Aeneid for Boys and Girls - Alfred J. Church

Of the Voyage of Aeneas (continued)

That very day Æneas and his people sailed away from the land of the Harpies. They passed by many islands of the Greeks, Ithaca among them, which was the country of Ulysses. "A bad place," they said, as they passed, "and the home of a bad man." Not far from here they spent the winter, and then, turning to the west, they came to a country that was called Epirus. And here Æneas heard from some one who lived in those parts a marvellous thing, namely, that there was not far away a city which had a Trojan king, and that this king was a son of Priam, and that his wife was Andromaché, whose first husband was the brave Hector. Then Æneas said to himself: "I will go and see whether this strange tale that they tell me is true." So he went his way to the city, and when he came near it, he saw a river, and asked someone that passed by, "What is the name of this river?" And the man said, "This is the Simoïs." Now there is a river Simoïs that runs through the plain of Troy. A little farther on he saw a grove, and in the grove an altar, and by the altar stood Andromaché. She was making offerings to the spirit of Hector, and wept much as she made them. When she saw Æneas, and knew his arms, for they were what the Trojans used to wear, she was very much afraid, and fainted. When she came to herself, she said: "Is this that I see real, or is it a dream? Is it Æneas whom I see? Are you alive? And, if you are dead, where is my Hector?" Æneas said: "Yes, lady, I am alive; this is flesh and blood that you see, not a ghost. And you? what has happened to you? are you still the wife of Pyrrhus?"

Andromaché answered: "Truly there was but one among the daughters and the daughters-in-law of Priam that was happy! she whom the Greeks slew at the tomb of Achilles. As for me, who once had Hector for my husband, I was carried across the sea as a slave is carried. A slave I was, though they called me a wife. And when Pyrrhus wished to marry the daughter of Helen, then he gave me to Helenus, as one slave is given to another. But Pyrrhus was slain by Orestes, who loved the daughter of Helen. And when he was dead, his kingdom was divided, and part of it came to Helenus, this country where we now are. He has built a town and called it Pergamos, and the river he has called Simoïs. But tell me, how came you here? was it by chance, or did a storm drive you out of your course? or did the gods send you? And your boy Ascanius, is he alive and well? Is he strong and brave? He should be such, if he has Æneas for his father, and Hector for his uncle."

While these two were talking Helenus came from the city and a great train of people with him, and bade Æneas and his company welcome. And he showed him all the place, and how everything had been made as like to Troy as might be. Only at Troy all things were large, and here all things were small. Afterwards Helenus made a great feast in his palace, and they ate and drank and were merry.

After a few days had passed, Æneas, seeing that the wind was favourable for his journey, said to Helenus: "It is time for us to go. Tell me now, for you are a wise man, and know what is going to happen, shall we prosper? It is the gods who bid us take this journey, and all things seem to promise well. But it has been prophesied to us that we shall have to bear dreadful hunger. Tell me then what I should do, and what I should avoid, and for what I should prepare."

Then said Helenus to Æneas: "Let us come to the temple of Apollo. There, I hope, the god will put into my mouth the answer to the questions which you ask."

So they went to the temple of Apollo. And when they had offered sacrifice and prayed, the spirit of the god came into the heart of Helenus, and he prophesied: "Son of Venus, be sure that it is according to the will of the gods that you are making this journey. Listen then to me, and learn what you must do that you may come safely to the land where you would be, even to Italy. Some things I do not know, and some that I know I may not speak, for Juno forbids, but what I may say is this: First know that you have yet a long way to go, and many seas to cross. It is true that Italy is not far from us even here; but it is not in these parts that you will find your home. Those evil men, the Greeks, are here, and you cannot find a dwelling-place among them. And this shall be a sign to you that you have come to the right place. You will find a white sow with thirty little pigs about her. As to the eating of your tables which the Harpy prophesied, be not troubled; Apollo will help you. Sail, therefore, southward from this place, and pass by the shore which you will see on your right hand, though it is the shore of Italy. And when you have passed it to the very end, you will come to the island of Sicily. There you will see a narrow strait which divides the two; in old time they were one, but now the sea flows between them. Venture not into this strait; it is a terrible place. On the right hand is Scylla in her cave, and on the left hand is the whirlpool of Charybdis. Scylla is a dreadful creature. In part of her she is like a fair woman, and in part she is like a monster of the sea, and she has six heads like to a wolf's head. Go, therefore, all round the island of Sicily. It is a long journey, but it is safe. And when you come to the other shore of Italy, that which lies to the setting of the sun, then sail northward. And remember at all times, and in all places, to do honour to Juno, that so you may win her favour. And you will come to a place called Cumæ; there dwells a wise woman whose name is the Sibyl. Apollo speaks by her mouth, even as he speaks by mine. Inquire of her, and she will tell you all that you should know, what wars you must wage, and what dangers you must endure, and what you may avoid. These things I may not speak, but you shall hear them from her. And now depart in peace; and wherever you go, remember that you are a son of Troy, and make the Trojan name to be great under heaven."

