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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 Fifth Book of Aeneis Part 4 by Virgil

The gauntlet fight thus ended, from the shore
His faithful friends unhappy Dares bore:
His mouth and nostrils pour'd a purple flood,
And pounded teeth came rushing with his blood.
Faintly he stagger'd thro' the hissing throng,
And hung his head, and trail'd his legs along.
The sword and casque are carried by his train;
But with his foe the palm and ox remain.
The champion, then, before AEneas came,
Proud of his prize, but prouder of his fame:
'O goddess-born, and you, Dardanian host,
Mark with attention, and forgive my boast;
Learn what I was, by what remains; and know
From what impending fate you sav'd my foe.'
Sternly he spoke, and then confronts the bull;
And, on his ample forehead aiming full,
The deadly stroke, descending, pierc'd the skull.
Down drops the beast, nor needs a second wound,
But sprawls in pangs of death, and spurns the ground.
Then, thus: 'In Dares' stead I offer this.
Eryx, accept a nobler sacrifice;
Take the last gift my wither'd arms can yield:
Thy gauntlets I resign, and here renounce the field.'
This done, AEneas orders, for the close,
The strife of archers with contending bows.
The mast Sergesthus' shatter'd galley bore
With his own hands he raises on the shore.
A flutt'ring dove upon the top they tie,
The living mark at which their arrows fly.
The rival archers in a line advance,
Their turn of shooting to receive from chance.
A helmet holds their names; the lots are drawn:
On the first scroll was read Hippocoon.
The people shout. Upon the next was found
Young Mnestheus, late with naval honors crown'd.
The third contain'd Eurytion's noble name,
Thy brother, Pandarus, and next in fame,
Whom Pallas urg'd the treaty to confound,
And send among the Greeks a feather'd wound.
Acestes in the bottom last remain'd,
Whom not his age from youthful sports restrain'd.
Soon all with vigor bend their trusty bows,
And from the quiver each his arrow chose.
Hippocoon's was the first: with forceful sway
It flew, and, whizzing, cut the liquid way.
Fix'd in the mast the feather'd weapon stands:
The fearful pigeon flutters in her bands,
And the tree trembled, and the shouting cries
Of the pleas'd people rend the vaulted skies.
Then Mnestheus to the head his arrow drove,
With lifted eyes, and took his aim above,
But made a glancing shot, and miss'd the dove;
Yet miss'd so narrow, that he cut the cord
Which fasten'd by the foot the flitting bird.
The captive thus releas'd, away she flies,
And beats with clapping wings the yielding skies.
His bow already bent, Eurytion stood;
And, having first invok'd his brother god,
His winged shaft with eager haste he sped.
The fatal message reach'd her as she fled:
She leaves her life aloft; she strikes the ground,
And renders back the weapon in the wound.
Acestes, grudging at his lot, remains,
Without a prize to gratify his pains.
Yet, shooting upward, sends his shaft, to show
An archer's art, and boast his twanging bow.
The feather'd arrow gave a dire portent,
And latter augurs judge from this event.
Chaf'd by the speed, it fir'd; and, as it flew,
A trail of following flames ascending drew:
Kindling they mount, and mark the shiny way;
Across the skies as falling meteors play,
And vanish into wind, or in a blaze decay.
The Trojans and Sicilians wildly stare,
And, trembling, turn their wonder into pray'r.
The Dardan prince put on a smiling face,
And strain'd Acestes with a close embrace;
Then, hon'ring him with gifts above the rest,
Turn'd the bad omen, nor his fears confess'd.
'The gods,' said he, 'this miracle have wrought,
And order'd you the prize without the lot.
Accept this goblet, rough with figur'd gold,
Which Thracian Cisseus gave my sire of old:
This pledge of ancient amity receive,
Which to my second sire I justly give.'
He said, and, with the trumpets' cheerful sound,
Proclaim'd him victor, and with laurel crown'd.
Nor good Eurytion envied him the prize,
Tho' he transfix'd the pigeon in the skies.
Who cut the line, with second gifts was grac'd;
The third was his whose arrow pierc'd the mast.
The chief, before the games were wholly done,
Call'd Periphantes, tutor to his son,
And whisper'd thus: 'With speed Ascanius find;
And, if his childish troop be ready join'd,
On horseback let him grace his grandsire's day,
And lead his equals arm'd in just array.'
He said; and, calling out, the cirque he clears.
The crowd withdrawn, an open plain appears.
And now the noble youths, of form divine,
Advance before their fathers, in a line;
The riders grace the steeds; the steeds with glory shine.
