Aeneas and the Cumean Sibyl
by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2002
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BkVI:1-55 The Temple at Cumae
So Aeneas spoke, weeping, gave his fleet full rein, and glided
at last to the shores of Euboean Cumae. They turned
their prows to the sea, secured the ships’ anchors,
by the grip of their flukes, and the curved boats
lined the beach. The youthful band leapt eagerly
to the Hesperian shore: some sought the means of fire
contained in veins of flint, some raided the woods
the dense coverts of game, pointing out streams they found.
But pious Aeneas sought the summits, where Apollo
rules on high, and the vast cavern nearby, the secret place
of the terrifying Sibyl, in whom the Delian prophet
inspires greatness of mind and spirit, and reveals the future.
Soon they entered the grove of Diana, and the golden house.
Sic fatur lacrimans, classique immittit habenas
et tandem Euboicis Cumarum adlabitur oris.
obuertunt pelago proras; tum dente tenaci
ancora fundabat nauis et litora curuae
praetexunt puppes. iuuenum manus emicat ardens 5
litus in Hesperium; quaerit pars semina flammae
abstrusa in uenis silicis, pars densa ferarum
tecta rapit siluas inuentaque flumina monstrat.
at pius Aeneas arces quibus altus Apollo
praesidet horrendaeque procul secreta Sibyllae, 10
antrum immane, petit, magnam cui mentem animumque
Delius inspirat uates aperitque futura.
iam subeunt Triuiae lucos atque aurea tecta.
Daedalus, so the story goes, fleeing from Minos’s kingdom,
dared to trust himself to the air on swift wings,
and, gliding on unknown paths to the frozen North,
hovered lightly at last above the Chalcidian hill.
First returning to earth here, he dedicated his oar-like wings
to you Phoebus, and built a gigantic temple.
On the doors the Death of Androgeos: then the Athenians,
Crecrops’s descendants, commanded, sadly, to pay annual tribute
of seven of their sons: there the urn stands with the lots drawn.
Facing it, rising from the sea, the Cretan land is depicted:
and here the bull’s savage passion, Pasiphae’s
secret union, and the Minotaur, hybrid offspring,
that mixture of species, proof of unnatural relations:
the artwork here is that palace, and its inextricable maze:
and yet Daedalus himself, pitying the noble princess
Ariadne’s love, unravelled the deceptive tangle of corridors,
guiding Theseus’s blind footsteps with the clue of thread.
You’d have shared largely in such a work, Icarus, if grief
had allowed, he’d twice attempted to fashion your fate
in gold, twice your father’s hands fell. Eyes would have read
the whole continuously, if Achetes had not arrived
from his errand, with Deiophobe, Glaucus’s daughter,
the priestess of Phoebus and Diana, who spoke to the leader:
‘This moment doesn’t require your sightseeing: it would
be better to sacrifice seven bullocks from a virgin herd,
and as many carefully chosen two-year old sheep.’
Having spoken to Aeneas in this way (without delay they sacrificed
as ordered) the priestess called the Trojans to her high shrine.
Daedalus, ut fama est, fugiens Minoia regna
praepetibus pennis ausus se credere caelo 15
insuetum per iter gelidas enauit ad Arctos,
Chalcidicaque leuis tandem super astitit arce.
redditus his primum terris tibi, Phoebe, sacrauit
remigium alarum posuitque immania templa.
in foribus letum Androgeo; tum pendere poenas 20
Cecropidae iussi (miserum!) septena quotannis
corpora natorum; stat ductis sortibus urna.
contra elata mari respondet Cnosia tellus:
hic crudelis amor tauri suppostaque furto
Pasiphae mixtumque genus prolesque biformis 25
Minotaurus inest, Veneris monimenta nefandae,
hic labor ille domus et inextricabilis error;
magnum reginae sed enim miseratus amorem
Daedalus ipse dolos tecti ambagesque resoluit,
caeca regens filo uestigia. tu quoque magnam 30
partem opere in tanto, sineret dolor, Icare, haberes.
bis conatus erat casus effingere in auro,
bis patriae cecidere manus. quin protinus omnia
perlegerent oculis, ni iam praemissus Achates
adforet atque una Phoebi Triuiaeque sacerdos, 35
Deiphobe Glauci, fatur quae talia regi:
'non hoc ista sibi tempus spectacula poscit;
nunc grege de intacto septem mactare iuuencos
praestiterit, totidem lectas ex more bidentis.'
talibus adfata Aenean (nec sacra morantur 40
iussa uiri) Teucros uocat alta in templa sacerdos.
The vast flank of the Euboean cliff is pitted with caves,
from which a hundred wide tunnels, a hundred mouths lead,
from which as many voices rush: the Sibyl’s replies.
They had come to the threshold, when the virgin cried out:
‘It is time to question the Oracle, behold, the god, the god!’
As she so spoke in front of the doors, suddenly neither her face
nor colour were the same, nor did her hair remain bound,
but her chest heaved, her heart swelled with wild frenzy,
she seemed taller, and sounded not-human, for now
the power of the god is closer. ‘Are you slow with your
vows and prayers, Aeneas of Troy, are you slow?’
she cried. ‘The great lips of the House of Inspiration
will not open without.’ And so saying she fell silent.
An icy shudder ran to the Trojans’ very spines,
and their leader poured out heartfelt prayers:
Excisum Euboicae latus ingens rupis in antrum,
quo lati ducunt aditus centum, ostia centum,
unde ruunt totidem uoces, responsa Sibyllae.
uentum erat ad limen, cum uirgo 'poscere fata 45
tempus' ait; 'deus ecce deus!' cui talia fanti
ante fores subito non uultus, non color unus,
non comptae mansere comae; sed pectus anhelum,
et rabie fera corda tument, maiorque uideri
nec mortale sonans, adflata est numine quando 50
iam propiore dei. 'cessas in uota precesque,
Tros' ait 'Aenea? cessas? neque enim ante dehiscent
attonitae magna ora domus.' et talia fata
conticuit. gelidus Teucris per dura cucurrit
ossa tremor, funditque preces rex pectore ab imo: 55
BkVI:56-97 The Sibyl’s Prophecy
‘Phoebus, you who always pitied Troy’s intense suffering,
who guided the hand of Paris, and the Dardan arrow,
against Achilles’s body, with you as leader I entered
all those seas, encircling vast lands, and penetrated
the remote Massilian tribes and the fields edged by Syrtes:
now at last we have the coast of elusive Italy in our grasp:
Troy’s ill fortune only followed us as far as here.
You too with justice can spare the Trojan race, and all you gods
and goddesses to whom the great glory of Ilium and Dardania
was an offence. O most sacred of prophetesses,
you who see the future, (I ask for no lands not owed me
by my destiny) grant that we Trojans may settle Latium,
with the exiled gods and storm-tossed powers of Troy.
Then I’ll dedicate a temple of solid marble to Phoebus
and Diana Trivia, and sacred days in Phoebus’s name.
A noble inner shrine waits for you too in our kingdom.
There, gracious one, I will place your oracles, and mystic
utterances spoken to my people, and consecrate picked men.
Only do not write your verses on the leaves, lest they fly,
disordered playthings of the rushing winds: chant them
from your own mouth.’ He put an end to his mouth’s speaking.
'Phoebe, grauis Troiae semper miserate labores,
Dardana qui Paridis derexti tela manusque
corpus in Aeacidae, magnas obeuntia terras
tot maria intraui duce te penitusque repostas
Massylum gentis praetentaque Syrtibus arua: 60
iam tandem Italiae fugientis prendimus oras.
hac Troiana tenus fuerit fortuna secuta;
uos quoque Pergameae iam fas est parcere genti,
dique deaeque omnes, quibus obstitit Ilium et ingens
gloria Dardaniae. tuque, o sanctissima uates, 65
praescia uenturi, da (non indebita posco
regna meis fatis) Latio considere Teucros
errantisque deos agitataque numina Troiae.
tum Phoebo et Triuiae solido de marmore templum
instituam festosque dies de nomine Phoebi. 70
te quoque magna manent regnis penetralia nostris:
hic ego namque tuas sortis arcanaque fata
dicta meae genti ponam, lectosque sacrabo,
alma, uiros. foliis tantum ne carmina manda,
ne turbata uolent rapidis ludibria uentis; 75
ipsa canas oro.' finem dedit ore loquendi.
But the wild prophetess raged in her cavern, not yet
submitting to Phoebus, as if she might shake the great god
from her spirit: yet he exhausted her raving mouth
all the more, taming her wild heart, shaping her by constraint.
And now the shrine’s hundred mighty lips have opened
of themselves, and carry the seer’s answer through the air:
‘Oh, you who are done with all the perils of the sea,
(yet greater await you on land) the Trojans will come
to the realm of Lavinium (put that care from your heart):
but will not enjoy their coming. War, fierce war,
I see: and the Tiber foaming with much blood.
You will not lack a Simois, a Xanthus, a Greek camp:
even now another Achilles is born in Latium,
he too the son of a goddess: nor will Juno, the Trojans’ bane,
be ever far away, while you, humbled and destitute,
what races and cities of Italy will you not beg in!
Once again a foreign bride is the cause of all
these Trojan ills, once more an alien marriage.
Do not give way to misfortunes, meet them more bravely,
as your destiny allows. The path of safety will open up
for you from where you least imagine it, a Greek city.’
At Phoebi nondum patiens immanis in antro
bacchatur uates, magnum si pectore possit
excussisse deum; tanto magis ille fatigat
os rabidum, fera corda domans, fingitque premendo. 80
ostia iamque domus patuere ingentia centum
sponte sua uatisque ferunt responsa per auras:
'o tandem magnis pelagi defuncte periclis
(sed terrae grauiora manent), in regna Lauini
Dardanidae uenient (mitte hanc de pectore curam), 85
sed non et uenisse uolent. bella, horrida bella,
et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno.
non Simois tibi nec Xanthus nec Dorica castra
defuerint; alius Latio iam partus Achilles,
natus et ipse dea; nec Teucris addita Iuno 90
usquam aberit, cum tu supplex in rebus egenis
quas gentis Italum aut quas non oraueris urbes!
causa mali tanti coniunx iterum hospita Teucris
externique iterum thalami.
tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito, 95
qua tua te Fortuna sinet. uia prima salutis
(quod minime reris) Graia pandetur ab urbe.'
BkVI:98-155 Aeneas Asks Entry to Hades
With such words, the Sibyl of Cumae chants fearful enigmas,
from her shrine, echoing from the cave,
tangling truths and mysteries: as she raves, Apollo
thrashes the reins, and twists the spur under her breast.
When the frenzy quietens, and the mad mouth hushes,
Aeneas, the Hero, begins: ‘O Virgin, no new, unexpected
kind of suffering appears: I’ve foreseen them all
and travelled them before, in my own spirit.
One thing I ask: for they say the gate of the King of Darkness
is here, and the shadowy marsh, Acheron’s overflow:
let me have sight of my dear father, his face: show me the way,
open wide the sacred doors. I saved him, brought him
out from the thick of the enemy, through the flames,
on these shoulders, with a thousand spears behind me:
companion on my journey, he endured with me
all the seas, all the threats of sky and ocean, weak,
beyond his power, and his allotted span of old age.
He ordered me, with prayers, to seek you out, humbly,
and approach your threshold: I ask you, kindly one,
pity both father and son: since you are all power, not for
nothing has Hecate set you to rule the groves of Avernus.
If Orpheus could summon the shade of his wife,
relying on his Thracian lyre, its melodious strings:
if Pollux, crossing that way, and returning, so often,
could redeem his brother by dying in turn – and great Theseus,
what of him, or Hercules? – well, my race too is Jupiter’s on high.’
