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A famous from our database of over 100,000 Poems by famous and some not so famous people.

<< A Brilliant Poem by : Virgil >>

The Third Book of the Aeneis Part 2 by Virgil

O goddess-born, (for Heav'n's appointed will,
With greater auspices of good than ill,
Foreshows thy voyage, and thy course directs;
Thy fates conspire, and Jove himself protects,)
Of many things some few I shall explain,
Teach thee to shun the dangers of the main,
And how at length the promis'd shore to gain.
The rest the fates from Helenus conceal,
And Juno's angry pow'r forbids to tell.
First, then, that happy shore, that seems so nigh,
Will far from your deluded wishes fly;
Long tracts of seas divide your hopes from Italy:
For you must cruise along Sicilian shores,
And stem the currents with your struggling oars;
Then round th' Italian coast your navy steer;
And, after this, to Circe's island veer;
And, last, before your new foundations rise,
Must pass the Stygian lake, and view the nether skies.
Now mark the signs of future ease and rest,
And bear them safely treasur'd in thy breast.
When, in the shady shelter of a wood,
And near the margin of a gentle flood,
Thou shalt behold a sow upon the ground,
With thirty sucking young encompass'd round;
The dam and offspring white as falling snow--
These on thy city shall their name bestow,
And there shall end thy labors and thy woe.
Nor let the threaten'd famine fright thy mind,
For Phoebus will assist, and Fate the way will find.
Let not thy course to that ill coast be bent,
Which fronts from far th' Epirian continent:
Those parts are all by Grecian foes possess'd;
The salvage Locrians here the shores infest;
There fierce Idomeneus his city builds,
And guards with arms the Salentinian fields;
And on the mountain's brow Petilia stands,
Which Philoctetes with his troops commands.
Ev'n when thy fleet is landed on the shore,
And priests with holy vows the gods adore,
Then with a purple veil involve your eyes,
Lest hostile faces blast the sacrifice.
These rites and customs to the rest commend,
That to your pious race they may descend.
'When, parted hence, the wind, that ready waits
For Sicily, shall bear you to the straits
Where proud Pelorus opes a wider way,
Tack to the larboard, and stand off to sea:
Veer starboard sea and land. Th' Italian shore
And fair Sicilia's coast were one, before
An earthquake caus'd the flaw: the roaring tides
The passage broke that land from land divides;
And where the lands retir'd, the rushing ocean rides.
Distinguish'd by the straits, on either hand,
Now rising cities in long order stand,
And fruitful fields: so much can time invade
The mold'ring work that beauteous Nature made.
Far on the right, her dogs foul Scylla hides:
Charybdis roaring on the left presides,
And in her greedy whirlpool sucks the tides;
Then spouts them from below: with fury driv'n,
The waves mount up and wash the face of heav'n.
But Scylla from her den, with open jaws,
The sinking vessel in her eddy draws,
Then dashes on the rocks. A human face,
And virgin bosom, hides her tail's disgrace:
Her parts obscene below the waves descend,
With dogs inclos'd, and in a dolphin end.
'T is safer, then, to bear aloof to sea,
And coast Pachynus, tho' with more delay,
Than once to view misshapen Scylla near,
And the loud yell of wat'ry wolves to hear.
'Besides, if faith to Helenus be due,
And if prophetic Phoebus tell me true,
Do not this precept of your friend forget,
Which therefore more than once I must repeat:
Above the rest, great Juno's name adore;
Pay vows to Juno; Juno's aid implore.
Let gifts be to the mighty queen design'd,
And mollify with pray'rs her haughty mind.
Thus, at the length, your passage shall be free,
And you shall safe descend on Italy.
Arriv'd at Cumae, when you view the flood
Of black Avernus, and the sounding wood,
The mad prophetic Sibyl you shall find,
Dark in a cave, and on a rock reclin'd.
She sings the fates, and, in her frantic fits,
The notes and names, inscrib'd, to leafs commits.
