THE COMING OF AENEAS TO CARTHAGE
I sing of arms and the man who of old from the coasts of Troy came, an exile of fate, to Italy and the shore of Lavinium; hard driven on land and on the deep by the violence of heaven, for cruel Juno's unforgetful anger, and hard bestead in war also, ere he might found a city and carry his gods into Latium; from whom is the Latin race, the lords of Alba, and the stately city Rome.
Muse, tell me why, for what attaint of her deity, or in what vexation, did the Queen of heaven drive one so excellent in goodness to circle through so many afflictions, to face so many toils? Is anger so fierce in celestial spirits?
There was a city of ancient days that Tyrian settlers dwelt in, Carthage, over against Italy and the Tiber mouths afar; rich of store, and mighty in war's fierce pursuits; wherein, they say, alone beyond all other lands had Juno her seat, and held Samos itself less dear. Here was her armour, here her chariot; even now, if fate permit, the goddess strives to nurture it for queen of the nations. Nevertheless she had heard a race was issuing of the blood of Troy, which sometime should overthrow her Tyrian citadel; from it should come a people, lord of lands and tyrannous in war, the destroyer of Libya: so rolled the destinies. Fearful of that, the daughter of Saturn, the old war in her remembrance that she fought at Troy for her beloved Argos long ago,—nor had the springs of her anger nor the bitterness of her vexation yet gone out of mind: deep stored in her soul lies the judgment of Paris, the insult of her slighted beauty, the hated race and the dignities of ravished Ganymede; fired with this also, she tossed all over ocean the Trojan remnant left of the Greek host and merciless Achilles, and held them afar from Latium; and many a year were they wandering driven of fate around all the seas. Such work was it to found the Roman people.
Hardly out of sight of the land of Sicily did they set their sails to sea, and merrily upturned the salt foam with brazen prow, when Juno, the undying wound still deep in her heart, thus broke out alone:
'Am I then to abandon my baffled purpose, powerless to keep the Teucrian king from Italy? and because fate forbids me? Could Pallas lay the Argive fleet in ashes, and sink the Argives in the sea, for one man's guilt, mad Oïlean Ajax? Her hand darted Jove's flying fire from the clouds, scattered their ships, upturned the seas in tempest; him, his pierced breast yet breathing forth the flame, she caught in a whirlwind and impaled on a spike of rock. But I, who move queen among immortals, I sister and wife of Jove, wage warfare all these years with a single people; and is there any who still adores Juno's divinity, or will kneel to lay sacrifice on her altars?'
Such thoughts inly revolving in her kindled bosom, the goddess reaches Aeolia, the home of storm-clouds, the land laden with furious southern gales. Here in a desolate cavern Aeolus keeps under royal dominion and yokes in dungeon fetters the struggling winds and loud storms. They with mighty moan rage indignant round their mountain barriers. In his lofty citadel Aeolus sits sceptred, assuages their temper and soothes their rage; else would they carry with them seas and lands, and the depth of heaven, and sweep them through space in their flying course. But, fearful of this, the lord omnipotent hath hidden them in caverned gloom, and laid a mountain mass high over them, and appointed them a ruler, who should know by certain law to strain and slacken the reins at command. To him now Juno spoke thus in suppliant accents:
'Aeolus—for to thee hath the father of gods and king of men given the wind that lulls and that lifts the waves—a people mine enemy sails the Tyrrhene sea, carrying into Italy the conquered gods of their Ilian home. Rouse thy winds to fury, and overwhelm their sinking vessels, or drive them asunder and strew ocean with their bodies. Mine are twice seven nymphs of passing loveliness; her who of them all is most excellent in beauty, Deïopea, I will unite to thee in wedlock to be thine for ever; that for this thy service she may fulfil all her years at thy side, and make thee father of a beautiful race.'
Aeolus thus returned: 'Thine, O queen, the task to search whereto thou hast desire; for me it is right to do thy bidding. From thee have I this poor kingdom, from thee my sceptre and Jove's grace; thou dost grant me to take my seat at the feasts of the gods, and makest me sovereign over clouds and storms.'
Even with these words, turning his spear, he struck the side of the hollow hill, and the winds, as in banded array, pour where passage is given them, and cover earth with eddying blasts. East wind and west wind together, and the gusty south-wester, falling prone on the sea, stir it up from its lowest chambers, and roll vast billows to the shore. Behind rises shouting of men and whistling of cordage. In a moment clouds blot sky and daylight from the Teucrians' eyes; black night broods over the deep. Pole thunders to pole, and the air quivers with incessant flashes; all menaces them with instant death. Straightway Aeneas' frame grows unnerved and chill, and stretching either hand to heaven, he cries thus aloud: 'Ah, thrice and four times happy they who found their doom under high Troy town before their fathers' faces! Ah, son of Tydeus, bravest of the Grecian race, that I could not have fallen on the Ilian plains, and gasped out this my life beneath thine hand! where under the spear of Aeacides lies fierce Hector, lies mighty Sarpedon; where Simoïs so often bore beneath his whirling wave shields and helmets and brave bodies of men.'
