Virgil Aeneid VI Translation
From here there is a road that leads you to the waters of Acheron in Tarterus.
Here there is a turbulent whirlpool thick with mud and a deep abyss
And it erupts all of its sands into the river Cocytus.
The ferryman Charon looks after the waters and rivers, dreadful in his squalor,
On whose chin lies a mass of unkempt white hair, his eyes stand aflame.
A dirty cloak hangs from his shoulders in a knot.
He drives his boat with his pole and works the sails
And his rust coloured boat transports bodies,
Now an old man, but with the freshness of a god, he blooms in his old age.
Here the whole crowd, having been poured out, were rushing to the banks
Mothers and men and bodies of great heroes finished with life, boys and unmarried girls and young men positioned on the funeral pyre before their parents’ eyes:
As many as leaves having fallen in the first chill of autumn
Fall in the woods, Or as many as birds gathered together from deep waters to the land,
When the cold year puts them to flight across the seas and sends them to warm lands.
They were standing, praying to be taken first
They extended their arms to him, in yearning of the other bank
The gloomy ferryman accepts now these now those
But he wards off others, driven off far away from the sand.
Aeneas, having marvelled at, and having been moved by the crowd
Said “tell me oh priestess, why are they gathering at the river?
What are the souls seeking? By what difference do these leave the banks and those sweep over the bluish water with their oars?”
To him in this way the aged priestess briefly replied
“Son of Anchises, the most certain offspring of a god,
You see the deep waters of Cocytus and the marshy pools of the Styx
Of whose divine power the Gods are afraid to swear and deceive.
This whole crowd which you see are the poor and unburied;
This is the ferryman Charon; these which the waves carry are the buried.
It’s not allowed for him to carry them across the horrible banks and the roaring waters
Before their bones are laid to rest in graves.
They wander for 100 years and flit around these shores
Then finally, having been accepted they see again the desired waters.”
The son of Anchises stopped and checked his footsteps
Thinking many things and having pitied their unfair fate in his mind
Therefore they continued their begun journey and approached the river
The ferryman caught sight of them from the waters of the Styx
Going through the quiet woods and turning their feet towards the bank,
At once he attacked them with words and shouted at them of his own accord.
“Whoever you are, who is armed that makes for our river,
Come now, speak, why have you come now from over there, stop walking.