then the prow swings round and offers
the beam to the waves: a steep mountain of water follows in a mass.Some ships hang on the breaker’s crest: to others the yawning deep shows land between the waves: the surge rages with sand. The south wind catches three, and whirls them onto hidden rocks
(rocks the Italians call the Altars, in mid-ocean,a vast reef on the surface of the sea) three the east wind drives from the deep, to the shallows and quick-sands (a pitiful sight), dashes them against the bottom, covers them with a gravel mound. A huge wave, toppling, strikes one astern, in front of his very eyes, one carrying faithful Orontes and the Lycians.
The steersman’s thrown out and hurled headlong, face down:but the sea turns the ship three times, driving her round, in place, and the swift vortex swallows her in the deep. Swimmers appear here and there in the vast waste, men’s weapons, planking, Trojan treasure in the waves.
Now the storm conquers Iloneus’s tough ship, now Achates, now that in which Abas sailed, and old Aletes’s: their timbers sprung in their sides, all the ships let in the hostile tide, and split open at the seams.
O queen, whom Jupiter grants the right to found a new city, and curb proud tribes with your justice, we unlucky Trojans, driven by the winds over every sea, pray to you: keep the terror of fire away from our ships, spare a virtuous race and look more kindly on our fate.
We have not come to despoil Libyan homes with the sword, or to carry off stolen plunder to the shore: that violence is not in our minds, the conquered have not such pride. There’s a place called Hesperia by the Greeks, an ancient land, strong in men, with a rich soil:
There the Oenotrians lived: now rumour has it that a later people has called it Italy, after their leader. We had set our course there when stormy Orion, rising with the tide, carried us onto hidden shoals, and fierce winds scattered us far, with the overwhelming surge, over the waves among uninhabitable rocks:
we few have drifted here to your shores.What race of men is this? What land is so barbaric as to allow
this custom, that we’re denied the hospitality of the sands? They stir up war, and prevent us setting foot on dry land. If you despise the human race and mortal weapons, still trust that the gods remember right and wrong. Aeneas was our king, no one more just than him
in his duty, or greater in war and weaponry. If fate still protects the man, if he still enjoys the ethereal air, if he doesn’t yet rest among the cruel shades, there’s nothing to fear, and you’d not repent of vying with him first in kindness. Then there are cities and fields too in the region of Sicily, and famous Acestes, of Trojan blood. Allow us to beach our fleet, damaged by the storms, and cut planks from trees, and shape oars, so if our king’s restored and our friends are found we can head for Italy, gladly seek Italy and Latium:
and if our saviour’s lost, and the Libyan seas hold you, Troy’s most virtuous father, if no hope now remains from Iulus, let us seek the Sicilian straits, from which we were driven, and the home prepared for us, and a king, Acestes.’So Ilioneus spoke: and the Trojans all shouted with one voice.
Then, Dido, spoke briefly, with lowered eyes: ‘Trojans, free your hearts of fear: dispel your cares. Harsh events and the newness of the kingdom force me to effect such things, and protect my borders with guards on all sides. Who doesn’t know of Aeneas’s race, and the city of Troy, the bravery, the men, or so great a blaze of warfare. indeed, we Phoenicians don’t possess unfeeling hearts, the sun doesn’t harness his horses that far from this Tyrian city.
Whether you opt for mighty Hesperia, and Saturn’s fields, or the summit of Eryx, and Acestes for king, I’ll see you safely escorted, and help you with my wealth.Or do you wish to settle here with me, as equals in my kingdom? The city I build is yours: beach your ships: Trojans and Tyrians will be treated by me without distinction. I wish your king Aeneas himself were here, driven by that same storm! Indeed, I’ll send reliable men
along the coast, and order them to travel the length of Libya,in case he’s driven aground, and wandering the woods and towns.’
The Trojans head off from the Sicilian strains to Italy, but get off course ,because of the stormy weather. They arrive at the shores near a Tyrian city, where they meet dido.They ask her why her land is so unwelcoming and ask for permission to gather material in order to repair their ship and head off to Italy or at least Sicilian, where they came from. She asks them to let go of their fears and trust her. Then she offers them to either stay here with her or get a safe escort.
