The Book of DIDO

John Conington's translation of Aeneid IV from l846




1) Robert Frost noted long ago that "....poetry is what is lost in translation....". The meaning generally survives, but when the form is altered, changed, transmuted, the very quality which makes poetry alive is lost.

2) If this is true for poetry in general, it is absolutely true for Vergil, whose intense use of sound innuendo and word shadings is an integral function of everything he wrote. Vergil seems to be speaking to us between the lines, often infusing a sense of pensiveness or sadness into lines which are about something else. This is the Vergilian magic which can be grasped only in the original Latin.

3) There have been many translations of the Aeneid, some from the l9th c. were in forced rhymed verse, since the spread of Classics in English we have had dozens of attempts to capture something of Vergil's art, but all in vain. There are good, readable "translations" which give an idea of the story and some of the feel of epic poetry, but the mission is impossible. Vergil does not translate. Put simply: If you had read Vergil in English carefully, and then went and studied enough Latin to begin to read the original, you would see right away that these were two entirely different books.

4) This translation was done by John Conington, l825-l869, Professor of Latin at Oxford, an established scholar who published a valuable commented edition of Vergil among other works. Two volumes of his writings were published after his death, the second has a remarkable prose translation of Vergil's works from which this version of Book IV is taken, with some very slight editing. Conington had a deep sense of what Vergil was about, he was not afraid to depart from the literal sense of a phrase in order to get it across better, his translation often seems to the student to enlighten a phrase perfectly.

Despite the prose format, there are things which we may find odd a century and a half later, specifically the use of "thee, thou, thine" (words which the MSWord SpellCheck does not recognize!) and British spelling of honor as "honour" etc. These will not seem modern, but then Vergil is not modern either. But these are minor matters, as against Conington's mastery of Vergil's diction and mind. This version can serve a student along with the Latin text, but it is also gives a close view of the inner process of Vergil's wording --- without the poetry, which as Frost said, simply evaporates.




BUT....... the queen, pierced long since by love's cruel shaft, is feeding the wound with her life --- blood, and wasting under a hidden fire. Many times the hero's own worth comes back to her mind, many times the glory of his race; his every look remains imprinted on her breast, and his every word, nor will trouble let soothing sleep have access to her frame. The dawn-goddess of the morrow was surveying the earth with Phoebus' torch in her hand, and had already withdrawn the dewy shadow from the sky, when she, sick of soul, thus bespoke the sister whose heart was one with her's:

9] Anna, my sister, what dreams are these that confound and appall me! Who is this new guest that has entered our door! What a face and carriage! What strength of breast and shoulders! I do believe --- it is no mere fancy --- that he has the blood of gods in his veins. An ignoble soul is known by the coward's brand. Ah! by what fates he has been tossed ! What wars he was recounting, every pang of them borne by himself! Were it not the fixed, immovable purpose of my mind never to consent to join myself with any in wedlock's bonds, since my first love played me false and made me the dupe of death --- had I not been weary of bridal bed and nuptial torch, perchance I might have succumbed to this one.... sin. Anna --- for I will own the truth since the fate of Sychaeus, my poor husband --- since the sprinkling of the gods of my home with the blood my brother shed, he and he only has touched my heart and shaken my resolution till it totters. I recognize the tracks of the old flame. But first I would pray that earth may yawn for me from her foundations, or the all-powerful sire hurl me thunder-stricken to the shades, to the wan shades of Erebus and abysmal night, ere I violate Thee, my woman's Honour, or unknit the bonds thou tiest. He who first wedded me, he has carried off my heart --- let him keep it all his own, and retain it in his grave.

30] Thus having said, she deluged her bosom with a burst of tears. Anna replies: Sweet love, dearer than the light to your sister's eye, are you to pine and grieve in loneliness through life's long spring, nor know aught of a mother's joy in her children, nor of the prizes Venus gives? Think you that dead ashes and ghosts low in the grave take this to heart? Grant that no husbands have touched your bleeding heart in times gone by, none now in Libya, none before inTyre; yes, Iarbas has been slighted, and the other chieftains whom Africa, rich in triumphs, rears as its own --- but will you fight against a welcome, no less than an unwelcome passion? Nor does it cross your mind in whose territories you are settled? On one side the cities of the Gaetulians, a race invincible in war, and the Numidians surround you, unbridled as their steeds, and the inhospitable Syrtis on another side, a region unpeopled by drought, and the widespread barbarism of the nation of Barce. What need to talk of the war-cloud threatening from Tyre, and the menacesof our brother? It is under Heaven's auspices, I believe, and by Juno's blessing, that the vessels of Ilion have made this voyage hither. What a city, my sister, will ours become before your eyes! what an empire will grow out of a marriage like this! With the arms of the Teucrians at its back, to what a height will theglory of Carthage soar! Only be it yours to implore the favour of Heaven, and having won its acceptance, give free course to hospitality and weave a chain of pleas for delay, while the tempest is raging its full on the sea with Orion, the star of rain, while his ships are still battered, and the rigour of the sky still unyielding.