Thus marching on in military pride,
Shouts of applause resound from side to side.
Their casques adorn'd with laurel wreaths they wear,
Each brandishing aloft a cornel spear.
Some at their backs their gilded quivers bore;
Their chains of burnish'd gold hung down before.
Three graceful troops they form'd upon the green;
Three graceful leaders at their head were seen;
Twelve follow'd ev'ry chief, and left a space between.
The first young Priam led; a lovely boy,
Whose grandsire was th' unhappy king of Troy;
His race in after times was known to fame,
New honors adding to the Latian name;
And well the royal boy his Thracian steed became.
White were the fetlocks of his feet before,
And on his front a snowy star he bore.
Then beauteous Atys, with Iulus bred,
Of equal age, the second squadron led.
The last in order, but the first in place,
First in the lovely features of his face,
Rode fair Ascanius on a fiery steed,
Queen Dido's gift, and of the Tyrian breed.
Sure coursers for the rest the king ordains,
With golden bits adorn'd, and purple reins.
The pleas'd spectators peals of shouts renew,
And all the parents in the children view;
Their make, their motions, and their sprightly grace,
And hopes and fears alternate in their face.
Th' unfledg'd commanders and their martial train
First make the circuit of the sandy plain
Around their sires, and, at th' appointed sign,
Drawn up in beauteous order, form a line.
The second signal sounds, the troop divides
In three distinguish'd parts, with three distinguish'd guides.
Again they close, and once again disjoin;
In troop to troop oppos'd, and line to line.
They meet; they wheel; they throw their darts afar
With harmless rage and well-dissembled war.
Then in a round the mingled bodies run:
Flying they follow, and pursuing shun;
Broken, they break; and, rallying, they renew
In other forms the military shew.
At last, in order, undiscern'd they join,
And march together in a friendly line.
And, as the Cretan labyrinth of old,
With wand'ring ways and many a winding fold,
Involv'd the weary feet, without redress,
In a round error, which denied recess;
So fought the Trojan boys in warlike play,
Turn'd and return'd, and still a diff'rent way.
Thus dolphins in the deep each other chase
In circles, when they swim around the wat'ry race.
This game, these carousels, Ascanius taught;
And, building Alba, to the Latins brought;
Shew'd what he learn'd: the Latin sires impart
To their succeeding sons the graceful art;
From these imperial Rome receiv'd the game,
Which Troy, the youths the Trojan troop, they name.
Thus far the sacred sports they celebrate:
But Fortune soon resum'd her ancient hate;
For, while they pay the dead his annual dues,
Those envied rites Saturnian Juno views;
And sends the goddess of the various bow,
To try new methods of revenge below;
Supplies the winds to wing her airy way,
Where in the port secure the navy lay.
Swiftly fair Iris down her arch descends,
And, undiscern'd, her fatal voyage ends.
She saw the gath'ring crowd; and, gliding thence,
The desart shore, and fleet without defense.
The Trojan matrons, on the sands alone,
With sighs and tears Anchises' death bemoan;
Then, turning to the sea their weeping eyes,
Their pity to themselves renews their cries.
'Alas!' said one, 'what oceans yet remain
For us to sail! what labors to sustain!'
All take the word, and, with a gen'ral groan,
Implore the gods for peace, and places of their own.
The goddess, great in mischief, views their pains,
And in a woman's form her heav'nly limbs restrains.
In face and shape old Beroe she became,
Doryclus' wife, a venerable dame,
Once blest with riches, and a mother's name.
Thus chang'd, amidst the crying crowd she ran,
Mix'd with the matrons, and these words began:
'O wretched we, whom not the Grecian pow'r,
Nor flames, destroy'd, in Troy's unhappy hour!
O wretched we, reserv'd by cruel fate,
Beyond the ruins of the sinking state!
Now sev'n revolving years are wholly run,
Since this improsp'rous voyage we begun;
Since, toss'd from shores to shores, from lands to lands,
Inhospitable rocks and barren sands,
Wand'ring in exile thro' the stormy sea,
We search in vain for flying Italy.
Now cast by fortune on this kindred land,
What should our rest and rising walls withstand,
Or hinder here to fix our banish'd band?
O country lost, and gods redeem'd in vain,
If still in endless exile we remain!
Shall we no more the Trojan walls renew,
Or streams of some dissembled Simois view!
Haste, join with me, th' unhappy fleet consume!
Cassandra bids; and I declare her doom.
