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Virgil — The Aeneid, book 2

Aeneas and his followers have been welcomed to Carthage by Dido, the city’s queen. After a sumptuous banquet, Dido asks Aeneas to recount the tragic story of the sack of Troy, and of the Trojans’ wanderings since.

The company was hushed. All eyes were on Aeneas.
From his couch, his place of honour,
he now spoke these opening words.

‘Your majesty commands me to recall
a grief unspeakable: the way the Greeks
destroyed Troy’s wealth and brought doom on the kingdom.
I saw those piteous sights myself, and played no little part in them.
Why, even Myrmidons, Dolopians,
or some foot soldier in the ranks of brutal Ulysses
could not hold back their tears in speaking of such things.
Look now: how swiftly dewy night is draining from the sky;
the setting stars are telling us it’s time to sleep.
But if you really want to know about our downfall;
if in few words you wish to hear the final agony of Troy,
although I shudder to remember, and my mind
recoils in horror from the task, I will begin.

The Greeks were broken by the war, frustrated by the fates.
So many years had slipped away. But now their generals,
divinely aided by Athena’s art, constructed an enormous wooden horse:
within its belly, rows and rows of planks made out of deal.
It was a votive offering for their safe return to Greece,
so they pretended; and the rumour got about.
Within the gloom of its great flanks, they furtively
secreted their crack troops, and deep inside
the belly of the beast they crammed their soldiers, armed.

From Troy there is a view across to Tenedos.
The island is well known. In Priam’s time it was a wealthy place,
but now there’s just a bay. The harbour isn’t safe for ships.
The Greeks sailed there, and hid along its barren shore.
We thought they’d gone; that they were heading for Mycenae on the wind.
The land of Teucer was released from its long misery!
The gates were opened wide; and with what joy
the people flooded out to view the Greeks’ abandoned camp,
its posts deserted, and the empty beach.
Here the Dolopians had mustered; here merciless Achilles pitched his tent;
the fleet was anchored there; and there, the battlefield.
Some, stupefied at chaste Athena’s fatal gift,
surveyed the giant horse in wonderment.

Thymoetes first proposed that we should drag the thing
inside the walls and place it in the citadel.
Was he a traitor? Or did Troy’s fate incline that way?
But Capys and some wiser heads advised
that either we should hurl this suspect Grecian gift
headlong into the sea; or light a fire underneath;
or pierce the belly of the beast and probe its hiding place.
The crowd, uncertain, split into two factions.

Just then the priest Laocoön, ahead of an enormous crowd,
came rushing in a passion from the citadel, and shouted from a distance:
“Are you raving mad, you poor deluded citizens?
You really think the enemy has sailed?
Is any gift the Greeks bequeath untouched by treachery?
Is Ulysses well known for kindnesses like this?
No, either Greeks are hidden in this wooden frame,
or else it is an engine built to overtop our walls,
spy on our houses and come down upon the city from above;
or else they’ve hidden some deception there.
My fellow Trojans, do not trust the horse.
Whatever this thing is, I fear the Greeks;
I fear them even when they bring us gifts.”

With these words, and with mighty force,
he hurled his giant spear straight at the horse’s flank
and at the joints which held the curving belly of the beast.
The spear stuck, quivering; the belly trembled
and the space within rang hollow, giving forth a groan.
And had the gods’ commands and our own minds
not been perverted, that man would have driven us
to violate with steel the Grecian hiding-places,
Troy would still be standing,
Priam’s lofty fortress would remain!

But then a group of Trojan shepherds, shouting loudly,
dragged before the king a youth, hands tied behind his back.
He’d planned all this; his aim, to open Troy to the invaders.
Though a stranger, he had placed himself where he’d be found,
knowing full well that either he’d succeed in plying his deceit,
or else, for certain, he’d be killed.
Young men of Troy came running from all sides,
eager to see the captive and competing in their taunts.
Now hear this piece of Grecian treachery,
this prime example of their utter wickedness…

He stood, surrounded by the watching crowd, unarmed and frightened.
Staring at the mass of Trojans, back and forth,
“Alas,” he cried, “what land, what seas can now receive me?
What will be my wretched fate at last?
I have no place amongst the Greeks
and now the Trojans, even, clamour for my blood.”

At this lament, we changed our tone; we checked our violence.
We urged the man to speak, to tell us from what tribe he sprang,
what news he brought. “Tell us,” we cried,
“what you are hoping for now you’re our prisoner.”

The man at last put fear aside and spoke.
“Your majesty, whatever happens, I will tell you all.
I can’t deny that I am Greek. My name is Sinon.
But if malicious Fortune’s hands have fashioned me for misery,
they have not made of me a liar.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Palamedes, son of Belus, and the glory of his name?
He was against the war, and for that stance the Greeks,
by making bogus accusations, had him killed:
an action they regret, now that the innocent is dead.
He was our relative. My father was a poor man
but he sent me, very young, to fight in Palamedes’ company.
For when that man was powerful, and had the ear of kings,
we too enjoyed a certain reputation and renown.
But when he met his death — you know the tale of Ulysses’ foul trickery —
my life dragged on in gloom and grief,
indignant at the fate my friend, an innocent, had met.
I could not stay silent. I was mad with rage.
I vowed that if I ever made it back, victorious, to Argos,
where I was born, and should the chance occur,
I would avenge the death myself.
My words aroused fierce hatred — my first fall from grace.
Now Ulysses, to frighten me, made further allegations,
sowing dark rumours in the crowd, seeking the means
to prove my guilt and clear his own.
He would not rest until, with Calchas his accomplice…
but why spin out such an unwelcome tale?
Why waste your time? If all Greeks are the same to you,
and if you’ve heard enough, just punish me at once.
The Ithacan would thank you for it; and the sons of Atreus
would pay good money for my death!”

Consumed by curiosity, we had to know more,
naïvely innocent of wickedness so great,
of trickery so subtle in the Greeks.

So he continued, trembling with false emotion:
“Often the Greeks longed to abandon Troy,
beat a retreat, and go. They were tired of the long war.
If only they had done so! Sometimes a fierce storm closed them in,
or a gale from the south scared them from leaving.
But most important: when this horse, made out of maple beams,
was ready, storm clouds rumbled through the sky.
We were perplexed. We sent Eurypylus to ask its meaning
of Apollo’s oracle, and from the shrine he brought these chilling words:
A virgin’s blood appeased the winds
when first you Greeks arrived on Trojan shores.
Greek blood must once again be shed to gain a safe return.

And when the crowd heard this, they were astounded.
A cold shudder ran right through them to their bones.
Who was the fated one? Whom did Apollo claim?
The Ithacan’s great voice called Calchas out into our midst:
What is it that the gods demand? And many understood
that I would be the victim of that schemer’s evil crime.
They saw what was to come; and they said nothing.

For ten days the seer sat silent in his tent.
He would not speak a name; would not condemn a man to death.
At last, as if reluctantly, and forced to it by Ulysses’ protracted noise,
he utters… and condemns me to the altar. It was all arranged.
And everyone approved. The fate each man had feared, if coming to himself,
each could endure, now ruin had been switched to someone else.

The dreadful day approached. The sacred rites were ready,
with the salted meal, the ribbons for my temples.
But — I confess it — I broke free, I burst my chains,
and hid all night in a muddy pond, obscured by reeds,
waiting till the Greeks set sail, if they were going.
I have no hope now that I’ll ever see
my old homeland again, nor my sweet children,
nor my father, whom I miss so much.
The Greeks, perhaps, will make them pay the price for my escape,
and by their deaths, poor souls, absolve this crime of mine.
I beg you, by the gods above, by all the powers that know the truth,
and by whatever faith remains untainted among mortals,
pity this distress; pity the one who bears it undeserving!”

He wept. We pitied him, and spared his life.
Priam himself commanded that the man’s tight bonds and fetters
be removed, and kindly spoke to him:
“Whoever you may be, forget the Greeks that you have lost;
you’re one of us now. And yet answer me this question, truly:
what is the meaning of this giant horse? who is responsible?
what is its purpose? a religious offering? a war machine?”

To these words Sinon, practised in the arts of Greek deceit,
raised to the stars his liberated hands.

“You everlasting fires,” he cried, “and you, divine and sacred majesties,
you are my witnesses; and you, those altars and accursed swords
which I escaped, and headbands of the gods I wore as victim:
allow that I may break the solemn law which binds me to the Greeks;
allow that I may hate them, and reveal the truths they’d rather hide.
I am no longer bound by laws made in my homeland.
Only keep your promises, you men of Troy,
and when you are preserved, hold to your faith
if what I say proves true and you gain greatly from it!

Once the war had started, all Greek hopes and expectations
rested on Athena’s help. But from the moment Ulysses, that criminal,
and Diomedes tore her fateful image from its holy shrine,
slaughtered the castle guards, and dared to bloody with their hands
the ribbons on the virgin goddess’ statue which they’d robbed,
from then those hopes receded, ebbed away.
Their strength was broken now Athena was against them,
which she made plain with signs and portents.
For no sooner was the statue placed within their camp
than from its upraised eyes there burst forth flickering flames
and salty sweat ran down over its limbs.
Three times — I tell you in amazement — there leapt up
a glowing apparition of the goddess, shield and spear a-quiver.
Calchas prophesied at once that they must put to sea,
in flight, that Troy would never fall to Greek assaults
unless the Greeks repaired to Argos for new omens,
later bringing back Athena’s image which they’d shipped away.
They’re out at sea now, making for Mycenae with the wind behind them,
off to get recruits and more gods on their side.
Then they’ll be here again, unlooked for. So Calchas reads the signs.

This horse, at Calchas’ warning, has been made to stand in for the image
and to expiate its stealing and the insult to Athena.
Calchas told the Greeks to make a thing of interlocking timbers
so enormous, reaching to the sky,
that it could never enter by the city gates, be dragged within the walls,
to bring to Troy protection in your ancient faith.
Should any Trojan hand assault this homage to Athena, so he prophesied,
— would that the gods should visit such a fate on Calchas ! —
absolute destruction would descend on Priam’s empire
and the Trojans. But if you brought the horse into your city,
then the tide of war would turn and Troy advance up to Mycenae’s walls.
A dreadful fate would then await our children!”

