Aeneid

Virgil

Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. Then loomed o'er Troy the apparition vast
  2. of her dread foes divine; I seemed to see
  3. all Ilium sink in fire, and sacred Troy,
  4. of Neptune's building, utterly o'erthrown.
  5. So some huge ash-tree on the mountain's brow
  6. (when rival woodmen, heaving stroke on stroke
  7. of two-edged axes, haste to cast her down)
  8. sways ominously her trembling, leafy top,
  9. and drops her smitten head; till by her wounds
  10. vanquished at last, she makes her dying groan,
  11. and falls in loud wreck from the cliffs uptorn.
  12. I left the citadel; and, led by Heaven,
  13. threaded the maze of deadly foes and fires,
  14. through spears that glanced aside and flames that fell.
  1. Soon came I to my father's ancient seat,
  2. our home and heritage. But lo! my sire
  3. (whom first of all I sought, and first would bear
  4. to safe asylum in the distant hills)
  5. vowed he could never, after fallen Troy,
  6. live longer on, or bear an exile's woe.
  7. “O you,” he cried, “whose blood not yet betrays
  8. the cruel taint of time, whose powers be still
  9. unpropped and undecayed, go, take your flight.
  10. If heavenly wrath had willed my life to spare,
  11. this dwelling had been safe. It is too much
  12. that I have watched one wreck, and for too Iong
  13. outlived my vanquished country. Thus, O, thus!
  14. Compose these limbs for death, and say farewell.
  15. My own hand will procure it; or my foe
  16. will end me of mere pity, and for spoil
  17. will strip me bare. It is an easy loss
  18. to have no grave. For many a year gone by,
  19. accursed of Heaven, I tarry in this world
  20. a useless burden, since that fatal hour
  21. when Jove, of gods the Sire and men the King,
  22. his lightnings o'er me breathed and blasting fire.”
  1. Such fixed resolve he uttered o'er and o'er,
  2. and would not yield, though with my tears did join
  3. my spouse Creusa, fair Ascanius,
  4. and our whole house, imploring the gray sire
  5. not with himself to ruin all, nor add
  6. yet heavier burdens to our crushing doom.
  7. He still cried, “No!” and clung to where he sat
  8. and to the same dread purpose. I once more
  9. back to the fight would speed. For death alone
  10. I made my wretched prayer. What space was left
  11. for wisdom now? What chance or hope was given?
  12. “Didst thou, dear father, dream that I could fly
  13. sundered from thee? Did such an infamy
  14. fall from a father's lips? If Heaven's decree
  15. will of this mighty nation not let live
  16. a single soul, if thine own purpose be
  17. to cast thyself and thy posterity
  18. into thy country's grave, behold, the door
  19. is open to thy death! Lo, Pyrrhus comes
  20. red-handed from King Priam! He has slain
  21. a son before a father's eyes, and spilt
  22. a father's blood upon his own hearthstone.
  23. Was it for this, O heavenly mother mine,
  24. that thou hast brought me safe through sword and fire?
  25. that I might see these altars desecrate
  26. by their worst foes? that I might look upon
  27. my sire, my wife, and sweet Ascanius
  28. dead at my feet in one another's blood?
  29. To arms, my men, to arms! The hour of death
  30. now beckons to the vanquished. Let me go
  31. whither the Greeks are gathered; let me stand
  32. where oft revives the flagging stroke of war:
  33. Not all of us die unavenged this day!”
  1. I clasped my sword-belt round me once again,
  2. fitted my left arm to my shield, and turned
  3. to fly the house; but at the threshold clung
  4. Creusa to my knees, and lifted up
  5. Iulus to his father's arms. “If thou
  6. wouldst rush on death,” she cried, “O, suffer us
  7. to share thy perils with thee to the end.
  8. But if this day's work bid thee trust a sword,
  9. defend thy hearthstone first. Who else shall guard
  10. thy babe Iulus, or thy reverend sire?
