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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book XI Chapter 4: A funeral truce
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Now envoys from the Latin citadel |
came olive-crowned, to plead for clemency:
would he not yield those bodies of the dead
sword-scattered o'er the plain, and let them lie
beneath an earth-built tomb? Who wages war
upon the vanquished, the unbreathing slain?
To people once his hosts and kindred called,
would he not mercy show? To such a prayer,
deemed not unworthy, good Aeneas gave
the boon, and this benignant answer made:
Ye Latins, what misfortune undeserved
has snared you in so vast a war, that now
you shun our friendship? Have you here implored
peace for your dead, by chance of battle fallen?
Pain would I grant it for the living too.
I sailed not hither save by Heaven's decree,
which called me to this land. I wage no war
with you, the people; t was your king [Note 1] refused
our proffered bond of peace, and gave his cause
to Turnus' arms. More meet and just it were
had Turnus met this death that makes you mourn.
If he would end our quarrel sword in hand,
thrusting us Teucrians forth, t was honor's way
to cross his blade with mine; that man to whom
the gods, or his own valor, had decreed
the longer life, had lived. But now depart!
Beneath your lost friends light the funeral fires!
So spoke Aeneas; and with wonder mute
all stood at gaze, each turning to behold
his neighbor's face.
Note 1: king = Latinus
Iamque oratores aderant ex urbe Latina
uelati ramis oleae ueniamque rogantes:
corpora, per campos ferro quae fusa iacebant,
redderet ac tumulo sineret succedere terrae;
nullum cum uictis certamen et aethere cassis;
parceret hospitibus quondam socerisque uocatis.
quos bonus Aeneas haud aspernanda precantis
prosequitur uenia et uerbis haec insuper addit:
'quaenam uos tanto fortuna indigna, Latini,
implicuit bello, qui nos fugiatis amicos?
pacem me exanimis et Martis sorte peremptis
oratis? equidem et uiuis concedere uellem.
nec ueni, nisi fata locum sedemque dedissent,
nec bellum cum gente gero; rex nostra reliquit
hospitia et Turni potius se credidit armis.
aequius huic Turnum fuerat se opponere morti.
si bellum finire manu, si pellere Teucros
apparat, his mecum decuit concurrere telis:
uixet cui uitam deus aut sua dextra dedisset.
nunc ite et miseris supponite ciuibus ignem.'
dixerat Aeneas. illi obstipuere silentes
conuersique oculos inter se atque ora tenebant.