Aeneid

Virgil

Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. After such words and tears, he flung free rein
  2. To the swift fleet, which sped along the wave
  3. To old Euboean Cumae's sacred shore.
  4. They veer all prows to sea; the anchor fluke
  5. Makes each ship sure, and shading the long strand
  6. The rounded sterns jut o'er. Impetuously
  7. The eager warriors leap forth to land
  8. Upon Hesperian soil. One strikes the flint
  9. To find the seed-spark hidden in its veins;
  10. One breaks the thick-branched trees, and steals away
  11. The shelter where the woodland creatures bide;
  12. One leads his mates where living waters flow.
  13. Aeneas, servant of the gods, ascends
  14. The templed hill where lofty Phoebus reigns,
  15. And that far-off, inviolable shrine
  16. Of dread Sibylla, in stupendous cave,
  17. O'er whose deep soul the god of Delos breathes
  18. Prophetic gifts, unfolding things to come.
  19. Here are pale Trivia's golden house and grove.
  1. Here Daedalus, the ancient story tells,
  2. Escaping Minos' power, and having made
  3. Hazard of heaven on far-mounting wings,
  4. Floated to northward, a cold, trackless way,
  5. And lightly poised, at last, o'er Cumae's towers.
  6. Here first to earth come down, he gave to thee
  7. His gear of wings, Apollo! and ordained
  8. Vast temples to thy name and altars fair.
  9. On huge bronze doors Androgeos' death was done;
  10. And Cecrops' children paid their debt of woe,
  11. Where, seven and seven,—0 pitiable sight!—
  12. The youths and maidens wait the annual doom,
  13. Drawn out by lot from yonder marble urn.
  14. Beyond, above a sea, lay carven Crete:—
  15. The bull was there; the passion, the strange guile;
  16. And Queen Pasiphae's brute-human son,
  17. The Minotaur—of monstrous loves the sign.
  18. Here was the toilsome, labyrinthine maze,
  19. Where, pitying love-lorn Ariadne's tears,
  20. The crafty Daedalus himself betrayed
  21. The secret of his work; and gave the clue
  22. To guide the path of Theseus through the gloom.
  23. 0 Icarus, in such well-graven scene
  24. How proud thy place should be! but grief forbade:
  25. Twice in pure gold a father's fingers strove
  26. To shape thy fall, and twice they strove in vain.
  27. Aeneas long the various work would scan;
  28. But now Achates comes, and by his side
  29. Deiphobe, the Sibyl, Glaucus' child.
  30. Thus to the prince she spoke :
  31. “Is this thine hour
  32. To stand and wonder? Rather go obtain
  33. From young unbroken herd the bullocks seven,
  34. And seven yearling ewes, our wonted way.”
  35. Thus to Aeneas; his attendants haste
  36. To work her will; the priestess, calling loud,
  37. Gathers the Trojans to her mountain-shrine.
  1. Deep in the face of that Euboean crag
  2. A cavern vast is hollowed out amain,
  3. With hundred openings, a hundred mouths,
  4. Whence voices flow, the Sibyl's answering songs.
  5. While at the door they paused, the virgin cried :
  6. “Ask now thy doom!—the god! the god is nigh!”
  7. So saying, from her face its color flew,
  8. Her twisted locks flowed free, the heaving breast
  9. Swelled with her heart's wild blood; her stature seemed
  10. Vaster, her accent more than mortal man,
  11. As all th' oncoming god around her breathed :
  12. “On with thy vows and prayers, 0 Trojan, on!