Talibus ex adyto dictis Cumaea Sibylla
horrendas canit ambages antroque remugit,
obscuris uera inuoluens: ea frena furenti 100
concutit et stimulos sub pectore uertit Apollo.
ut primum cessit furor et rabida ora quierunt,
incipit Aeneas heros: 'non ulla laborum,
o uirgo, noua mi facies inopinaue surgit;
omnia praecepi atque animo mecum ante peregi. 105
unum oro: quando hic inferni ianua regis
dicitur et tenebrosa palus Acheronte refuso,
ire ad conspectum cari genitoris et ora
contingat; doceas iter et sacra ostia pandas.
illum ego per flammas et mille sequentia tela 110
eripui his umeris medioque ex hoste recepi;
ille meum comitatus iter maria omnia mecum
atque omnis pelagique minas caelique ferebat,
inualidus, uiris ultra sortemque senectae.
quin, ut te supplex peterem et tua limina adirem, 115
idem orans mandata dabat. gnatique patrisque,
alma, precor, miserere (potes namque omnia, nec te
nequiquam lucis Hecate praefecit Auernis),
si potuit manis accersere coniugis Orpheus
Threicia fretus cithara fidibusque canoris, 120
si fratrem Pollux alterna morte redemit
itque reditque uiam totiens. quid Thesea, magnum
quid memorem Alciden? et mi genus ab Ioue summo.'
With these words he prayed, and grasped the altar,
as the priestess began to speak: ‘Trojan son of Anchises,
sprung from the blood of the gods, the path to hell is easy:
black Dis’s door is open night and day:
but to retrace your steps, and go out to the air above,
that is work, that is the task. Some sons of the gods have done it,
whom favouring Jupiter loved, or whom burning virtue
lifted to heaven. Woods cover all the middle part,
and Cocytus is round it, sliding in dark coils.
But if such desire is in your mind, such a longing
to sail the Stygian lake twice, and twice see Tartarus,
and if it delights you to indulge in insane effort,
listen to what you must first undertake. Hidden in a dark tree
is a golden bough, golden in leaves and pliant stem,
sacred to Persephone, the underworld’s Juno, all the groves
shroud it, and shadows enclose the secret valleys.
But only one who’s taken a gold-leaved fruit from the tree
is allowed to enter earth’s hidden places.
This lovely Proserpine has commanded to be brought to her
as a gift: a second fruit of gold never fails to appear
when the first one’s picked, the twig’s leafed with the same metal.
So look for it up high, and when you’ve found it with your eyes,
take it, of right, in your hand: since, if the Fates have chosen you,
it will come away easily, freely of itself: otherwise you
won’t conquer it by any force, or cut it with the sharpest steel.
And the inanimate body of your friend lies there
(Ah! You do not know) and taints your whole fleet with death,
while you seek advice and hang about our threshold.
Carry him first to his place and bury him in the tomb.
Lead black cattle there: let those be your first offerings of atonement.
Only then can you look on the Stygian groves, and the realms
forbidden to the living.’ She spoke and with closed lips fell silent.
Talibus orabat dictis arasque tenebat,
cum sic orsa loqui uates: 'sate sanguine diuum, 125
Tros Anchisiade, facilis descensus Auerno:
noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
sed reuocare gradum superasque euadere ad auras,
hoc opus, hic labor est. pauci, quos aequus amauit
Iuppiter aut ardens euexit ad aethera uirtus, 130
dis geniti potuere. tenent media omnia siluae,
Cocytusque sinu labens circumuenit atro.
quod si tantus amor menti, si tanta cupido est
bis Stygios innare lacus, bis nigra uidere
Tartara, et insano iuuat indulgere labori, 135
accipe quae peragenda prius. latet arbore opaca
aureus et foliis et lento uimine ramus,
Iunoni infernae dictus sacer; hunc tegit omnis
lucus et obscuris claudunt conuallibus umbrae.
sed non ante datur telluris operta subire 140
auricomos quam quis decerpserit arbore fetus.
hoc sibi pulchra suum ferri Proserpina munus
instituit. primo auulso non deficit alter
aureus, et simili frondescit uirga metallo.
ergo alte uestiga oculis et rite repertum 145
carpe manu; namque ipse uolens facilisque sequetur,
si te fata uocant; aliter non uiribus ullis
uincere nec duro poteris conuellere ferro.
praeterea iacet exanimum tibi corpus amici
(heu nescis) totamque incestat funere classem, 150
dum consulta petis nostroque in limine pendes.
sedibus hunc refer ante suis et conde sepulcro.
duc nigras pecudes; ea prima piacula sunto.
sic demum lucos Stygis et regna inuia uiuis
aspicies.' dixit, pressoque obmutuit ore. 155
BkVI:156-182 The Finding of Misenus’s Body
Leaving the cave, Aeneas walked away,
with sad face and downcast eyes, turning their dark fate
over in his mind. Loyal Achates walked at his side
and fashioned his steps with similar concern.
They engaged in intricate discussion between them,
as to who the dead friend, the body to be interred, was,
whom the priestess spoke of. And as they passed along
they saw Misenus, ruined by shameful death, on the dry sand,
Misenus, son of Aeolus, than whom none was more outstanding
in rousing men with the war-trumpet, kindling conflict with music.
He was great Hector’s friend: with Hector
he went to battle, distinguished by his spear and trumpet.
When victorious Achilles despoiled Hector of life,
this most courageous hero joined the company
of Trojan Aeneas, serving no lesser a man. But when,
by chance, he foolishly made the ocean sound
to a hollow conch-shell, and called gods to compete
in playing, if the tale can be believed, Triton overheard him
and drowned him in the foaming waves among the rocks.
So, with pious Aeneas to the fore, they all mourned
round the body with loud clamour. Then, without delay, weeping,
they hurried to carry out the Sibyl’s orders, and laboured to pile
tree-trunks as a funeral pyre, raising it to the heavens.
They enter the ancient wood, the deep coverts of wild creatures:
the pine-trees fell, the oaks rang to the blows of the axe,
ash trunks and fissile oak were split with wedges,
and they rolled large rowan trees down from the hills.
Aeneas maesto defixus lumina uultu
ingreditur linquens antrum, caecosque uolutat
euentus animo secum. cui fidus Achates
it comes et paribus curis uestigia figit.
multa inter sese uario sermone serebant, 160
quem socium exanimum uates, quod corpus humandum
diceret. atque illi Misenum in litore sicco,
ut uenere, uident indigna morte peremptum,
Misenum Aeoliden, quo non praestantior alter
aere ciere uiros Martemque accendere cantu. 165
Hectoris hic magni fuerat comes, Hectora circum
et lituo pugnas insignis obibat et hasta.
postquam illum uita uictor spoliauit Achilles,
Dardanio Aeneae sese fortissimus heros
addiderat socium, non inferiora secutus. 170
sed tum, forte caua dum personat aequora concha,
demens, et cantu uocat in certamina diuos,
aemulus exceptum Triton, si credere dignum est,
inter saxa uirum spumosa immerserat unda.
ergo omnes magno circum clamore fremebant, 175
praecipue pius Aeneas. tum iussa Sibyllae,
haud mora, festinant flentes aramque sepulcri
congerere arboribus caeloque educere certant.
itur in antiquam siluam, stabula alta ferarum;
procumbunt piceae, sonat icta securibus ilex 180
fraxineaeque trabes cuneis et fissile robur
scinditur, aduoluunt ingentis montibus ornos.
BkVI:183-235 The Funeral Pyre
Aeneas was no less active in such efforts, encouraging
his companions, and employing similar tools.
And he turned things over in his own saddened mind,
gazing at the immense forest, and by chance prayed so:
‘If only that golden bough would show itself to us
now, on some such tree, among the woods! For the prophetess
spoke truly of you Misenus, alas, only too truly.’
He had barely spoken when by chance a pair of doves
came flying down from the sky, beneath his very eyes,
and settled on the green grass. Then the great hero knew
they were his mother’s birds, and prayed in his joy:
‘O be my guides, if there is some way, and steer a course
through the air, to that grove where the rich branch
casts its shadow on fertile soil. And you mother, O goddess,
don’t fail me in time of doubt.’ So saying he halted his footsteps,
observing what signs the doves might give, and which direction
they might take. As they fed they went forward in flight
just as far as, following, his eyes could keep them in sight.
Then, when they reached the foul jaws of stinking Avernus,
they quickly rose and, gliding through the clear air,
perched on the longed-for dual-natured tree, from which
the alien gleam of gold shone out, among the branches.
Just as mistletoe, that does not form a tree of its own,
grows in the woods in the cold of winter, with a foreign leaf,
and surrounds a smooth trunk with yellow berries:
such was the vision of this leafy gold in the dark
oak-tree, so the foil tinkled in the light breeze.
Aeneas immediately plucked it, eagerly breaking the tough
bough, and carried it to the cave of the Sibylline prophetess.
Nec non Aeneas opera inter talia primus
hortatur socios paribusque accingitur armis.
atque haec ipse suo tristi cum corde uolutat 185
aspectans siluam immensam, et sic forte precatur:
'si nunc se nobis ille aureus arbore ramus
ostendat nemore in tanto! quando omnia uere
heu nimium de te uates, Misene, locuta est.'
uix ea fatus erat, geminae cum forte columbae 190
ipsa sub ora uiri caelo uenere uolantes,
et uiridi sedere solo. tum maximus heros
maternas agnouit auis laetusque precatur:
'este duces, o, si qua uia est, cursumque per auras
derigite in lucos ubi pinguem diues opacat 195
ramus humum. tuque, o, dubiis ne defice rebus,
diua parens.' sic effatus uestigia pressit
obseruans quae signa ferant, quo tendere pergant.
pascentes illae tantum prodire uolando
quantum acie possent oculi seruare sequentum. 200
inde ubi uenere ad fauces graue olentis Auerni,
tollunt se celeres liquidumque per aera lapsae
sedibus optatis gemina super arbore sidunt,
discolor unde auri per ramos aura refulsit.
quale solet siluis brumali frigore uiscum 205
fronde uirere noua, quod non sua seminat arbos,
et croceo fetu teretis circumdare truncos,
talis erat species auri frondentis opaca
ilice, sic leni crepitabat brattea uento.
corripit Aeneas extemplo auidusque refringit 210
cunctantem, et uatis portat sub tecta Sibyllae.
Meanwhile, on the shore, the Trojans were weeping bitterly
for Misenus and paying their last respects to his senseless ashes.
First they raised a huge pyre, heavy with cut oak and pine,
weaving the sides with dark foliage, set funereal cypress in front,
and decorated it above with shining weapons.
Some heated water, making the cauldrons boil on the flames,
and washed and anointed the chill corpse. They made lament.
Then, having wept, they placed his limbs on the couch,
and threw purple robes over them, his usual dress.
Some raised the great bier, a sad duty,
and, with averted faces, set a torch below,
in ancestral fashion. Gifts were heaped on the flames,
of incense, foodstuffs, bowls brimming with olive-oil.
When the ashes collapsed, and the blaze died, they washed
the remains of the parched bones in wine, and Corynaeus,
collecting the fragments, closed them in a bronze urn.
Also he circled his comrades three times with pure water
to purify them, sprinkling fine dew from a full olive branch,
and spoke the words of parting. And virtuous Aeneas
heaped up a great mound for his tomb, with the hero’s
own weapons, his trumpet and oar, beneath a high mountain
which is called Misenus now after him, and preserves
his ever-living name throughout the ages.
