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Graeci Aulide. Fama.

EVENTS IN AULIS

Sadly his father, Priam, mourned for him,
not knowing that young Aesacus had assumed
wings on his shoulders, and was yet alive.
Then also Hector with his brothers made
complete but unavailing sacrifice,
upon a tomb which bore his carved name.
Paris was absent. But soon afterwards,
he brought into that land a ravished wife,
Helen, the cause of a disastrous war,
together with a thousand ships, and all
the great Pelasgian nation.

Vengeance would
not long have been delayed, but the fierce winds
raged over seas impassable, and held
the ships at fishy Aulis. They could not
be moved from the Boeotian land. Here, when
a sacrifice had been prepared to Jove,
according to the custom of their land,
and when the ancient altar glowed with fire,
the Greeks observed an azure colored snake
crawling up in a plane tree near the place
where they had just begun their sacrifice.
Among the highest branches was a nest,
with twice four birds—and those the serpent seized
together with the mother-bird as she
was fluttering round her loss. And every bird
the serpent buried in his greedy maw.
All stood amazed: but Calchas, who perceived
the truth, exclaimed, “Rejoice Pelasgian men,
for we shall conquer; Troy will fall; although
the toil of war must long continue—so
the nine birds equal nine long years of war.”
And while he prophesied, the serpent, coiled
about the tree, was transformed to a stone,
curled crooked as a snake.

but Nereus stormed
in those Aonian waves, and not a ship
moved forward. Some declared that Neptune thus
was aiding Troy, because he built the walls
of that great city. Not so Calchas, son
of Thestor! He knew all the truth, and told
them plainly that a virgin's blood
alone might end a virgin goddess' wrath.

The public good at last prevailed above
affection, and the duty of a king
at last proved stronger than a father's love:
when Iphigenia as a sacrifice,
stood by the altar with her weeping maids
and was about to offer her chaste blood,
the goddess, moved by pity, spread a mist
before their eyes, amid the sacred rites
and mournful supplications. It is said
she left a hind there in the maiden's place
and carried Iphigenia away. The hind,
as it was fitting, calmed Diana's rage
and also calmed the anger of the sea.
The thousand ships received the winds astern
and gained the Phrygian shore.

THE HOUSE OF FAME AND THE TROJAN CYGNUS

There is a spot
convenient in the center of the world,
between the land and sea and the wide heavens,
the meeting of the threefold universe.
From there is seen all things that anywhere
exist, although in distant regions far;
and there all sounds of earth and space are heard.

Fame is possessor of this chosen place,
and has her habitation in a tower,
which aids her view from that exalted highs.
And she has fixed there numerous avenues,
and openings, a thousand, to her tower
and no gates with closed entrance, for the house
is open, night and day, of sounding brass,
reechoing the tones of every voice.
It must repeat whatever it may hear;
and there's no rest, and silence in no part.
There is no clamor; but the murmuring sound
of subdued voices, such as may arise
from waves of a far sea, which one may hear
who listens at a distance; or the sound
which ends a thunderclap, when Jupiter
has clashed black clouds together. Fickle crowds
are always in that hall, that come and go,
and myriad rumors—false tales mixed with true—
are circulated in confusing words.
Some fill their empty ears with all this talk,
and some spread elsewhere all that's told to them.
The volume of wild fiction grows apace,
and each narrator adds to what he hears.

Credulity is there and rash Mistake,
and empty Joy, and coward Fear alarmed
by quick Sedition, and soft Whisper—all
of doubtful life. Fame sees what things are done
in heaven and on the sea, and on the earth.
She spies all things in the wide universe.

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