a) Reason for revised translation. When one reads commentaries on the works of Virgil one is almost exhausted by the number of superlatives one encounters. He is best known for his epic poem, the "Aeneid", but in practice both the Romans and present day readers have tended to concentrate on the first six books of this work, and, in particular, on Book IV, which highlights Aeneas' love affair with Queen Dido, and Book VI, which features his visit to the Underworld to meet his dead father Anchises. Opinions differ on which of these two books is pre-eminent, but the majority view is, perhaps, in favour of the latter. Sabidius first translated this book in 2010 (see the entry on dated 16 February 2010). However, one is never entirely satisfied with any translation one makes of Virgil, and, so Sabidius has revised his rendering of Book VI, which he now offers below.

b) Two high quality textbooks. One reason why translating this book is such an intellectual and aesthetic pleasure, as well as a challenge, is that one has available two school textbooks of this work, that of T.E. Page, first published by Macmillan in 1888, and, secondly, that of H.E. Gould and J.L. Whiteley, also published by Macmillan, in this case in 1946, which are, in their different ways of the highest quality. Indeed, perusing these two books is an education in itself. Gould and Whiteley's practical assistance with the complex task of doing justice to Virgil in English brings the Latin language to life in a way which the artificiality of the traditional grammar books cannot do, although as Sabidius has pointed out before, in the introduction to his translation of Book VIII of the "Aeneid" (see the entry on dated 20 October 2015), it is disappointing that their commentary lacks any reference at all to the quality of Virgil's poetry. On the other hand Page's notes, while they are far too erudite for the schoolboy or girl of today, and are surely the main target for Gould & Whiteley's reference in their introduction to annotated classical texts which "give too little practical help in translation and yet at the same time have their commentaries overloaded with unnecessary information on points only remotely connected with the text", are for the maturer student an absolute goldmine of allusions to previous classical writings, such as the works of Homer and Plato, and of parallels in the Bible and later literature, involving the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Milton, etc.

c) Praise of Virgil and especially of Book VI. At the same time, Page's introduction provides Virgil's reader with precisely the inspirational references to Virgil's poetry which Gould & Whiteley's notes lack. "Virgil is a master of melodious rhythm, and he is a master of literary expression. The Latin hexameter ... has been moulded by Virgil into a perfect instrument capable of infinite varieties and responsive to every phase of emotion; while as regards his literary power it is impossible not to read ten lines anywhere without coming across one of those felicitous phrases the charm of which is beyond question as it is beyond analysis." (Page's "Aeneid VI, pp. xxi-xxii.) But Page singles out Book VI in particular for his highest accolade. After expatiating on the strength of rhetorical force and the intensity of emotion contained in Book IV, he writes as follows: "but there is another book of the Aeneid which rises to a still higher level and places Virgil in the foremost ranks of poetry. The sixth Book is beyond praise; to it Virgil chiefly owes his fame; it is here that he exhibits, in fullest measure, the highest poetic powers of imagination and invention; it is here that we find the Virgil who is worthy to walk side by side with Dante, and with whom John Bunyan and John Milton are to be compared. As we pass with him into the under world, by the sole force of genius he makes a dream seem to us a living fact; he commands our thoughts to follow whithersoever he leads them, and they obey; under his guidance we tread with ghostly but unhesitating footsteps that dim and unknown highway which extends beyond the grave." (ibid. p. xxiii.)

d) Difficulties in translation. Exhilarating and exciting as it is to read this wonderful book, the problems of translating it are formidable. While Sabidius' introduction to Book VIII of the "Aeneid", referred to above, draws attention to the rhythmic beauty of Virgil's poetry and explains why the Romans in succeeding generations treated it almost with the reverence which Christians have accorded the Bible, it also discusses some of the difficulties facing any translator of Virgil. In the case of descriptions of landscapes, aerial portrayals and events at sea, when storms are involved, as well as descriptions of banquets and sacrificial offerings - often these are used for metaphorical purposes, parallel to the narrative - , it may not be at all clear just what he is trying to say. Furthermore, most of his narrative concerns legends, events which never actually happened, and therefore no reality checks are available to test the correctness or otherwise of how a particular passage has been translated. In his introduction to Book II of the "Georgics" (see the entry on dated 24 January 2017), Sabidius discusses these difficulties further;  issues arise because the order of the words, and indeed the choice of the words themselves, have often been adapted to meet the requirements of the meter, and the result may therefore involve some obscurity of meaning. In addition Latin words may often mean a number of different things. As a result of these potential ambiguities, a number of different interpretations of a passage may be possible, as indeed anyone who has more than one English version of Virgil will know only too well. It is also instructive how often the suggestions of Gould & Whiteley differ from those of Page. On top of the ambiguities just mentioned, and here the poetic craft of Virgil comes to the fore, is the way in which poetry as a medium is often used to create impressions or sensations, rather than to make precise statements. At the same time, the figurative use of particular words, rather than their literal meaning, is natural to the composition of verse.

e) The 'veil of Poesy'. Here the words of Page are once more of great assistance: "It is often difficult to realise the descriptions of Virgil. He purposely throws over his scenery 'the magic veil of Poesy', thus with true art stimulating the imagination but not satisfying it." (ibid. p.36, note to l.9). What this means is that Virgil does not want his descriptions to be crystal clear; he wants to give poetic impressions rather than exact statements of fact. The 'veil of Poesy' here relates to difficulties in understanding the location of the Sibyl's cavern at Cumae and its location with regard to the temple of Trivia, but in reality the 'veil' keeps on reappearing throughout the Book. Furthermore, this 'veil' does not just relate to descriptions, but also to ideas. For instance in ll. 417-38 below, Virgil places in the region adjacent to the threshold of Hades those who had died before their time, and specifically instances infants, men unjustly executed, and those who have committed suicide. To any reader or translator wanting to make sense of this, Page writes of Virgil: "It is useless here or later to examine too accurately into the reason of his arrangement. Unlike Dante or Milton he is not a teacher inculcating clear theological views; his arrangement must be judged by artistic considerations, and even so we must not look for extreme definiteness where the poet is intentionally, and indeed necessarily, vague and mysterious." (ibid. p. 65, note to l.426.) So, to any translator, agonising over the true translation of a particular passage of Virgil, remember the 'veil of Poesy'!

f) Highlights.  Book VI contains some of the most celebrated tracts in all Latin literature. Lines (Ll.) 86-87 are those controversially quoted by Enoch Powell in 1968, when he warned about the possible consequences of unchecked immigration into the UK. Ll. 295-316, which describe the transportation of dead souls across the River Styx by Charon, are a superb example of how Virgil can use poetic rhythm and onomatopoeia to create dramatic atmosphere and pathos. Ll. 724-751 give us interesting insights into Roman thinking about life, death and rebirth, including the Pythagorean doctrine of metempsychosis or transmigration of souls. Ll. 847-853 are a statement that while others may excel in the arts and science, the Romans are destined to rule the world and impose their peace on all nations. Finally ll. 860-886, right at the end of the book, telling of the sad death of Augustus' chosen successor, Marcellus, so affected his mother Octavia that she is reputed to have fainted when they were first read to her.

g) Appendices. At the end of this translation, are two appendices. The first lists a number of the best known quotations from Book VI; the second draws the reader's attention to some of the figures of speech employed by Virgil in this book.

1.  Ll. 1-13.  Aeneas lands in Italy and proceeds to the temple of Apollo to consult the Sibyl.

So he speaks amid his tears, and he gives his fleet (full) rein, and at last it glides into Cumae's Euboean shores. They turn their prows towards the sea; then anchors made fast the ships with their gripping flukes, and curved sterns line the beach. A band of young men springs forth eagerly on to the Hesperian (i.e. Western or Italian) shore; some seek the seeds of flame concealed in veins of flint; others scour the woods, (among) the dense lairs of wild beasts, and point out the rivers they have found. But pious Aeneas makes for the heights, on which Apollo sits enthroned on high, and, beside (it), the vast cavern, (which is) the retreat of the awesome Sybil, into whom the Delian seer (i.e. Apollo) breathes deep insight and inspiration, and (to whom) he reveals the future. Now they draw near to Trivia's (i.e. Diana's) (sacred) grove and to the golden temple.