Nec minus interea Misenum in litore Teucri
flebant et cineri ingrato suprema ferebant.
principio pinguem taedis et robore secto
ingentem struxere pyram, cui frondibus atris 215
intexunt latera et feralis ante cupressos
constituunt, decorantque super fulgentibus armis.
pars calidos latices et aena undantia flammis
expediunt, corpusque lauant frigentis et unguunt.
fit gemitus. tum membra toro defleta reponunt 220
purpureasque super uestis, uelamina nota,
coniciunt. pars ingenti subiere feretro,
triste ministerium, et subiectam more parentum
auersi tenuere facem. congesta cremantur
turea dona, dapes, fuso crateres oliuo. 225
postquam conlapsi cineres et flamma quieuit,
reliquias uino et bibulam lauere fauillam,
ossaque lecta cado texit Corynaeus aeno.
idem ter socios pura circumtulit unda
spargens rore leui et ramo felicis oliuae, 230
lustrauitque uiros dixitque nouissima uerba.
at pius Aeneas ingenti mole sepulcrum
imponit suaque arma uiro remumque tubamque
monte sub aerio, qui nunc Misenus ab illo
dicitur aeternumque tenet per saecula nomen. 235
BkVI:236-263 The Sacrifice to Hecate
This done, he quickly carried out the Sibyl’s orders.
There was a deep stony cave, huge and gaping wide,
sheltered by a dark lake and shadowy woods,
over which nothing could extend its wings in safe flight,
since such a breath flowed from those black jaws,
and was carried to the over-arching sky, that the Greeks
called it by the name Aornos, that is Avernus, or the Bird-less.
Here the priestess first of all tethered four black heifers,
poured wine over their foreheads, and placed
the topmost bristles that she plucked, growing
between their horns, in the sacred fire, as a first offering,
calling aloud to Hecate, powerful in Heaven and Hell.
Others slit the victim’s throats and caught the warm blood
in bowls. Aeneas himself sacrificed a black-fleeced lamb
to Night, mother of the Furies, and Earth, her mighty sister,
and a barren heifer to you, Persephone.
Then he kindled the midnight altars for the Stygian King,
and placed whole carcasses of bulls on the flames,
pouring rich oil over the blazing entrails.
See now, at the dawn light of the rising sun,
the ground bellowed under their feet, the wooded hills began
to move, and, at the coming of the Goddess, dogs seemed to howl
in the shadows. ‘Away, stand far away, O you profane ones,’
the priestess cried, ‘absent yourselves from all this grove:
and you now, Aeneas, be on your way, and tear your sword
from the sheathe: you need courage, and a firm mind, now.’
So saying, she plunged wildly into the open cave:
he, fearlessly, kept pace with his vanishing guide.
His actis propere exsequitur praecepta Sibyllae.
spelunca alta fuit uastoque immanis hiatu,
scrupea, tuta lacu nigro nemorumque tenebris,
quam super haud ullae poterant impune uolantes
tendere iter pennis: talis sese halitus atris 240
faucibus effundens supera ad conuexa ferebat.
[unde locum Grai dixerunt nomine Aornum.]
quattuor hic primum nigrantis terga iuuencos
constituit frontique inuergit uina sacerdos,
et summas carpens media inter cornua saetas 245
ignibus imponit sacris, libamina prima,
uoce uocans Hecaten caeloque Ereboque potentem.
supponunt alii cultros tepidumque cruorem
succipiunt pateris. ipse atri uelleris agnam
Aeneas matri Eumenidum magnaeque sorori 250
ense ferit, sterilemque tibi, Proserpina, uaccam;
tum Stygio regi nocturnas incohat aras
et solida imponit taurorum uiscera flammis,
pingue super oleum fundens ardentibus extis.
ecce autem primi sub limina solis et ortus 255
sub pedibus mugire solum et iuga coepta moueri
siluarum, uisaeque canes ululare per umbram
aduentante dea. 'procul, o procul este, profani,'
conclamat uates, 'totoque absistite luco;
tuque inuade uiam uaginaque eripe ferrum: 260
nunc animis opus, Aenea, nunc pectore firmo.'
tantum effata furens antro se immisit aperto;
ille ducem haud timidis uadentem passibus aequat.
BkVI:264-294 The Entrance to Hades
You gods, whose is the realm of spirits, and you, dumb shadows,
and Chaos, Phlegethon, wide silent places of the night,
let me tell what I have heard: by your power, let me
reveal things buried in the deep earth, and the darkness.
Di, quibus imperium est animarum, umbraeque silentes
et Chaos et Phlegethon, loca nocte tacentia late, 265
sit mihi fas audita loqui, sit numine uestro
pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas.
On they went, hidden in solitary night, through gloom,
through Dis’s empty halls, and insubstantial kingdom,
like a path through a wood, in the faint light
under a wavering moon, when Jupiter has buried the sky
in shadow, and black night has stolen the colour from things.
Right before the entrance, in the very jaws of Orcus,
Grief and vengeful Care have made their beds,
and pallid Sickness lives there, and sad Old Age,
and Fear, and persuasive Hunger, and vile Need,
forms terrible to look on, and Death and Pain:
then Death’s brother Sleep, and Evil Pleasure of the mind,
and, on the threshold opposite, death-dealing War,
and the steel chambers of the Furies, and mad Discord,
her snaky hair entwined with blood-wet ribbons.
In the centre a vast shadowy elm spreads its aged trunks
and branches: the seat, they say, that false Dreams hold,
thronging, clinging beneath every leaf.
And many other monstrous shapes of varied creatures,
are stabled by the doors, Centaurs and bi-formed Scylla,
and hundred-armed Briareus, and the Lernean Hydra,
hissing fiercely, and the Chimaera armed with flame,
Gorgons, and Harpies, and the triple bodied shade, Geryon.
At this, trembling suddenly with terror, Aeneas grasped
his sword, and set the naked blade against their approach:
and, if his knowing companion had not warned him
that these were tenuous bodiless lives flitting about
with a hollow semblance of form, he would have rushed at them,
and hacked at the shadows uselessly with his sword.
Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram
perque domos Ditis uacuas et inania regna:
quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna 270
est iter in siluis, ubi caelum condidit umbra
Iuppiter, et rebus nox abstulit atra colorem.
uestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus Orci
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae,
pallentesque habitant Morbi tristisque Senectus, 275
et Metus et malesuada Fames ac turpis Egestas,
terribiles uisu formae, Letumque Labosque;
tum consanguineus Leti Sopor et mala mentis
Gaudia, mortiferumque aduerso in limine Bellum,
ferreique Eumenidum thalami et Discordia demens 280
uipereum crinem uittis innexa cruentis.
in medio ramos annosaque bracchia pandit
ulmus opaca, ingens, quam sedem Somnia uulgo
uana tenere ferunt, foliisque sub omnibus haerent.
multaque praeterea uariarum monstra ferarum, 285
Centauri in foribus stabulant Scyllaeque biformes
et centumgeminus Briareus ac belua Lernae
horrendum stridens, flammisque armata Chimaera,
Gorgones Harpyiaeque et forma tricorporis umbrae.
corripit hic subita trepidus formidine ferrum 290
Aeneas strictamque aciem uenientibus offert,
et ni docta comes tenuis sine corpore uitas
admoneat uolitare caua sub imagine formae,
inruat et frustra ferro diuerberet umbras.
BkVI:295-336 The Shores of Acheron
From here there is a road that leads to the waters
of Tartarean Acheron. Here thick with mud a whirlpool seethes
in the vast depths, and spews all its sands into Cocytus.
A grim ferryman watches over the rivers and streams,
Charon, dreadful in his squalor, with a mass of unkempt
white hair straggling from his chin: flames glow in his eyes,
a dirty garment hangs, knotted from his shoulders.
He poles the boat and trims the sails himself,
and ferries the dead in his dark skiff,
old now, but a god’s old age is fresh and green.
Here all the crowd streams, hurrying to the shores,
women and men, the lifeless bodies of noble heroes,
boys and unmarried girls, sons laid on the pyre
in front of their father’s eyes: as many as the leaves that fall
in the woods at the first frost of autumn, as many as the birds
that flock to land from ocean deeps, when the cold of the year
drives them abroad and despatches them to sunnier countries.
They stood there, pleading to be first to make the crossing,
stretching out their hands in longing for the far shore.
But the dismal boatman accepts now these, now those,
but driving others away, keeps them far from the sand.
Then Aeneas, stirred and astonished at the tumult, said:
‘O virgin, tell me, what does this crowding to the river mean?
What do the souls want? And by what criterion do these leave
the bank, and those sweep off with the oars on the leaden stream?
The ancient priestess spoke briefly to him, so:
‘Son of Anchises, true child of the gods, you see
the deep pools of Cocytus, and the Marsh of Styx,
by whose name the gods fear to swear falsely.
All this crowd, you see, were destitute and unburied:
that ferryman is Charon: those the waves carry were buried:
he may not carry them from the fearful shore on the harsh waters
before their bones are at rest in the earth. They roam
for a hundred years and flit around these shores: only then
are they admitted, and revisit the pools they long for.’
The son of Anchises halted, and checked his footsteps,
thinking deeply, and pitying their sad fate in his heart.
He saw Leucaspis and Orontes, captain of the Lycian fleet,
there, grieving and lacking honour in death, whom a Southerly
overwhelmed, as they sailed together from Troy on the windswept
waters, engulfing both the ship and crew in the waves.
Hinc uia Tartarei quae fert Acherontis ad undas. 295
turbidus hic caeno uastaque uoragine gurges
aestuat atque omnem Cocyto eructat harenam.
portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina seruat
terribili squalore Charon, cui plurima mento
canities inculta iacet, stant lumina flamma, 300
sordidus ex umeris nodo dependet amictus.
ipse ratem conto subigit uelisque ministrat
et ferruginea subuectat corpora cumba,
iam senior, sed cruda deo uiridisque senectus.
huc omnis turba ad ripas effusa ruebat, 305
matres atque uiri defunctaque corpora uita
magnanimum heroum, pueri innuptaeque puellae,
impositique rogis iuuenes ante ora parentum:
quam multa in siluis autumni frigore primo
lapsa cadunt folia, aut ad terram gurgite ab alto 310
quam multae glomerantur aues, ubi frigidus annus
trans pontum fugat et terris immittit apricis.
stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum
tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.
nauita sed tristis nunc hos nunc accipit illos, 315
ast alios longe summotos arcet harena.
Aeneas miratus enim motusque tumultu
'dic,' ait, 'o uirgo, quid uult concursus ad amnem?
quidue petunt animae? uel quo discrimine ripas
hae linquunt, illae remis uada liuida uerrunt?' 320
olli sic breuiter fata est longaeua sacerdos:
'Anchisa generate, deum certissima proles,
Cocyti stagna alta uides Stygiamque paludem,
di cuius iurare timent et fallere numen.
haec omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est; 325
portitor ille Charon; hi, quos uehit unda, sepulti.
nec ripas datur horrendas et rauca fluenta
transportare prius quam sedibus ossa quierunt.
centum errant annos uolitantque haec litora circum;
tum demum admissi stagna exoptata reuisunt.' 330
constitit Anchisa satus et uestigia pressit
multa putans sortemque animo miseratus iniquam.
cernit ibi maestos et mortis honore carentis
Leucaspim et Lyciae ductorem classis Oronten,
quos simul a Troia uentosa per aequora uectos 335
obruit Auster, aqua inuoluens nauemque uirosque.
BkVI:337-383 The Shade of Palinurus
Behold, there came the helmsman, Palinurus,
who fell from the stern on the Libyan passage,
flung into the midst of the waves, as he watched the stars.