  13. For only unto prayer this haunted cave
  14. May its vast lips unclose.” She spake no more.
  15. An icy shudder through the marrow ran
  16. Of the bold Trojans; while their sacred King
  17. Poured from his inmost soul this plaint and prayer :
  18. “Phoebus, who ever for the woes of Troy
  19. Hadst pitying eyes! who gavest deadly aim
  20. To Paris when his Dardan shaft he hurled
  21. On great Achilles! Thou hast guided me
  22. Through many an unknown water, where the seas
  23. Break upon kingdoms vast, and to the tribes
  24. Of the remote Massyli, whose wild land
  25. To Syrtes spreads. But now; because at last
  26. I touch Hesperia's ever-fleeting bound,
  27. May Troy's ill fate forsake me from this day!
  28. 0 gods and goddesses, beneath whose wrath
  29. Dardania's glory and great Ilium stood,
  30. Spare, for ye may, the remnant of my race!
  31. And thou, most holy prophetess, whose soul
  32. Foreknows events to come, grant to my prayer
  33. (Which asks no kingdom save what Fate decrees)
  34. That I may stablish in the Latin land
  35. My Trojans, my far-wandering household-gods,
  36. And storm-tossed deities of fallen Troy.
  37. Then unto Phoebus and his sister pale
  38. A temple all of marble shall be given,
  39. And festal days to Phoebus evermore.
  40. Thee also in my realms a spacious shrine
  41. Shall honor; thy dark books and holy songs
  42. I there will keep, to be my people's law;
  43. And thee, benignant Sibyl for all time
  44. A company of chosen priests shall serve.
  45. O, not on leaves, light leaves, inscribe thy songs!
  46. Lest, playthings of each breeze, they fly afar
  47. In swift confusion! Sing thyself, I pray.”
  48. So ceased his voice;the virgin through the cave,
  49. Scarce bridled yet by Phoebus' hand divine,
  50. Ecstatic swept along, and vainly stove
  51. To fing its potent master from her breast;
  52. But he more strongly plied his rein and curb
  53. Upon her frenzied lips, and soon subdued
  54. Her spirit fierce, and swayed her at his will.
  55. Free and self-moved the cavern's hundred adoors
  56. Swung open wide, and uttered to the air
  57. The oracles the virgin-priestess sung :
  58. “Thy long sea-perils thou hast safely passed;
