Aeneidos liber IV

The queen, now struck by severe breathlessness, feeds the wound in her veins and is inflamed by a blind fire. Several times she recalls in her mind the strength of the hero and his noble lineage; in her heart, she carries indissolubly his face and words, and due to the anguish of love, she does not grant her limbs peaceful rest.

The following dawn illuminated the fields with the rays of the sun, and it had dispelled the dewy shadow from the sky when Dido, due to the agony of love, thus addressed her faithful sister: “Anna, my sister, what keeps me awake and restless? Who is this exceptional guest who arrived at our door? Have you ever seen such a lovely face, such vigorous limbs, and such bold weapons? I truly believe that he is of divine lineage: fear unmasks the cowardly hearts. Ah, what fates pursue him! What ruinous wars he recounts! If only I didn't have a resolute determination in my heart not to marry anyone, after the first love betrayed me with death, if only I didn't feel the disgust of a new nuptial bed, perhaps I could have surrendered to this one negligence. Anna, I cannot deny that after the tragic fate of my husband Sicheo and after the murder of my brother, he alone has softened my feelings and touched my hesitant heart.

I recognize in myself the signs of the ancient flame.

However, I would prefer that the earth should first open beneath my feet or that Jupiter should sink me with a thunderbolt into the Underworld, among the pale shadows of the realm of the dead and the darkness, before I break my oath. Sychaeus, who first joined me, took my endearment and he keeps them in the grave.” Thus she spoke, and suddenly the tears flowed and filled her lap.

Anna replied, "My beloved sister, will you spend your youth alone and in sadness? Do you not desire to experience the sweetness of children and the gifts of Venus? Do you think that is the desire of the ashes of Sychaeus? Once, no man bowed your sorrowful heart, neither in Tyre nor in Libya: Iarbas was rejected, and so the other princes whom Africa, the land of triumphs, made mighty; will you also reject a beloved love? Don’t you remember which lands you inhabit? On one side there are Getulian cities, men invincible in war, and the indomitable Numidians surrounding us; on the other, a barren region and the Barcian raiders. Should I not mention the tensions with Tyre?

I believe that the gods and the benevolent Juno pushed the Trojan ships on this course with the wind. What city you will see arise, sister, and what kingdoms from this union! With the weapons of the Trojans, Punic glory will rise! In the meantime, seek forgiveness from the gods, celebrate the rituals, offer hospitality to the Trojans, and find reasons to hold them while winter rages on the sea, the boats are shaken, and the sky is rebellious."

With her words Anna inflamed the already passionate soul, conferred hope to the hesitating sister and drove away the reluctance. First they visited the temples and asked for peace at the altars. According to the ritual, they sacrificed selected lambs to the lawgiver Ceres, the phoebus Apollo, Bacchus (who unties the knots) and especially Juno, who watches over the marital bonds. Then the beautiful Dido, holding the chalice in her right hand, poured libations between the horns of a white heifer and, in the presence of the statues of the gods, moved back and forth between the richly adorned altars, repeating the votive offerings several times and asking for anticipation of the quivering entrails, with the animals' chests torn open.

Oh, the ignorant spirit of the seers! What good do vows and temples do to a lover?

Meanwhile, the flame spreads in the tender marrow, and the wound in the heart burns silently. Dido burns, and throughout the city she wanders in love madness, like a fawn struck by a winged arrow shot by an unsuspecting shepherd hunting with arrows in the Cretan forests: she flees through the woods and over the peaks of Mount Dicte, and the deadly arrow lodges in her side.

In the meantime, she leads Aeneas through the city and shows him the Sidonian estates and the city she is building; she begins to speak, but in mid-sentence she pauses, and as the sun sets she organises the same banquets and asks to hear again of the fall of Troy, never satisfied, and again she hangs on Aeneas' every word. Then, as they part, the moon losing its lustre and the falling stars inviting the sweetness of sleep, she lies agonised on the abandoned carpets, alone in the empty palace. She sees him and feels him, even if he is far away, or she holds Ascanius in her embrace, enraptured by his resemblance to the father, as if one could ever deceive the ineffable love.

