Aeneid for Boys and Girls - Alfred J. Church

King Evander

When Æneas heard that the nations of Italy were gathering together against him and that they had sent an embassy to Diomed, who was the bravest of the Greeks after Achilles, he was much troubled. He knew that he and his Trojans were but few against many, and he did not know where to look for help. While he was thinking about these things, he fell asleep. In his dreams the god of the river, Father Tiber, as he was called, appeared to him. He was an old man, with a garment of blue linen, and a crown of reeds on his head. The old man said to him—so it seemed to Æneas in his dream—"You are welcome to this land, you and the gods of Troy whom you bring with you. Do not be troubled by wars and rumours of wars, nor give up the work which you have begun. It is the will of the gods that this shall prosper in the end. And now you are looking for help; I will tell you, therefore, where you will find it. Certain men from the land of Arcadia came to this country of Italy, with their king, Evander, and have built a city which they call Pallantēum. These men are always at war with the Latins. Go to them, therefore, and make a treaty with them that their enemies shall be your enemies and their friends your friends. And the way by which you must go is my stream; for know that I am Father Tiber, and that of all the rivers under the sun there is none that is dearer to the gods than mine. Rise, therefore, and worship the gods, especially Queen Juno, that she may cease to hate you."

When Æneas woke out of sleep, he remembered that, long before, the prophet Helenus had said to him that when he was in great need of help it should come to him against all hope—that is to say, from a city of the Greeks. Then he took enough of his people to fill two ships, and went his way. And those that were left worked as hard as they could making the walls of the camp strong and the ditch deep.

By noon they had travelled some twenty miles, for Father Tiber had made their work easy, staying his stream so that they might find it more easy to row. So they came to a place where there were seven hills, and a citadel on one of them, and some houses scattered about. This was the city of Evander.

It so happened that the king and his people had sacrificed that day to Hercules, as they used to do every year, and were sitting at the feast afterwards. When they saw the ships through the trees, they were a little troubled. They feared that the strangers might be enemies, for, indeed, they had but few friends in the country. So they all jumped up from their places. But the King's son, whose name was Pallas, cried out: "Sit still: do not disturb the feast: as for these strangers, I will look to them." So he snatched up a spear, and, standing on the little hill on which the altar had been built, he cried: "Strangers, why have you come to this place? What do you want? Do you bring peace or war?"

Æneas, who was standing on the stern of his ship, holding an olive branch in his hand—this was a sign of peace—cried with a loud voice: "We are men of Troy; the Latins are our enemies; we are seeking King Evander. Say to the king, if you will, that Æneas, prince of Troy, has come, and wishes to make alliance with him."

Now Pallas had heard the name of Æneas, and that he was a great chief; but more he did not know. He answered: "Come near, whoever you are; I will take you to my father, the king." So Æneas stepped on to the shore, and Pallas brought him to the king.

Æneas said: "I have come to you, O King, of my own accord: I am not afraid of you, though I know that you are a Greek, and not only that, but a kinsman of the two sons of Atreus, the very men who destroyed my city of Troy. For you are my kinsman also. We are both of us of the race of Atlas. And there is this also between you and me: we are both of us strangers in this land, and the people of it hate us both. And I am very sure that if they overcome me they will also overcome you. So there will be no one who can stand against them. They will rule over Italy from sea to sea. Therefore I have to ask for your help, and to give help to you. I would not send ambassadors—I have come myself. It is thus that men become most quickly friends."

As Æneas was speaking, the king never took his eyes off him. And when he had finished, he caught him by the hand, and said: "Welcome, great son of Troy! I seem myself to see the face and hear the voice of Anchises. Well I remember how Priam came long ago to see his sister, who was the wife of Telamon; and with him came Anchises, with other princes of Troy; but there was not one of them who could be compared with Anchises. When he went away, he gave me a bow made in Lycia, and a quiver full of arrows, also a cloak embroidered with gold, and two bridles of gold which Pallas my son has to this day. The help which you ask I will give; my people are as your people. To-morrow, if you will, you shall go, and take with you as many men as I can find for you. But now, for you are come on a good day, sit down and join us at our feast."

