Astyages's Weblog

July 2, 2012

Virgils Aeneid, Part 35

Filed under: Uncategorized — astyages @ 12:44 pm
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Virgil’s Aeneid

By Astyages

Part 35:

Thus far they celebrate the sacred sports, but soon Fortune would resume her ancient hatred, for while they pay their dues to the dead, these rites are viewed by Saturnian Juno with envy. She sends the goddess of the multicolored bow to try new methods of revenge, supplying her with a wind to wing her airy way to where the navy lay, secure in the port. Swiftly fair Iris descends down her arch and she arrives unnoticed by the gathering crowd. From there she flies to the deserted shore and the undefended fleet. Trojan matrons, alone on the sands, bemoan the fate of Anchises with sighs and tears, then, turning their weeping eyes to the sea, they renew their pitiful cries to themselves. “Alas!” said one, “What oceans do we still have to sail, what labors do we still have to endure?” All take up this them and with a general lamentation they implore the gods for peace and places of their own.

The goddess, great in mischief, views their troubles, and hides her heavenly form within the shape of a mortal woman. She took on the shape and face of old Beroe, Doryclus’ wife; a venerable dame… a mother and blessed with riches. But thus changed, she now ran amidst the crowd of matrons, crying, “Oh wretched we, who neither the power of the Greeks, nor flames could destroy in Troy’s unhappy hour! Oh wretched we, reserved by a cruel fate beyond the ruins of our sinking nation! Now, seven whole years have turned since we began this fruitless voyage, since we’ve been tossed from shore to shore and from land to land, inhospitable lands and barren beaches, wandering in exile through the stormy sea we have searched in vain for an Italy which seems to fly away before us! Now, cast by fortune on this kindred land, what is to stop us from staying and raising our city walls here? Oh, lost country, which the gods have redeemed in vain, must we remain in endless exile? Shall we never renew the Trojan walls, or view the streams of some new Simois? Quicly! Join with me and we’ll burn the unhappy fleet! I dreamed I saw Cassandra last night in my sleep and she put flaming torches in my hands, ‘With these’, she says, ‘destroy these wandering ships; this is your fated seat, and this your Troy. Time is pressing; let’s not ignore the good omen, while Heaven inspires our minds to dare, and gives us the ready fires. See! Neptune’s altar-fires supply us with torches! The god is pleased, and supplies our needs!” Then, from the pile she drew a flaming brand and tossed it through the air into one of the galleys.

The matrons stare wildly in amazement, then spoke Pyrgo, reverenced for the whiteness of her hair, the nurse of Priam’s numerous race: “This is no Beroe, though it is her face! What terrors arise from her frowning brow! I see a goddess in her ardent eyes! What an aura there is around her heavenly face… mark her majestic voice and more than mortal manner! I left Beroe just now, crippled with pain… her age and anguish prevent her from attending these rites.” She said, and the matrons were seized with a new amazement. Rolling their malignant eyes, they gaze on the navy, they fear and they hope, but obey neither emotion; hoping for the fated land, but fearing the fatal way.

The goddess, having completed her task below, mounts up on radiant wings to bend her painted bow. Struck by the sight and seized with divine rage, the matrons carry out their mad plan: They shriek aloud, snatching fire from the altars with impious hands, mingling green boughs and saplings in among the brands in their haste, and these smoking torches they cast upon the ships. The flame, with nothing to stop it, gains more fury and Vulcan rides at large with loosened reins: Triumphantly, he soars to the painted sterns and on his way seizes the banks of crackling oars.

Emmelus was the first to bear the news to the Trojans, while they still crowded the rural theater. Then they bear witness to what they have heard wit their own eyes: A storm of sparks and flames rising up from the beach. Ascanius took up the alarm while he was still leading his young warriors on his prancing steed and, spurring his horse on, he quickly shot past his friends, who couldn’t keep up with his reckless pace as the royal youth shouted ahead of him as he flew

“What madness moves you, matrons, to destroy the last remainders of unhappy Troy? You’re not burning hostile fleets but your own hopes and turn your fury on your own friends. Behold your own Ascanius!” And while he said this he drew from his head the glittering helmet in which he had led the youths to sportful arms, from his head. By this time, Aeneas and his train appear and the women, now seized with shame and fear disperse, running to take flight in the woods or in caverns, now abhorring their actions and seeking to avoid the light; acknowledging the rightness of their friends and their own error as they shake the goddess from their minds.

***** ******* *****

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