Book III

When harsh Omnipotence had brought
The power of Asia’s kings to nought,
When Troy’s Neptunian walls became
A prostrate mass of smouldering flame,
To diverse exile we are driven
In desert lands, by signs from Heaven.
There in Antandros under Ide
The wished-for vessels we provide,
Unknowing whither Fate may lead
Or what the settlement decreed,
And call our forces round. The sun
His summer course had scarce begun,
When now my sire Anchises gave
His voice to tempt the fated wave:
Weeping I quit the port, the shore,
The plains where Ilium stood before,
And homeless launch upon the main,
Son, friends, and home-gods in my train.

A realm lies near, of ample space
(Lycurgus ruled it once), called Thrace,
Allied of old to Ilium’s powers,
Its home-gods federate with ours
While Fate was with us. Here I land,
And here along the winding strand
Trace out, alas! ’neath Fortune’s frown,
The first beginnings of a town,
And from myself as founder call
Æneadæ the rising wall.

To my bright mother’s power divine
And all the tenants of the skies,
So might they speed my new design,
I was performing sacrifice,
And on the shore to heaven’s high king
A snow-white bull was slaughtering.
A mound was nigh, where spear-like wood
Of cornel and of myrtle stood.
I sought it, and began to spoil
Of that thick growth the high-heaped soil
And deck the altars with its green,
When lo! a ghastly sight was seen.
Soon as a tree from earth I rend,
Dark-flowing drops of blood descend,
And stain the ground with gore:
Fear shakes my frame from head to foot:
A second sapling I uproot,
Resolved to pierce the mystery dark:
See, trickling from a second bark
Blood follows as before!
With many a tumult in my soul,
I prayed the Dryads of the place,
And king Gradivus, whose control
Is felt through all the fields of Thrace,
That they would meliorate the sight
And make this heavy omen light.
But when the third tall shaft I seize,
And ’gainst the hillock press my knees—
Speak shall I, or be mute?—
E’en from the bottom of the mound
Is heard a lamentable sound:
‘Why thus my frame, Æneas, rend?
Respect at length a buried friend,
Nor those pure hands pollute.
Trojan, not alien, is the blood
That oozes from the uptorn wood.
Fly this fell soil, these greedy shores:
The voice you hear is Polydore’s.
From my gored breast a growth of spears
Its murderous vegetation rears.’
I heard, fear-stricken and amazed,
My speech tongue-tied, my hair upraised.
This Polydore erewhile by stealth
With store of delegated wealth
Unhappy Priam in despair
Sent to the Thracian monarch’s care
When first Troy felt her prowess fail,
Encompassed by the leaguering pale.
Then, when our star its light withdraws,
False to divine and human laws,
The traitor joins the conqueror’s cause,
Lays impious hands on Polydore,
And grasps by force the golden store.
Fell lust of gold! abhorred, accurst!
What will not men to slake such thirst?
Soon as my blood regains its heat,
The direful portent I repeat
To Troy’s chief lords, and first my sire,
And their collective voice enquire.
All vote to fly from friendship’s grave,
Quit the curst soil, and cross the wave.
So then to Polydore we pay
New rites, and heap his mound with clay:
Raised to the dead, two altars stand
With cypress wreathed and woollen band:
Around them Trojan matrons go,
Their hair unbound in sign of woe:
Bowls frothing warm with milk we pour
And cups of sacrificial gore,
Lay in the tomb the ghost to sleep,
And thrice invoke it, loud and deep.

Then, soon as man may trust the seas,
Invited by the crisp spring breeze,
My comrades drag along the sand
The well-dried ships, and crowd the strand.
So from the harbour forth we sail,
And land and town in distance fail.
Encircled by a billowy ring
A land there lies, the loved resort
Of Neptune, the Ægæan king,
And the grey queen of Nereus’ court
Long time the sport of ev’ry blast
O’er ocean it was wont to toss,
Till grateful Phœbus moored it fast
To Gyaros and high Myconos,
And bade it lie unmoved, and brave
The violence of wind and wave.
That port, all peace, receives our fleet:
We land, and hail Apollo’s seat.
King Anius, king and priest in one,
With bay-crowned tresses hoar,
Hastes to accost us, and is known
Anchises’ friend of yore.
We grasp his friendly hand in proof
Of welcome, and approach his roof.
The sacred temple I adored
Of immemorial stone:
‘O grant us, Thymbra’s gracious lord,
A mansion of our own!
Grant us a sure abiding place,
A habitation and a race!
Save our new Troy, the relics these
Of Achillean cruelties!
What guide to follow? what our goal?
Speak, Father, and inspire our soul.’
Scarce had I ceased, a trembling takes
The sacred courts, the bays divine,
The mountain to its centre shakes,
The tripod echoes from the shrine:
Prone as we fall with reverent fear,
A heavenly utterance strikes our ear:
‘Stout Dardan hearts, the realm of earth
Where first your nation sprang to birth,
That realm shall now receive you back:
Go, seek your ancient mother’s track.
There shall Æneas’ house, renewed
For ages, rule a world subdued.’
Thus Phœbus: and bewildered joy
Ran murmuring through the ranks of Troy,
Each asking, what the city walls
Whereto the God his wanderers

  By PanEris using Melati.

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