2.  Ll. 14-41.  Description of the temple and the carvings of Daedalus on the gates; the Sibyl summons them to enter.

Daedalus, as the story goes, (when) fleeing the realm of Minos, ventured to entrust himself to the sky on swiftly(-beating) wings, and soared aloft to the icy Bears (i.e. the frozen North) by an unusual route, and at last he hovered lightly over the Chalcidian (i.e. Cumaean) summit. Here, on first being restored to earth, he dedicated to you, Phoebus (i.e. Apollo) the oarage of his wings (as a thank-offering) and built an enormous temple. On the gates was carved the death of Androgeos (i.e. the son of Minos); and, next to it, the children of Cecrops (i.e. the people of Athens) ordered to pay as penalties - alas! - the bodies of their sons, seven at a time each year; there stands the urn, the lots having been drawn. (On) the opposite (panel), the land of Cnossos (i.e. Crete), rising from the sea, faces (this): here there is depicted a cruel passion for a bull, and Pasiphaë, mated in stealth, and that mongrel breed and two-shaped offspring, the Minotaur, the memorial of a monstrous love; here (is) that house of toil (i.e. the Labyrinth) and its inextricable maze; but indeed, pitying the love of the princess (i.e. Ariadne), Daedalus himself unravels the deceptive windings of the palace, guiding the sightless footsteps (i.e. those of Theseus) by a (clue of) thread. You, too, Icarus, would have had a large share in so great a work, (if) grief had permitted it. Twice, he had tried to engrave your fall, twice the father's hands had failed. Indeed, they would have scanned all these (things) with their eyes in succession, if Achates, who had been sent on ahead, had not appeared, and, with him, came Deiphobe, (the daughter) of Glaucus, (and) the priestess of Phoebus and Trivia, who says the following (words) to the king: "This moment does not itself call for such sights as these; now it were better to sacrifice seven bullocks from an unbroken herd, and a similar number of sheep, chosen according to custom." When she had addressed Aeneas with such (words)- nor do his men delay (in obeying) her sacred commands - the priestess calls the Teucrians (i.e. Trojans) into the lofty temple.

3.  Ll. 42-76.  The Sibyl bids Aeneas pray: he prays that she will promise him at last a happy end to his wanderings and a home in Italy.

A huge flank of the Euboean rock (is) hewn into a cavern, into which lead a hundred wide entrances, a hundred mouths (i.e. perforations in the rock), from which rush a like number of voices, the answers of the Sybil. They had come to the threshold (of the cavern), when the virgin cries, "It's time to ask for oracles; the God, behold the God!" As she spoke these (words) in front of the doors, suddenly neither her countenance nor her complexion (are) the same (as they were before), nor does her hair remain ordered, but her heaving breast and wild heart swell in ecstasy, and (she is) taller to behold, nor does she sound like a mortal, since she has now been breathed upon by the abiding power of the God. "Are you slow to make your vow and to pray, Trojan Aeneas?" she says. "Are you loitering? For, (until you pray), the great mouths of the awestruck house will not open their lips (in prophecy)." An icy shudder ran through the hard bones of the Teucrians, and their king poured out these prayers from the bottom of his heart: "Phoebus, (you) who ever pitied the tribulations of Troy, (and) who guided the Dardan (i.e. Trojan) arrow from the hand of Paris into the body of the grandson of Aeacus (i.e. Achilles), under your guidance I have set out upon so many seas that wash great lands, and the far distant tribes of the Massylians (i.e. a North African tribe living to the west of Carthage), and the lands that border upon the Syrtes (i.e. two wide sandbanks near Carthage and Tripoli in Libya); now at last we seize hold of the elusive shores of Italy; thus far (only) may the luck of Troy have followed (us). You too, all you gods and goddesses, to whom the great glory of Ilium (i.e. a poetic name for Troy) and Dardania (i.e. the predecessor kingdom to Troy) were a stumbling block (i.e. Juno, Neptune and Minerva especially), now it is right to spare the race of Pergama (i.e. the citadel of Troy). And you, O most holy prophetess, who has foreknowledge of what is to come, grant - I ask for no kingdom not owed (to me) by my destiny - that the Teucrians and their wandering gods, and the storm-tossed deities of Troy, may settle in Latium (i.e. a district in western Italy adjacent to Rome). Then, I shall set up a temple of solid marble to Phoebus and to Trivia (i.e. the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine Hill built by Caesar Octavian in 28 B.C.) and festal days in the name of Phoebus (i.e. the Ludi Apollinares, established in 212 B.C. and which lasted for nine days each year). (For) you too, (Sibyl,) a fine sanctuary in my kingdom awaits (i.e. the Sibylline Books). For here I shall establish your oracular sayings and secret utterances communicated to my race, and gracious (lady), I shall ordain some chosen men (as your priests) (i.e. the Quindecemviri Sacris Faciundis). Only do not entrust your verses to leaves, lest they fly in disorder (as) playthings for the rushing winds; may you utter them yourself, I pray." (There) he made an end of his speech.

4.  Ll. 77-97.  The Sibyl, inspired by Apollo, promises Aeneas a lasting settlement in Italy, but only after he has had to fight long wars.

But the prophetess, not yet submitting to (the sway of) Apollo, revels wildly in her cavern, in the hope that she may be able to have shaken off the mighty god from her breast; (the more she raves), so much the more he tires her raving mouth, and he tames her wild heart and moulds her by his (strong) control. And now the hundred huge mouths of the house have opened of their own accord and carry the answers of the prophetess through the air: "O you who have at last done with the perils of the sea - but graver ones await you by land - the sons of Dardanus will come into the realm of Lavinium - dismiss this anxiety from your heart - , but they will also wish they had not come. I see wars, dreadful wars, and the Tiber foaming with much blood. You will not lack a Simois or a Xanthus (i.e. the two rivers of Troy), or a Dorian (i.e. Greek) camp. Another Achilles has already been produced in Latium (i.e. Turnus), he himself also born of a goddess (i.e. the sea-nymph Venilia); nor shall Juno anywhere fail to dog the Trojans (with her inveterate hatred); when you are a suppliant in essential things, what tribes or what cities of the Italians will you not have begged for help? Do not yield to these woes, but advance against (them) the more boldly by whatever (path) your destiny shall allow. The first path to safety, something which you least imagine, will be extended (to you) by a Greek city (i.e. Pallanteum, the capital of Evander)."

5.  Ll. 98-123.  Aeneas accepts the hard struggle which awaits him, only asking that he may first be allowed to pass through the neighbouring entrance of Avernus and visit his father Anchises in the Underworld.

With such words from her innermost shrine, the Cumaean Sybil chants her fearful riddles, and she bellows (them) from the cavern, wrapping the truth in obscurity. Such reins does Apollo shake at her as she rages and he plies the goad beneath her breast. As soon as her frenzy abated and her raving lips grew calm, the hero Aeneas begins (to speak): "No kind of tribulation, new or unexpected, rises up before me, O virgin; I have seen (them) all before, and I have pondered (everything) in my mind before (this). (But) one (thing) I beg: since it is said that the door of the Infernal King (i.e. Pluto or Dis) and the gloomy marsh where Acheron (i.e. the River of Sorrow in the Underworld) has overflowed, are here, may I be permitted to go (to see) the sight of my dear father's face; may you teach (me) the way, and may you open wide the sacred entrances. On these shoulders, I rescued him amid the flames and a thousand spear-shafts, and from the midst of the enemy I brought him safely home. Accompanying (me on) my journey, he, weak (though he was), endured with me all the seas and all the threats of ocean and sky beyond the capacity and the lot of old-age. Moreover, he too prayed and gave instructions that I should humbly seek you and visit your threshold. Have pity on both son and father, I beseech you, gracious (lady), for you can do all (things), nor did Hecate (i.e. Diana in the Underworld) set you over the Groves of Avernus (i.e. the 'birdless' lake in a volcanic crater just east of Cumae) in vain. If Orpheus, relying on his Thracian lyre and its tuneful strings, could summon the wraith of his wife (i.e. Eurydice), if Pollux redeemed his brother (i.e. Castor) by dying in his turn, and, time and again, he goes and comes back along that road - why should I speak of mighty Theseus or of the descendant of Alcaeus (i.e. Hercules)? - my descent also comes from highest Jupiter.

