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To the swift fleet, which sped along the wave
To old Euboean Cumae's sacred shore.
They veer all prows to sea; the anchor fluke
Makes each ship sure, and shading the long strand
The rounded sterns jut o'er. Impetuously
The eager warriors leap forth to land
Upon Hesperian soil. One strikes the flint
To find the seed-spark hidden in its veins;
One breaks the thick-branched trees, and steals away
The shelter where the woodland creatures bide;
One leads his mates where living waters flow.
Aeneas, servant of the gods, ascends
The templed hill where lofty Phoebus reigns,
And that far-off, inviolable shrine
Of dread Sibylla, in stupendous cave,
O'er whose deep soul the god of Delos breathes
Prophetic gifts, unfolding things to come.
Here are pale Trivia's golden house and grove.
Here Daedalus, the ancient story tells,
Escaping Minos' power, and having made
Hazard of heaven on far-mounting wings,
Floated to northward, a cold, trackless way,
And lightly poised, at last, o'er Cumae's towers.
Here first to earth come down, he gave to thee
His gear of wings, Apollo! and ordained
Vast temples to thy name and altars fair.
On huge bronze doors Androgeos' death was done;
And Cecrops' children paid their debt of woe,
Where, seven and seven,—0 pitiable sight!—
The youths and maidens wait the annual doom,
Drawn out by lot from yonder marble urn.
Beyond, above a sea, lay carven Crete:—
The bull was there; the passion, the strange guile;
And Queen Pasiphae's brute-human son,
The Minotaur—of monstrous loves the sign.
Here was the toilsome, labyrinthine maze,
Where, pitying love-lorn Ariadne's tears,
The crafty Daedalus himself betrayed
The secret of his work; and gave the clue
To guide the path of Theseus through the gloom.
0 Icarus, in such well-graven scene
How proud thy place should be! but grief forbade:
Twice in pure gold a father's fingers strove
To shape thy fall, and twice they strove in vain.
Aeneas long the various work would scan;
But now Achates comes, and by his side
Deiphobe, the Sibyl, Glaucus' child.
Thus to the prince she spoke :
“Is this thine hour
To stand and wonder? Rather go obtain
From young unbroken herd the bullocks seven,
And seven yearling ewes, our wonted way.”
Thus to Aeneas; his attendants haste
To work her will; the priestess, calling loud,
Gathers the Trojans to her mountain-shrine.
Deep in the face of that Euboean crag
A cavern vast is hollowed out amain,
With hundred openings, a hundred mouths,
Whence voices flow, the Sibyl's answering songs.
While at the door they paused, the virgin cried :
“Ask now thy doom!—the god! the god is nigh!”
So saying, from her face its color flew,
Her twisted locks flowed free, the heaving breast
Swelled with her heart's wild blood; her stature seemed
Vaster, her accent more than mortal man,
As all th' oncoming god around her breathed :
“On with thy vows and prayers, 0 Trojan, on!
For only unto prayer this haunted cave
May its vast lips unclose.” She spake no more.
An icy shudder through the marrow ran
Of the bold Trojans; while their sacred King
Poured from his inmost soul this plaint and prayer :
“Phoebus, who ever for the woes of Troy
Hadst pitying eyes! who gavest deadly aim
To Paris when his Dardan shaft he hurled
On great Achilles! Thou hast guided me
Through many an unknown water, where the seas
Break upon kingdoms vast, and to the tribes
Of the remote Massyli, whose wild land
To Syrtes spreads. But now; because at last
I touch Hesperia's ever-fleeting bound,
May Troy's ill fate forsake me from this day!
0 gods and goddesses, beneath whose wrath
Dardania's glory and great Ilium stood,
Spare, for ye may, the remnant of my race!
And thou, most holy prophetess, whose soul
Foreknows events to come, grant to my prayer
(Which asks no kingdom save what Fate decrees)
That I may stablish in the Latin land
My Trojans, my far-wandering household-gods,
And storm-tossed deities of fallen Troy.
Then unto Phoebus and his sister pale
A temple all of marble shall be given,
And festal days to Phoebus evermore.
Thee also in my realms a spacious shrine
Shall honor; thy dark books and holy songs
I there will keep, to be my people's law;
And thee, benignant Sibyl for all time
A company of chosen priests shall serve.
O, not on leaves, light leaves, inscribe thy songs!
Lest, playthings of each breeze, they fly afar
In swift confusion! Sing thyself, I pray.”
So ceased his voice;the virgin through the cave,
Scarce bridled yet by Phoebus' hand divine,
Ecstatic swept along, and vainly stove
To fing its potent master from her breast;
But he more strongly plied his rein and curb
Upon her frenzied lips, and soon subdued
Her spirit fierce, and swayed her at his will.
Free and self-moved the cavern's hundred adoors
Swung open wide, and uttered to the air
The oracles the virgin-priestess sung :
“Thy long sea-perils thou hast safely passed;
But heavier woes await thee on the land.
Truly thy Trojans to Lavinian shore
Shall come—vex not thyself thereon—but, oh!
Shall rue their coming thither! war, red war!
And Tiber stained with bloody foam I see.
Simois, Xanthus, and the Dorian horde
Thou shalt behold; a new Achilles now
In Latium breathes,—he, too, of goddess born;
And Juno, burden of the sons of Troy,
Will vex them ever; while thyself shalt sue
In dire distress to many a town and tribe
Through Italy; the cause of so much ill
Again shall be a hostess-queen, again
A marriage-chamber for an alien bride.
Oh! yield not to thy woe, but front it ever,
And follow boldly whither Fortune calls.
Thy way of safety, as thou least couldst dream,
Lies through a city of the Greeks, thy foes.”
Thus from her shrine Cumaea's prophetess
Chanted the dark decrees; the dreadful sound
Reverberated through the bellowing cave,
Commingling truth with ecstasies obscure.
Apollo, as she raged, flung loosened rein,
And thrust beneath her heart a quickening spur.
When first her madness ceased, and her wild lips
Were still at last, the hero thus began :
“No tribulations new, 0 Sibyl blest,
Can now confront me; every future pain
I have foretasted; my prophetic soul
Endured each stroke of fate before it fell.
One boon I ask. If of th' infernal King
This be the portal where the murky wave
Of swollen Acheron o'erflows its bound,
Here let me enter and behold the face
Of my loved sire. Thy hand may point the way;
Thy word will open wide yon holy doors.