The inaugurated towers are not completed, the youths do not practise with weapons, and they do not build safe harbours or strong fortresses for war. The unfinished works and the battlements of the walls remain unbuilt and the scaffolds rise to the sky.

But when the beloved wife of Jupiter learned that Dido was possessed by such a plague and that her reputation did not prevent the excesses of love, Juno accused Venus with these words: "You and your protégé, you truly deserve enormous power, great spoils and everlasting fame if a woman has been ensnared by two gods through deceit! And indeed, I do not deceive myself that you admired the towering palaces of Carthage out of fear of our walls. But what will be the rule now, and what will we do with the rule now? Or why, in such a great conflict, do we not rather engage in eternal peace and marriage? You have what you desired with all your heart: Dido burns for love, and love's madness has reached her every bone. Let it be, then, that we lead Trojan and Carthaginian with shared authority; let it be that Dido takes the Trojan as her husband, and let it be that she entrusts you with Tyre as dowry."

Venus understood that Juno had spoken with a scheming mind, trying to shift the power of Italy to the Libyan shores, so she promptly replied, "Who would be so foolish as to refuse? Or who would want to enter into an open contention with you? If only fate would favour the event you mention, but we move uncertain of destinies. If only Jupiter wished that there should be a city for the Tyrians and the Trojan refugees, and approved that the lineages combine and unite in an alliance. You, as his wife, can deflect his intentions with flattery. Show me the way, and I will follow you."

Then the divine Juno spoke again, "I take on this task, and now I will shortly reveal to you how what we are planning may finally come to pass. Listen: Enea and hapless Dido are getting ready to go hunting in the woods as soon as tomorrow's sun shows its first bright glow and has illuminated the land with its rays. At that moment I will draw a hailstorm cloud over them, while the beaters go hunting through the forest, and I will shake the whole firmament with thunder. The companion will flee and seek shelter in the dark shadows of the clouds, but Dido and the Trojan prince will seek refuge in the same cave. I will be there, and with your consent I will unite them by a strong bond and make her his: there, Hymen will join us." Venus nodded, without resisting the proposal, and laughed at the cunning plan.

Meanwhile, as dawn rose and left the sea, the sturdiest young men left their homes with the first rays of the sun. Equipped with wide-meshed nets, snares and heavy iron-shod spears, the Massylian horsemen and the sharp-nosed dogs gathered. The Phoenician princes wait at the threshold for the queen, who lingers in her chambers. Her horse is magnificent, adorned with purple and gold, and bites impatiently at the bit. Finally, she steps out and draws a large crowd around her. She is wrapped in a cloak with embroidered hem, and carries a golden quiver, her hair is adorned with gold and a golden buckle closes her purple robe. The companions from Phrygia and Iulus advance, smiling, and Eneas, more glorious than all the others, also presents himself as a companion and joins the hunting party.

Like Apollo, who leaves Lycia in winter and returns to his native Delos, holding dances and feasts, Eneas leads the Cretans, the Driotes, and the painted Agathyrs who gather around the altars. The god walks on the peaks of Mount Cynthus, fixing his flowing hair with pliable branches, caressing them and wrapping them with gold, and simmering arrows on his shoulders. With no less grace, Eneas strides ahead, his noble appearance radiating beauty.

When they reach the high mountains and inaccessible places, wild goats leap down from the rocks and run along the ridges. On the other side, stags race across open plains, creating clouds of dust as they move away from the mountains. Meanwhile, little Ascanius on his fierce horse enjoys riding through the valleys. Galloping, he overtakes one after another, hoping with all his might that a foaming boar will appear among the harmless animals or that a tawny lion will descend from the mountain.

In the meantime the sky begins to rumble with a loud roar and a hail-bearing cloud approaches. Thereupon the Tyrian companions, the Trojan youth and the Dardanian descendant of Venus seek various shelters in the fields. Torrents of water pour down from the mountains. Dido and the Trojan prince find themselves in the same cave. First, Gea and Juno, the goddess of marriage, give the signal: thunder sounds and the sky witnesses their union, while the nymphs wail on the mountaintops.

That day was the beginning of her downfall and the main cause of her misfortune. Dido is not held back by reputation, nor does she think of a hidden love. She calls it marriage and uses this name to hide her guilt.