  11. Or me, thy wife that was—what help have I?”
  1. So rang the roof-top with her piteous cries:
  2. but lo! a portent wonderful to see
  3. on sudden rose; for while his parents' grief
  4. held the boy close in arm and full in view,
  5. there seemed upon Iulus' head to glow
  6. a flickering peak of fire; the tongue of flame
  7. innocuous o'er his clustering tresses played,
  8. and hovered round his brows. We, horror-struck,
  9. grasped at his burning hair, and sprinkled him,
  10. to quench that holy and auspicious fire.
  11. then sire Anchises with exultant eyes
  12. looked heavenward, and lifted to the stars
  13. his voice and outstretched hands. “Almighty Jove,
  14. if aught of prayer may move thee, let thy grace
  15. now visit us! O, hear this holy vow!
  16. And if for service at thine altars done,
  17. we aught can claim, O Father, lend us aid,
  18. and ratify the omen thou hast given!”
  1. Scarce ceased his aged voice, when suddenly
  2. from leftward, with a deafening thunder-peal,
  3. cleaving the blackness of the vaulted sky,
  4. a meteor-star in trailing splendor ran,
  5. exceeding bright. We watched it glide sublime
  6. o'er tower and town, until its radiant beam
  7. in forest-mantled Ida died away;
  8. but left a furrow on its track in air,
  9. a glittering, Iong line, while far and wide
  10. the sulphurous fume and exhalation flowed.
  11. My father strove not now; but lifted him
  12. in prayer to all the gods, in holy awe
  13. of that auspicious star, and thus exclaimed:
  14. “Tarry no moment more! Behold, I come!
  15. Whithersoe'er ye lead, my steps obey.
  16. Gods of my fathers, O, preserve our name!
  17. Preserve my son, and his! This augury
  18. is yours; and Troy on your sole strength relies.
  19. I yield, dear son; I journey at thy side.”
  20. He spoke; and higher o'er the blazing walls
  21. leaped the loud fire, while ever nearer drew
  22. the rolling surges of tumultuous flame.
  23. “Haste, father, on these bending shoulders climb!
  24. This back is ready, and the burden light;
  25. one peril smites us both, whate'er befall;
  26. one rescue both shall find. Close at my side
  27. let young Iulus run, while, not too nigh,
  28. my wife Creusa heeds what way we go.
  29. Ye servants of our house, give ear, I pray,
  30. to my command. Outside the city's gates
  31. lies a low mound and long since ruined fane
  32. to Ceres vowed; a cypress, ancient shade
  33. o'erhangs it, which our fathers' pious care
  34. protected year by year; by various paths
  35. be that our meeting-place. But in thy hands
  36. bring, sire, our household gods, and sanctifies:
  37. for me to touch, who come this very hour
  38. from battle and the fresh blood of the slain,
  39. were but abomination, till what time
  40. in living waters I shall make me clean.”
  41. So saying, I bowed my neck and shoulders broad,
  42. o'erspread me with a lion's tawny skin,
  43. and lifted up my load. Close at my side
  44. little Iulus twined his hand in mine
  45. and followed, with unequal step, his sire.
  46. My wife at distance came. We hastened on,
  47. creeping through shadows; I, who once had viewed
  48. undaunted every instrument of war
  49. and all the gathered Greeks in grim array,
  50. now shook at every gust, and heard all sounds
  51. with fevered trepidation, fearing both
  52. for him I bore and him who clasped my hand.
  53. Now near the gates I drew, and deemed our flight
  54. safely at end, when suddenly I heard
  55. the sounding tread of many warriors
  56. that seemed hard-by, while through the murky night
  57. my father peered, and shouted, “O my son,
  58. away, away! for surely all our foes
  59. are here upon us, and my eyes behold
  60. the glance of glittering shields and flash of arms.”
  61. O, then some evil-working, nameless god
  62. clouded my senses quite: for while I sped
  63. along our pathless way, and left behind
  64. all paths and regions known—O wretched me!—
  65. Creusa on some dark disaster fell;
  66. she stopped, or wandered, or sank down undone,—
  67. I never knew what way,—and nevermore
  68. I looked on her alive. Yet knew I not
  69. my loss, nor backward turned a look or thought,
  70. till by that hallowed hill to Ceres vowed
  71. we gathered all,— and she alone came not,
  72. while husband, friends, and son made search in vain.
