Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. Thus Latium's cause moved on. Meanwhile the heir
  2. of great Laomedon, who knew full well
  3. the whole wide land astir, was vexed and tossed
  4. in troubled seas of care. This way and that
  5. his swift thoughts flew, and scanned with like dismay
  6. each partial peril or the general storm.
  7. Thus the vexed waters at a fountain's brim,
  8. smitten by sunshine or the silver sphere
  9. of a reflected moon, send forth a beam
  10. of flickering light that leaps from wall to wall,
  11. or, skyward lifted in ethereal flight,
  12. glances along some rich-wrought, vaulted dome.
  13. Now night had fallen, and all weary things,
  14. all shapes of beast or bird, the wide world o'er,
  15. lay deep in slumber. So beneath the arch
  16. of a cold sky Aeneas laid him down
  17. upon the river-bank, his heart sore tried
  18. by so much war and sorrow, and gave o'er
  19. his body to its Iong-delayed repose.
  20. There, 'twixt the poplars by the gentle stream,
  21. the River-Father, genius of that place,
  22. old Tiberinus visibly uprose;
  23. a cloak of gray-green lawn he wore, his hair
  24. o'erhung with wreath of reeds. In soothing words
  25. thus, to console Aeneas' cares, he spoke:
  1. “Seed of the gods! who bringest to my shore
  2. thy Trojan city wrested from her foe,
  3. a stronghold everlasting, Latium's plain
  4. and fair Laurentum long have looked for thee.
  5. Here truly is thy home. Turn not away.
  6. Here the true guardians of thy hearth shall be.
  7. Fear not the gathering war. The wrath of Heaven
  8. has stilled its swollen wave. A sign I tell:
  9. Lest thou shouldst deem this message of thy sleep
  10. a vain, deluding dream, thou soon shalt find
  11. in the oak-copses on my margent green,
  12. a huge sow, with her newly-littered brood
  13. of thirty young; along the ground she lies,
  14. snow-white, and round her udders her white young.
  15. There shall thy city stand, and there thy toil
  16. shall find untroubled rest. After the lapse
  17. of thrice ten rolling years, Ascanius
  18. shall found a city there of noble name,
  19. White-City, Alba; 't is no dream I sing!
  20. But I instruct thee now by what wise way
  21. th' impending wars may bring thee victory:
  22. receive the counsel, though the words be few:
  23. within this land are men of Arcady,
  24. of Pallas' line, who, following in the train
  25. of King Evander and his men-at-arms,
  26. built them a city in the hills, and chose
  27. (honoring Pallas, their Pelasgian sire),
  28. the name of Pallanteum. They make war
  29. incessant with the Latins. Therefore call
  30. this people to thy side and bind them close
  31. in federated power. My channel fair
  32. and shaded shore shall guide thee where they dwell,
  33. and thy strong oarsmen on my waters borne
  34. shall mount my falling stream. Rise, goddess-born,
  35. and ere the starlight fade give honor due
  36. to Juno, and with supplicating vow
  37. avert her wrath and frown. But unto me
  38. make offering in thy victorious hour,
  39. in time to come. I am the copious flood
  40. which thou beholdest chafing at yon shores
  41. and parting fruitful fields: cerulean stream
  42. of Tiber, favored greatly of high Heaven.
  43. here shall arise my house magnificent,
  44. a city of all cities chief and crown.”
  1. So spake the river-god, and sank from view
  2. down to his deepest cave; then night and sleep
  3. together from Aeneas fled away.
  4. He rose, and to the orient beams of morn
  5. his forehead gave; in both his hollowed palms
  6. he held the sacred waters of the stream,
  7. and called aloud: “O ye Laurentian nymphs,
  8. whence flowing rills be born, and chiefly thou,
  9. O Father Tiber, worshipped stream divine,
  10. accept Aeneas, and from peril save!
  11. If in some hallowed lake or haunted spring
  12. thy power, pitying my woes, abides,
  13. or wheresoe'er the blessed place be found
  14. whence first thy beauty flows, there evermore
  15. my hands shall bring thee gift and sacrifice.
  16. O chief and sovereign of Hesperian streams,
  17. O river-god that hold'st the plenteous horn,
  18. protect us, and confirm thy words divine!”
  19. He spoke; then chose twin biremes from the fleet,
  20. gave them good gear and armed their loyal crews.
  1. But, lo! a sudden wonder met his eyes:
  2. white gleaming through the grove, with all her brood
  3. white like herself, on the green bank the Sow
  4. stretched prone. The good Aeneas slew her there,
  5. Great Juno, for a sacrifice to thee,
  6. himself the priest, and with the sucklings all
  7. beside shine altar stood. So that whole night
  8. the god of Tiber calmed his swollen wave,
  9. ebbing or lingering in silent flow,
  10. till like some gentle lake or sleeping pool
  11. his even waters lay, and strove no more
  12. against the oarsmen's toil. Upon their way
  13. they speed with joyful sound; the well-oiled wood
  14. slips through the watery floor; the wondering waves,
  15. and all the virgin forests wondering,
  16. behold the warriors in far-shining arms
  17. their painted galleys up the current drive.
  18. O'er the long reaches of the winding flood
  19. their sturdy oars outweary the slow course
  20. of night and day. Fair groves of changeful green
  21. arch o'er their passage, and they seem to cleave
  22. green forests in the tranquil wave below.
  23. Now had the flaming sun attained his way
  24. to the mid-sphere of heaven, when they discerned
  25. walls and a citadel in distant view,
  26. with houses few and far between; 't was there,
  27. where sovran Rome to-day has rivalled Heaven,
  28. Evander's realm its slender strength displayed:
  29. swiftly they turned their prows and neared the town.