6.  Ll. 124-155.  The Sibyl bids Aeneas seek the Golden Bough, which alone can secure for its bearer a passage through the Underworld. First, however, he must bury the body of one of his comrades who has just been drowned. 

With such words, he prayed and grasped the altar, when the prophetess began to speak thus: "(O) Trojan, son of Anchises, sprung from the blood of the Gods, the descent to Avernus (i.e. the Underworld) (is) straightforward; the door of black Dis lies open night and day; but to retrace one's steps and ascend to the air above, this is the task, this (is) the difficulty. A few, sons of the Gods, whom a kindly Jupiter loved, or whom shining virtue bore aloft to the skies, have achieved (this). Woods occupy all the middle (areas), and the Cocytus (i.e. the River of Lamentation, or the Wailing River, in the Underworld) encircles (everything) as it glides along with its murky coils. But, if there is in your heart so great a desire and so great a yearning to sail twice across the Stygian lake (i.e. the River Styx, the River of Hate, the principal river of the Underworld, around which it flowed seven times) and twice to behold black Tartarus (i.e. the lowest and darkest depths of the Underworld where Jupiter incarcerates defeated enemies such as the Titans), and, if it (really) pleases you to indulge in this insane labour, hear what you must first accomplish. There lies hidden in a shady tree a bough, golden both in its leaves and in its pliant stem, (which is) said (to be) sacred to the Juno of the Underworld (i.e. Proserpine); this a whole grove conceals, and shadows shut (it) in within a dark valley. But it is not granted (to any man) to enter the hidden places of the earth until he has plucked the golden-leaved produce from the tree. The beautiful Proserpine has ordained that this be brought to her (as) a gift to herself. When the first (one) has been torn away, a second golden (bough) is not lacking, and the branch puts forth leaves of a similar metal. Therefore, look for signs (of it) with your eyes (raised) aloft, and, (when it is) found, duly pluck (it) with your hand; for it will come readily and with ease, if the Fates are calling you. Otherwise, you will not be able to win (it) by any force, nor to hack (it) off by hard steel. Besides, the body of your friend is lying lifeless - alas, you are not aware (of this)! - and is polluting the whole fleet with death, while you are seeking the decrees (of the Gods) and are lingering at our door. First, restore him to his proper resting-place and lay (him) in a tomb. Lead forth black cattle; let these be the first propitiatory offerings. Only thus will you behold the groves of the Styx and the realms (which are) not to be traversed by the living." She finished speaking and her closed mouth fell silent. 

7. Ll. 156-182.  They find the body of Misenus, who has been drowned, and prepare for his funeral. 

Quitting the cavern with a sad countenance and with his eyes downcast, Aeneas wends his way, and ponders these mysterious issues in his mind; faithful Achates goes (with him as) his companion, and plants his footsteps, (weighed down as they are) by similar anxieties. They exchanged many (words) between themselves, in a conversation covering various matters, (such as) what dead comrade, (and) what body needing burial was the prophetess speaking of. Then, as they went, they see on the dry shore (the body of) Misenus, cut off by an untimely death, Misenus, the son of Aeolus; (there was) no (one) else more excellent than him at summoning men with a brass (trumpet) and kindling a martial spirit with music. He had been a companion of the great Hector, and went into battle at Hector's side, marked out by his trumpet (call) and by his spear. After victorious Achilles despoiled the latter (i.e. Hector) of his life, that bravest of heroes had attached himself (as) a comrade to Dardanian (i.e. Trojan) Aeneas, following no meaner (destiny). But on a day when he happened to have made the sea resound through hollow shells, and had, in his folly, called the gods to a contest in music, the jealous Triton, if the story is worthy of belief, caught up with the man among the rocks, and drowned (him) in the foaming waves. So, they all, (and) pious Aeneas in particular, stood around (his body), lamenting with a loud clamour. Then, as they weep, they perform hastily (and) without delay the injunctions of the Sibyl, and they vie (with one another) to pile up a funeral altar with tree(-trunks) and they raise (it) to the sky. They go into the ancient forest, (among) the deep lairs of wild beasts: down come the pine-trees; the holm-oak rings as it is struck by axes; and beams of ash and easily-split oak is cleaved by wedges; they roll great rowan-trees down from the mountains. Aeneas, too, foremost among such tasks, encourages his comrades, and equips himself with similar tools (to theirs).

8.  Ll. 185-211.  While hewing wood for the pyre, Aeneas is attracted by two doves, the sacred birds of his mother Venus, which guide him to the Golden Bough.  

And he, himself, ponders these (thoughts) in his own sad heart, (while) gazing at the boundless forest, and thus he happens to pray: "If (only) that golden bough would now show itself to us on a tree in this darkest of forests! For the prophetess said everything truly, alas, too truly, about you, Misenus." Scarcely had he said these (words), when when a pair of birds, flying down from the sky, happened to come before the very eyes of the hero and settle on the green sward. Then, the mighty hero recognises his mother's birds, and, in joy, he prays: "Oh, if there is any way, be my guides, and direct your course through the air into that grove where the rich bough gives shade to the fertile ground. And you, O my divine mother, do not fail (me) at this time of uncertainty." Thus having spoken, he checked his footsteps, watching what signs (the birds) would offer, (and) in which (direction) they would proceed to go. As they fed, they advanced in flight just so far as the eyes of (those) following (them) with their gaze could keep (them) in view. The, when they came to the foul-smelling jaws of Avernus (i.e. the narrow entrance to the Underworld), they rise up swiftly, and, then, falling through the clear air, they both settle on the top of a tree, their desired resting-place, from where a gleam of gold, distinct in its hue, shone out through the branches. Even as, in the cold of winter, the mistletoe, which no parent tree sows, is wont to bloom upon the forest trees with an alien foliage, and to enfold their shapely trunks with its yellow growth, such was the appearance of leafy gold upon the shadowy holm-oak, and so tinkled the metal foil in the gentle breeze. Aeneas seizes it at once, and eagerly breaks off the close-clinging bough, and bears it into the house of the Sibylline prophetess.

9. Ll. 212-235.  The funeral rites of Misenus are performed.

Meanwhile, on the shore the Teucrians were still weeping for Misenus and paying their last (dues) to his thankless ashes. In the first place, they built a huge pyre, resinous with pine-wood faggots and sawn oak, and they embroider its sides with dark foliage, and they set up funereal cypresses in front of (it) and adorn the top (of it) with his shining armour. Some prepare hot water and a bubbling cauldron over the flames, and they wash and anoint the corpse, cold (though it is in death). A (loud) wailing arises. Then, after the lamentation is over, they lay his limbs upon the bier, and pile on top his purple robes, his well-known dress. Some shouldered the bier, a sad service (that was), and held the torch, which they placed beneath it, with their eyes averted in accordance with the custom of their ancestors. Heaped-up offerings of frankincense, sacrificial flesh, (and) a bowl of flowing oil are burned. When the embers collapsed and the fire had died down, they washed his remains and his thirsty ashes in wine, and Corynaeus gathered up his bones and placed (them) in a bronze urn. He also cleansed his comrades with pure water three times, sprinkling (them) with a light dew from the bough of a fruitful olive-tree, and he purified the men and spoke the very last words (to him) (i.e. Hail! and Farewell!). Then, pious Aeneas erects a tomb of vast size, together with the hero's own arms, and an oar and a trumpet, beneath a lofty mountain, which is now called Misenus (i.e. the promontory of Misenum, the most northerly point of the bay of Naples) after him, and keeps his name alive forever through the ages.