He speaks, and now the fire is more audible, through the city, and the blaze rolls its tide nearer. “Come then, dear father, clasp my neck: I will carry you on my shoulders: that task won’t weigh on me. Whatever may happen, it will be for us both, the same shared risk, and the same salvation. Let little Iulus come with me, and let my wife follow our footsteps at a distance. You servants, give your attention to what I’m saying. At the entrance to the city there’s a mound, an ancient temple
of forsaken Ceres, and a venerable cypress nearby, protected through the years by the reverence of our fathers: let’s head to that one place by diverse paths. You, father, take the sacred objects, and our country’s gods, in your hands: until I’ve washed in running water, it would be a sin for me, coming from such fighting and recent slaughter, to touch them.” So saying, bowing my neck, I spread a cloak made of a tawny lion’s hide over my broad shoulders, and bend to the task: little Iulus clasps his hand in mine, and follows his father’s longer strides.
My wife walks behind. We walk on through the shadows of places, and I whom till then no shower of spears, nor crowd of Greeks in hostile array, could move,
now I’m terrified by every breeze, and startled by every noise, anxious, and fearful equally for my companion and my burden. And now I was near the gates, and thought I had completed my journey, when suddenly the sound of approaching feet filled my hearing, and, peering through the darkness, my father cried: “My son, run my son, they are near us:
I see their glittering shields and gleaming bronze.”Some hostile power, at this, scattered my muddled wits.for while I was following alleyways, and straying from the region of streets we knew, did my wife Creusa halt, snatched away from me by wretched fate?
Or did she wander from the path or collapse with weariness? Who knows? She was never restored to our sight, nor did I look back for my lost one, or cast a thought behind me, until we came to the mound, and ancient Ceres’s sacred place. Here when all were gathered together at last, one was missing, and had escaped the notice of friends, child and husband.
What man or god did I not accuse in my madness: what did I know of in the city’s fall crueller than this? I place Ascanius, and my father Anchises, and the gods of Troy,
in my companions’ care, and conceal them in a winding valley: I myself seek the city once more, and take up my shining armour. I’m determined to incur every risk again, and retrace all Troy, and once more expose my life to danger. First I look for the wall, and the dark threshold of the gate from which my path led, and I retrace the landmarks of my course in the night, scanning them with my eye.
Everywhere the terror in my heart, and the silence itself, dismay me. Then I take myself homewards, in case by chance, by some chance, she has made her ay there. The Greeks have invaded, and occupied, the whole house. Suddenly eager fire, rolls over the rooftop, in the wind: the flames take hold, the blaze rages to the heavens. I pass by and see again Priam’s palace and the citadel.
Now Phoenix, and fatal Ulysses, the chosen guards, watch over the spoils, in the empty courts of Juno’s sanctuary. Here the Trojan treasures are gathered from every part, ripped from the blazing shrines, tables of the gods, solid gold bowls, and plundered robes.
Mothers and trembling sons stand round in long ranks. I even dared to hurl my shouts through the shadows, filling the streets with my clamour, and in my misery, redoubling my useless cries, again and again.
Searching, and raging endlessly among the city roofs, the unhappy ghost and true shadow of Creusa appeared before my eyes, in a form greater than I’d known. I was dumbfounded, my hair stood on end, and my voice stuck in my throat. Then she spoke and with these words mitigated my distress: “Oh sweet husband, what use is it to indulge in such mad grief? This has not happened
without the divine will: neither its laws nor the ruler of great Olympus let you take Creusa with you, away from here. Yours is long exile, you must plough a vast reach of sea: and you will come to Hesperia’s land, where Lydian Tiber flows in gentle course among the farmers’
rich fields. There, happiness, kingship and a royal wife will be yours. Banish these tears for your beloved Creusa. I, a Trojan woman, and daughter-in-law to divine Venus,shall never see the noble halls of the Dolopians, or Myrmidons, or go as slave to some Greek wife: instead the great mother of the gods keeps me on this shore. Now farewell, and preserve your love for the son we share.”
When she had spoken these words, leaving me weeping and wanting to say so many things, she faded into thin air. Three times I tried to throw my arms about her neck: three times her form fled my hands, clasped in vain, like the light breeze, most of all like a winged dream.
So at last when night was done, I returned to my friends. And here, amazed, I found that a great number of new companions had streamed in, women and men, a crowd gathering for exile, a wretched throng. They had come from all sides, ready, with courage and wealth, for whatever land I wished to lead them to, across the seas. And now Lucifer was rising above the heights of Ida, bringing the dawn, and the Greeks held the barricaded entrances to the gates, nor was there any hope of rescue. I desisted, and, carrying my father, took to the hills.