  1. It chanced th' Arcadian King had come that day
  2. to honor Hercules, Amphitryon's son,
  3. and to the powers divine pay worship due
  4. in groves outside the wall. Beside him stood
  5. Pallas his son, his noblest men-at-arms,
  6. and frugal senators, who at the shrines
  7. burnt incense, while warm blood of victims flowed.
  8. But when they saw the tall ships in the shade
  9. of that dark forest plying noiseless oars,
  10. the sudden sight alarmed, and all the throng
  11. sprang to its feet and left the feast divine.
  12. But dauntless Pallas bade them give not o'er
  13. the sacred festival, and spear in hand
  14. flew forward to a bit of rising ground,
  15. and cried from far: “Hail, warriors! what cause
  16. drives you to lands unknown, and whither bound?
  17. Your kin, your country? Bring ye peace or war?”
  18. Father Aeneas then held forth a bough
  19. of peaceful olive from the lofty ship,
  20. thus answering : “Men Trojan-born are we,
  21. foes of the Latins, who have driven us forth
  22. with insolent assault. We fain would see
  23. Evander. Pray, deliver this, and say
  24. that chosen princes of Dardania
  25. sue for his help in arms.” So wonder fell
  26. on Pallas, awestruck at such mighty name.
  27. O, come, whoe'er thou art,” he said, “and speak
  28. in presence of my father. Enter here,
  29. guest of our hearth and altar.” He put forth
  30. his right hand in true welcome, and they stood
  31. with lingering clasp; then hand in hand advanced
  32. up the steep woodland, leaving Tiber's wave.
  1. Aeneas to Evander speaking fair,
  2. these words essayed: “O best of Grecian-born!
  3. whom Fortune's power now bids me seek and sue,
  4. lifting this olive-branch with fillets bound,
  5. I have not feared thee, though I know thou art
  6. a Greek, and an Arcadian king, allied
  7. to the two sons of Atreus. For behold,
  8. my conscious worth, great oracles from Heaven,
  9. the kinship of our sires, thy own renown
  10. spread through the world—all knit my cause with thine,
  11. all make me glad my fates have so decreed.
  12. The sire and builder of the Trojan town
  13. was Dardanus; but he, Electra's child,
  14. came over sea to Teucria; the sire
  15. of fair Electra was great Atlas, he
  16. whose shoulder carries the vast orb of heaven.
  17. But thy progenitor was Mercury,
  18. and him conceiving, Maia, that white maid,
  19. on hoar Cyllene's frosty summit bore.
  20. But Maia's sire, if aught of truth be told,
  21. was Atlas also, Atlas who sustains
  22. the weight of starry skies. Thus both our tribes
  23. are one divided stem. Secure in this,
  24. no envoys have I sent, nor tried thy mind
  25. with artful first approaches, but myself,
  26. risking my person and my life, have come
  27. a suppliant here. For both on me and thee
  28. the house of Daunus hurls insulting war.
  29. If us they quell, they doubt not to obtain
  30. lordship of all Hesperia, and subdue
  31. alike the northern and the southern sea.
  32. Accept good faith, and give! Behold, our hearts
  33. quail not in battle; souls of fire are we,
  34. and warriors proved in many an action brave.”
  1. Aeneas ceased. The other long had scanned
  2. the hero's face, his eyes, and wondering viewed
  3. his form and mien divine; in answer now
  4. he briefly spoke: “With hospitable heart,
  5. O bravest warrior of all Trojan-born,
  6. I know and welcome thee. I well recall
  7. thy sire Anchises, how he looked and spake.
  8. For I remember Priam, when he came
  9. to greet his sister, Queen Hesione,
  10. in Salamis, and thence pursued his way
  11. to our cool uplands of Arcadia.
  12. The bloom of tender boyhood then was mine,
  13. and with a wide-eyed wonder I did view
  14. those Teucrian lords, Laomedon's great heir,
  15. and, towering highest in their goodly throng,
  16. Anchises, whom my warm young heart desired
  17. to speak with and to clasp his hand in mine.
  18. So I approached, and joyful led him home
  19. to Pheneus' olden wall. He gave me gifts
  20. the day he bade adieu; a quiver rare
  21. filled with good Lycian arrows, a rich cloak
  22. inwove with thread of gold, and bridle reins
  23. all golden, now to youthful Pallas given.
  24. Therefore thy plea is granted, and my hand
  25. here clasps in loyal amity with thine.
  26. To-morrow at the sunrise thou shalt have
  27. my tribute for the war, and go thy way
  28. my glad ally. But now this festival,
  29. whose solemn rite 't were impious to delay,
  30. I pray thee celebrate, and bring with thee
  31. well-omened looks and words. Allies we are!
  32. Use this our sacred feast as if your own.”
  1. So saying, he bade his followers renew
  2. th' abandoned feast and wine; and placed each guest
  3. on turf-built couch of green, most honoring
  4. Aeneas by a throne of maple fair
  5. decked with a lion's pelt and flowing mane.
  6. Then high-born pages, with the altar's priest,
  7. bring on the roasted beeves and load the board
  8. with baskets of fine bread; and wine they bring —
  9. of Ceres and of Bacchus gift and toil.
  10. While good Aeneas and his Trojans share
  11. the long whole ox and meats of sacrifice.
  1. When hunger and its eager edge were gone,
  2. Evander spoke: “This votive holiday,
  3. yon tables spread and altar so divine,
  4. are not some superstition dark and vain,
  5. that knows not the old gods, O Trojan King!
  6. But as men saved from danger and great fear
  7. this thankful sacrifice we pay. Behold,
  8. yon huge rock, beetling from the mountain wall,
  9. hung from the cliff above. How lone and bare
  10. the hollowed mountain looks! How crag on crag
  11. tumbled and tossed in huge confusion lie!
  12. A cavern once it was, which ran deep down
  13. into the darkness. There th' half-human shape
  14. of Cacus made its hideous den, concealed
  15. from sunlight and the day. The ground was wet
  16. at all times with fresh gore; the portal grim
  17. was hung about with heads of slaughtered men,
  18. bloody and pale—a fearsome sight to see.