54] By these words she added fresh fuel to the fire of love, gave confidence to Dido's wavering mind, and loosed the ties of woman's honour. First they approach the temples and enquire for pardon from altar to altar; duly they slaughter chosen sheep to Ceres the lawgiver, to Phoebus, to father Lycaeus, and above all to Juno, who makes marriage bonds her care. Dido herself, in all her beauty, takes a goblet in her hand, and pours it out full between the horns of a heifer of gleaming white, or moves majestic in the presence of the gods towards the richly-laden altars, solemnizes the day with offerings, and gazing greedily on the victims' opened breasts, consults the entrails yet quivering with life. Alas ! how blind are the eyes of seers ! What can vows, what can temples do for the madness of love ? All the while a flame is preying on the very marrow of her bones, and deep in her breast a wound keeps noiselessly alive.

68] She is on fire, this ill-fated Dido, and in her madness ranges the whole city through (like a doe from an arrow shot, whom, unguarded in the thick of the Cretan woods, a shepherd chasing with his darts, has pierced from a distance, and left the flying steel in the wound, unknowing of his prize; she at full speed scours the forests and lawns of Dicte; the deadly reed still sticks in her side). Now in her mind she leads Aeneas with her through the heart of the town, and displays the wealth of Sidon, and this city built to dwell in. She begins to speak, and stops midway in the utterance. Now, as the day fades, she seeks again the banquet of yesterday and once more in frenzy asks to hear of the agonies of Troy, and hangs once more on his lips as he tells the tale. Afterwards, when the guests are gone, and the dim moon in turn is pressing down her light, and the setting stars invite to slumber, alone she mourns in the empty hall, and presses the couch he has just left; him far away she sees and hears, herself far away; or holds Ascanius long in her lap, spellbound by his father's image, to cheat, if she can, her ungovernable passion. The towers that were rising rise no longer; the youth cease to practice arms, or to make ready harbors and bulwarks for safety in war; construction stops suspended, the giant frowning of the walls, and the winches level with the sky.

90] Soon as Jove's loved wife saw that she was so mastered by the plague, and that good name could not stand in the face of passion, she, the daughter of Saturn, bespeaks Venus thus:--' Brilliant truly is the praise, ample the spoils you are carrying off, you and your boy--great and memorable the fame, if the plots of two gods have really conquered one woman. No; I am not so blind either to your fears of my city, to your suspicions of the open doors of my stately Carthage. But when is this to end ? or what call now for such terrible contention ? Suppose for a change we establish perpetual peace and a firm marriage bond. You have gained what your whole heart went to seek. Dido is ablaze with love, and the madness is coursing through her frame. Jointly then let us rule this nation, each with full sovereignty; let her stoop to be the slave of a Phrygian husband, and make over her Tyrians in place of dowry to your control. '

105] To her--for she saw that she had spoken with a feigned intent, meaning to divert the Italian empire to the coast of Libya ---- Venus thus replied:--' Who would I be so mad as to spurn offers like these, and prefer your enmity to your friendship, were it but certain that the issue you name would bring good fortune in its train? But I am groping blindly after destiny ----whether it be Jupiter's will that the Tyrians and the voyagers from Troy should have one city ---whether he would have the two nations blended and a league made between them. You are his wife; it is your place to approach him by entreaty. Go on, I will follow. ' Imperial Juno rejoined thus:--'That task shall rest with me. Now, in what way our present purpose can be contrived, lend me your attention, and I will explain in brief. Aeneas and Dido, poor sufferer ! are proposing to go hunting in the forest, when first to-morrow's sun displays his rising, and with his beams uncurtains the globe. On them I will pour from above a black storm of mingled rain and hail, just when the horsemen are all astir, and spreading their toils before the wood-walks, and the whole heaven shall be convulsed with thunder. The train shall fly here and there, and be lost in the thick darkness. Dido and the Trojan chief shall find themselves in the same cave. I will be there, and, if I may count on your sanction, will unite her to him in lasting wedlock, and consecrate her his for life. Thus shall Hymen give us his presence. ' The Queen of Cythera makes no demur, but nods assent, smiling at the trick she has found out.

129] Meanwhile Aurora has risen, and left the ocean. Rising with the daystar, the chivalry of Carthage streams through the gates, their woven toils, and nets, and hunting-spears tipped with broad iron, and Massylian horsemen hurry along, and a force of keen-scented hounds. There are the Punic princes, waiting for the queen, who still lingers in her chamber; there stands her palfrey, conspicuous in purple and gold, fiercely champing the foaming bit. At length she comes forth, with a mighty train attending, a Tyrian scarf round her, itself surrounded by an embroidered border; her quiver of gold, her hair knotted up with gold, her purple robe fastened with a golden clasp. The Phrygian train, too, are in motion, and Iulus, all exultation. Aeneas himself, comely beyond all the rest, adds his presence to theirs, and joins the procession; like Apollo, when he leaves his Lycian winter-seat and the stream of Xanthus, and visits Delos, his mother's isle, and renews the dance; while with mingled voices round the altar shout Cretans and Dryopians, and tattooed Agathyrsians. The god in majesty walks on the heights of Cynthus, training his luxuriant hair with the soft pressure of a wreath of leaves, and twining it with gold; his arrows rattle on his shoulders. ! Not with less ease than he moved Aeneas; such the beauty that sparkles in that peerless countenance. When they reach the high mountains and the pathless coverts, see ! the wild goats, dropping from the tops of the crags, have run down the slopes; in another quarter the deer are scouring the open plains, massing their herds as they fly in a whirlwind of dust, and leaving the mountains.

