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SECOND BOOK OF VIRGIL's ÆNEIS.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1636.
The Argument. THE first book speaks of Aeneas' voyage by sea, and how, being cast by
tempest upon the coast of Carthage, he was received by Queen Dido, who, after the feast, desires him to make the relation of the destruction of Troy; which is the Argument of this book.
While all with silence and attention wait,
Thus speaks Æneas from the bed of state.
Madam, when you command us to review
Our fate, you make our old wounds bleed anew,
And all those sorrows to my sense restore 5
Whereof none saw so much, none suffer'd more.
Not the most cruel of our conqu’ring foes
So unconcern’dly can relate our woes
As not to lend a tear ; then how can I
Repress the horror of my thoughts, which fly
The sad remembrance ? Now th' expiring night
And the declining stars to rest invite?
Yet since 'tis your command, what you so well
Are pleas’d to hear I cannot grieve to tell.
By Fate repell’d, and with repulses tir’d, 15
The Greeks, so many lives and years expir'd,
A fabric like a moving mountain frame,
Pretending vows for their return : this Fame
Divulges : then within the beast's vast womb
The choice and flower of all their troops entomb. 20
In view the isle of Tenedos, once high
In fame and wealth, while Troy remain d, doth lie;
(Now but an unsecure and open bay)
Thither, by stealth, the Greeks their fleet convey.
and to Mycenæ saild,
And Troy reviv’d, her mourning face unvail'd ;
All thro' th'unguarded gates with joy resort
To see the slighted camp, the vacant port.
Here lay Ulysses, there Achilles ; here
The battles join'd; the Grecian fleet rode there; 30
But the vast pile th’amazed vulgar views,
Till they their reason in their wonder lose.
And first Thymætes moves (urg'd by the power
Of fate or fraud) to place it in the tower;
But Capys and the graver sort thought fit 35
The Greeks' suspected present to commit
To seas or flames, at least to search and bore
The sides, and what that space contains t'explore.
The uncertain multitude with both engag'd,
Divided stands, till from the tower, enrag'd 40
Laocoon ran, whom all the crowd attends,
Crying, What desp’rate frenzy's this, (oh, friends!)
To think them gone ? Judge rather their retreat
But a design ; their gift's but a deceit:
For our destruction 'twas contriv'd no doubt, 45
Or from within by fraud, or from without
By force. Yet know ye not Ulysses' shifts ?
Their swords less danger carry than their gifts.
(This said) against the horse's side his spear
He throws, which trembles with inclosed fear, 50
Whilst from the hollows of his womb proceed
Groans not his own ; and had not Fate decreed
Our ruin, we had fill'd with Grecian blood
The place; then Troy and Priam's throne had stood.
Mean-while a fetter'd pris'ner to the king 55
With joyful shouts the Dardan shepherds bring,
Who to betray us did himself betray,
At once the taker, and at once the prey ;
Firmly prepar'd, of one event secur’d,
Or of his death or his design assur'd.
The Trojan youth about the captive flock,
To wonder, or to pity, or to mock.
Now hear the Grecian fraud, and from this one
Conjecture all the rest.
Disarm’d, disorder'd, casting round his eyes 65
On all the troops that guarded him, he cries,
“What land, what sea, for me what fate attends ?
Caught by my foes, condemned by my friends,
Incensed Troy a wretched captive seeks
To sacrifice; a fugitive the Greeks.”
To pity this complaint our former rage
Converts; we now enquire his parentage;
What of their counsels or affairs he knew ?
Then fearless he replies, “ Great King ! to you
All truth I shall relate : nor first can I
Myself to be of Grecian birth deny;
And tho' my outward state misfortune hath
Depress’d thus low, it cannot reach my faith.
You may by chance have heard the famous name
Of Palamede, who from old Belus came, 80
Whom, but for voting peace, the Greeks pursue,
Accus'd unjustly, then unjustly slew, .
Yet mourn’d his death. My father was his friend,
And me to his commands did recommend,
While laws and councils did his throne support; 85
I but a youth, yet some esteem and port
We then did bear, till by Ulysses' craft
(Things known I speak) he was of life bereft:
Since in dark sorrow I my days did spend,
Till now, disdaining his unworthy end, 90
I could not silence my complaints, but vow'd
Revenge, if ever fate or chance allow'd
My wish'd return to Greece; from hence his hate,
From thence, my crimes, and all my ills, bear date:
Old guilt fresh malice gives; the people's ears
He fills with rumours, and their hearts with fears,
And then the prophet to his party drew.
But why do I these thankless truths pursuc,
Or why defer your rage? on me for all
The Greeks let your revenging fury fall.
Ulysses this, th’ Atridæ this desire
At any rate." We straight are set on fire
(Unpractis’d in such mysteries) to inquire
The manner and the cause, which thus he told,
With gestures humble, as his tale was bold. 105
“ Oft have the Greeks (the siege detesting) tir'd
With tedious war, a stol’n retreat desir’d,
And would to Heav'n they ’ad gone, but still dis-
By seas or skies, unwillingly they stay’d. [may'd
Chiefly when this stupendous pile was rais’d 110
Strange noises fill'd the air ; we, all amaz’d,
Dispatch Eurypylus t'inquire our fates,
Who thus the sentence of the gods relates ;
“A virgin's slaughter did the storm appease,
6 When first t'wards Troy the Grecians took the
• Their safe retreat another Grecian's blood 116
“ Must purchase.” All at this confounded stood;
Each thinks himself the man, the fear on all
Of what the mischief but on one can fall :
Then Calchas (by Ulysses first inspir’d)
Was urg'd to name whom th' angry gods requir'd;
Yet was I warn’d, (for many were as well
Inspir'd as he) and did my fate foretell.
Ten days the prophet in suspense remainid,
Would no man's fate pronounce; at last constrain’d