Immediately Rumor spreads throughout the great Libyan cities, and the gossip gains strength and credibility as it is passed from mouth to mouth: insignificant at first suspicion, he soon takes to the skies and moves toward earth while hiding his head among the clouds. Enraged by the gods, some say, Mother Earth gave birth to Rumor, the last sister of Coeus and Enceladus, with swift feet and light wings. She is a monstrous, enormous creature with as many watchful eyes as there are feathers on her body, and incredibly, as many tongues as there are mouths that echo, and as many erect ears. He flies between heaven and earth at night and does not close her eyes for sweet sleep. During the day he keeps watch on the rooftops or high towers and terrifies great cities: a persistent herald of entangled lies and not of truth.

Thus she filled the people with much gossip and, enjoying equally, sang truth and falsehood. He spread rumours that Aeneas, the son of the Trojan race, had arrived at Carthage and that the beautiful Dido had found him worthy to join her. It was said that they were now warming each other in luxury in winter and neglecting their political duties, bound by a shameful passion. The goddess spreads these lies far and wide in the minds of men. Soon she directs his steps to King Iarbas, inflames his soul with these rumours and stirs up his enmity.

Iarbas, born of Ammon and the ravished nymph Garamantide, had built in his boundless empire a hundred massive temples to Jupiter, plus a hundred altars. He consecrated to the god the fireplace, the temple guards, the ground soaked with the blood of the sacrifices and the gates decorated with various garlands. Full of malice and inflamed by bitter gossip, he is said to have prayed fervently to Jupiter before the altars amid incense offerings, imploring with uplifted hands: "Almighty Jupiter, whose people of Mauritania now offer wine on elegant cushions at banquets, do you see us? Perhaps we fear you in vain when you, Father, release your lightning. Perhaps this lightning, emptied among the clouds by the divine will, only frightens our souls and produces a harmless rumbling. The same woman who fled here and built a small city within our borders with the money I gave her, to whom I granted land to cultivate and the right to a place, rejected my marriage proposals and welcomed Aeneas as king in her kingdom. And now that Eneas has fraudulently risen to power with his effeminate court, his face wrapped in a Lydian turban, and his sweaty hair, do we truly bring offerings to your temples and practise empty rites?"

The Almighty heard the prayer thus uttered and turned his gaze upon the palace of Carthage and the lovers who had forgotten their duties. Then he summoned Mercury and charged him with this task: "Go, my son, hasten, invoke the west winds and descend swiftly. Speak to the Trojan prince who now awaits in Tyrian Carthage and has forgotten the cities destined by fate. Bring back my words quickly. His glorious mother protected him for other reasons, and now she shields him for the second time from the Greek arms. But let him rule over Italy, a land pregnant with powers and trembling with war, where he will establish the lineage born of the noble blood of Teucer and bring all nations under his rule. If the glory of such great undertakings does not inflame his spirit and the sense of honour does not drive him to work, would he as a father refuse the Roman citadels to Ascanius? What is he thinking of? With what hope does he live among hostile peoples and not look to the Ausonian progeny and the fields of Latium? Prepare the ships. This is my command."

Thus he spoke, and Mercury was ready to obey his father's command. First, he fastened the golden sandals to his feet, which, winged, could carry him like a swift breeze through the clouds, over the sea or land. Then he took his staff, with which he could summon pale souls from the underworld or push others down into the grey Tartarus, he could induce sleep and dispel it, open and close the eyes of the dead. With this wand, he also governed the winds and penetrated the darkest clouds.

In flight, he now saw the summit and steep slopes of the mountainous Atlas, whose peak towered above the sky and whose pine-clad head was often encircled by dark clouds and buffeted by wind and rain. Melting snow covered his shoulders, and waterfalls fell from the chin of the old man, whose beard was frozen by ice. Here first landed the Cyllenian Mercury with his matching wings shining brilliantly. Then he plunged headlong into the sea, much like a bird gliding over the beaches and around the fish-rich cliffs, almost touching the surface of the water. Similarly, the son of Cyllene flew between heaven and earth and set course for the sandy shores of Libya, cutting through the air.

