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Quote of the day: And that he might also soften the rememb
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The Aeneid by Virgil
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book V Chapter 24: Iris inspires the women to set fire to the ships
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O ye ill-starred,
that were not seized and slain by Grecian foes
under your native walls! O tribe accursed,
what death is Fate preparing? Since Troy fell
the seventh summer flies, while still we rove
o'er cruel rocks and seas, from star to star,
from alien land to land, as evermore
we chase, storm-tossed, that fleeting Italy
across the waters wide. Behold this land
of Eryx, of Acestes, friend and kin;
what hinders them to raise a rampart here
and build a town? O city of our sires!
O venerated gods from haughty foes
rescued in vain! Will nevermore a wall
rise in the name of Troy? Shall I not see
a Xanthus or a Simois, the streams
to Hector dear? Come now! I lead the way.
Let us go touch their baneful ships with fire!
I saw Cassandra in a dream. Her shade,
prophetic ever, gave me firebrands,
and cried, Find Ilium so! The home for thee
is where thou art. Behold, the hour is ripe
for our great act! No longer now delay
to heed the heavenly omen. Yonder stand
four altars unto Neptune.T is the god,
the god himself, gives courage for the deed,
and swift-enkindling fire. So having said,
she seized a dreadful brand; then, lifting high,
waved it all flaming, and with furious arm
hurled it from far. The Ilian matrons gazed,
bewildered and appalled. But one, of all
the eldest, Pyrgo, venerated nurse
of Priam's numerous sons, exclaimed, Nay, nay!
This is no Beroe, my noble dames.
Doryclus knew her not. Behold and see
her heavenly beauty and her radiant eyes!
What voice of music and majestic mien,
what movement like a god! Myself am come
from Beroe sick, and left her grieving sore
that she, she only, had no gift to bring
of mournful honor to Anchises' shade.
She spoke. The women with ill-boding eyes
looked on the ships. Their doubting hearts were torn
'twixt tearful passion for the beauteous isle
their feet then trod, and that prophetic call
of Fate to lands unknown. Then on wide wings
soared Iris into heaven, and through the clouds
clove a vast arch of light. With wonder dazed,
the women in a shrieking frenzy rose,
took embers from the hearth-stones, stole the fires
upon the altars -- faggots, branches, brands --
and rained them on the ships. The god of fire,
through thwarts and oars and bows of painted fir,
ran in unbridled flame.

Events: Aeneas on Sicily, Fire to Aeneas' fleet, The Gods interfere in the Aeneid

'o miserae, quas non manus' inquit 'Achaica bello
traxerit ad letum patriae sub moenibus! o gens
infelix, cui te exitio Fortuna reseruat?
septima post Troiae excidium iam uertitur aestas,
cum freta, cum terras omnis, tot inhospita saxa
sideraque emensae ferimur, dum per mare magnum
Italiam sequimur fugientem et uoluimur undis.
hic Erycis fines fraterni atque hospes Acestes:
quis prohibet muros iacere et dare ciuibus urbem?
o patria et rapti nequiquam ex hoste penates,
nullane iam Troiae dicentur moenia? nusquam
Hectoreos amnis, Xanthum et Simoenta, uidebo?
quin agite et mecum infaustas exurite puppis.
nam mihi Cassandrae per somnum uatis imago
ardentis dare uisa faces: "hic quaerite Troiam;
hic domus est" inquit "uobis." iam tempus agi res,
nec tantis mora prodigiis. en quattuor arae
Neptuno; deus ipse faces animumque ministrat.'
Haec memorans prima infensum ui corripit ignem
sublataque procul dextra conixa coruscat
et iacit. arrectae mentes stupefactaque corda
Iliadum. hic una e multis, quae maxima natu,
Pyrgo, tot Priami natorum regia nutrix:
'non Beroe uobis, non haec Rhoeteia, matres,
est Dorycli coniunx; diuini signa decoris
ardentisque notate oculos, qui spiritus illi,
qui uultus uocisque sonus uel gressus eunti.
ipsa egomet dudum Beroen digressa reliqui
aegram, indignantem tali quod sola careret
munere nec meritos Anchisae inferret honores.'
haec effata.
at matres primo ancipites oculisque malignis
ambiguae spectare rates miserum inter amorem
praesentis terrae fatisque uocantia regna,
cum dea se paribus per caelum sustulit alis
ingentemque fuga secuit sub nubibus arcum.
tum uero attonitae monstris actaeque furore
conclamant, rapiuntque focis penetralibus ignem,
pars spoliant aras, frondem ac uirgulta facesque