My father through the flames and falling spears,
Straight through the centre of our foes, I bore
Upon these shoulders. My long flight he shared
From sea to sea, and suffered at my side
The anger of rude waters and dark skies,—
Though weak—0 task too great for old and gray!
Thus as a suppliant at thy door to stand,
Was his behest and prayer. On son and sire,
0 gracious one, have pity,—for thy rule
Is over all; no vain authority
Hadst thou from Trivia o'er th' Avernian groves.
If Orpheus could call back his loved one's shade,
Emboldened by the lyre's melodious string :
If Pollux by the interchange of death
Redeemed his twin, and oft repassed the way :
If Theseus—but why name him? why recall
Alcides' task? I, too, am sprung from Jove.”
Thus, to the altar clinging, did he pray :
The Sibyl thus replied : “Offspring of Heaven,
Anchises' son, the downward path to death
Is easy; all the livelong night and day
Dark Pluto's door stands open for a guest.
But 0! remounting to the world of light,
This is a task indeed, a strife supreme.
Few, very few, whom righteous Jove did bless,
Or quenchless virtue carried to the stars,
Children of gods, have such a victory won.
Grim forests stop the way, and, gliding slow,
Cocytus circles through the sightless gloom.
But if it be thy dream and fond desire
Twice o'er the Stygian gulf to travel, twice
On glooms of Tartarus to set thine eyes,
If such mad quest be now thy pleasure—hear
What must be first fulfilled . A certain tree
Hides in obscurest shade a golden bough,
Of pliant stems and many a leaf of gold,
Sacred to Proserpine, infernal Queen.
Far in the grove it hides; in sunless vale
Deep shadows keep it in captivity.
No pilgrim to that underworld can pass
But he who plucks this burgeoned, leafy gold;
For this hath beauteous Proserpine ordained
Her chosen gift to be. Whene'er it is culled,
A branch out-leafing in like golden gleam,
A second wonder-stem, fails not to spring.
Therefore go seek it with uplifted eyes!
And when by will of Heaven thou findest it,
Reach forth and pluck; for at a touch it yields,
A free and willing gift, if Fate ordain;
But otherwise no mortal strength avails,
Nor strong, sharp steel, to rend it from the tree.
Another task awaits; thy friend's cold clay
Lies unentombed. Alas! thou art not ware
(While in my house thou lingerest, seeking light)
That all thy ships are by his death defiled.
Unto his resting-place and sepulchre,
Go, carry him! And sable victims bring,
In expiation, to his mournful shade.
So at the last on yonder Stygian groves,
And realms to things that breathe impassable,
Thine eye shall gaze.” So closed her lips inspired.
Aeneas then drew forth, with downcast eyes,
From that dark cavern, pondering in his heart
The riddle of his fate. His faithful friend
Achates at his side, with paces slow,
Companioned all his care, while their sad souls
Made mutual and oft-renewed surmise
What comrade dead, what cold and tombless clay,
The Sibyl's word would show.
But as they mused,
Behold Misenus on the dry sea-sands,
By hasty hand of death struck guiltless down!
A son of Aeolus, none better knew
To waken heroes by the clarion's call,
With war-enkindling sound. Great Hector's friend
In happier days, he oft at Hector's side
Strode to the fight with glittering lance and horn.
But when Achilles stripped his fallen foe,
This dauntless hero to Aeneas gave
Allegiance true, in not less noble cause.
But, on a day, he chanced beside the sea
To blow his shell-shaped horn, and wildly dared
Challenge the gods themselves to rival song;
Till jealous Triton, if the tale be true,
Grasped the rash mortal, and out-flung him far
'mid surf-beat rocks and waves of whirling foam.
Now from all sides, with tumult and loud cry,
The Trojans came,—Aeneas leading all
In faithful grief; they hasten to fulfil
The Sibyl's mandate, and with many a tear
Build, altar-wise, a pyre, of tree on tree
Heaped high as heaven : then they penetrate
The tall, old forest, where wild creatures bide,
And fell pitch-pines, or with resounding blows
Of axe and wedge, cleave oak and ash-tree through,
Or logs of rowan down the mountains roll.
Aeneas oversees and shares the toil,
Cheers on his mates, and swings a woodman's steel.
But, sad at heart with many a doubt and care,
O'erlooks the forest wide; then prays aloud :
“0, that the Golden Bough from this vast grove
Might o'er me shine! For, 0 Aeolides,
The oracle foretold thy fate, too well!”
Scarce had he spoken, when a pair of doves
Before his very eyes flew down from heaven
To the green turf below; the prince of Troy
Knew them his mother's birds, and joyful cried,
“0, guide me on, whatever path there be!
In airy travel through the woodland fly,
To where yon rare branch shades the blessed ground.
Fail thou not me, in this my doubtful hour,
0 heavenly mother!” So saying, his steps lie stayed,
Close watching whither they should signal give;
The lightly-feeding doves flit on and on,
Ever in easy ken of following eyes,
Till over foul Avernus' sulphurous throat
Swiftly they lift them through the liquid air,
In silent flight, and find a wished-for rest
On a twy-natured tree, where through green boughs
Flames forth the glowing gold's contrasted hue.
As in the wintry woodland bare and chill,
Fresh-budded shines the clinging mistletoe,
Whose seed is never from the parent tree
O'er whose round limbs its tawny tendrils twine,—
So shone th' out-leafing gold within the shade
Of dark holm-oak, and so its tinsel-bract
Rustled in each light breeze. Aeneas grasped
The lingering bough, broke it in eager haste,
And bore it straightway to the Sibyl's shrine.
Meanwhile the Trojans on the doleful shore
Bewailed Misenus, and brought tribute there
Of grief's last gift to his unheeding clay.
First, of the full-sapped pine and well-hewn oak
A lofty pyre they build; then sombre boughs
Around it wreathe, and in fair order range
Funereal cypress; glittering arms are piled
High over all; on blazing coals they lift
Cauldrons of brass brimmed o'er with waters pure;
And that cold, lifeless clay lave and anoint
With many a moan and cry; on their last couch
The poor, dead limbs they lay, and mantle o'er
With purple vesture and familiar pall.
Then in sad ministry the chosen few,
With eyes averted, as our sires did use,
Hold the enkindling torch beneath the pyre :
They gather up and burn the gifts of myrrh,
The sacred bread and bowls of flowing oil;
And when in flame the dying embers fall,
On thirsty ash they pour the streams of wine.
Good Corynaeus, in an urn of brass
The gathered relics hides; and three times round,
With blessed olive branch and sprinkling dew,
Purges the people with ablution cold,
In lustral rite; oft chanting, “Hail! Farewell!”
Faithful Aeneas for his comrade built
A mighty tomb, and dedicated there
Trophy of arms, with trumpet and with oar,
Beneath a windy hill, which now is called
“Misenus,”—for all time the name to bear.
After these toils, they hasten to fulfil
What else the Sibyl said. Straightway they find
A cave profound, of entrance gaping wide,
O'erhung with rock, in gloom of sheltering grove,
Near the dark waters of a lake, whereby
No bird might ever pass with scathless wing,
So dire an exhalation is breathed out
From that dark deep of death to upper air :—
Hence, in the Grecian tongue, Aornos called.
Here first four youthful bulls of swarthy hide
Were led for sacrifice; on each broad brow
The priestess sprinkled wine; 'twixt the two horns
Outplucked the lifted hair, and cast it forth
Upon the holy flames, beginning so
Her offerings; then loudly sued the power
of Hecate, a Queen in heaven and hell.
Some struck with knives, and caught in shallow bowls
The smoking blood. Aeneas' lifted hand
Smote with a sword a sable-fleeced ewe
To Night, the mother of th' Eumenides,
And Earth, her sister dread; next unto thee,
O Proserpine, a curst and barren cow;
Then unto Pluto, Stygian King, he built
An altar dark, and piled upon the flames
The ponderous entrails of the bulls, and poured
Free o'er the burning flesh the goodly oil.
Then lo! at dawn's dim, earliest beam began
Beneath their feet a groaning of the ground :
The wooded hill-tops shook, and, as it seemed,
She-hounds of hell howled viewless through the shade ,
To hail their Queen. “Away, 0 souls profane!
Stand far away!” the priestess shrieked, “nor dare
Unto this grove come near! Aeneas, on!
Begin thy journey! Draw thy sheathed blade!
Now, all thy courage! now, th' unshaken soul!”
She spoke, and burst into the yawning cave
With frenzied step; he follows where she leads,
And strides with feet unfaltering at her side.
Ye gods! who rule the spirits of the dead!
Ye voiceless shades and silent lands of night!
0 Phlegethon! 0 Chaos! let my song,
If it be lawful, in fit words declare
What I have heard; and by your help divine
Unfold what hidden things enshrouded lie
In that dark underworld of sightless gloom.
They walked exploring the unpeopled night,
Through Pluto's vacuous realms, and regions void,
As when one's path in dreary woodlands winds
Beneath a misty moon's deceiving ray,
When Jove has mantled all his heaven in shade,
And night seals up the beauty of the world.
In the first courts and entrances of Hell
Sorrows and vengeful Cares on couches lie :
There sad Old Age abides, Diseases pale,
And Fear, and Hunger, temptress to all crime;
Want, base and vile, and, two dread shapes to see,
Bondage and Death : then Sleep, Death's next of kin;
And dreams of guilty joy. Death-dealing War
Is ever at the doors, and hard thereby
The Furies' beds of steel, where wild-eyed Strife
Her snaky hair with blood-stained fillet binds.
There in the middle court a shadowy elm
Its ancient branches spreads, and in its leaves
Deluding visions ever haunt and cling.
Then come strange prodigies of bestial kind :
Centaurs are stabled there, and double shapes
Like Scylla, or the dragon Lerna bred,
With hideous scream; Briareus clutching far
His hundred hands, Chimaera girt with flame,
A crowd of Gorgons, Harpies of foul wing,
And giant Geryon's triple-monstered shade.
Aeneas, shuddering with sudden fear,
Drew sword and fronted them with naked steel;
And, save his sage conductress bade him know
These were but shapes and shadows sweeping by,
His stroke had cloven in vain the vacant air.
Hence the way leads to that Tartarean stream
Of Acheron, whose torrent fierce and foul
Disgorges in Cocytus all its sands.
A ferryman of gruesome guise keeps ward
Upon these waters,—Charon, foully garbed,
With unkempt, thick gray beard upon his chin,
And staring eyes of flame; a mantle coarse,
All stained and knotted, from his shoulder falls,
As with a pole he guides his craft, tends sail,
And in the black boat ferries o'er his dead;—
Old, but a god's old age looks fresh and strong.
To those dim shores the multitude streams on—
Husbands and wives, and pale, unbreathing forms
Of high-souled heroes, boys and virgins fair,
And strong youth at whose graves fond parents mourned.
As numberless the throng as leaves that fall
When autumn's early frost is on the grove;
Or like vast flocks of birds by winter's chill
Sent flying o'er wide seas to lands of flowers.
All stood beseeching to begin their voyage
Across that river, and reached out pale hands,
In passionate yearning for its distant shore.
But the grim boatman takes now these, now those,
Or thrusts unpitying from the stream away.
Aeneas, moved to wonder and deep awe,
Beheld the tumult; “Virgin seer!” he cried, .
“Why move the thronging ghosts toward yonder stream?
What seek they there? Or what election holds
That these unwilling linger, while their peers
Sweep forward yonder o'er the leaden waves?”
To him, in few, the aged Sibyl spoke :
“Son of Anchises, offspring of the gods,
Yon are Cocytus and the Stygian stream,
By whose dread power the gods themselves do fear
To take an oath in vain. Here far and wide
Thou seest the hapless throng that hath no grave.
That boatman Charon bears across the deep
Such as be sepulchred with holy care.
But over that loud flood and dreadful shore
No trav'ler may be borne, until in peace
His gathered ashes rest. A hundred years
Round this dark borderland some haunt and roam,
Then win late passage o'er the longed-for wave.”
Aeneas lingered for a little space,
Revolving in his soul with pitying prayer
Fate's partial way. But presently he sees
Leucaspis and the Lycian navy's lord,
Orontes; both of melancholy brow,
Both hapless and unhonored after death,
Whom, while from Troy they crossed the wind-swept seas,
A whirling tempest wrecked with ship and crew.
There, too, the helmsman Palinurus strayed :
Who, as he whilom watched the Libyan stars,
Had fallen, plunging from his lofty seat
Into the billowy deep. Aeneas now
Discerned his sad face through the blinding gloom,
And hailed him thus : “0 Palinurus, tell
What god was he who ravished thee away
From me and mine, beneath the o'crwhelming wave?
Speak on! for he who ne'er had spoke untrue,
Apollo's self, did mock my listening mind,
And chanted me a faithful oracle
That thou shouldst ride the seas unharmed, and touch
Ausonian shores. Is this the pledge divine?”
Then he, “0 chieftain of Anchises' race,
Apollo's tripod told thee not untrue.
No god did thrust me down beneath the wave,
For that strong rudder unto which I clung,
My charge and duty, and my ship's sole guide,
Wrenched from its place, dropped with me as I fell.
Not for myself—by the rude seas I swear—
Did I have terror, but lest thy good ship,
Stripped of her gear, and her poor pilot lost,
Should fail and founder in that rising flood.
Three wintry nights across the boundless main
The south wind buffeted and bore me on;
At the fourth daybreak, lifted from the surge,
I looked at last on Italy, and swam
With weary stroke on stroke unto the land.
Safe was I then. Alas! but as I climbed
With garments wet and heavy, my clenched hand
Grasping the steep rock, came a cruel horde
Upon me with drawn blades, accounting me—
So blind they were!—a wrecker's prize and spoil.
Now are the waves my tomb; and wandering winds
Toss me along the coast. 0, I implore,
By heaven's sweet light, by yonder upper air,
By thy lost father, by lulus dear,
Thy rising hope and joy, that from these woes,
Unconquered chieftain, thou wilt set me free!
Give me a grave where Velia's haven lies,
For thou hast power! Or if some path there be,
If thy celestial mother guide thee here
(For not, I ween, without the grace of gods
Wilt cross yon rivers vast, you Stygian pool)
Reach me a hand! and bear with thee along!
Until (least gift!) death bring me peace and calm.”
Such words he spoke: the priestess thus replied:
“Why, Palinurus, these unblest desires?
Wouldst thou, unsepulchred, behold the wave
Of Styx, stern river of th' Eumenides?
Wouldst thou, unbidden, tread its fearful strand?
Hope not by prayer to change the laws of Heaven!
But heed my words, and in thy memory
Cherish and keep, to cheer this evil time.
Lo, far and wide, led on by signs from Heaven,
Thy countrymen from many a templed town
Shall consecrate thy dust, and build thy tomb,
A tomb with annual feasts and votive flowers,
To Palinurus a perpetual fame!”
Thus was his anguish stayed, from his sad heart
Grief ebbed awhile, and even to this day,
Our land is glad such noble name to wear.
The twain continue now their destined way
Unto the river's edge. The Ferryman,
Who watched them through still groves approach his shore,
Hailed them, at distance, from the Stygian wave,
And with reproachful summons thus began:
“Whoe'er thou art that in this warrior guise
Unto my river comest,—quickly tell
Thine errand! Stay thee where thou standest now!
This is ghosts' land, for sleep and slumbrous dark.
That flesh and blood my Stygian ship should bear
Were lawless wrong. Unwillingly I took
Alcides, Theseus, and Pirithous,
Though sons of gods, too mighty to be quelled.
One bound in chains yon warder of Hell's door,
And dragged him trembling from our monarch's throne:
The others, impious, would steal away
Out of her bride-bed Pluto's ravished Queen.”
Briefly th' Amphrysian priestess made reply:
“Not ours, such guile: Fear not! This warrior's arms
Are innocent. Let Cerberus from his cave
Bay ceaselessly, the bloodless shades to scare;
Let Proserpine immaculately keep
The house and honor of her kinsman King.
Trojan Aeneas, famed for faithful prayer
And victory in arms, descends to seek
His father in this gloomy deep of death.
If loyal goodness move not such as thee,
This branch at least” (she drew it from her breast)
“Thou knowest well.”
Then cooled his wrathful heart;
With silent lips he looked and wondering eyes
Upon that fateful, venerable wand,
Seen only once an age. Shoreward he turned,
And pushed their way his boat of leaden hue.
The rows of crouching ghosts along the thwarts
He scattered, cleared a passage, and gave room
To great Aeneas. The light shallop groaned
Beneath his weight, and, straining at each seam,
Took in the foul flood with unstinted flow.
At last the hero and his priestess-guide
Came safe across the river, and were moored
'mid sea-green sedges in the formless mire.
Here Cerberus, with triple-throated roar,
Made all the region ring, as there he lay
At vast length in his cave. The Sibyl then,
Seeing the serpents writhe around his neck,
Threw down a loaf with honeyed herbs imbued
And drowsy essences: he, ravenous,
Gaped wide his three fierce mouths and snatched the bait,
Crouched with his large backs loose upon the ground,
And filled his cavern floor from end to end.
Aeneas through hell's portal moved, while sleep
Its warder buried; then he fled that shore
Of Stygian stream, whence travellers ne'er return.
Now hears he sobs, and piteous, lisping cries
Of souls of babes upon the threshold plaining;
Whom, ere they took their portion of sweet life,
Dark Fate from nursing bosoms tore, and plunged
In bitterness of death. Nor far from these,
The throng of dead by unjust judgment slain.
Not without judge or law these realms abide:
Wise Minos there the urn of justice moves,
And holds assembly of the silent shades,
Hearing the stories of their lives and deeds.
Close on this place those doleful ghosts abide,
Who, not for crime, but loathing life and light
With their own hands took death, and cast away
The vital essence. Willingly, alas!
They now would suffer need, or burdens bear,
If only life were given! But Fate forbids.
Around them winds the sad, unlovely wave
Of Styx: nine times it coils and interflows.
Not far from hence, on every side outspread,
The Fields of Sorrow lie,—such name they bear;
Here all whom ruthless love did waste away
Wander in paths unseen, or in the gloom
Of dark myrtle grove: not even in death
Have they forgot their griefs of long ago.
Here impious Phaedra and poor Procris bide;
Lorn Eriphyle bares the vengeful wounds
Her own son's dagger made; Evadne here,
And foul Pasiphaë are seen; hard by,
Laodamia, nobly fond and fair;
And Caeneus, not a boy, but maiden now,
By Fate remoulded to her native seeming.