Through his cunning Sinon lied his way into our trust.
We were ensnared by guile, by counterfeited tears:
Trojans whom neither Diomedes nor Achilles conquered,
nor ten long years of war, nor their one thousand ships!

But now another portent, yet more frightful,
fell on our unhappy, unsuspecting people and disquieted our minds.
Laocoön, who was Neptune’s priest that day, as drawn by lot,
was killing a great bull before the customary altars,
when from Tenedos
two snakes came swimming side by side across the tranquil sea.
I shudder to recall it: coiling and uncoiling,
their bellies rising with the swell, their blood-red crests topping the waves,
they headed for the shore. Their great lengths skimmed the foam behind,
huge backs folding and twisting;
we heard the noise they made churning the water.
And now they reached the land, their blood-shot eyes a-blaze,
quivering tongues licking their hissing mouths.
We paled at the sight, and scattered.
They went straight for Laocoön.
First, each snake entwined itself around the little bodies
of the priest’s two sons, and with its fangs gorged on their helpless limbs.
Then, as Laocoön advanced to save his children, weapons in hand,
they seized him too and bound him tight,
twice round the waist, twice with their scaly skin about his throat,
their heads and upraised necks towering above him.
He meanwhile was fighting with both hands to break the knots,
his priestly headbands steeped in gore and covered in black venom.
He uttered hideous cries to heaven, like a wounded bull
who has escaped the altar, shaking from its neck the ill-directed axe.
Gliding away, the snakes sought out unmerciful Athena’s shrine
high in the citadel, and nestled there
beneath her feet and in the circle of her shield.

Then a new terror crept into our quaking hearts,
and people said Laocoön was rightly punished for his crime;
he had profaned the sacred oak, and hurled his cursèd spear into its body.
“Drag up the image to Athena’s house,” they cried. “Placate her holiness.”

We breached the walls and overturned the city’s battlements.
Everyone helped; under the creature’s feet they placed rollers
and cords of hemp were looped around its neck.
The death machine ascended to the walls, chock-full of soldiers.
Maidens and boys surrounded it, chanting holy songs,
delighted just to touch the rope. Up it smoothly moved
and made its fateful entrance to the city.
Oh my country! Ilium, home of the gods,
your mighty battlements famous in war!
Four times the horse stopped at the threshold of the walls.
Four times the armour in its belly clashed.
But we pressed furiously on, blind to the consequence.
We placed the dreadful monster in our holy citadel.
At this, Cassandra raised her voice, predicting doom;
but Trojans never credited her words. That was a god’s command.
We, miserable people, living out our final day,
wrapped festal boughs around the sacred shrines throughout the city.
Meanwhile, the sky revolves. Night rises swiftly from the sea,
enfolding in its mighty shadow heaven, earth — and Greek duplicity.
Throughout the silent town the Trojans are at rest;
sleep holds their weary limbs.
From Tenedos Greek ships in tight formation slip their moorings.
Under a friendly, silent moon they make for a familiar shore,
their royal flagship leading with a beacon.
Sinon, whom the gods’ malign instruction has protected,
stealthily slides back the planks of pine
and frees the Greeks imprisoned in the horse’s belly.
From the wooden cavern, sliding down the lowered rope
and glad to breathe the open air again,
emerge Thessandrus, Sthenelus and fearsome Ulysses,
then Acamas and Thoas,
Pyrrhus and Machaon,
Menelaus and Epeos, who devised the plot.
They spread out into Troy, the city buried deep in sleep and wine.
They kill the guards, and at the open gates
greet comrades waiting for them, and combine their troops.

It was the hour of the first rest: that gift from heaven,
stealing over tired mortals, which they find most sweet.
I dreamt that Hector stood before my eyes,
most sorrowful, and shedding floods of tears,
his body mutilated by Achilles’ chariot
— as once it had been, in the days gone by — and black with dirt and gore,
his swollen feet cut by their leather thongs.
Ah, what a sight he was! How different from that Hector
who returned to Troy clad in Achilles’ spoils,
who torched Greek ships with Trojan flames.
His beard was ragged, and his hair matted with blood.
He bore the many wounds he’d got around Troy’s walls.
I dreamt I wept myself, greeting him first, and saying, in my grief,
“Light of the Trojans and our surest hope, where have you been so long?
How we have missed you, Hector! Say from what shores you’ve come.
So many of your family are dead. Troy’s sufferings are countless.
With what joy our weary eyes behold you!
What act of shame has marred your handsome face?
Why do I see these wounds?”

He said nothing, seeming not to heed my idle questions.
Then, from deep within his chest, he uttered a great sigh.
“Son of a goddess, flee from here!” he cried. “Escape the flames!
The enemy controls our walls; from its great height
our Troy has fallen. Priam and our country have what they deserve.
If strength of hand — my hand — could save Troy’s towers,
they would be saved. Troy now entrusts to you
her sacred things, her household gods. Go, take them with you.
They must share your fortunes. Seek for them
that mighty city you shall found at last
when you have wandered on the sea.” Those were his words.
And then it seemed that from our city’s inner sanctuary
his hands brought forth the priestly headbands
and the goddess of the hearth, with her undying fire.

Meanwhile, throughout the city there was lamentation and confusion.
Though my father’s house, where I was sleeping,
was secluded, screened by trees,
the dreadful noise of war came to me ever more clearly.
I shook myself from sleep and climbed onto the roof.
I stood there, straining my ears to listen.
The sound was like a fire which engulfs a cornfield
when a gale is blowing from the south; or when
a raging torrent from a mountain river floods the fields,
destroys the hopeful crops and wastes the oxen’s labour,
dragging down forests with it; the shepherd, puzzled, awestruck,
clambers up a rock and hears the roar.

The treachery the Greeks had practised was now clear.
Deiphobus’s mansion crashed down under towering flames.
Ucalegon, his neighbour, had his house a-blaze.
Looking out to sea, I saw the Hellespont reflect the flames.
I heard the shouts of men, the blare of trumpets.
Frantically, I grabbed my weapons, knowing how little use they were,
but desperate to get a fighting force together
and with them charge up to the citadel.
Madness and rage were driving me;
how glorious, I thought, to die in battle!

Just as I was leaving, here was Panthus, breathless, at my door:
priest of Apollo on the citadel, escaping the Greek swords,
in his own hands carrying the holy symbols of our vanquished gods,
dragging his little grandchild with him. He was frantic.
“Where is the fiercest fighting, Panthus? What stronghold could we seize?”
At once, and with a groan, he answered,
“Our last day has come. Our doom is certain.
Trojans and the city are no more.
Our former glories, in his anger, Jupiter has passed to Greece.
Troy is ablaze; the Greeks are masters of it.
At the citadel, the horse spews out armed men.
Triumphant Sinon, to insult us, spreads the flames.
Greek troops in thousands hold the open gates,
as many as came over from Mycenae.
Others block the narrow lanes, with weapons drawn:
a solid line of steel, sword-points flashing, ready to slaughter.
Our front line of sentries, even, are not fighting back;
there is no sign of last resistance.”

Panthus’ words came to me like a message from the gods.
They drove me to the flames,
the clash of swords, the brutal battleground,
the howls and shouts of fighters rising skyward.
In the moonlight, comrades joined me:
Rhipeus and Epytus, that valiant soldier,
Hypanis, Dymas, the boy Coroebus, son of Mygdon…
As it chanced, Coroebus had just come to Troy,
burning with mad passion for Cassandra,
to help her father and the Trojans as a hopeful son-in-law.
Unlucky man, not to have heeded her prophetic words!

I saw these men close ranks, ready for battle, and I spoke:
“You are brave lads, against these odds!
If you’re determined to be with me, to put up a final fight,
see how our cause now stands.
The gods, by whom this empire was sustained,
have gone. They’ve left their shrines and altars empty
and the city you are fighting for is burning.
Let us die together, in the thick of it.
The only hope of the defeated is to hope for nothing!”

This raised their youthful spirits to a fury
and, like ravening wolves crazy with hunger,
blindly driven from their lairs in a black fog,
their cubs at home awaiting their return, thirsting for blood,
we charged the enemy, our weapons drawn,
knowing for certain we were going to die,
and fought our way up to the citadel;
the cloak of darkness gave us some protection.
Unspeakable, the havoc and the carnage of that night;
our anguish plumbed the depths of any quantity of tears.
Ancient Troy, supreme for many years, was ruined.
Lifeless bodies lay about the streets and in the houses,
at the doorways of the temples of the gods.
Nor was it only Trojans who were killed.
Courage returned sometimes to the defeated;
Greeks in their triumph were cut down as well.
Grief, panic, death in all its forms were everywhere.

