Book X

Meantime Olympus’ gate unfolds:
The Almighty Sire a council holds
In heaven’s sidereal hall,
Whence earth lies open to his view,
The camp of Troy, the Latian crew:
The Gods obey his call,
And range them on their golden seats:
Himself the high occasion treats:
‘Great powers of heaven, what change has wrought
Such dire revulsion in your thought?
Whence comes this madness of debate,
These passions flaming into hate?
My nod forbade the Italian folk
’Gainst Teucer’s sons to strike a stroke:
What mean your strifes that break my law?
What wild alarm could sway
Or these or those the sword to draw
And wake the sleeping fray?
The battle day at length shall come
(Let none foredate the hour of doom)
When Carthage town shall roll
On Rome’s seven hills the stormy tide,
And through the Alps cleave passage wide
To her predestined goal:
Then may you give your hate its fill,
And rage and ravage as you will:
Now cease, and ratify with me
The covenant I will shall be.’

Thus briefly Jove: but not in brief
Gives Venus utterance to her grief:
‘Dread lord of all above, below!
For other succour none we know
In this our trouble sore:
Seest thou hov swells the Rutules’ pride?
See Turnus in his triumph ride,
E’en on the crest of war’s fierce tide,
And bid its billows roar!
No more their walls my Trojans shield:
The camp is changed to battle-field:
The trenches float with gore.
Our chief in ignorance bides away:
What? leav’st us not one peaceful day
From siege and leaguer free?
Once more there lowers o’er rising Troy
A spoiler, eager to destroy,
With myriads fierce as he:
And Tydeus’ son once more is brought,
To fight, belike, as erst he fought.
Ay, sooth, I ween it is decreed
That Venus’ wounds again shall bleed,
And I, thy child, too long delay
The spear that gores, but cannot slay.
If unsecured by leave from thee
Troy’s sons have sailed to Italy,
Withdraw thine aid, and let them be,
To reap their folly’s due:
But if thy mandates they obeyed
By many a warning voice conveyed
From heaven above and nether shade,
Who dares to change thy firm decree
Or write the fates anew?
Why tell each bygone grievance o’er,
The fleet consumed on Eryx’ shore,
The monarch of the storm called forth,
The winds unchained, East, West and North,
Or Iris sent from high?
Nay, e’en the ghosts beneath she tries
(O’erlooked till now those choice allies):
Through Latian towns Alecto flies,
And taints the upper sky.
’Tis not for empire now I fear:
That was a hope which once was dear,
But let it pass: our blood is spilt,
Yet give the victory where thou wilt.
But O, if yet thy cruel spouse
Will grant no land where Troy may house,
By Ilium’s ruins I implore,
By that last agony she bore,
Release Ascanius from the strife,
And let my grandson ’scape with life!
His sire may roam on unknown seas,
And drift where Fate or Fortune please:
But let me snatch the child away
And save him from yon bloody fray.
Paphos and Amathus are mine,
And high Cythera’s bower:
There let him live, his arms resign,
Nor dream the dream of power.
On Italy let Carthage frown,
He shall not vex your Tyrian town.
What profit to have ’scaped the fight
And won his way in venturous flight
Through foe and fire and sword,
The rage of land and ocean spent,
While Troy on Latium still is bent,
And hopes her towers restored?
Best to have fixed them on the spot
Where Ilium’s embers still are hot,
Laid down their limbs by Xanthus’ flood,
And dwelt where once their city stood.
O Father! look on wretched men;
Give us our native streams again,
And let our progeny repeat
The old, old tale of Troy’s defeat!’

Then, by her rage to utterance stirred,
Imperial Juno took the word:
‘And must I then my silence break
And buried griefs to life awake?
What God above or man below
Your good Æneas forced to go
To war, and be Latinus’ foe?
Grant that to Italy he went,
By fate or mad Cassandra sent:
Who bade him quit his camp and trust
His life to every stormy gust,
Leave to a boy’s weak hands to guide
The war, and o’er his walls preside,
Seduce the Tyrrhenes, and molest
The peace of nations long at rest?
What force, what tyranny of ours
To such misventure led?
Where then were Juno’s baleful powers,
Or Iris downward sped?
’Tis shame Italians should engirth
Your infant Troy with sword and fire,
That Turnus on his parent earth
Should come and go at his desire,
Though nymph Venilia gave him birth
And blest Pilumnus was his sire:
And shall not Troy in turn feel shame
To ravage Latium’s fields with flame,
Play despot o’er an alien soil,
And carry flocks and herds for spoil,
Pick marriages at will, and bear
From others’ arms the plighted fair,
Make suit for peace with wool-wreathed bough,
Yet arm her ships from stern to prow?
Æneas from the conquering Greek
You filch away with ease,
And cheat them, when a man they seek,
With cloud and airy breeze:
You make his vessels change their guise,
And each and all as Nereids rise:
Yet call it crime, when Juno lends
Her succour to her Rutule friends.
Your chief in ignorance bides away;
And in his ignorance let him stay.
Paphos and Amathus are yours,
And high Cythera’s shade:
Why seek a sky where battle lowers,
And savage homes invade?
Are ours the hands that labour still
The ebbing strength of Troy to spill?
Our hands? or theirs that broke the peace
And gave her to the sword of Greece?
What fatal cause the quarrel sent
’Twixt continent

  By PanEris using Melati.

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