Here Tyrian Dido, too, her wound unhealed,
Roamed through a mighty wood. The Trojan's eyes
Beheld her near him through the murky gloom,
As when, in her young month and crescent pale,
One sees th' o'er-clouded moon, or thinks he sees.
Down dropped his tears, and thus he fondly spoke:
“0 suffering Dido! Were those tidings true
That thou didst fling thee on the fatal steel?
Thy death, ah me! I dealt it. But I swear
By stars above us, by the powers in Heaven,
Or whatsoever oath ye dead believe,
That not by choice I fled thy shores, 0 Queen!
Divine decrees compelled me, even as now
Among these ghosts I pass, and thread my way
Along this gulf of night and loathsome land.
How could I deem my cruel taking leave
Would bring thee at the last to all this woe?
0, stay! Why shun me? Wherefore haste away?
Our last farewell! Our doom! I speak it now!”
Thus, though she glared with fierce, relentless gaze,
Aaeneas, with fond words and tearful plea,
Would soothe her angry soul. But on the ground
She fixed averted eyes. For all he spoke
Moved her no more than if her frowning brow
Were changeless flint or carved in Parian stone.
Then, after pause, away in wrath she fled,
And refuge took within the cool, dark grove,
Where her first spouse, Sichaeus, with her tears
Mingled his own in mutual love and true.
Aeneas, none the less, her guiltless woe
With anguish knew, watched with dimmed eyes her way,
And pitied from afar the fallen Queen.
But now his destined way he must be gone;
Now the last regions round the travellers lie,
Where famous warriors in the darkness dwell:
Here Tydeus comes in view, with far-renowned
Parthenopaeus and Adrastus pale;
Here mourned in upper air with many a moan,
In battle fallen, the Dardanidae,
Whose long defile Aeneas groans to see:
Glaucus and Medon and Thersilochus,
Antenor's children three, and Ceres' priest,
That Polypoetes, and Idaeus still.
Keeping the kingly chariot and spear.
Around him left and right the crowding shades
Not only once would see, but clutch and cling
Obstructive, asking on what quest he goes.
Soon as the princes of Argolic blood,
With line on line of Agamemnon's men,
Beheld the hero and his glittering arms
Flash through the dark, they trembled with amaze,
Or turned in flight, as if once more they fled
To shelter of the ships; some raised aloft
A feeble shout, or vainly opened wide
Their gaping lips in mockery of sound.
Here Priam's son, with body rent and torn,
Deïphobus is seen,—his mangled face,
His face and bloody hands, his wounded head
Of ears and nostrils infamously shorn.
Scarce could Aeneas know the shuddering shade
That strove to hide its face and shameful scar;
But, speaking first, he said, in their own tongue:
“Deiphobus, strong warrior, nobly born
Of Teucer's royal stem, what ruthless foe
Could wish to wreak on thee this dire revenge?
Who ventured, unopposed, so vast a wrong?
The rumor reached me how, that deadly night,
Wearied with slaying Greeks, thyself didst fall
Prone on a mingled heap of friends and foes.
Then my own hands did for thy honor build
An empty tomb upon the Trojan shore,
And thrice with echoing voice I called thy shade.
Thy name and arms are there. But, 0 my friend,
Thee could I nowhere find, but launched away,
Nor o'er thy bones their native earth could fling.”
To him the son of Priam thus replied:
“Nay, friend, no hallowed rite was left undone,
But every debt to death and pity due
The shades of thy Deiphobus received.
My fate it was, and Helen's murderous wrong,
Wrought me this woe; of her these tokens tell.
For how that last night in false hope we passed,
Thou knowest,—ah, too well we both recall!
When up the steep of Troy the fateful horse
Came climbing, pregnant with fierce men-at-arms,
't was she, accurst, who led the Phrygian dames
In choric dance and false bacchantic song,
And, waving from the midst a lofty brand,
Signalled the Greeks from Ilium's central tower
In that same hour on my sad couch I lay,
Exhausted by long care and sunk in sleep,
That sweet, deep sleep, so close to tranquil death.
But my illustrious bride from all the house
Had stolen all arms; from 'neath my pillowed head
She stealthily bore off my trusty sword;
Then loud on Menelaus did she call,
And with her own false hand unbarred the door;
Such gift to her fond lord she fain would send
To blot the memory of his ancient wrong!
Why tell the tale, how on my couch they broke,
While their accomplice, vile Aeolides,
Counselled to many a crime. 0 heavenly Powers!
Reward these Greeks their deeds of wickedness,
If with clean lips upon your wrath I call!
But, friend, what fortunes have thy life befallen?
Tell point by point. Did waves of wandering seas
Drive thee this way, or some divine command?
What chastisement of fortune thrusts thee on
Toward this forlorn abode of night and cloud?”
While thus they talked, the crimsoned car of Morn
Had wheeled beyond the midmost point of heaven,
On her ethereal road. The princely pair
Had wasted thus the whole brief gift of hours;
But Sibyl spoke the warning: “Night speeds by,
And we, Aeneas, lose it in lamenting.
Here comes the place where cleaves our way in twain.
Thy road, the right, toward Pluto's dwelling goes,
And leads us to Elysium. But the left
Speeds sinful souls to doom, and is their path
To Tartarus th' accurst.” Deïphobus
Cried out: “0 priestess, be not wroth with us!
Back to the ranks with yonder ghosts I go.
0 glory of my race, pass on! Thy lot
Be happier than mine!” He spoke, and fled.
Aeneas straightway by the leftward cliff
Beheld a spreading rampart, high begirt
With triple wall, and circling round it ran
A raging river of swift floods of flame,
Infernal Phlegethon, which whirls along
Loud-thundering rocks. A mighty gate is there
Columned in adamant; no human power,
Nor even the gods, against this gate prevail.
Tall tower of steel it has; and seated there
Tisiphone, in blood-flecked pall arrayed,
Sleepless forever, guards the entering way.
Hence groans are heard, fierce cracks of lash and scourge,
Loud-clanking iron links and trailing chains.
Aeneas motionless with horror stood
o'erwhelmed at such uproar. “0 virgin, say
What shapes of guilt are these? What penal woe
Harries them thus? What wailing smites the air?”