  73. What god, what man, did not my grief accuse
  74. in frenzied word? In all the ruined land
  75. what worse woe had I seen? Entrusting then
  76. my sire, my son, and all the Teucrian gods
  77. to the deep shadows of a slanting vale
  78. where my allies kept guard, I tried me back
  79. to that doomed town, re-girt in glittering arms.
  80. Resolved was I all hazards to renew,
  81. all Troy to re-explore, and once again
  82. offer my life to perils without end.
  1. The walls and gloomy gates whence forth I came
  2. I first revisit, and retrace my way,
  3. searching the night once more. On all sides round
  4. horror spread wide; the very silence breathed
  5. a terror on my soul. I hastened then
  6. back to my fallen home, if haply there
  7. her feet had strayed; but the invading Greeks
  8. were its possessors, though the hungry fire
  9. was blown along the roof-tree, and the flames
  10. rolled raging upward on the fitful gale.
  11. To Priam's house I haste, and climb once more
  12. the citadel; in Juno's temple there,
  13. the chosen guardians of her wasted halls,
  14. Phoenix and dread Ulysses watched the spoil.
  15. Here, snatched away from many a burning fane,
  16. Troy's treasures lay,—rich tables for the gods,
  17. thick bowls of messy gold, and vestures rare,
  18. confusedly heaped up, while round the pile
  19. fair youths and trembling virgins stood forlorn.
  20. Yet oft my voice rang dauntless through the gloom,
  21. from street to street I cried with anguish vain;
  22. and on Creusa piteously calling,
  23. woke the lamenting echoes o'er and o'er.
  24. While on this quest I roamed the city through,
  25. of reason reft there rose upon my sight—
  26. O shape of sorrow!— my Creusa's ghost,
  27. hers truly, though a loftier port it wore.
  28. I quailed, my hair rose, and I gasped for fear;
  29. but thus she spoke, and soothed my grief away:
  30. “Why to these frenzied sorrows bend thy soul,
  31. O husband ever dear! The will of Heaven
  32. hath brought all this to pass. Fate doth not send
  33. Creusa the long journeys thou shalt take,
  34. or hath th' Olympian King so given decree.
  35. Long is thy banishment; thy ship must plough
  36. the vast, far-spreading sea. Then shalt thou come
  37. unto Hesperia, whose fruitful plains
  38. are watered by the Tiber, Lydian stream,
  39. of smooth, benignant Bow. Thou shalt obtain
  40. fair fortunes, and a throne and royal bride.
  41. For thy beloved Creusa weep no more!
  42. No Myrmidon's proud palace waits me now;
  43. Dolopian shall not scorn, nor Argive dames
  44. command a slave of Dardan's royal stem
  45. and wife to Venus' son. On these loved shores
  46. the Mother of the Gods compels my stay.
  47. Farewell! farewell! O, cherish evermore
  48. thy son and mine!” Her utterance scarce had ceased,
  49. when, as I strove through tears to make reply,
  50. she left me, and dissolved in empty air.
  51. Thrice would my frustrate arms her form enfold;
  52. thrice from the clasp of hand that vision fled,
  53. like wafted winds and like a fleeting dream.
  1. The night had passed, and to my friends once more
  2. I made my way, much wondering to find
  3. a mighty multitude assembled there
  4. of friends new-come,—matrons and men-at-arms,
  5. and youth for exile bound,— a doleful throng.
  6. From far and near they drew, their hearts prepared
  7. and their possessions gathered, to sail forth
  8. to lands unknown, wherever o'er the wave
  9. I bade them follow. Now above the crest
  10. of loftiest Ida rose the morning-star,
  11. chief in the front of day. The Greeks held fast
  12. the captive gates of Troy. No help or hope
  13. was ours any more. Then, yielding all,
  14. and lifting once again my aged sire,
  15. for refuge to the distant hills I fled.