crews Swept the dark waves and tossed the crested foam.
From such sea-peril safe, I made the shores 300 Of Strophades,—a name the Grecians gave To islands in the broad Ionic main,— The Strophades, where dread Celæno bides, With other Harpies, who had quit the halls Of stricken Phineus, and for very fear 305 Fled from the routed feast; no prodigy More vile than these, nor plague more pitiless Ere rose by wrath divine from Stygian wave; Birds seem they, but with face like woman-kind; Foul-flowing bellies, hands covered with crooked claws, 310 And ghastly lips they have, with hunger pale. Scarce had we made the haven, when, behold! Fair herds of cattle roaming a wide plain, And horned goats, untended, feeding free In pastures green, surprised our happy eyes. 315 With eager blades we ran to take and slay, Asking of every god, and chiefly Jove, To share the welcome prize: we ranged a feast, With turf-built couches and a banquet-board Along the curving strand. But in a trice, 320 Down from the high hills swooping horribly, The Harpies loudly shrieking, flapped their wings, Snatched at our meats, and with infectious touch Polluted all; infernal was their cry, The stench most vile. Once more in covert far 325 Beneath a caverned rock, and close concealed With trees and branching shade, we raised aloft Our tables, altars, and rekindled fires. Once more from haunts unknown the clamorous flock From every quarter flew, and seized its prey 330 With taloned feet and carrion lip most foul. I called my mates to arms and opened war On that accursed brood. My band obeyed; And, hiding in deep grass their swords and shields, In ambush lay. But presently the foe 335 Swept o’er the winding shore with loud alarm: Then from a sentry-crag, Misenus blew A signal on his hollow horn. My men Flew to the combat strange, and fain would wound With martial steel those foul birds of the sea; 340 But on their sides no wounding blade could fall, Nor any plume be marred. In swiftest flight To starry skies they soared, and left on earth Their half-gnawed, stolen feast, and footprints foul. Celæno only on a beetling crag 345 Took lofty perch, and, prophetess of ill, Shrieked malediction from her vulture breast: “Because of slaughtered kine and ravished herd, “Sons of Laomedon, have ye made war? “And will ye from their rightful kingdom drive 350 “The guiltless Harpies? Hear, O, hear my word “(Long in your bosoms may it rankle sore!) “Which Jove omnipotent to Phœbus gave, “Phœbus gave to me: a word of doom, which I, “The Furies’ elder sister, here unfold: 355 “‘To Italy ye fare. The willing winds “‘Your call have heard; and ye shall have your prayer “‘In some Italian haven safely moored. “‘But never shall ye rear the circling walls “‘Of your own city, till for this our blood 360 “‘By you unjustly spilt, your famished jaws “‘Bite at your tables, aye,—and half devour.’” She spoke: her pinions bore her to the grove, And she was seen no more. But all my band Shuddered with shock of fear in each cold vein; 365 Their drooping spirits trusted swords no more, But turned to prayers and offerings, asking grace, Scarce knowing if those creatures were divine, Or but vast birds, ill-omened and unclean.
Father Anchises to the gods in heaven 370 Uplifted suppliant hands, and on that shore Due ritual made, crying aloud; “Ye gods “Avert this curse, this evil turn away! “Smile, Heaven, upon your faithful votaries.” Then bade he launch away, the chain undo, 375 Set every cable free and spread all sail. O’er the white waves we flew, and took our way Where’er the helmsman or the winds could guide. Now forest-clad Zacynthus met our gaze, Engirdled by the waves; Dulichium, 380 Samè, and Neritos, a rocky steep, Uprose. We passed the cliffs of Ithaca That called Laertes king, and flung our curse On fierce Ulysses’ hearth and native land. Nigh hoar Lucate’s clouded crest we drew, 385 Where Phœbus’ temple, feared by mariners, Loomed o’er us; thitherward we steered and reached The little port and town. Our weary fleet Dropped anchor, and lay beached along the strand. So, safe at land, our hopeless peril past, 390 We offered thanks to Jove, and kindled high His altars with our feast and sacrifice; Then, gathering on Actium’s holy shore, Made fair solemnities of pomp and game. My youth, anointing their smooth, naked limbs, 395 Wrestled our wonted way. For glad were we, Who past so many isles of Greece had sped And ’scaped our circling foes. Now had the sun Rolled through the year’s full circle, and the waves Were rough with icy winter’s northern gales. 400 I hung for trophy on that temple door A swelling shield of brass (which once was worn By mighty Abas) graven with this line: Spoil of Æneas from triumphant foes.