As the cry leaves his lips, a gust of the shrill north strikes full on the sail and raises the waves up to heaven. The oars are snapped; the prow swings away and gives her side to the waves; down in a heap comes a broken mountain of water. These hang on the wave's ridge; to these the yawning billow shows ground amid the surge, where the sea churns with sand. Three ships the south wind catches and hurls on hidden rocks, rocks amid the waves which Italians call the Altars, a vast reef banking the sea. Three the east forces from the deep into shallows and quicksands, piteous to see, dashes on shoals and girdles with a sandbank. One, wherein loyal Orontes and his Lycians rode, before their lord's eyes a vast sea descending strikes astern. The helmsman is dashed away and rolled forward headlong; her as she lies the billow sends spinning thrice round with it, and engulfs in the swift whirl. Scattered swimmers appear in the vast eddy, armour of men, timbers and Trojan treasure amid the water. Ere now the stout ship of Ilioneus, ere now of brave Achates, and she wherein Abas rode, and she wherein aged Aletes, have yielded to the storm; through the shaken fastenings of their sides they all draw in the deadly water, and their opening seams give way.
Meanwhile Neptune discerned with astonishment the loud roaring of the vexed sea, the tempest let loose from prison, and the still water boiling up from its depths, and lifting his head calm above the waves, looked forth across the deep. He sees all ocean strewn with Aeneas' fleet, the Trojans overwhelmed by the waves and the ruining heaven. Juno's guile and wrath lay clear to her brother's eye; east wind and west he calls before him, and thereon speaks thus:
'Stand you then so sure in your confidence of birth? Careless, O winds, of my deity, dare you confound sky and earth, and raise so huge a coil? you whom I—But better to still the aroused waves; for a second sin you shall pay me another penalty. Speed your flight, and say this to your king: not to him but to me was allotted the stern trident of ocean empire. His fastness is on the monstrous rocks where thou and thine, east wind, dwell: there let Aeolus glory in his palace and reign over the barred prison of his winds.'
Thus he speaks, and ere the words are done he soothes the swollen seas, chases away the gathered clouds, and restores the sunlight. Cymothoë and Triton together push the ships strongly off the sharp reef; himself he eases them with his trident, channels the vast quicksands, and assuages the sea, gliding on light wheels along the water. Even as when oft in a throng of people strife hath risen, and the base multitude rage in their minds, and now brands and stones are flying; madness lends arms; then if perchance they catch sight of one reverend for goodness and service, they are silent and stand by with attentive ear; he with speech sways their temper and soothes their breasts; even so hath fallen all the thunder of ocean, when riding forward beneath a cloudless sky the lord of the sea wheels his coursers and lets his gliding chariot fly with loosened rein.
The outworn Aeneadae hasten to run for the nearest shore, and turn to the coast of Libya. There lies a spot deep withdrawn; an island forms a harbour with outstretched sides, whereon all the waves break from the open sea and part into the hollows of the bay. On this side and that enormous cliffs rise threatening heaven, and twin crags beneath whose crest the sheltered water lies wide and calm; above hangs a background of flickering forest, and the dark shade of rustling groves. Beneath the seaward brow is a rock-hung cavern, within it fresh springs and seats in the living stone, a haunt of nymphs; where tired ships need no fetters to hold nor anchor to fasten them with crooked bite. Here with seven sail gathered of all his company Aeneas enters; and disembarking on the land of their desire the Trojans gain the chosen beach, and set their feet dripping with brine upon the shore. At once Achates struck a spark from the flint and caught the fire on leaves, and laying dry fuel round kindled it into flame. Then, weary of fortune, they fetch out corn spoiled by the sea and weapons of corn-dressing, and begin to parch over the fire and bruise in stones the grain they had rescued.
