by Vergil (70-19 BC). Translated by John Dryden (1631-1700)
The Trojans, after a seven years’ voyage, set sail for Italy, but are overtaken by a dreadful storm, which Aeolus raises at the request of Juno. The tempest sinks one, and scatters the rest. Neptune drives off the winds, and calms the sea. Aeneas, with his own ship and six more, arrives safe at an African port. Venus complains to Jupiter of her son’s misfortunes. Jupiter comforts her, and sends Mercury to procure him a kind reception among the Carthaginians. Aeneas, going out to discover the country, meets his mother in the shape of a huntress, who conveys him in a cloud to Carthage, where he sees his friends whom he thought lost, and receives a kind entertainment from the queen. Dido, by device of Venus, begins to have a passion for him, and, after some discourse with him, desires the history of his adventures since the siege of Troy, which is the subject of the two following books.
Aeneas relates how the city of Troy was taken, after a ten years’ siege, by the treachery of Sinon, and the stratagem of a wooden horse. He declares the fixed resolution he had taken not to survive the ruin of his country, and the various adventures he met with in defence of it. At last, having been before advised by Hector’s ghost, and now by the appearance of his mother Venus, he is prevailed upon to leave the town, and settle his household gods in another country. In order to this, he carries off his father on his shoulders, and leads his little son by the hand, his wife following behind. When he comes to the place appointed for the general rendezvous, he finds a great confluence of people, but misses his wife, whose ghost afterwards appears to him, and tells him the land which was designed for him.
Aeneas proceeds in his relation: he gives an account of the fleet with which he sailed, and the success of his first voyage to Thrace. From thence he directs his course to Delos and asks the oracle what place the gods had appointed for his habitation. By a mistake of the oracle’s answer, he settles in Crete. His household gods give him the true sense of the oracle in a dream. He follows their advice, and makes the best of his way for Italy. He is cast on several shores, and meets with very surprising adventures, till at length he lands on Sicily, where his father Anchises dies. This is the place which he was sailing from, when the tempest rose, and threw him upon the Carthaginian coast.
Dido discovers to her sister her passion for Aeneas, and her thoughts of marrying him. She prepares a hunting match for his entertainment. Juno, by Venus’ consent, raises a storm, which separates the hunters, and drives Aeneas and Dido into the same cave, where their marriage is supposed to be completed. Jupiter despatches Mercury to Aeneas, to warn him from Carthage. Aeneas secretly prepares for his voyage. Dido finds out his design, and, to put a stop to it, makes use of her own and her sister’s entreaties, and discovers all the variety of passions that are incident to a neglected lover. When nothing could prevail upon him, she contrives her own death, with which this book concludes.
Aeneas, setting sail from Afric, is driven by a storm on the coast of Sicily, where he is hospitably received by his friend Acestes, king of part of the island, and born of Trojan parentage. He applies himself to celebrate the memory of his father with divine honours, and accordingly institues funeral games, and appoints prizes for those who should conquer in them. While the ceremonies are performing, Juno sends Iris to persuade the Trojan woman to burn the ships, who, upon her instigation, set fire to them: which burned four, and would have consumed the rest, had not Jupiter, by a miraculous shower extinguished it. Upon this, Aeneas, by the advice of one of his generals, and a vision of his father, builds a city for the women, old men, and others, who were either unfit for war, or weary of the voyage, and sails for Italy. Venus procures of Neptune a safe voyage for him and all his men, excepting only his pilot Palinurus, who was unfortunately lost.
The Sibyl foretells Aeneas the adventures he should meet with in Italy. She attends him to hell; describing to him the various scenes of that place, and conducting him to his father Anchises, who instructs him in those sublime mysteries, of the soul of the world, and the transmigration; and shows him that glorious race of heroes, which was to descend from him and his posterity.
King Latinus entertains Aeneas, and promises him his only daughter, Lavinia, the heiress of his crown. Turnus, being in love with her, favoured by her mother, and by Juno and Alecto, breaks the treaty which was made, and engages in his quarrel Mezentius, Camilla, Messapus, and many other of the neighbouring princes; whose forces, and the names of their commanders are particularly related.
The war being now begun, both the generals make all possible preparations. Turnus sends to Diomedes. Aeneas goes in person to beg succours from Evander and the Tuscans. Evander receives him kindly, furnishes him with men, and sends his son Pallas with him. Vulcan, at the request of Venus, makes arms for her son Aeneas, and draws on his shield the most memorable actions of his posterity.
Turnus takes advantage of Aeneas’s absence, fires some of his ships (which are transformed into sea nymphs,) and assaults his camp. The Trojans, reduced to the last extremities, send Ninus and Euryalus to recall Aeneas; which furnishes the poet with that admirable episode of their friendship, generosity, and the conclusion of their adventure.
Jupiter, calling a council of the gods, forbids them to engage in either party. At Aeneas’ return there is a bloody battle: Turnus killing Pallas; Aeneas, Lausus, and Mezentius. Mezentius is described as an atheist; Lausus as a pious and virtuous youth. The different actions and death of these two are the subject of a noble episode.
Aeneas erects a trophy of the spoils of Mezentius, grants a truce for burying the dead, and sends home the body of Pallas with great solemnity. Latinus calls a council, to propose offers of peace to Aeneas; which occasions great animosity betwixt Turnus and Drances. In the mean time there is a sharp engagement of the horse; wherein Camilla signalizes herself, is killed, and the Latine troops are entirely defeated.
Turnus challenges Aeneas to a single combat: articles are agreed on, but broken by the Rutuli, who wound Aeneas. He is miraculously cured by Venus, forces Turnus to a duel, and concludes the poem with his death.