Then from that haven I command them forth; 405 My good crews take the thwarts, smiting the sea With rival strokes, and skim the level main. Soon sank Phæacia’s wind-swept citadels Out of our view; we skirted the bold shores Of proud Epirus, in Chaonian land, 410 And made Buthrotum’s port and towering town. Here wondrous tidings met us, that the son Of Priam, Helenus, held kingly sway O’er many Argive cities, having wed The Queen of Pyrrhus, great Achilles’ son, 415 And gained his throne; and that Andromache Once more was wife unto a kindred lord. Amazement held me; all my bosom burned To see the hero’s face and hear this tale Of strange vicissitude. So up I climbed, 420 Leaving the haven, fleet, and friendly shore.
That self-same hour outside the city walls, Within a grove where flowed the mimic stream Of a new Simois, Andromache, With offerings to the dead, and gifts of woe, 425 Poured forth libation, and invoked the shade Of Hector, at a tomb which her fond grief Had consecrated to perpetual tears, Though void; a mound of fair green turf it stood, And near it rose twin altars to his name. 430 She saw me drawing near; our Trojan helms Met her bewildered eyes, and, terror-struck At the portentous sight, she swooning fell And lay cold, rigid, lifeless, till at last, Scarce finding voice, her lips addressed me thus: 435 “Have I true vision? Bringest thou the word “Of truth, O goddess-born? Art still in flesh? “Or if sweet light be fled, my Hector, where?” With flood of tears she spoke, and all the grove Reëchoed to her cry. Scarce could I frame 440 Brief answer to her passion, but replied With broken voice and accents faltering: “I live, ’tis true. I lengthen out my days “Through many a desperate strait. But O, believe “That what thine eyes behold is vision true. 445 “Alas! what lot is thine, that wert unthroned “From such a husband’s side? What after-fate “Could give thee honor due? Andromache, “Once Hector’s wife, is Pyrrhus still thy lord?”
“With drooping brows and lowly voice she cried: 450 “O, happy only was that virgin blest, “Daughter of Priam, summoned forth to die “In sight of Ilium, on a foeman’s tomb! “No casting of the lot her doom decreed, “Nor came she to her conqueror’s couch a slave. 455 “Myself from burning Ilium carried far “O’er seas and seas, endured the swollen pride “Of that young scion of Achilles’ race, “And bore him as his slave a son. When he “Sued for Hermione, of Leda’s line, 460 “And nuptial-bond with Lacedæmon’s lords, “I, the slave-wife, to Helenus was given, “And slave was wed with slave. But afterward “Orestes, crazed by loss of her he loved, “And ever fury-driven from crime to crime, 465 “Crept upon Pyrrhus in a careless hour “And murdered him upon his own hearth-stone. “Part of the realm of Neoptolemus “Fell thus to Helenus, who called his lands “Chaonian, and in Trojan Chaon’s name 470 “His kingdom is Chaonia. Yonder height “Is Pergamus, our Ilian citadel. “What power divine did waft thee to our shore, “Not knowing whither? Tell me of the boy “Ascanius! Still breathes he earthly air? 475 “In Troy she bore him—is he mourning still “That mother ravished from his childhood’s eyes? “What ancient valor stirs the manly soul “Of thine own son, of Hector’s sister’s child?”