  19. Vulcan begat this monster, which spewed forth
  20. dark-fuming flames from his infernal throat,
  21. and vast his stature seemed. But time and tide
  22. brought to our prayers the advent of a god
  23. to help us at our need. For Hercules,
  24. divine avenger, came from laying low
  25. three-bodied Geryon, whose spoils he wore
  26. exultant, and with hands victorious drove
  27. the herd of monster bulls, which pastured free
  28. along our river-valley. Cacus gazed
  29. in a brute frenzy, and left not untried
  30. aught of bold crime or stratagem, but stole
  31. four fine bulls as they fed, and heifers four,
  32. all matchless; but, lest hoof-tracks point his way,
  33. he dragged them cave-wards by the tails, confusing
  34. the natural trail, and hid the stolen herd
  35. in his dark den; and not a mark or sign
  36. could guide the herdsmen to that cavern-door.
  37. But after, when Amphitryon's famous son,
  38. preparing to depart, would from the meads
  39. goad forth the full-fed herd, his lingering bulls
  40. roared loud, and by their lamentable cry
  41. filled grove and hills with clamor of farewell:
  42. one heifer from the mountain-cave lowed back
  43. in answer, so from her close-guarded stall
  44. foiling the monster's will. Then hadst thou seen
  45. the wrath of Hercules in frenzy blaze
  46. from his exasperate heart. His arms he seized,
  47. his club of knotted oak, and climbed full-speed
  48. the wind-swept hill. Now first our people saw
  49. Cacus in fear, with panic in his eyes.
  50. Swift to the black cave like a gale he flew,
  51. his feet by terror winged. Scarce had he passed
  52. the cavern door, and broken the big chains,
  53. and dropped the huge rock which was pendent there
  54. by Vulcan's well-wrought steel; scarce blocked and barred
  55. the guarded gate: when there Tirynthius stood,
  56. with heart aflame, surveying each approach,
  57. rolling this way and that his wrathful eyes,
  58. gnashing his teeth. Three times his ire surveyed
  59. the slope of Aventine; three times he stormed
  60. the rock-built gate in vain; and thrice withdrew
  61. to rest him in the vale. But high above
  62. a pointed peak arose, sheer face of rock
  63. on every side, which towered into view
  64. from the long ridge above the vaulted cave,
  65. fit haunt for birds of evil-boding wing.
  66. This peak, which leftward toward the river leaned,
  67. he smote upon its right—his utmost blow —
  68. breaking its bases Ioose; then suddenly
  69. thrust at it: as he thrust, the thunder-sound
  70. filled all the arching sky, the river's banks
  71. asunder leaped, and Tiber in alarm
  72. reversed his flowing wave. So Cacus' lair
  73. lay shelterless, and naked to the day
  74. the gloomy caverns of his vast abode
  75. stood open, deeply yawning, just as if
  76. the riven earth should crack, and open wide
  77. th' infernal world and fearful kingdoms pale,
  78. which gods abhor; and to the realms on high
  79. the measureless abyss should be laid bare,
  80. and pale ghosts shrink before the entering sun.
  81. Now upon Cacus, startled by the glare,
  82. caged in the rocks and howling horribly,
  83. Alcides hurled his weapons, raining down
  84. all sorts of deadly missiles—trunks of trees,
  85. and monstrous boulders from the mountain torn.
  86. But when the giant from his mortal strait
  87. no refuge knew, he blew from his foul jaws
  88. a storm of smoke—incredible to tell —
  89. and with thick darkness blinding every eye,
  90. concealed his cave, uprolling from below
  91. one pitch-black night of mingled gloom and fire.
  92. This would Alcides not endure, but leaped
  93. headlong across the flames, where densest hung
  94. the rolling smoke, and through the cavern surged
  95. a drifting and impenetrable cloud.
  96. With Cacus, who breathed unavailing flame,
  97. he grappled in the dark, locked limb with limb,
  98. and strangled him, till o'er the bloodless throat
  99. the starting eyeballs stared.Then Hercules
  100. burst wide the doorway of the sooty den,
  101. and unto Heaven and all the people showed
  102. the stolen cattle and the robber's crimes,
  103. and dragged forth by the feet the shapeless corpse
  104. of the foul monster slain. The people gazed
  105. insatiate on the grewsome eyes, the breast
  106. of bristling shag, the face both beast and man,
  107. and that fire-blasted throat whence breathed no more
  108. the extinguished flame. 'T is since that famous day
  109. we celebrate this feast, and glad of heart
  110. each generation keeps the holy time.
  111. Potitius began the worship due,
  112. and our Pinarian house is vowed to guard
  113. the rites of Hercules. An altar fair
  114. within this wood they raised; 't is called ‘the Great,’
  115. and Ara Maxima its name shall be.
  116. Come now, my warriors, and bind your brows
  117. with garlands worthy of the gift of Heaven.
  118. Lift high the cup in every thankful hand,
  119. and praise our people's god with plenteous wine.”
  120. He spoke; and of the poplar's changeful sheen,
  121. sacred to Hercules, wove him a wreath
  122. to shade his silvered brow. The sacred cup
  123. he raised in his right hand, while all the rest
  124. called on the gods and pure libation poured.
  1. Soon from the travelling heavens the western star
  2. glowed nearer, and Potitius led forth
  3. the priest-procession, girt in ancient guise
  4. with skins of beasts and carrying burning brands.
