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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book VIII Chapter 14: The tale of Evander
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Such worship o'er, all take the homeward way |
back to the town. The hospitable king,
though bowed with weight of years, kept at his side
Aeneas and his son, and as they fared,
with various discourse beguiled the way.
Aeneas scanned with quick-admiring eyes
the region wide, and lingered with delight
now here, now there, inquiring eagerly
of each proud monument of heroes gone.
Then king Evander, he who builded first
On Palatine, spoke thus: These groves erewhile
their native nymphs and fauns enjoyed, with men
from trees engendered and stout heart of oak.
Nor laws nor arts they knew; nor how to tame
burls to the yoke, nor fill great barns with store
and hoard the gathered grain; but rudely fared
on wild fruits and such food as hunters find.
Then Saturn from Olympian realms came down,
in flight from Jove's dread arms, his sceptre lost,
and he an exiled king. That savage race
he gathered from the mountain slopes; and gave
wise laws and statutes; so that latent land
was Latium, hid land where he hid so long.
The golden centuries by legends told
were under that good king, whose equal sway
untroubled peace to all his peoples gave.
But after slow decline arrived an age
degenerate and of a darker hue,
prone to insensate war and greed of gain.
Then came Sicanian and Ausonian tribes,
and oft the land of Saturn lost its name.
New chieftains rose, and Thybris, giant king
and violent, from whom th' Italians named
the flooding Tiber, which was called no more
the Albula, its true and ancient style.
Myself, in exile from my fatherland
sailing uncharted seas, was guided here
by all-disposing Chance and iron laws
of Destiny. With prophecy severe
Carmentis, my nymph-mother, thrust me on,
warned by Apollo's word.
Event: Aeneas visits Evander
Exim se cuncti diuinis rebus ad urbem
perfectis referunt. ibat rex obsitus aeuo,
et comitem Aenean iuxta natumque tenebat
ingrediens uarioque uiam sermone leuabat.
miratur facilisque oculos fert omnia circum
Aeneas, capiturque locis et singula laetus
exquiritque auditque uirum monimenta priorum.
tum rex Euandrus Romanae conditor arcis:
'haec nemora indigenae Fauni Nymphaeque tenebant
gensque uirum truncis et duro robore nata,
quis neque mos neque cultus erat, nec iungere tauros
aut componere opes norant aut parcere parto,
sed rami atque asper uictu uenatus alebat.
primus ab aetherio uenit Saturnus Olympo
arma Iouis fugiens et regnis exsul ademptis.
is genus indocile ac dispersum montibus altis
composuit legesque dedit, Latiumque uocari
maluit, his quoniam latuisset tutus in oris.
aurea quae perhibent illo sub rege fuere
saecula: sic placida populos in pace regebat,
deterior donec paulatim ac decolor aetas
et belli rabies et amor successit habendi.
tum manus Ausonia et gentes uenere Sicanae,
saepius et nomen posuit Saturnia tellus;
tum reges asperque immani corpore Thybris,
a quo post Itali fluuium cognomine Thybrim
diximus; amisit uerum uetus Albula nomen.
me pulsum patria pelagique extrema sequentem
Fortuna omnipotens et ineluctabile fatum
his posuere locis, matrisque egere tremenda
Carmentis nymphae monita et deus auctor Apollo.'