But young Ascanius is in the heart of the glens, exulting in his fiery courser. Now he passes one, now another of his comrades at full speed, and prays that in the midst of such spiritless game he may be blest with the sight of a foaming boar, or that a tawny lion may come down the hill. 160] Meantime the sky begins to be convulsed with a mighty turmoil; a storm-cloud follows of mingled rain and hail. The Tyrian train, all in confusion, and the chivalry of Troy, and the hope of Dardania, Venus' grandson, have sought shelter in their terror up and down the country, some here, some there. The streams run in torrents down the hills. Dido and the Trojan chief find themselves in the same cave. Earth, the mother of all, and Juno give the sign. Lightnings blaze, and heaven flashes in sympathy with the bridal; and from mountain-tops the nymphs give the nuptial shout. That day was the birthday of death, the birthday of woe. Henceforth she has no thought for the common eye or the common tongue; it is not a stolen passion that Dido has now in her mind--no, she calls it marriage; that name is the screen of her sin.

173 Instantly Fame takes her journey through Libya's great cities--Fame, a monster surpassed in speed by none; her nimbleness lends her life, and she gains strength as she goes. At first fear keeps her low; soon she rears herself skyward, and treads on the ground, while her head is hidden among the clouds. Earth, her parent, provoked to anger against the gods, brought her forth, they say, the youngest of the family of Coeus and Enceladus-- swift of foot and untiring of wing, a portent terrible and vast--who, for every feather on her body has an ever-wakeful eye beneath, marvelous to tell, for every eye a loud tongue and mouth, and a pricked-up ear. At night she flies midway between heaven and earth, hissing through the darkness, nor ever yields her eyes to the sweets of sleep. In the daylight she sits sentinel on a high house-top, or on a lofty turret, and makes great cities afraid; as apt to cling to falsehood and wrong as to proclaim the truth: So then she was filling the public ear with a thousand tales ---n things done and things never done alike the burden of her song --- how that Aeneas a prince of Trojan blood, had arrived at Carthage, a hero whom lovely Dido deigned to make her husband, and now in luxurious ease they were wearing away the length of winter together, forgetful of the crowns they wore or hoped to wear, and enthralled by unworthy passion. Such are the tales the fiendlike goddess spreads from tongue to tongue. Then, in due course, she turns her steps to King Iarbas, and inflames him with her rumors, and piles his indignation high.

198] He, the son of Ammon, from the ravished embrace of a Garamantian nymph, built within his broad realms a hundred temples to Jove, and in each temple an altar. There he had consecrated an ever wakeful fire, the god's unsleeping sentry, a floor thick with victims' blood, and doors wreathed with parti-colored garlands. And he, frenzied in soul, and stung by the bitter tidings, is said, as he stood before the altars, with the majesty of Heaven all around him, to have prayed long and earnestly to Jove with upturned hands:--' Jove, the Almighty, to whom in this my reign the Moorish race, feasting on embroidered couches, pour out the offering of the vintage, seest thou this ? Or is our dread of thee, Father, when thou hurlest thy lightnings, just an idle panic ? are those aimless fires in the clouds that appall us ? have their confused rumblings no meaning ? See here: a woman, who, wandering in our territories, bought leave to build a petty town, to whom we turned over a strip of land for tillage. with its rights of lordship, she has rejected an alliance with us, and received Aeneas into her kingdom, to be its Lord, and hers. And now that second Paris with his emasculate following, a Maeonian cap supporting his chin and his essenced hair, is enjoying his prize, while we, forsooth, are making offerings to temples of thine, and keeping alive an idle rumor.

219] Thus as he prayed, his hands grasping the altar, the almighty one heard him, and turned his eyes to the queenly city and the guilty pair, lost to their better fame. Then thus he bespeaks Mercury, and gives him a charge like this: Go, haste, my son, summon the Zephyrs, and float on thy wings; address the Dardanian chief, who is now dallying in Tyrian Carthage, and giving no thought to the city which Destiny makes his own; carry him my commands through the flying air. It was not a man like that whom his beauteous mother promised us in him, and on the strength of her word twice rescued him from the sword of Greece. No, he was to be one who should govern Italy - --- Italy, with its brood of unborn empires, and the war cry bursting from its heart - -------who should carry down a line sprung from the grand fountain-head of Teucer's blood, and should force the whole world to bow to the laws he makes. If he is fired by no spark of ambition for greatness like this, and will not rear a toilsome fabric for his own praise, is it a father's heart that grudges Ascanius the hills of Rome? What is he building? What does he look to in lingering on among a nation of enemies, with no thought for the great Ausonian family, or for the fields of Lavinium ? Away with him to sea! This is our sentence; thus far be our messenger. '