  5. new feasts are spread, and altars heaped anew
  6. with gifts and laden chargers. Then with song
  7. the Salian choir surrounds the blazing shrine,
  8. their foreheads wreathed with poplar. Here the youth,
  9. the elders yonder, in proud anthem sing
  10. the glory and the deeds of Hercules:
  11. how first he strangled with strong infant hand
  12. two serpents, Juno's plague; what cities proud,
  13. Troy and Oechalia, his famous war
  14. in pieces broke; what labors numberless
  15. as King Eurystheus' bondman he endured,
  16. by cruel Juno's will. “Thou, unsubdued,
  17. didst strike the twy-formed, cloud-bred centaurs down,
  18. Pholus and tall Hylaeus. Thou hast slain
  19. the Cretan horror, and the lion huge
  20. beneath the Nemean crag. At sight of thee
  21. the Stygian region quailed, and Cerberus,
  22. crouching o'er half-picked bones in gory cave.
  23. Nothing could bid thee fear. Typhoeus towered
  24. in his colossal Titan-panoply
  25. o'er thee in vain; nor did thy cunning fail
  26. when Lema's wonder-serpent round thee drew
  27. its multudinous head. Hail, Jove's true son!
  28. New glory to the gods above, come down,
  29. and these thine altars and thy people bless!”
  30. Such hymns they chanted, telling oft the tale
  31. of Cacus' cave and blasting breath of fire:
  32. while hills and sacred grove the note prolong.
  1. Such worship o'er, all take the homeward way
  2. back to the town. The hospitable King,
  3. though bowed with weight of years, kept at his side
  4. Aeneas and his son, and as they fared,
  5. with various discourse beguiled the way.
  6. Aeneas scanned with quick-admiring eyes
  7. the region wide, and lingered with delight
  8. now here, now there, inquiring eagerly
  9. of each proud monument of heroes gone.
  10. Then King Evander, he who builded first
  11. On Palatine, spoke thus: “These groves erewhile
  12. their native nymphs and fauns enjoyed, with men
  13. from trees engendered and stout heart of oak.
  14. Nor laws nor arts they knew; nor how to tame
  15. burls to the yoke, nor fill great barns with store
  16. and hoard the gathered grain; but rudely fared
  17. on wild fruits and such food as hunters find.
  18. Then Saturn from Olympian realms came down,
  19. in flight from Jove's dread arms, his sceptre lost,
  20. and he an exiled King. That savage race
  21. he gathered from the mountain slopes; and gave
  22. wise laws and statutes; so that latent land
  23. was Latium, ‘hid land’, where he hid so long.
  24. The golden centuries by legends told
  25. were under that good King, whose equal sway
  26. untroubled peace to all his peoples gave.
  27. But after slow decline arrived an age
  28. degenerate and of a darker hue,
  29. prone to insensate war and greed of gain.
  30. Then came Sicanian and Ausonian tribes,
  31. and oft the land of Saturn lost its name.
  32. New chieftains rose, and Thybris, giant King
  33. and violent, from whom th' Italians named
  34. the flooding Tiber, which was called no more
  35. the Albula, its true and ancient style.
  36. Myself, in exile from my fatherland
  37. sailing uncharted seas, was guided here
  38. by all-disposing Chance and iron laws
  39. of Destiny. With prophecy severe
  40. Carmentis, my nymph-mother, thrust me on,
  41. warned by Apollo's word.” He scarce had said,
  42. when near their path he showed an altar fair
  43. and the Carmental gate, where Romans see
  44. memorial of Carmentis, nymph divine,
  45. the prophetess of fate, who first foretold
  46. what honors on Aeneas' sons should fall
  47. and lordly Pallanteum, where they dwell.
  48. Next the vast grove was seen, where Romulus
  49. ordained inviolable sanctuary;
  50. then the Lupercal under its cold crag,
  51. Wolf-hill, where old Arcadians revered
  52. their wolf-god, the Lycaean Pan. Here too
  53. the grove of Argiletum, sacred name,
  54. where good Evander told the crime and death
  55. of Argus, his false guest. From this they climbed
  56. the steep Tarpeian hill, the Capitol,
  57. all gold to-day, but then a tangled wild
  58. of thorny woodland. Even then the place
  59. woke in the rustics a religious awe,
  60. and bade them fear and tremble at the view
  61. of that dread rock and grove. “This leafy wood,
  62. which crowns the hill-top, is the favored seat
  63. of some great god,” said he, “but of his name
  64. we know not surely. The Arcadians say
  65. jove's dread right hand here visibly appears
  66. to shake his aegis in the darkening storm,
  67. the clouds compelling. Yonder rise in view
  68. two strongholds with dismantled walls, which now
  69. are but a memory of great heroes gone:
  70. one father Janus built, and Saturn one;
  71. their names, Saturnia and Janiculum.”
  72. 'Mid such good parley to the house they came
  73. of King Evander, unadorned and plain,
  74. whence herds of browsing cattle could be seen
  75. ranging the Forum, and loud-bellowing
  76. in proud Carinae. As they entered there,
  77. “Behold,” said he, “the threshold that received
  78. Alcides in his triumph! This abode
  79. he made his own. Dare, O illustrious guest,
  80. to scorn the pomp of power. Shape thy soul
  81. to be a god's fit follower. Enter here,
  82. and free from pride our frugal welcome share.”
  83. So saying, 'neath his roof-tree scant and low
  84. he led the great Aeneas, offering him
  85. a couch of leaves with Libyan bear-skin spread.
  86. Now night drew near, enfolding the wide world
  87. in shadowy wings. But Venus, sore disturbed,
  88. vexed not unwisely her maternal breast,
  89. fearing Laurentum's menace and wild stir
  90. of obstinate revolt, and made her plea
  91. to Vulcan in their nuptial bower of gold,
  92. outbreathing in the music of her words
  93. celestial love: “When warring Argive kings
  94. brought ruin on Troy's sacred citadel
  95. and ramparts soon to sink in hostile flames,
  96. I asked not thee to help that hopeless woe,
  97. nor craved thy craft and power. For, dearest lord,
  98. I would not tax in vain shine arduous toil,
  99. though much to Priam's children I was bound,
  100. and oft to see Aeneas burdened sore
  101. I could but weep. But now by will of Jove
  102. he has found foothold in Rutulian lands.