Meanwhile Aeneas scales the crag, and seeks the whole view wide over ocean, if he may see aught of Antheus storm-tossed with his Phrygian galleys, aught of Capys or of Caïcus' armour high astern. Ship in sight is none; three stags he espies straying on the shore; behind whole herds follow, and graze in long train across the valley. Stopping short, he snatched up a bow and swift arrows, the arms trusty Achates was carrying; and first the leaders, their stately heads high with branching antlers, then the common herd fall to his hand, as he drives them with his shafts in a broken crowd through the leafy woods. Nor stays he till seven great victims are stretched on the sod, fulfilling the number of his ships. Thence he seeks the harbour and parts them among all his company. The casks of wine that good Acestes had filled on the Trinacrian beach, the hero's gift at their departure, he thereafter shares, and calms with speech their sorrowing hearts:
'O comrades, for not now nor aforetime are we ignorant of ill, O tried by heavier fortunes, unto this last likewise will God appoint an end. The fury of Scylla and the roaring recesses of her crags you have been anigh; the rocks of the Cyclops you have trodden. Recall your courage, put dull fear away. This too sometime we shall haply remember with delight. Through chequered fortunes, through many perilous ways, we steer for Latium, where destiny points us a quiet home. There the realm of Troy may rise again unforbidden. Keep heart, and endure till prosperous fortune come.'
Such words he utters, and sick with deep distress he feigns hope on his face, and keeps his anguish hidden deep in his breast. The others set to the spoil they are to feast upon, tear chine from ribs and lay bare the flesh; some cut it into pieces and pierce it still quivering with spits; others plant cauldrons on the beach and feed them with flame. Then they repair their strength with food, and lying along the grass take their fill of old wine and fat venison. After hunger is driven from the banquet, and the board cleared, they talk with lingering regret of their lost companions, swaying between hope and fear, whether they may believe them yet alive, or now in their last agony and deaf to mortal call. Most does good Aeneas inly wail the loss now of valiant Orontes, now of Amycus, the cruel doom of Lycus, of brave Gyas, and brave Cloanthus. And now they ceased; when from the height of air Jupiter looked down on the sail-winged sea and outspread lands, the shores and broad countries, and looking stood on the cope of heaven, and cast down his eyes on the realm of Libya. To him thus troubled at heart Venus, her bright eyes brimming with tears, sorrowfully speaks:
'O thou who dost sway mortal and immortal things with eternal command and the terror of thy thunderbolt, how can my Aeneas have transgressed so grievously against thee? how his Trojans? on whom, after so many deaths outgone, all the world is barred for Italy's sake. From them sometime in the rolling years the Romans were to arise indeed; from them were to be rulers who, renewing the blood of Teucer, should hold sea and land in universal lordship. This thou didst promise: why, O father, is thy decree reversed? This was my solace for the wretched ruin of sunken Troy, doom balanced against doom. Now so many woes are spent, and the same fortune still pursues them; Lord and King, what limit dost thou set to their agony? Antenor could elude the encircling Achaeans, could thread in safety the Illyrian bays and inmost realms of the Liburnians, could climb Timavus' source, whence through nine mouths pours the bursting tide amid dreary moans of the mountain, and covers the fields with hoarse waters. Yet here did he set Patavium town, a dwelling-place for his Teucrians, gave his name to a nation and hung up the armour of Troy; now settled in peace, he rests and is in quiet. We, thy children, we whom thou beckonest to the heights of heaven, our fleet miserably cast away for a single enemy's anger, are betrayed and severed far from the Italian coasts. Is this the reward of goodness? Is it thus thou dost restore our throne?'
Smiling on her with that look which clears sky and storms, the parent of men and gods lightly kissed his daughter's lips; then answered thus:
'Spare thy fear, Cytherean; thy people's destiny abides unshaken. Thine eyes shall see the city Lavinium, their promised home; thou shalt exalt to the starry heaven thy noble Aeneas; nor is my decree reversed. He thou lovest (for I will speak, since this care keeps torturing thee, and will unroll further the secret records of fate) shall wage a great war in Italy, and crush warrior nations; he shall appoint his people a law and a city; till the third summer see him reigning in Latium, and three winters' camps pass over the conquered Rutulians. But the boy Ascanius, whose surname is now Iülus—Ilus he was while the Ilian state stood sovereign—thirty great circles of rolling months shall he fulfil in government; he shall carry the kingdom from its fastness in Lavinium, and make a strong fortress of Alba the Long. Here the full space of thrice an hundred years shall the kingdom endure under the race of Hector's kin, till the royal priestess Ilia from Mars' embrace shall give birth to a twin progeny. Thence shall Romulus, gay in the tawny hide of the she-wolf that nursed him, take up their line, and name them Romans after his own name. I appoint to these neither period nor boundary of empire: I have given them dominion without end. Nay, harsh Juno, who in her fear now troubles earth and sea and sky, shall change to better counsels, and with me shall cherish the lords of the world, the gowned race of Rome. Thus is it willed. A day will come in the lapse of cycles, when the house of Assaracus shall lay Phthia and famed Mycenae in bondage, and reign over conquered Argos. From the fair line of Troy a Caesar shall arise, who shall limit his empire with ocean, his glory with the firmament, Julius, inheritor of great Iülus' name. Him one day, thy care done, thou shalt welcome to heaven loaded with Eastern spoils; to him too shall vows be addressed. Then shall war cease, and the iron ages soften. Hoar Faith and Vesta, Quirinus and Remus brothers again, shall deliver statutes. The dreadful steel-riveted gates of war shall be shut fast; on murderous weapons the inhuman Fury, his hands bound behind him with an hundred fetters of brass, shall sit within, shrieking with terrible blood-stained lips.'