As soon as he touched the ground with his winged feet, he discovered Aeneas building walls and new dwellings. Aeneas wore a sword with a red jasper hilt and a cloak of Tyrian purple sparkling on his shoulders, both gifts from the rich Dido, who had adorned the fabric with delicate gold threads.

Immediately Mercury reproaches him: "You are now laying a solid foundation for Carthage and building a fabulous city for your wife, but unfortunately you have forgotten your kingdom and your duties! The king of the gods himself, the one that rules heaven and earth with thunderbolt, sends me from shining Olympus and orders me to deliver these orders to you through the swift air. What do you intend to do? With what hopes do you linger idly in Libya? If the glory of great deeds does not excite you, and you are not willing to undertake the effort for your honour, consider Ascanius growing up, the hopes of your heir Iulus, to whom a throne in Italy and the Roman territories are reserved." After speaking in mortal guise, the Cyllenian messenger sheds his human appearance in the midst of his speech and vanishes from sight into thin air.

But Aeneas, madly in love, visibly pales, his hair stands on end, and his voice falters in his throat. He desires to leave the sweet lands, troubled by the warning and the divine command. What to do now? With what words dare he explain himself to the enamoured queen? How to begin the conversation? Now he turns his attention here, now there, and directs it in every direction. The decision that seemed preferable to him was this: he would summon Mnestheus, Sergestus, and strong Cloanthus, and instruct them to prepare the ships in a hidden place, gather the companions on the beach, obtain weapons, and conceal the true cause behind the change of plans. As for himself, since excellent Dido neither knows nor imagines that such love is about to break, he would attempt the most tender ways and times to discuss the most appropriate means of settling these matters. Everyone appears pleased and promptly obeys the command.

But the queen suspects the deception (who can ever deceive a lover?) and anticipates future events and fears any certainty. The vile Rumour tells the enamoured queen that the fleet is armed and the course set. Bitterness germinates in her heart, and deliriously she roams the whole city, excited as a Bacchant when the rites begin. She is goaded by the triennial orgies and summoned at night by the cries of Mount Cithaeron. Finally, of her own accord, she confronts Aeneas with these words, "Did you hope to conceal so heinous a sacrilege, you devious one, and leave my country? Does our love mean nothing to you, the right hand I once granted you, and I, Dido, destined for a cruel and violent death? And yet, even in the winter sky, you prepare your ships and are glad to leave the land amid the winds, you wicked man? If you were not sailing to foreign lands and unknown palaces, if ancient Troy were still standing, would you sail across the stormy sea to Troy? Are you fleeing from me? Because of these tears and your right hand (now, wretched me, nothing else remains), because of our union, our blossoming marriage, and if I ever deserved any kindness from you or if there was any tenderness between us, have pity on this fated city and, I beg you, if there is still room in your heart for prayers, change your plan. Because of you the Libyan people and the nomad kings hate me; the Tyrians are against me. Only because of you I abandoned my restraint, and even before that my honour, for which alone I reached for the stars.

To whom do you leave me now, dying, o guest (this name is all I have left of a husband)? What fate awaits me? That my brother Pygmalion will destroy my city? Or that the Getulian Iarbas will hold me as a prisoner? If only a child of yours had been born to me before your departure a little Aeneas who played in the palace and whose face reminded me of you, I wouldn't feel entirely abandoned and forsaken."

She had spoken thus, and Aeneas kept his eyes unmoving due to Jupiter's orders, and he could hardly restrain the pain in his heart. At last he speaks, "I will never deny your merits, o queen, more than can be counted, nor will the memory of Elissa ever trouble me as long as I can control myself, as long as my mind holds these bones. Of what has happened I will say little: I never hoped to conceal my departure by deception, believe me, nor did I ever fly to a wedding or make such arrangements. If fate allowed me to live according to my wishes and put aside my worries, I would take care of the city of Troy and honour the ashes of my loved ones, the high towers of Priam's city would have remained intact, or with my own hands I would rebuild a new Pergamum for the defeated. But now the grinning Apollo and the Lycian oracles order me to reach Italy; that is my desire, that is my home.