  103. Therefore I come at last with lowly suit
  104. before a godhead I adore, and pray
  105. for gift of arms,—a mother for her son.
  106. Thou wert not unrelenting to the tears
  107. of Nereus' daughter or Tithonus' bride.
  108. Behold what tribes conspire, what cities strong
  109. behind barred gates now make the falchion keen
  110. to ruin and blot out both me and mine!”
  111. So spake the goddess, as her arms of snow
  112. around her hesitating spouse she threw
  113. in tender, close embrace. He suddenly
  114. knew the familiar fire, and o'er his frame
  115. its wonted ardor unresisted ran,
  116. swift as the glittering shaft of thunder cleaves
  117. the darkened air and on from cloud to cloud
  118. the rift of lightning runs. She, joyful wife;
  119. felt what her beauty and her guile could do;
  120. as, thralled by love unquenchable, her spouse
  121. thus answered fair: “Why wilt thou labor so
  122. with far-fetched pleas? my goddess, hast thou lost
  123. thy faith in me? Had such a prayer been shine,
  124. I could have armed the Teucrians. Neither Jove
  125. nor Destiny had grudged ten added years
  126. of life to Troy and Priam. If to-day
  127. thou hast a war in hand, and if thy heart
  128. determine so, I willingly engage
  129. to lend thee all my cunning; whatsoever
  130. molten alloy or welded iron can,
  131. whate'er my roaring forge and flames achieve,
  132. I offer thee. No more in anxious prayer
  133. distrust thy beauty's power.” So saying, he gave
  134. embrace of mutual desire, and found
  135. deep, peaceful sleep, on her fond heart reclined.
  1. Night's course half run, soon as the first repose
  2. had banished sleep,—what time some careful wife
  3. whose distaff and Minerva's humble toil
  4. must earn her bread, rekindling her warm hearth,
  5. adds a night-burden to her laboring day,
  6. and by the torch-light cheers her maidens on
  7. to their long tasks; that so her husband's bed
  8. she may in honor keep, and train to power
  9. her dear men-children—at such prime of morn,
  10. with not less eager mind the Lord of Fire
  11. fled his soft couch and to his forges tried.
  12. An island near Aeolian Lipara
  13. not far from a Sicilian headland lies,
  14. where smoking rocks precipitously tower
  15. above a vast vault, which the Cyclops' skill
  16. outhollowed large as Aetna's thunderous caves.
  17. There ring the smitten anvils, and the roof
  18. re-echoes, roaring loud. Chalybian ores
  19. hiss in the gloom, and from the furnace mouths
  20. puff the hot-panting fires. 'T is Vulcan's seat,
  21. and all that island is Vulcania.
  22. Thither descended now the god of fire
  23. from height of heaven. At their task were found
  24. the Cyclops in vast cavern forging steel,
  25. naked Pyracmon and gigantic-limbed
  26. Brontes and Steropes; beneath their blows
  27. a lightning-shaft, half-shaped, half-burnished lay,
  28. such as the Thunderer is wont to fling
  29. in numbers from the sky, but formless still.
  30. Three strands of whirling storm they wove with three
  31. of bursting cloud, and three did interfuse
  32. of ruddy-gleaming fires and winged winds;
  33. then fearful lightnings on the skilful forge
  34. they welded with loud horror, and with flames
  35. that bear swift wrath from Jove. Elsewhere a crew
  36. toiled at the chariot and winged wheel
  37. wherewith the war-god wakens from repose
  38. heroes and peopled cities. Others wrought
  39. the awful Aegis, herald of dismay,
  40. by angry Pallas worn; they burnished bright
  41. the golden serpent-scales and wreathing snakes,
  42. till from the corselet of the goddess glared
  43. the Gorgon's severed head and rolling eyes.
  44. “Cyclops of Aetna,” Vulcan cried, “have done!
  45. Leave ev'ry task unfinished, and receive
  46. my new command! Good armor must be forged
  47. for warrior brave. For this I need to use
  48. your utmost sinew and your swiftest hand,
  49. with all your master skill. No lingering now!”
  50. Swift the command, and swiftly they divide
  51. to each his portion, and united urge
  52. the common task. Forth fow the molten streams
  53. of brass and gold, and, melted in fierce fiame,
  54. the deeply-wounding steel like liquid flows.
  55. A mighty shield took shape, its single orb
  56. sufficient to withstand the gathered shock
  57. of all the Latin arms; for seven times
  58. they welded ring with ring. Some deftly ply
  59. the windy bellows, which receive and give
  60. the roaring blasts; some plunge in cooling pond
  61. the hissing metal, while the smithy floor
  62. groans with the anvil's weight, as side by side
  63. they lift their giant arms in numbered blows
  64. and roll with gripe of tongs the ponderous bars.
  1. While thus the Lemnian god his labor sped
  2. in far Aeolian isle, the cheerful morn
  3. with voice of swallows round his lowly eaves
  4. summoned Evander. From his couch arose
  5. the royal sire, and o'er his aged frame
  6. a tunic threw, tying beneath his feet
  7. the Tuscan sandals: an Arcadian sword,
  8. girt at his left, was over one shoulder slung,
  9. his cloak of panther trailing from behind.
  10. A pair of watch-dogs from the lofty door
  11. ran close, their lord attending, as he sought
  12. his guest Aeneas; for his princely soul
  13. remembered faithfully his former word,
  14. and promised gift. Aeneas with like mind
  15. was stirring early. King Evander's son
  16. Pallas was at his side; Achates too
  17. accompanied his friend. All these conjoin
  18. in hand-clasp and good-morrow, taking seats
  19. in midcourt of the house, and give the hour
  20. to converse unrestrained. First spoke the King:
  1. “Great leader of the Teucrians, while thy life
  2. in safety stands, I call not Trojan power
  3. vanquished or fallen. But to help thy war
  4. my small means match not thy redoubled name.