What she commits to leafs, in order laid,
Before the cavern's entrance are display'd:
Unmov'd they lie; but, if a blast of wind
Without, or vapors issue from behind,
The leafs are borne aloft in liquid air,
And she resumes no more her museful care,
Nor gathers from the rocks her scatter'd verse,
Nor sets in order what the winds disperse.
Thus, many not succeeding, most upbraid
The madness of the visionary maid,
And with loud curses leave the mystic shade.
'Think it not loss of time a while to stay,
Tho' thy companions chide thy long delay;
Tho' summon'd to the seas, tho' pleasing gales
Invite thy course, and stretch thy swelling sails:
But beg the sacred priestess to relate
With willing words, and not to write thy fate.
The fierce Italian people she will show,
And all thy wars, and all thy future woe,
And what thou may'st avoid, and what must undergo.
She shall direct thy course, instruct thy mind,
And teach thee how the happy shores to find.
This is what Heav'n allows me to relate:
Now part in peace; pursue thy better fate,
And raise, by strength of arms, the Trojan state.'
'This when the priest with friendly voice declar'd,
He gave me license, and rich gifts prepar'd:
Bounteous of treasure, he supplied my want
With heavy gold, and polish'd elephant;
Then Dodonaean caldrons put on board,
And ev'ry ship with sums of silver stor'd.
A trusty coat of mail to me he sent,
Thrice chain'd with gold, for use and ornament;
The helm of Pyrrhus added to the rest,
That flourish'd with a plume and waving crest.
Nor was my sire forgotten, nor my friends;
And large recruits he to my navy sends:
Men, horses, captains, arms, and warlike stores;
Supplies new pilots, and new sweeping oars.
Meantime, my sire commands to hoist our sails,
Lest we should lose the first auspicious gales.
'The prophet bless'd the parting crew, and last,
With words like these, his ancient friend embrac'd:
'Old happy man, the care of gods above,
Whom heav'nly Venus honor'd with her love,
And twice preserv'd thy life, when Troy was lost,
Behold from far the wish'd Ausonian coast:
There land; but take a larger compass round,
For that before is all forbidden ground.
The shore that Phoebus has design'd for you,
At farther distance lies, conceal'd from view.
Go happy hence, and seek your new abodes,
Blest in a son, and favor'd by the gods:
For I with useless words prolong your stay,
When southern gales have summon'd you away.'
'Nor less the queen our parting thence deplor'd,
Nor was less bounteous than her Trojan lord.
A noble present to my son she brought,
A robe with flow'rs on golden tissue wrought,
A Phrygian vest; and loads with gifts beside
Of precious texture, and of Asian pride.
'Accept,' she said, 'these monuments of love,
Which in my youth with happier hands I wove:
Regard these trifles for the giver's sake;
'T is the last present Hector's wife can make.
Thou call'st my lost Astyanax to mind;
In thee his features and his form I find:
His eyes so sparkled with a lively flame;
Such were his motions; such was all his frame;
And ah! had Heav'n so pleas'd, his years had been the same.'
'With tears I took my last adieu, and said:
'Your fortune, happy pair, already made,
Leaves you no farther wish. My diff'rent state,
Avoiding one, incurs another fate.
To you a quiet seat the gods allow:
You have no shores to search, no seas to plow,
Nor fields of flying Italy to chase:
(Deluding visions, and a vain embrace!)
You see another Simois, and enjoy
The labor of your hands, another Troy,
With better auspice than her ancient tow'rs,
And less obnoxious to the Grecian pow'rs.
If e'er the gods, whom I with vows adore,
Conduct my steps to Tiber's happy shore;
If ever I ascend the Latian throne,
And build a city I may call my own;
As both of us our birth from Troy derive,
So let our kindred lines in concord live,
And both in acts of equal friendship strive.
Our fortunes, good or bad, shall be the same:
The double Troy shall differ but in name;
That what we now begin may never end,
But long to late posterity descend.'
'Near the Ceraunian rocks our course we bore;
The shortest passage to th' Italian shore.
Now had the sun withdrawn his radiant light,
And hills were hid in dusky shades of night:
We land, and, on the bosom of the ground,
A safe retreat and a bare lodging found.
Close by the shore we lay; the sailors keep
Their watches, and the rest securely sleep.
