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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book I Chapter 20: Aeneas meets Venus
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But good Aeneas, pondering all night long |
his many cares, when first the cheerful dawn
upon him broke, resolved to take survey
of this strange country whither wind and wave
had driven him, -- for desert land it seemed, --
to learn what tribes of man or beast possess
a place so wild, and careful tidings bring
back to his friends. His fleet of ships the while,
where dense, dark groves o'er-arch a hollowed crag,
he left encircled in far-branching shade.
Then with no followers save his trusty friend
Achates, he went forth upon his way,
two broad-tipped javelins poising in his hand.
Deep to the midmost wood he went, and there
his Mother [Note 1] in his path uprose; she seemed
in garb and countenance a maid, and bore,
like Spartan maids, a weapon; in such guise
Harpalyce the Thracian urges on
her panting coursers and in wild career
outstrips impetuous Hebrus as it flows.
Over her lovely shoulders was a bow,
slender and light, as fits a huntress fair;
her golden tresses without wimple moved
in every wind, and girded in a knot
her undulant vesture bared her marble knees.
She hailed them thus: Ho, sirs, I pray you tell
if haply ye have noted, as ye came,
one of my sisters in this wood astray?
She bore a quiver, and a lynx's hide
her spotted mantle was; perchance she roused
some foaming boar, and chased with loud halloo.
Note 1: Mother = Venus
At pius Aeneas, per noctem plurima volvens,
ut primum lux alma data est, exire locosque
explorare novos, quas vento accesserit oras,
qui teneant, nam inculta videt, hominesne feraene,
quaerere constituit, sociisque exacta referre
Classem in convexo nemorum sub rupe cavata
arboribus clausam circum atque horrentibus umbris
occulit; ipse uno graditur comitatus Achate,
bina manu lato crispans hastilia ferro.
Cui mater media sese tulit obvia silva,
virginis os habitumque gerens, et virginis arma
Spartanae, vel qualis equos Threissa fatigat
Harpalyce, volucremque fuga praevertitur Hebrum.
Namque umeris de more habilem suspenderat arcum
venatrix, dederatque comam diffundere ventis,
nuda genu, nodoque sinus collecta fluentis.
Ac prior, 'Heus' inquit 'iuvenes, monstrate mearum
vidistis si quam hic errantem forte sororum,
succinctam pharetra et maculosae tegmine lyncis,
aut spumantis apri cursum clamore prementem.'