When Aeneas had recognised him with difficulty
sorrowing among the deep shadows, he spoke first, saying:
‘What god tore you from us, Palinurus, and drowned you
mid-ocean? For in this one prophecy Apollo has misled me,
he whom I never found false before, he said that you would be safe
at sea and reach Ausonia’s shores. Is this the truth of his promise?’
But he replied: ‘Phoebus’s tripod did not fail you, Aeneas,
my captain, nor did a god drown me in the deep.
By chance the helm was torn from me with violence,
as I clung there, on duty as ordered, steering our course,
and I dragged it headlong with me. I swear by the cruel sea
that I feared less for myself than for your ship,
lest robbed of its gear, and cleared of its helmsman,
it might founder among such surging waves.
The Southerly drove me violently through the vast seas
for three stormy nights: high on the crest of a wave,
in the fourth dawn, I could just make out Italy.
Gradually I swam to shore: grasped now at safety,
but as I caught at the sharp tips of the rocks, weighed down
by my water-soaked clothes, the savage people
attacked me with knives, ignorantly thinking me a prize.
Now the waves have me, and the winds roll me along the shore.
Unconquered one, I beg you, by the sweet light and air of heaven,
by your father, and your hopes in Iulus to come,
save me from this evil: either find Velia’s harbour again
(for you can) and sprinkle earth on me, or if there is some way,
if your divine mother shows you one (since you’d not attempt to sail
such waters, and the Stygian marsh, without a god’s will, I think)
then give this wretch your hand and take me with you through the waves
that at least I might rest in some quiet place in death.’
So he spoke, and the priestess began to reply like this:
‘Where does this dire longing of yours come from, O Palinurus?
Can you see the Stygian waters, unburied, or the grim
river of the Furies, Cocytus, or come unasked to the shore?
Cease to hope that divine fate can be tempered by prayer.
But hold my words in your memory, as a comfort in your hardship:
the nearby peoples, from cities far and wide, will be moved
by divine omens to worship your bones, and build a tomb,
and send offerings to the tomb, and the place will have
Palinurus as its everlasting name.’ His anxiety was quelled
by her words, and, for a little while, grief was banished
from his sad heart: he delighted in the land being so named.
Ecce gubernator sese Palinurus agebat,
qui Libyco nuper cursu, dum sidera seruat,
exciderat puppi mediis effusus in undis.
hunc ubi uix multa maestum cognouit in umbra, 340
sic prior adloquitur: 'quis te, Palinure, deorum
eripuit nobis medioque sub aequore mersit?
dic age. namque mihi, fallax haud ante repertus,
hoc uno responso animum delusit Apollo,
qui fore te ponto incolumem finisque canebat 345
uenturum Ausonios. en haec promissa fides est?'
ille autem: 'neque te Phoebi cortina fefellit,
dux Anchisiade, nec me deus aequore mersit.
namque gubernaclum multa ui forte reuulsum,
cui datus haerebam custos cursusque regebam, 350
praecipitans traxi mecum. maria aspera iuro
non ullum pro me tantum cepisse timorem,
quam tua ne spoliata armis, excussa magistro,
deficeret tantis nauis surgentibus undis.
tris Notus hibernas immensa per aequora noctes 355
uexit me uiolentus aqua; uix lumine quarto
prospexi Italiam summa sublimis ab unda.
paulatim adnabam terrae; iam tuta tenebam,
ni gens crudelis madida cum ueste grauatum
prensantemque uncis manibus capita aspera montis 360
ferro inuasisset praedamque ignara putasset.
nunc me fluctus habet uersantque in litore uenti.
quod te per caeli iucundum lumen et auras,
per genitorem oro, per spes surgentis Iuli,
eripe me his, inuicte, malis: aut tu mihi terram 365
inice, namque potes, portusque require Velinos;
aut tu, si qua uia est, si quam tibi diua creatrix
ostendit (neque enim, credo, sine numine diuum
flumina tanta paras Stygiamque innare paludem),
da dextram misero et tecum me tolle per undas, 370
sedibus ut saltem placidis in morte quiescam.'
talia fatus erat coepit cum talia uates:
'unde haec, o Palinure, tibi tam dira cupido?
tu Stygias inhumatus aquas amnemque seuerum
Eumenidum aspicies, ripamue iniussus adibis? 375
desine fata deum flecti sperare precando,
sed cape dicta memor, duri solacia casus.
nam tua finitimi, longe lateque per urbes
prodigiis acti caelestibus, ossa piabunt
et statuent tumulum et tumulo sollemnia mittent, 380
aeternumque locus Palinuri nomen habebit.'
his dictis curae emotae pulsusque parumper
corde dolor tristi; gaudet cognomine terra.
BkVI:384-416 Charon the Ferryman
So they pursued their former journey, and drew near the river.
Now when the Boatman saw them from the Stygian wave
walking through the silent wood, and directing their footsteps
towards its bank, he attacked them verbally, first, and unprompted,
rebuking them: ‘Whoever you are, who come armed to my river,
tell me, from over there, why you’re here, and halt your steps.
This is a place of shadows, of Sleep and drowsy Night:
I’m not allowed to carry living bodies in the Stygian boat.
Truly it was no pleasure for me to take Hercules on his journey
over the lake, nor Theseus and Pirithous, though they may
have been children of gods, unrivalled in strength.
The first came for Cerberus the watchdog of Tartarus,
and dragged him away quivering from under the king’s throne:
the others were after snatching our Queen from Dis’s chamber.’
To this the prophetess of Amphrysian Apollo briefly answered:
‘There’s no such trickery here (don’t be disturbed),
our weapons offer no affront: your huge guard-dog
can terrify the bloodless shades with his eternal howling:
chaste Proserpine can keep to her uncle’s threshold.
Aeneas the Trojan, renowned in piety and warfare,
goes down to the deepest shadows of Erebus, to his father.
If the idea of such affection does not move you, still you
must recognise this bough.’ (She showed the branch, hidden
in her robes.) Then the anger in his swollen breast subsided.
No more was said. Marvelling at the revered offering,
of fateful twigs, seen again after so long, he turned the stern
of the dark skiff towards them and neared the bank.
Then he turned off the other souls who sat on the long benches,
cleared the gangways: and received mighty Aeneas
on board. The seamed skiff groaned with the weight
and let in quantities of marsh-water through the chinks.
At last, the river crossed, he landed the prophetess and the hero
safe, on the unstable mud, among the blue-grey sedge.
Ergo iter inceptum peragunt fluuioque propinquant.
nauita quos iam inde ut Stygia prospexit ab unda 385
per tacitum nemus ire pedemque aduertere ripae,
sic prior adgreditur dictis atque increpat ultro:
'quisquis es, armatus qui nostra ad flumina tendis,
fare age, quid uenias, iam istinc et comprime gressum.
umbrarum hic locus est, somni noctisque soporae: 390
corpora uiua nefas Stygia uectare carina.
nec uero Alciden me sum laetatus euntem
accepisse lacu, nec Thesea Pirithoumque,
dis quamquam geniti atque inuicti uiribus essent.
Tartareum ille manu custodem in uincla petiuit 395
ipsius a solio regis traxitque trementem;
hi dominam Ditis thalamo deducere adorti.'
quae contra breuiter fata est Amphrysia uates:
'nullae hic insidiae tales (absiste moueri),
nec uim tela ferunt; licet ingens ianitor antro 400
aeternum latrans exsanguis terreat umbras,
casta licet patrui seruet Proserpina limen.
Troius Aeneas, pietate insignis et armis,
ad genitorem imas Erebi descendit ad umbras.
si te nulla mouet tantae pietatis imago, 405
at ramum hunc' (aperit ramum qui ueste latebat)
'agnoscas.' tumida ex ira tum corda residunt;
nec plura his. ille admirans uenerabile donum
fatalis uirgae longo post tempore uisum
caeruleam aduertit puppim ripaeque propinquat. 410
inde alias animas, quae per iuga longa sedebant,
deturbat laxatque foros; simul accipit alueo
ingentem Aenean. gemuit sub pondere cumba
sutilis et multam accepit rimosa paludem.
tandem trans fluuium incolumis uatemque uirumque 415
informi limo glaucaque exponit in ulua.
BkVI:417-439 Beyond the Acheron
Huge Cerberus sets these regions echoing with his triple-throated
howling, crouching monstrously in a cave opposite.
Seeing the snakes rearing round his neck, the prophetess
threw him a pellet, a soporific of honey and drugged wheat.
Opening his three throats, in rabid hunger, he seized
what she threw and, flexing his massive spine, sank to earth
spreading his giant bulk over the whole cave-floor.
With the guard unconscious Aeneas won to the entrance,
and quickly escaped the bank of the river of no return.
Cerberus haec ingens latratu regna trifauci
personat aduerso recubans immanis in antro.
cui uates horrere uidens iam colla colubris
melle soporatam et medicatis frugibus offam 420
obicit. ille fame rabida tria guttura pandens
corripit obiectam, atque immania terga resoluit
fusus humi totoque ingens extenditur antro.
occupat Aeneas aditum custode sepulto
euaditque celer ripam inremeabilis undae. 425
Immediately a loud crying of voices was heard, the spirits
of weeping infants, whom a dark day stole at the first
threshold of this sweet life, those chosen to be torn
from the breast, and drowned in bitter death.
Nearby are those condemned to die on false charges.
Yet their place is not ordained without the allotted jury:
Minos, the judge, shakes the urn: he convenes the voiceless court,
and hears their lives and sins. Then the next place
is held by those gloomy spirits who, innocent of crime,
died by their own hand, and, hating the light, threw away
their lives. How willingly now they’d endure
poverty and harsh suffering, in the air above!
Divine Law prevents it, and the sad marsh and its hateful
waters binds them, and nine-fold Styx confines them.
Continuo auditae uoces uagitus et ingens
infantumque animae flentes, in limine primo
quos dulcis uitae exsortis et ab ubere raptos
abstulit atra dies et funere mersit acerbo;
hos iuxta falso damnati crimine mortis. 430
nec uero hae sine sorte datae, sine iudice, sedes:
quaesitor Minos urnam mouet; ille silentum
consiliumque uocat uitasque et crimina discit.
proxima deinde tenent maesti loca, qui sibi letum
insontes peperere manu lucemque perosi 435
proiecere animas. quam uellent aethere in alto
nunc et pauperiem et duros perferre labores!
fas obstat, tristisque palus inamabilis undae
alligat et nouies Styx interfusa coercet.
nec procul hinc partem fusi monstrantur in omnem 440
BkVI:440-476 The Shade of Dido
Not far from there the Fields of Mourning are revealed,
spread out on all sides: so they name them.
There, those whom harsh love devours with cruel pining
are concealed in secret walkways, encircled by a myrtle grove:
even in death their troubles do not leave them.
Here Aeneas saw Phaedra, and Procris, and sad Eriphyle,
displaying the wounds made by her cruel son,
Evadne, and Pasiphae: with them walked Laodamia,
and Caeneus, now a woman, once a young man,
returned by her fate to her own form again.
Among them Phoenician Dido wandered, in the great wood,
her wound still fresh. As soon as the Trojan hero stood near her
and knew her, shadowy among the shadows, like a man who sees,
or thinks he sees, the new moon rising through a cloud, as its month
begins, he wept tears and spoke to her with tender affection:
‘Dido, unhappy spirit, was the news, that came to me
of your death, true then, taking your life with a blade?
Alas, was I the cause of your dying? I swear by the stars,
by the gods above, by whatever truth may be in the depths
of the earth, I left your shores unwillingly, my queen.