10.  Ll. 236-263.  Aeneas prepares for his journey by sacrificing to the powers of the Underworld at the entrance to Avernus.
There was a cave, deep and vast, with a great yawning mouth; (it was) stony and guarded by a dark lake and gloomy woods; over this no flying creatures could safely make their way by wing: from those black jaws rose so foul a breath that it streamed forth to the arch of heaven above: hence the Greeks called the place by the name of Birdless. Here the priestess first sets in place four bullocks with black hides and pours wine upon their brows, and, plucking the tallest tufts of hair (growing) midway between their horns, she lays (them) on the sacred fire as the first offering, calling aloud upon Hecate, who is powerful both in heaven and in Erebus (i.e. the Underworld or Darkness). Others put knives to (their throats), and catch their warm blood in bowls. Aeneas, himself, slaughters with his sword a lamb with a black fleece, in honour of the mother of the Furies (i.e. Night) and her great sister (i.e. Earth), and a barren heifer in honour of you, Proserpine. Then, at night, he sets up altars to the King of the Styx (i.e. Pluto or Dis), and places whole carcasses of bulls upon the flames (i.e. a holocaust), pouring rich oil upon the burning entrails. But lo! just before the rising beams of the new day, the earth beneath their feet (began) to rumble and the wooded heights began to quake, and dogs seemed to howl amid the darkness, as the Goddess (i.e. Hecate) drew near. "Away with you, Oh, away with you, you unhallowed ones (i.e. the comrades of Aeneas) ," exclaims the prophetess, "and remove yourselves from this whole grove! And you, commence your journey and draw your sword from its sheath. Now, Aeneas, there is the need for courage, now there is the need for a stout heart." So much she said, (and,) in a frenzy, she flung herself into the open cave; he, with fearless steps, keeps pace with his advancing guide. 

11.  Ll. 264-267.  Virgil interrupts the narrative to pray to the powers of darkness for permission to tell the tale of what they were to see. 

(You) Gods, who have dominion over souls, (you) voiceless shades, and (you,) Chaos (i.e. God of the Underworld, and father of Darkness and Night), and (you,) Phlegethon (i.e. the River of Fire in the Underworld), (and you) regions, silent in the darkness everywhere, let it be lawful for me to say what I have heard, let it be (lawful for me) to disclose, with your consent, the secrets (which are) buried within the depths of the earth and the darkness.

12.  Ll. 268-294.  Aeneas and the Sibyl enter Hades and behold a great array of monstrous creatures.  

Scarcely visible, they went through the depths of the lonely night, amid the gloom and through the empty halls of Dis and his ghostly realm. It was like a journey through woods under the grudging light of a hidden moon, when Jupiter has concealed the sky in shade, and black night has stolen the colour from things. Just before the entrance-hall and the very jaws of Orcus (i.e. Hades or the Underworld), Grief and avenging Cares have laid their beds, and pale Diseases live there, and sad Old Age, and Fear, and Hunger and squalid Want, shapes fearful to behold, and Death and Drudgery; then there is Sleep, Death's close kin, and the evil Joys of the mind, and, on the opposite threshold, murderous War, and the iron chambers of the Furies and demented Discord, her snaky locks bound by blood-stained fillets. In the centre, a huge, shady elm-tree spreads forth its boughs and aged branches, and they say that swarms of false Dreams occupy it (as) a resting-place, and cling under every leaf. And, besides, many monstrous (shapes) of various wild beasts are stabled beside the doors: Centaurs, the double-shaped Scyllae, and the hundred-headed Briareus, and the beast of Lerna (i.e. the Hydra), hissing dreadfully, and the Chimaera, armed with flames, Gorgons, and Harpies and the shape of the triple-bodied shade (i.e. Geryon). Then, Aeneas, alarmed by a sudden dread, snatches up his sword and presents an unsheathed blade to the (approaching) creatures, and, if his experienced companion had not warned (him) that (these were but) insubstantial disembodied beings, flitting about under the hollow semblance of form, he would have rushed in and vainly smitten the shades with his sword.

13.  Ll. 295-336.  They approach the ferry over the River Styx, and the Sibyl explains that the throng of ghosts who are eager but unable to cross it are the unburied, who must therefore wander around its banks for a hundred years. 

From here (lies) the way that leads to the waters of Tartarean Acheron. Here a murky whirlpool seethes in mud and in its vast abysses, and belches forth all its sludge into the Cocytus. A grim ferryman keeps watch over these waters and rivers, Charon, terrible in his squalor: on his chin there grows a mass of untrimmed grey hair; his eyes are set in a blazing stare; a dirty cloak hangs by a knot from his shoulders. (By) himself, he propels his bark with a pole and attends to the sails, and he carries upstream the souls of the dead in his rust-red boat; (he is) quite old now, but the old-age of a god (is) fresh and green. Hither a whole crowd was rushing to the banks in streams, mothers and men, and the bodies of great-hearted heroes, whose life has ended, boys and unmarried girls, and young men, laid on the pyre before the eyes of their parents. They are (as) numerous as the leaves (which) glide and fall in the woods at the first frost of autumn, or (as) many as the birds (that) flock to land from the depths of the ocean, when the cold season of the year drives (them) across the sea and sends (them) to sunlit lands. (There) they stood, pleading (to be) the first to make the crossing, and they stretched out their hands in longing for the farther bank. But the stern boatman accepts now these, now those; but others he keeps at a distance from the water's edge. Aeneas, amazed indeed and disturbed by the tumult, cries out, "Tell (me), O virgin, what is the meaning of the gathering at the river? And what are these souls seeking? Or for what reason are some leaving the banks, (while) others are sweeping the leaden-hued shallows with their oars?" The aged priestess spoke to him briefly thus: "(O) son of Anchises, undoubted offspring of the Gods, you are looking at the pools of the Cocytus and the Stygian marsh, by whose divine name (even) the Gods fear to swear falsely. All of this crowd that you see are destitute and unburied; that ferryman (is) Charon; these whom the water bears (are) the buried. Nor is he permitted to carry them across that roaring current until their bones find repose in their (last) resting-place (i.e. the grave). They wander and flit about around these shores for a hundred years; only then, once they have been admitted, do they see once more the pools they have longed for." The son of Anchises came to a halt and checked his footsteps, pondering many things and pitying in his heart their cruel fate. There he sees, (among) the mournful and (those) lacking honour in death, Leucaspis and Orontes, the leader of the Lycian fleet, whom, (while) voyaging together (with him) from Troy over the windswept seas, the South Wind overwhelmed, engulfing both ship and crewmen.
14.  Ll. 337-383.  Palinurus approaches and tells the story of his death, and begs Aeneas to take him with him across the Styx. The Sibyl tells him that this cannot happen, but promises him burial and that the spot where he died will bear his name forever. 
Behold, the helmsman, Palinurus, was approaching, (he) who recently on the voyage from Libya, while he was watching the stars, had fallen from the stern and had been flung overboard in mid-ocean. When he (i.e. Aeneas) had recognised the sad (figure) with some difficulty amid the deep gloom, he speaks first thus: "Which of the Gods, Palinurus, snatched you away from us, and drowned (you) in the middle of the sea? Come, speak! For Apollo, whom I had not found false before, has deceived my mind with this one oracular response, (for) he prophesied that you would be unharmed by the sea and would reach the land of Ausonia (i.e. Italy)." However, he (replies): "O son of Anchises, my captain, Phoebus' cauldron did not deceive you, nor did a god drown me in the sea. For the rudder, to which, (as) its appointed guardian, I was clinging, and (by means of which) I was steering our course, had, by chance, been wrenched away with great force, (and,) as I fell headlong, I dragged (it) down with me. By the rough seas, I swear that I felt no fear for myself as great as (the fear that I had) lest your ship, having been robbed of its gear (and) its helmsman having been thrown overboard, might founder amid such surging waves. For three stormy nights the South Wind, blustering over the water, carried me through the boundless sea; at dawn on the fourth day, while high up on the crest of a wave, I just caught site of Italy. Gradually, I swam in to land: now safety was in my grasp, (or would have been) if a savage tribe had not assailed (me) with knives, weighed down with sodden clothing (as I was) and snatching at the jagged summit of a rock; in their ignorance they had deemed (me) a prize. Now the tides have hold of me, and the winds are rolling (me) around on the shore. Wherefore, I beseech you, by the joyous light and the winds of heaven, by your father and your hopes for the growing Iulus, rescue me, (O) invincible (one), from these woes: either throw some earth upon me, for you have the power to do so, and seek once more the harbour of Velia; or, if there is any way, (and) if your Goddess mother shows it to you, - for you are not, I believe, preparing to navigate such great rivers and the Stygian marsh without the consent of the Gods - give (me) your hand in pity and take me with you over the waves, so that at least in death I may find repose in a quiet resting place." He had just finished speaking these (words), when the prophetess began (her reply) as follows: "From where, O Palinurus, (does) this most dreadful desire of yours (come)? Are you, unburied, (actually) going to look upon the waters of the Styx and the Furies' pitiless river, or are you (really) going to come to the bank unbidden? Cease to hope that the decrees of the Gods (can) be turned aside by prayer. But take my words to heart (in) consolation for your hard lot: for the neighbouring peoples living around cities far and wide, driven by heavenly portents, shall appease your bones and shall set up a burial mound and send customary offerings to this tomb." At these words, his anxieties were dispelled, and the grief was driven from his sad heart for a little while: he rejoices in a land with the same name (as his own).

