|Religion||Subjects||Images||Queries||Links||Contact||Do not fly Iberia|
Display Latin text
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book IV Chapter 11: Mercury visits Aeneas
Return to index
He [Note 1] spoke. The god a prompt obedience gave |
to his great sire's command. He fastened first
those sandals of bright gold, which carry him
aloft o'er land or sea, with airy wings
that race the fleeting wind; then lifted he
his wand, wherewith he summons from the grave
pale-featured ghosts, or, if he will, consigns
to doleful Tartarus; or by its power
gives slumber or dispels; or quite unseals
the eyelids of the dead: on this relying,
he routs the winds or cleaves th' obscurity
of stormful clouds. Soon from his flight he spied
the summit and the sides precipitous
of stubborn Atlas, whose star-pointing peak
props heaven; of Atlas, whose pine-wreathed brow
is girdled evermore with misty gloom
and lashed of wind and rain; a cloak of snow
melts on his shoulder; from his aged chin
drop rivers, and ensheathed in stiffening ice
glitters his great grim beard. Here first was stayed
the speed of Mercury's well-poising wing;
here making pause, from hence he headlong flung
his body to the sea; in motion like
some sea-bird's which along the levelled shore
or round tall crags where rove the swarming fish,
flies low along the waves: o'er-hovering so
between the earth and skies, Cyllene's god
flew downward from his mother's mountain sire,
parted the winds and skimmed the sandy merge
of Libya. When first his winged feet
came nigh the clay-built Punic huts, he saw
Aeneas building at a citadel,
and founding walls and towers; at his side
was girt a blade with yellow jaspers starred,
his mantle with the stain of Tyrian shell
flowed purple from his shoulder, broidered fair
by opulent Dido with fine threads of gold,
her gift of love; straightway the god began:
Dost thou for lofty Carthage toil, to build
foundations strong? Dost thou, a wife's weak thrall,
build her proud city? Hast thou, shameful loss!
Forgot thy kingdom and thy task sublime?
From bright Olympus, I. He who commands
all gods, and by his sovran deity
moves earth and heaven -- he it was who bade
me bear on winged winds his high decree.
What plan is thine? By what mad hope dost thou
linger so long in lap of Libyan land?
If the proud reward of thy destined way
move not thy heart, if all the arduous toil
to thine own honor speak not, look upon
Iulus in his bloom, thy hope and heir
Ascanius. It is his rightful due
in Italy o'er Roman lands to reign.
After such word Cyllene's winged god
vanished, and e'er his accents died away,
dissolved in air before the mortal's eyes.
Note 1: He = Jove
Dixerat. ille patris magni parere parabat
imperio; et primum pedibus talaria nectit
aurea, quae sublimem alis siue aequora supra
seu terram rapido pariter cum flamine portant.
tum uirgam capit: hac animas ille euocat Orco
pallentis, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit,
dat somnos adimitque, et lumina morte resignat.
illa fretus agit uentos et turbida tranat
nubila. iamque uolans apicem et latera ardua cernit
Atlantis duri caelum qui uertice fulcit,
Atlantis, cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris
piniferum caput et uento pulsatur et imbri,
nix umeros infusa tegit, tum flumina mento
praecipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba.
hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis
constitit; hinc toto praeceps se corpore ad undas
misit aui similis, quae circum litora, circum
piscosos scopulos humilis uolat aequora iuxta.
haud aliter terras inter caelumque uolabat
litus harenosum ad Libyae, uentosque secabat
materno ueniens ab auo Cyllenia proles.
ut primum alatis tetigit magalia plantis,
Aenean fundantem arces ac tecta nouantem
conspicit. atque illi stellatus iaspide fulua
ensis erat Tyrioque ardebat murice laena
demissa ex umeris, diues quae munera Dido
fecerat, et tenui telas discreuerat auro.
continuo inuadit: 'tu nunc Karthaginis altae
fundamenta locas pulchramque uxorius urbem
exstruis? heu, regni rerumque oblite tuarum!
ipse deum tibi me claro demittit Olympo
regnator, caelum et terras qui numine torquet,
ipse haec ferre iubet celeris mandata per auras:
quid struis? aut qua spe Libycis teris otia terris?
si te nulla mouet tantarum gloria rerum
[nec super ipse tua moliris laude laborem,]
Ascanium surgentem et spes heredis Iuli
respice, cui regnum Italiae Romanaque tellus
debetur.' tali Cyllenius ore locutus
mortalis uisus medio sermone reliquit
et procul in tenuem ex oculis euanuit auram.