To whom the Sibyl, “Far-famed prince of Troy,
The feet of innocence may never pass
Into this house of sin. But Hecate,
When o'er th' Avernian groves she gave me power,
Taught me what penalties the gods decree,
And showed me all. There Cretan Rhadamanth
His kingdom keeps, and from unpitying throne
Chastises and lays bare the secret sins
Of mortals who, exulting in vain guile,
Elude till death, their expiation due.
There, armed forever with her vengeful scourge,
Tisiphone, with menace and affront,
The guilty swarm pursues; in her left hand
She lifts her angered serpents, while she calls
A troop of sister-furies fierce as she.
Then, grating loud on hinge of sickening sound,
Hell's portals open wide. 0, dost thou see
What sentinel upon that threshold sits,
What shapes of fear keep guard upon that gloom?
Far, far within the dragon Hydra broods
With half a hundred mouths, gaping and black;
And Tartarus slopes downward to the dark
Twice the whole space that in the realms of light
Th' Olympian heaven above our earth aspires. —
Here Earth's first offspring, the Titanic brood,
Roll lightning-blasted in the gulf profound;
The twin Aloïdae, colossal shades,
Came on my view; their hands made stroke at Heaven
And strove to thrust Jove from his seat on high.
I saw Salmoneus his dread stripes endure,
Who dared to counterfeit Olympian thunder
And Jove's own fire. In chariot of four steeds,
Brandishing torches, he triumphant rode
Through throngs of Greeks, o'er Elis' sacred way,
Demanding worship as a god. 0 fool!
To mock the storm's inimitable flash—
With crash of hoofs and roll of brazen wheel!
But mightiest Jove from rampart of thick cloud
Hurled his own shaft, no flickering, mortal flame,
And in vast whirl of tempest laid him low.
Next unto these, on Tityos I looked,
Child of old Earth, whose womb all creatures bears:
Stretched o'er nine roods he lies; a vulture huge
Tears with hooked beak at his immortal side,
Or deep in entrails ever rife with pain
Gropes for a feast, making his haunt and home
In the great Titan bosom; nor will give
To ever new-born flesh surcease of woe.
Why name Ixion and Pirithous,
The Lapithae, above whose impious brows
A crag of flint hangs quaking to its fall,
As if just toppling down, while couches proud,
Propped upon golden pillars, bid them feast
In royal glory: but beside them lies
The eldest of the Furies, whose dread hands
Thrust from the feast away, and wave aloft
A flashing firebrand, with shrieks of woe.
Here in a prison-house awaiting doom
Are men who hated, long as life endured,
Their brothers, or maltreated their gray sires,
Or tricked a humble friend; the men who grasped
At hoarded riches, with their kith and kin
Not sharing ever—an unnumbered throng;
Here slain adulterers be; and men who dared
To fight in unjust cause, and break all faith
With their own lawful lords. Seek not to know
What forms of woe they feel, what fateful shape
Of retribution hath o'erwhelmed them there.
Some roll huge boulders up; some hang on wheels,
Lashed to the whirling spokes; in his sad seat
Theseus is sitting, nevermore to rise;
Unhappy Phlegyas uplifts his voice
In warning through the darkness, calling loud,
‘0, ere too late, learn justice and fear God!’
Yon traitor sold his country, and for gold
Enchained her to a tyrant, trafficking
In laws, for bribes enacted or made void;
Another did incestuously take
His daughter for a wife in lawless bonds.
All ventured some unclean, prodigious crime;
And what they dared, achieved. I could not tell,
Not with a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
Or iron voice, their divers shapes of sin,
Nor call by name the myriad pangs they bear.”
So spake Apollo's aged prophetess.
“Now up and on!” she cried. “Thy task fulfil!
We must make speed. Behold yon arching doors
Yon walls in furnace of the Cyclops forged!
'T is there we are commanded to lay down
Th' appointed offering.” So, side by side,
Swift through the intervening dark they strode,
And, drawing near the portal-arch, made pause.
Aeneas, taking station at the door,
Pure, lustral waters o'er his body threw,
And hung for garland there the Golden Bough.
Now, every rite fulfilled, and tribute due
Paid to the sovereign power of Proserpine,
At last within a land delectable
Their journey lay, through pleasurable bowers
Of groves where all is joy,—a blest abode!
An ampler sky its roseate light bestows
On that bright land, which sees the cloudless beam
Of suns and planets to our earth unknown.
On smooth green lawns, contending limb with limb,
Immortal athletes play, and wrestle long
'gainst mate or rival on the tawny sand;
With sounding footsteps and ecstatic song,
Some thread the dance divine: among them moves
The bard of Thrace, in flowing vesture clad,
Discoursing seven-noted melody,
Who sweeps the numbered strings with changeful hand,
Or smites with ivory point his golden lyre.
Here Trojans be of eldest, noblest race,
Great-hearted heroes, born in happier times,
Ilus, Assaracus, and Dardanus,
Illustrious builders of the Trojan town.
Their arms and shadowy chariots he views,
And lances fixed in earth, while through the fields
Their steeds without a bridle graze at will.
For if in life their darling passion ran
To chariots, arms, or glossy-coated steeds,
The self-same joy, though in their graves, they feel.
Lo! on the left and right at feast reclined
Are other blessed souls, whose chorus sings
Victorious paeans on the fragrant air
Of laurel groves; and hence to earth outpours
Eridanus, through forests rolling free.
Here dwell the brave who for their native land
Fell wounded on the field; here holy priests
Who kept them undefiled their mortal day;
And poets, of whom the true-inspired song
Deserved Apollo's name; and all who found
New arts, to make man's life more blest or fair;
Yea! here dwell all those dead whose deeds bequeath
Deserved and grateful memory to their kind.
And each bright brow a snow-white fillet wears.
Unto this host the Sibyl turned, and hailed
Musaeus, midmost of a numerous throng,
Who towered o'er his peers a shoulder higher:
“0 spirits blest! 0 venerable bard!
Declare what dwelling or what region holds
Anchises, for whose sake we twain essayed
Yon passage over the wide streams of hell.”
And briefly thus the hero made reply:
“No fixed abode is ours. In shadowy groves
We make our home, or meadows fresh and fair,
With streams whose flowery banks our couches be.
But you, if thitherward your wishes turn,
Climb yonder hill, where I your path may show.”