  5. Yon Tuscan river is my bound. That way
  6. Rutulia thrusts us hard and chafes our wall
  7. with loud, besieging arms. But I propose
  8. to league with thee a numerous array
  9. of kings and mighty tribes, which fortune strange
  10. now brings to thy defence. Thou comest here
  11. because the Fates intend. Not far from ours
  12. a city on an ancient rock is seen,
  13. Agylla, which a warlike Lydian clan
  14. built on the Tuscan hills. It prospered well
  15. for many a year, then under the proud yoke
  16. of King Mezentius it came and bore
  17. his cruel sway. Why tell the loathsome deeds
  18. and crimes unspeakable the despot wrought?
  19. May Heaven requite them on his impious head
  20. and on his children! For he used to chain
  21. dead men to living, hand on hand was laid
  22. and face on face,—torment incredible!
  23. Till, locked in blood-stained, horrible embrace,
  24. a lingering death they found. But at the last
  25. his people rose in furious despair,
  26. and while he blasphemously raged, assailed
  27. his life and throne, cut down his guards
  28. and fired his regal dwellings; he, the while,
  29. escaped immediate death and fied away
  30. to the Rutulian land, to find defence
  31. in Turnus hospitality. To-day
  32. Etruria, to righteous anger stirred,
  33. demands with urgent arms her guilty King.
  34. To their large host, Aeneas, I will give
  35. an added strength, thyself. For yonder shores
  36. re-echo with the tumult and the cry
  37. of ships in close array; their eager lords
  38. are clamoring for battle. But the song
  39. of the gray omen-giver thus declares
  40. their destiny: ‘O goodly princes born
  41. of old Maeonian lineage! Ye that are
  42. the bloom and glory of an ancient race,
  43. whom just occasions now and noble rage
  44. enflame against Mezentius your foe,
  45. it is decreed that yonder nation proud
  46. shall never submit to chiefs Italian-born.
  47. Seek ye a king from far!’ So in the field
  48. inert and fearful lies Etruria's force,
  49. disarmed by oracles. Their Tarchon sent
  50. envoys who bore a sceptre and a crown
  51. even to me, and prayed I should assume
  52. the sacred emblems of Etruria's king,
  53. and lead their host to war. But unto me
  54. cold, sluggish age, now barren and outworn,
  55. denies new kingdoms, and my slow-paced powers
  56. run to brave deeds no more. Nor could I urge
  57. my son, who by his Sabine mother's line
  58. is half Italian-born. Thyself art he,
  59. whose birth illustrious and manly prime
  60. fate favors and celestial powers approve.
  61. Therefore go forth, O bravest chief and King
  62. of Troy and Italy! To thee I give
  63. the hope and consolation of our throne,
  64. pallas, my son, and bid him find in thee
  65. a master and example, while he learns
  66. the soldier's arduous toil. With thy brave deeds
  67. let him familiar grow, and reverence thee
  68. with youthful love and honor. In his train
  69. two hundred horsemen of Arcadia,
  70. our choicest men-at-arms, shall ride; and he
  71. in his own name an equal band shall bring
  72. to follow only thee.” Such the discourse.
  73. With meditative brows and downcast eyes
  74. Aeneas and Achates, sad at heart,
  75. mused on unnumbered perils yet to come.
  76. But out of cloudless sky Cythera's Queen
  77. gave sudden signal: from th' ethereal dome
  78. a thunder-peal and flash of quivering fire
  79. tumultuous broke, as if the world would fall,
  80. and bellowing Tuscan trumpets shook the air.
  81. All eyes look up. Again and yet again
  82. crashed the terrible din, and where the sky
  83. looked clearest hung a visionary cloud,
  84. whence through the brightness blazed resounding arms.
  85. All hearts stood still. But Troy's heroic son
  86. knew that his mother in the skies redeemed
  87. her pledge in sound of thunder: so he cried,
  88. “Seek not, my friend, seek not thyself to read
  89. the meaning of the omen. 'T is to me
  90. Olympus calls. My goddess-mother gave
  91. long since her promise of a heavenly sign
  92. if war should burst; and that her power would bring
  93. a panoply from Vulcan through the air,
  94. to help us at our need. Alas, what deaths
  95. over Laurentum's ill-starred host impend!
  96. O Turnus, what a reckoning thou shalt pay
  97. to me in arms! O Tiber, in thy wave
  98. what helms and shields and mighty soldiers slain
  99. shall in confusion roll! Yea, let them lead
  100. their lines to battle, and our league abjure!”
  1. He said: and from the lofty throne uprose.
  2. Straightway he roused anew the slumbering fire
  3. sacred to Hercules, and glad at heart
  4. adored, as yesterday, the household gods
  5. revered by good Evander, at whose side
  6. the Trojan company made sacrifice
  7. of chosen lambs, with fitting rites and true.
  8. Then to his ships he tried him, and rejoined
  9. his trusty followers, of whom he took
  10. the best for valor known, to lend him aid
  11. in deeds of war. Others he bade return
  12. down stream in easy course, and tidings bear
  13. to young Ascanius of the new event,
  14. and of his father. Horses then were brought
  15. for all the Teucrians to Etruria bound;
  16. and for Aeneas one of rarest breed,
  17. o'er whom a tawny robe descended low,
  18. of lion-skin, with claws of gleaming gold.