  59. But heavier woes await thee on the land.
  60. Truly thy Trojans to Lavinian shore
  61. Shall come—vex not thyself thereon—but, oh!
  62. Shall rue their coming thither! war, red war!
  63. And Tiber stained with bloody foam I see.
  64. Simois, Xanthus, and the Dorian horde
  65. Thou shalt behold; a new Achilles now
  66. In Latium breathes,—he, too, of goddess born;
  67. And Juno, burden of the sons of Troy,
  68. Will vex them ever; while thyself shalt sue
  69. In dire distress to many a town and tribe
  70. Through Italy; the cause of so much ill
  71. Again shall be a hostess-queen, again
  72. A marriage-chamber for an alien bride.
  73. Oh! yield not to thy woe, but front it ever,
  74. And follow boldly whither Fortune calls.
  75. Thy way of safety, as thou least couldst dream,
  76. Lies through a city of the Greeks, thy foes.”
  1. Thus from her shrine Cumaea's prophetess
  2. Chanted the dark decrees; the dreadful sound
  3. Reverberated through the bellowing cave,
  4. Commingling truth with ecstasies obscure.
  5. Apollo, as she raged, flung loosened rein,
  6. And thrust beneath her heart a quickening spur.
  7. When first her madness ceased, and her wild lips
  8. Were still at last, the hero thus began :
  9. “No tribulations new, 0 Sibyl blest,
  10. Can now confront me; every future pain
  11. I have foretasted; my prophetic soul
  12. Endured each stroke of fate before it fell.
  13. One boon I ask. If of th' infernal King
  14. This be the portal where the murky wave
  15. Of swollen Acheron o'erflows its bound,
  16. Here let me enter and behold the face
  17. Of my loved sire. Thy hand may point the way;
  18. Thy word will open wide yon holy doors.
  19. My father through the flames and falling spears,
  20. Straight through the centre of our foes, I bore
  21. Upon these shoulders. My long flight he shared
  22. From sea to sea, and suffered at my side
  23. The anger of rude waters and dark skies,—
  24. Though weak—0 task too great for old and gray!
  25. Thus as a suppliant at thy door to stand,
  26. Was his behest and prayer. On son and sire,
  27. 0 gracious one, have pity,—for thy rule
  28. Is over all; no vain authority
  29. Hadst thou from Trivia o'er th' Avernian groves.
  30. If Orpheus could call back his loved one's shade,
  31. Emboldened by the lyre's melodious string :
  32. If Pollux by the interchange of death
  33. Redeemed his twin, and oft repassed the way :
  34. If Theseus—but why name him? why recall
  35. Alcides' task? I, too, am sprung from Jove.”
  1. Thus, to the altar clinging, did he pray :
  2. The Sibyl thus replied : “Offspring of Heaven,
  3. Anchises' son, the downward path to death
  4. Is easy; all the livelong night and day
  5. Dark Pluto's door stands open for a guest.
  6. But 0! remounting to the world of light,
  7. This is a task indeed, a strife supreme.
  8. Few, very few, whom righteous Jove did bless,
  9. Or quenchless virtue carried to the stars,
  10. Children of gods, have such a victory won.
  11. Grim forests stop the way, and, gliding slow,
  12. Cocytus circles through the sightless gloom.
  13. But if it be thy dream and fond desire
  14. Twice o'er the Stygian gulf to travel, twice
  15. On glooms of Tartarus to set thine eyes,
  16. If such mad quest be now thy pleasure—hear
  17. What must be first fulfilled . A certain tree
  18. Hides in obscurest shade a golden bough,
  19. Of pliant stems and many a leaf of gold,
  20. Sacred to Proserpine, infernal Queen.
  21. Far in the grove it hides; in sunless vale
  22. Deep shadows keep it in captivity.
  23. No pilgrim to that underworld can pass
  24. But he who plucks this burgeoned, leafy gold;
  25. For this hath beauteous Proserpine ordained
  26. Her chosen gift to be. Whene'er it is culled,
  27. A branch out-leafing in like golden gleam,
  28. A second wonder-stem, fails not to spring.
  29. Therefore go seek it with uplifted eyes!
  30. And when by will of Heaven thou findest it,
  31. Reach forth and pluck; for at a touch it yields,
  32. A free and willing gift, if Fate ordain;
  33. But otherwise no mortal strength avails,
  34. Nor strong, sharp steel, to rend it from the tree.
  35. Another task awaits; thy friend's cold clay
  36. Lies unentombed. Alas! thou art not ware
  37. (While in my house thou lingerest, seeking light)
  38. That all thy ships are by his death defiled.
  39. Unto his resting-place and sepulchre,
  40. Go, carry him! And sable victims bring,
  41. In expiation, to his mournful shade.
  42. So at the last on yonder Stygian groves,
  43. And realms to things that breathe impassable,
  44. Thine eye shall gaze.” So closed her lips inspired.
  1. Aeneas then drew forth, with downcast eyes,
  2. From that dark cavern, pondering in his heart
  3. The riddle of his fate. His faithful friend
  4. Achates at his side, with paces slow,
  5. Companioned all his care, while their sad souls
  6. Made mutual and oft-renewed surmise
  7. What comrade dead, what cold and tombless clay,
  8. The Sibyl's word would show.
  9. But as they mused,
  10. Behold Misenus on the dry sea-sands,
  11. By hasty hand of death struck guiltless down!
  12. A son of Aeolus, none better knew
  13. To waken heroes by the clarion's call,
  14. With war-enkindling sound. Great Hector's friend
  15. In happier days, he oft at Hector's side
  16. Strode to the fight with glittering lance and horn.
  17. But when Achilles stripped his fallen foe,
  18. This dauntless hero to Aeneas gave
  19. Allegiance true, in not less noble cause.
  20. But, on a day, he chanced beside the sea
  21. To blow his shell-shaped horn, and wildly dared
  22. Challenge the gods themselves to rival song;
  23. Till jealous Triton, if the tale be true,
  24. Grasped the rash mortal, and out-flung him far
  25. 'mid surf-beat rocks and waves of whirling foam.
  26. Now from all sides, with tumult and loud cry,
  27. The Trojans came,—Aeneas leading all
  28. In faithful grief; they hasten to fulfil
  29. The Sibyl's mandate, and with many a tear
  30. Build, altar-wise, a pyre, of tree on tree
  31. Heaped high as heaven : then they penetrate
  32. The tall, old forest, where wild creatures bide,
  33. And fell pitch-pines, or with resounding blows
  34. Of axe and wedge, cleave oak and ash-tree through,
  35. Or logs of rowan down the mountains roll.
  1. Aeneas oversees and shares the toil,
  2. Cheers on his mates, and swings a woodman's steel.
  3. But, sad at heart with many a doubt and care,
  4. O'erlooks the forest wide; then prays aloud :
  5. “0, that the Golden Bough from this vast grove
  6. Might o'er me shine! For, 0 Aeolides,
  7. The oracle foretold thy fate, too well!”
  8. Scarce had he spoken, when a pair of doves
  9. Before his very eyes flew down from heaven
  10. To the green turf below; the prince of Troy
  11. Knew them his mother's birds, and joyful cried,
  12. “0, guide me on, whatever path there be!
