Aeneid

Virgil

Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. A spreading bay is there, impregnable
  2. to all invading storms; and Aetna's throat
  3. with roar of frightful ruin thunders nigh.
  4. Now to the realm of light it lifts a cloud
  5. of pitch-black, whirling smoke, and fiery dust,
  6. shooting out globes of flame, with monster tongues
  7. that lick the stars; now huge crags of itself,
  8. out of the bowels of the mountain torn,
  9. its maw disgorges, while the molten rock
  10. rolls screaming skyward; from the nether deep
  11. the fathomless abyss makes ebb and flow.
  12. Enceladus, his body lightning-scarred,
  13. lies prisoned under all, so runs the tale:
  14. o'er him gigantic Aetna breathes in fire
  15. from crack and seam; and if he haply turn
  16. to change his wearied side, Trinacria's isle
  17. trembles and moans, and thick fumes mantle heaven.
  18. That night in screen and covert of a grove
  19. we bore the dire convulsion, unaware
  20. whence the loud horror came. For not a star
  21. its lamp allowed, nor burned in upper sky
  22. the constellated fires, but all was gloom,
  23. and frowning night confined the moon in cloud.
  1. When from the eastern waves the light of morn
  2. began to peer, and from the upper sky
  3. Aurora flamed away the dark and dew,
  4. out of the forest sprang a startling shape
  5. of hunger-wasted misery; a man
  6. in wretched guise, who shoreward came with hands
  7. outstretched in supplication. We turned back
  8. and scanned him well. All grime and foulness he,
  9. with long and tangled beard, his savage garb
  10. fastened with thorns; but in all else he seemed
  11. a Greek, and in his country's league of arms
  12. sent to the seige of Troy. Then he beheld
  13. the Dardan habit, and our Trojan steel,
  14. he somewhat paused, as if in dread dismay
  15. such sight to see, and falteringly moved;
  16. but soon with headlong steps he sought the shore,
  17. ejaculating broken sobs and prayers:
  18. “By stars above! By gods on high! O, hear!
  19. By this bright heavenly air we mortals breathe,
  20. save me, sweet Trojans! Carry me away
  21. unto what land ye will! I ask no more.
  22. I came, I know it, in the ships of Greece;
  23. and I did war, 't is true, with Ilium's gods.
  24. O, if the crime deserve it, fling my corse
  25. on yonder waves, and in the boundless brine
  26. sink me forever! Give me in my death
  27. the comfort that by human hands I die.”
  28. He clasped our knees, and writhing on his own
  29. clung fast. We bid him tell his race and name,
  30. and by what fate pursued. Anchises gave
  31. his own right hand in swift and generous aid,
  32. and by prompt token cheered the exile's heart,
  33. who, banishing his fears, poured forth this tale :—
  1. “My home was Ithaca, and I partook
  2. the fortunes of Ulysses evil-starred.
  3. My name is Achemenides, my sire
  4. was Adamastus, and I sailed for Troy,
  5. being so poor,—O, that I ne'er had change
  6. the lot I bore! In yon vast Cyclops' cave
  7. my comrades, flying from its gruesome door,
  8. left me behind, forgotten. 'T is a house
  9. of gory feasts of flesh, 't is deep and dark,
  10. and vaulted high. He looms as high as heaven;
  11. I pray the blessed gods to rid the earth
  12. of the vile monster! None can look on him,
  13. none speak with him. He feeds on clotted gore
  14. of disembowelled men. These very eyes
  15. saw him seize two of our own company,
  16. and, as he lolled back in the cave, he clutched
  17. and dashed them on the stones, fouling the floor
  18. with torrent of their blood; myself I saw him
  19. crunch with his teeth the dripping, bloody limbs
  20. still hot and pulsing on his hungry jaw.
  21. But not without reward! For such a sight
  22. Ulysses would not brook, and Ithaca
  23. forgot not in such strait the name he bore.
  24. For soon as, gorged with feasting and o'ercome
  25. with drunken slumber, the foul giant lay
  26. sprawled through the cave, his head dropped helpless down,
  27. disgorging as he slept thick drool of gore
  28. and gobbets drenched with bloody wine; then we,
  29. calling on Heaven and taking place by lot,
  30. drew round him like one man, and with a beam
  31. sharpened at end bored out that monster eye,
  32. which, huge and sole, lay under the grim brow,
  33. round as an Argive shield or Phoebus' star.
  34. Thus took we joyful vengeance for the shades
  35. of our lost mates. But, O ill-fated men!
  36. Fly, I implore, and cut the cables free
  37. along the beach! For in the land abide,
  38. like Polyphemus, who in hollow cave
  39. kept fleecy sheep, and milked his fruitful ewes,
  40. a hundred other, huge as he, who rove
  41. wide o'er this winding shore and mountains fair:
  42. Cyclops accursed, bestial! Thrice the moon
  43. has filled her horns with light, while here I dwell
  44. in lonely woods and lairs of creatures wild;
  45. or from tall cliffs out-peering I discern
  46. the Cyclops, and shrink shuddering from the sound
  47. of their vast step and cry. My sorry fare
  48. is berries and hard corners dropped from trees,
  49. or herb-roots torn out from the niggard ground.