  1. Noised swiftly through the little town it flies
  2. that to the precinct of the Tuscan King
  3. armed horsemen speed. Pale mothers in great fear
  4. unceasing pray; for panic closely runs
  5. in danger's steps; the war-god drawing nigh
  6. looms larger; and good sire Evander now
  7. clings to the hand of his departing son
  8. and, weeping without stay, makes sad farewell:
  9. “O, that great Jove would give me once again
  10. my vanished years! O, if such man I were,
  11. as when beneath Praeneste's wall I slew
  12. the front ranks of her sons, and burned for spoil
  13. their gathered shields on my triumph day;
  14. or when this right hand hurled king Erulus
  15. to shades below, though—terrible to tell —
  16. Feronia bore him with three lives, that thrice
  17. he might arise from deadly strife o'erthrown,
  18. and thrice be slain—yet all these lives took I,
  19. and of his arms despoiled him o'er and o'er:
  20. not now, sweet son (if such lost might were mine),
  21. should I from thy beloved embrace be torn;
  22. nor could Mezentius with insulting sword
  23. do murder in my sight and make my land
  24. depopulate and forlorn. O gods in Heaven,
  25. and chiefly thou whom all the gods obey,
  26. have pity, Jove, upon Arcadia's King,
  27. and hear a father's prayer: if your intent
  28. be for my Pallas a defence secure,
  29. if it be writ that long as I shall live,
  30. my eyes may see him, and my arms enfold,
  31. I pray for life, and all its ills I bear.
  32. But if some curse, too dark to tell, impend
  33. from thee, O Fortune blind! I pray thee break
  34. my thread of miserable life to-day;
  35. to-day, while fear still doubts and hope still smiles
  36. on the unknown to-morrow, as I hold
  37. thee to my bosom, dearest child, who art
  38. my last and only joy; to-day, before
  39. th' intolerable tidings smite my ears.”
  40. Such grief the royal father's heart outpoured
  41. at this last parting; the strong arms of slaves
  42. lifted him, fallen in swoon, and bore him home.
  1. Now forth beneath the wide-swung city-gates
  2. the mounted squadron poured; Aeneas rode,
  3. companioned of Achates, in the van;
  4. then other lords of Troy. There Pallas shone
  5. conspicuous in the midmost line, with cloak
  6. and blazoned arms, as when the Morning-star
  7. (To Venus dearest of all orbs that burn),
  8. out of his lucent bath in ocean wave
  9. lifts to the skies his countenance divine,
  10. and melts the shadows of the night away.
  11. Upon the ramparts trembling matrons stand
  12. and follow with dimmed eyes the dusty cloud
  13. whence gleam the brazen arms. The warriors ride
  14. straight on through brake and fell, the nearest way;
  15. loud ring the war-cries, and in martial line
  16. the pounding hoof-beats shake the crumbling ground.
  17. By Caere's cold flood lies an ample grove
  18. revered from age to age. The hollowing hills
  19. enclasp it in wide circles of dark fir,
  20. and the Pelasgians, so the legends tell,
  21. primaeval settlers of the Latin plains,
  22. called it the haunt of Silvan, kindly god
  23. of flocks and fields, and honoring the grove
  24. gave it a festal day. Hard by this spot
  25. had Tarchon with the Tuscans fortified
  26. his bivouac, and from the heights afar
  27. his legions could be seen in wide array
  28. outstretching through the plain. To meet them there
  29. Aeneas and his veteran chivalry
  30. made sure advance, and found repose at eve
  31. for warrior travel-worn and fainting steed.
  1. But now athwart the darkening air of heaven
  2. came Venus gleaming bright, to bring her son
  3. the gifts divine. In deep, sequestered vale
  4. she found him by a cooling rill retired,
  5. and hailed him thus: “Behold the promised gift,
  6. by craft and power of my Olympian spouse
  7. made perfect, that my son need never fear
  8. Laurentum's haughty host, nor to provoke
  9. fierce Turnus to the fray.” Cythera's Queen
  10. so saying, embraced her son, and hung the arms,
  11. all glittering, on an oak that stood thereby.
  12. The hero, with exultant heart and proud,
  13. gazing unwearied at his mother's gift,
  14. surveys them close, and poises in his hands
  15. the helmet's dreadful crest and glancing flame,
  16. the sword death-dealing, and the corselet strong,
  17. impenetrable brass, blood-red and large,
  18. like some dark-lowering, purple cloud that gleams
  19. beneath the smiting sun and flashes far
  20. its answering ray; and burnished greaves were there,
  21. fine gold and amber; then the spear and shield —
  22. the shield—of which the blazonry divine
  23. exceeds all power to tell. Thereon were seen
  24. Italia's story and triumphant Rome,
  25. wrought by the Lord of Fire, who was not blind
  26. to lore inspired and prophesying song,
  27. fore-reading things to come. He pictured there
  28. Iulus' destined line of glorious sons
  29. marshalled for many a war. In cavern green,
  30. haunt of the war-god, lay the mother-wolf;
  31. the twin boy-sucklings at her udders played,
  32. nor feared such nurse; with long neck backward thrown
  33. she fondled each, and shaped with busy tongue
  34. their bodies fair. Near these were pictured well
  35. the walls of Rome and ravished Sabine wives
  36. in the thronged theatre violently seized,
  37. when the great games were done; then, sudden war
  38. of Romulus against the Cures grim
  39. and hoary Tatius; next, the end of strife
  40. between the rival kings, who stood in arms
  41. before Jove's sacred altar, cup in hand,
  42. and swore a compact o'er the slaughtered swine.
  43. Hard by, behold, the whirling chariots tore
  44. Mettus asunder (would thou hadst been true,
  45. false Alban, to thy vow!); and Tullus trailed
  46. the traitor's mangled corse along the hills,
  47. the wild thorn dripping gore. Porsenna, next,
  48. sent to revolted Rome his proud command
  49. to take her Tarquin back, and with strong siege
  50. assailed the city's wall; while unsubdued
  51. Aeneas' sons took arms in freedom's name.
  52. there too the semblance of the frustrate King,
  53. a semblance of his wrath and menace vain,
  54. when Cocles broke the bridge, and Cloelia burst
  55. her captive bonds and swam the Tiber's wave.
