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The Aeneid by Virgil
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book VI Chapter 27: Aneas wonders about reincarnation
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After these things Aeneas was aware
Of solemn groves in one deep, distant vale,
Where trees were whispering, and forever flowed
The river Lethe, through its land of calm.
Nations unnumbered roved and haunted there:
As when, upon a windless summer morn,
The bees afield among the rainbow flowers
Alight and sip, or round the lilies pure
Pour forth in busy swarm, while far diffused
Their murmured songs from all the meadows rise.
Aeneas in amaze the wonder views,
And fearfully inquires of whence and why;
What yonder rivers be; what people press,
Line after line, on those dim shores along.
Said Sire Anchises: Yonder thronging souls
To reincarnate shape predestined move.
Here, at the river Lethe's wave, they quaff
Care-quelling floods, and long oblivion.
Of these I shall discourse, and to thy soul
Make visible the number and array
Of my posterity; so shall thy heart
In Italy, thy new-found home, rejoice.
O father, said Aeneas, must I deem
That from this region souls exalted rise
To upper air, and shall once more return
To cumbering flesh? O, wherefore do they feel,
Unhappy ones, such fatal lust to live?
I speak, my son, nor make thee longer doubt,
Anchises said, and thus the truth set forth,
In ordered words from point to point unfolding:

Event: Aeneas visits the Underworld

Interea uidet Aeneas in ualle reducta
seclusum nemus et uirgulta sonantia siluae,
Lethaeumque domos placidas qui praenatat amnem.
hunc circum innumerae gentes populique uolabant:
ac ueluti in pratis ubi apes aestate serena
floribus insidunt uariis et candida circum
lilia funduntur, strepit omnis murmure campus.
horrescit uisu subito causasque requirit
inscius Aeneas, quae sint ea flumina porro,
quiue uiri tanto complerint agmine ripas.
tum pater Anchises: 'animae, quibus altera fato
corpora debentur, Lethaei ad fluminis undam
securos latices et longa obliuia potant.
has equidem memorare tibi atque ostendere coram
iampridem, hanc prolem cupio enumerare meorum,
quo magis Italia mecum laetere reperta.'
'o pater, anne aliquas ad caelum hinc ire putandum est
sublimis animas iterumque ad tarda reuerti
corpora? quae lucis miseris tam dira cupido?'
'dicam equidem nec te suspensum, nate, tenebo'
suscipit Anchises atque ordine singula pandit.