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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book IV Chapter 3: Bad omens
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So saying, she stirred a passion-burning breast |
to love more madly still; her words infused
a doubting mind with hope, and bade the blush
of shame begone. First to the shrines they went
and sued for grace; performing sacrifice,
choosing an offering of unblemished ewes,
to law-bestowing Ceres, to the god
of light, to sire Lyeus, Lord of wine;
but chiefly unto Juno, patroness
of nuptial vows. There Dido, beauteous Queen
held forth in her right hand the sacred bowl
and poured it full between the lifted horns
of the white heifer; or on temple floors
she strode among the richly laden shrines,
the eyes of gods upon her, worshipping
with many a votive gift; or, peering deep
into the victims' cloven sides, she read
the fate-revealing tokens trembling there.
How blind the hearts of prophets be! Alas!
Of what avail be temples and fond prayers
to change a frenzied mind? Devouring ever,
love's fire burns inward to her bones; she feels
quick in her breast the viewless, voiceless wound.
Ill-fated Dido ranges up and down
the spaces of her city, desperate
her life one flame -- like arrow-stricken doe
through Cretan forest rashly wandering,
pierced by a far-off shepherd, who pursues
with shafts, and leaves behind his light-winged steed,
not knowing; while she scours the dark ravines
of Dicte and its woodlands; at her heart
the mortal barb irrevocably clings.
around her city's battlements she guides
Aeneas, to make show of Sidon's gold,
and what her realm can boast; full oft her voice
essays to speak and trembling dies away:
or, when the daylight fades, she spreads anew
a royal banquet, and once more will plead
mad that she is, to hear the Trojan sorrow;
and with oblivious ravishment once more
hangs on his lips who tells; or when her guests
are scattered, and the wan moon's fading horn
bedims its ray, while many a sinking star
invites to slumber, there she weeps alone
in the deserted hall, and casts her down
on the cold couch he pressed. Her love from far
beholds her vanished hero and receives
his voice upon her ears; or to her breast,
moved by a father's image in his child,
she clasps Ascanius, seeking to deceive
her unblest passion so. Her enterprise
of tower and rampart stops: her martial host
no longer she reviews, nor fashions now
defensive haven and defiant wall;
but idly all her half-built bastions frown,
and enginery of sieges, high as heaven.
Event: Love and Death of Dido
His dictis impenso animum flammauit amore
spemque dedit dubiae menti soluitque pudorem.
principio delubra adeunt pacemque per aras
exquirunt; mactant lectas de more bidentis
legiferae Cereri Phoeboque patrique Lyaeo,
Iunoni ante omnis, cui uincla iugalia curae.
ipsa tenens dextra pateram pulcherrima Dido
candentis uaccae media inter cornua fundit,
aut ante ora deum pinguis spatiatur ad aras,
instauratque diem donis, pecudumque reclusis
pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta.
heu, uatum ignarae mentes! quid uota furentem,
quid delubra iuuant? est mollis flamma medullas
interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus.
uritur infelix Dido totaque uagatur
urbe furens, qualis coniecta cerua sagitta,
quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit
pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum
nescius: illa fuga siluas saltusque peragrat
Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo.
nunc media Aenean secum per moenia ducit
Sidoniasque ostentat opes urbemque paratam,
incipit effari mediaque in uoce resistit;
nunc eadem labente die conuiuia quaerit,
Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores
exposcit pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore.
post ubi digressi, lumenque obscura uicissim
luna premit suadentque cadentia sidera somnos,
sola domo maeret uacua stratisque relictis
incubat. illum absens absentem auditque uidetque,
aut gremio Ascanium genitoris imagine capta
detinet, infandum si fallere possit amorem.
non coeptae adsurgunt turres, non arma iuuentus
exercet portusue aut propugnacula bello
tuta parant: pendent opera interrupta minaeque
murorum ingentes aequataque machina caelo.