But the queen, wounded long since by intense love,
feeds the hurt with her life-blood, weakened by hidden fire.
The hero’s courage often returns to mind, and the nobility
of his race: his features and his words cling fixedly to her heart,
and love will not grant restful calm to her body.
The new day’s Dawn was lighting the earth with Phoebus’s
brightness, and dispelling the dew-wet shadows from the sky,
when she spoke ecstatically to her sister, her kindred spirit:
“Anna, sister, how my dreams terrify me with anxieties!
Who is this strange guest who has entered our house,
with what boldness he speaks, how resolute in mind and warfare!
Truly I think – and it’s no idle saying – that he’s born of a goddess.
Fear reveals the ignoble spirit. Alas! What misfortunes test him!
What battles he spoke of, that he has undergone!
If my mind was not set, fixedly and immovably,
never to join myself with any man in the bonds of marriage,
because first-love betrayed me, cheated me through dying:
if I were not wearied by marriage and bridal-beds,
perhaps I might succumb to this one temptation.
Anna, yes I confess, since my poor husband Sychaeus’s death
when the altars were blood-stained by my murderous brother,
he’s the only man who’s stirred my senses, troubled my
wavering mind. I know the traces of the ancient flame.
But I pray rather that earth might gape wide for me, to its depths,
or the all-powerful father hurl me with his lightning-bolt
down to the shadows, to the pale ghosts, and deepest night
of Erebus, before I violate you, Honour, or break your laws.
He who first took me to himself has stolen my love
let him keep it with him, and guard it in his grave.”
So saying her breast swelled with her rising tears.
Anna replied: “O you, who are more beloved to your sister
than the light, will you wear your whole youth away
in loneliness and grief, and not know Venus’s sweet gifts
or her children? Do you think that ashes or sepulchral spirits care?
Granted that in Libya or Tyre before it, no suitor ever
dissuaded you from sorrowing: and Iarbas and the other lords
whom the African soil, rich in fame, bears, were scorned:
will you still struggle against a love that pleases?
Do you not recall to mind in whose fields you settled?
Here Gaetulian cities, a people unsurpassed in battle,
unbridled Numidians, and inhospitable Syrtis, surround you:
there, a region of dry desert, with Barcaeans raging around.
And what of your brother’s threats, and war with Tyre imminent?
The Trojan ships made their way here with the wind,
with gods indeed helping them I think, and with Juno’s favour.
What a city you’ll see here, sister, what a kingdom rise,
with such a husband! With a Trojan army marching with us,
with what great actions Punic glory will soar!
Only ask the gods for their help, and, propitiating them
with sacrifice, indulge your guest, spin reasons for delay,
while winter, and stormy Orion, rage at sea,
while the ships are damaged, and the skies are hostile.”
By saying this she inflames the queen’s burning heart with love
and raises hopes in her anxious mind, and weakens her sense
of shame. First they visit the shrines and ask for grace at the altars:
they sacrifice chosen animals according to the rites,
to Ceres, the law-maker, and Phoebus, and father Lycaeus,
and to Juno above all, in whose care are the marriage ties:
Dido herself, supremely lovely, holding the cup in her hand,
pours the libation between the horns of a white heifer
or walks to the rich altars, before the face of the gods,
celebrates the day with gifts, and gazes into the opened
chests of victims, and reads the living entrails.
Ah, the unknowing minds of seers! What use are prayers
or shrines to the impassioned? Meanwhile her tender marrow
is aflame, and a silent wound is alive in her breast.
Wretched Dido burns, and wanders frenzied through the city,
like an unwary deer struck by an arrow, that a shepherd hunting
with his bow has fired at from a distance, in the Cretan woods,
leaving the winged steel in her, without knowing.
She runs through the woods and glades of Dicte:
the lethal shaft hangs in her side.
Now she leads Aeneas with her round the walls
showing her Sidonian wealth and the city she’s built:
she begins to speak, and stops in mid-flow:
now she longs for the banquet again as day wanes,
yearning madly to hear about the Trojan adventures once more
and hangs once more on the speaker’s lips.
Then when they have departed, and the moon in turn
has quenched her light and the setting constellations urge sleep,
she grieves, alone in the empty hall, and lies on the couch
he left. Absent she hears him absent, sees him,
or hugs Ascanius on her lap, taken with this image
of his father, so as to deceive her silent passion.
The towers she started no longer rise, the young men no longer
carry out their drill, or work on the harbour and the battlements
for defence in war: the interrupted work is left hanging,
the huge threatening walls, the sky-reaching cranes.
As soon as Juno, Jupiter’s beloved wife, saw clearly that Dido
was gripped by such heart-sickness, and her reputation
no obstacle to love, she spoke to Venus in these words:
“You and that son of yours, certainly take the prize, and plenty
of spoils: a great and memorable show of divine power,
whereby one woman’s trapped by the tricks of two gods.
But the truth’s not escaped me, you’ve always held the halls
of high Carthage under suspicion, afraid of my city’s defences.
But where can that end? Why such rivalry, now?
