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new wiles, new schemes: how Cupid should transform
his countenance, and, coming in the guise
of sweet Ascanius, still more inflame
the amorous Queen with gifts, and deeply fuse
through all her yielding frame his fatal fire.
Sooth, Venus feared the many-languaged guile
which Tyrians use; fierce Juno's hate she feared,
and falling night renewed her sleepless care.
Therefore to Love, the light-winged god, she said:
“Sweet son, of whom my sovereignty and power
alone are given! O son, whose smile may scorn
the shafts of Jove whereby the Titans fell,
to thee I fly, and humbly here implore
thy help divine. Behold, from land to land
Aeneas, thine own brother, voyages on
storm-driven, by Juno's causeless enmity.
Thou knowest it well, and oft hast sighed to see
my sighs and tears. Dido the Tyrian now
detains him with soft speeches; and I fear
such courtesy from Juno means us ill;
she is not one who, when the hour is ripe,
bids action pause. I therefore now intend
the Tyrian Queen to snare, and siege her breast
with our invading fire, before some god
shall change her mood. But let her bosom burn
with love of my Aeneas not less than mine.
This thou canst bring to pass. I pray thee hear
the plan I counsel. At his father's call
Ascanius, heir of kings, makes haste to climb
to yon Sidonian citadel; my grace
protects him, and he bears gifts which were saved
from hazard of the sea and burning Troy.
Him lapped in slumber on Cythera's hill,
or in Idalia's deep and hallowing shade,
myself will hide, lest haply he should learn
our stratagem, and burst in, foiling all.
Wear thou his shape for one brief night thyself,
and let thy boyhood feign another boy's
familiar countenance; when Dido there,
beside the royal feast and flowing wine,
all smiles and joy, shall clasp thee to her breast
while she caresses thee, and her sweet lips
touch close with thine, then let thy secret fire
breathe o'er her heart, to poison and betray.”
The love-god to his mother's dear behest
gave prompt assent. He put his pinions by
and tripped it like Iulus, light of heart.
But Venus o'er Ascanius' body poured
a perfect sleep, and, to her heavenly breast
enfolding him, far, far away upbore
to fair Idalia's grove, where fragrant buds
of softly-petalled marjoram embower
in pleasurable shade.
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