The night, proceeding on with silent pace,
Stood in her noon, and view'd with equal face
Her steepy rise and her declining race.
Then wakeful Palinurus rose, to spy
The face of heav'n, and the nocturnal sky;
And listen'd ev'ry breath of air to try;
Observes the stars, and notes their sliding course,
The Pleiads, Hyads, and their wat'ry force;
And both the Bears is careful to behold,
And bright Orion, arm'd with burnish'd gold.
Then, when he saw no threat'ning tempest nigh,
But a sure promise of a settled sky,
He gave the sign to weigh; we break our sleep,
Forsake the pleasing shore, and plow the deep.
'And now the rising morn with rosy light
Adorns the skies, and puts the stars to flight;
When we from far, like bluish mists, descry
The hills, and then the plains, of Italy.
Achates first pronounc'd the joyful sound;
Then, 'Italy!' the cheerful crew rebound.
My sire Anchises crown'd a cup with wine,
And, off'ring, thus implor'd the pow'rs divine:
'Ye gods, presiding over lands and seas,
And you who raging winds and waves appease,
Breathe on our swelling sails a prosp'rous wind,
And smooth our passage to the port assign'd!'
The gentle gales their flagging force renew,
And now the happy harbor is in view.
Minerva's temple then salutes our sight,
Plac'd, as a landmark, on the mountain's height.
We furl our sails, and turn the prows to shore;
The curling waters round the galleys roar.
The land lies open to the raging east,
Then, bending like a bow, with rocks compress'd,
Shuts out the storms; the winds and waves complain,
And vent their malice on the cliffs in vain.
The port lies hid within; on either side
Two tow'ring rocks the narrow mouth divide.
The temple, which aloft we view'd before,
To distance flies, and seems to shun the shore.
Scarce landed, the first omens I beheld
Were four white steeds that cropp'd the flow'ry field.
'War, war is threaten'd from this foreign ground,'
My father cried, 'where warlike steeds are found.
Yet, since reclaim'd to chariots they submit,
And bend to stubborn yokes, and champ the bit,
Peace may succeed to war.' Our way we bend
To Pallas, and the sacred hill ascend;
There prostrate to the fierce virago pray,
Whose temple was the landmark of our way.
Each with a Phrygian mantle veil'd his head,
And all commands of Helenus obey'd,
And pious rites to Grecian Juno paid.
These dues perform'd, we stretch our sails, and stand
To sea, forsaking that suspected land.
'From hence Tarentum's bay appears in view,
For Hercules renown'd, if fame be true.
Just opposite, Lacinian Juno stands;
Caulonian tow'rs, and Scylacaean strands,
For shipwrecks fear'd. Mount AEtna thence we spy,
Known by the smoky flames which cloud the sky.
Far off we hear the waves with surly sound
Invade the rocks, the rocks their groans rebound.
The billows break upon the sounding strand,
And roll the rising tide, impure with sand.
Then thus Anchises, in experience old:
'T is that Charybdis which the seer foretold,
And those the promis'd rocks! Bear off to sea!'
With haste the frighted mariners obey.
First Palinurus to the larboard veer'd;
Then all the fleet by his example steer'd.
To heav'n aloft on ridgy waves we ride,
Then down to hell descend, when they divide;
And thrice our galleys knock'd the stony ground,
And thrice the hollow rocks return'd the sound,
And thrice we saw the stars, that stood with dews around.
The flagging winds forsook us, with the sun;
And, wearied, on Cyclopian shores we run.
The port capacious, and secure from wind,
Is to the foot of thund'ring AEtna join'd.
By turns a pitchy cloud she rolls on high;
By turns hot embers from her entrails fly,
And flakes of mounting flames, that lick the sky.
Oft from her bowels massy rocks are thrown,
And, shiver'd by the force, come piecemeal down.
Oft liquid lakes of burning sulphur flow,
Fed from the fiery springs that boil below.
Enceladus, they say, transfix'd by Jove,
With blasted limbs came tumbling from above;
And, where he fell, th' avenging father drew
This flaming hill, and on his body threw.