Why don’t we work on eternal peace instead, and a wedding pact?
You’ve achieved all that your mind was set on:
Dido’s burning with passion, and she’s drawn the madness
into her very bones. Let’s rule these people together
with equal sway: let her be slave to a Trojan husband,
and entrust her Tyrians to your hand, as the dowry.”
Venus began the reply to her like this (since she knew
she’d spoken with deceit in her mind to divert the empire
from Italy’s shores to Libya’s): “Who’d be mad enough
to refuse such an offer or choose to make war on you,
so long as fate follows up what you say with action?
But fortune makes me uncertain, as to whether Jupiter wants
a single city for Tyrians and Trojan exiles, and approves
the mixing of races and their joining in league together.
You’re his wife: you can test his intent by asking.
Do it: I’ll follow.” Then royal Juno replied like this:
“That task’s mine. Now listen and I’ll tell you briefly
how the purpose at hand can be achieved.
Aeneas and poor Dido plan to go hunting together
in the woods, when the sun first shows tomorrow’s
dawn, and reveals the world in his rays.
While the lines are beating, and closing the thickets with nets,
I’ll pour down dark rain mixed with hail from the sky,
and rouse the whole heavens with my thunder.
They’ll scatter, and be lost in the dark of night:
Dido and the Trojan leader will reach the same cave.
I’ll be there, and if I’m assured of your good will,
I’ll join them firmly in marriage, and speak for her as his own:
this will be their wedding-night.” Not opposed to what she wanted,
Venus agreed, and smiled to herself at the deceit she’d found.
Meanwhile Dawn surges up and leaves the ocean.
Once she has risen, the chosen men pour from the gates:
Massylian horsemen ride out, with wide-meshed nets,
snares, broad-headed hunting spears, and a pack
of keen-scented hounds. The queen lingers in her rooms,
while Punic princes wait at the threshold: her horse stands there,
bright in purple and gold, and champs fiercely at the foaming bit.
At last she appears, with a great crowd around her,
dressed in a Sidonian robe with an embroidered hem.
Her quiver’s of gold, her hair knotted with gold,
a golden brooch fastens her purple tunic.
Her Trojan friends and joyful Iulus are with her:
Aeneas himself, the most handsome of them all,
moves forward and joins his friendly troop with hers.
Like Apollo, leaving behind the Lycian winter,
and the streams of Xanthus, and visiting his mother’s Delos,
to renew the dancing, Cretans and Dryopes and painted
Agathyrsians, mingling around his altars, shouting:
he himself striding over the ridges of Cynthus,
his hair dressed with tender leaves, and clasped with gold,
the weapons rattling on his shoulder: so Aeneas walks,
as lightly, beauty like the god’s shining from his noble face.
When they reach the mountain heights and pathless haunts,
see the wild goats, disturbed on their stony summits,
course down the slopes: in another place deer speed
over the open field, massing together in a fleeing herd
among clouds of dust, leaving the hillsides behind.
But the young Ascanius among the valleys, delights
in his fiery horse, passing this rider and that at a gallop, hoping
that amongst these harmless creatures a boar, with foaming mouth,
might answer his prayers, or a tawny lion, down from the mountain.
Meanwhile the sky becomes filled with a great rumbling:
rain mixed with hail follows, and the Tyrian company
and the Trojan men, with Venus’s Dardan grandson,
scatter here and there through the fields, in their fear,
seeking shelter: torrents stream down from the hills.
Dido and the Trojan leader reach the very same cave.
Primeval Earth and Juno of the Nuptials give their signal:
lightning flashes, the heavens are party to their union,
and the Nymphs howl on the mountain heights.
That first day is the source of misfortune and death.
Dido’s no longer troubled by appearances or reputation,
she no longer thinks of a secret affair: she calls it marriage:
and with that name disguises her sin.
Rumour raced at once through Libya’s great cities,
Rumour, compared with whom no other is as swift.
She flourishes by speed, and gains strength as she goes:
first limited by fear, she soon reaches into the sky,
walks on the ground, and hides her head in the clouds.
Earth, incited to anger against the gods, so they say,
bore her last, a monster, vast and terrible, fleet-winged
and swift-footed, sister to Coeus and Enceladus,
who for every feather on her body has as many
watchful eyes below (marvellous to tell), as many
tongues speaking, as many listening ears.
She flies, screeching, by night through the shadows
between earth and sky, never closing her eyelids
in sweet sleep: by day she sits on guard on tall roof-tops
or high towers, and scares great cities, as tenacious
of lies and evil, as she is messenger of truth.
Now in delight she filled the ears of the nations
with endless gossip, singing fact and fiction alike:
Aeneas has come, born of Trojan blood, a man whom
lovely Dido deigns to unite with: now they’re spending
the whole winter together in indulgence, forgetting
their royalty, trapped by shameless passion.
The vile goddess spread this here and there on men’s lips.
Immediately she slanted her course towards King Iarbas
and inflamed his mind with words and fuelled his anger.