O Phoenician, who is terrified at the sight of a Libyan city or the walls of Carthage, why do you reject the Trojans settling on Ausonian land? It is fate that we also seek foreign kingdoms. When the night covered the damp earth with shadows and the twinkling stars showed themselves, my father Anchises warned me in a dream, and a blurred image terrified me: I was depriving young Ascanius of the kingdom and the fields that fate has promised in Hesperia, and the injustice was written on the face of my beloved son. Now, I swear by the gods, even the messenger of the gods was sent by Jupiter himself through the fine air to deliver new orders. I saw with my own eyes how the god enveloped in clear light entered the room, and a voice reached my ears.

Stop inflaming yourselves and me with your requests; I do not seek Italy for my own desire."

As he spoke, she stared at him with a grim look, moving her eyes back and forth, eyeing him from head to foot with an inscrutable and furious gaze. Then she blurted out, "No goddess gave birth to you, not even the Dardanian ancestor, you traitor! You were formed from the jagged stones of the harsh Caucasus, and Ircanian tigers nursed you. What am I fooling myself for? For what future do I keep myself? Did he lament my weeping or bat an eyelash? Did he shed tears or pity the beloved? Well, not even the divine Juno or Jupiter view this matter favourably. There is no more genuine loyalty on earth. I have taken you in as a shipwrecked man on the shore and in need, foolishly shared my kingdom with you, and restored your broken ships and dying companions. O foolish me, blindly dragged by passion! Now the prophet Apollo, now the Lycian soothsayers, and now even the messenger of the gods sent by Jupiter carry terrible commands through the air. Undoubtedly, this is the punishment of the gods, such punishment befalls the humble. I do not hold you back, nor do I deny your words; go, pursue Italy with your sails, seek kingdoms amid the waves.

If the gods can do anything, may you pay the price among the cliffs and invoke the name of Dido many times. Even in your absence, I will haunt you with dark curses, and when a cold death separates your body from your soul, I will be everywhere, in the form of a shadow, and you, villain, will pay for your crimes. I will know about it, even in the darkest depths of the underworld this message will reach me."

With these words she abruptly ends the conversation and, tormented, shuns the sunlight. She turns away from his sight, leaving him deeply shaken, about to speak. The maids support the queen, lead her back to her marble chamber and lay her exhausted limbs on the pillows.

But the pious Aeneas wishes to soothe her sorrow, to comfort her, and to lighten the burden of her heart with sweet words, but he is torn by many sobs and crushed by the love in his soul. Nevertheless, he obeys the orders of the gods and returns to take care of the fleet. The Trojans are indeed industrious, and from the shore they push the splendid ships into the sea; the hulls, smeared with pitch, touch the waves, and logs with leafy branches and misshapen trees are brought from the forests to escape them. They would be seen rushing all over the city, like ants raiding a large supply of spelt and carrying it all back to their anthill to prepare for winter. The black army moves through the fields, hauling their loot up a narrow hill; some carry huge grains on their shoulders and others direct the line and scold the sluggards: The whole street is bustling with activity.

What feelings came over you, Dido, when you observed such goings-on? What sigh did you let out when, from the top of the palace, you saw the beaches swarming everywhere, and when you saw the sea agitated by such turmoil? Iniquitous love, how far do you drive the hearts of mortals? Once again she is forced to run in tears, once again to go as a supplicant and try to bend stubbornness with prayers, so that in her dying state she leaves no stone unturned.

"Anna, do you see him hurrying along the beach and his companions rushing from all directions? The sails are already calling for the breeze, and the merry sailors have decked the sterns. If I could hope for so much pain, I can bear it too, my sister. For me, wretched as I am, Anna, fulfill only this task: this faithless man has honored only you, confided even his secret feelings to you; you alone know a man's tender ways and opportune moments. Go, sister, and speak like a suppliant to the proud enemy. I have not sworn with the Greeks in Aulis to exterminate the Trojan people, nor have I sent the fleet to Pergamum, nor have I profaned the ashes or soul of father Anchises. Why does he refuse to soften his heart to my words? Where is he hurrying off to? Let him grant his beloved this last favor, let him wait for the winds to ease his departure. I no longer ask for the old marriage bond he has repudiated, nor that he stay away from fertile Latium, nor that he forgets his kingdom. I pray for a neutral time, a respite and rest from the fury of love, until suffering has dug a furrow in my beaten heart. This last mercy I implore, have pity on your sister, and whatever you return to me I will repay you multiplied."