Thus poured she forth full many a doleful word 480 With unavailing tears. But as she ceased, Out of the city gates appeared the son Of Priam, Helenus, with princely train. He welcomed us as kin, and glad at heart Gave guidance to his house, though oft his words 485 Fell faltering and few, with many a tear. Soon to a humbler Troy I lift my eyes, And of a mightier Pergamus discern The towering semblance; there a scanty stream Runs on in Xanthus’ name, and my glad arms 490 The pillars of a Scæan gate embrace. My Teucrian mariners with welcome free Enjoyed the friendly town; his ample halls Our royal host threw wide; full wine-cups flowed Within the palace; golden feast was spread, 495 And many a goblet quaffed. Day followed day, While favoring breezes beckoned us to sea, And swelled the waiting canvas as they blew. Then to the prophet-priest I made this prayer:
“Offspring of Troy, interpreter of Heaven! 500 “Who knowest Phœbus’ power, and readest well “The tripod, stars, and vocal laurel leaves “To Phœbus dear, who know’st of every bird “The ominous swift wing or boding song, “O, speak! For all my course good omens showed, 505 “And every god admonished me to sail “In quest of Italy’s far-distant shores; “But lone Celæno, heralding strange woe, “Foretold prodigious horror, vengeance dark, “And vile, unnatural hunger. How elude 510 “Such perils? Or by what hard duty done “May such huge host of evils vanquished be?”
Then Helenus, with sacrifice of kine In order due, implored the grace of Heaven, Unloosed the fillets from his sacred brow, 515 And led me, Phœbus, to thy temple’s door, Awed by th’ o’er-brooding godhead, whose true priest, With lips inspired, made this prophetic song:
“O goddess-born, indubitably shines “The blessing of great gods upon thy path 520 “Across the sea; the heavenly King supreme “Thy destiny ordains; ’t is he unfolds “The grand vicissitude, which now pursues “A course immutable. I will declare “Of thy large fate a certain bounded part; 525 “That fearless thou may’st view the friendly sea, “And in Ausonia’s haven at the last “Find thee a fixed abode. Than this no more “The Sister Fates to Helenus unveil, “And Juno, Saturn’s daughter, grants no more. 530 “First, that Italia (which nigh at hand “Thou deemst, and wouldst fondly enter in “By yonder neighboring bays) lies distant far “O’er trackless course and long, with interval “Of far-extended lands. Thine oars must ply 535 “The waves of Sicily; thy fleet must cleave “The large expanse of that Ausonian brine; “The waters of Avernus thou shalt see, “And that enchanted island where abides “Ææan Circe, ere on tranquil shore 540 “Thou mayest plant thy nation. Lo! a sign “I tell thee; hide this wonder in thy heart: “Beside a certain stream’s sequestered wave, “Thy troubled eyes, in shadowy ilex grove “That fringes on the river, shall descry 545 “A milk-white, monstrous sow, with teeming brood “Of thirty young, new littered, white like her, “All clustering at her teats, as prone she lies. “There is thy city’s safe, predestined ground, “And there thy labors’ end. Vex not thy heart 550 “About those ‘tables bitten,’ for kind fate “Thy path will show, and Phœbus bless thy prayer. “But from these lands and yon Italian shore, “Where from this sea of ours the tide sweeps in, “Escape and flee, for all its cities hold 555 “Pernicious Greeks, thy foes: the Locri there “Have builded walls; the wide Sallentine fields “Are filled with soldiers of Idomeneus; “There Melibœan Philoctetes’ town, “Petilia, towers above its little wall. 560 “Yea, even when thy fleet has crossed the main, “And from new altars built along the shore “Thy vows to Heaven are paid, throw o’er thy head “A purple mantle, veiling well thy brows, “Lest, while the sacrificial fire ascends 565 “In offering to the gods, thine eye behold “Some face of foe, and every omen fail. “Let all thy people keep this custom due, “And thou thyself be faithful; let thy seed “Forever thus th’ immaculate rite maintain. 570