First, we came upon Androgeos, leading a horde of Greeks.
He wrongly thought our group was on his side
and called out in a friendly voice,
“Hey, get a move on, comrades! What’s been keeping you?
The rest are pillaging and burning Troy;
have you just got here from the ships?”
He heard no friendly answer. He knew at once
that he had fallen among enemies.
Shocked into silence, he retreated.
Like one who, walking on firm ground amid rough briars,
stands on an unseen snake and shrinks back, terrified,
to see the angry creature rear up,
puffing out the purple blotches on its neck:
Androgeos in terror backed away.
We charged, surrounding them with close-ranked swords.
They were surprised, and panicked; they didn’t know the ground.
We slew them all. Fortune favoured our first efforts.
Greatly daring, flushed with our success, Coroebus shouted,
“Brothers, Fortune smiles on us and points the way; let’s follow her!
I say we change our shields and don Greek uniforms.
Deceit or bravery: who knows in war?
Our enemies themselves will give us arms.”
So saying, he put on Androgeos’ plumed helmet,
took his decorated shield and fastened at his side the dead man’s sword.
Rhipeus did likewise, and Dymas, and all the lads.
Elated, each one armed himself with new-found spoils.
On we moved, amongst the enemy and under foreign gods’ protection,
in the darkness fighting hand to hand, time and again,
dispatching many Greeks. Some scattered to their ships,
and swiftly made for safer shores; some cowards,
terrified, climbed back inside the giant horse
and hid in its familiar belly.
Alas, we may not trust the gods for anything against their will!
Here was Cassandra, Priam’s daughter, being dragged with streaming hair
down from the temple and Athena’s shrine,
lifting her burning eyes in vain to heaven —
her eyes, because her straining hands were bound.
Coroebus couldn’t bear the sight; it drove him witless.
Fatally, he hurled himself straight at Cassandra’s captors.
We all followed, rushing at them in a pack, our weapons drawn.
But now our allies on the temple roof,
confused by foreign armour and the Greek crests on our helmets,
hurled missiles down on us and overwhelmed us,
causing pitiful and useless slaughter.
Then the Greeks, enraged to see Cassandra taken from them,
mustered from all sides and fell upon us:
Ajax — fiercest of them all — and Agamemnon, Menelaus
and the whole Greek host. It was as if
a hurricane had caused opposing winds to clash
and make the forest groan: West against South against exultant East
(the wind that drives the horses of the dawn). Nereus, steeped in foam
and brandishing his trident, stirs the seas to fury from their lower depths.
Back to the fight came some whom by our cunning
we had routed in the dark and driven to the corners of the town.
They recognised our shields now, and the weapons which had tricked them;
now they marked our foreign accents. They outnumbered us at once.
Coroebus was the first to fall, cut down by Peneleus at Athena’s altar.
Rhipeus was killed: most upright of the Trojans,
most observant in the cause of justice; but the gods willed otherwise.
Dynas and Hypanis both perished, stabbed by friendly weapons.
Nor could your great goodness, Panthus,
nor Apollo’s sacred headbands break your fall.

Alas, my city, Troy in ashes, and my comrades’ only funeral pyre!
Be witness that, the night of your destruction,
I avoided neither clash of weapons nor the hazards of the war.
And had the fates desired that I should die in combat with the Greeks,
I would have earned that death!

We tore ourselves away. Iphitus and Pelias were with me.
Iphitus was borne down by the years;
Pelias moved slowly, limping with a wound from Ulysses.
At once a clamour summoned us to Priam’s house.

Here we came upon a truly mighty battle, as if none
were being fought elsewhere, as if no men were dying
right across the city. Mars was on the loose.
Greeks were swarming up towards the roof;
others, under cover of a line of shields, attacked the gates.
Their ladders clung to walls, where by the very doorposts
men were struggling to get a foothold on the rungs,
holding shields in their left hands against the arrows from above,
while with their right they grabbed the battlements.
The Trojans meanwhile tore down parapets
and all the tile-work on the roof; with these as missiles,
they prepared to mount a last defence before they died.
They knew the end was near. Gilded roof beams,
which had once adorned the dwelling of their ancestors,
they rolled down on the Greeks. Others crowded round the doors below,
guarding them shoulder to shoulder, with drawn swords.
We were inspired afresh: to save the royal palace,
to relieve our men and reinforce the broken lines.
A postern gate gave entrance by a secret doorway
to a passage which ran through the palace halls.
While Troy yet stood, Andromache, poor soul,
had often used it, unattended, visiting her husband’s parents,
taking little Astyanax to see his grandfather.
I got up to the roof, where desperate Trojans
still were hurling down their useless missiles.
On the rooftop’s very edge there stood a tower, rising to the sky.
From here all Troy was visible,
as were the Greek encampment and their ships.
Surrounding it with iron straps,
placed at the upper storeys where the joints were weak,
we wrenched the tower from its lofty place and pushed it over.
It went crashing down. Across a wide expanse of ground
it crushed the ranks of Greeks. Yet on they came,
attacking us with stones and weapons of all kinds…

At the palace gate, before the courtyard, Pyrrhus stood,
puffed up with pride, in gleaming brazen armour.
He was like a snake in springtime
which has passed the chill of winter underground,
fattening itself on poison plants, and now,
its winter skin sloughed off,
refreshed and in the glow of youth, rears up toward the sun
and shoots out from its mouth a three-forked tongue.
Beside him stood the giant Periphas, Automedon his armour-bearer
— he had been Achilles’ charioteer — and all the youth of Scyros.
These men surged toward the building, throwing flaming brands onto the roof.
Pyrrhus himself was first to grab a two-edged battle-axe,
hack through the stubborn woodwork of the gates
and tear the brass-bound doors from off their hinges.
Heaving out a panel from the doors,
he breached the solid oak, opening a huge hole in the wood.
The house within was now exposed to view,
its long halls clearly visible, the royal inner chambers
— Priam’s and his ancestors’ — laid bare.
The palace guards were standing at the threshold, armed.

Inside the house, confusion reigned: a dreadful, shrieking uproar.
In the women’s quarters, wailing echoed round the vaulted halls.
The noise extended to the shining stars.
Trembling women roamed the building,
clinging onto doors and planting farewell kisses on them.
Pyrrhus, with his father’s strength, advanced;
no bars, no guards could slow his onward rush.
The palace gates were rammed, again, again; they tottered
and the doors, wrenched from their hinges, fell down flat.
Force had prevailed; the Greeks poured in.
Once in, they killed the first line of our guards
and packed the spacious courtyard with their soldiers.
Not with such fury does a foaming river overflow its banks
and in its towering rage engulf the fields
and drown the sheep and cattle on the plains.
On the threshold I saw Pyrrhus, in a killing frenzy,
Agamemnon, Menelaus…

I saw Hecuba, together with her hundred daughters
and, amongst the altars, Priam, polluting with his blood
the very flames that he himself had blessed.
The famous fifty chambers, sporting on their doors
the spoils of war — barbarian gold — and from whose beds
had sprung abundant offspring, were in ruins;
where the fire guttered, Greeks controlled.

And what was Priam’s fate, perhaps you wonder?
When he saw the captured city felled, his palace doors torn off,
the enemy in occupation of his house, old as he was
he vainly threw his long-abandoned armour
round his ancient trembling shoulders,
girding on his useless sword. A man about to die,
he charged towards the packed ranks of the foe.

In the middle of the palace, open to the sky,
stood a gigantic altar, by an ancient laurel tree
which leant against it, shading the household gods.
Here on the altar steps sat Hecuba, in vain hope of protection,
with her daughters, huddled all together
like doves blown helplessly before a raging storm,
clutching the holy effigies.
When Hecuba saw agèd Priam in the armour of his youth, she cried,
“What are you thinking of, my poor unhappy husband,
taking up these weapons? Where are you going in such haste?
It is too late to save the city, or defend it;
it would be, even were my Hector with us now.
Give up; stay here. The altar will protect us all
or we will die together.” With these words
she pulled the old man to her, placing him upon the holy seat.

But now Polites, Priam’s son, escaping wounded
from the carnage caused by Pyrrhus, fled through the fighting
down the palace’s long colonnades, and crossed the empty courts.
Hot in pursuit came Pyrrhus, ready to strike,
about to catch him up and spear him.
When Polites reached his parents’ side, before their eyes
he fell down, pouring out his lifeblood in a stream.
At which the king, already in the arms of death,
gave full vent to his anger, shouting at Pyrrhus,
“For your crime, for deeds so wicked,
if in heaven there is justice which requites these acts,
I pray the gods to thank you as is fit,
reward you in the manner you deserve:
you, who have made me watch my own son’s murder
and with his death defiled a father’s sight.
This was not the way Achilles, whom you falsely claim
to be your father, dealt with me when we were enemies.
He had respect for my request; he recognised my rights.
He gave back Hector’s lifeless corpse for burying
and granted me a safe return to Troy.”
With these words, Priam feebly threw his spear.
The harmless thing rebounded off the bronze of Pyrrhus’ armour
with a clang, onto his shield boss, where it dangled idly.
Pyrrhus answered, “Take this message to my father, then.
Tell him that Pyrrhus is degenerate; my deeds are evil. And now die!”
He dragged the trembling king, still slipping in his son’s spilt blood,
up to the altar steps. He twisted Priam’s hair in his left hand
and lifted with his right his flashing sword
and buried it in Priam’s side, up to the hilt.

So Priam’s fortunes ended. Fate decreed that this should be his doom:
to see his Troy laid low, in flames;
the man who once was ruler of so many lands and peoples,
monarch of Asia. They dragged his body to the seashore,
where it lies, a huge and mutilated trunk, head severed
from the neck, a corpse without a name.

Rage and horror now possessed me. I stood stupefied
and my dear father’s image rose before me
as I looked upon the king, a man of the same age,
fatally wounded, gasping his life away.
I saw my poor forsaken wife Creüsa
and our plundered house. What had become of little Iulus?
I looked round and scanned our forces. All were spent.
They had deserted me: collapsed upon the ground
or fallen helplessly into the flames.