So speaking, he sends Maia's son down from above, that the land and towers of Carthage, the new town, may receive the Trojans with open welcome; lest Dido, ignorant of doom, might debar them her land. Flying through the depth of air on winged oarage, the fleet messenger alights on the Libyan coasts. At once he does his bidding; at once, for a god willed it, the Phoenicians allay their haughty temper; the queen above all takes to herself grace and compassion towards the Teucrians.
But good Aeneas, nightlong revolving many and many a thing, issues forth, so soon as bountiful light is given, to explore the strange country; to what coasts the wind has borne him, who are their habitants, men or wild beasts, for all he sees is wilderness; this he resolves to search, and bring back the certainty to his comrades. The fleet he hides close in embosoming groves beneath a caverned rock, amid shivering shadow of the woodland; himself, Achates alone following, he strides forward, clenching in his hand two broad-headed spears. And amid the forest his mother crossed his way, wearing the face and raiment of a maiden, the arms of a maiden of Sparta, or like Harpalyce of Thrace when she tires her coursers and outstrips the winged speed of Hebrus in her flight. For huntress fashion had she slung the ready bow from her shoulder, and left her blown tresses free, bared her knee, and knotted together her garments' flowing folds. 'Ha! my men,' she begins, 'shew me if haply you have seen a sister of mine straying here girt with quiver and a lynx's dappled fell, or pressing with shouts on the track of a foaming boar.'
Thus Venus, and Venus' son answering thus began:
'Sound nor sight have I had of sister of thine, O maiden unnamed; for thy face is not mortal, nor thy voice of human tone; O goddess assuredly! sister of Phoebus perchance, or one of the nymphs' blood? Be thou gracious, whoso thou art, and lighten this toil of ours; deign to instruct us beneath what skies, on what coast of the world, we are thrown. Driven hither by wind and desolate waves, we wander in a strange land among unknown men. Many a sacrifice shall fall by our hand before thine altars.'
Then Venus: 'Nay, to no such offerings do I aspire. Tyrian maidens are wont ever to wear the quiver, to tie the purple buskin high above their ankle. Punic is the realm thou seest, Tyrian the people, and the city of Agenor's kin; but their borders are Libyan, a race unassailable in war. Dido sways the sceptre, who flying her brother set sail from the Tyrian town. Long is the tale of crime, long and intricate; but I will briefly follow its argument. Her husband was Sychaeus, wealthiest in lands of the Phoenicians, and loved of her with ill-fated passion; to whom with virgin rites her father had given her maidenhood in wedlock. But the kingdom of Tyre was in her brother Pygmalion's hands, a monster of guilt unparalleled. Between these madness came; the unnatural brother, blind with lust of gold, and reckless of his sister's love, lays Sychaeus low before the altars with stealthy unsuspected weapon; and for long he hid the deed, and by many a crafty pretence cheated her love-sickness with hollow hope. But in slumber came the very ghost of her unburied husband; lifting up a face pale in wonderful wise, he exposed the merciless altars and his breast stabbed through with steel, and unwove all the blind web of household guilt. Then he counsels hasty flight out of the country, and to aid her passage discloses treasures long hidden underground, an untold mass of silver and gold. Stirred thereby, Dido gathered a company for flight. All assemble in whom hatred of the tyrant was relentless or fear keen; they seize on ships that chanced to lie ready, and load them with the gold. Pygmalion's hoarded wealth is borne overseas; a woman leads the work. They came at last to the land where thou wilt descry a city now great, New Carthage, and her rising citadel, and bought ground, called thence Byrsa, as much as a bull's hide would encircle. But who, I pray, are you, or from what coasts come, or whither hold you your way?'
