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Quote of the day: He called into his service twelve lictor
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The Aeneid by Virgil
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book II Chapter 31: Aeneas and family flee. Creusa is left behind
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Scarce ceased his aged voice, when suddenly
from leftward, with a deafening thunder-peal,
cleaving the blackness of the vaulted sky,
a meteor-star in trailing splendor ran,
exceeding bright. We watched it glide sublime
o'er tower and town, until its radiant beam
in forest-mantled Ida died away;
but left a furrow on its track in air,
a glittering, long line, while far and wide
the sulphurous fume and exhalation flowed.
My father strove not now; but lifted him
in prayer to all the gods, in holy awe
of that auspicious star, and thus exclaimed:
“Tarry no moment more! Behold, I come!
Whithersoe'er ye lead, my steps obey.
Gods of my fathers, O, preserve our name!
Preserve my son [Note 1], and his! This augury
is yours; and Troy on your sole strength relies.
I yield, dear son; I journey at thy side.”
He spoke; and higher o'er the blazing walls
leaped the loud fire, while ever nearer drew
the rolling surges of tumultuous flame.
“Haste, father, on these bending shoulders climb!
This back is ready, and the burden light;
one peril smites us both, whate'er befall;
one rescue both shall find. Close at my side
let young Iulus run, while, not too nigh,
my wife Creusa heeds what way we go.
Ye servants of our house, give ear, I pray,
to my command. Outside the city's gates
lies a low mound and long since ruined fane
to Ceres vowed; a cypress, ancient shade
o'erhangs it, which our fathers' pious care
protected year by year; by various paths
be that our meeting-place. But in thy hands
bring, sire, our household gods, and sanctifies:
for me to touch, who come this very hour
from battle and the fresh blood of the slain,
were but abomination, till what time
in living waters I shall make me clean.”
So saying, I bowed my neck and shoulders broad,
o'erspread me with a lion's tawny skin,
and lifted up my load. Close at my side
little Iulus twined his hand in mine
and followed, with unequal step, his sire.
My wife at distance came. We hastened on,
creeping through shadows; I, who once had viewed
undaunted every instrument of war
and all the gathered Greeks in grim array,
now shook at every gust, and heard all sounds
with fevered trepidation, fearing both
for him I bore and him who clasped my hand.
Now near the gates I drew, and deemed our flight
safely at end, when suddenly I heard
the sounding tread of many warriors
that seemed hard-by, while through the murky night
my father peered, and shouted, “O my son,
away, away! for surely all our foes
are here upon us, and my eyes behold
the glance of glittering shields and flash of arms.”
O, then some evil-working, nameless god
clouded my senses quite: for while I sped
along our pathless way, and left behind
all paths and regions known -- O wretched me! --
Creusa on some dark disaster fell;
she stopped, or wandered, or sank down undone, --
I never knew what way, -- and nevermore
I looked on her alive. Yet knew I not
my loss, nor backward turned a look or thought,
till by that hallowed hill to Ceres vowed
we gathered all, -- and she alone came not,
while husband, friends, and son made search in vain.
What god, what man, did not my grief accuse
in frenzied word? In all the ruined land
what worse woe had I seen? Entrusting then
my sire, my son, and all the Teucrian gods
to the deep shadows of a slanting vale
where my allies kept guard, I tried me back
to that doomed town, re-girt in glittering arms.
Resolved was I all hazards to renew,
all Troy to re-explore, and once again
offer my life to perils without end.

Note 1: son = Aeneas

Events: The Flight of Aeneas, The Sack of Troy

692-751
Vix ea fatus erat senior, subitoque fragore
intonuit laeuum, et de caelo lapsa per umbras
stella facem ducens multa cum luce cucurrit.
illam summa super labentem culmina tecti
cernimus Idaea claram se condere silua
signantemque uias; tum longo limite sulcus
dat lucem et late circum loca sulphure fumant.
hic uero uictus genitor se tollit ad auras
adfaturque deos et sanctum sidus adorat.
'iam iam nulla mora est; sequor et qua ducitis adsum,
di patrii; seruate domum, seruate nepotem.
uestrum hoc augurium, uestroque in numine Troia est.
cedo equidem nec, nate, tibi comes ire recuso.'
dixerat ille, et iam per moenia clarior ignis
auditur, propiusque aestus incendia uoluunt.
'ergo age, care pater, ceruici imponere nostrae;
ipse subibo umeris nec me labor iste grauabit;
quo res cumque cadent, unum et commune periclum,
una salus ambobus erit. mihi paruus Iulus
sit comes, et longe seruet uestigia coniunx.
uos, famuli, quae dicam animis aduertite uestris.
est urbe egressis tumulus templumque uetustum
desertae Cereris, iuxtaque antiqua cupressus
religione patrum multos seruata per annos;
hanc ex diuerso sedem ueniemus in unam.
tu, genitor, cape sacra manu patriosque penatis;
me bello e tanto digressum et caede recenti
attrectare nefas, donec me flumine uiuo
abluero.'
haec fatus latos umeros subiectaque colla
ueste super fuluique insternor pelle leonis,
succedoque oneri; dextrae se paruus Iulus
implicuit sequiturque patrem non passibus aequis
pone subit coniunx. ferimur per opaca locorum,
et me, quem dudum non ulla iniecta mouebant
tela neque aduerso glomerati examine Grai,
nunc omnes terrent aurae, sonus excitat omnis
suspensum et pariter comitique onerique timentem.
iamque propinquabam portis omnemque uidebar
euasisse uiam, subito cum creber ad auris
uisus 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 auia cursu
dum sequor et nota excedo regione uiarum,
heu misero coniunx fatone erepta Creusa
substitit, errauitne uia seu lapsa resedit,
incertum; nec post oculis est reddita nostris.
nec prius amissam respexi animumue reflexi
quam tumulum antiquae Cereris sedemque sacratam
uenimus: hic demum collectis omnibus una
defuit, et comites natumque uirumque fefellit.
quem non incusaui amens hominumque deorumque,
aut quid in euersa uidi crudelius urbe?
Ascanium Anchisenque patrem Teucrosque penatis
commendo sociis et curua ualle recondo;
ipse urbem repeto et cingor fulgentibus armis.
stat casus renouare omnis omnemque reuerti
per Troiam et rursus caput obiectare periclis