I was alone. And then I saw Helen, silently hiding,
out of the way, in Vesta’s shrine.
I went across and looked. The scene was lit up by the flames.
This hated woman, fearing the Trojans’ wrath towards her
for the sack of Troy, fearing the Greeks’ revenge,
the anger of the husband she abandoned,
she — the curse of her country and of ours —
had sneaked away and crouched down by the altars.
Burning rage leapt up in me; a longing to avenge
the ruin of my country and to make her pay for her misdeeds.
“So I suppose,” I thought, “that she’ll see Sparta
and Mycenae, where she came from, once again,
returning there as queen, unharmed, triumphant!
She’ll see her husband and her home,
her parents and her children, be attended
by a throng of Trojan ladies, waited on by Trojan servants.
Did Priam perish by the sword for this?
For this was Troy burnt to the ground,
our seashore drenched with blood so many times?
No, not for this, for her! Although I’ll gain no noble fame
for punishing a woman; though such victory receives no praise;
yet to have stamped out this abomination
and exacted retribution as deserved, will bring me credit.
An avenging fire will fill my soul with joy;
I will have done some justice to the ashes of my people.”
Railing like this, and in a frenzy of the mind,
I turned on her…

But then my gracious mother came before my eyes.
She shone more brightly than I’d ever seen before.
Her purity, her radiance lit up the night.
She showed herself as goddess, tall and beautiful,
the way she must appear to those who dwell above.
She took my hand, restraining me.
Her lovely voice pronounced these words:
“My son, what is the grief that stirs up
such wild anger in you? Why this rage?
Your loving care for me: where has it gone?
Should you not first see where you’ve left your weary father,
old Anchises; find out if your wife Creüsa
and your son, your Iulus, have survived?
Greek battle lines surround all three of them
and were it not for my concern
they would by now have perished in the flames;
their blood would have been spilled by hostile swords.
It is not Helen — she whose face you hate —
who is to blame for this; nor Paris. No, it is the gods,
the unforgiving gods, who have destroyed Troy’s wealth
and dragged it down from its supremacy.
Watch: I shall draw aside the cloud which up to now
has veiled your sight and dulled your mortal vision in its pall.
Obey me without fear; respect my counsel.
Here, where you see heaps of shattered rubble,
rocks torn from rocks, smoke drifting up amid the dust,
here Neptune is at work, shaking Troy’s walls,
upending its foundations with his giant trident,
tearing the city’s structure from its grounding.
Here is Juno — fiercest goddess of them all —
with sword in hand, controlling Troy’s west gate
and furiously summoning her allies from the ships.
Look up now to the city’s topmost towers.
Athena takes her stand there. Storm clouds lower round her
and the Gorgon’s head is snarling in her shield.
Jupiter, my father, gives the Greeks their courage
and supplies their strength; he stirs up the gods against the Trojans.
Quickly fly from here, my son, and leave behind this anguish.
I will never leave you. I will see you safely to your father’s house.”
With these words she vanished in the darkness of the night.
Fearful shapes came to my eyes: the gods’ great presences,
the hatred which they bore to Troy…

The city Neptune founded was collapsing in the flames
and I was witness to its overthrow.
It was as if an ancient ash tree in the mountains,
being felled by energetic woodmen with their saws and axes,
slowly weakened by its wounds and on the point of falling,
leaves a-tremble, crown nodding and swaying,
utters at last one mighty groan
as, ripped out from the mountainside, it crashes to the ground.

Down from the citadel I went and, with my mother’s guidance,
safely made my way through fire and the enemy.
Swords let me pass; the flames withdrew.

I reached the doorway of my father’s dwelling: my ancestral home.
I sought my father first, and begged that he would let me
carry him away into the hills. But he refused.
He had no wish, with Troy destroyed, to suffer exile or prolong his life.
“The rest of you,” he cried, “with your young blood,
your strength and vigour, you must flee, in haste, at once...
But as for me, had those who dwell in heaven willed
that I should live a longer span, they would have spared my home.
I’ve seen the city overthrown and captured once already, and survived.
That is enough, and more. You see me lying down now;
treat me as a corpse, and say farewell, and go! I’ll die a warrior.
The enemy will slay me out of pity, and collect the spoils.
I am not troubled by the loss of burial. I’m hated by the gods;
I’ve lived a life that’s useless and too long
since Jupiter’s hot breath blew on me in his lightning bolt
and scorched me with his fire.”

He spoke on in this way. He was unshakeable, while we dissolved in tears:
my wife Creüsa, my boy Iulus, all our household.
We pleaded that his stubbornness would hurt us all,
would load an extra sorrow on our misery.
But he refused our pleas. He had decided; he was staying where he lay.
In deep despair, I grabbed my armour once again.
A death wish was upon me. What strategy, what stroke of luck
could help us now? I cried out, “Father,
do you really think that I could leave without you?
Has such shameful language ever passed a father’s lips?
If heaven wishes to annihilate our city,
if you’re determined in your course
— to add your death and ours to Troy’s destruction —
that door opens wide. Soon Pyrrhus will be here,
reeking with Priam’s blood: the man who calmly butchered
Priam’s son before his father’s eyes, then slew the father at the altar.
Was it for this, my gentle mother, that you rescued me
through fire and sword: to see the enemy invade my home,
to see my wife, my son and father slaughtered in each other’s blood?
Bring me my weapons, men! Life’s last glimmer summons the defeated!
Let me at the Greeks again; I’ll find and fight them.
We shall not die unavenged today!”

I girded on my sword and put my left hand through the strapping on my shield.
As I was doing this and rushing from the house,
Creüsa at the door caught hold of me; she clutched my feet
and lifted little Iulus up towards his father.
“If you are going out to die, whatever happens,
take us with you. You have seen what lies outside;
so if you trust these weapons and this armour,
guard our house first. To what fate are you abandoning
your Iulus, and your father, and the woman
who once called herself your wife?”

She wept. She filled the whole house with her cries.
But then a portent, strange and wonderful, appears.
Between the hands and faces of his frantic parents,
suddenly a tongue of flame shines down on Iulus’ head.
It does no harm. It licks his curls and plays around his temples.
Trembling with fear, at once we shake his blazing hair
and quench the holy flames with water.
But my father raises joyful eyes to heaven
and, with hands and voice uplifted, cries,
“Almighty Jupiter, if any prayers can move you,
look on us — I ask no more — and help us,
if our virtue has deserved it. Father, prove this omen true!”
Hardly had the old man said these words,
when with a sudden clap of thunder in the east,
a shooting star bursts from the heavens,
sailing through the dark, its long tail blazing light and fire.
We watch it glide over the roof and crash in splendour
in the forests on Mount Ida, leaving a lengthy furrow
shining in the sky, and all around the stench of sulphur.
At this my father, overcome, and getting to his feet,
salutes the gods and venerates the holy sign:
“Now there is no delay. Now I am with you.
Where you lead, I follow. God of my fathers,
save my household, save my grandson, whom you favour.
You have given us this augury;
Troy has a future under your protection.
Son, I yield to you, I do. I’ll keep you company;
I can refuse no longer.”

He had spoken. Now the fire which had engulfed the city
was approaching; we could hear the roar.
I cried, “Dear father, come then, climb up on my back.
My shoulders will support you; you’re not heavy.
Whatever happens — danger or deliverance — we’ll face together.
Iulus, come with me. Creüsa, leave a little distance, and then follow.
Servants, listen to me. Just outside the city,
there’s a hillock next to Ceres’ ancient temple. It’s a lonely spot.
Beside it is a cypress tree. It’s old; our ancestors protected and revered it.
We’ll split up and gather there.
Father, take the holy symbols of our nation’s household gods.
I’ve just come from the battle, and from killing;
it would be profane to handle them
until I’ve cleansed myself in running water.”
With these words, I spread a tawny lion skin
over my neck and shoulders, and bend down to lift my father.
Iulus tightly holds my hand and follows me,
his little steps not matching mine. Behind us comes my wife.

We pick our way amidst the gloom.
Before, I’d never been afraid of spears and arrows hurled at me,
nor hordes of hostile Greeks. But now I’m scared
by every breath of wind, on edge at any sound.
I fear both for my father and my son.

We neared the gates. I thought we’d make it safely out,
when suddenly I seemed to hear the tramp of marching feet.
My father, peering through the dark, cried out,
“Fly, my son, fly! They’re coming. I can see
their glittering shields and shining helmets!”

I shall never know what evil power took hold of me.
I lost my wits, and as we plunged down alleyways,
leaving behind the streets I knew, by some unhappy chance
Creüsa, alas, was snatched away from us.
Did she stop running? Did she lose her way
and drop down in exhaustion?
I don’t know. I never saw my wife again.
I didn’t even look for her, or think about her,
till we got to Ceres’ ancient temple on the hillock.
Here, when all had gathered, she alone was missing
from the company, lost to her husband and her son.
I was beside myself, berating every mortal, every god.
This was, for me, the worst disaster in the fall of Troy.
I left my son, my father and Troy’s household gods
in charge of my companions, hidden in a winding valley,
strapped my shining armour on and turned back to the city,
with no choice except to run the gauntlet as before,
re-enter and scour all of Troy and put my life in danger yet again.

I found the walls first, then the gloomy entrance
to the gate by which I’d left. My eyes strained in the dark
as I retraced my steps. At every turn my mind was filled with dread
and, even in the silence, terror lurked.

I made it to our house. She might, just possibly,
have found her way back home.

The Greeks had broken in. They had the whole place occupied.
And as I looked, devouring fire rolled upward in the wind.
It reached the roof. Flames towered above the house
and sent a raging blast of heat into the sky.
On I went, to Priam’s house and to the citadel.
There, in the empty colonnades of Juno’s shrine,
stood Phoenix and the terrifying Ulysses,
chosen to guard the plunder. Troy’s royal treasures had been snatched
from temples set alight throughout the city, and brought here:
sacred altars, bowls of solid gold and captured robes, all piled in heaps.
Around them, in a long line, boys and trembling women stood.

Abandoning all caution now, I cried out in the night.
I filled the streets with shouting, in my anguish
calling in vain Creüsa’s name, redoubling my cries,
again, again. And as I rushed about the city, house to house,
in endless, desperate search of her, a mournful apparition
rose before my eyes. It was Creüsa’s ghost,
her image larger than I’d known her in her life. It struck me senseless
and the hair stood upright on my head. My voice stuck in my throat.
But then she spoke these words, to calm my fears:

“What is the use in yielding to such frantic grief, sweet husband?
These things have come about by heaven’s will.
You may not take Creüsa with you on your journey; this
the lord of high Olympus won’t allow.
Long exile is your fate, and you must plough
the vast expanses of the level sea. But you will come to Italy,
where Tiber gently flows through fertile, cultivated fields.
Joy, kingship and a royal wife await you there.
So wipe away those tears for your belov’d Creüsa.
I will never look upon the vaunted dwellings
of the Myrmidons or the Dolopians.
I will not go as slave to mistresses in Greece; not I,
a Trojan lady, married to the son of Venus, the divine.
The mighty mother of the gods has kept me on these shores.
Farewell now; and preserve the love we both bear to our son.”

She said these words, then left me weeping, with so many things
I longed to say to her. She drew away, into thin air. Three times
I tried to fold my arms around her neck; three times
her likeness, grasped in vain, escaped my hands,
as if borne up upon the breeze, or very like a fleeting dream.

The night had run its course, and so at last I rejoined my companions;
where I found, to my amazement, that great numbers
of new would-be travellers had flooded in, women and men,
youngsters gathered for exile, a pitiable crowd.
From all parts they had come, their minds made up, their baggage packed,
ready to cross the sea wherever I might lead.