At her question he, sighing and drawing speech deep from his breast, thus replied:
'Ah goddess, should I go on retracing from the fountain head, were time free to hear the history of our woes, sooner would the evening star lay day asleep in the closed gates of heaven. Us, as from ancient Troy (if the name of Troy hath haply passed through your ears) we sailed over alien seas, the tempest at his own wild will hath driven on the Libyan coast. I am Aeneas the good, who carry in my fleet the household gods I rescued from the enemy; my fame is known high in heaven. I seek Italy my country, my kin of Jove's supreme blood. With twenty sail did I climb the Phrygian sea; oracular tokens led me on; my goddess mother pointed the way; scarce seven survive the shattering of wave and wind. Myself unknown, destitute, driven from Europe and Asia, I wander over the Libyan wilderness.'
But staying longer complaint, Venus thus broke in on his half-told sorrows:
'Whoso thou art, not hated I think of the immortals dost thou draw the breath of life, who hast reached the Tyrian city. Only go on, and betake thee hence to the courts of the queen. For I declare to thee thy comrades are restored, thy fleet driven back into safety by the shifted northern gales, except my parents were pretenders, and unavailing the augury they taught me. Behold these twelve swans in joyous line, whom, stooping from the tract of heaven, the bird of Jove fluttered over the open sky; now in long train they seem either to take the ground or already to look down on the ground they took. As they again disport with clapping wings, and utter their notes as they circle the sky in company, even so do these ships and crews of thine either lie fast in harbour or glide under full sail into the harbour mouth. Only go on, and turn thy steps where the pathway leads thee.'
Speaking she turned away, and her neck shone roseate, her immortal tresses breathed the fragrance of deity; her raiment fell flowing down to her feet, and the godhead was manifest in her tread. He knew her for his mother, and with this cry pursued her flight: 'Thou also merciless! Why mockest thou thy son so often in feigned likeness? Why is it forbidden to clasp hand in hand, to hear and utter true speech?' Thus reproaching her he bends his steps towards the city. But Venus girt them in their going with dull mist, and shed round them a deep divine clothing of cloud, that none might see them, none touch them, or work delay, or ask wherefore they came. Herself she speeds through the sky to Paphos, and joyfully revisits her habitation, where the temple and its hundred altars steam with Sabaean incense, and are fresh with fragrance of chaplets in her worship.
They meantime have hasted along where the pathway points, and now were climbing the hill which hangs enormous over the city, and looks down on its facing towers. Aeneas marvels at the mass of building, pastoral huts once of old, marvels at the gateways and clatter of the pavements. The Tyrians are hot at work to trace the walls, to rear the citadel, and roll up great stones by hand, or to choose a spot for their dwelling and enclose it with a furrow. They ordain justice and magistrates, and the august senate. Here some are digging harbours, here others lay the deep foundations of their theatre, and hew out of the cliff vast columns, the lofty ornaments of the stage to be: even as bees when summer is fresh over the flowery country ply their task beneath the sun, when they lead forth their nation's grown brood, or when they press the liquid honey and strain their cells with nectarous sweets, or relieve the loaded incomers, or in banded array drive the idle herd of drones far from their folds; they swarm over their work, and the odorous honey smells sweet of thyme. 'Happy they whose city already rises!' cries Aeneas, looking on the town roofs below. Girt in the cloud he passes amid them, wonderful to tell, and mingling with the throng is descried of none.
In the heart of the town was a grove deep with luxuriant shade, wherein first the Phoenicians, buffeted by wave and whirlwind, dug up the token Queen Juno had appointed, the head of a war horse: thereby was their race to be through all ages illustrious in war and opulent in living. Here to Juno was Sidonian Dido founding a vast temple, rich with offerings and the sanctity of her godhead: brazen steps rose on the threshold, brass clamped the pilasters, doors of brass swung on grating hinges. First in this grove did a strange chance meet his steps and allay his fears; first here did Aeneas dare to hope for safety and have fairer trust in his shattered fortunes. For while he closely scans the temple that towers above him, while, awaiting the queen, he admires the fortunate city, the emulous hands and elaborate work of her craftsmen, he sees ranged in order the battles of Ilium, that war whose fame was already rumoured through all the world, the sons of Atreus and Priam, and Achilles whom both found pitiless. He stopped and cried weeping, 'What land is left, Achates, what tract on earth that is not full of our agony? Behold Priam! Here too is the meed of honour, here mortal estate touches the soul to tears. Dismiss thy fears; the fame of this will somehow bring thee salvation.'