So saying, he strode forth and led them on,
Till from that vantage they had prospect fair
Of a wide, shining land; thence wending down,
They left the height they trod;for far below
Father Anchises in a pleasant vale
Stood pondering, while his eyes and thought surveyed
A host of prisoned spirits, who there abode
Awaiting entrance to terrestrial air.
And musing he reviewed the legions bright
Of his own progeny and offspring proud—
Their fates and fortunes, virtues and great deeds.
Soon he discerned Aeneas drawing nigh
o'er the green slope, and, lifting both his hands
In eager welcome, spread them swiftly forth.
Tears from his eyelids rained, and thus he spoke:
“Art here at last? Hath thy well-proven love
Of me thy sire achieved yon arduous way?
Will Heaven, beloved son, once more allow
That eye to eye we look? and shall I hear
Thy kindred accent mingling with my own?
I cherished long this hope. My prophet-soul
Numbered the lapse of days, nor did my thought
Deceive. 0, o'er what lands and seas wast driven
To this embrace! What perils manifold
Assailed thee, 0 my son, on every side!
How long I trembled, lest that Libyan throne
Should work thee woe!”
Aeneas thus replied:
“Thine image, sire, thy melancholy shade,
Came oft upon my vision, and impelled
My journey hitherward. Our fleet of ships
Lies safe at anchor in the Tuscan seas.
Come, clasp my hand! Come, father, I implore,
And heart to heart this fond embrace receive!”
So speaking, all his eyes suffused with tears;
Thrice would his arms in vain that shape enfold.
Thrice from the touch of hand the vision fled,
Like wafted winds or likest hovering dreams.
After these things Aeneas was aware
Of solemn groves in one deep, distant vale,
Where trees were whispering, and forever flowed
The river Lethe, through its land of calm.
Nations unnumbered roved and haunted there:
As when, upon a windless summer morn,
The bees afield among the rainbow flowers
Alight and sip, or round the lilies pure
Pour forth in busy swarm, while far diffused
Their murmured songs from all the meadows rise.
Aeneas in amaze the wonder views,
And fearfully inquires of whence and why;
What yonder rivers be; what people press,
Line after line, on those dim shores along.
Said Sire Anchises: “Yonder thronging souls
To reincarnate shape predestined move.
Here, at the river Lethe's wave, they quaff
Care-quelling floods, and long oblivion.
Of these I shall discourse, and to thy soul
Make visible the number and array
Of my posterity; so shall thy heart
In Italy, thy new-found home, rejoice.”
“0 father,” said Aeneas, “must I deem
That from this region souls exalted rise
To upper air, and shall once more return
To cumbering flesh? 0, wherefore do they feel,
Unhappy ones, such fatal lust to live?”
“I speak, my son, nor make thee longer doubt,”
Anchises said, and thus the truth set forth,
In ordered words from point to point unfolding:
“Know first that heaven and earth and ocean's plain,
The moon's bright orb, and stars of Titan birth
Are nourished by one Life; one primal Mind,
Immingled with the vast and general frame,
Fills every part and stirs the mighty whole.
Thence man and beast, thence creatures of the air,
And all the swarming monsters that be found
Beneath the level of the marbled sea;
A fiery virtue, a celestial power,
Their native seeds retain; but bodies vile,
With limbs of clay and members born to die,
Encumber and o'ercloud; whence also spring
Terrors and passions, suffering and joy;
For from deep darkness and captivity
All gaze but blindly on the radiant world.
Nor when to life's last beam they bid farewell
May sufferers cease from pain, nor quite be freed
From all their fleshly plagues; but by fixed law,
The strange, inveterate taint works deeply in.
For this, the chastisement of evils past
Is suffered here, and full requital paid.
Some hang on high, outstretched to viewless winds;
For some their sin's contagion must be purged
In vast ablution of deep-rolling seas,
Or burned away in fire. Each man receives
His ghostly portion in the world of dark;
But thence to realms Elysian we go free,
Where for a few these seats of bliss abide,
Till time's long lapse a perfect orb fulfils,
And takes all taint away, restoring so
The pure, ethereal soul's first virgin fire.
At last, when the millennial aeon strikes,
God calls them forth to yon Lethaean stream,
In numerous host, that thence, oblivious all,
They may behold once more the vaulted sky,
And willingly to shapes of flesh return.”
So spoke Anchises; then led forth his son,
The Sibyl with him, to the assembled shades
(A voiceful throng), and on a lofty mound
His station took, whence plainly could be seen
The long procession, and each face descried.
“Hark now! for of the glories I will tell
That wait our Dardan blood; of our sons' sons
Begot upon the old Italian breed,
Who shall be mighty spirits, and prolong
Our names, their heritage. I will unfold
The story, and reveal the destined years.
Yon princeling, thou beholdest leaning there
Upon a royal lance, shall next emerge
Into the realms of day. He is the first
Of half-Italian strain, the last-born heir
To thine old age by fair Lavinia given,
Called Silvius, a royal Alban name
(Of sylvan birth and sylvan nurture he),
A king himself and sire of kings to come,
By whom our race in Alba Longa reign.
Next Procas stands, our Trojan people's boast;
Capys and Numitor, and, named like thee,
Aeneas Sylvius, like thee renowned
For faithful honor and for deeds of war,
When he ascends at last his Alban throne.
Behold what warrior youth they be! How strong
Their goodly limbs! Above their shaded brows
The civic oak they wear! For thee they build
Nomentum, and the walls of Gabii,
Fidena too, and on the mountains pile
Collatia's citadels, Pometii,
Bola and Cora, Castrum-Inui—
Such be the names the nameless lands shall bear.
See, in that line of sires the son of Mars,
Great Romulus, of Ilian mother born,
From far-descended line of Trojan kings!
See from his helm the double crest uprear,
While his celestial father in his mien
Shows forth his birth divine! Of him, my son,
Great Rome shall rise, and, favored of his star,
Have power world-wide, and men of godlike mind.
She clasps her seven hills in single wall,
Proud mother of the brave! So Cybele,
The Berecynthian goddess, castle-crowned,
On through the Phrygian kingdoms speeds her car,
Exulting in her hundred sons divine,
All numbered with the gods, all throned on high.
“Let now thy visionary glance look long
On this thy race, these Romans that be thine.
Here Caesar, of Iulus' glorious seed,
Behold ascending to the world of light!
Behold, at last, that man, for this is he,
So oft unto thy listening ears foretold,
Augustus Caesar, kindred unto Jove.
He brings a golden age; he shall restore
Old Saturn's sceptre to our Latin land,
And o'er remotest Garamant and Ind
His sway extend; the fair dominion
outruns th' horizon planets, yea, beyond
The sun's bright path, where Atlas' shoulder bears
Yon dome of heaven set thick with burning stars.
Against his coming the far Caspian shores
Break forth in oracles; the Maeotian land
Trembles, and all the seven-fold mouths of Nile.
Not o'er domain so wide Alcides passed,
Although the brazen-footed doe he slew
And stilled the groves of Erymanth, and bade
The beast of Lerna at his arrows quail.
Nor half so far triumphant Baechus drove,
With vine-entwisted reins, his frolic team
Of tigers from the tall-topped Indian hill.
“Still do we doubt if heroes' deeds can fill
A realm so wide? Shall craven fear constrain
Thee or thy people from Ausonia's shore?
Look, who is he I may discern from far
By olive-branch and holy emblems known?
His flowing locks and hoary beard, behold!
Fit for a Roman king! By hallowed laws
He shall found Rome anew—from mean estate
In lowly Cures led to mightier sway.
But after him arises one whose reign
Shall wake the land from slumber: Tullus then
Shall stir slack chiefs to battle, rallying
His hosts which had forgot what triumphs be.
Him boastful Ancus follows hard upon,
o'erflushed with his light people's windy praise.
Wilt thou see Tarquins now? And haughty hand
Of vengeful Brutus seize the signs of power?
He first the consul's name shall take; he first
Th' inexorable fasces sternly bear.
When his own sons in rash rebellion join,
The father and the judge shall sentence give
In beauteous freedom's cause—unhappy he!
Howe'er the age to come the story tell,
't will bless such love of honor and of Rome.
See Decius, sire and son, the Drusi, see!
Behold Torquatus with his axe! Look where
Camillus brings the Gallic standards home!
“But who are these in glorious armor clad
And equal power? In this dark world of cloud
Their souls in concord move;—but woe is me!
What duel 'twixt them breaks, when by and by
The light of life is theirs, and forth they call
Their long-embattled lines to carnage dire!
Allied by nuptial truce, the sire descends
From Alpine rampart and that castled cliff,
Monoecus by the sea; the son arrays
His hostile legions in the lands of morn.
Forbear, my children! School not your great souls
In such vast wars, nor turn your giant strength
Against the bowels of your native land!
But be thou first, 0 first in mercy! thou
Who art of birth Olympian! Fling away
Thy glorious sword, mine offspring and mine heir!
“Yonder is one whose chariot shall ascend
The laurelled Capitolian steep; he rides
In glory o'er Achaea's hosts laid low,
And Corinth overthrown. There, too, is he
Who shall uproot proud Argos and the towers
Of Agamemnon; vanquishing the heir
Even of Aeacus, the warrior seed
Of Peleus' son; such vengeance shall be wrought
For Troy's slain sires, and violated shrines!
“Or who could fail great Cato's name to tell?
Or, Cossus, thine? or in oblivion leave
The sons of Gracchus? or the Scipios,
Twin thunderbolts of war, and Libya's bane?
Or, more than kingly in his mean abode,
Fabricius? or Serranus at the plough?
Ye Fabii, how far would ye prolong
My weary praise? But see! 'T is Maximus,
Who by wise waiting saves his native land.
“Let others melt and mould the breathing bronze
To forms more fair,—aye! out of marble bring
Features that live; let them plead causes well;
Or trace with pointed wand the cycled heaven,
And hail the constellations as they rise;
But thou, 0 Roman, learn with sovereign sway
To rule the nations. Thy great art shall be
To keep the world in lasting peace, to spare
humbled foe, and crush to earth the proud.”
So did Anchises speak, then, after pause,
Thus to their wondering ears his word prolonged:
“Behold Marcellus, bright with glorious spoil,
In lifted triumph through his warriors move!
The Roman power in tumultuous days
He shall establish; he rides forth to quell
Afric and rebel Gaul; and to the shrine
Of Romulus the third-won trophy brings.”
Then spoke Aeneas, for he now could see
A beauteous youth in glittering dress of war,
Though of sad forehead and down-dropping eyes:
“Say, father, who attends the prince? a son?
Or of his greatness some remoter heir?
How his friends praise him, and how matchless he!
But mournful night Tests darkly o'er his brow.”
With brimming eyes Anchises answer gave:
“Ask not, 0 son, what heavy weight of woe
Thy race shall bear, when fate shall just reveal
This vision to the world, then yield no more.
0 gods above, too glorious did ye deem
The seed of Rome, had this one gift been sure?
The lamentation of a multitude
Arises from the field of Mars, and strikes
The city's heart. 0 Father Tiber, see
What pomp of sorrow near the new-made tomb
Beside thy fleeting stream! What Ilian youth
Shall e'er his Latin kindred so advance
In hope of glory? When shall the proud land
Of Romulus of such a nursling boast?
Ah, woe' is me! 0 loyal heart and true!
0 brave, right arm invincible! What foe
Had 'scaped his onset in the shock of arms,
Whether on foot he strode, or if he spurred
The hot flanks of his war-horse flecked with foam?
0 lost, lamented child! If thou evade
Thy evil star, Marcellus thou shalt be.
0 bring me lilies! Bring with liberal hand!
Sad purple blossoms let me throw—the shade
Of my own kin to honor, heaping high
My gifts upon his grave! So let me pay
An unavailing vow!”
Then, far and wide
Through spacious fields of air, they wander free,
Witnessing all; Anchises guides his son
From point to point, and quickens in his mind
Hunger for future fame. Of wars he tells
Soon imminent; of fair Laurentum's tribes;
Of King Latinus' town; and shows what way
Each task and hardship to prevent, or bear.
Now Sleep has portals twain, whereof the one
Is horn, they say, and easy exit gives
To visions true; the other, gleaming white
With polished ivory, the.dead employ
To people night with unsubstantial dreams.
Here now Anchises bids his son farewell;
And with Sibylla, his companion sage,
Up through that ivory portal lets him rise.
Back to his fleet and his dear comrades all
Aeneas hastes. Then hold they their straight course
Into Caieta's bay. An anchor holds
Each lofty prow; the sterns stand firm on shore.
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