Above Mount Ida’s highest ridges rose the morning star.
It brought the day. Greeks had blockaded and now held the gates.
No hope of help remained. I bowed to the inevitable,
took my father up, and headed for the mountains.’

Audio file

Listen to this translation — read by Peter Hetherington

Virgil — The Aeneid, book 2

Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant
inde toro pater Aeneas sic orsus ab alto:

‘Infandum, regina, iubes renovare dolorem,
Troianas ut opes et lamentabile regnum
eruerint Danai, quaeque ipse miserrima vidi
et quorum pars magna fui. quis talia fando
Myrmidonum Dolopumve aut duri miles Ulixi
temperet a lacrimis? et iam nox umida caelo
praecipitat suadentque cadentia sidera somnos.
sed si tantus amor casus cognoscere nostros
et breviter Troiae supremum audire laborem,
quamquam animus meminisse horret luctuque refugit,

                    Fracti bello fatisque repulsi
ductores Danaum, tot iam labentibus annis,
instar montis equum divina Palladis arte
aedificant sectaque intexunt abiete costas;
votum pro reditu simulant; ea fama vagatur.
huc delecta virum sortiti corpora furtim
includunt caeco lateri penitusque cavernas
ingentis uterumque armato milite complent.

Est in conspectu Tenedos, notissima fama
insula, dives opum Priami dum regna manebant,
nunc tantum sinus et statio male fida carinis:
huc se provecti deserto in litore condunt;
nos abiisse rati et vento petiisse Mycenas.
ergo omnis longo soluit se Teucria luctu.
panduntur portae; iuvat ire et Dorica castra
desertosque videre locos litusque relictum.
hic Dolopum manus, hic saevus tendebat Achilles,
classibus hic locus, hic acie certare solebant.
pars stupet innuptae donum exitiale Minervae
et molem mirantur equi; primusque Thymoetes
duci intra muros hortatur et arce locari,
sive dolo seu iam Troiae sic fata ferebant.
at Capys, et quorum melior sententia menti,
aut pelago Danaum insidias suspectaque dona
praecipitare iubent subiectisque urere flammis,
aut terebrare cavas uteri et temptare latebras.
scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus.

Primus ibi ante omnis magna comitante caterva,
Laocoon ardens summa decurrit ab arce,
et procul: “o miseri, quae tanta insania, cives?
creditis avectos hostis? aut ulla putatis
dona carere dolis Danaum? sic notus Ulixes?
aut hoc inclusi ligno occultantur Achivi,
aut haec in nostros fabricata est machina muros,
inspectura domos venturaque desuper urbi,
aut aliquis latet error; equo ne credite, Teucri.
quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis.”
sic fatus ualidis ingentem viribus hastam
in latus inque feri curvam compagibus alvum
contorsit. stetit illa tremens, uteroque recusso
insonuere cavae gemitumque dedere cavernae.
et, si fata deum, si mens non laeva fuisset,
impulerat ferro Argolicas foedare latebras,
Troiaque nunc staret, Priamique arx alta maneres.

Ecce manus iuvenem interea post terga revinctum
pastores magno ad regem clamore trahebant
Dardanidae, qui se ignotum venientibus ultro,
hoc ipsum ut strueret Troiamque aperiret Achivis,
obtulerat, fidens animi atque in utrumque paratus,
seu versare dolos seu certae occumbere morti.
undique visendi studio Troiana iuventus
circumfusa ruit certantque inludere capto.
accipe nunc Danaum insidias et crimine ab uno
disce omnis...
namque ut conspectu in medio turbatus, inermis,
constitit atque oculis Phrygia agmina circumspexit,
“heu, quae nunc tellus,” inquit, “quae me aequora possunt
accipere? aut quid iam misero mihi denique restat,
cui neque apud Danaos usquam locus, et super ipsi
Dardanidae infensi poenas cum sanguine poscunt?”
quo gemitu conversi animi compressus et omnis
impetus. hortamur fari quo sanguine cretus,
quidve ferat; memoret quae sit fiducia capto.
ille haec, deposita tandem formidine, fatur.

“Cuncta equidem tibi, rex, fuerit quodcumque, fatebor
vera,” inquit; “neque me Argolica de gente negabo:
hoc primum; nec si miserum Fortuna Sinonem
finxit, vanum etiam mendacemque improba finget.
fando aliquod si forte tuas pervenit ad auris
Belidae nomen Palamedis et incluta fama
gloria, quem falsa sub proditione Pelasgi
insontem infando indicio, quia bella vetabat,
demisere neci, nunc cassum lumine lugent:
illi me comitem et consanguinitate propinquum
pauper in arma pater primis huc misit ab annis.
dum stabat regno incolumis regumque vigebat
conciliis, et nos aliquod nomenque decusque
gessimus. invidia postquam pellacis Ulixi
(haud ignota loquor) superis concessit ab oris,
adflictus vitam in tenebris luctuque trahebam
et casum insontis mecum indignabar amici.
nec tacui demens et me, fors si qua tulisset,
si patrios umquam remeassem victor ad Argos,
promisi ultorem et verbis odia aspera movi.
hinc mihi prima mali labes, hinc semper Ulixes
criminibus terrere novis, hinc spargere voces
in vulgum ambiguas et quaerere conscius arma.
nec requievit enim, donec Calchante ministro —
sed quid ego haec autem nequiquam ingrata revolve?
quidue moror? si omnis uno ordine habetis Achivos
idque audire sat est, iamdudum sumite poenas:
hoc Ithacus velit et magno mercentur Atridae.”

Tum vero ardemus scitari et quaerere causas,
ignari scelerum tantorum artisque Pelasgae.
prosequitur pavitans et ficto pectore fatur:

“Saepe fugam Danai Troia cupiere relicta
moliri et longo fessi discedere bello:
fecissentque utinam! saepe illos aspera ponti
interclusit hiems et terruit Auster euntis;
praecipue, cum iam hic trabibus contextus acernis
staret equus, toto sonuerunt aethere nimbi.
suspensi Eurypylum scitatum oracula Phoebi
mittimus, isque adytis haec tristia dicta reportat:
sanguine placastis ventos et virgine caesa,
cum primum Iliacas, Danai, venistis ad oras:
sanguine quaerendi reditus animaque litandum
Argolica. vulgi quae uox ut venit ad auris,
obstipuere animi gelidusque per ima cucurrit
ossa tremor, cui fata parent, quem poscat Apollo.
hic Ithacus vatem magno Calchanta tumultu
protrahit in medios; quae sint ea numina divum,
flagitat. et mihi iam multi crudele canebant
artificis scelus, et taciti ventura videbant.
bis quinos silet ille dies tectusque recusat
prodere voce sua quemquam aut opponere morti.
vix tandem, magnis Ithaci clamoribus actus,
composito rumpit vocem et me destinat arae.
adsensere omnes et, quae sibi quisque timebat,
unius in miseri exitium conversa tulere.

Iamque dies infanda aderat; mihi sacra parari
et salsae fruges et circum tempora vittae.
eripui, fateor, leto me et vincula rupi
limosoque lacu per noctem obscurus in ulva
delitui, dum vela darent, si forte dedissent.
nec mihi iam patriam antiquam spes ulla videndi
nec dulcis natos exoptatumque parentem;
quos illi fors et poenas ob nostra reposcent
effugia, et culpam hanc miserorum morte piabunt.
quod te per superos et conscia numina veri,
per si qua est quae restet adhuc mortalibus usquam
intemerata fides, oro, miserere laborum
tantorum, miserere animi non digna ferentis.”

His lacrimis vitam damus et miserescimus ultro.
ipse viro primus manicas atque arta levari
vincla iubet Priamus dictisque ita fatur amicis:
“quisquis es, amissos hinc iam obliviscere Graios;
noster eris. mihique haec edissere vera roganti:
quo molem hanc immanis equi statuere? quis auctor?
quidve petunt? quae religio? aut quae machina belli?”
dixerat. ille dolis instructus et arte Pelasga,
sustulit exutas vinclis ad sidera palmas:
“vos, aeterni ignes, et non violabile vestrum
testor numen,” ait, “vos arae ensesque nefandi,
quos fugi, vittaeque deum, quas hostia gessi:
fas mihi Graiorum sacrata resolvere iura,
fas odisse viros atque omnia ferre sub auras,
si qua tegunt; teneor patriae nec legibus ullis.
tu modo promissis maneas servataque serves
Troia, fidem, si vera feram, si magna rependam.

Omnis spes Danaum et coepti fiducia belli
Palladis auxiliis semper stetit. impius ex quo
Tydides sed enim scelerumque inventor Ulixes,
fatale adgressi sacrato avellere templo
Palladium, caesis summae custodibus arcis,
corripuere sacram effigiem manibusque cruentis
virgineas ausi divae contingere vittas:
ex illo fluere ac retro sublapsa referri
spes Danaum, fractae vires, aversa deae mens.
nec dubiis ea signa dedit Tritonia monstris.
vix positum castris simulacrum: arsere coruscae
luminibus flammae arrectis, salsusque per artus
sudor iit, terque ipsa solo (mirabile dictu)
emicuit parmamque ferens hastamque trementem.
extemplo temptanda fuga canit aequora Calchas,
nec posse Argolicis exscindi Pergama telis
omina ni repetant Argis numenque reducant
quod pelago et curvis secum avexere carinis.
et nunc quod patrias vento petiere Mycenas,
arma deosque parant comites pelagoque remenso
improvisi aderunt. ita digerit omina Calchas.
hanc pro Palladio moniti, pro numine laeso
effigiem statuere, nefas quae triste piaret.
hanc tamen immensam Calchas attollere molem
roboribus textis caeloque educere iussit,
ne recipi portis aut duci in moenia posset,
neu populum antiqua sub religione tueri.
nam si vestra manus violasset dona Minervae,
tum magnum exitium (quod di prius omen in ipsum
convertant!) Priami imperio Phrygibusque futurum;
sin manibus vestris vestram ascendisset in urbem,
ultro Asiam magno Pelopea ad moenia bello
venturam, et nostros ea fata manere nepotes.”