I was commanded by gods, who drove me by their decrees,
that now force me to go among the shades, through places
thorny with neglect, and deepest night: nor did I think
my leaving there would ever bring such grief to you.
Halt your footsteps and do not take yourself from my sight.
What do you flee? This is the last speech with you that fate allows.’
With such words Aeneas would have calmed
her fiery spirit and wild looks, and provoked her tears.
She turned away, her eyes fixed on the ground,
no more altered in expression by the speech he had begun
than if hard flint stood there, or a cliff of Parian marble.
At the last she tore herself away, and, hostile to him,
fled to the shadowy grove where Sychaeus, her husband
in former times, responded to her suffering, and gave her
love for love. Aeneas, no less shaken by the injustice of fate,
followed her, far off, with his tears, and pitied her as she went.
Lugentes campi; sic illos nomine dicunt.
hic quos durus amor crudeli tabe peredit
secreti celant calles et myrtea circum
silua tegit; curae non ipsa in morte relinquunt.
his Phaedram Procrinque locis maestamque Eriphylen 445
crudelis nati monstrantem uulnera cernit,
Euadnenque et Pasiphaen; his Laodamia
it comes et iuuenis quondam, nunc femina, Caeneus
rursus et in ueterem fato reuoluta figuram.
inter quas Phoenissa recens a uulnere Dido 450
errabat silua in magna; quam Troius heros
ut primum iuxta stetit agnouitque per umbras
obscuram, qualem primo qui surgere mense
aut uidet aut uidisse putat per nubila lunam,
demisit lacrimas dulcique adfatus amore est: 455
'infelix Dido, uerus mihi nuntius ergo
uenerat exstinctam ferroque extrema secutam?
funeris heu tibi causa fui? per sidera iuro,
per superos et si qua fides tellure sub ima est,
inuitus, regina, tuo de litore cessi. 460
sed me iussa deum, quae nunc has ire per umbras,
per loca senta situ cogunt noctemque profundam,
imperiis egere suis; nec credere quiui
hunc tantum tibi me discessu ferre dolorem.
siste gradum teque aspectu ne subtrahe nostro. 465
quem fugis? extremum fato quod te adloquor hoc est.'
talibus Aeneas ardentem et torua tuentem
lenibat dictis animum lacrimasque ciebat.
illa solo fixos oculos auersa tenebat
nec magis incepto uultum sermone mouetur 470
quam si dura silex aut stet Marpesia cautes.
tandem corripuit sese atque inimica refugit
in nemus umbriferum, coniunx ubi pristinus illi
respondet curis aequatque Sychaeus amorem.
nec minus Aeneas casu percussus iniquo 475
prosequitur lacrimis longe et miseratur euntem.
BkVI:477-534 The Shade of Deiphobus
From there he laboured on the way that was granted them.
And soon they reached the most distant fields,
the remote places where those famous in war
crowd together. Here Tydeus met him, Parthenopaeus
glorious in arms, and the pale form of Adrastus:
here were the Trojans, wept for deeply above, fallen in war,
whom, seeing them all in their long ranks, he groaned at,
Glaucus, Medon and Thersilochus, the three sons of Antenor,
Polyboetes, the priest of Ceres, and Idaeus
still with his chariot, and his weapons.
Inde datum molitur iter. iamque arua tenebant
ultima, quae bello clari secreta frequentant.
hic illi occurrit Tydeus, hic inclutus armis
Parthenopaeus et Adrasti pallentis imago, 480
hic multum fleti ad superos belloque caduci
Dardanidae, quos ille omnis longo ordine cernens
ingemuit, Glaucumque Medontaque Thersilochumque,
tris Antenoridas Cererique sacrum Polyboeten,
Idaeumque etiam currus, etiam arma tenentem. 485
The spirits stand there in crowds to left and right.
They are not satisfied with seeing him only once:
they delight in lingering on, walking beside him,
and learning the reason for his coming.
But the Greek princes and Agamemnon’s phalanxes,
trembled with great fear, when they saw the hero,
and his gleaming weapons, among the shades:
some turned to run, as they once sought their ships: some raised
a faint cry, the noise they made belying their gaping mouths.
circumstant animae dextra laeuaque frequentes,
nec uidisse semel satis est; iuuat usque morari
et conferre gradum et ueniendi discere causas.
at Danaum proceres Agamemnoniaeque phalanges
ut uidere uirum fulgentiaque arma per umbras, 490
ingenti trepidare metu; pars uertere terga,
ceu quondam petiere rates, pars tollere uocem
exiguam: inceptus clamor frustratur hiantis.
And he saw Deiphobus there, Priam’s son, his whole body
mutilated, his face brutally torn, his face and hands both, the ears
ripped from his ruined head, his nostrils sheared by an ugly wound.
Indeed Aeneas barely recognised the quivering form, hiding its dire
punishment, even as he called to him, unprompted, in familiar tones:
‘Deiphobus, powerful in war, born of Teucer’s noble blood,
who chose to work such brutal punishment on you?
Who was allowed to treat you so? Rumour has it
that on that final night, wearied by endless killing of Greeks,
you sank down on a pile of the slaughtered.
Then I set up an empty tomb on the Rhoetean shore,
and called on your spirit three times in a loud voice.
Your name and weapons watch over the site: I could not
see you, friend, to set you, as I left, in your native soil.’
To this Priam’s son replied: ‘O my friend, you’ve neglected
nothing: you’ve paid all that’s due to Deiophobus
and a dead man’s spirit. My own destiny,
and that Spartan woman’s deadly crime, drowned me
in these sorrows: she left me these memorials.
You know how we passed that last night in illusory joy:
and you must remember it only too well.
When the fateful Horse came leaping the walls of Troy,
pregnant with the armed warriors it carried in its womb,
she led the Trojan women about, wailing in dance,
aping the Bacchic rites: she held a huge torch in their midst,
signalling to the Greeks from the heights of the citadel.
I was then in our unlucky marriage-chamber, worn out with care,
and heavy with sleep, a sweet deep slumber weighing on me
as I lay there, the very semblance of peaceful death.
Meanwhile that illustrious wife of mine removed every weapon
from the house, even stealing my faithful sword from under my head:
she calls Menelaus into the house and throws open the doors,
hoping I suppose it would prove a great gift for her lover,
and in that way the infamy of her past sins might be erased.
Why drag out the tale? They burst into the room, and with them
Ulysses the Aeolid, their co-inciter to wickedness. Gods, so repay
the Greeks, if these lips I pray for vengeance with are virtuous.
But you, in turn, tell what fate has brought you here, living.
Do you come here, driven by your wandering on the sea,
or exhorted by the gods? If not, what misfortune torments you,
that you enter these sad sunless houses, this troubled place?’
Atque hic Priamiden laniatum corpore toto
Deiphobum uidet et lacerum crudeliter ora, 495
ora manusque ambas, populataque tempora raptis
auribus et truncas inhonesto uulnere naris.
uix adeo agnouit pauitantem ac dira tegentem
supplicia, et notis compellat uocibus ultro:
'Deiphobe armipotens, genus alto a sanguine Teucri, 500
quis tam crudelis optauit sumere poenas?
cui tantum de te licuit? mihi fama suprema
nocte tulit fessum uasta te caede Pelasgum
procubuisse super confusae stragis aceruum.
tunc egomet tumulum Rhoeteo in litore inanem 505
constitui et magna manis ter uoce uocaui.
nomen et arma locum seruant; te, amice, nequiui
conspicere et patria decedens ponere terra.'
ad quae Priamides: 'nihil o tibi, amice, relictum;
omnia Deiphobo soluisti et funeris umbris. 510
sed me fata mea et scelus exitiale Lacaenae
his mersere malis; illa haec monimenta reliquit.
namque ut supremam falsa inter gaudia noctem
egerimus, nosti: et nimium meminisse necesse est.
cum fatalis equus saltu super ardua uenit 515
Pergama et armatum peditem grauis attulit aluo,
illa chorum simulans euhantis orgia circum
ducebat Phrygias; flammam media ipsa tenebat
ingentem et summa Danaos ex arce uocabat.
tum me confectum curis somnoque grauatum 520
infelix habuit thalamus, pressitque iacentem
dulcis et alta quies placidaeque simillima morti.
egregia interea coniunx arma omnia tectis
emouet, et fidum capiti subduxerat ensem:
intra tecta uocat Menelaum et limina pandit, 525
scilicet id magnum sperans fore munus amanti,
et famam exstingui ueterum sic posse malorum.
quid moror? inrumpunt thalamo, comes additus una
hortator scelerum Aeolides. di, talia Grais
instaurate, pio si poenas ore reposco. 530
sed te qui uiuum casus, age fare uicissim,
attulerint. pelagine uenis erroribus actus
an monitu diuum? an quae te fortuna fatigat,
ut tristis sine sole domos, loca turbida, adires?'
BkVI:535-627 The Sibyl Describes Tartarus
While they spoke Aurora and her rosy chariot had passed
the zenith of her ethereal path, and they might perhaps
have spent all the time allowed in such talk, but the Sibyl,
his companion, warned him briefly saying:
‘Night approaches, Aeneas: we waste the hours with weeping.
This is the place where the path splits itself in two:
there on the right is our road to Elysium, that runs beneath
the walls of mighty Dis: but the left works punishment
on the wicked, and sends them on to godless Tartarus.’
Deiophobus replied: ‘Do not be angry, great priestess:
I will leave: I will make up the numbers, and return to the darkness.
Go now glory of our race: enjoy a better fate.’
So he spoke, and in speaking turned away.
Hac uice sermonum roseis Aurora quadrigis 535
iam medium aetherio cursu traiecerat axem;
et fors omne datum traherent per talia tempus,
sed comes admonuit breuiterque adfata Sibylla est:
'nox ruit, Aenea; nos flendo ducimus horas.
hic locus est, partis ubi se uia findit in ambas: 540
dextera quae Ditis magni sub moenia tendit,
hac iter Elysium nobis; at laeua malorum
exercet poenas et ad impia Tartara mittit.'
Deiphobus contra: 'ne saeui, magna sacerdos;
discedam, explebo numerum reddarque tenebris. 545
i decus, i, nostrum; melioribus utere fatis.'
tantum effatus, et in uerbo uestigia torsit.
Aeneas suddenly looked back, and, below the left hand cliff,
he saw wide battlements, surrounded by a triple wall,
and encircled by a swift river of red-hot flames,
the Tartarean Phlegethon, churning with echoing rocks.
A gate fronts it, vast, with pillars of solid steel,
that no human force, not the heavenly gods themselves,
can overturn by war: an iron tower rises into the air,
and seated before it, Tisiphone, clothed in a blood-wet dress,
keeps guard of the doorway, sleeplessly, night and day.
Groans came from there, and the cruel sound of the lash,
then the clank of iron, and dragging chains.
Aeneas halted, and stood rooted, terrified by the noise.
‘What evil is practised here? O Virgin, tell me: by what torments
are they oppressed? Why are there such sounds in the air?’
Then the prophetess began to speak as follows: ‘Famous leader
of the Trojans, it is forbidden for the pure to cross the evil threshold:
but when Hecate appointed me to the wood of Avernus,
she taught me the divine torments, and guided me through them all.
Cretan Rhadamanthus rules this harshest of kingdoms,
and hears their guilt, extracts confessions, and punishes
whoever has deferred atonement for their sins too long
till death, delighting in useless concealment, in the world above.
Tisiphone the avenger, armed with her whip, leaps on the guilty immediately,
lashes them, and threatening them with the fierce
snakes in her left hand, calls to her savage troop of sisters.