In sleep I saw her; she supplied my hands
(For this I more than dreamt) with flaming brands:
'With these,' said she, 'these wand'ring ships destroy:
These are your fatal seats, and this your Troy.'
Time calls you now; the precious hour employ:
Slack not the good presage, while Heav'n inspires
Our minds to dare, and gives the ready fires.
See! Neptune's altars minister their brands:
The god is pleas'd; the god supplies our hands.'
Then from the pile a flaming fire she drew,
And, toss'd in air, amidst the galleys threw.
Wrapp'd in amaze, the matrons wildly stare:
Then Pyrgo, reverenc'd for her hoary hair,
Pyrgo, the nurse of Priam's num'rous race:
'No Beroe this, tho' she belies her face!
What terrors from her frowning front arise!
Behold a goddess in her ardent eyes!
What rays around her heav'nly face are seen!
Mark her majestic voice, and more than mortal mien!
Beroe but now I left, whom, pin'd with pain,
Her age and anguish from these rites detain,'
She said. The matrons, seiz'd with new amaze,
Roll their malignant eyes, and on the navy gaze.
They fear, and hope, and neither part obey:
They hope the fated land, but fear the fatal way.
The goddess, having done her task below,
Mounts up on equal wings, and bends her painted bow.
Struck with the sight, and seiz'd with rage divine,
The matrons prosecute their mad design:
They shriek aloud; they snatch, with impious hands,
The food of altars; fires and flaming brands.
Green boughs and saplings, mingled in their haste,
And smoking torches, on the ships they cast.
The flame, unstopp'd at first, more fury gains,
And Vulcan rides at large with loosen'd reins:
Triumphant to the painted sterns he soars,
And seizes, in his way, the banks and crackling oars.
Eumelus was the first the news to bear,
While yet they crowd the rural theater.
Then, what they hear, is witness'd by their eyes:
A storm of sparkles and of flames arise.
Ascanius took th' alarm, while yet he led
His early warriors on his prancing steed,
And, spurring on, his equals soon o'erpass'd;
Nor could his frighted friends reclaim his haste.
Soon as the royal youth appear'd in view,
He sent his voice before him as he flew:
'What madness moves you, matrons, to destroy
The last remainders of unhappy Troy!
Not hostile fleets, but your own hopes, you burn,
And on your friends your fatal fury turn.
Behold your own Ascanius!' While he said,
He drew his glitt'ring helmet from his head,
In which the youths to sportful arms he led.
By this, AEneas and his train appear;
And now the women, seiz'd with shame and fear,
Dispers'd, to woods and caverns take their flight,
Abhor their actions, and avoid the light;
Their friends acknowledge, and their error find,
And shake the goddess from their alter'd mind.
Not so the raging fires their fury cease,
But, lurking in the seams, with seeming peace,
Work on their way amid the smold'ring tow,
Sure in destruction, but in motion slow.
The silent plague thro' the green timber eats,
And vomits out a tardy flame by fits.
Down to the keels, and upward to the sails,
The fire descends, or mounts, but still prevails;
Nor buckets pour'd, nor strength of human hand,
Can the victorious element withstand.
The pious hero rends his robe, and throws
To heav'n his hands, and with his hands his vows.
'O Jove,' he cried, 'if pray'rs can yet have place;
If thou abhorr'st not all the Dardan race;
If any spark of pity still remain;
If gods are gods, and not invok'd in vain;
Yet spare the relics of the Trojan train!
Yet from the flames our burning vessels free,
Or let thy fury fall alone on me!
At this devoted head thy thunder throw,
And send the willing sacrifice below!'
Scarce had he said, when southern storms arise:
From pole to pole the forky lightning flies;
Loud rattling shakes the mountains and the plain;
Heav'n bellies downward, and descends in rain.
Whole sheets of water from the clouds are sent,
Which, hissing thro' the planks, the flames prevent,
And stop the fiery pest. Four ships alone
Burn to the waist, and for the fleet atone.
But doubtful thoughts the hero's heart divide;
If he should still in Sicily reside,
Forgetful of his fates, or tempt the main,
In hope the promis'd Italy to gain.
Then Nautes, old and wise, to whom alone
The will of Heav'n by Pallas was foreshown;
Vers'd in portents, experienc'd, and inspir'd
To tell events, and what the fates requir'd;
Thus while he stood, to neither part inclin'd,
With cheerful words reliev'd his lab'ring mind:
'O goddess-born, resign'd in ev'ry state,
With patience bear, with prudence push your fate.
By suff'ring well, our Fortune we subdue;
Fly when she frowns, and, when she calls, pursue.