Talibus insidiis periurique arte Sinonis
credita res, captique dolis lacrimisque coactis,
quos neque Tydides nec Larisaeus Achilles,
non anni domuere decem, non mille carinae.

Hic aliud maius miseris multoque tremendum
obicitur magis atque improvida pectora turbat.
Laocoon, ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos,
sollemnis taurum ingentem mactabat ad aras.
ecce autem gemini a Tenedo tranquilla per alta
(horresco referens) immensis orbibus angues
incumbunt pelago pariterque ad litora tendunt:
pectora quorum inter fluctus arrecta iubaeque
sanguineae superant undas, pars cetera pontum
pone legit sinuatque immensa volumine terga.
fit sonitus spumante salo; iamque arva tenebant
ardentisque oculos suffecti sanguine et igni
sibila lambebant linguis vibrantibus ora.
diffugimus visu exsangues. illi agmine certo
Laocoonta petunt; et primum parva duorum
corpora natorum serpens amplexus uterque
implicat et miseros morsu depascitur artus;
post ipsum auxilio subeuntem ac tela ferentem
corripiunt spirisque ligant ingentibus; et iam
bis medium amplexi, bis collo squamea circum
terga dati superant capite et cervicibus altis.
ille simul manibus tendit divellere nodos,
perfusus sanie vittas atroque veneno,
clamores simul horrendos ad sidera tollit,
qualis mugitus, fugit cum saucius aram
taurus et incertam excussit cervice securim.
at gemini lapsu delubra ad summa dracones
effugiunt saevaeque petunt Tritonidis arcem,
sub pedibusque deae clipeique sub orbe teguntur.
tum vero tremefacta novus per pectora cunctis
insinuat pavor, et scelus expendisse merentem
Laocoonta ferunt, sacrum qui cuspide robur
laeserit et tergo sceleratam intorserit hastam.
ducendum ad sedes simulacrum orandaque divae
numina conclamant…
dividimus muros et moenia pandimus urbis.
accingunt omnes operi pedibusque rotarum
subiciunt lapsus, et stuppea vincula collo
intendunt; scandit fatalis machina muros,
feta armis. pueri circum innuptaeque puellae
sacra canunt funemque manu contingere gaudent;
illa subit mediaeque minans inlabitur urbi.
o patria, o divum domus Ilium et incluta bello
moenia Dardanidum! quater ipso in limine portae
substitit, atque utero sonitum quater arma dedere:
instamus tamen immemores caecique furore
et monstrum infelix sacrata sistimus arce.
tunc etiam fatis aperit Cassandra futuris
ora, dei iussu non umquam credita Teucris.
nos delubra deum miseri, quibus ultimus esset
ille dies, festa velamus fronde per urbem.

Vertitur interea caelum et ruit Oceano nox,
involvens umbra magna terramque polumque
Myrmidonumque dolos; fusi per moenia Teucri
conticuere, sopor fessos complectitur artus.
et iam Argiva phalanx instructis navibus ibat
a Tenedo tacitae per amica silentia lunae
litora nota petens, flammas cum regia puppis
extulerat, fatisque deum defensus iniquis
inclusos utero Danaos et pinea furtim
laxat claustra Sinon. illos patefactus ad auras
reddit equus, laetique cavo se robore promunt
Thessandrus Sthenelusque duces et dirus Ulixes,
demissum lapsi per funem, Acamasque Thoasque
Pelidesque Neoptolemus primusque Machaon
et Menelaus et ipse doli fabricator Epeos.
invadunt urbem somno vinoque sepultam,
caeduntur vigiles, portisque patentibus omnis
accipiunt socios atque agmina conscia iungunt.

Tempus erat, quo prima quies mortalibus aegris
incipit et dono divum gratissima serpit.
in somnis, ecce, ante oculos maestissimus Hector
visus adesse mihi largosque effundere fletus,
raptatus bigis, ut quondam, aterque cruento
pulvere perque pedes traiectus lora tumentis.
ei mihi, qualis erat! quantum mutatus ab illo
Hectore qui redit exuvias indutus Achilli
vel Danaum Phrygios iaculatus puppibus ignis!
squalentem barbam et concretos sanguine crinis
vulneraque illa gerens, quae circum plurima muros
accepit patrios. ultro flens ipse videbar
compellare virum et maestas expromere voces:
“o lux Dardaniae, spes o fidissima Teucrum,
quae tantae tenuere morae? quibus Hector ab oris
exspectate venis? ut te post multa tuorum
funera, post varios hominumque urbisque labores
defessi aspicimus! quae causa indigna serenos
foedavit vultus? aut cur haec vulnera cerno?”
ille nihil, nec me quaerentem vana moratur,
sed graviter gemitus imo de pectore ducens,
“heu! fuge, nate dea, teque his,” ait, “eripe flammis.
hostis habet muros; ruit alto a culmine Troia.
sat patriae Priamoque datum: si Pergama dextra
defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.
sacra suosque tibi commendat Troia Penates:
hos cape fatorum comites, his moenia quaere
magna, pererrato statues quae denique ponto.”
sic ait, et manibus vittas Vestamque potentem
aeternumque adytis effert penetralibus ignem.

Diverso interea miscentur moenia luctu,
et magis atque magis, quamquam secreta parentis
Anchisae domus arboribusque obtecta recessit,
clarescunt sonitus armorumque ingruit horror.
excutior somno et summi fastigia tecti
ascensu supero atque arrectis auribus asto:
in segetem veluti cum flamma furentibus Austris
incidit, aut rapidus montano flumine torrens
sternit agros, sternit sata laeta boumque labores
praecipitisque trahit silvas; stupet inscius alto
accipiens sonitum saxi de vertice pastor.
tum vero manifesta fides, Danaumque patescunt
insidiae. iam Deiphobi dedit ampla ruinam
Volcano superante domus, iam proximus ardet
Ucalegon; Sigea igni freta lata relucent.
exoritur clamorque virum clangorque tubarum.
arma amens capio; nec sat rationis in armis,
sed glomerare manum bello et concurrere in arcem
cum sociis ardent animi; furor iraque mentem
praecipitat, pulchrumque mori succurrit in armis.

Ecce autem telis Panthus elapsus Achivum,
Panthus Othryades, arcis Phoebique sacerdos,
sacra manu victosque deos parvumque nepotem
ipse trahit cursuque amens ad limina tendit.
“quo res summa loco, Panthu? quam prendimus arcem?”
vix ea fatus eram gemitu cum talia reddit:
“venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus
Dardaniae. fuimus Troes, fuit Ilium et ingens
gloria Teucrorum; ferus omnia Iuppiter Argos
transtulit; incensa Danai dominantur in urbe.
arduus armatos mediis in moenibus astans
fundit equus victorque Sinon incendia miscet
insultans. portis alii bipatentibus adsunt,
milia quot magnis umquam venere Mycenis;
obsedere alii telis angusta viarum
oppositis; stat ferri acies mucrone corusco
stricta, parata neci; vix primi proelia temptant
portarum vigiles et caeco Marte resistunt.”
talibus Othryadae dictis et numine divum
in flammas et in arma feror, quo tristis Erinys,
quo fremitus vocat et sublatus ad aethera clamor.
addunt se socios Rhipeus et maximus armis
Epytus, oblati per lunam, Hypanisque Dymasque
et lateri adglomerant nostro, iuvenisque Coroebus
Mygdonides: illis ad Troiam forte diebus
venerate, insano Cassandrae incensus amore,
et gener auxilium Priamo Phrygibusque ferebat,
infelix, qui non sponsae praecepta furentis
quos ubi confertos ardere in proelia vidi,
incipio super his: “iuvenes, fortissima frustra
pectora, si vobis audentem extrema cupido
certa sequi, quae sit rebus fortuna videtis.
excessere omnes adytis arisque relictis
di, quibus imperium hoc steterat; succurritis urbi
incensae. moriamur et in media arma ruamus.
una salus victis nullam sperare salutem.”

Sic animis iuvenum furor additus. inde, lupi ceu
raptores atra in nebula, quos improba ventris
exegit caecos rabies catulique relicti
faucibus exspectant siccis, per tela, per hostis
vadimus haud dubiam in mortem mediaeque tenemus
urbis iter; nox atra cava circumvolat umbra.
quis cladem illius noctis, quis funera fando
explicet aut possit lacrimis aequare labores?
urbs antiqua ruit, multos dominata per annos;
plurima perque vias sternuntur inertia passim
corpora perque domos et religiosa deorum
limina. nec soli poenas dant sanguine Teucri:
quondam etiam victis redit in praecordia virtus
uictoresque cadunt Danai. crudelis ubique
luctus, ubique pavor et plurima mortis imago.

Primus se Danaum magna comitante caterva
Androgeos offert nobis, socia agmina credens
inscius, atque ultro verbis compellat amicis:
“festinate, viri! nam quae tam sera moratur
segnities? alii rapiunt incensa feruntque
Pergama; vos celsis nunc primum a navibus itis?”
dixit et extemplo (neque enim responsa dabantur
fida satis) sensit medios delapsus in hostis.
obstipuit retroque pedem cum voce repressit.
improvisum aspris veluti qui sentibus anguem
pressit humi nitens, trepidusque repente refugit
attollentem iras et caerula colla tumentem;
haud secus Androgeos visu tremefactus abibat.
inruimus densis et circumfundimur armis,
ignarosque loci passim et formidine captos
sternimus; aspirat primo Fortuna labori.
atque hic successu exsultans animisque Coroebus
“o socii, qua prima,” inquit, “Fortuna salutis
monstrat iter, quaque ostendit se dextra, sequamur:
mutemus clipeos Danaumque insignia nobis
aptemus. dolus an virtus, quis in hoste requirat?
arma dabunt ipsi.” sic fatus deinde comantem
Androgei galeam clipeique insigne decorum
induitur laterique Argivum accommodat ensem.
hoc Rhipeus, hoc ipse Dymas omnisque iuventus
laeta facit: spoliis se quisque recentibus armat.
vadimus immixti Danais haud numine nostro,
multaque per caecam congressi proelia noctem
conserimus, multos Danaum demittimus Orco.
diffugiunt alii ad navis et litora cursu
fida petunt; pars ingentem formidine turpi
scandunt rursus equum et nota conduntur in alvo.