238] Jove had spoken, and Mercury was preparing to execute the great sire's command: first he binds to his feet his sandals, all of gold, which carry him, uplifted by their pinions, over sea no less than land, with the swiftness of the wind that wafts him. Then he takes his rod ----- the rod with which he is wont to call up pale spectres from the place of death ----- to send others on their melancholy way to Tartarus, to give sleep or take it away, and to open the eyes when death is past. With this in hand, he drives the winds before him, and makes a path through the sea of clouds. And now in his flight he espies the crest and the tall sides of Atlas the rugged, who with his top supports the sky ------ Atlas, whose pine-crowned head, ever wreathed with dark clouds, is buffeted by wind and rain. A mantle of snow wraps his shoulders; rivers tumble from his hoary chin, and his grisly beard is stiff with ice. Here first did Cyllene's god poise himself on his wings and rested; then from his stand stooping his whole body, he sent himself headlong to the sea, like a bird which haunting the coast and the fishy rocks flies low, close to the water. Even so was he flying between earth and heaven, between Libya's sandy coast and the winds that swept it, leaving his mother's father behind, himself Cyllene's progeny.

259] Soon as his winged feet alit among the huts of Carthage, he sees Aeneas pouring foundations and retiling roofs.. A sword was at his side, starred with yellow jaspers, and a mantle drooped from his shoulders, ablaze with Tyrian purple--a costly gift which Dido had made, varying the web with threads of gold. Instantly he assails him:--' And are you at a time like this laying the foundations of stately Carthage, and building, like a fond husband, your wife's goodly city, forgetting, alas ! your own kingdom and the cares that should be yours ? It is no less than the ruler of the gods who sends me down to you from his bright Olympus--he whose nod sways heaven and earth; it is he that bids me carry his commands through the flying air. What are you building ? what do you look to in squandering your leisure in Libyan land ? If you are fired by no spark of ambition for the greatness in your view, and will not rear a toilsome fabric for your own praise, think of Ascanius rising into youth, think of Iulus, your heir and your hope, to whom you owe the crown of Italy and the realm of Rome. ' With these words Cyllene's god quitted mortal sight ere he had well ceased to speak, and vanished away from the eye into insubstantial air.

279] The sight left Aeneas dumb and aghast indeed; his hair stood shudderingly erect; his speech stuck in his throat. He burns to take flight and leave the land of pleasure, as his ears ring with the thunder of Heaven's imperious warning. What--Ah! I what is he to do ? with what address can he now dare to approach the impassioned queen ? what first advances can he employ ? And thus he despatches his rapid thought hither and thither, hurrying it east and west, and sweeping every corner of the field. So balancing, at last he thought this judgment the best. He calls Mnestheus and Sergestus and brave Serestus; bids them quietly get ready the fleet, muster the crews on the shore, with their arms in their hands, hiding the reason for so sudden a change. Meantime he, while Dido, kindest of friends, is in ignorance, deeming love's chain too strong to be snapped, will feel his way, and find what are the happiest moments for speech, what the right hold to take of circumstance. At once all gladly obey his command, and are busy on the tasks enjoined.

296] But the queen (who can cheat a lover's senses ?) scented the plot, and caught the first sound of the coming stir, alive to fear in the midst of safety. Fame, as before, the same baleful fiend, whispered in her frenzied ear that the fleet was being equipped and the voyage got ready. She storms in impotence of soul, and, all on fire, goes raving through the city, like a Maenad starting up at the rattle of the sacred emblems, when the triennial orgies lash her with the cry of Bacchus, and Cithaeron's yell calls her into the night. At length she thus bespeaks Aeneas, unaddressed by him:--' To hide, yes, hide your enormous crime, perfidious wretch, did you hope that might be done--to steal away in silence from my realm? Has our love no power to keep you ? has our troth, once plighted, none, nor she whom you doom to a cruel death, your Dido ? Nay, are you fitting out your fleet with winter's sky overhead, and hastening to cross the deep in the face of all the northern winds, hard-hearted as you are ? Why, suppose you were not seeking a strange clime and a home you know not - ----- suppose old Troy were still standing, would even Troy draw you to seek her across a billowy sea ? Flying, and from me ! By the tears I shed, and by your plighted hand, since my own act, alas ! has left me nought else to plead, by our union, by the nuptial rites thus prefaced - ---if I have ever deserved well of you, or aught of mine ever gave you pleasure have pity on a falling house, and strip off, I conjure you, if prayer be not too late, the mind that clothes you. It is owing to you that the Libyan tribes and the Nomad chiefs hate me, that my own Tyrians are estranged; owing to you, yes? you, that my woman's honor has been put out to, and that which was my one passport to immortality, my former fame. To whom are you abandoning a dying woman, my guest ? since the name of husband has dwindled to that. Why do I live any longer ? - to give my brother Pygmalion time to batter down my walls, or Iarbas the Moor to carry me away captive ? Had I but borne any offspring of you before your flight, were there some tiny Aeneas to play in my hall, and remind me of you, though but in look, I should not then feel utterly captive and forlorn. '

