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Quote of the day: As for you, the exile of your father, an
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The Aeneid by Virgil
translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book VI Chapter 14: Charon
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Hence the way leads to that Tartarean stream
Of Acheron, whose torrent fierce and foul
Disgorges in Cocytus all its sands.
A ferryman of gruesome guise keeps ward
Upon these waters, -- Charon, foully garbed,
With unkempt, thick gray beard upon his chin,
And staring eyes of flame; a mantle coarse,
All stained and knotted, from his shoulder falls,
As with a pole he guides his craft, tends sail,
And in the black boat ferries o'er his dead; --
Old, but a god's old age looks fresh and strong.
To those dim shores the multitude streams on --
husbands and wives, and pale, unbreathing forms
Of high-souled heroes, boys and virgins fair,
And strong youth at whose graves fond parents mourned.
As numberless the throng as leaves that fall
When autumn's early frost is on the grove;
Or like vast flocks of birds by winter's chill
Sent flying o'er wide seas to lands of flowers.
All stood beseeching to begin their voyage
Across that river, and reached out pale hands,
In passionate yearning for its distant shore.
But the grim boatman takes now these, now those,
Or thrusts unpitying from the stream away.
Aeneas, moved to wonder and deep awe,
Beheld the tumult; Virgin seer! he cried,
Why move the thronging ghosts toward yonder stream?
What seek they there? Or what election holds
That these unwilling linger, while their peers
Sweep forward yonder o'er the leaden waves?
To him, in few, the aged Sibyl spoke :
Son of Anchises, offspring of the gods,
Yon are Cocytus and the Stygian stream,
By whose dread power the gods themselves do fear
To take an oath in vain. Here far and wide
Thou seest the hapless throng that hath no grave.
That boatman Charon bears across the deep
Such as be sepulchred with holy care.
But over that loud flood and dreadful shore
No trav'ler may be borne, until in peace
His gathered ashes rest. A hundred years
Round this dark borderland some haunt and roam,
Then win late passage o'er the longed-for wave.
Aeneas lingered for a little space,
Revolving in his soul with pitying prayer
Fate's partial way. But presently he sees
Leucaspis and the Lycian navy's lord,
Orontes; both of melancholy brow,
Both hapless and unhonored after death,
Whom, while from Troy they crossed the wind-swept seas,
A whirling tempest wrecked with ship and crew.

Event: Aeneas visits the Underworld

Hinc uia Tartarei quae fert Acherontis ad undas.
turbidus hic caeno uastaque uoragine gurges
aestuat atque omnem Cocyto eructat harenam.
portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina seruat
terribili squalore Charon, cui plurima mento
canities inculta iacet, stant lumina flamma,
sordidus ex umeris nodo dependet amictus.
ipse ratem conto subigit uelisque ministrat
et ferruginea subuectat corpora cumba,
iam senior, sed cruda deo uiridisque senectus.
huc omnis turba ad ripas effusa ruebat,
matres atque uiri defunctaque corpora uita
magnanimum heroum, pueri innuptaeque puellae,
impositique rogis iuuenes ante ora parentum:
quam multa in siluis autumni frigore primo
lapsa cadunt folia, aut ad terram gurgite ab alto
quam multae glomerantur aues, ubi frigidus annus
trans pontum fugat et terris immittit apricis.
stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum
tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.
nauita sed tristis nunc hos nunc accipit illos,
ast alios longe summotos arcet harena.
Aeneas miratus enim motusque tumultu
'dic,' ait, 'o uirgo, quid uult concursus ad amnem?
quidue petunt animae? uel quo discrimine ripas
hae linquunt, illae remis uada liuida uerrunt?'
olli sic breuiter fata est longaeua sacerdos:
'Anchisa generate, deum certissima proles,
Cocyti stagna alta uides Stygiamque paludem,
di cuius iurare timent et fallere numen.
haec omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est;
portitor ille Charon; hi, quos uehit unda, sepulti.
nec ripas datur horrendas et rauca fluenta
transportare prius quam sedibus ossa quierunt.
centum errant annos uolitantque haec litora circum;
tum demum admissi stagna exoptata reuisunt.'
constitit Anchisa satus et uestigia pressit
multa putans sortemque animo miseratus iniquam.
cernit ibi maestos et mortis honore carentis
Leucaspim et Lyciae ductorem classis Oronten,
quos simul a Troia uentosa per aequora uectos
obruit Auster, aqua inuoluens nauemque uirosque.