15.  Ll. 384-416.  Charon at first refuses to receive them, but, on being shown the Golden Bough, he at once ferries them across the Styx. 

So, they continue the journey which they had begun, and draw near to the river. Now then, when the boatman from the waters of the Styx sees them coming through the noiseless forest and turning their footsteps towards the bank, he immediately challenges (them), and, without any provocation, upbraids (them) thus: "Whoever you are, you who proceed towards our river in arms, come, tell us at once why you come, and check your step. This is the land of shadows and sleep and slumbrous night; (it is) a sin to carry living bodies in the Stygian bark. Nor, indeed, did I take any pleasure in welcoming the descendant of Alceus (i.e. Hercules) to the lake, when he passed this way, nor Theseus, nor Pirithoüs, although they were begotten by gods and invincible in their strength. The former (i.e. Hercules) sought to bind by force the watchdog of Tartarus (i.e. Cerberus), and dragged (him) away quivering from the throne of the King himself (i.e. Pluto or Dis); the latter attempted to abduct my mistress (i.e. Proserpine) from the bed-chamber of Dis." In answer to this, the Amphrysian prophetess (i.e. the prophetess of Apollo) answered briefly: "There is no such treachery here; cease to be troubled; nor do our weapons offer any violence; that huge doorkeeper may terrify the bloodless shades by barking forever in his cave; and Proserpine may chastely keep to her uncle's threshold. Trojan Aeneas, celebrated for his piety and his arms descends to the deepest shadows of Erebus in search of his father. If this picture of such great devotion does not move you in any way, then may you recognise this bough" - here she reveals the bough which lay hidden beneath her vestment. Then, the swelling wrath in his heart subsides. Nor were more words said than these. Marvelling at the revered offering of this fateful branch, seen (again) after so long a time, he turns his dark skiff towards (them) and approaches the bank. Then, he drives away the other souls who were seated on the long thwarts, and clears the gangway; at the same time, he takes the huge Aeneas on board. Made of sewn skins, the boat groaned under his weight, and, being leaky, it let in much marsh (water). (Getting) across the river at last, he disembarks both prophetess and warrior unharmed upon the shapeless mud and the grey sedge.

16.  Ll. 417-438.  The Sibyl renders the monster Cerberus harmless with a drugged cake. Aeneas then passes those regions of Hades inhabited by the spirits of those who died before their time. 

The huge Cerberus, lying in the cave opposite, makes these realms resound with barking from his three throats. The prophetess, seeing that his neck was already bristling with snakes, flings him a cake, (which had been) made soporific with honey and drugged cornmeal. Opening his three throats, (all) ravenous with hunger, he snaps up the (morsel) thrown (in his path), and, sprawling on the ground, he relaxes his monstrous back and his huge body lies stretched across the whole cave. With the watchdog (now) buried (in sleep), Aeneas seizes hold of the entrance, and swiftly departs from the bank of the river of no-return. Immediately, voices were heard, and a loud wailing, and the weeping souls of babies, whom on the very first threshold, and torn from the breast without a share in sweet life, a black day carried off and plunged in bitter death. Next to them (are) those condemned to death upon a false charge. However, these places (are) not assigned without the drawing of lots and a judge. Minos (is) president (of the court and) shakes the urn; he summons the assembly of the voiceless (dead) and acquaints himself with their lives and the charges (laid against them). Then, some sad (souls) occupy the next places, (those) who, (though) innocent, brought about death by their own hands, and, loathing the light (of day), they flung away their lives. How they would now wish to be enduring both want and hard toil under high heaven! Divine law stands in their way, and the dismal marsh binds (them) in its hateful water and the Styx confines (them) with its ninefold windings.

17.  Ll. 440-476.  Aeneas now comes to the Fields of Lamentation, in which the victims of cruel love wander about. Aeneas meets Dido and vainly seeks to console her.  

Not far from here are displayed the Fields of Lamentation, extending in every direction; thus they name them. Here secluded pathways hide, and a myrtle wood completely covers, those whom pitiless love has consumed by a cruel wasting (disease): their sorrows do not leave (them), even in death. In this region he sees Phaedra, and Procris, and sorrowful Eriphyle, showing the wounds made by her cruel son, and Evadne and Pasiphaë; Laodamia goes with them (as) a companion, and Caeneus, once a young man and now a woman again, changed by fate into her old form. Among these, Phoenician Dido, her wound still fresh, was wandering in a great wood. As soon as the Trojan hero stopped beside her and recognised (her) dim (shape) amid the shadows; just like (one) who, at the beginning of the month, either sees, or thinks that (he) has seen, the moon through clouds, he shed tears of grief, and spoke to (her) with tender love: "(O) unhappy Dido, did true news thus come to me that (you) were dead, and that you had sought your end with the sword? Was I, alas, the cause of your death? I swear by the stars, by the gods above, and by whatever sacred thing there is in the depths of the earth, that I departed unwillingly from your shores, (O) queen. But the decrees of the gods which now compel (me) to go through these shadows, through these places overgrown through neglect, and through deepest night, have driven me by their authority. Nor could I believe that by my departure, I was bringing you such great grief. Check your footsteps, and do not withdraw yourself from my sight! From whom are you fleeing? This is the last word, which, by Fate's decree, I can address to you." By such words did Aeneas try to soothe her burning and grimly staring wrath, and he invoked his tears. She, turning away, kept her eyes fixed on the ground, nor is her countenance any more changed, since he began his conversation, than if she were set (as) hard flint or Marpesian marble. At length, she took hold of herself, and, (still) hostile (towards him), she fled back to the shadowy forest, where Sychaeus, her former husband, responds to her with his cares and matches (her) love. Aeneas, no less shaken by her unjust fate, escorts (her) from afar with his tears, and pities (her) as she goes.

18.  Ll. 477-493.  Aeneas comes to that part of Hades where dwell the ghosts of famous warriors who died in battle; and there the shades of his enemies, the Greeks, shrink in terror from him.

Thence, he struggled along the appointed path. And now they had reached the most distant fields, which, (lying) apart, (those) distinguished in war frequent. Here Tydeus comes to meet him, then Parthenopaeus, glorious in arms, and the phantom of pallid Adrastus; here (come) the sons of Dardanus (i.e. the Trojans), much lamented among those dwelling in the world above and (who have) fallen in battle, and he groaned when he saw them all in a long line: Glaucus and Medon, Thersilochus and the three sons of Antenor (i.e. Polybus, Agenor and Acamus), Polyboetes, the priest of Ceres, and Idaeus, still in possession of his chariot and armour. The souls stand around, crowding (around him) on his right and left. But it is not enough to have seen (him) once; (they) delight to linger still, and to match their steps (to his), and to learn the reason for his coming. But the chiefs of the Danaans and the phalanxes of Agamemnon, when they saw the hero and his armour shining through the shadows, trembled in great fear: some turned in flight, just as they had once made for their ships; others raised a faint cry: an attempted shout mocks their gaping (mouths).

19.  Ll. 494-547.  Among the warriors, Aeneas sees the Trojan Deiphobus, hideously mutilated, and hears the story of his treacherous betrayal by Helen. 