With the same words the unfortunate Anna implores him with many tears, but he is not moved by her weeping and does not listen to a word with a benevolent spirit. Fate prevents it, and a god closes the ears of the calm hero.

As when the alpine winds vie with each other to uproot a gnarled and sturdy oak from all sides with their breath, it creaks, and its high branches cover the ground when the trunk is shaken; the tree clings to the rocks, and as much as it stretches its branches to the ethereal sky, it anchors its roots in the underworld. Similarly, the hero is tossed to and from by ceaseless struggles, and in his great heart he foresees tragedy: his resolve remains steadfast, but a stream of tears flows in vain.

At this moment Dido, deeply disappointed and defeated by fate, actually longs for death. The sight of the vaulted sky troubles her. To further strengthen her resolve to leave the light, while preparing the offerings on the smoking incense altars, she frighteningly witnesses the sacrificial milk turning black and the poured wine turning into unholy blood. She keeps this vision to herself and does not even share it with her beloved sister.

Furthermore, in the palace there was a marble shrine dedicated to her deceased husband, whom she revered with great honours and decorated with white jewels and festive garlands. Here she seemed to hear her husband's voices and words calling her, while the long shadows gripped the land and a lone owl kept intoning a death song from the rooftops, turning her plaintive call into a wail. Many terrible prophecies of ancient haruspices also haunt them with dreadful warnings. Even Enea, the beloved, torments her in a cruel dream, and she sees herself always alone, always on a long road without company, searching for Tyrians in the desert.

Like Penteo, who was out of his mind observing the ranks of the Eumenides and saw two suns and two Thebes, or like Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, who is portrayed in theater plays and flees while he sees his mother armed with torches and black serpents and the avenging Furies waiting for him at the threshold. So when, driven mad by disappointment, she embraced the despair in her heart and surrendered to death, she weighed the time and the methods. Then turning to her sorrowful sister, she hid her intention from her face and let hope shine on her face.

"Sister, I have found a way that will bring him back to me or free me from him. Rejoice, my sister, there is a place at the end of the ocean where the sun sets, where the enormous Atlas, bearing the sky and the burning stars on his shoulders, revolves them. There I was introduced to a priestess of the Massili people, the guardian of the temple of the Hesperides, the nurse of the dragon and the keeper of the golden apples. This priestess, who mixes moist honey and sleep-inducing poppies, promises to unravel the concerns and even to transfer burdensome worries to others, to stop the course of the rivers and reverse the movement of the stars; she also knows how to summon the dead. You will see the earth tremble beneath your feet and ash trees fall from the mountains. I swear by the gods, by you, and by your sweet face, beloved sister, that I reluctantly prepare for the spell. Secretly build a funeral pyre in the atrium of the palace, in the open air; place on it the arms of the man who deceitfully left them hanging over the marriage bed, his clothes and the nuptial bed for which I ruined myself. It is proper to erase every memory of the faithless man, and the priestess commands it."

At these words she falls silent, and her face becomes ashen, but Anna does not know that her sister is hiding death in the midst of the vicious rituals, nor does she fear that anything worse than the death of Sicheo will happen. Thus, she acts as requested. After building a funeral pyre of pine and holly branches in a hidden forecourt, the queen decorates the place with garlands and crowns the pyre with a funeral pile; on it she places the clothes, the forgotten sword and a portrait of her beloved, knowing well what is to come. Surrounded by altars, the sorceress, after loosening her hair three hundred times, invokes the gods Erebus and Chaos, the triple Hecate and the three faces of the virgin Diana. She had also poured water to simulate the springs of the underworld and searched for herbs swollen with milk and black poison, harvested under the moon with bronze sickles. She even searched for the flesh torn from the forehead of a newborn foal that had been removed from its mother's care. The queen herself, with votive flour and folded hands, barefoot and in loose clothing before the altars devoted to death, invokes the gods and the stars, conscious of the fates. Then she asks for help if any power, just or evil, cares for the unjustly betrayed lovers.