“After departing hence, thou shalt be blown “Toward Sicily, and strait Pelorus’ bounds “Will open wide. Then take the leftward way: “Those leftward waters in long circuit sweep, “Far from that billowy coast, the opposing side. 575 “These regions, so they tell, in ages gone “By huge and violent convulsion riven “(Such mutability is wrought by time), “Sprang wide asunder; where the doubled strand “Sole and continuous lay, the sea’s vast power 580 “Burst in between, and bade its waves divide “Hesperia’s bosom from fair Sicily, “While with a straitened firth it interflowed “Their fields and cities sundered shore from shore. “The right side Scylla keeps; the left is given 585 “To pitiless Charybdis, who draws down “To the wild whirling of her steep abyss “The monster waves, and ever and anon “Flings them at heaven, to lash the tranquil stars. “But Scylla, prisoned in her eyeless cave, 590 “Thrusts forth her face, and pulls upon the rocks “Ship after ship; the parts that first be seen “Are human; a fair-breasted virgin she, “Down to the womb; but all that lurks below “Is a huge-membered fish, where strangely join 595 “The flukes of dolphins and the paunch of wolves. “Better by far to round the distant goal “Of the Trinacrian headlands, veering wide “From thy true course, than ever thou shouldst see “That shapeless Scylla in her vaulted cave, 600 “Where grim rocks echo her dark sea-dogs’ roar. “Yea, more, if aught of prescience be bestowed “On Helenus, if trusted prophet he, “And Phœbus to his heart true voice have given, “O goddess-born, one counsel chief of all 605 “I tell thee oft, and urge it o’er and o’er. “To Juno’s godhead lift thy loudest prayer; “To Juno chant a fervent votive song, “And with obedient offering persuade “That potent Queen. So shalt thou, triumphing, 610 “To Italy be sped, and leave behind “Trinacria. When wafted to that shore, “Repair to Cumæ’s hill, and to the Lake “Avernus with its whispering grove divine. “There shalt thou see a frenzied prophetess, 615 “Who from beneath the hollow scarpèd crag “Sings oracles, or characters on leaves “Mysterious names. Whate’er the virgin writes, “On leaves inscribing the portentous song, “She sets in order, and conceals them well 620 “In her deep cave, where they abide unchanged “In due array. Yet not a care has she, “If with some swinging hinge a breeze sweeps in, “To catch them as they whirl: if open door “Disperse them fluttering through the hollow rock, 625 “She will not link their shifted sense anew, “Nor re-invent her fragmentary song. “Oft her answered votaries depart, “Scorning the Sibyl’s shrine. But deem not thou “Thy tarrying too long, whate’er thy stay. 630 “Though thy companions chide, though winds of power “Invite thy ship to sea, and well would speed “The swelling sail, yet to that Sibyl go. “Pray that her own lips may sing forth for thee “The oracles, uplifting her dread voice 635 “In willing prophecy. Her rede shall tell “Of Italy, its wars and tribes to be, “And of what way each burden and each woe “May be escaped, or borne. Her favoring aid “Will grant swift, happy voyages to thy prayer. 640 “Such counsels Heaven to my lips allows. “Arise, begone! and by thy glorious deeds “Set Troy among the stars!”
So spake the prophet with benignant voice. Then gifts he bade be brought of heavy gold 645 And graven ivory, which to our ships He bade us bear; each bark was loaded full With massy silver and Dodona’s pride Of brazen cauldrons; a cuirass he gave Of linkèd gold enwrought and triple chain; 650 A noble helmet, too, with flaming crest And lofty cone, th’ accoutrement erewhile Of Neoptolemus. My father too Had fit gifts from the King; whose bounty then Gave steeds and riders; and new gear was sent 655 To every sea-worn ship, while he supplied Seafarers’ kit to all my loyal crews.
Anchises bade us speedily set sail, Nor lose a wind so fair; and answering him, Apollo’s priest made reverent adieu: 660 “Anchises, honored by the love sublime “Of Venus’ self and twice in safety borne “From falling Troy, chief care of kindly Heaven, “Th’ Ausonian shore is thine. Sail thitherward! “For thou art pre-ordained to travel far 665 “O’er yonder seas; far in the distance lies “That region of Ausonia, Phœbus’ voice “To thee made promise of. Onward, I say, “O blest in the exceeding loyal love “Of thy dear son! Why keep thee longer now? 670 “Why should my words yon gathering winds detain?” Likewise Andromache in mournful guise Took last farewell, bringing embroidered robes Of golden woof; a princely Phrygian cloak She gave Ascanius, vying with the King 675 In gifts of honor; and threw o’er the boy The labors of her loom, with words like these: “Accept these gifts, sweet youth, memorials “Of me and my poor handicraft, to prove “Th’ undying friendship of Andromache, 680 “Once Hector’s wife. Take these last offerings “Of those who are thy kin—O thou that art “Of my Astyanax in all this world “The only image! His thy lovely eyes! “Thy hands, thy lips, are even what he bore, 685 “And like thy own his youthful bloom would be.”
