The Sybil tells Aeneas the cause behind her great age; two of Ulysses' companions reunite and exchange stories.
inde ferens lassos averso tramite passus 120
cum duce Cumaea mollit sermone laborem.
dumque iter horrendum per opaca crepuscula carpit,
‘seu dea tu praesens, seu dis gratissima,’ dixit,
‘numinis instar eris semper mihi, meque fatebor
muneris esse tui, quae me loca mortis adire, 125
quae loca me visae voluisti evadere mortis.
pro quibus aerias meritis evectus ad auras
templa tibi statuam, tribuam tibi turis honores.’
respicit hunc vates et suspiratibus haustis
‘nec dea sum,’ dixit ‘nec sacri turis honore 130
humanum dignare caput, neu nescius erres,
lux aeterna mihi carituraque fine dabatur,
si mea virginitas Phoebo patuisset amanti.
dum tamen hanc sperat, dum praecorrumpere donis
me cupit, “elige,” ait “virgo Cumaea, quid optes: 135
optatis potiere tuis.” ego pulveris hausti
ostendens cumulum, quot haberet corpora pulvis,
tot mihi natales contingere vana rogavi;
excidit, ut peterem iuvenes quoque protinus annos.
hos tamen ille mihi dabat aeternamque iuventam, 140
si Venerem paterer: contempto munere Phoebi
innuba permaneo; sed iam felicior aetas
terga dedit, tremuloque gradu venit aegra senectus,
quae patienda diu est. nam iam mihi saecula septem
acta, tamen superest, numeros ut pulveris aequem, 145
ter centum messes, ter centum musta videre.
tempus erit, cum de tanto me corpore parvam
longa dies faciet, consumptaque membra senecta
ad minimum redigentur onus: nec amata videbor
nec placuisse deo, Phoebus quoque forsitan ipse 150
vel non cognoscet, vel dilexisse negabit:
usque adeo mutata ferar nullique videnda,
voce tamen noscar; vocem mihi fata relinquent.’
Talia convexum per iter memorante Sibylla
sedibus Euboicam Stygiis emergit in urbem 155
Troius Aeneas sacrisque ex more litatis
litora adit nondum nutricis habentia nomen.
hic quoque substiterat post taedia longa laborum
Neritius Macareus, comes experientis Ulixis.
desertum quondam mediis qui rupibus Aetnae 160
noscit Achaemeniden inprovisoque repertum
vivere miratus, ‘qui te casusve deusve
servat, Achaemenide? cur’ inquit ‘barbara Graium
prora vehit? petitur vestra quae terra carina?’
talia quaerenti, iam non hirsutus amictu, 165
iam suus et spinis conserto tegmine nullis,
fatur Achaemenides: ‘iterum Polyphemon et illos
adspiciam fluidos humano sanguine rictus,
hac mihi si potior domus est Ithaceque carina,
si minus Aenean veneror genitore, nec umquam 170
esse satis potero, praestem licet omnia, gratus.
quod loquor et spiro caelumque et sidera solis
respicio, possimne ingratus et inmemor esse?
ille dedit, quod non anima haec Cyclopis in ora
venit, et ut iam nunc lumen vitale relinquam, 175
aut tumulo aut certe non illa condar in alvo.
quid mihi tunc animi (nisi si timor abstulit omnem
sensum animumque) fuit, cum vos petere alta relictus
aequora conspexi? volui inclamare, sed hosti
prodere me timui: vestrae quoque clamor Ulixis 180
paene rati nocuit. vidi, cum monte revulsum
inmanem scopulum medias permisit in undas;
vidi iterum veluti tormenti viribus acta
vasta Giganteo iaculantem saxa lacerto
et, ne deprimeret fluctus ventusve carinam, 185
pertimui, iam me non esse oblitus in illa.
ut vero fuga vos a certa morte reduxit,
ille quidem totam gemebundus obambulat Aetnam
praetemptatque manu silvas et luminis orbus
rupibus incursat foedataque bracchia tabo 190
in mare protendens gentem exsecratur Achivam
atque ait: “o si quis referat mihi casus Ulixem,
aut aliquem e sociis, in quem mea saeviat ira,
viscera cuius edam, cuius viventia dextra
membra mea laniem, cuius mihi sanguis inundet 195
guttur, et elisi trepident sub dentibus artus:
quam nullum aut leve sit damnum mihi lucis ademptae!”