Your friend Acestes is of Trojan kind;
To him disclose the secrets of your mind:
Trust in his hands your old and useless train;
Too num'rous for the ships which yet remain:
The feeble, old, indulgent of their ease,
The dames who dread the dangers of the seas,
With all the dastard crew, who dare not stand
The shock of battle with your foes by land.
Here you may build a common town for all,
And, from Acestes' name, Acesta call.'
The reasons, with his friend's experience join'd,
Encourag'd much, but more disturb'd his mind.
'T was dead of night; when to his slumb'ring eyes
His father's shade descended from the skies,
And thus he spoke: 'O more than vital breath,
Lov'd while I liv'd, and dear ev'n after death;
O son, in various toils and troubles toss'd,
The King of Heav'n employs my careful ghost
On his commands: the god, who sav'd from fire
Your flaming fleet, and heard your just desire.
The wholesome counsel of your friend receive,
And here the coward train and women leave:
The chosen youth, and those who nobly dare,
Transport, to tempt the dangers of the war.
The stern Italians will their courage try;
Rough are their manners, and their minds are high.
But first to Pluto's palace you shall go,
And seek my shade among the blest below:
For not with impious ghosts my soul remains,
Nor suffers with the damn'd perpetual pains,
But breathes the living air of soft Elysian plains.
The chaste Sibylla shall your steps convey,
And blood of offer'd victims free the way.
There shall you know what realms the gods assign,
And learn the fates and fortunes of your line.
But now, farewell! I vanish with the night,
And feel the blast of heav'n's approaching light.'
He said, and mix'd with shades, and took his airy flight.
'Whither so fast?' the filial duty cried;
'And why, ah why, the wish'd embrace denied?'
He said, and rose; as holy zeal inspires,
He rakes hot embers, and renews the fires;
His country gods and Vesta then adores
With cakes and incense, and their aid implores.
Next, for his friends and royal host he sent,
Reveal'd his vision, and the gods' intent,
With his own purpose. All, without delay,
The will of Jove, and his desires obey.
They list with women each degenerate name,
Who dares not hazard life for future fame.
These they cashier: the brave remaining few,
Oars, banks, and cables, half consum'd, renew.
The prince designs a city with the plow;
The lots their sev'ral tenements allow.
This part is nam'd from Ilium, that from Troy,
And the new king ascends the throne with joy;
A chosen senate from the people draws;
Appoints the judges, and ordains the laws.
Then, on the top of Eryx, they begin
A rising temple to the Paphian queen.
Anchises, last, is honor'd as a god;
A priest is added, annual gifts bestow'd,
And groves are planted round his blest abode.
Nine days they pass in feasts, their temples crown'd;
And fumes of incense in the fanes abound.
Then from the south arose a gentle breeze
That curl'd the smoothness of the glassy seas;
The rising winds a ruffling gale afford,
And call the merry mariners aboard.
Now loud laments along the shores resound,
Of parting friends in close embraces bound.
The trembling women, the degenerate train,
Who shunn'd the frightful dangers of the main,
Ev'n those desire to sail, and take their share
Of the rough passage and the promis'd war:
Whom good AEneas cheers, and recommends
To their new master's care his fearful friends.
On Eryx's altars three fat calves he lays;
A lamb new-fallen to the stormy seas;
Then slips his haulsers, and his anchors weighs.
High on the deck the godlike hero stands,
With olive crown'd, a charger in his hands;
Then cast the reeking entrails in the brine,
And pour'd the sacrifice of purple wine.
Fresh gales arise; with equal strokes they vie,
And brush the buxom seas, and o'er the billows fly.
Meantime the mother goddess, full of fears,
To Neptune thus address'd, with tender tears:
'The pride of Jove's imperious queen, the rage,
The malice which no suff'rings can assuage,
Compel me to these pray'rs; since neither fate,
Nor time, nor pity, can remove her hate:
Ev'n Jove is thwarted by his haughty wife;
Still vanquish'd, yet she still renews the strife.
As if 't were little to consume the town
Which aw'd the world, and wore th' imperial crown,
She prosecutes the ghost of Troy with pains,
And gnaws, ev'n to the bones, the last remains.
Let her the causes of her hatred tell;
But you can witness its effects too well.
You saw the storm she rais'd on Libyan floods,
That mix'd the mounting billows with the clouds;
When, bribing AEolus, she shook the main,
And mov'd rebellion in your wat'ry reign.