Then the prophet told his people to bring gifts for his departing friends, gold, and carvings of ivory, and caldrons, and a coat of chain mail, and a helmet with a plume, which Pyrrhus himself had worn. Horses also he gave, and tackling for the ships, and arms for the men. Also he gave Æneas guides who knew the way. And he bade them all a kind farewell, especially the old man Anchises, as one whom he should not see again. Andromaché also came, bringing a Phrygian cloak for Ascanius, and other fine things for him to wear. And she said to the boy: "Take these things to show that she who was once Hector's wife loves you well. Yes, for you are the very image of my own dear boy, whom they killed so cruelly. Your eyes and face and hands are like his, and indeed, if he were alive, he would be of the same age as you." Then Æneas bade them farewell: "Happy you," he said, "whose wanderings are finished, who have found your rest. You have no seas to cross; you have not to seek this land of Italy, which seems to fly before us, as we follow it. You have another Troy here before your eyes. Farewell, and know that if ever I come to this land of Italy, there shall be friendship between you and me, and between your children and my children forever."

After this they sailed away. And when it was night, they drew their ships to land, and slept upon the shore, but at midnight the chief pilot, whose name was Palinurus, roused himself and looked up at the sky, and took a note of the weather. And when he saw that the stars were bright, the Great Bear and the Little Bear, and Orion, with his belt of gold, he thought to himself: "These these are signs of fair weather; we will not lose the time." So he blew the trumpet which was a signal for starting. And all the men awoke and launched their ships. Through the darkness they rowed, and when the morning was growing red in the east, they looked, and behold! there was a land with hills to be seen far away, and a shore lying low. Then the old man Anchises cried, "This is the land of Italy." And he filled a great golden cup with wine, and standing on the stern poured it out, saying: "Gods of the sea and of the land, give us fair winds and an easy journey."

But when they came so near that they could see what was on the shore, the old man looked again, and saw four white horses, and he said: "What the prophet said was true. This is a land of enemies; for a horse is a sign of war; still, because horses may be trained to obey and to bear the bit, we will hope that after war there will be peace."

Then the Trojans trimmed their sails, and bore to the right, that is westward, lest some enemy should set upon them, for they knew that there were Greeks in the land. After a while they came to the place of which Helenus had told them. And when Anchises heard the roaring of the sea and saw how the waves seemed to rise up to the very sky, he said: "Here is Scylla, and here is Charybdis. Row, my comrades, row with all your might." This they did, and Palinurus, the pilot, being in the foremost ship, steered to the left, and all the other ships followed him. And the sailors rowed as hard as they could, and at last, as the sun was setting, they came to a quiet harbour, well sheltered from the sea. Into this they brought their ships, and would have rested during the night. But Mount Ætna was close by, and from it there came, without ceasing, thunders, and clouds of smoke, and showers of stones, and a great flood of melted rocks. The story is that a great giant lies under the mountain. He rebelled against Jupiter, and Jupiter laid him under the mountain as a punishment. And when he is tired of lying on one side, they say, he turns to the other, and the whole land is shaken. But the Trojans knew nothing of the matter, and they lay trembling all the night.

In the morning they saw some one coming to them out of the wood which was close by. He was a most miserable creature to look at; his clothes were nothing but rags, fastened together with thorns, and he seemed to be half dying of hunger. They knew, when they saw him, that he was a Greek, and he knew them to be Trojans. For a little time he stood, as if he would have run away; but then ran as fast as he could, and threw himself on his knees, crying out: "Men of Troy, I pray you by the stars and by the gods, and by the air which you breathe, take me away from this dreadful place. Take me whither you choose; or, if you will, drown me in the sea. I confess that I am a Greek; I confess that I fought against Troy. If I must die, let me at least die by the hands of men."

And he caught hold of Æneas by the knees. And Æneas said: "Who are you? how come you to be in this plight?"

Thy man answered: "I am a man of Ithaca, and I went to the war against Troy with Ulysses. And as we were going home, we came to this land. And Ulysses wished to see who dwelt here. So he took twelve of his men, of whom I was one. We came to a great cave, and found that it was the home of a shepherd. And Ulysses said: 'It is a rich shepherd that lives here; let us stay till he comes; maybe he will give us something.' But when he came, lo! he was a dreadful, man-eating giant. He shut us up in the cave, and devoured two of us that night, and two the next morning, and two again for his supper. But after his supper Ulysses gave him wine to drink, and made him tipsy; and put out his eye—he had one only in the middle of his forehead—as he lay asleep. The next day the others escaped, but I was left. And now I say, fly as soon as you can from this place; for this monster, indeed, may not harm you, for he is blind, but there are a hundred others, as big as he and as cruel, who live in this land. Flee, therefore, I say, and either kill me or take me with you." While he was speaking the Cyclops, that is to say, Round Eye, came in sight, with his flocks following him. He was a horrible creature to behold, very big and shapeless and blind. He came down to the sea, and waded out, and though he went many yards from the shore, yet the waves did not come up to his middle, and he washed the place where his eye had been, grinding his teeth the while. Then the Trojans, taking the Greek on board, pushed off from the land, and the monster heard the sound of their rowing, and shouted aloud to his fellows. They hurried down to the shore, and the Trojans saw them stand, tall as a grove of oaks or cypresses. Then, by favour of the gods, a north wind blew and carried them away, and they sailed on till they came to the southernmost part of the island, and after that to a place which men call Drepănum, that is to say, the reaping hook, for the harbour is of the shape of such a hook. There the old man Anchises died and was buried.