  50. Though watching the whole sea, only today
  51. Have I had sight of ships. To you I fled.
  52. Whate'er ye be, it was my only prayer
  53. to 'scape that monster brood. I ask no more.
  54. O, set me free by any death ye will!”
  1. He scarce had said, when moving o'er the crest
  2. of a high hill a giant shape we saw:
  3. that shepherd Polyphemus, with his flocks
  4. down-wending to the well-known water-side;
  5. huge, shapeless, horrible, with blinded eye,
  6. bearing a lopped pine for a staff, he made
  7. his footing sure, while the white, fleecy sheep,
  8. sole pleasure now, and solace of his woes,
  9. ran huddling at his side.
  10. Soon to the vast flood of the level brine
  11. he came, and washed the flowing gore away
  12. from that out-hollowed eye; he gnashed his teeth,
  13. groaning, and deep into the watery way
  14. stalked on, his tall bulk wet by scarce a wave.
  15. We fled in haste, though far, and with us bore
  16. the truthful suppliant; cut silently
  17. the anchor-ropes, and, bending to the oar,
  18. swept on with eager strokes clean out to sea.
  19. Aware he was, and toward our loud halloo
  20. whirled sudden round; but when no power had he
  21. to seize or harm, nor could his fierce pursuit
  22. o'ertake the Ionian surges as they rolled,
  23. he raised a cry incredible; the sea
  24. with all its billows trembled; the wide shore
  25. of Italy from glens and gorges moaned,
  26. and Aetna roared from every vaulted cave.
  1. Then rallied from the grove-clad, Iofty isle
  2. the Cyclops' clan, and lined the beach and bay.
  3. We saw each lonely eyeball glare in vain,
  4. as side by side those brothers Aetna-born
  5. stood towering high, a conclave dark and dire:
  6. as when, far up some mountain's famous crest,
  7. wind-fronting oaks or cone-clad cypresses
  8. have made assembling in the solemn hills,
  9. Jove's giant wood or Dian's sacred grove.
  10. We, terror-struck, would fly we knew not where,
  11. with loosened sheet and canvas swelling strong
  12. before a welcome wind; but Helenus
  13. bade us both Scylla and Charybdis fear,
  14. where 'twixt the twain death straitly hems the way;
  15. and so the counsel was to veer our bark
  16. the course it came. But lo! a northern gale
  17. burst o'er us from Pelorus' narrowed side,
  18. and on we rode far past Pantagia's bay
  19. of unhewn rock, and past the haven strong
  20. of Megara, and Thapsus Iying low.
  21. Such were the names retold, and such the shores
  22. shown us by Achemenides, whose fate
  23. made him familiar there, for he had sailed
  24. with evil-starred Ulysses o'er that sea.
  1. Off the Sicilian shore an island lies,
  2. wave-washed Plemmyrium, called in olden days
  3. Ortygia; here Alpheus, river-god,
  4. from Elis flowed by secret sluice, they say,
  5. beneath the sea, and mingles at thy mouth,
  6. fair Arethusa! with Sicilian waves.
  7. Our voices hailed the great gods of the land
  8. with reverent prayer; then skirted we the shore,
  9. where smooth Helorus floods the fruitful plain.
  10. Under Pachynus' beetling precipice
  11. we kept our course; then Camarina rose
  12. in distant view, firm-seated evermore
  13. by Fate's decree; and that far-spreading vale
  14. of Gela, with the name of power it takes
  15. from its wide river; and, uptowering far,
  16. the ramparts of proud Acragas appeared,
  17. where fiery steeds were bred in days of old.
  18. Borne by the winds, along thy coast I fled,
  19. Selinus, green with palm! and past the shore
  20. of Lilybaeum with its treacherous reef;
  21. till at the last the port of Drepanum
  22. received me to its melancholy strand.
  23. Here, woe is me I outworn by stormful seas,
  24. my sire, sole comfort of my grievous doom,
  25. Anchises ceased to be. O best of sires!
  26. Here didst thou leave me in the weary way;
  27. through all our perils—O the bitter loss! —
  28. borne safely, but in vain. King Helenus,
  29. whose prophet-tongue of dark events foretold,
  30. spoke not this woe; nor did Celeno's curse
  31. of this forebode. Such my last loss and pain;
  32. such, of my weary way, the destined goal.
  33. From thence departing, the divine behest
  34. impelled me to thy shores, O listening queen!
  1. Such was, while all gave ear, the tale sublime
  2. father Aeneas, none but he, set forth
  3. of wanderings and of dark decrees divine:
  4. silent at last, he ceased, and took repose.