Then at last the accursed doors open, screeching on jarring hinges.
You comprehend what guardian sits at the door, what shape watches
the threshold? Well still fiercer is the monstrous Hydra inside,
with her fifty black gaping jaws. There Tartarus itself
falls sheer, and stretches down into the darkness:
twice as far as we gaze upwards to heavenly Olympus.
Here the Titanic race, the ancient sons of Earth,
hurled down by the lightning-bolt, writhe in the depths.
And here I saw the two sons of Aloeus, giant forms,
who tried to tear down the heavens with their hands,
and topple Jupiter from his high kingdom.
And I saw Salmoneus paying a savage penalty
for imitating Jove’s lightning, and the Olympian thunder.
Brandishing a torch, and drawn by four horses
he rode in triumph among the Greeks, through Elis’s city,
claiming the gods’ honours as his own, a fool,
who mimicked the storm-clouds and the inimitable thunderbolt
with bronze cymbals and the sound of horses’ hoof-beats.
But the all-powerful father hurled his lighting from dense cloud,
not for him fiery torches, or pine-branches’ smoky light
and drove him headlong with the mighty whirlwind.
And Tityus was to be seen as well, the foster-child
of Earth, our universal mother, whose body stretches
over nine acres, and a great vulture with hooked beak
feeds on his indestructible liver, and his entrails ripe
for punishment, lodged deep inside the chest, groping
for his feast, no respite given to the ever-renewing tissue.
Shall I speak of the Lapiths, Ixion, Pirithous,
over whom hangs a dark crag that seems to slip and fall?
High couches for their feast gleam with golden frames,
and a banquet of royal luxury is spread before their eyes:
nearby the eldest Fury, crouching, prevents their fingers touching
the table: rising up, and brandishing her torch, with a voice of thunder.
Here are those who hated their brothers, in life,
or struck a parent, or contrived to defraud a client,
or who crouched alone over the riches they’d made,
without setting any aside for their kin (their crowd is largest),
those who were killed for adultery, or pursued civil war,
not fearing to break their pledges to their masters:
shut in they see their punishment. Don’t ask to know
that punishment, or what kind of suffering drowns them.
Some roll huge stones, or hang spread-eagled
on wheel-spokes: wretched Theseus sits still, and will sit
for eternity: Phlegyas, the most unfortunate, warns them all
and bears witness in a loud voice among the shades:
“Learn justice: be warned, and don’t despise the gods.”
Here’s one who sold his country for gold, and set up
a despotic lord: this one made law and remade it for a price:
he entered his daughter’s bed and a forbidden marriage:
all of them dared monstrous sin, and did what they dared.
Not if I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths,
a voice of iron, could I tell all the forms of wickedness
or spell out the names of every torment.’
Respicit Aeneas subito et sub rupe sinistra
moenia lata uidet triplici circumdata muro,
quae rapidus flammis ambit torrentibus amnis, 550
Tartareus Phlegethon, torquetque sonantia saxa.
porta aduersa ingens solidoque adamante columnae,
uis ut nulla uirum, non ipsi exscindere bello
caelicolae ualeant; stat ferrea turris ad auras,
Tisiphoneque sedens palla succincta cruenta 555
uestibulum exsomnis seruat noctesque diesque.
hinc exaudiri gemitus et saeua sonare
uerbera, tum stridor ferri tractaeque catenae.
constitit Aeneas strepitumque exterritus hausit.
'quae scelerum facies? o uirgo, effare; quibusue 560
urgentur poenis? quis tantus plangor ad auras?'
tum uates sic orsa loqui: 'dux inclute Teucrum,
nulli fas casto sceleratum insistere limen;
sed me cum lucis Hecate praefecit Auernis,
ipsa deum poenas docuit perque omnia duxit. 565
Cnosius haec Rhadamanthus habet durissima regna
castigatque auditque dolos subigitque fateri
quae quis apud superos furto laetatus inani
distulit in seram commissa piacula mortem.
continuo sontis ultrix accincta flagello 570
Tisiphone quatit insultans, toruosque sinistra
intentans anguis uocat agmina saeua sororum.
tum demum horrisono stridentes cardine sacrae
panduntur portae. cernis custodia qualis
uestibulo sedeat, facies quae limina seruet? 575
quinquaginta atris immanis hiatibus Hydra
saeuior intus habet sedem. tum Tartarus ipse
bis patet in praeceps tantum tenditque sub umbras
quantus ad aetherium caeli suspectus Olympum.
hic genus antiquum Terrae, Titania pubes, 580
fulmine deiecti fundo uoluuntur in imo.
hic et Aloidas geminos immania uidi
corpora, qui manibus magnum rescindere caelum
adgressi superisque Iouem detrudere regnis.
uidi et crudelis dantem Salmonea poenas, 585
dum flammas Iouis et sonitus imitatur Olympi.
quattuor hic inuectus equis et lampada quassans
per Graium populos mediaeque per Elidis urbem
ibat ouans, diuumque sibi poscebat honorem,
demens, qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen 590
aere et cornipedum pulsu simularet equorum.
at pater omnipotens densa inter nubila telum
contorsit, non ille faces nec fumea taedis
lumina, praecipitemque immani turbine adegit.
nec non et Tityon, Terrae omniparentis alumnum, 595
cernere erat, per tota nouem cui iugera corpus
porrigitur, rostroque immanis uultur obunco
immortale iecur tondens fecundaque poenis
uiscera rimaturque epulis habitatque sub alto
pectore, nec fibris requies datur ulla renatis. 600
quid memorem Lapithas, Ixiona Pirithoumque?
quos super atra silex iam iam lapsura cadentique
imminet adsimilis; lucent genialibus altis
aurea fulcra toris, epulaeque ante ora paratae
regifico luxu; Furiarum maxima iuxta 605
accubat et manibus prohibet contingere mensas,
exsurgitque facem attollens atque intonat ore.
hic, quibus inuisi fratres, dum uita manebat,
pulsatusue parens et fraus innexa clienti,
aut qui diuitiis soli incubuere repertis 610
nec partem posuere suis (quae maxima turba est),
quique ob adulterium caesi, quique arma secuti
impia nec ueriti dominorum fallere dextras,
inclusi poenam exspectant. ne quaere doceri
quam poenam, aut quae forma uiros fortunaue mersit. 615
saxum ingens uoluunt alii, radiisque rotarum
districti pendent; sedet aeternumque sedebit
infelix Theseus, Phlegyasque miserrimus omnis
admonet et magna testatur uoce per umbras:
"discite iustitiam moniti et non temnere diuos." 620
uendidit hic auro patriam dominumque potentem
imposuit; fixit leges pretio atque refixit;
hic thalamum inuasit natae uetitosque hymenaeos:
ausi omnes immane nefas ausoque potiti.
non, mihi si linguae centum sint oraque centum, 625
ferrea uox, omnis scelerum comprendere formas,
omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.'
BkVI:628-678 The Fields of Elysium
When she had spoken of this, the aged priestess of Apollo said:
‘But come now, travel the road, and complete the task set for you:
let us hurry, I see the battlements that were forged
in the Cyclopean fires, and the gates in the arch opposite us
where we are told to set down the gifts as ordered.’
She spoke and keeping step they hastened along the dark path
crossing the space between and arriving near the doors.
Aeneas gained the entrance, sprinkled fresh water
over his body, and set up the branch on the threshold before him.
Haec ubi dicta dedit Phoebi longaeua sacerdos,
'sed iam age, carpe uiam et susceptum perfice munus;
acceleremus' ait; 'Cyclopum educta caminis 630
moenia conspicio atque aduerso fornice portas,
haec ubi nos praecepta iubent deponere dona.'
dixerat et pariter gressi per opaca uiarum
corripiunt spatium medium foribusque propinquant.
occupat Aeneas aditum corpusque recenti 635
spargit aqua ramumque aduerso in limine figit.
Having at last achieved this, the goddess’s task fulfilled,
they came to the pleasant places, the delightful grassy turf
of the Fortunate Groves, and the homes of the blessed.
Here freer air and radiant light clothe the plain,
and these have their own sun, and their own stars.
Some exercise their bodies in a grassy gymnasium,
compete in sports and wrestle on the yellow sand:
others tread out the steps of a dance, and sing songs.
There Orpheus too, the long-robed priest of Thrace,
accompanies their voices with the seven-note scale,
playing now with fingers, now with the ivory quill.
Here are Teucer’s ancient people, loveliest of children,
great-hearted heroes, born in happier years,
Ilus, Assaracus, and Dardanus founder of Troy.
Aeneas marvels from a distance at their idle chariots
and their weapons: their spears fixed in the ground,
and their horses scattered freely browsing over the plain:
the pleasure they took in chariots and armour while alive,
the care in tending shining horses, follows them below the earth.
Look, he sees others on the grass to right and left, feasting,
and singing a joyful paean in chorus, among the fragrant
groves of laurel, out of which the Eridanus’s broad river
flows through the woodlands to the world above.
Here is the company of those who suffered wounds fighting
for their country: and those who were pure priests, while they lived,
and those who were faithful poets, singers worthy of Apollo,
and those who improved life, with discoveries in Art or Science,
and those who by merit caused others to remember them:
the brows of all these were bound with white headbands.
As they crowded round, the Sibyl addressed them,
Musaeus above all: since he holds the centre of the vast crowd,
all looking up to him, his tall shoulders towering above:
‘Blessed spirits, and you, greatest of Poets,
say what region or place contains Anchises. We have
come here, crossing the great rivers of Erebus, for him.’
And the hero replied to her briefly in these words:
‘None of us have a fixed abode: we live in the shadowy woods,
and make couches of river-banks, and inhabit fresh-water meadows.
But climb this ridge, if your hearts-wish so inclines,
and I will soon set you on an easy path.’
He spoke and went on before them, and showed them
the bright plains below: then they left the mountain heights.
His demum exactis, perfecto munere diuae,
deuenere locos laetos et amoena uirecta
fortunatorum nemorum sedesque beatas.
largior hic campos aether et lumine uestit 640
purpureo, solemque suum, sua sidera norunt.
pars in gramineis exercent membra palaestris,
contendunt ludo et fulua luctantur harena;
pars pedibus plaudunt choreas et carmina dicunt.
nec non Threicius longa cum ueste sacerdos 645
obloquitur numeris septem discrimina uocum,
iamque eadem digitis, iam pectine pulsat eburno.
hic genus antiquum Teucri, pulcherrima proles,
magnanimi heroes nati melioribus annis,
Ilusque Assaracusque et Troiae Dardanus auctor. 650
arma procul currusque uirum miratur inanis;
stant terra defixae hastae passimque soluti
per campum pascuntur equi. quae gratia currum
armorumque fuit uiuis, quae cura nitentis
pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos. 655
conspicit, ecce, alios dextra laeuaque per herbam
uescentis laetumque choro paeana canentis
inter odoratum lauris nemus, unde superne
plurimus Eridani per siluam uoluitur amnis.
hic manus ob patriam pugnando uulnera passi, 660
quique sacerdotes casti, dum uita manebat,
quique pii uates et Phoebo digna locuti,
inuentas aut qui uitam excoluere per artis
quique sui memores aliquos fecere merendo:
omnibus his niuea cinguntur tempora uitta. 665
quos circumfusos sic est adfata Sibylla,
Musaeum ante omnis (medium nam plurima turba
hunc habet atque umeris exstantem suspicit altis):
'dicite, felices animae tuque optime uates,
quae regio Anchisen, quis habet locus? illius ergo 670
uenimus et magnos Erebi tranauimus amnis.'
atque huic responsum paucis ita reddidit heros:
'nulli certa domus; lucis habitamus opacis,
riparumque toros et prata recentia riuis
incolimus. sed uos, si fert ita corde uoluntas, 675
hoc superate iugum, et facili iam tramite sistam.'
dixit, et ante tulit gressum camposque nitentis
desuper ostentat; dehinc summa cacumina linquunt.