He, a son of Jupiter Ammon, by a ***** Garamantian Nymph,
had set up a hundred great temples, a hundred altars, to the god,
in his broad kingdom, and sanctified ever-living fires, the gods’
eternal guardians: the floors were soaked with sacrificial blood,
and the thresholds flowery with mingled garlands.
They say he often begged Jove humbly with upraised hands,
in front of the altars, among the divine powers,
maddened in spirit and set on fire by bitter rumour:
“All-powerful Jupiter, to whom the Moors, on their embroidered
divans, banqueting, now pour a Bacchic offering,
do you see this? Do we shudder in vain when you hurl
your lightning bolts, father, and are those idle fires in the clouds
that terrify our minds, and flash among the empty rumblings?
A woman, wandering within my borders, who paid to found
a little town, and to whom we granted coastal lands
to plough, to hold in tenure, scorns marriage with me,
and takes Aeneas into her country as its lord.
And now like some Paris, with his pack of eunuchs,
a Phrygian cap, tied under his chin, on his greasy hair,
he’s master of what he’s snatched: while I bring gifts indeed
to temples, said to be yours, and cherish your empty reputation.
As he gripped the altar, and prayed in this way,
the All-powerful one listened, and turned his gaze towards
the royal city, and the lovers forgetful of their true reputation.
Then he spoke to Mercury and commanded him so:
“Off you go, my son, call the winds and glide on your wings,
and talk to the Trojan leader who malingers in Tyrian Carthage
now, and gives no thought to the cities the fates will grant him,
and carry my words there on the quick breeze.
This is not what his loveliest of mothers suggested to me,
nor why she rescued him twice from Greek armies:
he was to be one who’d rule Italy, pregnant with empire,
and crying out for war, he’d produce a people of Teucer’s
high blood, and bring the whole world under the rule of law.
If the glory of such things doesn’t inflame him,
and he doesn’t exert himself for his own honour,
does he begrudge the citadels of Rome to Ascanius?
What does he plan? With what hopes does he stay
among alien people, forgetting Ausonia and the Lavinian fields?
Let him sail: that’s it in total, let that be my message.”
He finished speaking. The god prepared to obey his great
father’s order, and first fastened the golden sandals to his feet
that carry him high on the wing over land and sea, like the storm.
Then he took up his wand: he calls pale ghosts from Orcus
with it, sending others down to grim Tartarus,
gives and takes away sleep, and opens the eyes of the dead.
Relying on it, he drove the winds, and flew through
the stormy clouds. Now in his flight he saw the steep flanks
and the summit of strong Atlas, who holds the heavens
on his head, Atlas, whose pine-covered crown is always wreathed
in dark clouds and lashed by the wind and rain:
fallen snow clothes his shoulders: while rivers fall
from his ancient chin, and his rough beard bristles with ice.
There Cyllenian Mercury first halted, balanced on level wings: from there, he threw his whole body headlong towards the waves, like a bird that flies low close to the sea, round the coasts and the rocks rich in fish. So the Cyllenian-born flew between heaven and earth to Libya’s sandy shore, cutting the winds, coming from Atlas, his mother Maia’s father. As soon as he reached the builders’ huts, on his winged feet, he saw Aeneas establishing towers and altering roofs. His sword was starred with tawny jasper, and the cloak that hung from his shoulder blazed with Tyrian purple, a gift that rich Dido had made, weaving the cloth with golden thread.
Mercury challenged him at once: “For love of a wife are you now building the foundations of high Carthage and a pleasing city? Alas, forgetful of your kingdom and fate! The king of the gods himself, who bends heaven and earth to his will, has sent me down to you from bright Olympus: he commanded me himself to carry these words through the swift breezes. What do you plan? With what hopes do you waste idle hours in Libya’s lands? If you’re not stirred by the glory of destiny, and won’t exert yourself for your own fame, think of your growing Ascanius, and the expectations of him, as Iulus your heir, to whom will be owed the kingdom of Italy, and the Roman lands.” So Mercury spoke, and, while speaking, vanished from mortal eyes, and melted into thin air far from their sight.
Aeneas, stupefied at the vision, was struck dumb,
and his hair rose in terror, and his voice stuck in his throat.
He was eager to be gone, in flight, and leave that sweet land,
shocked by the warning and the divine command.
Alas! What to do? With what speech dare he tackle
the love-sick queen? What opening words should he choose?
And he cast his mind back and forth swiftly,
considered the issue from every aspect, and turned it every way.
This seemed the best decision, given the alternatives:
he called Mnestheus, Sergestus and brave Serestus,
telling them to fit out the fleet in silence, gather the men
on the shore, ready the ships’ tackle, and hide the reason
for these changes of plan. He in the meantime, since
the excellent Dido knew nothing, and would not expect
the breaking off of such a love, would seek an approach,
the tenderest moment to speak, and a favourable means.
They all gladly obeyed his command at once, and did his bidding.
But the queen sensed his tricks (who can deceive a lover?)
and was first to anticipate future events, fearful even of safety.
That same impious Rumour brought her madness:
they are fitting out the fleet, and planning a journey.