haec et plura ferox, me luridus occupat horror
spectantem vultus etiamnum caede madentes
crudelesque manus et inanem luminis orbem 200
membraque et humano concretam sanguine barbam.
mors erat ante oculos, minimum tamen illa malorum,
et iam prensurum, iam nunc mea viscera rebar
in sua mersurum, mentique haerebat imago
temporis illius, quo vidi bina meorum 205
ter quater adfligi sociorum corpora terrae,
cum super ipse iacens hirsuti more leonis
visceraque et carnes cumque albis ossa medullis
semianimesque artus avidam condebat in alvum;
me tremor invasit: stabam sine sanguine maestus, 210
mandentemque videns eiectantemque cruentas
ore dapes et frusta mero glomerata vomentem:
talia fingebam misero mihi fata parari
perque dies multos latitans omnemque tremiscens
ad strepitum mortemque timens cupidusque moriri 215
glande famem pellens et mixta frondibus herba
solus inops exspes leto poenaeque relictus
hanc procul adspexi longo post tempore navem
oravique fugam gestu ad litusque cucurri,
et movi: Graiumque ratis Troiana recepit! 220
tu quoque pande tuos, comitum gratissime, casus
et ducis et turbae, quae tecum est credita ponto.’
Aeolon ille refert Tusco regnare profundo,
Aeolon Hippotaden, cohibentem carcere ventos;
quos bovis inclusos tergo, memorabile munus, 225
Dulichium sumpsisse ducem flatuque secundo
lucibus isse novem et terram aspexisse petitam;
proxima post nonam cum sese aurora moveret,
invidia socios praedaeque cupidine victos
esse; ratos aurum, dempsisse ligamina ventis; 230
cum quibus isse retro, per quas modo venerat undas,
Aeoliique ratem portus repetisse tyranni.
‘inde Lami veterem Laestrygonis’ inquit ‘in urbem
venimus: Antiphates terra regnabat in illa.
missus ad hunc ego sum, numero comitante duorum, 235
vixque fuga quaesita salus comitique mihique,
tertius e nobis Laestrygonis inpia tinxit
ora cruore suo. fugientibus instat et agmen
concitat Antiphates; coeunt et saxa trabesque
coniciunt merguntque viros merguntque carinas. 240
As he retraced his weary steps on the return journey he eased the toil with discourse with his Cumaean guide; and as he fared along the dismal road in the dim dusk he said: “Whether thou art a goddess in very truth, or a maid most pleasing to the gods, to me shalt thou always seem divine, and I shall confess that I owe my life to thee, through whose will I have approached the world of death, have seen and have escaped in safety from that world. And for these services, when I have returned to the upper regions, I will erect a temple to thee and there burn incense in thine honour.” The sibyl regarded him and, sighing deeply, said: “I am no goddess, nor is any mortal worthy of the honour of the sacred incense. But, lest you mistake in ignorance, eternal, endless life was offered me, had my virgin modesty consented to Phoebus’ love. While he still hoped for this and sought to break my will with gifts, he said: ‘Choose what you will, maiden of Cumae, and you shall have your choice.’ Pointing to a heap of sand, I made the foolish prayer that I might have as many years of life as there were sand-grains in the pile; but I forgot to ask that those years might be perpetually young. He granted me the years, and promised endless youth as well, if I would yield to love. I spurned Phoebus’ gift and am still unwedded. But now my joyous springtime of life has fled and with tottering step weak old age is coming on, which for long I must endure. While I have now spent seven centuries of life, yet, ere my years equal the number of the sands, I still must behold three hundred harvest-times, three hundred vintages. The time will come when length of days will shrivel me from my full form to but a tiny thing, and my limbs, consumed by age, will shrink to a feather’s weight. Then will I seem never to have been loved, never to have pleased the god. Phoebus himself, perchance, will either gaze unknowing on me or will deny that he ever loved me. Even to such changes shall I come. Though shrunk past recognition of the eye, still by my voice shall I be known, for the fates will leave me my voice.”