BkVI:679-702 The Meeting with Anchises
But deep in a green valley his father Anchises
was surveying the spirits enclosed there, destined
for the light above, thinking carefully, and was reviewing
as it chanced the numbers of his own folk, his dear grandsons,
and their fate and fortunes as men, and their ways and works.
And when he saw Aeneas heading towards him over the grass
he stretched out both his hands eagerly, his face
streaming with tears, and a cry issued from his lips:
‘Have you come at last, and has the loyalty your father expected
conquered the harsh road? Is it granted me to see your face,
my son, and hear and speak in familiar tones?
I calculated it in my mind, and thought it would be so,
counting off the hours, nor has my trouble failed me.
From travel over what lands and seas, do I receive you!
What dangers have hurled you about, my son!
How I feared the realms of Libya might harm you!’
He answered: ‘Father, your image, yours, appearing to me
so often, drove me to reach this threshold:
My ships ride the Etruscan waves. Father, let me clasp
your hand, let me, and do not draw away from my embrace.’
So speaking, his face was also drowned in a flood of tears.
Three times he tries to throw his arms round his father’s neck,
three times, clasped in vain, that semblance slips though his hands,
like the light breeze, most of all like a winged dream.
At pater Anchises penitus conualle uirenti
inclusas animas superumque ad lumen ituras 680
lustrabat studio recolens, omnemque suorum
forte recensebat numerum, carosque nepotes
fataque fortunasque uirum moresque manusque.
isque ubi tendentem aduersum per gramina uidit
Aenean, alacris palmas utrasque tetendit, 685
effusaeque genis lacrimae et uox excidit ore:
'uenisti tandem, tuaque exspectata parenti
uicit iter durum pietas? datur ora tueri,
nate, tua et notas audire et reddere uoces?
sic equidem ducebam animo rebarque futurum 690
tempora dinumerans, nec me mea cura fefellit.
quas ego te terras et quanta per aequora uectum
accipio! quantis iactatum, nate, periclis!
quam metui ne quid Libyae tibi regna nocerent!'
ille autem: 'tua me, genitor, tua tristis imago 695
saepius occurrens haec limina tendere adegit;
stant sale Tyrrheno classes. da iungere dextram,
da, genitor, teque amplexu ne subtrahe nostro.'
sic memorans largo fletu simul ora rigabat.
ter conatus ibi colo dare bracchia circum; 700
ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
par leuibus uentis uolucrique simillima somno.
BkVI:703-723 The Souls Due for Re-birth
And now Aeneas saw a secluded grove
in a receding valley, with rustling woodland thickets,
and the river of Lethe gliding past those peaceful places.
Innumerable tribes and peoples hovered round it:
just as, in the meadows, on a cloudless summer’s day,
the bees settle on the multifarious flowers, and stream
round the bright lilies, and all the fields hum with their buzzing.
Aeneas was thrilled by the sudden sight, and, in ignorance,
asked the cause: what the river is in the distance,
who the men are crowding the banks in such numbers.
Then his father Anchises answered: ‘They are spirits,
owed a second body by destiny, and they drink
the happy waters, and a last forgetting, at Lethe’s stream.
Indeed, for a long time I’ve wished to tell you of them,
and show you them face to face, to enumerate my children’s
descendants, so you might joy with me more at finding Italy.’
‘O father, is it to be thought that any spirits go from here
to the sky above, returning again to dull matter?’
‘Indeed I’ll tell you, son, not keep you in doubt,’
Anchises answered, and revealed each thing in order.
Interea uidet Aeneas in ualle reducta
seclusum nemus et uirgulta sonantia siluae,
Lethaeumque domos placidas qui praenatat amnem. 705
hunc circum innumerae gentes populique uolabant:
ac ueluti in pratis ubi apes aestate serena
floribus insidunt uariis et candida circum
lilia funduntur, strepit omnis murmure campus.
horrescit uisu subito causasque requirit 710
inscius Aeneas, quae sint ea flumina porro,
quiue uiri tanto complerint agmine ripas.
tum pater Anchises: 'animae, quibus altera fato
corpora debentur, Lethaei ad fluminis undam
securos latices et longa obliuia potant. 715
has equidem memorare tibi atque ostendere coram
iampridem, hanc prolem cupio enumerare meorum,
quo magis Italia mecum laetere reperta.'
'o pater, anne aliquas ad caelum hinc ire putandum est
sublimis animas iterumque ad tarda reuerti 720
corpora? quae lucis miseris tam dira cupido?'
'dicam equidem nec te suspensum, nate, tenebo'
suscipit Anchises atque ordine singula pandit.
BkVI:724-751 The Transmigration of Souls
‘Firstly, a spirit within them nourishes the sky and earth,
the watery plains, the shining orb of the moon,
and Titan’s star, and Mind, flowing through matter,
vivifies the whole mass, and mingles with its vast frame.
From it come the species of man and beast, and winged lives,
and the monsters the sea contains beneath its marbled waves.
'Principio caelum ac terras camposque liquentis
lucentemque globum lunae Titaniaque astra 725
spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet.
inde hominum pecudumque genus uitaeque uolantum
et quae marmoreo fert monstra sub aequore pontus.
The power of those seeds is fiery, and their origin divine,
so long as harmful matter doesn’t impede them
and terrestrial bodies and mortal limbs don’t dull them.
Through those they fear and desire, and grieve and joy,
and enclosed in night and a dark dungeon, can’t see the light.
igneus est ollis uigor et caelestis origo 730
seminibus, quantum non noxia corpora tardant
terrenique hebetant artus moribundaque membra.
hinc metuunt cupiuntque, dolent gaudentque, neque auras
dispiciunt clausae tenebris et carcere caeco.
Why, when life leaves them at the final hour,
still all of the evil, all the plagues of the flesh, alas,
have not completely vanished, and many things, long hardened
deep within, must of necessity be ingrained, in strange ways.
quin et supremo cum lumine uita reliquit, 735
non tamen omne malum miseris nec funditus omnes
corporeae excedunt pestes, penitusque necesse est
multa diu concreta modis inolescere miris.
So they are scourged by torments, and pay the price
for former sins: some are hung, stretched out,
to the hollow winds, the taint of wickedness is cleansed
for others in vast gulfs, or burned away with fire:
ergo exercentur poenis ueterumque malorum
supplicia expendunt: aliae panduntur inanes 740
suspensae ad uentos, aliis sub gurgite uasto
infectum eluitur scelus aut exuritur igni:
each spirit suffers its own: then we are sent
through wide Elysium, and we few stay in the joyous fields,
for a length of days, till the cycle of time,
complete, removes the hardened stain, and leaves
pure ethereal thought, and the brightness of natural air.
quisque suos patimur manis. exinde per amplum
mittimur Elysium et pauci laeta arua tenemus,
donec longa dies perfecto temporis orbe 745
concretam exemit labem, purumque relinquit
aetherium sensum atque aurai simplicis ignem.
All these others the god calls in a great crowd to the river Lethe,
after they have turned the wheel for a thousand years,
so that, truly forgetting, they can revisit the vault above,
and begin with a desire to return to the flesh.’
has omnis, ubi mille rotam uoluere per annos,
Lethaeum ad fluuium deus euocat agmine magno,
scilicet immemores supera ut conuexa reuisant 750
rursus, et incipiant in corpora uelle reuerti.'
BkVI:752-776 The Future Race – The Alban Kings
Anchises had spoken, and he drew the Sibyl and his son, both
together, into the middle of the gathering and the murmuring crowd,
and chose a hill from which he could see all the long ranks
opposite, and watch their faces as they came by him.
Dixerat Anchises natumque unaque Sibyllam
conuentus trahit in medios turbamque sonantem,
et tumulum capit unde omnis longo ordine posset
aduersos legere et uenientum discere uultus. 755
‘Come, I will now explain what glory will pursue the children
of Dardanus, what descendants await you of the Italian race,
illustrious spirits to march onwards in our name, and I will teach
you your destiny. See that boy, who leans on a headless spear,
he is fated to hold a place nearest the light, first to rise
to the upper air, sharing Italian blood, Silvius, of Alban name,
your last-born son, who your wife Lavinia, late in your old age,
will give birth to in the wood, a king and the father of kings,
through whom our race will rule in Alba Longa.
Next to him is Procas, glory of the Trojan people,
and Capys and Numitor, and he who’ll revive your name,
Silvius Aeneas, outstanding like you in virtue and arms,
if he might at last achieve the Alban throne.
What men! See what authority they display,
their foreheads shaded by the civic oak-leaf crown!
They will build Nomentum, Gabii, and Fidenae’s city:
Collatia’s fortress in the hills, Pometii
and the Fort of Inus, and Bola, and Cora.
Those will be names that are now nameless land.
'Nunc age, Dardaniam prolem quae deinde sequatur
gloria, qui maneant Itala de gente nepotes,
inlustris animas nostrumque in nomen ituras,
expediam dictis, et te tua fata docebo.
ille, uides, pura iuuenis qui nititur hasta, 760
proxima sorte tenet lucis loca, primus ad auras
aetherias Italo commixtus sanguine surget,
Siluius, Albanum nomen, tua postuma proles,
quem tibi longaeuo serum Lauinia coniunx
educet siluis regem regumque parentem, 765
unde genus Longa nostrum dominabitur Alba.
proximus ille Procas, Troianae gloria gentis,
et Capys et Numitor et qui te nomine reddet
Siluius Aeneas, pariter pietate uel armis
egregius, si umquam regnandam acceperit Albam. 770
qui iuuenes! quantas ostentant, aspice, uiris
atque umbrata gerunt ciuili tempora quercu!
hi tibi Nomentum et Gabios urbemque Fidenam,
hi Collatinas imponent montibus arces,
Pometios Castrumque Inui Bolamque Coramque; 775
haec tum nomina erunt, nunc sunt sine nomine terrae.
BkVI:777-807 The Future Race – Romulus and the Caesars
Yes, and a child of Mars will join his grandfather to accompany him,
Romulus, whom his mother Ilia will bear, of Assaracus’s line.
See how Mars’s twin plumes stand on his crest, and his father
marks him out for the world above with his own emblems?
Behold, my son, under his command glorious Rome
will match earth’s power and heaven’s will, and encircle
seven hills with a single wall, happy in her race of men:
as Cybele, the Berecynthian ‘Great Mother’, crowned
with turrets, rides through the Phrygian cities, delighting
in her divine children, clasping a hundred descendants,
all gods, all dwelling in the heights above.
Now direct your eyes here, gaze at this people,
your own Romans. Here is Caesar, and all the offspring
of Iulus destined to live under the pole of heaven.
This is the man, this is him, whom you so often hear
promised you, Augustus Caesar, son of the Deified,
who will make a Golden Age again in the fields
where Saturn once reigned, and extend the empire beyond
the Libyans and the Indians (to a land that lies outside the zodiac’s belt,
beyond the sun’s ecliptic and the year’s, where sky-carrying Atlas
turns the sphere, inset with gleaming stars, on his shoulders):
Even now the Caspian realms, and Maeotian earth,
tremble at divine prophecies of his coming, and
the restless mouths of the seven-branched Nile are troubled.
