Book VI

So cries he while the tears run down,
And gives his fleet the rein,
Till, sailing on, the Euboic town
Of Cumæ they attain:
Toward the sea they turn their prores;
Each weary bark the anchor moors:
The crooked sterns invest the shores,
With buoyant hearts the youthful band
Leap out upon the Hesperian strand;
Some seek the fiery sparkles, sown
Deep in the veins of cold flint-stone:
Some fell the silvan-haunted woods,
And point with joy to new-found floods.

But to the height Æneas hies
Where Phœbus holds his seat,
And seeks the cave of wondrous size,
The Sibyl’s dread retreat—
The Sibyl, whom the Delian seer
Inspires to see the future clear,
And fills with frenzy’s heat:
The grove they enter, and behold
Above their heads the roof of gold.

Sage Dædalus, so runs the tale,
From Minos bent to fly,
On feathery pinions dared to sail
Along the untravelled sky,
Flies northward through the polar heights,
Nor stays till he on Cumæ lights.
First landed here, he consecrates
The wings whereon he flew
To Phœbus’ power, and dedicates
A fane of stately view.
Androgeos’ death the gates portray:
Then Cecrops’ sons appear,
Condemned the price of blood to pay,
Seven children year by year;
There, standing by the urn, they wait
The drawing of the lots of fate.
Emergent on the other side
The isle of Gnossus crests the tide;
Pasiphæ shows her sculptured face,
And Minotaur, of mingled race,
Memorial of her foul disgrace,
There too develops to the gaze
The all inextricable maze;
But Dædalus, with pity moved
For her who desperately loved,
Himself his own dark riddle read,
And gave a clue to guide the tread.
Thou too, poor Icarus, there hadst filled
No narrow room, if grief had willed:
Twice strove the sire thy tale to tell:
Twice the raised hands grew slack and fell.
So had they viewed the sculptures o’er,
But now Achates, sent before,
Returned, his errand done,
And at his side Deiphobe,
Phœbus and Dian’s priestess she,
Who thus her speech begun:
‘Not this the time, like idle folk,
The hungry gaze to feed:
Haste, doom ye to the victim-stroke
Seven bulls, unconscious of the yoke,
Seven ewes of choicest breed.’

This to Æneas; nor his band
Neglects the priestess’ high command;
And now she bids the Teucrian train
Attend her to the lofty fane.
Within the mountain’s hollow side
A cavern stretches high and wide:
A hundred entries thither lead;
A hundred voices thence proceed,
Each uttering forth the Sibyl’s rede.
The sacred threshold now they trod:
‘Pray for an answer! pray! the God,’
She cries, ‘the God is nigh!’
And as before the doors in view
She stands, her visage pales its hue,
Her locks dishevelled fly,
Her breath comes thick, her wild heart glows,
Dilating as the madness grows,
Her from looks larger to the eye,
Unearthly peals her deep- toned cry,
As breathing nearer and more near
The God comes rushing on his seer.
‘So slack,’ cries she, ‘at work divine?
Pray, Trojan, pray! not else the shrine
Its spell-bound silence breaks.’
A shudder through the Dardans stole:
Their chieftain from his inmost soul
His supplication makes:

‘Phœbus, who ever hadst a heart
For Ilium’s woe to feel,
Who guided Paris’ Dardan dart
True to Achilles’ heel,
So many seas round shores spread wide
Beneath thy conduct have I tried,
Massylian tribes, the ends of earth,
And climes which Libyan sands engirth;
Now scarce at last we lay our hand
On Italy’s receding land:
Suffice it, Troy’s malignant star
Has followed on our path thus far!
You too, ye Gods, may now forbear,
And these our hapless relics spare,
Whom Ilium in her prosperous hour
Affronted with o’erweening power.
And thou, dread maiden, who canst see
The vision of the things to be,
Vouchsafe the boon for which I sue—
My fates demand no lighter due—
That Troy and Troy’s lorn gods may find
In Latium rest from wave and wind.
Then to thy patron gods a fane
Of solid marble’s purest grain
My hand shall build, and festal days
Preserve in life Apollo’s praise.
Thee too in that my promised state
August observances await:
For there thy words I will enshrine
Delivered to my race and line,
And chosen ministers ordain,
Custodians of the sacred strain.
But O commit not, I implore,
To faithless leaves thy precious lore,
Lest by the wind’s wild eddies tost
Abroad they fly, their sequence lost.
Thyself the prophecy declare.’
He said, and speaking closed his prayer.
The seer, impatient of control,
Raves in the cavern vast,
And madly struggles from her soul
The incumbent power to cast:
He, mighty Master, plies the more
Her foaming mouth, all chafed and sore,
Tames her wild heart with plastic hand,
And makes her docile to command.
Now, all untouched, the hundred gates
Fly open, and proclaim the fates:
‘O freed at length from toils by sea!
But worse on land remain.
The warrior- sons of Dardany
Lavinium’s realm shall gain;
That fear dismiss; but Fortune cross
Shall make them wish their gain were loss.
War, dreadful war, and Tiber flood
I see incarnadined with blood.
Simois and Xanthus and the plain
Where Greece encamped shall rise again:
A new Achilles, goddess-born,
The destinies provide,
And Juno, like a rankling thorn,
Shall never quit your side,
While you, distressed and desolate,
Go knocking at

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.