And here he saw Priam's son, Deiphobus, his whole body mangled and his face cruelly torn, his face, (aye) and both his hands, and his temples mutilated, with his ears torn away, and his nostrils slashed by a shameful wound. Indeed, he scarcely recognised (him) as he cowered and covered up his fearsome punishment, and even, (though he is) ungreeted, he addresses (him) in his familiar tones: "Deiphobus, mighty in battle, sprung from the exalted blood of Teucer, who chose to inflict so cruel a punishment upon you? Who was given the power (to do) you so much (injury)? Rumour told me that on that last night, you, exhausted by the endless slaughter of Pelasgians (i.e. Greeks), had sunk down on a heap of mingled corpses. Then, with my own hands, I constructed an empty tomb for you on the Rhoetean shore, and called upon your shade three times in a loud voice. Your name and your arms mark the spot; you, my friend, I could not see, nor could I bury you in our native earth, when I was departing." To these words, the son of Priam replied: "Nothing was left undone by you, O friend; you have paid all dues to Deiphobus and to the shades of his dead body. But my fate and the deadly crimes of that Laconian (woman) (i.e. Helen of Sparta) have drowned me in these miseries: (it was) she (who) left these memorials. For you know how we spent that last night amid those groundless rejoicings; and one cannot but remember (it) too well. At the moment when the fateful horse (i.e. the Wooden Horse) came with a bound over the heights of Pergama, while pregnant with the armed infantry it carried in its womb, she, feigning a dance, was leading the Phrygian (women) around the city, crying aloud in accordance with the rites of Bacchus; in the midst (of them), she, herself, was holding a huge torch and was summoning the Danaans from the top of the citadel. At this time our ill-fated marriage-chamber held me, exhausted by my cares and weighed down by sleep, and a repose, sweet and deep, and akin to a peaceful death, presses upon me as I lay. Meanwhile, that peerless wife of mine removes every weapon from the house, and had stolen the trusty sword from beneath my pillow: she calls Menelaus into the house and throws open the doors, doubtless hoping that this would prove a great gift to her loving (husband) and that the record of all her wrongs could thus be blotted out. Why do I prolong (the story)? Into the chamber they burst; attached to them as a companion (is) that instigator of crimes, the grandson of Aeolus (i.e. Ulysses). (O) Gods, repay a similar treatment upon the Greeks, if with pious lips I demand vengeance! But come, tell (me) in turn what chance has brought you here alive? Do you come (here), driven by the wandering (currents) of the ocean, or by the warnings of the gods? Or what fate dogs you that you come to these sad sunless halls, these places of disorder?"

20.  Ll. 535-547.  The Sibyl reminds Aeneas that they must not linger, but hasten on their way. 

During this exchange of conversation, Aurora (i.e. the Dawn) in her rose-red chariot had already passed the mid-point of the zenith in her heavenly course; and perhaps they would have spent all their allotted time in such (converse), but his companion, the Sibyl, admonished (him) and briefly addressed (him thus): "Night is falling, Aeneas. We are spending our time in lamentation. This is the place where the road divides itself into two: along this right (hand road), which passes beneath the walls of mighty Dis, lies our way to Elysium (i.e. the Abode of the Blessed); but the left (hand) road exacts the punishment of evil(-doers), and brings (them) to pitiless Tartarus." Deiphobus (says to her) in reply: "Don't be angry, great priestess; I shall depart, I shall complete the muster (of ghosts), and shall return myself to the darkness. Go, you glory of our (race), go (forth)! Enjoy a better fate (than mine)!" So much he spoke, and with these words he turned away his footsteps.

21.  Ll. 548-561.  Aeneas, looking round, sees opposite him a vast and awful fortress, from which come groans and cries of woe. He asks the Sibyl to explain the reason for these terrible sounds. The Sibyl explains that this is the abode of the damned, which she alone of the righteous has been allowed to enter. 
Aeneas suddenly looks back, and, below a cliff on his left, he sees broad battlements encircled by a triple wall; a swiftly flowing river, the Tartarean Phlegethon, flows around it with scorching flames, and rolls along thunderous rocks. Confronting (him) is a huge gate and columns of sold adamant (i.e. an indestructible substance, probably steel), such that no force of man, nor even the Gods themselves, could overthrow (them) in a war; there stands an iron tower (reaching) to the sky, and Tisphone, seated (but) girt in her blood-soaked robe, sleeplessly guards the entrance both night and day. From here were heard groans and the cruel sound of the lash; then the clanking of iron and of chains being dragged. Aeneas stood still, and, terrified, he took in the noise. "What spectacle of crimes (is this)? Tell (me), O virgin! Or by what punishments are they being tormented? What (is) this very great noise (that comes) to my ears?" 
22.  Ll. 562-575.  The Sibyl explains that this is the abode of the damned, which she alone of the righteous has been allowed to enter. 
Then, the prophetess began to speak as follows: "(O) Glorious leader of the Teucrians, it is unlawful for any sinless (person) to step across that guilty threshold; but at the time when Hecate put me in charge of the Groves of Avernus, she herself told (me) of the punishments decreed by the Gods and led me through all of these (scenes). Here Cnossian (i.e. Cretan) Rhadamanthus (i.e. the brother of Minos) holds very strict sway, and punishes (men) and learns of their crimes, and compels (them) to confess those (crimes), for which any (man) upon the earth, exulting in his vain deceit, has deferred until death's late hour the atonement incurred. At once (i.e. as soon as Rhadamanthus has pronounced them guilty), the avenging Tisiphone, armed with a whip, leaps on the guilty and hounds (them) along, and, brandishing, in a threatening manner, the fierce serpents in her left (hand), she summons the savage company of her sisters (i.e. the Furies Allecto and Megaera). Then, at last, the the sacred gates, grating on their screeching hinges, open wide. You see, (don't you,) what kind of custodian sits in the entrance, what shape keeps guard of the threshold (i.e. the watch-dog Cerberus)
23.  Ll. 576-627.  The Sybil recounts the horrors of Tartarus, and tells Aeneas about the victims of its punishments and the crimes which they have committed. 

"Even fiercer (than him), the Hydra, with her fifty vast black gaping throats, has her lair within. Then Tartarus, itself, yawns sheer downwards and stretches down to the shadows twice as far as is the view upwards towards heavenly Olympus in the sky. Here the brood of Titans, the ancient progeny of Earth, cast down by a thunderbolt, writhe at the bottom of the pit. Here too I saw the twin sons of Aloeus (i.e. Otus and Ephialtes), those monstrous forms, who attempted to tear down high heaven with their hands, and to hurl down Jupiter from his realm above. I also saw Salmoneus paying the cruel penalty, (which he incurred) while he was imitating Jupiter's lighting and the thunder of Olympus. He, drawn in a four-horse chariot and brandishing a torch, rode in triumph through Greek people and right through the city of Elis, and demanded for himself the honour due to the Gods, a madman (in that) he mimicked the storm-clouds and the inimitable thunderbolt by the beat of his horny-hooved horses on (echoing) brass (i.e. he drove his chariot over a bridge made of brass). But the Almighty Father whirled his shaft amid the dense clouds; he (did) not (throw) torches or pinewood's smoky lights, but with a mighty whirlwind he hurled (him) down headlong. And it was also possible to see Tityos, the nursling of all-bearing Earth, whose body stretches over nine whole acres; and a monstrous vulture, with a hooked beak, feeds on his deathless liver and entrails ever producing fresh material for punishment, and it forages at his feast and dwells deep beneath his breast, nor is any respite given to his renewed tissues. Why should I tell of the Lapiths, of Ixion, and of Pirithoüs? (And of him) (i.e. Tantalus), above whom there hangs a black mass of flint, about to slip at any moment like a falling (rock). The golden feet gleam upon the high festal couch, and a banquet of regal magnificence (is) spread before his eyes. The eldest of the Furies reclines nearby and prevents (him) from touching the table with his hands, and she rises up, brandishing a torch, and utters thunderous threats. Here (are those) who hated their brothers, while life remained, or (who) struck their father, or (who) plotted treachery against a dependant, or (those) who brooded alone over the riches (which they had) gained and did not set aside a portion for their own (kinsmen)  - this is the largest number - , and (those) who were slain due to adultery, and who pursued treasonous warfare and did not scruple to deceive the trust of their lords; in confinement, they all await their punishment. Do not seek to be told what punishment (they are awaiting) or what form (of punishment) or fate has overwhelmed these men. Some (e.g. Sisyphus) are rolling huge rocks, others (e.g. Ixion) are spread-eagled upon the spokes of wheels; unhappy Theseus is sitting (there) and will sit (there) forever; and most-wretched Phlegyas warns everyone, and testifies in a loud voice amid the gloom: 'Be warned, learn justice and not to despise the Gods!' This (man) sold his native-country for gold, and set over (it) a despotic lord, who made and unmade laws at a price; this other (man) entered his daughter's bed-chamber and (contracted) a forbidden marriage. They have all dared a monstrous sin, and have achieved (what) they dared. Not if I were to have a hundred tongues, and a hundred mouths, (and) an iron voice, could I encompass all the names of their punishments."