Thus I made answer, turning to depart With rising tears: “Live on, and be ye blessed, “Whose greatness is accomplished! As for me, “From change to change Fate summons, and I go; 690 “But ye have won repose. No leagues of sea “Await your cleaving keel. Not yours the quest “Of fading Italy’s delusive shore. “Here a new Xanthus and a second Troy “Your labor fashioned and your eyes may see— 695 “More blest, I trust, less tempting to our foes! “If e’er on Tiber and its bordering vales “I safely enter, and these eyes behold “Our destined walls, then in fraternal bond “Let our two nations live, whose mutual boast 700 “Is one Dardanian blood, one common story. “Epirus with Hesperia shall be “One Troy in heart and soul. But this remains “For our sons’ sons the happy task and care.” Forth o’er the seas we sped and kept our course 705 Nigh the Ceraunian headland, where begins The short sea-passage unto Italy. Soon sank the sun, while down the shadowed hills Stole deeper gloom; then making shore, we flung Our bodies on a dry, sea-bordering sand, 710 Couched on earth’s welcome breast; the oars were ranged In order due; the tides of slumber dark O’erflowed our lives. But scarce the chariot Of Night, on wings of swift, obedient Hours, Had touched the middle sky, when wakeful sprang 715 Good Palinurus from his pillowed stone: With hand at ear he caught each airy gust And questioned of the winds; the gliding stars He called by name, as onward they advanced Through the still heaven; Arcturus he beheld, 720 The Hyades, rain-bringers, the twin Bears, And vast Orion girt in golden arms. He blew a trumpet from his ship; our camp Stirred to the signal for embarking; soon We rode the seas once more with swelling sail. 725
Scarce had Aurora’s purple from the sky Warned off the stars, when lying very low Along th’ horizon, the dimmed hills we saw Of Italy; Achates first gave cry “Italia!” with answering shouts of joy, 730 My comrades’ voices cried, “Italia, hail!” Anchises, then, wreathed a great bowl with flowers And filled with wine, invoking Heaven to bless, And thus he prayed from our ship’s lofty stern: “O lords of land and sea and every storm! 735 “Breathe favoring breezes for our onward way!” Fresh blew the prayed-for winds. A haven fair Soon widened near us; and its heights were crowned By a Greek fane to Pallas. Yet my men Furled sail and shoreward veered the pointing prow. 740
The port receding from the orient wave Is curved into a bow; on either side The jutting headlands toss the salt sea-foam And hide the bay itself. Like double wall The towered crags send down protecting arms, 745 While distant from the shore the temple stands. Here on a green sward, the first omen given, I saw four horses grazing through the field, Each white as snow. Father Anchises cried: “Is war thy gift, O new and alien land? 750 “Horses make war; of war these creatures bode. “Yet oft before the chariot of peace “Their swift hoofs go, and on their necks they bear “Th’ obedient yoke and rein. Therefore a hope “Of peace is also ours.” Then we implored 755 Minerva’s mercy, at her sacred shrine, The mail-clad goddess who gave welcome there; And at an altar, mantling well our brows The Phrygian way, as Helenus ordained, We paid the honors his chief counsel urged, 760 With blameless rite, to Juno, Argive Queen. No tarrying now, but after sacrifice We twirled the sailyards and shook out all sail, Leaving the cities of the sons of Greece And that distrusted land. Tarentum’s bay 765 Soon smiled before us, town of Hercules, If fame be true; opposing it uptowers Lacinia’s headland unto Juno dear, The heights of Caulon, and that sailor’s bane, Ship-shattering Scylaceum. Thence half seen, 770 Trinacrian Ætna cleaves th’ horizon line; We hear from far the crash of shouting seas, Where lifted billows leap the tide-swept sand.
Father Anchises cried: “’Tis none but she— “Charybdis! Helenus this reef foretold, 775 “And rocks of dreadful name. O, fly, my men! “Rise like one man with long, strong sweep of oars!” Not unobedient they! First Palinure Veered to the leftward wave the willing keel, And sails and oars together leftward strove. 780 We shot to skyward on the arching surge, Then, as she sank, dropped deeper than the grave; Thrice bellowed the vast cliffs from vaulted wall; Thrice saw we spouted foam and showers of stars.
