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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book I Chapter 22: Venus tells Aeneas about Dido's life
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Then Venus: Nay, I boast not to receive |
honors divine. We Tyrian virgins oft
bear bow and quiver, and our ankles white
lace up in purple buskin. Yonder lies
the Punic power, where Tyrian masters hold
Agenor's town; but on its borders dwell
the Libyans, by battles unsubdued.
Upon the throne is Dido, exiled there
from Tyre, to flee th' unnatural enmity
of her own brother. T was an ancient wrong;
too long the dark and tangled tale would be;
I trace the larger outline of her story:
Sichaeus was her spouse, whose acres broad
no Tyrian lord could match, and he was blessed
by his ill-fated lady's fondest love,
whose father [Note 1] gave him her first virgin bloom
in youthful marriage. But the kingly power
among the Tyrians to her brother came,
Pygmalion, none deeper dyed in crime
in all that land. Betwixt these twain there rose
a deadly hatred, -- and the impious wretch,
blinded by greed, and reckless utterly
of his fond sister's joy, did murder foul
upon defenceless and unarmed Sichaeus,
and at the very altar hewed him down.
Long did he hide the deed, and guilefully
deceived with false hopes, and empty words,
her grief and stricken love. But as she slept,
her husband's tombless ghost before her came,
with face all wondrous pale, and he laid bare
his heart with dagger pierced, disclosing so
the blood-stained altar and the infamy
that darkened now their house. His counsel was
to fly, self-banished, from her ruined land,
and for her journey's aid, he whispered where
his buried treasure lay, a weight unknown
of silver and of gold. Thus onward urged,
Dido, assembling her few trusted friends,
prepared her flight. There rallied to her cause
all who did hate and scorn the tyrant king,
or feared his cruelty. They seized his ships,
which haply rode at anchor in the bay,
and loaded them with gold; the hoarded wealth
of vile and covetous Pygmalion
they took to sea. A woman wrought this deed.
Then came they to these lands where now thine eyes
behold yon walls and yonder citadel
of newly rising Carthage. For a price
they measured round so much of Afric soil
as one bull's hide encircles, and the spot
received its name, the Byrsa. But, I pray,
what men are ye? from what far land arrived,
and whither going? When she questioned thus,
her son, with sighs that rose from his heart's depths,
this answer gave:
Note 1: father = Belus
Tum Venus: 'Haud equidem tali me dignor honore;
virginibus Tyriis mos est gestare pharetram,
purpureoque alte suras vincire cothurno.
Punica regna vides, Tyrios et Agenoris urbem;
sed fines Libyci, genus intractabile bello.
Imperium Dido Tyria regit urbe profecta,
germanum fugiens. Longa est iniuria, longae
ambages; sed summa sequar fastigia rerum.
'Huic coniunx Sychaeus erat, ditissimus agri
Phoenicum, et magno miserae dilectus amore,
cui pater intactam dederat, primisque iugarat
ominibus. Sed regna Tyri germanus habebat
Pygmalion, scelere ante alios immanior omnes.
Quos inter medius venit furor. Ille Sychaeum
impius ante aras, atque auri caecus amore,
clam ferro incautum superat, securus amorum
germanae; factumque diu celavit, et aegram,
multa malus simulans, vana spe lusit amantem.
Ipsa sed in somnis inhumati venit imago
coniugis, ora modis attollens pallida miris,
crudeles aras traiectaque pectora ferro
nudavit, caecumque domus scelus omne retexit.
Tum celerare fugam patriaque excedere suadet,
auxiliumque viae veteres tellure recludit
thesauros, ignotum argenti pondus et auri.
His commota fugam Dido sociosque parabat:
conveniunt, quibus aut odium crudele tyranni
aut metus acer erat; navis, quae forte paratae,
corripiunt, onerantque auro: portantur avari
Pygmalionis opes pelago; dux femina facti.
Devenere locos, ubi nunc ingentia cernis
moenia surgentemque novae Karthaginis arcem,
mercatique solum, facti de nomine Byrsam,
taurino quantum possent circumdare tergo.
Sed vos qui tandem, quibus aut venistis ab oris,
quove tenetis iter? 'Quaerenti talibus ille
suspirans, imoque trahens a pectore vocem: