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The Aeneid by Virgil
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book VII Chapter 5: Omens for Latinus
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Latinus, then
an aged king, held long-accepted sway
o'er tranquil vales and towns. He was the son
of Faunus, so the legend tells, who wed
the nymph Marica of Laurentian stem.
Picus was Faunus' father, whence the line
to Saturn's loins ascends. O heavenly sire,
from thee the stem began! But Fate had given
to King Latinus' body no heirs male:
for taken in the dawning of his day
his only son had been; and now his home
and spacious palace one sole daughter kept,
who was grown ripe to wed and of full age
to take a husband. Many suitors tried
from all Ausonia and Latium's bounds;
but comeliest in all their princely throng
came Turnus, of a line of mighty sires.
Him the queen mother chiefly loved, and yearned
to call him soon her son. But omens dire
and menaces from Heaven withstood her will.
A laurel-tree grew in the royal close,
of sacred leaf and venerated age,
which, when he builded there his wall and tower,
Father Latinus found, and hallowed it
to Phoebus' grace and power, wherefrom the name
Laurentian, which his realm and people bear.
Unto this tree-top, wonderful to tell,
came hosts of bees, with audible acclaim
voyaging the stream of air, and seized a place
on the proud, pointing crest, where the swift swarm,
with interlacement of close-clinging feet,
swung from the leafy bough. “Behold, there comes,”
the prophet cried, “a husband from afar!
To the same region by the self-same path
behold an arm'd host taking lordly sway
upon our city's crown!” Soon after this,
when, coming to the shrine with torches pure,
Lavinia kindled at her father's side
the sacrifice, swift seemed the flame to burn
along her flowing hair -- O sight of woe!
Over her broidered snood it sparkling flew,
lighting her queenly tresses and her crown
of jewels rare: then, wrapt in flaming cloud,
from hall to hall the fire-god's gift she flung.
This omen dread and wonder terrible
was rumoured far: for prophet-voices told
bright honors on the virgin's head to fall
by Fate's decree, but on her people, war.
Rex arua Latinus et urbes
iam senior longa placidas in pace regebat.
hunc Fauno et nympha genitum Laurente Marica
accipimus; Fauno Picus pater, isque parentem
te, Saturne, refert, tu sanguinis ultimus auctor.
filius huic fato diuum prolesque uirilis
nulla fuit, primaque oriens erepta iuuenta est.
sola domum et tantas seruabat filia sedes
iam matura uiro, iam plenis nubilis annis.
multi illam magno e Latio totaque petebant
Ausonia; petit ante alios pulcherrimus omnis
Turnus, auis atauisque potens, quem regia coniunx
adiungi generum miro properabat amore;
sed uariis portenta deum terroribus obstant.
laurus erat tecti medio in penetralibus altis
sacra comam multosque metu seruata per annos,
quam pater inuentam, primas cum conderet arces,
ipse ferebatur Phoebo sacrasse Latinus,
Laurentisque ab ea nomen posuisse colonis.
huius apes summum densae (mirabile dictu)
stridore ingenti liquidum trans aethera uectae
obsedere apicem, et pedibus per mutua nexis
examen subitum ramo frondente pependit.
continuo uates 'externum cernimus' inquit
'aduentare uirum et partis petere agmen easdem
partibus ex isdem et summa dominarier arce.'
praeterea, castis adolet dum altaria taedis,
et iuxta genitorem astat Lauinia uirgo,
uisa (nefas) longis comprendere crinibus ignem
atque omnem ornatum flamma crepitante cremari,
regalisque accensa comas, accensa coronam
insignem gemmis; tum fumida lumine fuluo
inuolui ac totis Volcanum spargere tectis.
id uero horrendum ac uisu mirabile ferri:
namque fore inlustrem fama fatisque canebant
ipsam, sed populo magnum portendere bellum.