24.  Ll. 628-636.  The Sibyl points to the Palace of Pluto and bids Aeneas deposit the Golden Bough at its door.

When the aged priestess of Phoebus has spoken these (words), she adds: "But come now, proceed upon your journey, and complete the task (which you have) undertaken. Let us hasten! I see the battlements wrought in the forges of the Cyclopes, and the gates (set) in the archway opposite, where the commandments of  the Gods require us to place the prescribed offering." She finished speaking, and, walking side by side through the darkness of the ways, they speed over the intervening space, and approach the door. Aeneas gains the entrance, and he sprinkles his body with fresh water and plants the Bough on the threshold in front (of him).

25.  Ll. 637-678.  They enter the Abodes of the Blessed, where dwell the souls of the great and the good. The Sibyl enquires where Anchises, the father of Aeneas, is to be found, and Musaeus offers to guide them.

Having performed these (rites and) having fulfilled his duty to the Goddess (i.e. Proserpine), then only do they come to the joyous places and the delightful greenery of the Groves of the Fortunate and the Abodes of the Blessed. Here (there is) an ampler ether, and it clothes the plains with a dazzling light, and they get to know a sun of their own (and) their own stars. Some exercise their limbs on a grassy wrestling-ground, contend in sport, and grapple on the yellow sand; others beat (the rhythm of) dances with their feet and chant songs. And the Thracian priest (i.e. Orpheus), with his long robe, plays in accompaniment to the measures the seven distinct notes (i.e. the seven notes are those of the lyre, which had seven strings), and strikes the same (notes) now with his fingers, now with his ivory plectrum. Here (is) the ancient line of Teucer, the fairest of breeds, great-hearted heroes born in happier times: Ilus, and Assaracus, and Dardanus, the founder of Troy. He (i.e. Aeneas) marvels from afar at the ghostly arms and chariots of men. Their spears stand (erect), fixed in the ground, and their untethered horses graze in all directions across the plain. The same pride in their chariots and their arms which (they) had (when they were) alive, (and the same) concern (which they had when alive) to feed their sleek steeds, (still) attend (them now that they have been) laid to rest in earth. Behold, he sees others to the right and to the left, feasting on the grass and singing a joyful paean in chorus within a fragrant laurel grove, from where the Eridanus (i.e. the River Po) in full spate rolls through woods in the world above. Here (is) the band (of men who) suffered wounds in fighting for their native-country, and (those) who (were) chaste priests, while life remained, and (those) who (were) dutiful prophets (who) spoke (words) worthy of Phoebus, or (those) who ennobled life through the crafts (they had) invented, and (those) who, through their merit, caused others to remember them. The brows of all of these are bound by a snow-white ribbon. These, as they gathered around, the Sibyl addressed thus, Musaeus above all, for the vast throng has him in their midst, and looks up at (him) towering above (them) with his tall shoulders: "Tell (me), (O) blessed spirits, and you, (O) best bard, which region, which place, has hold of Anchises? For his sake have we come and sailed across the great rivers of Erebus." Immediately the hero (i.e. Musaeus) returned answer to her briefly thus: "None (of us) has a fixed dwelling; we live in these shady groves and inhabit these soft-cushioned banks and these meadows fresh with (running) streams. But you, if the wish in your heart so inclines (you), climb this ridge, and I shall set (you) now upon an easy path." (So) he spoke and led the way before (them), and, from above, he shows (them) the gleaming fields; then, they leave the high summits (of the mountains).

26.  Ll. 679-702.  They find Anchises in a green valley, meditating as he surveys the spirits of heroes yet unborn. Father and son exchange greetings. 

But deep in a green valley, father Anchises was reviewing with eager meditation the souls imprisoned (there) and destined to pass to the light above, and, as it happened, he was reviewing the full number of his (kinsmen) and his beloved descendants, and their fates and fortunes, their characters and their exploits. And, when he saw Aeneas advancing towards (him) across the grass, he eagerly stretched out both his hands, and tears streamed down his cheeks, and speech fell from his lips: "Have you come at last, and has the devotion your father expected triumphed over your toilsome journey? Am I permitted to gaze on your face, my son, and to hear your familiar voice and reply (to it)? Thus, for my part, I considered (it) in my mind and thought it would happen, as I counted the passing days, nor has my anxiety deceived me. What lands and what wide seas you have travelled over ere I now welcome you! What great perils (you have been) buffeted by, my son! How I feared that the realms of Libya would do you some harm!" But he replied: "(It was) your sad ghost, Father, (it was) your (sad ghost) appearing so often before me (that) drove (me) to make my way to these portals. My ships are afloat in the Tyrrhenian sea. Let me clasp your hand, do let me, Father, and do not draw away from my embrace!" So, as he spoke, at the same time his face grew wet with copious tears. Then, he tried three times to put his arms around his neck; three times the wraith, having been clasped in vain, eluded his grasp, like a light breeze and very similar to a fleeting (vision seen) in sleep.

27.  Ll. 703-723.  Aeneas notices the spirits crowding along the banks of the River Lethe and asks Anchises what they are; he is told that they are souls destined for rebirth, many of them as his own descendants.

Meanwhile, in a secluded valley Aeneas sees a sheltered grove and the rustling thickets of a wood, and the River Lethe (i.e. the River of Unmindfulness or Oblivion) which glides past some peaceful houses. Around it hovered innumerable tribes and peoples; and, just as when bees in a meadow in cloudless summer settle on the multi-coloured flowers and flock around the white lilies, the whole field hums with their buzzing. Aeneas is startled at the sudden sight, and, in his ignorance, inquires the reasons (for it): what (he asks) are these rivers yonder and who (are) the men (who) have crowded the banks in so great a number? Then father Anchises (replies): "(They are) souls to whom second bodies are owed by Fate, (and) at the stream of the River Lethe they drink the waters that free from care and (bring with them) an everlasting oblivion. Indeed, I have long desired to tell you about them and to show (them to you) face to face, (yes and) to enumerate this, my children's line of descent, so that you may rejoice with me the more at our discovery of Italy." "O Father, must we think that some souls go aloft from here to the upper air, and return once more to sluggish bodies? What terrible longing for the light (of day) so possesses these wretched (creatures)?" "I will surely tell (you), nor shall I keep you in any doubt, my son," replies Anchises, and he reveals (everything) in order, one (truth) at a time.

28.  Ll. 724-751.  Anchises explains what life is and how the divine in man is ever at war with his earthly body. He shows how spirits are purified in Hades, and how, after drinking from the River of Unmindfulness, they are allowed to return again to the land of the living. 

In the beginning, a spirit from within sustains the sky, and the earth, and the watery plains (i.e. the sea), and the shining globe of the moon and the Titanian star (i.e. the sun, reputed to be the offspring of the Titan Hyperion); and Mind, coursing through its members, keeps the whole mass moving and mingles itself within its massive frame. From this (source springs) the species of men, and of beasts, and of the flying (creatures), and of those monsters which the sea produces beneath its marbled surface. Those seeds have the strength of fire and a heavenly origin, so long as harmful bodies (i.e. matter) do not hamper (them) and their earthly limbs and moribund flesh dull (them). Hence, they (i.e. the souls of men) fear and desire, they grieve and rejoice, nor, enclosed (as they are) in gloom and a dark dungeon, can they discern the light of heaven. Nay, even when life with its last beam has left (them), yet all the the evil and all the plagues (of the flesh) do not entirely depart from these wretched (beings), and it is inevitable that many (taints), long growing, should become deeply engrained in wondrous ways. Thus, they are wracked by punishment and pay penance for old misdeeds. Some (souls) are revealed as insubstantial, having been hung out to the winds; in other (cases) the guilty stain is washed away beneath a vast flood or burned out by fire. We bear, each one of us, his own ghost; thereafter, a few (of us) are sent to spacious Elysium, and possess these blissful fields, until, when the cycle of time has been completed, a distant day has removed the ingrown taint, and (so) leaves unalloyed the etherial sense and the flame of pure spirit. All of these (souls), when they have revolved the wheel (of time) for a thousand years, a god summons in a great throng to the River Lethe, so that, without any recollection of course, they may see again the vaulted heavens and begin their desire to return to the body."