So speaks he, and fills his soul with the painted show, sighing often the while, and his face wet with a full river of tears. For he saw, how warring round the Trojan citadel here the Greeks fled, the men of Troy hard on their rear; here the Phrygians, plumed Achilles in his chariot pressing their flight. Not far away he knows the snowy canvas of Rhesus' tents, which, betrayed in their first sleep, the blood-stained son of Tydeus laid desolate in heaped slaughter, and turns the ruddy steeds away to the camp ere ever they tasted Trojan fodder or drunk of Xanthus. Elsewhere Troïlus, his armour flung away in flight—luckless boy, no match for Achilles to meet!—is borne along by his horses, and thrown back entangled with his empty chariot, still clutching the reins; his neck and hair are dragged over the ground, and his reversed spear scores the dust. Meanwhile the Ilian women went with disordered tresses to unfriendly Pallas' temple, and bore the votive garment, sadly beating breast with palm: the goddess turning away held her eyes fast on the ground. Thrice had Achilles whirled Hector round the walls of Troy, and was selling the lifeless body for gold; then at last he heaves a loud and heart-deep groan, as the spoils, as the chariot, as the dear body met his gaze, and Priam outstretching unarmed hands. Himself too he knew joining battle with the foremost Achaeans, knew the Eastern ranks and swart Memnon's armour. Penthesilea leads her crescent-shielded Amazonian columns in furious heat with thousands around her; clasping a golden belt under her naked breast, the warrior maiden clashes boldly with men.
While these marvels meet Dardanian Aeneas' eyes, while he dizzily hangs rapt in one long gaze, Dido the queen entered the precinct, beautiful exceedingly, a youthful train thronging round her. Even as on Eurotas' banks or along the Cynthian ridges Diana wheels the dance, while behind her a thousand mountain nymphs crowd to left and right; she carries quiver on shoulder, and as she moves outshines them all in deity; Latona's heart is thrilled with silent joy; such was Dido, so she joyously advanced amid the throng, urging on the business of her rising empire. Then in the gates of the goddess, beneath the central vault of the temple roof, she took her seat girt with arms and high enthroned. And now she gave justice and laws to her people, and adjusted or allotted their taskwork in due portion; when suddenly Aeneas sees advancing with a great crowd about them Antheus and Sergestus and brave Cloanthus, and other of his Trojans, whom the black squall had sundered at sea and borne far away on the coast. Dizzy with the shock of joy and fear he and Achates together were on fire with eagerness to clasp their hands; but in confused uncertainty they keep hidden, and clothed in the sheltering cloud wait to espy what fortune befalls them, where they are leaving their fleet ashore, why they now come; for they advanced, chosen men from all the ships, praying for grace, and held on with loud cries towards the temple.
After they entered in, and free speech was granted, aged Ilioneus with placid mien thus began:
'Queen, to whom Jupiter hath given to found this new city, and lay the yoke of justice upon haughty tribes, we beseech thee, we wretched Trojans storm-driven over all the seas, stay the dreadful flames from our ships; spare a guiltless race, and bend a gracious regard on our fortunes. We are not come to deal slaughter through Libyan homes, or to drive plundered spoils to the coast. Such violence sits not in our mind, nor is a conquered people so insolent. There is a place Greeks name Hesperia, an ancient land, mighty in arms and foison of the clod; Oenotrian men dwelt therein; now rumour is that a younger race from their captain's name have called it Italy. Thither lay our course . . . when Orion rising on us through the cloudrack with sudden surf bore us on blind shoals, and scattered us afar with his boisterous gales and whelming brine over waves and trackless reefs. To these your coasts we a scanty remnant floated up. What race of men, what land how barbarous soever, allows such a custom for its own? We are debarred the shelter of the beach; they rise in war, and forbid us to set foot on the brink of their land. If you slight human kinship and mortal arms, yet look for gods unforgetful of innocence and guilt. Aeneas was our king, foremost of men in righteousness, incomparable in goodness as in warlike arms; whom if fate still preserves, if he draws the breath of heaven and lies not yet low in dispiteous gloom, fear we have none; nor mayest thou repent of challenging the contest of service. In Sicilian territory too is tilth and town, and famed Acestes himself of Trojan blood. Grant us to draw ashore our storm-shattered fleet, to shape forest trees into beams and strip them for oars; so, if to Italy we may steer with our king and comrades found, Italy and Latium shall we gladly seek; but if salvation is clean gone, if the Libyan gulf holds thee, dear lord of thy Trojans, and Iülus our hope survives no more, seek we then at least the straits of Sicily, the open homes whence we sailed hither, and Acestes for our king.' Thus Ilioneus, and all the Dardanian company murmured assent. . . . Then Dido, with downcast face, briefly speaks:
'Cheer your anxious hearts, O Teucrians; put by your care. Hard fortune in a strange realm forces me to this task, to keep watch and ward on my wide frontiers. Who can be ignorant of the race of Aeneas' people, who of Troy town and her men and deeds, or of the great war's consuming fire? Not so dull are the hearts of our Punic wearing, not so far doth the sun yoke his steeds from our Tyrian town. Whether your choice be broad Hesperia, the fields of Saturn's dominion, or Eryx for your country and Acestes for your king, my escort shall speed you in safety, my arsenals supply your need. Or will you even find rest here with me and share my kingdom? The city I establish is yours; draw your ships ashore; Trojan and Tyrian shall be held by me in even balance. And would that he your king, that Aeneas were here, storm-driven to this same haven! But I will send messengers along the coast, and bid them trace Libya to its limits, if haply he strays shipwrecked in forest or town.'