331] She ceased. He all the while, at Jove's command, was keeping his eyes unmoved, and shutting up in his heart his great love. At length he answers in brief: 'Fair queen, name all the claims to gratitude you can. I shall never gainsay one, nor will the thought of Elissa ever be unwelcome while memory lasts, while breath animates this frame. A few words I will say, as the case admits. I never counted, do not dream it, on stealthily concealing my flight. I never came with a bridegroom's torch in my hand, nor was this the alliance to which I agreed. For me, were the Fates to suffer me to live under a star of my own choosing, and to make with care the terms I would, the city of Troy, first of all the dear remains of what was mine, would claim my tendance. Priam's tall roof-tree would still be standing, and my hand would have built a restored Pergamus, to solace the vanquished. But now to princely Italy Grynean Apollo, to Italy his Lycian oracles bid me repair. There is my heart, there my fatherland. If you are riveted here by the sight of your stately Carthage, a daughter of Phoenicia by a Libyan town, why, I would ask, should jealousy forbid Teucrians to settle in Ausonian land ? We, like you, have the right of looking for a foreign realm. There is my father Anchises, oft as night's dewy shades invest the earth, oft as the fiery stars arise, warning me in dreams and appalling me by his troubled presence. There is my son Ascanius, and the wrongs heaped on his dear head every day that I rob him of the crown of Hesperia, and of the land that fate makes his. Now, too, the messenger of the gods, sent down from Jove himself (I swear by both our lives) has brought me orders through the flying air. With my own eyes I saw the god in clear daylight entering the walls, and took in his words with the ears that hear you now. Cease then to harrow up both our souls by your reproaches: my quest of Italy is not of my own motion.

' 362] Long ere he had done this speech she was glaring at him askance, rolling her eyes this way and that, and scanning the whole man with her silent glances, and thus she bursts forth all ablaze:--' No goddess was mother of yours, no Dardanus the head of your line, perfidious wretch!--no, your parent was Caucasus, rugged and craggy, and Hyrcanian tigresses put their breasts to your lips. For why should I suppress aught? or for what worse evil hold myself in reserve ? Did he groan when I wept ? did he move those hard eyes ? did he yield and shed tears, or pity her that loved him ? What first ? what last? Now, neither Juno, queen of all, nor Jove, the almighty Father, eyes us with impartial regard. Nowhere is there aught to trust, nowhere. A shipwrecked beggar, I welcomed him, and madly gave him a share of my realm; his lost fleet, his crews, I brought back from death's door. Ah ! Fury sets me on fire, and whirls me round ! Now, prophet Apollo, now the Lycian oracles. Now the messenger of the gods, sent down by Jove himself, bears his grim bidding through the air ! Aye, of course, that is the employment of the powers above, those the cares that break their repose ! I retain not your person, nor refute your talk. Go, chase Italy with the winds at your back; look for realms with the whole sea between you. I have hope that on the rocks midway, if the gods are as powerful as they are good, you will drain the cup of punishment, with Dido's name ever on your lips. I will follow you with murky fires when I am far away; and when cold death shall have parted soul and body, my shade shall haunt you everywhere. Yes, wretch, you shall suffer. I shall hear it, the news will reach me down among the dead. ' So saying, she snaps short her speech, and flies with loathing from the daylight, and breaks and rushes from his sight, leaving him hesitating, and fearing, and thinking of a thousand things to say. Her maidens support her, and carry her sinking frame into her marble chamber, and lay her on her bed.

393] But Aeneas the Good, though yearning to solace and soothe her agonized spirit, and by his words to check the onset of sorrow, with many a groan, his whole soul upheaved by the force of love, goes nevertheless about the commands of Heaven, and repairs to his fleet. The Teucrians redouble their efforts, and along the whole line of the shore drag their tall ships down. The keels are careened and floated. They carry oars with their leaves still on, and timber unfashioned as it stood in the woods, so strong their eagerness to fly. You may see them all in motion, streaming from every part of the city. Even as ants when they are sacking a huge heap of wheat, thinking ahead of winter days, and laying up the plunder in their stores; a black column is seen moving through the plain, and they convey their booty along the grass in a narrow path: some are putting their shoulders to the big grains, and pushing them along; others are rallying the force and punishing the stragglers; the whole track is in a glow of work. What were your feelings then, poor Dido, at a sight like this ! How deep the groans you heaved, when you looked out from your lofty tower on a beach all seething and swarming, and saw the whole sea before you deafened with that hubbub of voices ! Tyrant love ! what force dost thou not put on human hearts ? Again she has to condescend to tears, again to use the weapons of entreaty, and bow her spirit in suppliance under love's yoke, lest she should have left aught untried, and be rushing on a needless death. '