Heu! nihil inuitis fas quemquam fidere divis!
ecce trahebatur passis Priameia virgo
crinibus a templo Cassandra adytisque Minervae,
ad caelum tendens ardentia lumina frustra,
lumina, nam teneras arcebant vincula palmas.
non tulit hanc speciem furiata mente Coroebus
et sese medium iniecit periturus in agmen.
consequimur cuncti et densis incurrimus armis.
hic primum ex alto delubri culmine telis
nostrorum obruimur oriturque miserrima caedes
armorum facie et Graiarum errore iubarum.
tum Danai gemitu atque ereptae virginis ira
undique collecti invadunt, acerrimus Aiax
et gemini Atridae Dolopumque exercitus omnis:
adversi rupto ceu quondam turbine venti
confligunt, Zephyrusque Notusque et laetus Eois
Eurus equis; stridunt silvae saevitque tridenti
spumeus atque imo Nereus ciet aequora fundo.
illi etiam, si quos obscura nocte per umbram
fudimus insidiis totaque agitavimus urbe,
apparent; primi clipeos mentitaque tela
agnoscunt atque ora sono discordia signant.
ilicet obruimur numero, primusque Coroebus
Penelei dextra divae armipotentis ad aram
procumbit; cadit et Rhipeus, iustissimus unus
qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus aequi
(dis aliter visum); pereunt Hypanisque Dymasque
confixi a sociis; nec te tua plurima, Panthu,
labentem pietas nec Apollinis infula texit.
Iliaci cineres et flamma extrema meorum,
testor, in occasu vestro nec tela nec ullas
vitavisse vices, Danaum et si fata fuissent
ut caderem meruisse manu. divellimur inde,
Iphitus et Pelias mecum (quorum Iphitus aevo
iam gravior, Pelias et vulnere tardus Ulixi),
protinus ad sedes Priami clamore vocati.

Hic vero ingentem pugnam, ceu cetera nusquam
bella forent, nulli tota morerentur in urbe,
sic Martem indomitum Danaosque ad tecta ruentis
cernimus obsessumque acta testudine limen.
haerent parietibus scalae postisque sub ipsos
nituntur gradibus clipeosque ad tela sinistris
protecti obiciunt, prensant fastigia dextris.
Dardanidae contra turris ac tota domorum
culmina convellunt; his se, quando ultima cernunt,
extrema iam in morte parant defendere telis;
auratasque trabes, veterum decora alta parentum,
devolvunt; alii strictis mucronibus imas
obsedere fores; has servant agmine denso.
instaurati animi regis succurrere tectis
auxilioque levare viros uimque addere victis.

Limen erat caecaeque fores et pervius usus
tectorum inter se Priami, postesque relicti
a tergo, infelix qua se, dum regna manebant,
saepius Andromache ferre incomitata solebat
ad soceros et avo puerum Astyanacta trahebat.
evado ad summi fastigia culminis, unde
tela manu miseri iactabant inrita Teucri.
turrim in praecipiti stantem summisque sub astra
eductam tectis, unde omnis Troia videri
et Danaum solitae naves et Achaica castra,
adgressi ferro circum, qua summa labantis
iuncturas tabulata dabant, convellimus altis
sedibus impulimusque; ea lapsa repente ruinam
cum sonitu trahit et Danaum super agmina late
incidit. ast alii subeunt, nec saxa nec ullum
telorum interea cessat genus…

Vestibulum ante ipsum primoque in limine Pyrrhus
exsultat telis et luce coruscus aëna;
qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat,
nunc positis novus exuviis nitidusque iuventa
lubrica convoluit sublato pectore terga,
arduus ad solem, et linguis micat ore trisulcis.
una ingens Periphas et equorum agitator Achillis,
armiger Automedon, una omnis Scyria pubes
succedunt tecto et flammas ad culmina iactant.
ipse inter primos correpta dura bipenni
limina perrumpit postisque a cardine vellit
aeratos; iamque excisa trabe firma cavavit
robora et ingentem lato dedit ore fenestram.
apparet domus intus et atria longa patescunt;
apparent Priami et veterum penetralia regum,
armatosque vident stantis in limine primo.

At domus interior gemitu miseroque tumultu
miscetur, penitusque cavae plangoribus aedes
femineis ululant; ferit aurea sidera clamor.
tum pavidae tectis matres ingentibus errant
amplexaeque tenent postis atque oscula figunt.
instat vi patria Pyrrhus; nec claustra nec ipsi
custodes sufferre valent; labat ariete crebro
ianua, et emoti procumbunt cardine postes.
fit via vi; rumpunt aditus primosque trucidant
immissi Danai et late loca milite complent.
non sic, aggeribus ruptis cum spumeus amnis
exiit oppositasque evicit gurgite moles,
fertur in arva furens cumulo camposque per omnis
cum stabulis armenta trahit. vidi ipse furentem
caede Neoptolemum geminosque in limine Atridas,
vidi Hecubam centumque nurus Priamumque per aras
sanguine foedantem quos ipse sacraverat ignis.
quinquaginta illi thalami, spes tanta nepotum,
barbarico postes auro spoliisque superbi
procubuere; tenent Danai qua deficit ignis.

Forsitan et Priami fuerint quae fata requiras.
urbis uti captae casum convulsaque vidit
limina tectorum et medium in penetralibus hostem,
arma diu senior desueta trementibus aevo
circumdat nequiquam umeris et inutile ferrum
cingitur, ac densos fertur moriturus in hostis.
aedibus in mediis nudoque sub aetheris axe
ingens ara fuit iuxtaque veterrima laurus
incumbens arae atque umbra complexa Penates.
hic Hecuba et natae nequiquam altaria circum,
praecipites atra ceu tempestate columbae,
condensae et divum amplexae simulacra sedebant.
ipsum autem sumptis Priamum iuvenalibus armis
ut vidit, “quae mens tam dira, miserrime coniunx,
impulit his cingi telis? aut quo ruis?” inquit.
“non tali auxilio nec defensoribus istis
tempus eget; non, si ipse meus nunc adforet Hector.
huc tandem concede; haec ara tuebitur omnis,
aut moriere simul.” sic ore effata recepit
ad sese et sacra longaeuum in sede locavit.

Ecce autem elapsus Pyrrhi de caede Polites,
unus natorum Priami, per tela, per hostis
porticibus longis fugit et vacua atria lustrat
saucius. illum ardens infesto vulnere Pyrrhus
insequitur, iam iamque manu tenet et premit hasta.
ut tandem ante oculos evasit et ora parentum,
concidit ac multo vitam cum sanguine fudit.
hic Priamus, quamquam in media iam morte tenetur,
non tamen abstinuit nec voci iraeque pepercit:
“at tibi pro scelere,” exclamat, “pro talibus ausis
di, si qua est caelo pietas quae talia curet,
persolvant grates dignas et praemia reddant
debita, qui nati coram me cernere letum
fecisti et patrios foedasti funere vultus.
at non ille, satum quo te mentiris, Achilles
talis in hoste fuit Priamo; sed iura fidemque
supplicis erubuit corpusque exsangue sepulcro
reddidit Hectoreum meque in mea regna remisit.”
sic fatus senior, telumque imbelle sine ictu
coniecit, rauco quod protinus aere repulsum,
et summo clipei nequiquam umbone pependit.
cui Pyrrhus: “referes ergo haec et nuntius ibis
Pelidae genitori; illi mea tristia facta
degeneremque Neoptolemum narrare memento;
nunc morere.” hoc dicens altaria ad ipsa trementem
traxit et in multo lapsantem sanguine nati,
implicuitque comam laeva, dextraque coruscum
extulit ac lateri capulo tenus abdidit ensem.
haec finis Priami fatorum; hic exitus illum
sorte tulit, Troiam incensam et prolapsa videntem
Pergama, tot quondam populis terrisque superbum
regnatorem Asiae. iacet ingens litore truncus,
avulsumque umeris caput et sine nomine corpus.

At me tum primum saevus circumstetit horror.
obstipui; subiit cari genitoris imago,
ut regem aequaevum crudeli vulnere vidi
vitam exhalantem, subiit deserta Creusa
et direpta domus et parvi casus Iuli.
respicio et, quae sit me circum copia, lustro.
deseruere omnes defessi, et corpora saltu
ad terram misere aut ignibus aegra dedere.

Iamque adeo super unus eram, cum limina Vestae
servantem et tacitam secreta in sede latentem
Tyndarida aspicio; dant claram incendia lucem
erranti passimque oculos per cuncta ferenti.
illa sibi infestos eversa ob Pergama Teucros
et Danaum poenam et deserti coniugis iras
praemetuens, Troiae et patriae communis Erinys,
abdiderat sese atque aris invisa sedebat.
exarsere ignes animo; subit ira cadentem
ulcisci patriam et sceleratas sumere poenas.
“scilicet haec Spartam incolumis patriasque Mycenas
aspiciet, partoque ibit regina triumpho?
coniugiumque domumque patris natosque videbit
Iliadum turba et Phrygiis comitata ministris?
occiderit ferro Priamus? Troia arserit igni?
Dardanium totiens sudarit sanguine litus?
non ita. namque etsi nullum memorabile nomen
feminea in poena est, habet haec victoria laudem;
exstinxisse nefas tamen et sumpsisse merentis
laudabor poenas, animumque explesse iuvabit
ultricis flammae et cineres satiasse meorum.”
talia iactabam et furiata mente ferebar,
cum mihi se, non ante oculis tam clara, videndam
obtulit et pura per noctem in luce refulsit
alma parens, confessa deam qualisque videri
caelicolis et quanta solet, dextraque prehensum
continuit roseoque haec insuper addidit ore:
“nate, quis indomitas tantus dolor excitat iras?
quid furis? aut quonam nostri tibi cura recessit?
non prius aspicies ubi fessum aetate parentem
liqueris Anchisen, superet coniunxne Creusa
Ascaniusque puer? quos omnis undique Graiae
circum errant acies et, ni mea cura resistat,
iam flammae tulerint inimicus et hauserit ensis.
non tibi Tyndaridis facies invisa Lacaenae
culpatusue Paris, divum inclementia, divum
has evertit opes sternitque a culmine Troiam.
aspice (namque omnem, quae nunc obducta tuenti
mortalis hebetat visus tibi et umida circum
caligat, nubem eripiam; tu ne qua parentis
iussa time neu praeceptis parere recusa):
hic, ubi disiectas moles avulsaque saxis
saxa vides, mixtoque undantem pulvere fumum,
Neptunus muros magnoque emota tridenti
fundamenta quatit totamque a sedibus urbem
eruit. hic Iuno Scaeas saevissima portas
prima tenet sociumque furens a navibus agmen
ferro accincta vocat…
iam summas arces Tritonia, respice, Pallas
insedit nimbo effulgens et Gorgone saeva.
ipse pater Danais animos virisque secundas
sufficit, ipse deos in Dardana suscitat arma.
eripe, nate, fugam finemque impone labori.
nusquam abero et tutum patrio te limine sistam.”
dixerat et spissis noctis se condidit umbris.
apparent dirae facies inimicaque Troiae
numina magna deum…