Truly, Hercules never crossed so much of the earth,
though he shot the bronze-footed Arcadian deer, brought peace
to the woods of Erymanthus, made Lerna tremble at his bow:
nor did Bacchus, who steers his chariot, in triumph, with reins
made of vines, guiding his tigers down from Nysa’s high peak.
Do we really hesitate still to extend our power by our actions,
and does fear prevent us settling the Italian lands?
quin et auo comitem sese Mauortius addet
Romulus, Assaraci quem sanguinis Ilia mater
educet. uiden, ut geminae stant uertice cristae
et pater ipse suo superum iam signat honore? 780
en huius, nate, auspiciis illa incluta Roma
imperium terris, animos aequabit Olympo,
septemque una sibi muro circumdabit arces,
felix prole uirum: qualis Berecyntia mater
inuehitur curru Phrygias turrita per urbes 785
laeta deum partu, centum complexa nepotes,
omnis caelicolas, omnis supera alta tenentis.
huc geminas nunc flecte acies, hanc aspice gentem
Romanosque tuos. hic Caesar et omnis Iuli
progenies magnum caeli uentura sub axem. 790
hic uir, hic est, tibi quem promitti saepius audis,
Augustus Caesar, diui genus, aurea condet
saecula qui rursus Latio regnata per arua
Saturno quondam, super et Garamantas et Indos
proferet imperium; iacet extra sidera tellus, 795
extra anni solisque uias, ubi caelifer Atlas
axem umero torquet stellis ardentibus aptum.
huius in aduentum iam nunc et Caspia regna
responsis horrent diuum et Maeotia tellus,
et septemgemini turbant trepida ostia Nili. 800
nec uero Alcides tantum telluris obiuit,
fixerit aeripedem ceruam licet, aut Erymanthi
pacarit nemora et Lernam tremefecerit arcu;
nec qui pampineis uictor iuga flectit habenis
Liber, agens celso Nysae de uertice tigris. 805
et dubitamus adhuc uirtutem extendere factis,
aut metus Ausonia prohibet consistere terra?
BkVI:808-853 The Future Race – Republic and Beyond
Who is he, though, over there, distinguished by his olive branches,
carrying offerings? I know the hair and the white-bearded chin
of a king of Rome, Numa, called to supreme authority
from little Cures’s poverty-stricken earth, who will secure
our first city under the rule of law. Then Tullus
will succeed him who will shatter the country’s peace,
and call to arms sedentary men, ranks now unused to triumphs.
The over-boastful Ancus follows him closely,
delighting too much even now in the people’s opinion.
Will you look too at Tarquin’s dynasty, and the proud spirit
of Brutus the avenger, the rods of office reclaimed?
He’ll be the first to win a consul’s powers and the savage axes,
and when the sons foment a new civil war, the father
will call them to account, for lovely freedom’s sake:
ah, to be pitied, whatever posterity says of his actions:
his love of country will prevail, and great appetite for glory.
Ah, see over there, the Decii and Drusi, and Torquatus
brutal with the axe, and Camillus rescuing the standards.
quis procul ille autem ramis insignis oliuae
sacra ferens? nosco crinis incanaque menta
regis Romani primam qui legibus urbem 810
fundabit, Curibus paruis et paupere terra
missus in imperium magnum. cui deinde subibit
otia qui rumpet patriae residesque mouebit
Tullus in arma uiros et iam desueta triumphis
agmina. quem iuxta sequitur iactantior Ancus 815
nunc quoque iam nimium gaudens popularibus auris.
uis et Tarquinios reges animamque superbam
ultoris Bruti, fascisque uidere receptos?
consulis imperium hic primus saeuasque securis
accipiet, natosque pater noua bella mouentis 820
ad poenam pulchra pro libertate uocabit,
infelix, utcumque ferent ea facta minores:
uincet amor patriae laudumque immensa cupido.
quin Decios Drusosque procul saeuumque securi
aspice Torquatum et referentem signa Camillum. 825
But those others, you can discern, shining in matching armour,
souls in harmony now, while they are cloaked in darkness,
ah, if they reach the light of the living, what civil war
what battle and slaughter, they’ll cause, Julius Caesar,
the father-in-law, down from the Alpine ramparts, from the fortress
of Monoecus: Pompey, the son-in-law, opposing with Eastern forces.
My sons, don’t inure your spirits to such wars,
never turn the powerful forces of your country on itself:
You be the first to halt, you, who derive your race from heaven:
hurl the sword from your hand, who are of my blood!
There’s Mummius: triumphing over Corinth, he’ll drive his chariot,
victorious, to the high Capitol, famed for the Greeks he’s killed:
and Aemilius Paulus, who, avenging his Trojan ancestors, and Minerva’s
desecrated shrine, will destroy Agamemnon’s Mycenae, and Argos,
and Perseus the Aeacid himself, descendant of war-mighty Achilles.
Who would pass over you in silence, great Cato, or you Cossus,
or the Gracchus’s race, or the two Scipios, war’s lightning bolts,
the scourges of Libya, or you Fabricius, powerful in poverty,
or you, Regulus Serranus, sowing your furrow with seed?
illae autem paribus quas fulgere cernis in armis,
concordes animae nunc et dum nocte prementur,
heu quantum inter se bellum, si lumina uitae
attigerint, quantas acies stragemque ciebunt,
aggeribus socer Alpinis atque arce Monoeci 830
descendens, gener aduersis instructus Eois!
ne, pueri, ne tanta animis adsuescite bella
neu patriae ualidas in uiscera uertite uiris;
tuque prior, tu parce, genus qui ducis Olympo,
proice tela manu, sanguis meus!— 835
ille triumphata Capitolia ad alta Corintho
uictor aget currum caesis insignis Achiuis.
eruet ille Argos Agamemnoniasque Mycenas
ipsumque Aeaciden, genus armipotentis Achilli,
ultus auos Troiae templa et temerata Mineruae. 840
quis te, magne Cato, tacitum aut te, Cosse, relinquat?
quis Gracchi genus aut geminos, duo fulmina belli,
Scipiadas, cladem Libyae, paruoque potentem
Fabricium uel te sulco, Serrane, serentem?
Fabii, where do you hurry my weary steps? You, Fabius
Maximus, the Delayer, are he who alone renew our State.
Others (I can well believe) will hammer out bronze that breathes
with more delicacy than us, draw out living features
from the marble: plead their causes better, trace with instruments
the movement of the skies, and tell the rising of the constellations:
remember, Roman, it is for you to rule the nations with your power,
(that will be your skill) to crown peace with law,
to spare the conquered, and subdue the proud.’
quo fessum rapitis, Fabii? tu Maximus ille es, 845
unus qui nobis cunctando restituis rem.
excudent alii spirantia mollius aera
(credo equidem), uiuos ducent de marmore uultus,
orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent: 850
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.'
BkVI: 854-885 The Future Race – Marcellus
So father Anchises spoke, and while they marvelled, added:
‘See, how Claudius Marcellus, distinguished by the Supreme Prize,
comes forward, and towers, victorious, over other men.
As a knight, he’ll support the Roman State, turbulent
with fierce confusion, strike the Cathaginians and rebellious Gauls,
and dedicate captured weapons, a third time, to father Quirinus.’
And, at this, Aeneas said (since he saw a youth of outstanding
beauty with shining armour, walking with Marcellus,
but his face lacking in joy, and his eyes downcast):
‘Father, who is this who accompanies him on his way?
His son: or another of his long line of descendants?
What murmuring round them! What presence he has!
But dark night, with its sad shadows, hovers round his head.’
Then his father Anchises, with welling tears, replied:
‘O, do not ask about your people’s great sorrow, my son.
The Fates will only show him to the world, not allow him
to stay longer. The Roman people would seem
too powerful to you gods, if this gift were lasting.
What mourning from mankind that Field of Mars will
deliver to the mighty city! And what funeral processions
you, Tiber, will see, as you glide past his new-made tomb!
No boy of the line of Ilius shall so exalt his Latin
ancestors by his show of promise, nor will Romulus’s
land ever take more pride in one of its sons.
Alas for virtue, alas for the honour of ancient times,
and a hand invincible in war! No one might have attacked him
safely when armed, whether he met the enemy on foot,
or dug his spurs into the flank of his foaming charger.
Ah, boy to be pitied, if only you may shatter harsh fate,
you’ll be a Marcellus! Give me handfuls of white lilies,
let me scatter radiant flowers, let me load my scion’s spirit
with those gifts at least, in discharging that poor duty.’
Sic pater Anchises, atque haec mirantibus addit:
'aspice, ut insignis spoliis Marcellus opimis 855
ingreditur uictorque uiros supereminet omnis.
hic rem Romanam magno turbante tumultu
sistet eques, sternet Poenos Gallumque rebellem,
tertiaque arma patri suspendet capta Quirino.'
atque hic Aeneas (una namque ire uidebat 860
egregium forma iuuenem et fulgentibus armis,
sed frons laeta parum et deiecto lumina uultu)
'quis, pater, ille, uirum qui sic comitatur euntem?
filius, anne aliquis magna de stirpe nepotum?
qui strepitus circa comitum! quantum instar in ipso! 865
sed nox atra caput tristi circumuolat umbra.'
tum pater Anchises lacrimis ingressus obortis:
'o gnate, ingentem luctum ne quaere tuorum;
ostendent terris hunc tantum fata nec ultra
esse sinent. nimium uobis Romana propago 870
uisa potens, superi, propria haec si dona fuissent.
quantos ille uirum magnam Mauortis ad urbem
campus aget gemitus! uel quae, Tiberine, uidebis
funera, cum tumulum praeterlabere recentem!
nec puer Iliaca quisquam de gente Latinos 875
in tantum spe tollet auos, nec Romula quondam
ullo se tantum tellus iactabit alumno.
heu pietas, heu prisca fides inuictaque bello
dextera! non illi se quisquam impune tulisset
obuius armato, seu cum pedes iret in hostem 880
seu spumantis equi foderet calcaribus armos.
heu, miserande puer, si qua fata aspera rumpas,
tu Marcellus eris. manibus date lilia plenis
purpureos spargam flores animamque nepotis
his saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani 885
BkVI:886-901 The Gates of Sleep
So they wander here and there through the whole region,
over the wide airy plain, and gaze at everything.
And when Anchises has led his son through each place,
and inflamed his spirit with love of the glory that is to come,
he tells him then of the wars he must soon fight,
and teaches him about the Laurentine peoples,
and the city of Latinus, and how to avoid or face each trial.
munere.' sic tota passim regione uagantur
aeris in campis latis atque omnia lustrant.
quae postquam Anchises natum per singula duxit
incenditque animum famae uenientis amore,
exim bella uiro memorat quae deinde gerenda, 890
Laurentisque docet populos urbemque Latini,
et quo quemque modo fugiatque feratque laborem.
There are two gates of Sleep: one of which is said to be of horn,
through which an easy passage is given to true shades, the other
gleams with the whiteness of polished ivory, but through it
the Gods of the Dead send false dreams to the world above.
After his words, Anchises accompanies his son there, and,
frees him, together with the Sibyl, through the ivory gate.
Aeneas makes his way to the ships and rejoins his friends:
Sunt geminae Somni portae, quarum altera fertur
cornea, qua ueris facilis datur exitus umbris,
altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto, 895
sed falsa ad caelum mittunt insomnia Manes.
his ibi tum natum Anchises unaque Sibyllam
prosequitur dictis portaque emittit eburna,
ille uiam secat ad nauis sociosque reuisit.
then coasts straight to Caieta’s harbour along the shore.
The anchors are thrown from the prows: on the shore the sterns rest.
Tum se ad Caietae recto fert limite portum. 900
ancora de prora iacitur; stant litore puppes.
This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1998