So Æneas sat down by the king's side, and all the Trojans had seats at the feast, and they ate, and drank, and were merry. When they had had enough to eat and drink, King Evander said: "We keep this day to Hercules, and with good reason." And he told him


"Hercules, as you have doubtless heard, came into these parts to fetch the cattle of Gēryon. The cattle were strange creatures, for they were red, red as is the sky at sunset; and their master was strange, for he had three bodies; and the keepers of the herd were strange also, a great giant and a dog with two heads. All these terrible creatures Hercules killed, and drove away the cattle, bringing them back to the master whom he served, who dwelt in the land of Greece. In his journey he came to this place. At that time there was living in a cave close by a famous robber, Cacus by name. He was the son, men said, of Vulcan, the god of fire, and so was able to breathe out fire from his mouth. All men were afraid of him, for who could fight with a man that could scorch his adversary by breathing fire upon him? Hercules then lay down to sleep under a tree, and the cattle grazed all about the bank of the river. When Cacus saw them, and saw that for shape and colour they were such that no other cattle in the world could be compared with them, he took four bulls and four heifers, the very finest that there were in the whole herd. These he dragged by their tails to his cave, that it might not be seen where they were, for the marks of their hoofs seemed to be going away from the cave, not to it, and he rolled a great stone to the mouth of the cave. The next day, as Hercules was about to go on his journey, the bulls and the heifers which were in the cave, knowing that their companions were going away, and not liking to be left behind, set up a great lowing. When Hercules heard this he knew that he had been robbed, not having known it before because the herd was very great; and he was full of anger. He took up his great club, and climbed to the top of the hill which covered the cave. Cacus saw him coming, and fled as fast as he could to his cave. For the first time in his life he was afraid, for he saw that this stranger was far stronger and fiercer than any man that he had ever seen before. So he ran as fast as he could to his cave, and made a great block of stone which was hanging over the door drop down. It had been made so cleverly that it seemed exactly like the rest of the side of the mountain. Hercules knew that the cattle were inside the mountain, for he still could hear them lowing, but where the door of the cave might be he could not tell. He went from place to place, gnashing his teeth in his rage. Three times he tried to pull away the rock, and each time he found that it was part of the solid side of the mountain. At last he saw on the top a great piece of stone jutting out, which seemed to lean toward the river. So he went and pushed against this with all his strength—and there was not so strong a man in all the earth—and at last it gave way, and the whole side of the mountain fell with it into the river beneath. Then the cave of Cacus could be seen, so horrible a place as had never been shown before to the eyes of men. And in the depth of the cave was the monster himself. Hercules took the bow which he carried on his shoulders and arrows from his quiver—such arrows as no man but he possessed—but he could not hit the monster, for the cave was filled with fire and smoke which Cacus poured out of his mouth. But Hercules was not to be put off in this way. He plunged into the cave, and groped about till in the place where the smoke was thickest he found the creature. He caught him in his arms, and struck him with his club, and, when he could not kill him in this way, put his hands on his throat and strangled him."

This was the story which Evander told to Æneas; and as he told it he showed him the very hill in which the cave had been, and the place where Hercules had pushed down the whole side of the mountain. And now, the feast being finished, two bands of priests, one of old men and one of young, came in and sang a song about the great deeds of Hercules; how, when he was a baby in his cradle, he caught two snakes which Juno had sent to kill him, and strangled them, and how he had killed the Centaurs, who were half horses and half men, and many other wonderful things.

After this Evander took Æneas to his palace—a palace it was called because a king lived in it—and told him all the story of Italy. "Once upon a time," he said, "the people here were savages, not at all better than beasts, not using fire, or living in houses, or wearing clothes, and knowing no difference between right and wrong. Then Saturn came and taught them how to live, and gave them laws."

Then he showed him the city which he had built. A poor place it was; the palace and the temples were of wood or clay, and the roofs were of thatch. But it was the place, though no one knew it, where Rome was to be in the days to come. After this the king took his guest to his home, and showed him the room where he should sleep. So Æneas lay down on a bed of straw, with a bear-skin over him to keep him warm.