Stirred by these words brave Achates and lord Aeneas both ere now burned to break through the cloud. Achates first accosts Aeneas: 'Goddess-born, what purpose now rises in thy spirit? Thou seest all is safe, our fleet and comrades are restored. One only is wanting, whom our eyes saw whelmed amid the waves; all else is answerable to thy mother's words.'
Scarce had he spoken when the encircling cloud suddenly parts and melts into clear air. Aeneas stood discovered in sheen of brilliant light, like a god in face and shoulders; for his mother's self had shed on her son the grace of clustered locks, the radiant light of youth, and the lustre of joyous eyes; as when ivory takes beauty under the artist's hand, or when silver or Parian stone is inlaid in gold. Then breaking in on all with unexpected speech he thus addresses the queen:
'I whom you seek am here before you, Aeneas of Troy, snatched from the Libyan waves. O thou who alone hast pitied Troy's untold agonies, thou who with us the remnant of the Grecian foe, worn out ere now by every suffering land and sea can bring, with us in our utter want dost share thy city and home! to render meet recompense is not possible for us, O Dido, nor for all who scattered over the wide world are left of our Dardanian race. The gods grant thee worthy reward, if their deity turn any regard on goodness, if aught avails justice and conscious purity of soul. What happy ages bore thee? what mighty parents gave thy virtue birth? While rivers run into the sea, while the mountain shadows move across their slopes, while the stars have pasturage in heaven, ever shall thine honour, thy name and praises endure in the unknown lands that summon me.' With these words he advances his right hand to dear Ilioneus, his left to Serestus; then to the rest, brave Gyas and brave Cloanthus.
Dido the Sidonian stood astonished, first at the sight of him, then at his strange fortunes; and these words left her lips:
'What fate follows thee, goddess-born, through perilous ways? what violence lands thee on this monstrous coast? Art thou that Aeneas whom Venus the bountiful bore to Dardanian Anchises by the wave of Phrygian Simoïs? And well I remember how Teucer came to Sidon, when exiled from his native land he sought Belus' aid to gain new realms; Belus my father even then ravaged rich Cyprus and held it under his conquering sway. From that time forth have I known the fall of the Trojan city, known thy name and the Pelasgian princes. Their very foe would extol the Teucrians with highest praises, and boasted himself a branch of the ancient Teucrian stem. Come therefore, O men, and enter our house. Me too hath a like fortune driven through many a woe, and willed at last to find my rest in this land. Not ignorant of ill do I learn to succour the afflicted.'
With such speech she leads Aeneas into the royal house, and orders sacrifice in the gods' temples. Therewith she sends his company on the shore twenty bulls, an hundred great bristly-backed swine, an hundred fat lambs and their mothers with them, gifts of the day's gladness. . . . But the palace within is decked with splendour of royal state, and a banquet made ready amid the halls. The coverings are curiously wrought in splendid purple; on the tables is massy silver and deeds of ancestral valour graven in gold, all the long course of history drawn through many a heroic name from the nation's primal antiquity.
Aeneas—for a father's affection denied his spirit rest—sends Achates speeding to his ships, to carry this news to Ascanius, and lead him to the town: in Ascanius is fixed all the parent's loving care. Presents likewise he bids him bring saved from the wreck of Ilium, a mantle stiff with gold embroidery, and a veil with woven border of yellow acanthus-flower, that once decked Helen of Argos, the marvel of her mother Leda's giving; Helen had borne them from Mycenae, when she sought Troy towers and a lawless bridal; the sceptre too that Ilione, Priam's eldest daughter, once had worn, a beaded necklace, and a double circlet of jewelled gold. Achates, hasting on his message, bent his way towards the ships.
