Page images
PDF
EPUB

But since this happy storm our fleet has driven
(Not, as I deem, without the will of heaven)
Upon these friendly shores, and flowery plains,
Which hide Anchises and his blest remains,
Let us with joy perform his honours due,
And pray for prosperous winds, our voyage to renew,
Pray, that, in towns and temples of our own,
The name of great Anchises may be known,
And yearly games may spread the god's renown.
Our sports Acestes, of the Trojan race,
With royal gifts ordained, is pleased to grace :
Two steers on every ship the king bestows:
His gods and ours shall share your equal vows.
Besides, if, nine days hence, the rosy morn
Shall with unclouded light the skies adorn,
That day with solemn sports I mean to grace:
Light galleys on the seas shall run a watery race :
Some shall in swiftness for the goal contend,
And others try the twanging bow to bend:
The strong, with iron gauntlets armed, shall stand
Opposed in combat on the yellow sand.
Let all be present at the games prepared,
And joyful victors wait the just reward.
But now assist the rites, with garlands crowned.”
He said, and first his brows with myrtle bound.
Then Helymus, by his example led,
And old Acestes, each adorned his head ;
Thus young Ascanius, with a sprightly grace,
His temples tied, and all the Trojan race.

Æneas then advanced amidst the train,
By thousands followed through the flowery plain,
To great Anchises' tomb; which when he found,
He poured to Bacchus, on the hallowed ground,
Two bowls of sparkling wine, of milk two more,
And two (from offered bulls) of purple gore.
With roses then the sepulchre he strow'd,
And thus his father's ghost bespoke aloud :-

“ Hail, O) ye holy manes ! hail again,
Paternal ashes, now reviewed in vain !
The gods permitted not, that you, with me,
Should reach the promised shores of Italy,
Or Tyber's flood, what flood soe'er it be.
Scarce had he finished, when, with speckled pride,
A serpent from the tomb began to glide ;
His hugy bulk on seven high volumes rolled ;
Blue was bis breadth of back, but streaked with scaly

gold:
Thus riding on his curls, he seemed to pass
A rolling fire along, and singe the grass.
More various colours through his body run,
Than Iris when her bow imbibes the sun.
Betwixt the rising altars, and around,
The sacred monster shot along the ground;
With harmless play amidst the bowls he passed,
And with his lolling tongue assayed the taste :
Thus fed with holy food, the wondrous guest
Within the hollow tomb retired to rest.
The pious prince, surprised at what he viewed,
The funeral honours with more zeal renewed,
Doubtful if this the place's genius were,
Or guardian of his father's sepulchre.
Five sheep, according to the rites, he slew;
As many swine, and steers of sable hue;
New generous wine he from the goblets poured,
And called his father's ghost, from hell restored.
The glad attendants in long order come,
Offering their gifts at great Anchises' tomb :
Some add more oxen; some divide the spoil;
Some place the chargers on the grassy soil ;
Some blow the fires, and offered entrails boil.

Now came the day desired. The skies were bright With rosy lustre of the rising light: The bordering people, roused by sounding fame Of Trojan feasts and great Acestes' name,

}

The crowded shore with acclamations fill,
Part to behold, and part to prove their skill.
And first the gifts in public view they place,
Green laurel wreaths, and palm, the victors' grace:
Within the circle, arms and tripods lie,
Ingots of gold and silver heaped on high,
And vests embroidered, of the Tyrian dye.
The trumpet's clangor then the feast proclaims,
And all prepare for their appointed games.
Four galleys first, which equal rowers bear,
Advancing, in the watery lists appear.
The speedy Dolphin, that outstrips the wind,
Bore Mnestheus, author of the Memmian kind :
Gyas the vast Chimæra's bulk commands,
Which rising like a towering city stands :
Three Trojans tug at every labouring oar;
Three banks in three degrees the sailors bore;
Beneath their sturdy strokes the billows roar.
Sergestus, who began the Sergian race,
In the great Centaur took the leading place :
Cloanthus on the sea-green Scylla stood,
From whom Cluentius draws his Trojan blood.

Far in the sea, against the foaining shore,
There stands a rock: the raging billows roar
Above his head in storms; but, when 'tis clear,
Uncurl their ridgy backs, and at his foot appear.
In peace below the gentle waters run;
The cormorants above lie basking in the sun.
On this the hero fixed an oak in sight,
The mark to guide the mariners aright.
To bear with this, the seamen stretch their oars;
Then round the rock they steer, and seek the for-

mer shores. The lots decide their place. Above the rest, Each leader shining in his Tyrian vest; The common crew, with wreaths of poplar boughs, Their temples crown, and shade their sweaty brows:

}

Besmeared with oil, their naked shoulders shine.
All take their seats, and wait the sounding sign:
They gripe their oars; and every panting breast
Is raised by turns with hope, by turns with fear de-

pressed.
The clangor of the trumpet gives the sign;
At once they start, advancing in a line:
With shouts the sailors rend the starry skies;
Lashed with their oars, the smoky billows rise;
Sparkles the briny main, and the vexed ocean fries.
Exact in time, with equal strokes they row:
At once the brushing oars and brazen prow
Dash up the sandy waves, and ope the depths below.
Not fiery coursers, in a chariot race,
Invade the field with half so swift a pace:
Not the fierce driver with more fury lends
The sounding lash, and ere the stroke descends,
Low to the wheels his pliant body bends.
The partial crowd their hopes and fears divide,
And aid, with eager shouts, the favoured side.
Cries, murmurs, clamours, with a mixing sound,
From woods to woods, from hills to hills, rebound

Amidst the loud applauses of the shore, Gyas outstripped the rest

, and sprung before: Cloanthus, better manned, pursued him fast, But his o'er-masted galley checked his haste. The Centaur and the Dolphin brush the brine With equal oars, advancing in a line ; And now the mighty Centaur seems to lead, And now the speedy Dolphin gets a-head; Now board to board the rival vessels row, The billows lave the skies, and ocean groans below. They reached the mark. Proud Gyas and his train In triumph rode, the victors of the main; But, steering round, he charged his pilot stand More close to shore, and skim along the sand;

“ Let others bear to sea !” — Menetes heard; But secret shelves too cautiously he feared, And, fearing, sought the deep; and still aloof he

steered. With louder cries the captain called again : “ Bear to the rocky shore, and shun the main." He spoke, and, speaking, at his stern he saw The bold Cloanthus near the shelvings draw. Betwixt the mark and him the Scylla stood, And in a closer compass ploughed the flood. He passed the mark; and, wheeling, got before :Gyas blasphemed the gods, devoutly swore, Cried out for anger, and his hair he tore. Mindless of others' lives, (so high was grown His rising rage,) and careless of his own, The trembling dotard to the deck he drew, And hoisted up, and overboard he threw: This done, he seized the helm ; his fellows cheered, Turned short upon the shelves, and madly steered.

Hardly his head the plunging pilot rears, Clogged with his clothes, and cumbered with his

years : Now dropping wet, he climbs the cliff with pain. The crowd, that saw him fall and float again, Shout from the distant shore ; and loudly laught, To see his heaving breast disgorge the briny draught. The following Centaur, and the Dolphin's crew, Their vanished hopes of victory renew; While Gyas lags, they kindle in the race, To reach the mark. Sergestus takes the place; Mnestheus

pursues; and, while around they wind, Comes up, not half his galley's length behind; Then on the deck, amidst his mates, appeared, And thus their drooping courages he cheered :“ My friends, and Hector's followers heretofore, Exert your vigour; tug the labouring oar;

« PreviousContinue »