As often as he turns his weary sides,
He shakes the solid isle, and smoke the heavens hides.
In shady woods we pass the tedious night,
Where bellowing sounds and groans our souls affright,
Of which no cause is offer'd to the sight;
For not one star was kindled in the sky,
Nor could the moon her borrow'd light supply;
For misty clouds involv'd the firmament,
The stars were muffled, and the moon was pent.
'Scarce had the rising sun the day reveal'd,
Scarce had his heat the pearly dews dispell'd,
When from the woods there bolts, before our sight,
Somewhat betwixt a mortal and a sprite,
So thin, so ghastly meager, and so wan,
So bare of flesh, he scarce resembled man.
This thing, all tatter'd, seem'd from far t' implore
Our pious aid, and pointed to the shore.
We look behind, then view his shaggy beard;
His clothes were tagg'd with thorns, and filth his limbs besmear'd;
The rest, in mien, in habit, and in face,
Appear'd a Greek, and such indeed he was.
He cast on us, from far, a frightful view,
Whom soon for Trojans and for foes he knew;
Stood still, and paus'd; then all at once began
To stretch his limbs, and trembled as he ran.
Soon as approach'd, upon his knees he falls,
And thus with tears and sighs for pity calls:
'Now, by the pow'rs above, and what we share
From Nature's common gift, this vital air,
O Trojans, take me hence! I beg no more;
But bear me far from this unhappy shore.
'T is true, I am a Greek, and farther own,
Among your foes besieg'd th' imperial town.
For such demerits if my death be due,
No more for this abandon'd life I sue;
This only favor let my tears obtain,
To throw me headlong in the rapid main:
Since nothing more than death my crime demands,
I die content, to die by human hands.'
He said, and on his knees my knees embrac'd:
I bade him boldly tell his fortune past,
His present state, his lineage, and his name,
Th' occasion of his fears, and whence he came.
The good Anchises rais'd him with his hand;
Who, thus encourag'd, answer'd our demand:
'From Ithaca, my native soil, I came
To Troy; and Achaemenides my name.
Me my poor father with Ulysses sent;
(O had I stay'd, with poverty content!)
But, fearful for themselves, my countrymen
Left me forsaken in the Cyclops' den.
The cave, tho' large, was dark; the dismal floor
Was pav'd with mangled limbs and putrid gore.
Our monstrous host, of more than human size,
Erects his head, and stares within the skies;
Bellowing his voice, and horrid is his hue.
Ye gods, remove this plague from mortal view!
The joints of slaughter'd wretches are his food;
And for his wine he quaffs the streaming blood.
These eyes beheld, when with his spacious hand
He seiz'd two captives of our Grecian band;
Stretch'd on his back, he dash'd against the stones
Their broken bodies, and their crackling bones:
With spouting blood the purple pavement swims,
While the dire glutton grinds the trembling limbs.
'Not unreveng'd Ulysses bore their fate,
Nor thoughtless of his own unhappy state;
For, gorg'd with flesh, and drunk with human wine
While fast asleep the giant lay supine,
Snoring aloud, and belching from his maw
His indigested foam, and morsels raw;
We pray; we cast the lots, and then surround
The monstrous body, stretch'd along the ground:
Each, as he could approach him, lends a hand
To bore his eyeball with a flaming brand.
Beneath his frowning forehead lay his eye;
For only one did the vast frame supply--
But that a globe so large, his front it fill'd,
Like the sun's disk or like a Grecian shield.
The stroke succeeds; and down the pupil bends:
This vengeance follow'd for our slaughter'd friends.
But haste, unhappy wretches, haste to fly!
Your cables cut, and on your oars rely!
Such, and so vast as Polypheme appears,
A hundred more this hated island bears:
Like him, in caves they shut their woolly sheep;
Like him, their herds on tops of mountains keep;
Like him, with mighty strides, they stalk from steep to steep.
And now three moons their sharpen'd horns renew,
Since thus, in woods and wilds, obscure from view,
I drag my loathsome days with mortal fright,
And in deserted caverns lodge by night;
Oft from the rocks a dreadful prospect see
Of the huge Cyclops, like a walking tree:
From far I hear his thund'ring voice resound,
And trampling feet that shake the solid ground.