416] Anna, you see there is hurrying all over the shore, they are met from every side; the canvas is already wooing the gale, and the joyful sailors have wreathed the sterns. If I have had the foresight to anticipate so heavy a blow, I shall have the power to bear it too, my sister. Yet, in my misery, perform me this one service. You, and you only, the perfidious man was wont to make his friend, aye, even to trust you with his secret thoughts. You, and you only, know the subtle approaches to his heart, and the times of essaying them. Go, then, my sister, and supplicate our haughty foe. Tell him I was no party to the Danaan league at Aulis to destroy the Trojan nation; I sent no ships to Pergamus; I never disinterred his father Anchises, his dust or his spirit. Why will he not let my words sink down into his obdurate ears ? Whither is he hurrying ? Let him grant this last boon to her who loves him so wildly; let him wait till the way is smoothed for his flight, and there are winds to waft him. I am not asking him now to renew our old vows which he has forsworn. I am not asking him to forego his fair Latium, and resign his crown. I entreat but a few vacant hours, a respite and breathing-space for my passion, till my fortune shall have taught baffled love how to grieve. This is my last request of you. Oh, pity your poor sister !--a request which when granted shall be returned with interest in death. '

437] Such was her appeal--such the wailing which her afflicted sister bears to him, and bears again; but no wailing moves him, no words find him a gentle listener. Fate bars the way, and Heaven closes the hero's relenting ears. Even as an aged oak, still hale and strong, which Alpine winds, blowing now here, now there, strive emulously to uproot--a loud noise is heard, and, as the stem rocks, heaps of leaves pile the ground; but the tree cleaves firmly to the cliff; high as its head strikes into the air, so deep its root strikes down to the abyss--even thus the hero is assailed on all sides by a storm of words: his mighty breast thrills through and through with agony; but his mind is unshaken, and tears are showered in vain.

450] Then at last, maddened by her destiny, poor Dido prays for death: heaven's vault is a weariness to look on. To confirm her in pursuing her intent, and closing her eyes on the sun, she saw, as she was laying her offerings on the incense-steaming altars--horrible to tell--the sacred liquor turn black, and the streams of wine curdle into loathsome gore. This appearance she told to none, not even to her sister. Moreover, there was in her palace a marble chapel to her former husband, to which she used to pay singular honors, wreathing it with snowy fillets and festal boughs; from it she thought she heard a voice, the accents of the dead man calling her, when the darkness of night was shrouding the earth; and on the roof a lonely owl in funereal tones kept complaining again and again, and drawing out wailingly its protracted notes; and a thousand predictions of seers of other days come back on her, terrifying her with their awful warnings. When she dreams, there is Aeneas himself driving her in furious chase: she seems always being left alone to herself, always pacing companionless on a never-ending road, and looking for her Tyrians in a realm without inhabitants-- like Pentheus, when in frenzy he sees troops of Furies, and two suns, and a double Thebes rising round him; or Agamemnon's Orestes rushing over the stage, as he flies from his mother, who is armed with torches and deadly snakes, while the avenging fiends sit couched on the threshold.

474] So when, spent with agony, she gave conception to the demon, and resolved on death, she settled with herself time and means, and thus bespoke her grieving sister, her face disguising her intent, and hope smiling on her brow:-- ' Dearest, I have found a way--wish me joy, as a sister should--to bring him back to me, or to loose me from the love which binds me to him. Hard by the bound of ocean and the setting sun lies the extreme Ethiopian clime, where mighty Atlas turns round on his shoulders the pole, studded with burning stars. From that clime, I have heard of a priestess of the Massylian race, once guardian of the temple of the Hesperides, who used to give the dragon his food, and so preserve the sacred boughs on the tree, sprinkling for him moist honey and drowsy poppy-seed.

She, by her spells, undertakes to release souls at her pleasure, while into others she shoots cruel pangs; she stops the water in the river-bed, and turns back the stars in their courses, and calls ghosts from realms of night. You will see the earth bellowing under you, and the ashes coming down from the mountain-top.

By the gods I swear, dearest sister, by you and your dear life, that unwillingly I gird on the weapons of magic. Do you, in the privacy of the inner court, build a pi]e to the open sky; lay on it the arms which that godless man left hanging in the chamber, and all his apparel, and the nuptial bed which was my undoing. To destroy every memorial of the hateful wretch is my pleasure, and the priestess' bidding. ' This said, she is silent--paleness overspreads her face. Yet Anna does not dream that these strange rites are a veil to hide her sister's death: she cannot grasp frenzy like that; she fears no darker day than that of their mourning for Sychaeus, and so she does her bidding.

504] But the queen, when the pile had been built in the heart of the palace to the open sky, a giant mass of pinewood and hewn oak, spans the place with garlands, and crowns it with funeral boughs. High above it on the couch she sets the apparel, and the sword that had been left, and the image of the false lover, knowing too well what was to come. Altars rise here and there; the priestess, with hair disheveled, thunders out the roll of three hundred gods, Erebus and Chaos, and Hecate with her triple form--the three faces borne by maiden Diana. See! she has sprinkled water, brought, so she feigns, from Avernus' spring, and she is getting green downy herbs, cropped by moonlight with brazen shears, whose sap is the milk of deadly poison, and the love charm, torn from the brow of the new-born foal, ere the mother could snatch it. Dido herself, with salted cake and pure hands at the altars, one foot unshod, her vest ungirdled, makes her dying appeal to the gods and to the stars who share Fate's counsels, begging the powers, if any there be, that watch, righteous and unforgetting, over ill-yoked lovers, to hear her prayer.