But in the Cytherean's breast new arts, new schemes revolve; if Cupid, changed in form and feature, may come in sweet Ascanius' room, and his gifts kindle the queen to madness and set her inmost sense aflame. Verily she fears the uncertain house, the double-tongued race of Tyre; cruel Juno frets her, and at nightfall her care floods back. Therefore to winged Love she speaks these words:
'Son, who art alone my strength and sovereignty, son, who scornest the mighty father's Typhoïan shafts, to thee I fly for succour, and sue humbly to thy deity. How Aeneas thy brother is driven about all the sea-coasts by bitter Juno's malignity, this thou knowest, and hast often grieved in our grief. Now Dido the Phoenician holds him stayed with soft words, and I tremble to think how the welcome of Juno's house may issue; she will not be idle in this supreme turn of fortune. Wherefore I counsel to prevent her wiles and circle the queen with flame, that, unalterable by any deity, she may be held fast to me by passionate love for Aeneas. Take now my thought how to do this. The boy prince, my chiefest care, makes ready at his dear father's summons to go to the Sidonian city, carrying gifts that survive the sea and the flames of Troy. Him will I hide deep asleep in my holy habitation, high on Cythera's hills or in Idalium, that he may not know nor cross our wiles. Do thou but for one night feign his form, and, boy as thou art, put on the familiar face of a boy; so when in festal cheer, amid royal dainties and Bacchic juice, Dido shall take thee to her lap, shall fold thee in her clasp and kiss thee close and sweet, thou mayest imbreathe a hidden fire and unsuspected poison.'
Love obeys his dear mother's words, lays by his wings, and walks rejoicingly with Iülus' tread. But Venus pours gentle dew of slumber on Ascanius' limbs, and lifts him lulled in her lap to the tall Idalian groves of her deity, where soft amaracus folds him round with the shadowed sweetness of its odorous blossoms. And now, obedient to her words, Cupid went merrily in Achates' guiding, with the royal gifts for the Tyrians. Already at his coming the queen hath sate her down in the midmost on her golden throne under the splendid tapestries; now lord Aeneas, now too the men of Troy gather, and all recline on the strewn purple. Servants pour water on their hands, serve corn from baskets, and bring napkins with close-cut pile. Fifty handmaids are within, whose task is in their course to keep unfailing store and kindle the household fire. An hundred others, and as many pages all of like age, load the board with food and array the wine cups. Therewithal the Tyrians are gathered full in the wide feasting chamber, and take their appointed places on the broidered cushions. They marvel at Aeneas' gifts, marvel at Iülus, at the god's face aflame and forged speech, at the mantle and veil wrought with yellow acanthus-flower. Above all the hapless Phoenician, victim to coming doom, cannot satiate her soul, but, stirred alike by the boy and the gifts, she gazes and takes fire. He, when hanging clasped on Aeneas' neck he had satisfied all the deluded parent's love, makes his way to the queen; the queen clings to him with her eyes and all her soul, and ever and anon fondles him in her lap, ah, poor Dido! witless how mighty a deity sinks into her breast; but he, mindful of his mother the Acidalian, begins touch by touch to efface Sychaeus, and sows the surprise of a living love in the long-since-unstirred spirit and disaccustomed heart. Soon as the noise of banquet ceased and the board was cleared, they set down great bowls and enwreathe the wine. The house is filled with hum of voices eddying through the spacious chambers; lit lamps hang down by golden chainwork, and flaming tapers expel the night. Now the queen called for a heavy cup of jewelled gold, and filled it with pure wine; therewith was the use of Belus and all of Belus' race: then the hall was silenced. 'Jupiter,' she cries, 'for thou art reputed lawgiver of hospitality, grant that this be a joyful day to the Tyrians and the voyagers from Troy, a day to live in our children's memory. Bacchus, the giver of gladness, be with us, and Juno the bountiful; and you, O Tyrians, be favourable to our assembly.' She spoke, and poured liquid libation on the board, which done, she first herself touched it lightly with her lips, then handed it to Bitias and bade him speed; he valiantly drained the foaming cup, and flooded him with the brimming gold. The other princes followed. Long-haired Iopas on his gilded lyre fills the chamber with songs ancient Atlas taught; he sings of the wandering moon and the sun's travails; whence is the human race and the brute, whence water and fire; of Arcturus, the rainy Hyades, and the twin Oxen; why wintry suns make such haste to dip in ocean, or what delay makes the nights drag lingeringly. Tyrians and Trojans after them redouble applause. Therewithal Dido wore the night in changing talk, alas! and drank long draughts of love, asking many a thing of Priam, many a thing of Hector; now in what armour the son of the Morning came; now of what fashion were Diomede's horses; now of mighty Achilles. 'Nay, come,' she cries, 'tell to us, O guest, from their first beginning the treachery of the Grecians, thy people's woes, and thine own wanderings; for this is now the seventh summer that bears thee a wanderer over all the earth and sea.'
|Notes of the Chapter|