With fury she possess'd the Dardan dames,
To burn their fleet with execrable flames,
And forc'd AEneas, when his ships were lost,
To leave his foll'wers on a foreign coast.
For what remains, your godhead I implore,
And trust my son to your protecting pow'r.
If neither Jove's nor Fate's decree withstand,
Secure his passage to the Latian land.'
Then thus the mighty Ruler of the Main:
'What may not Venus hope from Neptune's reign?
My kingdom claims your birth; my late defense
Of your indanger'd fleet may claim your confidence.
Nor less by land than sea my deeds declare
How much your lov'd AEneas is my care.
Thee, Xanthus, and thee, Simois, I attest.
Your Trojan troops when proud Achilles press'd,
And drove before him headlong on the plain,
And dash'd against the walls the trembling train;
When floods were fill'd with bodies of the slain;
When crimson Xanthus, doubtful of his way,
Stood up on ridges to behold the sea;
(New heaps came tumbling in, and chok'd his way;)
When your AEneas fought, but fought with odds
Of force unequal, and unequal gods;
I spread a cloud before the victor's sight,
Sustain'd the vanquish'd, and secur'd his flight;
Ev'n then secur'd him, when I sought with joy
The vow'd destruction of ungrateful Troy.
My will's the same: fair goddess, fear no more,
Your fleet shall safely gain the Latian shore;
Their lives are giv'n; one destin'd head alone
Shall perish, and for multitudes atone.'
Thus having arm'd with hopes her anxious mind,
His finny team Saturnian Neptune join'd,
Then adds the foamy bridle to their jaws,
And to the loosen'd reins permits the laws.
High on the waves his azure car he guides;
Its axles thunder, and the sea subsides,
And the smooth ocean rolls her silent tides.
The tempests fly before their father's face,
Trains of inferior gods his triumph grace,
And monster whales before their master play,
And choirs of Tritons crowd the wat'ry way.
The marshal'd pow'rs in equal troops divide
To right and left; the gods his better side
Inclose, and on the worse the Nymphs and Nereids ride.
Now smiling hope, with sweet vicissitude,
Within the hero's mind his joys renew'd.
He calls to raise the masts, the sheets display;
The cheerful crew with diligence obey;
They scud before the wind, and sail in open sea.
Ahead of all the master pilot steers;
And, as he leads, the following navy veers.
The steeds of Night had travel'd half the sky,
The drowsy rowers on their benches lie,
When the soft God of Sleep, with easy flight,
Descends, and draws behind a trail of light.
Thou, Palinurus, art his destin'd prey;
To thee alone he takes his fatal way.
Dire dreams to thee, and iron sleep, he bears;
And, lighting on thy prow, the form of Phorbas wears.
Then thus the traitor god began his tale:
'The winds, my friend, inspire a pleasing gale;
The ships, without thy care, securely sail.
Now steal an hour of sweet repose; and I
Will take the rudder and thy room supply.'
To whom the yawning pilot, half asleep:
'Me dost thou bid to trust the treach'rous deep,
The harlot smiles of her dissembling face,
And to her faith commit the Trojan race?
Shall I believe the Siren South again,
And, oft betray'd, not know the monster main?'
He said: his fasten'd hands the rudder keep,
And, fix'd on heav'n, his eyes repel invading sleep.
The god was wroth, and at his temples threw
A branch in Lethe dipp'd, and drunk with Stygian dew:
The pilot, vanquish'd by the pow'r divine,
Soon clos'd his swimming eyes, and lay supine.
Scarce were his limbs extended at their length,
The god, insulting with superior strength,
Fell heavy on him, plung'd him in the sea,
And, with the stern, the rudder tore away.
Headlong he fell, and, struggling in the main,
Cried out for helping hands, but cried in vain.
The victor daemon mounts obscure in air,
While the ship sails without the pilot's care.
On Neptune's faith the floating fleet relies;
But what the man forsook, the god supplies,
And o'er the dang'rous deep secure the navy flies;
Glides by the Sirens' cliffs, a shelfy coast,
Long infamous for ships and sailors lost,
And white with bones. Th' impetuous ocean roars,
And rocks rebellow from the sounding shores.
The watchful hero felt the knocks, and found
The tossing vessel sail'd on shoaly ground.
Sure of his pilot's loss, he takes himself
The helm, and steers aloof, and shuns the shelf.
Inly he griev'd, and, groaning from the breast,
Deplor'd his death; and thus his pain express'd:
'For faith repos'd on seas, and on the flatt'ring sky,
Thy naked corpse is doom'd on shores unknown to lie.'

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