522] It was night, and overtoiled mortality throughout the earth was enjoying peaceful slumber; the woods were at rest, and the raging waves--the hour when the stars are rolling midway in their smooth courses, when all the land is hushed, cattle, and gay-plumed birds, haunters far and wide of clear waters and rough forest-ground, lapped in sleep with stilly night overhead, their troubles assuaged, their hearts dead to care. Not so the vexed spirit of Phoenicia's daughter; she never relapses into slumber, or welcomes the night to eye or bosom; sorrow doubles peal on peal; once more love swells, and storms, and surges, with a mighty tempest of passion. Thus, then, she plunges into speech, and whirls her thoughts about thus in the depth of her soul:--' What am I about ? Am I to make fresh proof of my former suitors, with scorn before me ? Must I stoop to court Nomad bridegrooms, whose offered hand I have spurned so often ? Well, then, shall I follow the fleet of Ilion, and be at the beck and call of Teucrian masters? Is it that they think with pleasure on the succor once rendered them ? that gratitude for past kindness yet lives in their memory? But; even if I wished it, who will give me leave, or admit the unwelcome guest to his haughty ships? Are you so ignorant, poor wretch ? Do you not yet understand the perjury of the race of Laomedon? What then? Shall I fly alone, and swell the triumph of their crews ? or shall I put to sea, with the Tyrians and the whole force of my people at my back? dragging those whom it was so hard to uproot from their Sidonian home again into the deep, and bidding them spread sail to the winds ? No ! --- die the death you have merited, and let the sword put your sorrow to flight. You, sister, are the cause; overmastered by my tears, you heap this deadly fuel on my flame, and fling me upon my enemy. Why could I not forswear wedlock, and live an unblamed life in savage freedom, nor meddle with troubles like these? Why did I not keep the faith I vowed to the ashes of Sychaeus ? '

558] Such were the reproaches that broke from that bursting heart. Meanwhile Aeneas, resolved on his journey, was slumbering in his vessel's tall stern, all being now in readiness. To him a vision of the god appearing again with the same countenance, presented itself as he slept, and seemed to give this second warning--the perfect picture of Mercury, his voice, his blooming hue, his yellow locks, and the youthful grace of his frame:--' Goddess-born, at a crisis like this can you slumber on ? Do you not see the wall of danger which is fast rising round you, infatuate that you are, nor hear the favoring whisper of the western gale ? She is revolving in her bosom thoughts of craft and cruelty, resolved on death, and surging with a changeful tempest of passion. Will you not haste away while haste is in your power? You will look on a sea convulsed with ships, an array of fierce torch-fires, a coast broiling with flame, if the dawn-goddess shall have found you loitering here on land. Quick !--burst through delay. A thing of moods and changes is woman ever. ' He said, and was lost in the darkness of night.

571] At once Aeneas, scared by the sudden apparition, springs up from sleep, and rouses his comrades. 'Wake in a moment, my friends, and seat you on the benches. Unfurl the sails with all speed. See I here is a god sent down from heaven on high, urging us again to hasten our flight, and cut the twisted cables. Yes ! sacred power, we follow thee, whoever thou art, and a second time with joy obey thy behest. Be thou with us, and graciously aid us, and let propitious stars be ascendant in the sky. ' So saying, he snatches from the scabbard his flashing sword, and with the drawn blade cuts the hawsers. The spark flies from man to man; they scour, they scud, they have left the shore behind; you cannot see the water for ships. With strong strokes they dash the foam, and sweep the blue.

584] And now Aurora was beginning to sprinkle the earth with fresh light, rising from Tithonus' saffron couch. Soon as the queen from her watch-tower saw the grey dawn brighten, and the fleet moving on with even canvas, and coast and haven forsaken, with never an oar left, thrice and again smiting her beauteous breast with her hands, and rending her golden locks, ' Great Jupiter I ' cries she, 'shall he go? Shall a chance-comer boast of having flouted our realm ? Will they not get their arms at once, and give chase from all the town, and pull, some of them, the ships from the docks ? Away ! bring fire; quick ! get darts, ply oars ! What am I saying ? Where am I ? What madness turns my brain ? Wretched Dido ! do your sins sting you now ? They should have done so then, when you were giving your crown away. What truth ! what fealty!--the man who, they say, carries about with him the gods of his country, and took up on his shoulders his old worn-out father ! Might I not have caught and torn him piecemeal, and scattered him to the waves?--destroyed his friends, aye, and his own Ascanius, and served up the boy for his father's meal ? But the chance of a battle would have been doubtful. Let it have been. I was to die, and whom had I to fear? I would have flung torches into his camp, filled his decks with flame, consumed son and sire and the whole line', and leapt myself upon the pile.

