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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Curse of Queen Dido
By Virgil (70–19 B.C.)
 
        
From the ‘Æneid’: Translation of Sir Charles Bowen
  
  [Queen Dido, deserted by Æneas, curses him and his Roman posterity. She foreshadows the career of Hannibal.]

NOW from the saffron bed of Tithonus, morning again
Rises, and sprinkles with new-born light earth’s every plain,
Soon as the sleepless Queen, from her watch-towers set on the steep,
Saw day whiten, the vessels with squared sails plowing the deep,
Desolate shores and abandoned ports,—thrice beating her fair        5
Breasts with her hand, thrice rending her yellow tresses of hair—
“Father of earth and of heaven! and shall this stranger,” she cries,
“Wend on his treacherous way, flout Dido’s realm as he flies?
Leaps no sword from the scabbard? Is Tyre not yet on his trail?
None of ye warping the ships from the dock-yards, hoisting the sail?        10
Forth with the flame and the arrow! To sea, and belabor the main!
Ah, wild words! Is it Dido? Has madness troubled her brain?
Ah, too late, poor Dido! the sin comes home to thee now!
Then was the hour to consider, when thou wast crowning his brow.
Look ye!—The faith and the honor of him who still, as they say,        15
Carries on shipboard with him his Trojan gods on the way!
Bore on his shoulders his aged sire! Ah! had I not force
Limb from limb to have torn him, and piecemeal scattered his corse
Over the seas? his crews to have slain, and, banquet of joy,
Served on the father’s table the flesh of Iulus the boy?        20
Even were chance in the battle unequal,—death was at hand.
Whom had Dido to fear? I had borne to the vessels the brand,
Filled with flames each deck, each hold,—child, people, and sire
Whelmed in the blazing ruin, and flung myself on the pyre!
Sun, whose flaming torches reveal earth’s every deed;        25
Juno, witness of sad love’s pains, who knowest my need;
Name on the midnight causeways howled,—thou, Hecate dire;
Sister avengers, Genius of Dido, soon to expire,—
Gently receive her and give to her crying misery heed;
Listen and hear these prayers! If the heavens’ stern laws have decreed        30
Yon base soul shall find him a harbor, and float to the land;
Thus Jove’s destinies order, and so fate finally stand;—
Harassed in war by the spears of a daring people and wild,
Far from the land of his fathers and torn from the arms of his child,
May he in vain ask succor, and watch his Teucrian band        35
Dying a death untimely! and when this warrior proud
Under the hard conditions of peace his spirit has bowed,
Neither of monarch’s throne nor of sunlight sweet let him taste;
Fall ere time overtakes him, and tombless bleach on the waste.
This last prayer as my life ebbs forth I pour with my blood;        40
Let not thy hatred sleep, my Tyre, to the Teucrian brood;
Lay on the tomb of Dido for funeral offering this!—
Neither be love nor league to unite my people and his!
Rise! thou Nameless Avenger from Dido’s ashes to come,
Follow with fire and slaughter the false Dardanians home!        45
Smite them to-day, hereafter, through ages yet unexplored,
Long as thy strength sustains thee, and fingers cling to the sword!
Sea upon sea wage battle for ever! shore upon shore,
Spear upon spear! To the sires and the children strife evermore!”
 
 
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