It was night, and among the nations the weary bodies found rest; even the cruel forests and seas were quiet. In the middle of the night, while all the fields were silent, the flocks and the colourful birds rested, whether by clear lakes or in the fields of thorny bushes, and dreamed in the still night, soothed their sorrows, and hearts forgot their labours. But the Phoenician woman, wretched at heart, did not surrender to dreams and did not embrace sleep in her eyes or her heart. Her pain intensified, and when she rose again, her love flared up, and in her great rage she faltered. So she remained within herself, brooding in her heart, "Oh, what shall I do? Shall I face the old suitors humiliated again? Shall I seek marriage with the Nomads, those men I have so long rejected? Shall I follow the Trojan ships and the orders of the Trojans? What good would it do to make myself the servant of the departing Trojans? Is it proper to feel gratitude for an ancient favor? I admit that I long for it, but who will come forward, who will be willing to receive me, stripped of my dignity, on their splendid ships? Ah, you do not understand, you wicked woman, you do not grasp the deceit of the Trojans! What then? Shall I flee alone, accompanied by jubilant sailors, or shall I be surrounded by all the Tyrians and pursue them? And how many could I just kidnap from Sidon, only to lead them back to sea and order them to set sail to the four winds? Die rather as you deserve: draw out the pain with the sword. You, sister, burdened by my tears, were the first to intensify that pain, foolishly handing me over to an enemy seized with love. Would it not have been possible to live without guilt like an animal, free from the marriage bed, and not even touch these sorrows? Not even the oath I made on the ashes of Sicheo remains." She pondered such lamentations in her heart.

Aeneas, who was on the high stern and was now certain to depart, fell asleep after making the vow. In his dream there appeared to him the image of the returned god, who in voice, color, blond hair, and the shining limbs of youth was quite like Mercury. And again it seemed to warn him thus: 'Son of a goddess, how can you fall asleep under these circumstances? Foolish one, do you not perceive the dangers that surround you? Do you not feel the favorable winds that blow? Dido is plotting a deception and a terrible murder in her heart, she's certain of death and seething in a sea of hatred. Why don't you run away as fast as you can? You'll see the horizon full of ships glowing in ominous flames, the shores full of funeral pyres, if only dawn finds you waiting on these lands. Delay no longer, go quickly: a woman is always fickle and treacherous.' Having spoken, the god withdrew into the night.

Then Aeneas, startled by the approaching shadows, roused himself from sleep and awoke his companions. "Pay attention, men: take your places at the oars and quickly hoist the sails. A god sent from heaven bids us to hasten our flight and weigh anchor. Let us obey, dear gods, and once more joyfully we obey the command. Assist us, benevolent youth, and bring us propitious stars from heaven." No sooner had he spoken than he drew his sword from its sheath, and with the weapon in his hand he cut the anchors. All were seized with similar zeal and ran away: they left the shores. The sea broke under the keels and the sailors laboriously broke through the waves and plowed through the blue.

Now the dawn spread its first light over the lands, leaving behind the saffron sea. When the queen saw the dawn and the ships on the sea, and noticed the empty coasts and harbours without sailors, she beat her breast twelve times and loosened her golden hair. "Oh Jupiter, will the strangers flee," she said, "and mock my kingdom? Will they not take up arms and follow him from all over the city? Will other men bring the ships from the harbours? Go, quickly bring torches, distribute the weapons, and set the oars in motion. Who am I talking to? Where are they? What madness drives out the reason? Unhappy Dido, is it now for you to commit sacrilege? Then it worked when you granted him the sceptre. Here is the fidelity and loyalty of one who claims to carry the Penates with him, who swears to have carried his old father on his shoulders!

Could I not have torn the lifeless body and scattered it over the waves, killed his companions and young Ascanius, and served him as food to his father? I would have brought the torches into the camp, set fire to the tents, and killed the father and the son along with their lineage: I would have thrown myself upon them.