  56. Lo, on the steep Tarpeian citadel
  57. stood Manlius at the sacred doors of Jove,
  58. holding the capitol, whereon was seen
  59. the fresh-thatched house of Romulus the King.
  60. There, too, all silver, through arcade of gold
  61. fluttered the goose, whose monitory call
  62. revealed the foeman at the gate: outside
  63. besieging Gauls the thorny pathway climbed,
  64. ambushed in shadow and the friendly dark
  65. of night without a star; their flowing hair
  66. was golden, and their every vesture gold;
  67. their cloaks were glittering plaid; each milk-white neck
  68. bore circlet of bright gold; in each man's hand
  69. two Alpine javelins gleamed, and for defence
  70. long shields the wild northern warriors bore.
  71. There, graven cunningly, the Salian choir
  72. went leaping, and in Lupercalian feast
  73. the naked striplings ran; while others, crowned
  74. with peaked cap, bore shields that fell from heaven;
  75. and, bearing into Rome their emblems old,
  76. chaste priestesses on soft-strewn litters passed.
  77. But far from these th' artificer divine
  78. had wrought a Tartarus, the dreadful doors
  79. of Pluto, and the chastisements of sin;
  80. swung o'er a threatening precipice, was seen
  81. thy trembling form, O Catiline, in fear
  82. of fury-faces nigh: and distant far
  83. th' assemblies of the righteous, in whose midst
  84. was Cato, giving judgment and decree.
  1. Encircled by these pictures ran the waves
  2. of vast, unrestful seas in flowing gold,
  3. where seemed along the azure crests to fly
  4. the hoary foam, and in a silver ring
  5. the tails of swift, emerging dolphins lashed
  6. the waters bright, and clove the tumbling brine.
  7. For the shield's central glory could be seen
  8. great fleets of brazen galleys, and the fight
  9. at Actium; where, ablaze with war's array,
  10. Leucate's peak glowed o'er the golden tide.
  11. Caesar Augustus led Italia's sons
  12. to battle: at his side concordant moved
  13. Senate and Roman People, with their gods
  14. of hearth and home, and all Olympian Powers.
  15. Uplifted on his ship he stands; his brows
  16. beneath a double glory smile, and bright
  17. over his forehead beams the Julian star.
  18. in neighboring region great Agrippa leads,
  19. by favor of fair winds and friendly Heaven,
  20. his squadron forth: upon his brows he wears
  21. the peerless emblem of his rostral crown.
  22. Opposing, in barbaric splendor shine
  23. the arms of Antony: in victor's garb
  24. from nations in the land of morn he rides,
  25. and from the Red Sea, bringing in his train
  26. Egypt and Syria, utmost Bactria's horde,
  27. and last—O shameless!—his Egyptian spouse.
  28. All to the fight make haste; the slanted oars
  29. and triple beaks of brass uptear the waves
  30. to angry foam, as to the deep they speed
  31. like hills on hill-tops hurled, or Cyclades
  32. drifting and clashing in the sea: so vast
  33. that shock of castled ships and mighty men!
  34. Swift, arrowy steel and balls of blazing tow
  35. rain o'er the waters, till the sea-god's world
  36. flows red with slaughter. In the midst, the Queen,
  37. sounding her native timbrel, wildly calls
  38. her minions to the fight, nor yet can see
  39. two fatal asps behind. Her monster-gods,
  40. barking Anubis, and his mongrel crew,
  41. on Neptune, Venus, and Minerva fling
  42. their impious arms; the face of angry Mars,
  43. carved out of iron, in the centre frowns,
  44. grim Furies fill the air; Discordia strides
  45. in rent robe, mad with joy; and at her side,
  46. bellona waves her sanguinary scourge.
  47. There Actian Apollo watched the war,
  48. and o'er it stretched his bow; which when they knew,
  49. Egyptian, Arab, and swart Indian slave,
  50. and all the sons of Saba fled away
  51. in terror of his arm. The vanquished Queen
  52. made prayer to all the winds, and more and more
  53. flung out the swelling sail: on wind-swept wave
  54. she fled through dead and dying; her white brow
  55. the Lord of Fire had cunningly portrayed
  56. blanched with approaching doom. Beyond her lay
  57. the large-limbed picture of the mournful Nile,
  58. who from his bosom spread his garments wide,
  59. and offered refuge in his sheltering streams
  60. and broad, blue breast, to all her fallen power.
  61. But Caesar in his triple triumph passed
  62. the gates of Rome, and gave Italia's gods,
  63. for grateful offering and immortal praise,
  64. three hundred temples; all the city streets
  65. with game and revel and applauding song
  66. rang loud; in all the temples altars burned
  67. and Roman matrons prayed; the slaughtered herds
  68. strewed well the sacred ground. The hero, throned
  69. at snow-white marble threshold of the fane
  70. to radiant Phoebus, views the gift and spoil
  71. the nations bring, and on the portals proud
  72. hangs a perpetual garland: in long file
  73. the vanquished peoples pass, of alien tongues,
  74. of arms and vesture strange. Here Vulcan showed
  75. ungirdled Afric chiefs and Nomads bold,
  76. Gelonian bowmen, men of Caria,
  77. and Leleges. Euphrates seemed to flow
  78. with humbler wave; the world's remotest men,
  79. Morini came, with double-horned Rhine,
  80. and Dahae, little wont to bend the knee,
  81. and swift Araxes, for a bridge too proud.
  1. Such was the blazoned shield his mother gave
  2. from Vulcan's forge; which with astonished eyes
  3. Aeneas viewed, and scanned with joyful mind
  4. such shadows of an unknown age to be;
  5. then on his shoulder for a burden bore
  6. the destined mighty deeds of all his sons.