While thus along the hollow way the sibyl told her story, out of the Stygian world they emerged near the Euboean city.Making due sacrifices here, Trojan Aeneas next landed on a shore which did not yet bear his nurse’s name. Here also Neritian Macareus, a comrade of all-suffering Ulysses, had stayed behind after the long weariness of his wanderings. He recognizes Achaemenides, whom they had left long since abandoned midst the rocks of Aetna. Amazed thus suddenly to find him still alive, he says: “What chance, what god has saved you, Achaemenides? Why does a Greek sail in a Trojan ship? What land does your vessel seek?” And to his questions Achaemenides, no longer roughly clad, his garments no longer pinned with thorns, but his own man once more, replied: “May I look on Polyphemus yet again, and those wide jaws of his, dripping with human gore, if I prefer my home and Ithaca to this ship, if I revere Aeneas less than my own father. Nor can I ever pay my debt of gratitude, though I should give my all. That I speak and breathe and see the heavens and the constellations of the sun, for this can I cease to thank him, and be mindful of him? ’Tis due to him that my life came not into the Cyclops’ jaws, and though even now I should leave the light of life, I should be buried in a tomb, but surely not in that monster’s maw. What were my feelings then (except that fear took away all sense and feeling) when, left behind, I saw you making for the open sea? I longed to call out to you, but I feared to betray myself to the enemy. Even your vessel Ulysses’ cry almost wrecked. I saw when Cyclops tore up a huge rock from the mountain-side and hurled it far out to sea. I saw him again throwing great stones with his gigantic arms as from a catapult, and I feared lest the waves or the wind should sink the ship, forgetting that I was not in her. But when you escaped by flight from certain death, he, groaning the while, went prowling all over Aetna, groping through the woods with his hands, and blindly dashing against the rocks. Then would he stretch out his bleeding arms to the sea and curse the whole Greek race, and say: ‘Oh, that some chance would but bring Ulysses back to me, or some one of his friends, against whom my rage might vent itself, whose vitals I might devour, whose living body I might tear asunder with my hands, whose gore might flood my throat, and whose mangled limbs might quiver between my teeth! How nothing at all, or how slight a thing would the loss of my sight appear!’ This and much more in fury. Pale horror filled me as I looked upon his face still smeared with blood, and his cruel hands, his sightless eye, his limbs and his beard, matted with human gore. Death was before my eyes, but that was the least of all my troubles. I kept always thinking: now he’ll catch me, now he’ll make my flesh part of his; and the picture stuck in my mind of that time when I saw him catch up two of my friends at once and dash them thrice and again upon the ground; and when, crouching like a shaggy lion over them, he filled his greedy maw with their vitals and their flesh, their bones full of white marrow, and their limbs still warm with life. A quaking terror seized me and I stood pale with horror as I watched him now chewing, now ejecting his bloody feast, now disgorging his horrid food mingled with wine. Such fate I pictured as in store for wretched me. For many days I kept myself in hiding, trembling at every sound, fearing death and yet longing to die, keeping off starvation with acorns and grass and leaves, alone, helpless and hopeless, abandoned to Suffering and death. And then, after a long time, far in the distance I saw this ship, and I begged them by my gestures to save me, I rushed down to the shore and I touched their hearts: a Trojan ship received a Greek! Now do you also tell of your adventures, best of comrades, what your leader suffered and the company which put to sea with you.”
Then Macareus told how Aeolus ruled over the Tuscan waters, Aeolus, son of Hippotes, confining the winds in prison. These winds, enclosed in a bag of bull’s hide, the Dulichian captain had received, a memorable gift. Nine days they had sailed along with a good stern breeze and had sighted the land they sought; but when the tenth morning dawned, Ulysses’ comrades were overcome by envy and by lust of booty; thinking that gold was in the bag, they untied the strings that held the winds. These blew the vessel back again over the waves they had just crossed, and she re-entered the harbour of the Aeolian tyrant. “After that,” he said, “we came to the ancient city of Laestrygonian Lamus. Antiphates was ruling in that land. I was sent to him with two companions. One comrade and myself by flight barely reached a place of safety; but the third of us stained with his blood the Laestrygonians’ impious mouths. Antiphates pursued us as we fled and urged his band after us. They came on in a mob, hurling stones and heavy timbers, and they sank our men and sank our ships.
Aeneas had taken him on board near Aetna.
i.e. of the stone.