Sun, who illuminates all the deeds on earth with your rays, and you, Juno, mediator and witness of these torments, Hecate, invoked in the cities in the nocturnal crossroads, avenging Furies and gods of the dying Elissa, listen, execute just vengeance on the wicked and fulfill my prayers. If fate wills that the infidel reaches a port and set foot on land, if Jupiter's will demands it, so be it; but may he be tormented by war and the weapons of a strong people, may he be driven away from his lands, may he be torn from the embrace of Iulus and may he beg for help. May he witness the death of many of his own, and may he not enjoy the kingdom or the desired light when he rests under the laws of unjust peace, but may he be quickly killed and buried under the sands of war.

I implore you, these last words I mix with blood. You, Tyrians, hate his progeny and all his future offspring and promise at my grave that there will never be friendship or a treaty between our peoples. From my bones shall arise an avenger who will pursue the Trojans with iron and fire; today, tomorrow, or whenever the time comes. I pray that our shores be enemies to their shores, the waves to their waves, the weapons to their weapons, may their descendants have to fight.”

Thus she spoke, and her mind turned in all directions to extinguish the unbearable light as quickly as possible. Then she called Barce, the nurse of Sychaeus (for her husband's remains were now ashes in Tyre): "Dear nurse, bring Anna to me for a moment; tell her to hasten and sprinkle the corpse with river water and bring the offerings provided. You cover my temples with sacred bands. My intention is to complete the rites for the infernal Jupiter, which I began to prepare properly, to put an end to my sufferings, and to consign the symbolic funeral pyre of a Trojan to the flames."

The queen hurried with the impatience typical of the elders. With bloodshot eyes, trembling and blotchy cheeks, pale because of impending death, she opened the doors of the house, mounted the funeral pyre in a frenzy, and seized the Trojan sword, a gift not intended for that purpose. Then, after contemplating the Trojan robes and the familiar marriage bed, she threw herself on the bed, slightly slowed down by tears and thoughts, and pronounced her last words: "Sweet limbs, I lived and fulfilled the path that fate assigned me; now I will go underground. I found a famous city, saw its walls, avenged my husband, and punished my hated brother: I would have been extraordinarily happy if only the Trojan ships had never touched my shores!"

Thus she spoke and suffocating her face with the pillows, she continued, "I shall die unavenged, but I shall die: the rest of the deads is so peaceful." Scarcely had she finished speaking when the women present saw her throw herself on the weapon, and the sword and her hands were stained with blood. A cry rises from the high palace, through the city in an uproar, and the rumour spreads. Through wailing, weeping, and screams, the city shakes; the sky resounds with groans, as if with the invasion of the enemies all Carthage or ancient Tyre were collapsing, and lambent flames were swallowing the roofs of men and gods. Breathless, Anna hears the rumours and runs through the city with trembling steps, scratching her face with her nails and beating her chest with her fists. Then she calls the dying woman by name: "Sister, is this what you are doing: betraying me with deceit? For this I have prepared the pyre, the logs and the altars for you? Forsaken, for whom shall I first mourn? Dying, do you reject your sister as a dying companion? Had you called me to the same fate with the same sword, we would have shared the same pain and the same hour. With my own hands I created the funeral pyre, did I perhaps pray to the gods to keep me away from you, traitor? You, sister, kill me, yourself, the people, the ancestors of Sidon and your own city. I will wash out your wounds with water, and if there is still a sigh, I will catch it with my lips."

With these words she ascended the high funeral pyre, embraced her sister's lap, sobbing, warmed her dying sister and dried the black blood with her cloak. The queen, trying to lift her heavy eyelids, faints again; the wound under her heart gives a painful groan. Three times she leans on her elbow and tries to rise from the bed, three times she falls back, and with wandering eyes she looks up to the sky to search for the sun and groans when she finds it.

Then the almighty Juno, pitying the lingering pain and agonizing death, sends Iris from Olympus to free the wretched soul and the entangled limbs. For she dies not by fate or an imposed death, but untimely, unhappy, and for the madness of love, Proserpina has not yet torn the golden fur from her head and condemned her to the Stygian underworld. Therefore, Iris flies into the sky with saffron wings, changing a thousand colours like the sun, and hovers over the head of the queen. "I bring this sacred fur to Dis and I free you from this body."

This she said, and with her right hand she tore open the fur; all warmth disappeared, and life scattered to the winds.