Tum vero omne mihi visum considere in ignis
Ilium et ex imo verti Neptunia Troia:
ac veluti summis antiquam in montibus ornum
cum ferro accisam crebrisque bipennibus instant
eruere agricolae certatim; illa usque minatur
et tremefacta comam concusso vertice nutat,
vulneribus donec paulatim evicta supremum
congemuit traxitque iugis avulsa ruinam.
descendo ac ducente deo flammam inter et hostis
expedior: dant tela locum flammaeque recedunt.

Atque ubi iam patriae perventum ad limina sedis
antiquasque domos, genitor, quem tollere in altos
optabam primum montis primumque petebam,
abnegat excisa vitam producere Troia
exsiliumque pati. “vos o, quibus integer aevi
sanguis,” ait, “solidaeque suo stant robore vires,
vos agitate fugam...
me si caelicolae voluissent ducere vitam,
has mihi servassent sedes. satis una superque
vidimus excidia et captae superavimus urbi.
sic o sic positum adfati discedite corpus.
ipse manu mortem inveniam; miserebitur hostis
exuviasque petet. facilis iactura sepulcri.
iam pridem invisus divis et inutilis annos
demoror, ex quo me divum pater atque hominum rex
fulminis adflavit ventis et contigit igni.”

Talia perstabat memorans fixusque manebat.
nos contra effusi lacrimis coniunxque Creusa
Ascaniusque omnisque domus, ne vertere secum
cuncta pater fatoque urgenti incumbere vellet.
abnegat inceptoque et sedibus haeret in isdem.
rursus in arma feror mortemque miserrimus opto.
nam quod consilium aut quae iam fortuna dabatur?
“mene efferre pedem, genitor, te posse relicto
sperasti tantumque nefas patrio excidit ore?
si nihil ex tanta superis placet urbe relinqui,
et sedet hoc animo perituraeque addere Troiae
teque tuosque iuvat, patet isti ianua leto,
iamque aderit multo Priami de sanguine Pyrrhus,
natum ante ora patris, patrem qui obtruncat ad aras.
hoc erat, alma parens, quod me per tela, per ignis
eripis, ut mediis hostem in penetralibus utque
Ascanium patremque meum iuxtaque Creusam
alterum in alterius mactatos sanguine cernam?
arma, viri, ferte arma; vocat lux ultima victos.
reddite me Danais; sinite instaurata revisam
proelia. numquam omnes hodie moriemur inulti.”

Hinc ferro accingor rursus clipeoque sinistram
insertabam aptans meque extra tecta ferebam.
ecce autem complexa pedes in limine coniunx
haerebat, parvumque patri tendebat Iulum:
“si periturus abis, et nos rape in omnia tecum;
sin aliquam expertus sumptis spem ponis in armis,
hanc primum tutare domum. cui parvus Iulus,
cui pater et coniunx quondam tua dicta relinquor?”

Talia vociferans gemitu tectum omne replebat,
cum subitum dictuque oritur mirabile monstrum.
namque manus inter maestorumque ora parentum
ecce levis summo de vertice visus Iuli
fundere lumen apex, tactuque innoxia mollis
lambere flamma comas et circum tempora pasci.
nos pavidi trepidare metu crinemque flagrantem
excutere et sanctos restinguere fontibus ignis.
at pater Anchises oculos ad sidera laetus
extulit et caelo palmas cum voce tetendit:
“Iuppiter omnipotens, precibus si flecteris ullis,
aspice nos, hoc tantum, et si pietate meremur,
da deinde auxilium, pater, atque haec omina firma.”

Vix ea fatus erat senior, subitoque fragore
intonuit laevum, et de caelo lapsa per umbras
stella facem ducens multa cum luce cucurrit.
illam, summa super labentem culmina tecti,
cernimus Idaea claram se condere silva
signantemque vias; tum longo limite sulcus
dat lucem et late circum loca sulphure fumant.
hic vero victus genitor se tollit ad auras
adfaturque deos et sanctum sidus adorat.
“iam iam nulla mora est; sequor et, qua ducitis, adsum.
di patria, servate domum, servate nepotem.
vestrum hoc augurium, vestroque in numine Troia est.
cedo equidem nec, nate, tibi comes ire recuso.”
dixerat ille, et iam per moenia clarior ignis
auditur, propiusque aestus incendia volvunt.
“ergo age, care pater, cervici imponere nostrae;
ipse subibo umeris nec me labor iste gravabit;
quo res cumque cadent, unum et commune periclum,
una salus ambobus erit. mihi parvus Iulus
sit comes, et longe servet vestigia coniunx.
vos, famuli, quae dicam animis advertite vestris.
est urbe egressis tumulus templumque vetustum
desertae Cereris, iuxtaque antiqua cupressus
religione patrum multos servata per annos;
hanc ex diverso sedem veniemus in unam.
tu, genitor, cape sacra manu patriosque Penates;
me, bello e tanto digressum et caede recenti
attrectare nefas, donec me flumine vivo
haec fatus latos umeros subiectaque colla
veste super fulvique insternor pelle leonis,
succedoque oneri; dextrae se parvus Iulus
implicuit sequiturque patrem non passibus aequis;
pone subit coniunx. ferimur per opaca locorum,
et me, quem dudum non ulla iniecta movebant
tela neque adverso glomerati examine Grai,
nunc omnes terrent aurae, sonus excitat omnis
suspensum et pariter comitique onerique timentem.

Iamque propinquabam portis omnemque videbar
evasisse viam, subito cum creber ad auris
visus adesse pedum sonitus, genitorque per umbram
prospiciens, “nate,” exclamat, “fuge, nate; propinquant.
ardentis clipeos atque aera micantia cerno.”
hic mihi nescio quod trepido male numen amicum
confusam eripuit mentem. namque avia cursu
dum sequor et nota excedo regione viarum,
heu! misero coniunx fatone erepta Creusa
substitit? erravitne via seu lapsa resedit?
incertum; nec post oculis est reddita nostris,
nec prius amissam respexi animumve reflexi,
quam tumulum antiquae Cereris sedemque sacratam
venimus. hic demum collectis omnibus una
defuit, et comites natumque virumque fefellit.
quem non incusavi amens hominumque deorumque,
aut quid in eversa vidi crudelius urbe?
Ascanium Anchisenque patrem Teucrosque Penates
commendo sociis et curva valle recondo;
ipse urbem repeto et cingor fulgentibus armis.
stat casus renovare omnis omnemque reverti
per Troiam et rursus caput obiectare periclis.

Principio muros obscuraque limina portae,
qua gressum extuleram, repeto et vestigia retro
observata sequor per noctem et lumine lustro.
horror ubique animo, simul ipsa silentia terrent.
inde domum, si forte pedem, si forte tulisset,
me refero. inruerant Danai et tectum omne tenebant.
ilicet ignis edax summa ad fastigia vento
volvitur; exsuperant flammae, furit aestus ad auras.
procedo et Priami sedes arcemque reviso.
et iam porticibus vacuis Iunonis asylo
custodes lecti Phoenix et dirus Ulixes
praedam adservabant. huc undique Troïa gaza
incensis erepta adytis, mensaeque deorum
crateresque auro solidi captivaque vestis
congeritur. pueri et pavidae longo ordine matres
stant circum…
ausus quin etiam voces iactare per umbram
implevi clamore vias, maestusque Creusam
nequiquam ingeminans iterumque iterumque vocavi.
quaerenti et tectis urbis sine fine furenti
infelix simulacrum atque ipsius umbra Creusae
visa mihi ante oculos et nota maior imago.
obstipui, steteruntque comae et vox faucibus haesit.
tum sic adfari et curas his demere dictis:
“quid tantum insano iuvat indulgere dolori,
o dulcis coniunx? non haec sine numine divum
eveniunt; nec te comitem hinc portare Creusam
fas, aut ille sinit superi regnator Olympi.
longa tibi exsilia, et vastum maris aequor arandum;
et terram Hesperiam venies, ubi Lydius arva
inter opima virum leni fluit agmine Thybris.
illic res laetae regnumque et regia coniunx
parta tibi; lacrimas dilectae pelle Creusae.
non ego Myrmidonum sedes Dolopumve superbas
aspiciam aut Grais servitum matribus ibo,
Dardanis et divae Veneris nurus…
sed me magna deum genetrix his detinet oris.
iamque vale et nati serva communis amorem.”
haec ubi dicta dedit, lacrimantem et multa volentem
dicere deseruit, tenuisque recessit in auras.
ter conatus ibi collo dare bracchia circum;
ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno.
sic demum socios consumpta nocte reviso.

Atque hic ingentem comitum adfluxisse novorum
invenio admirans numerum, matresque virosque,
collectam exsilio pubem, miserabile vulgus.
undique convenere, animis opibusque parati,
in quascumque velim pelago deducere terras.
iamque iugis summae surgebat Lucifer Idae
ducebatque diem, Danaique obsessa tenebant
limina portarum, nec spes opis ulla dabatur.
cessi et sublato montis genitore petivi.’