  13. In airy travel through the woodland fly,
  14. To where yon rare branch shades the blessed ground.
  15. Fail thou not me, in this my doubtful hour,
  16. 0 heavenly mother!” So saying, his steps lie stayed,
  17. Close watching whither they should signal give;
  18. The lightly-feeding doves flit on and on,
  19. Ever in easy ken of following eyes,
  20. Till over foul Avernus' sulphurous throat
  21. Swiftly they lift them through the liquid air,
  22. In silent flight, and find a wished-for rest
  23. On a twy-natured tree, where through green boughs
  24. Flames forth the glowing gold's contrasted hue.
  25. As in the wintry woodland bare and chill,
  26. Fresh-budded shines the clinging mistletoe,
  27. Whose seed is never from the parent tree
  28. O'er whose round limbs its tawny tendrils twine,—
  29. So shone th' out-leafing gold within the shade
  30. Of dark holm-oak, and so its tinsel-bract
  31. Rustled in each light breeze. Aeneas grasped
  32. The lingering bough, broke it in eager haste,
  33. And bore it straightway to the Sibyl's shrine.
  1. Meanwhile the Trojans on the doleful shore
  2. Bewailed Misenus, and brought tribute there
  3. Of grief's last gift to his unheeding clay.
  4. First, of the full-sapped pine and well-hewn oak
  5. A lofty pyre they build; then sombre boughs
  6. Around it wreathe, and in fair order range
  7. Funereal cypress; glittering arms are piled
  8. High over all; on blazing coals they lift
  9. Cauldrons of brass brimmed o'er with waters pure;
  10. And that cold, lifeless clay lave and anoint
  11. With many a moan and cry; on their last couch
  12. The poor, dead limbs they lay, and mantle o'er
  13. With purple vesture and familiar pall.
  14. Then in sad ministry the chosen few,
  15. With eyes averted, as our sires did use,
  16. Hold the enkindling torch beneath the pyre :
  17. They gather up and burn the gifts of myrrh,
  18. The sacred bread and bowls of flowing oil;
  19. And when in flame the dying embers fall,
  20. On thirsty ash they pour the streams of wine.
  21. Good Corynaeus, in an urn of brass
  22. The gathered relics hides; and three times round,
  23. With blessed olive branch and sprinkling dew,
  24. Purges the people with ablution cold,
  25. In lustral rite; oft chanting, “Hail! Farewell!”
  26. Faithful Aeneas for his comrade built
  27. A mighty tomb, and dedicated there
  28. Trophy of arms, with trumpet and with oar,
  29. Beneath a windy hill, which now is called
  30. “Misenus,”—for all time the name to bear.
  1. After these toils, they hasten to fulfil
  2. What else the Sibyl said. Straightway they find
  3. A cave profound, of entrance gaping wide,
  4. O'erhung with rock, in gloom of sheltering grove,
  5. Near the dark waters of a lake, whereby
  6. No bird might ever pass with scathless wing,
  7. So dire an exhalation is breathed out
  8. From that dark deep of death to upper air :—
  9. Hence, in the Grecian tongue, Aornos called.
  10. Here first four youthful bulls of swarthy hide
  11. Were led for sacrifice; on each broad brow
  12. The priestess sprinkled wine; 'twixt the two horns
  13. Outplucked the lifted hair, and cast it forth
  14. Upon the holy flames, beginning so
  15. Her offerings; then loudly sued the power
  16. of Hecate, a Queen in heaven and hell.