After these things both wind and sun did fail; 785 And weary, worn, not witting of our way, We drifted shoreward to the Cyclops’ land. A spreading bay is there, impregnable To all invading storms; and Ætna’s throat With roar of frightful ruin thunders nigh. 790 Now to the realm of light it lifts a cloud Of pitch-black, whirling smoke, and fiery dust, Shooting out globes of flame, with monster tongues That lick the stars; now huge crags of itself, Out of the bowels of the mountain torn, 795 Its maw disgorges, while the molten rock Rolls screaming skyward; from the nether deep The fathomless abyss makes ebb and flow. Enceladus, his body lightning-scarred, Lies prisoned under all, so runs the tale: 800 O’er him gigantic Ætna breathes in fire From crack and seam; and if he haply turn To change his wearied side, Trinacria’s isle Trembles and moans, and thick fumes mantle heaven.
That night in screen and covert of a grove 805 We bore the dire convulsion, unaware Whence the loud horror came. For not a star Its lamp allowed, but all was gloom, And frowning night confined the moon in cloud.
When from the eastern waves the light of morn 810 Began to peer, and from the upper sky Aurora flamed away the dark and dew, Out of the forest sprang a startling shape Of hunger-wasted misery; a man In wretched guise, who shoreward came with hands 815 Outstretched in supplication. We turned back And scanned him well. All grime and foulness he, With long and tangled beard, his savage garb Fastened with thorns; but in all else he seemed A Greek, and in his country’s league of arms 820 Sent to the siege of Troy. When he beheld The Dardan habit, and our Trojan steel, He somewhat paused, as if in dread dismay Such sight to see, and falteringly moved; But soon with headlong steps he sought the shore, 825 Ejaculating broken sobs and prayers: “By stars above! By gods on high! O, hear! “By this bright heavenly air we mortals breathe, “Save me, sweet Trojans! Carry me away “Unto what land ye will! I ask no more. 830 “I came, I know it, in the ships of Greece; “And I did war, ’t is true, with Ilium’s gods. “O, if the crime deserve it, fling my corse “On yonder waves, and in the boundless brine “Sink me forever! Give me in my death 835 “The comfort that by human hands I die.”
He clasped our knees, and writhing on his own Clung fast. We bid him tell his race and name, And by what fate pursued. Anchises gave His own right hand in swift and generous aid, 840 And by prompt token cheered the exile’s heart, Who, banishing his fears, poured forth this tale:—
“My home was Ithaca, and I partook “The fortunes of Ulysses evil-starred. “My name is Achemenides, my sire 845 “Was Adamastus, and I sailed for Troy, “Being so poor,—O, that I ne’er had changed “The lot I bore! In yon vast Cyclops’ cave “My comrades, flying from its gruesome door, “Left me behind, forgotten. ’T is a house 850 “Of gory feasts of flesh, ’t is deep and dark, “And vaulted high. He looms as high as heaven; “I pray the blessèd gods to rid the earth “Of the vile monster! None can look on him, “None speak with him. He feeds on clotted gore 855 “Of disembowelled men. These very eyes “Saw him seize two of our own company, “And, as he lolled back in the cave, he clutched “And dashed them on the stones, fouling the floor “With torrent of their blood; myself I saw him 860 “Crunch with his teeth the dripping, bloody limbs “Still hot and pulsing on his hungry jaw. “But not without reward! For such a sight “Ulysses would not brook, and Ithaca “Forgot not in such strait the name he bore. 865 “For soon as, gorged with feasting and o’ercome “With drunken slumber, the foul giant lay “Sprawled through the cave, his head dropped helpless down, “Disgorging as he slept thick drool of gore “And gobbets drenched with bloody wine; then we, 870 “Calling on Heaven and taking place by lot, “Drew round him like one man, and with a beam “Sharpened at end bored out that monster eye, “Which, huge and sole, lay under the grim brow, “Round as an Argive shield or Phœbus’ star. 875 “Thus took we joyful vengeance for the shades “Of our lost mates. But, O ill-fated men! “Fly, I implore, and cut the cables free “Along the beach! For in the land abide, “Like Polyphemus, who in hollow cave 880 “Kept fleecy sheep, and milked his fruitful ewes, “A hundred other, huge as he, who rove “Wide o’er this winding shore and mountains fair: “Cyclops accursèd, bestial! Thrice the moon “Has filled her horns with light, while here I dwell 885 “In lonely woods and lairs of creatures wild; “Or from tall cliffs out-peering I discern “The Cyclops, and shrink shuddering from the sound “Of their vast step and cry. My sorry fare “Is berries and hard cornels dropped from trees, 890 “Or herb-roots torn out from the niggard ground. “Though watching the whole sea, only to-day “Have I had sight of ships. To you I fled. “Whate’er ye be, it was my only prayer “To ’scape that monster brood. I ask no more. 895 “O, set me free by any death ye will!”
