Astyages's Weblog

February 2, 2011

Virgil’s Aeneid, Part 16

Filed under: Virgil's Aeneid, #16 — astyages @ 11:29 pm

 

Virgil’s Aeneid 

by

DL Rowlands

 

"Give, O Thymbraeus, give a refuge to the sad relics of the Trojan race..."

 

(Part 16)

An island appears in the Aegean Sea which Neptune and the watery Doris claim as their own. It floated once, until Phoebus fixed the sides to rooted earth, and now it withstands the tides. Borne here by friendly winds, we come ashore, needing to rest our weary limbs and to visit the Sun’s temple and adore his town.

Anius, the priest and king, crowned with laurels; his grey-streaked hair bound with purple fillets, seeing my sire ascend the Delian shore, came forth with eager haste to meet his friend; invites him to his palace and, in sign of ancient love, join their plighted hands. Then I went to the temple of the god and thus presented my vows before the shrine, ‘Give, O Thymbraeus, give a refuge to the sad relics of the Trojan race; a secure seat; a region of their own; a lasting empire and a happier town. Where shall we find a resting-place? Where shall our labours end? Whom shall we follow and what fate awaits us? Let not my prayers find a doubtful answer, but unveil thy mind in clear auguries.’

Scarce had I said this when the holy ground, the laurels, and the lofty hills all around began to shake, and from the tripods rushed a bellowing sound. We fell prostrate in acknowledgment of the god’s presence, who gave this answer from his dark abode: ‘Undaunted youths, go, seek the mother earth from which your ancestors originally came; the soil that sent you forth shall embrace her ancient race in her old bosom. The House of Aeneas shall reign throughout the whole world and her children’s children shall sustain the crown!’

As Phoebus thus disclosed to us our future fates, a mighty and joyful tumult arose. Everyone wants to know what place the god had assigned to be our race’s new abode. My father, well versed in the lineage of the Trojan race thus answered their demands: ‘Ye princes, hear your pleasant fortune and dispel your fear! The famous and fruitful isle of Crete, sacred to Jove from ancient times, lies in a commanding position in mid ocean and on its plains stand a hundred cities. Another Ida rises there and it is from thence we derive our Trojan ancestry. From thence as related by the legend, Teucrus came to the Rhoetean shores; there he stayed and there he chose the seat of his empire, before Ilium and her Trojan towers ever arose. In humble vales they build their sft abodes ’til Cybele, the mother of the gods, with tinkling cymbals and secret rites charmed the Idaean woods, and taught them certain ceremonies which brought the savage lions to the yoke. Let us explore the land which Heaven appoints; appease the winds and seek the Gnossian shore. With Jove’s assistance we shall be in Crete within three days.

This said, the sacrifices he paid to the gods were laid on smoking altars; a bull, an oblation due to Neptune; another bull for bright Apollo; a milk-white ewe to please the western winds and one coal-black ewe to calm the stormy seas. Before this, a rumour had spread that the fierce Idomeneus had fled from Crete, expelled and exiled; thus the coast was free of foreign or domestic enemies.

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