  17. Some struck with knives, and caught in shallow bowls
  18. The smoking blood. Aeneas' lifted hand
  19. Smote with a sword a sable-fleeced ewe
  20. To Night, the mother of th' Eumenides,
  21. And Earth, her sister dread; next unto thee,
  22. O Proserpine, a curst and barren cow;
  23. Then unto Pluto, Stygian King, he built
  24. An altar dark, and piled upon the flames
  25. The ponderous entrails of the bulls, and poured
  26. Free o'er the burning flesh the goodly oil.
  27. Then lo! at dawn's dim, earliest beam began
  28. Beneath their feet a groaning of the ground :
  29. The wooded hill-tops shook, and, as it seemed,
  30. She-hounds of hell howled viewless through the shade ,
  31. To hail their Queen. “Away, 0 souls profane!
  32. Stand far away!” the priestess shrieked, “nor dare
  33. Unto this grove come near! Aeneas, on!
  34. Begin thy journey! Draw thy sheathed blade!
  35. Now, all thy courage! now, th' unshaken soul!”
  36. She spoke, and burst into the yawning cave
  37. With frenzied step; he follows where she leads,
  38. And strides with feet unfaltering at her side.
  1. Ye gods! who rule the spirits of the dead!
  2. Ye voiceless shades and silent lands of night!
  3. 0 Phlegethon! 0 Chaos! let my song,
  4. If it be lawful, in fit words declare
  5. What I have heard; and by your help divine
  6. Unfold what hidden things enshrouded lie
  7. In that dark underworld of sightless gloom.
  1. They walked exploring the unpeopled night,
  2. Through Pluto's vacuous realms, and regions void,
  3. As when one's path in dreary woodlands winds
  4. Beneath a misty moon's deceiving ray,
  5. When Jove has mantled all his heaven in shade,
  6. And night seals up the beauty of the world.
  7. In the first courts and entrances of Hell
  8. Sorrows and vengeful Cares on couches lie :
  9. There sad Old Age abides, Diseases pale,
  10. And Fear, and Hunger, temptress to all crime;
  11. Want, base and vile, and, two dread shapes to see,
  12. Bondage and Death : then Sleep, Death's next of kin;
  13. And dreams of guilty joy. Death-dealing War
  14. Is ever at the doors, and hard thereby
  15. The Furies' beds of steel, where wild-eyed Strife
  16. Her snaky hair with blood-stained fillet binds.
  1. There in the middle court a shadowy elm
  2. Its ancient branches spreads, and in its leaves
  3. Deluding visions ever haunt and cling.
  4. Then come strange prodigies of bestial kind :
  5. Centaurs are stabled there, and double shapes
  6. Like Scylla, or the dragon Lerna bred,
  7. With hideous scream; Briareus clutching far
  8. His hundred hands, Chimaera girt with flame,
  9. A crowd of Gorgons, Harpies of foul wing,
  10. And giant Geryon's triple-monstered shade.
  11. Aeneas, shuddering with sudden fear,
  12. Drew sword and fronted them with naked steel;
  13. And, save his sage conductress bade him know
  14. These were but shapes and shadows sweeping by,
  15. His stroke had cloven in vain the vacant air.
  1. Hence the way leads to that Tartarean stream
  2. Of Acheron, whose torrent fierce and foul
  3. Disgorges in Cocytus all its sands.
  4. A ferryman of gruesome guise keeps ward
  5. Upon these waters,—Charon, foully garbed,
  6. With unkempt, thick gray beard upon his chin,
  7. And staring eyes of flame; a mantle coarse,
  8. All stained and knotted, from his shoulder falls,
  9. As with a pole he guides his craft, tends sail,
  10. And in the black boat ferries o'er his dead;—
  11. Old, but a god's old age looks fresh and strong.
  12. To those dim shores the multitude streams on—
  13. Husbands and wives, and pale, unbreathing forms
  14. Of high-souled heroes, boys and virgins fair,
  15. And strong youth at whose graves fond parents mourned.
  16. As numberless the throng as leaves that fall
  17. When autumn's early frost is on the grove;
  18. Or like vast flocks of birds by winter's chill
  19. Sent flying o'er wide seas to lands of flowers.
  20. All stood beseeching to begin their voyage
  21. Across that river, and reached out pale hands,
  22. In passionate yearning for its distant shore.
  23. But the grim boatman takes now these, now those,
  24. Or thrusts unpitying from the stream away.
  25. Aeneas, moved to wonder and deep awe,
  26. Beheld the tumult; “Virgin seer!” he cried, .
  27. “Why move the thronging ghosts toward yonder stream?
  28. What seek they there? Or what election holds
  29. That these unwilling linger, while their peers
  30. Sweep forward yonder o'er the leaden waves?”
  31. To him, in few, the aged Sibyl spoke :
  32. “Son of Anchises, offspring of the gods,
  33. Yon are Cocytus and the Stygian stream,
  34. By whose dread power the gods themselves do fear
  35. To take an oath in vain. Here far and wide
  36. Thou seest the hapless throng that hath no grave.
  37. That boatman Charon bears across the deep
  38. Such as be sepulchred with holy care.
  39. But over that loud flood and dreadful shore
  40. No trav'ler may be borne, until in peace
  41. His gathered ashes rest. A hundred years
  42. Round this dark borderland some haunt and roam,
  43. Then win late passage o'er the longed-for wave.”
  44. Aeneas lingered for a little space,
  45. Revolving in his soul with pitying prayer
  46. Fate's partial way. But presently he sees
  47. Leucaspis and the Lycian navy's lord,
  48. Orontes; both of melancholy brow,
  49. Both hapless and unhonored after death,
  50. Whom, while from Troy they crossed the wind-swept seas,
  51. A whirling tempest wrecked with ship and crew.
  1. There, too, the helmsman Palinurus strayed :
  2. Who, as he whilom watched the Libyan stars,
  3. Had fallen, plunging from his lofty seat
  4. Into the billowy deep. Aeneas now
  5. Discerned his sad face through the blinding gloom,
  6. And hailed him thus : “0 Palinurus, tell
  7. What god was he who ravished thee away
  8. From me and mine, beneath the o'crwhelming wave?
  9. Speak on! for he who ne'er had spoke untrue,
  10. Apollo's self, did mock my listening mind,
  11. And chanted me a faithful oracle
  12. That thou shouldst ride the seas unharmed, and touch
  13. Ausonian shores. Is this the pledge divine?”
  14. Then he, “0 chieftain of Anchises' race,
  15. Apollo's tripod told thee not untrue.
  16. No god did thrust me down beneath the wave,
  17. For that strong rudder unto which I clung,
  18. My charge and duty, and my ship's sole guide,
  19. Wrenched from its place, dropped with me as I fell.
  20. Not for myself—by the rude seas I swear—
  21. Did I have terror, but lest thy good ship,
  22. Stripped of her gear, and her poor pilot lost,
  23. Should fail and founder in that rising flood.
  24. Three wintry nights across the boundless main
  25. The south wind buffeted and bore me on;
  26. At the fourth daybreak, lifted from the surge,
  27. I looked at last on Italy, and swam
  28. With weary stroke on stroke unto the land.
  29. Safe was I then. Alas! but as I climbed
  30. With garments wet and heavy, my clenched hand
  31. Grasping the steep rock, came a cruel horde
  32. Upon me with drawn blades, accounting me—
  33. So blind they were!—a wrecker's prize and spoil.
  34. Now are the waves my tomb; and wandering winds
  35. Toss me along the coast. 0, I implore,
  36. By heaven's sweet light, by yonder upper air,
  37. By thy lost father, by lulus dear,
  38. Thy rising hope and joy, that from these woes,
  39. Unconquered chieftain, thou wilt set me free!
  40. Give me a grave where Velia's haven lies,
  41. For thou hast power! Or if some path there be,
  42. If thy celestial mother guide thee here
  43. (For not, I ween, without the grace of gods
  44. Wilt cross yon rivers vast, you Stygian pool)
  45. Reach me a hand! and bear with thee along!
  46. Until (least gift!) death bring me peace and calm.”
  47. Such words he spoke: the priestess thus replied:
  48. “Why, Palinurus, these unblest desires?
  49. Wouldst thou, unsepulchred, behold the wave
  50. Of Styx, stern river of th' Eumenides?
  51. Wouldst thou, unbidden, tread its fearful strand?
  52. Hope not by prayer to change the laws of Heaven!
  53. But heed my words, and in thy memory
  54. Cherish and keep, to cheer this evil time.
  55. Lo, far and wide, led on by signs from Heaven,
  56. Thy countrymen from many a templed town
  57. Shall consecrate thy dust, and build thy tomb,
  58. A tomb with annual feasts and votive flowers,
  59. To Palinurus a perpetual fame!”
  60. Thus was his anguish stayed, from his sad heart
  61. Grief ebbed awhile, and even to this day,
  62. Our land is glad such noble name to wear.
  1. The twain continue now their destined way
  2. Unto the river's edge. The Ferryman,
  3. Who watched them through still groves approach his shore,
  4. Hailed them, at distance, from the Stygian wave,
  5. And with reproachful summons thus began:
  6. “Whoe'er thou art that in this warrior guise
  7. Unto my river comest,—quickly tell
  8. Thine errand! Stay thee where thou standest now!
  9. This is ghosts' land, for sleep and slumbrous dark.
  10. That flesh and blood my Stygian ship should bear
  11. Were lawless wrong. Unwillingly I took
  12. Alcides, Theseus, and Pirithous,
  13. Though sons of gods, too mighty to be quelled.
  14. One bound in chains yon warder of Hell's door,
  15. And dragged him trembling from our monarch's throne:
  16. The others, impious, would steal away
  17. Out of her bride-bed Pluto's ravished Queen.”
  18. Briefly th' Amphrysian priestess made reply:
  19. “Not ours, such guile: Fear not! This warrior's arms
  20. Are innocent. Let Cerberus from his cave
  21. Bay ceaselessly, the bloodless shades to scare;
  22. Let Proserpine immaculately keep
  23. The house and honor of her kinsman King.
  24. Trojan Aeneas, famed for faithful prayer
  25. And victory in arms, descends to seek
  26. His father in this gloomy deep of death.
  27. If loyal goodness move not such as thee,
  28. This branch at least” (she drew it from her breast)
  29. “Thou knowest well.”
  30. Then cooled his wrathful heart;
  31. With silent lips he looked and wondering eyes
  32. Upon that fateful, venerable wand,
  33. Seen only once an age. Shoreward he turned,
  34. And pushed their way his boat of leaden hue.
  35. The rows of crouching ghosts along the thwarts
  36. He scattered, cleared a passage, and gave room
  37. To great Aeneas. The light shallop groaned
  38. Beneath his weight, and, straining at each seam,
  39. Took in the foul flood with unstinted flow.
  40. At last the hero and his priestess-guide
  41. Came safe across the river, and were moored
  42. 'mid sea-green sedges in the formless mire.
  1. Here Cerberus, with triple-throated roar,
  2. Made all the region ring, as there he lay
  3. At vast length in his cave. The Sibyl then,
  4. Seeing the serpents writhe around his neck,
  5. Threw down a loaf with honeyed herbs imbued
  6. And drowsy essences: he, ravenous,
  7. Gaped wide his three fierce mouths and snatched the bait,
  8. Crouched with his large backs loose upon the ground,
  9. And filled his cavern floor from end to end.
  10. Aeneas through hell's portal moved, while sleep
  11. Its warder buried; then he fled that shore
  12. Of Stygian stream, whence travellers ne'er return.
  1. Now hears he sobs, and piteous, lisping cries
  2. Of souls of babes upon the threshold plaining;
  3. Whom, ere they took their portion of sweet life,
  4. Dark Fate from nursing bosoms tore, and plunged
  5. In bitterness of death. Nor far from these,
  6. The throng of dead by unjust judgment slain.
  7. Not without judge or law these realms abide:
  8. Wise Minos there the urn of justice moves,
  9. And holds assembly of the silent shades,
  10. Hearing the stories of their lives and deeds.
  11. Close on this place those doleful ghosts abide,
  12. Who, not for crime, but loathing life and light
  13. With their own hands took death, and cast away
  14. The vital essence. Willingly, alas!
  15. They now would suffer need, or burdens bear,
  16. If only life were given! But Fate forbids.
  17. Around them winds the sad, unlovely wave
  18. Of Styx: nine times it coils and interflows.
  19. Not far from hence, on every side outspread,
  20. The Fields of Sorrow lie,—such name they bear;
  21. Here all whom ruthless love did waste away
  22. Wander in paths unseen, or in the gloom
  23. Of dark myrtle grove: not even in death
  24. Have they forgot their griefs of long ago.
  25. Here impious Phaedra and poor Procris bide;
  26. Lorn Eriphyle bares the vengeful wounds
  27. Her own son's dagger made; Evadne here,
  28. And foul are seen; hard by,
  29. Laodamia, nobly fond and fair;
  30. And Caeneus, not a boy, but maiden now,
  31. By Fate remoulded to her native seeming.
  32. Here Tyrian Dido, too, her wound unhealed,
  33. Roamed through a mighty wood. The Trojan's eyes
  34. Beheld her near him through the murky gloom,
  35. As when, in her young month and crescent pale,
  36. One sees th' o'er-clouded moon, or thinks he sees.
  37. Down dropped his tears, and thus he fondly spoke:
  38. “0 suffering Dido! Were those tidings true
  39. That thou didst fling thee on the fatal steel?
  40. Thy death, ah me! I dealt it. But I swear
  41. By stars above us, by the powers in Heaven,
  42. Or whatsoever oath ye dead believe,
  43. That not by choice I fled thy shores, 0 Queen!
  44. Divine decrees compelled me, even as now
  45. Among these ghosts I pass, and thread my way
  46. Along this gulf of night and loathsome land.
  47. How could I deem my cruel taking leave
  48. Would bring thee at the last to all this woe?
  49. 0, stay! Why shun me? Wherefore haste away?
  50. Our last farewell! Our doom! I speak it now!”
  51. Thus, though she glared with fierce, relentless gaze,
  52. Aaeneas, with fond words and tearful plea,
  53. Would soothe her angry soul. But on the ground
  54. She fixed averted eyes. For all he spoke
  55. Moved her no more than if her frowning brow
  56. Were changeless flint or carved in Parian stone.
  57. Then, after pause, away in wrath she fled,
  58. And refuge took within the cool, dark grove,
  59. Where her first spouse, Sichaeus, with her tears
  60. Mingled his own in mutual love and true.
  61. Aeneas, none the less, her guiltless woe
  62. With anguish knew, watched with dimmed eyes her way,
  63. And pitied from afar the fallen Queen.
  1. But now his destined way he must be gone;
  2. Now the last regions round the travellers lie,
  3. Where famous warriors in the darkness dwell:
  4. Here Tydeus comes in view, with far-renowned
  5. Parthenopaeus and Adrastus pale;
  6. Here mourned in upper air with many a moan,
  7. In battle fallen, the Dardanidae,
  8. Whose long defile Aeneas groans to see:
  9. Glaucus and Medon and Thersilochus,
  10. Antenor's children three, and Ceres' priest,
  11. That Polypoetes, and Idaeus still.
  12. Keeping the kingly chariot and spear.
  13. Around him left and right the crowding shades
  14. Not only once would see, but clutch and cling
  15. Obstructive, asking on what quest he goes.
  16. Soon as the princes of Argolic blood,
  17. With line on line of Agamemnon's men,
  18. Beheld the hero and his glittering arms
  19. Flash through the dark, they trembled with amaze,
  20. Or turned in flight, as if once more they fled
  21. To shelter of the ships; some raised aloft
  22. A feeble shout, or vainly opened wide
  23. Their gaping lips in mockery of sound.
  1. Here Priam's son, with body rent and torn,
  2. is seen,—his mangled face,
  3. His face and bloody hands, his wounded head
  4. Of ears and nostrils infamously shorn.
  5. Scarce could Aeneas know the shuddering shade
  6. That strove to hide its face and shameful scar;
  7. But, speaking first, he said, in their own tongue:
  8. “Deiphobus, strong warrior, nobly born
  9. Of Teucer's royal stem, what ruthless foe
  10. Could wish to wreak on thee this dire revenge?
  11. Who ventured, unopposed, so vast a wrong?
  12. The rumor reached me how, that deadly night,
  13. Wearied with slaying Greeks, thyself didst fall
  14. Prone on a mingled heap of friends and foes.
  15. Then my own hands did for thy honor build
  16. An empty tomb upon the Trojan shore,
  17. And thrice with echoing voice I called thy shade.
  18. Thy name and arms are there. But, 0 my friend,
  19. Thee could I nowhere find, but launched away,
  20. Nor o'er thy bones their native earth could fling.”
  21. To him the son of Priam thus replied:
  22. “Nay, friend, no hallowed rite was left undone,
  23. But every debt to death and pity due
  24. The shades of thy Deiphobus received.
  25. My fate it was, and Helen's murderous wrong,
  26. Wrought me this woe; of her these tokens tell.
  27. For how that last night in false hope we passed,
  28. Thou knowest,—ah, too well we both recall!
  29. When up the steep of Troy the fateful horse
  30. Came climbing, pregnant with fierce men-at-arms,
  31. 't was she, accurst, who led the Phrygian dames
  32. In choric dance and false bacchantic song,
  33. And, waving from the midst a lofty brand,
  34. Signalled the Greeks from Ilium's central tower
  35. In that same hour on my sad couch I lay,
  36. Exhausted by long care and sunk in sleep,
  37. That sweet, deep sleep, so close to tranquil death.
  38. But my illustrious bride from all the house
  39. Had stolen all arms; from 'neath my pillowed head
  40. She stealthily bore off my trusty sword;
  41. Then loud on Menelaus did she call,
  42. And with her own false hand unbarred the door;
  43. Such gift to her fond lord she fain would send
  44. To blot the memory of his ancient wrong!
  45. Why tell the tale, how on my couch they broke,
  46. While their accomplice, vile Aeolides,
  47. Counselled to many a crime. 0 heavenly Powers!
  48. Reward these Greeks their deeds of wickedness,
  49. If with clean lips upon your wrath I call!
  50. But, friend, what fortunes have thy life befallen?
  51. Tell point by point. Did waves of wandering seas
  52. Drive thee this way, or some divine command?
  53. What chastisement of fortune thrusts thee on
  54. Toward this forlorn abode of night and cloud?”
  1. While thus they talked, the crimsoned car of Morn
  2. Had wheeled beyond the midmost point of heaven,
  3. On her ethereal road. The princely pair
  4. Had wasted thus the whole brief gift of hours;
  5. But Sibyl spoke the warning: “Night speeds by,
  6. And we, Aeneas, lose it in lamenting.
  7. Here comes the place where cleaves our way in twain.
  8. Thy road, the right, toward Pluto's dwelling goes,
  9. And leads us to Elysium. But the left
  10. Speeds sinful souls to doom, and is their path
  11. To Tartarus th' accurst.”
  12. Cried out: “0 priestess, be not wroth with us!
  13. Back to the ranks with yonder ghosts I go.
  14. 0 glory of my race, pass on! Thy lot
  15. Be happier than mine!” He spoke, and fled.