He scarce had said, when moving o’er the crest Of a high hill a giant shape we saw: That shepherd Polyphemus, with his flocks Down-wending to the well-known water-side; 900 Huge, shapeless, horrible, with blinded eye, Bearing a lopped pine for a staff, he made His footing sure, while the white, fleecy sheep, Sole pleasure now, and solace of his woes, Ran huddling at his side. 905 Soon to the vast flood of the level brine He came, and washed the flowing gore away From that out-hollowed eye; he gnashed his teeth, Groaning, and deep into the watery way Stalked on, his tall bulk wet by scarce a wave. 910 We fled in haste, though far, and with us bore The truthful suppliant; cut silently The anchor-ropes, and, bending to the oar, Swept on with eager strokes clean out to sea. Aware he was, and toward our loud halloo 915 Whirled sudden round; but when no power had he To seize or harm, nor could his fierce pursuit O’ertake the Ionian surges as they rolled, He raised a cry incredible; the sea With all its billows trembled; the wide shore 920 Of Italy from glens and gorges moaned, And Ætna roared from every vaulted cave. Then rallied from the grove-clad, lofty isle The Cyclops’ clan, and lined the beach and bay. We saw each lonely eyeball glare in vain, 925 As side by side those brothers Ætna-born Stood towering high, a conclave dark and dire: As when, far up some mountain’s famous crest, Wind-fronting oaks or cone-clad cypresses Have made assembling in the solemn hills, 930 Jove’s giant wood or Dian’s sacred grove.
We, terror-struck, would fly we knew not where, With loosened sheet and canvas swelling strong Before a welcome wind; but Helenus Bade us both Scylla and Charybdis fear, 935 Where ’twixt the twain death straitly hems the way; And so the counsel was to veer our bark The course it came. But lo! a northern gale Burst o’er us from Pelorus’ narrowed side, And on we rode far past Pantagia’s bay 940 Of unhewn rock, and past the haven strong Of Megara, and Thapsus lying low. Such were the names retold, and such the shores Shown us by Achemenides, whose fate Made him familiar there, for he had sailed 945 With evil-starred Ulysses o’er that sea.
Off the Sicilian shore an island lies, Wave-washed Plemmyrium, called in olden days Ortygia; here Alpheus, river-god, From Elis flowed by secret sluice, they say, 950 Beneath the sea, and mingles at thy mouth, Fair Arethusa! with Sicilian waves. Our voices hailed the great gods of the land With reverent prayer; then skirted we the shore, Where smooth Helorus floods the fruitful plain. 955 Under Pachynus’ beetling precipice We kept our course; then Camarína rose In distant view, firm-seated evermore By Fate’s decree; and that far-spreading vale Of Gela, with the name of power it takes 960 From its wide river; and, uptowering far, The ramparts of proud Acragus appeared, Where fiery steeds were bred in days of old. Borne by the winds, along thy coast I fled, Selinus, green with palm! and past the shore 965 Of Lilybæum with its treacherous reef; Till at the last the port of Drepanum Received me to its melancholy strand. Here, woe is me! outworn by stormful seas, My sire, sole comfort of my grievous doom, 970 Anchises ceased to be. O best of sires! Here didst thou leave me in the weary way; Through all our perils—O the bitter loss!— Borne safely, but in vain. King Helenus, Whose prophet-tongue of dark events foretold, 975 Spoke not this woe; nor did Celæno’s curse Of this forebode. Such my last loss and pain; Such, of my weary way, the destined goal. From thence departing, the divine behest Impelled me to thy shores, O listening queen! 980
Such was, while all gave ear, the tale sublime Father Æneas, none but he, set forth Of wanderings and of dark decrees divine: Silent at last, he ceased, and took repose.