607] Sun, whose torch shows thee all that is done on earth, and thou, Juno, revealer and witness of these stirrings of the heart, and Hecate, whose name is yelled in civic crossways by night, avenging fiends, and gods of dying Elissa, listen to this ! Let your power stoop to ills that call for it, and hear what I now pray ! If it must needs be that the accursed wretch gain the haven and float to shore--if such the requirement of Jove's destiny, such the fixed goal--yet grant that, harassed by the sword and battle of a warlike nation, a wanderer from his own confines, torn from his Iulus' arms, he may pray for succor, and see his friends dying miserably round him ! Nor when he has yielded to the terms of an unjust peace, may he enjoy his grown, or the life he loves; but may he fall before his time, and lie unburied in the midst of the plain ! This is my prayer--these the last accents that flow from me with my life-blood.
And you, my Tyrians, let your hatred persecute the race and people for all time to come. Be this the offering you send down to my ashes: never be there love or league between nation and nation. Arise from my bones, my unknown avenger, destined with fire and sword to pursue the Dardanian settlers, now or in after days, whenever strength shall be given ! Let coast be at war with coast, water with wave, army with army; fight they, and their sons, and their sons' sons !

630] Thus she said, as she whirled her thought to this side and that, seeking at once to cut short the life she now abhorred. Then briefly she spoke to Barce, Sychaeus' nurse, for her own was left in her old country, in the black ashes of the grave:--' Fetch me here, dear nurse, my sister Anna. Bid her hasten to sprinkle herself with water from the stream, and bring with her the cattle and the atoning offerings prescribed. Let her come with these; and do you cover your brow with the holy fillet. The sacrifice to Stygian Jove, which I have duly commenced and made ready, I wish now to accomplish, and with it the end of my sorrows, giving to the flame the pile that pillows the Dardan head ! ' She said: the nurse began to quicken her pace with an old wife's zeal. But Dido, wildered and maddened by her enormous resolve, rolling her bloodshot eye, her quivering cheeks stained with fiery streaks, and pale with the shadow of death, bursts the door of the inner palace, and frantically climbs the tall pile, and unsheathes the Dardan sword, a gift procured for a far different end. Then, after surveying the Trojan garments and the bed, too well known, and pausing awhile to weep and think, she pressed her bosom to the couch, and uttered her last words:

651] ' Relics, once darlings of mine, while Fate and Heaven gave leave, receive this my soul, and release me from these my sorrows. I have lived my life--the course assigned me by Fortune is run, and now the august phantom of Dido shall pass underground. I have built a splendid city. I have seen my walls completed. In vengeance for a husband, I have punished a brother that hated me--blest, ah ! blest beyond human bliss, if only Dardan ships had never touched coasts of ours! ' She spoke--and kissing the couch: ' Is it to be death without revenge ? But be it death,' she cries--' this, this is the road by which I love to pass to the shades. Let the heartless Dardanian's eyes drink in this flame from the deep, and let him carry with him the presage of my death. '

662] She spoke, and even while she was yet speaking, her attendants see her fallen on the sword, the blade spouting blood, and her hands dabbled in it. Their shrieks rise to the lofty roof; Fame runs wild through the convulsed city. With wailing and groaning, and screams of women, the palace rings; the sky resounds with mighty cries and beating of breasts--even as if the foe were to burst the gates and topple down Carthage or ancient Tyre, and the infuriate flame were leaping from roof to roof among the dwellings of men and gods. Her sister heard it. Breathless and frantic, with wild speed, disfiguring her cheeks with her nails, her bosom with her fists, she bursts through the press, and calls by name on the dying queen :_

675] ' Was this your secret, sister ? Were you plotting to cheat me? Was this what your pile was preparing for me, your fires, and your altars? What should a lone heart grieve for first? Did you disdain your sister's company in death? You should have called me to share your fate--the same keen swordpang, the same hour, should have been the end of both. And did these hands build the pile, this voice call on the gods of our house, that you might lie there, while I, hard-hearted wretch, was away? Yes, sister, you have destroyed yourself and me, the people and the elders of Sidon, and your own fair city. Let in the water to the wounds; let me cleanse them, and if any remains of breath be still flickering, catch them in my mouth I ' As she thus spoke, she was at the top of the lofty steps, and was embracing and fondling in her bosom her dying sister, and stanching with her robe the black streams of blood. Dido strives to raise her heavy eyes, and sinks down again, the deep stab gurgles in her breast. Thrice, with an effort, she lifted and reared herself up on her elbow; thrice she fell back on the couch, and with helpless wandering eyes aloft in the sky, sought for the light and groaned when she found it.

693] Then Juno almighty, in compassion for her lengthened agony and her trouble in dying, sent down Iris from Olympus to part the struggling soul and its prison of flesh. For, as she was dying, not in the course of fate, nor for any crime of hers, but in mere misery, before her time, the victim of sudden frenzy, not yet had Proserpina carried off a lock of her yellow hair, and thus doomed her head to Styx and the place of death. So then Iris glides down the sky with saffron wings dew-besprent, trailing a thousand various colors in the face of the sun, and alights above her head. ' This I am bidden to bear away as an offering to Pluto, and hereby set you free from the body. ' So saying, she stretches her hand and cuts the lock: at once all heat parts from the frame, and the life has passed into air.

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William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris