Book V

Meantime Æneas in his bark
Sails on, his purpose firm and fast,
And cuts the billows, glooming dark
Beneath the wintry northern blast:
Oft to the town he turns his eyes,
Whence Dido’s fires already rise.
What cause has lit so fierce a flame
They know not: but the pangs of shame
From great love wronged, and what despair
Can make a baffled woman dare,
All this they know, and knowing tread
The paths of presage, vague and dread.

The ships had passed into the main,
And land no longer met the eye,
On every side the watery plain,
On every side the expanse of sky;
When o’er his head a cloud there stood,
With night and tempest in its womb,
And all the surface of the flood
Was ruffled by the incumbent gloom.
E’en Palinure his fear confessed,
As from the stern he cries,
‘Ah! why do clouds so dark invest
The compass of the skies,
Or what has Neptune sire in store?’
This said, he makes them ply the oar,
And brace each rope: himself the sail
Turns edgewise to the driving gale,
Then thus resumes: ‘My gallant lord,
Though Jove himself should pledge his word,
I could not look to stem the seas
To Italy ’neath skies like these.
The winds are changed, and cross our path:
The West is darkening into wrath;
The dull air lowers in thickest mist;
Nor can we struggle or resist:
Come, let us bow to Fortune’s sway,
And, as she beckons, shape our way.
Not distant far, I judge, there lies
Your brother Eryx’ friendly shore,
Sicania’s port, if right my eyes
Retrace the stars they watched before.’
Æneas spoke: ‘Long since ’tis plain
The wind gives law, your toil is vain:
Let go the sheet and turn.
What country can I hold so sweet,
So welcome to my weary fleet,
As where Acestes lives and reigns,
True Trojan, and my sire’s remains
Are resting in their urn?’
This said, they haste them to the bay:
The favouring Zephyrs speed their way:
Swift rides the navy o’er the main,
And soon the well-known strand they gain.

From mountain-top Acestes marks
The coming of the friendly barks,
And hies him down, in woodland trim
Of hunting-spear and bearskin grim,
Born of a dame of Trojan blood
From union with Crimisus’ flood.
His fathers quicken in his veins:
He hails his kinsmen, come once more,
With rustic splendour entertains,
And cheers them from his friendly store.

Soon as the morrow’s dawning light
Had put the vanquished stars to flight,
Æneas thus from grassy mound
Bespeaks his comrades gathering round:
‘Brave Dardans, born of heavenly line,
A year its round of months has made
Since in the sepulchre we laid
The relics of my sire divine,
And mourning altars reared.
And now that day has come, to me
For evermore, by Heaven’s decree,
Embittered and endeared.
That day, though in Gætulian wild
It found me outcast and exiled,
Though tossing o’er the Ægæan foam
Or lurking in an Argive home,
That sacred day I still would keep,
And high with gifts the altars heap.
And now, as time and place conspire,
E’en at the ashes of my sire,
Not unconducted by the hand
Of favouring Gods, to-day we stand.
Then join we gladly in the rite:
Invoke the winds to speed our flight,
And pray that he we hold so dear
May take our offerings year by year,
Soon as our promised town we raise,
In temples sacred to his praise.
Acestes, Troy’s descendant true,
Bestows to-day on every crew
Two fair and stately steers:
Invite we then, the feast to grace,
The home-gods of our own proud race,
And those our host reveres.
Moreover, if the dawn dispense
Her light to earth nine morrows hence,
First for the Teucrians be decreed
A rivalry of naval speed:
Whose feet are swift to run the course,
Whose arm is nerved with manly force
To aim the dart and shaft aright
Or raw-hide gauntlets wield in fight,
Come all, bold hearts and eager eyes,
And he that earns, expect the prize.
Now hush your tongues from idle speech,
And take you garlands, all and each.’

Thus having said, he wreathes his brow
With his maternal myrtle-bough:
So too does Helymus, and so
Acestes with his locks of snow,
And young Ascanius: and the rest
Obey the example and behest.
Then to the tomb he moves along,
The centre of a circling throng:
There, mindful of the rite divine,
Two cups he pours of purest wine,
Two of new milk, and two of gore
From victims, on the grassy floor,
And scatters flowers of dazzling red,
And thus salutes the mighty dead:
‘Hail, sacred father! hail again,
Blest shade, blest ashes, snatched in vain
From foe, and fire, and sea!
Not mine with you the Italian shore
And Latian Tiber to explore,
Whoe’er that Tiber be!’
He ceased, when from the tomb below
A serpent, clad in glittering scales,
Seven coils, seven giant volumes trails,
Winds smoothly round the mound of green,
And glides the altar-fires between,
His long back dappled with a glow
Half green, half golden, like the bow
That flashes ’gainst the sunlit skies
A thousand variegated dyes.
Then, as amazed Æneas stood,
’Twixt bowl and cup the reptile wound,
Took tithing of the sacred food,
And harmless vanished ’neath the mound.
With zeal renewed, the duteous son
Applies him to the rite begun,
Unknowing in his wondering awe
How best to name the shape he saw,
The genius of the spot they tread,
Or menial follower of the dead:
At once he slays two fatted swine,
Two youngling

  By PanEris using Melati.

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