Cornels and salvage berries of the wood,
And roots and herbs, have been my meager food.
While all around my longing eyes I cast,
I saw your happy ships appear at last.
On those I fix'd my hopes, to these I run;
'T is all I ask, this cruel race to shun;
What other death you please, yourselves bestow.'
'Scarce had he said, when on the mountain's brow
We saw the giant shepherd stalk before
His following flock, and leading to the shore:
A monstrous bulk, deform'd, depriv'd of sight;
His staff a trunk of pine, to guide his steps aright.
His pond'rous whistle from his neck descends;
His woolly care their pensive lord attends:
This only solace his hard fortune sends.
Soon as he reach'd the shore and touch'd the waves,
From his bor'd eye the gutt'ring blood he laves:
He gnash'd his teeth, and groan'd; thro' seas he strides,
And scarce the topmost billows touch'd his sides.
'Seiz'd with a sudden fear, we run to sea,
The cables cut, and silent haste away;
The well-deserving stranger entertain;
Then, buckling to the work, our oars divide the main.
The giant harken'd to the dashing sound:
But, when our vessels out of reach he found,
He strided onward, and in vain essay'd
Th' Ionian deep, and durst no farther wade.
With that he roar'd aloud: the dreadful cry
Shakes earth, and air, and seas; the billows fly
Before the bellowing noise to distant Italy.
The neighb'ring AEtna trembling all around,
The winding caverns echo to the sound.
His brother Cyclops hear the yelling roar,
And, rushing down the mountains, crowd the shore.
We saw their stern distorted looks, from far,
And one-eye'd glance, that vainly threaten'd war:
A dreadful council, with their heads on high;
(The misty clouds about their foreheads fly;)
Not yielding to the tow'ring tree of Jove,
Or tallest cypress of Diana's grove.
New pangs of mortal fear our minds assail;
We tug at ev'ry oar, and hoist up ev'ry sail,
And take th' advantage of the friendly gale.
Forewarn'd by Helenus, we strive to shun
Charybdis' gulf, nor dare to Scylla run.
An equal fate on either side appears:
We, tacking to the left, are free from fears;
For, from Pelorus' point, the North arose,
And drove us back where swift Pantagias flows.
His rocky mouth we pass, and make our way
By Thapsus and Megara's winding bay.
This passage Achaemenides had shown,
Tracing the course which he before had run.
'Right o'er against Plemmyrium's wat'ry strand,
There lies an isle once call'd th' Ortygian land.
Alpheus, as old fame reports, has found
From Greece a secret passage under ground,
By love to beauteous Arethusa led;
And, mingling here, they roll in the same sacred bed.
As Helenus enjoin'd, we next adore
Diana's name, protectress of the shore.
With prosp'rous gales we pass the quiet sounds
Of still Elorus, and his fruitful bounds.
Then, doubling Cape Pachynus, we survey
The rocky shore extended to the sea.
The town of Camarine from far we see,
And fenny lake, undrain'd by fate's decree.
In sight of the Geloan fields we pass,
And the large walls, where mighty Gela was;
Then Agragas, with lofty summits crown'd,
Long for the race of warlike steeds renown'd.
We pass'd Selinus, and the palmy land,
And widely shun the Lilybaean strand,
Unsafe, for secret rocks and moving sand.
At length on shore the weary fleet arriv'd,
Which Drepanum's unhappy port receiv'd.
Here, after endless labors, often toss'd
By raging storms, and driv'n on ev'ry coast,
My dear, dear father, spent with age, I lost:
Ease of my cares, and solace of my pain,
Sav'd thro' a thousand toils, but sav'd in vain.
The prophet, who my future woes reveal'd,
Yet this, the greatest and the worst, conceal'd;
And dire Celaeno, whose foreboding skill
Denounc'd all else, was silent of this ill.
This my last labor was. Some friendly god
From thence convey'd us to your blest abode.'
Thus, to the list'ning queen, the royal guest
His wand'ring course and all his toils express'd;
And here concluding, he retir'd to rest.

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