29.  Ll. 752-787.  They mount a platform which commands a view of those spirits destined to a future life. Then, Anchises shows Aeneas the long train of Alban kings, his descendants, ending with Romulus, the founder of Rome. 

Anchises finished speaking; he draws his son, and with (him) the Sibyl, into the middle of the assembly and the buzzing throng, and he takes his stand on a mound, from where he could scan all (those) facing (him) in a long line and note their faces as they come by. "I shall set forth in words what glory shall attend the offspring of Dardanus in the days to come, what descendants of Italian stock await (you), illustrious souls and destined to inherit our name, and I shall teach you your own destiny. That young man you see, who is leaning on a headless spear, holds by lot the next place (to enter) the light (of day), and he shall be the first to rise into the upper air, having been mingled with Italian blood, Silvius, an Alban name, your last-born progeny; Lavinia, your wife in your old age, will give birth to (him) in the woods, too late (for you to know), (to be) a king and the father of kings; through him our race shall hold sway in Alba Longa. That (man) next (to him is) Procas, glory of the Trojan people, and (then follow) Capys and Numitor, and (he) who shall recall you by his name, Aeneas Silvius, equally illustrious (with you) in piety or in warfare, if he ever receives Alba as his kingdom. What (fine) young men (are these)! Look, what great strength they display, and they have temples shadowed with the civic oak-leaves. These (men shall build) for you Nomentum, and Gabii and the city of Fidenae, these men will build Collatia's citadel in the hills, (as well as) Pometii, Castrum Inui, Bola and Cora. These will be names in the future, (but) now they are places without a name. Yes, and a son of Mavors shall add himself as a companion to his grandfather (i.e. Numitor), (namely) Romulus, whom his mother Ilia (i.e. Rhea Silvia) will bear of the blood of Assaracus. Do you see how the twin plumes stand upon his head and (how) his father himself already marks him out for the world above with his own badge of honour. Lo, under his auspices, my son, that glorious Rome (of ours) shall equate her empire with the earth and her ambitions with Olympus, and shall, (as) a single (city), blessed in her breed of men, encircle seven hills with a wall. (It is) just as the Berecynthian mother (i.e. Cybele) rides, turret-crowned, in her chariot through the cities of Phrygia, rejoicing in her divine brood, embracing a hundred descendants, all (of them) gods, all (of them) inhabiting the heavenly heights.

30.  Ll. 788-807.  Anchises points out the Julian family, and especially Augustus, the destined conqueror of realms even wider than those traversed by Hercules or Bacchus. 

"Now, turn your two(-eyed) gaze this way, look at this family and at the Romans (that are) yours. Here (is) Caesar and all the progeny of Iulus, destined to pass under the great vault of heaven. Here (is) the man, whom you so often hear is promised to you, here he is Augustus Caesar (i.e. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus), son of the God (i.e. Gaius Julius Caesar), who will again establish a golden age in Latium, over fields once ruled by Saturn (i.e. the God of  Sowing). He will extend his empire beyond both the Garamantes (i.e. the Libyans) and the Indians. This land lies beyond the stars, beyond the paths of the year and of the sun, where heaven-bearing Atlas revolves on his shoulders the vault (of heaven) studded with flaming stars. In the expectation of his coming, both the Caspian realms and the Maeotic lands (i.e. lands around the Sea of Azov) are even now quaking at the prophecies of the Gods, and the trembling mouths of the sevenfold Nile are in a panic. Nor, indeed, did the descendant of Alcaeus (i.e. Hercules) traverse so much of the earth, although he transfixed the brazen-footed stag (i.e. the Cerynitian stag, captured by Hercules) and tamed the woods of Erymanthus (i.e. the home of the great boar killed by Hercules) and made Lerna (i.e. the home of the seven-headed Hydra killed by Hercules) tremble at his bow. Nor (does) Liber (i.e. Bacchus or Dionysus), who triumphantly guides his chariot with reins (made) of vine-tendrils, as he drives his tigers down from Nysa's lofty peak, (traverse so much of the earth). And do we still hesitate to give scope to our valour by our deeds? Or does fear of setting foot on Ausonian soil (still) prevent us (from doing so)?

31.  Ll. 808-835.  The kings of Rome are seen in order, followed by the great men of the Republic, especially Pompey and Caesar, the protagonists in the Civil War.

But who is that (man) in the distance, distinguished by sprays of olive and carrying sacred (offerings)? I recognise the hoary hair and beard of that Roman king, who will establish the infant  city on (a basis of) laws, having been called to mighty empire from little Cures and its barren soil (i.e. Numa Pompilius). Thereafter, Tullus (i.e. Tullus Hostilius) will succeed him, (he) who will shatter the peace of his native-land and stir into battle its inactive men and its ranks, until then unused to triumphs. The over-boastful Ancus (i.e. Ancus Martius) follows him closely, already delighting too much, even now, in popular favour. Do you wish to see the Tarquinian kings (i.e. Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus), and the proud spirit of the avenger Brutus (i.e. Lucius Junius Brutus), and the rods (of office) (i.e. the fasces) (which he) regained? He will be the first to receive a consul's power and the cruel axes, and (he), their father, for the sake of glorious liberty, will call his sons to punishment, when they stir up rebellion. Unhappy (man)! however posterity will report that deed, love of country and a limitless passion for renown will prevail. Now, look at the Decii (i.e. especially Publius Decius Mus) and the Drusi (i.e. especially Marcus Livius Drusus Salinator) over there, and pitiless Torquatus (i.e. Marcus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus) with his axe, and Camillus (i.e. Marcus Furius Camillus) bringing back the standards. Then, those souls whom you see resplendent in matching armour (are) in harmony now and as long as they are imprisoned by night, but alas, if ever they attain the light of life, what great war between themselves, what great battles and carnage will they arouse, the father-in-law (i.e. Gaius Julius Caesar), descending from his Alpine ramparts and from the fortress of Monoecus (i.e. Monaco), the son-in-law (i.e. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, or Pompey), arrayed against (him) with the (armies of) the East! Do not, my sons, accustom your thoughts to such great wars nor turn your mighty strength against the vital organs of your native-land. And you who traces his descent from Olympus (i.e. Gaius Julius Caesar), be you the first to show mercy. Throw down the weapon from your hand, (O you child of) my blood!"

32.  Ll. 836-853.  Other Republican heroes pass in review. Anchises expresses the view that the genius of the Roman people will express itself, not in the arts or science, but in war and the art of government.

Yonder (hero) (i.e. Lucius Mummius), while triumphing over Corinth, will drive his chariot in victory to the heights of the Capitol, renowned for the Achaeans (he has) slain. That (other hero) over there (i.e. Lucius Aemilius Paullus) will overthrow the Argos and the Mycenae of Agamemnon and the descendant of Aeacus himself, a scion of the mighty warrior Achilles (i.e. King Perseus), while avenging his Trojan ancestors and Minerva's desecrated temple. Who would leave you unremarked, great Cato (i.e. Marcus Porcius Cato 'the Censor' ), or you, Cossus (i.e. Servius Cornelius Cossus)? Or the clan of the Gracchi (i.e. especially Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus), or the two Scipiones (i.e. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Maior and Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Minor), two thunderbolts of war and the bane of Libya (i.e. Carthage), and Fabricius (i.e. Gaius Fabricius Luscinius), powerful with a little, or you, Serranus (i.e. Gaius Atilius Regulus Serranus), sowing in your furrow? Whither, Fabii, are you hurrying (me), weary (as I am)? You over there are Maximus (i.e. Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator), the only man who restored the state to us by delaying. Others (i.e. Greeks), indeed I do believe (this), will beat out breathing bronze more smoothly, will draw living likenesses out of marble (with more delicacy), will plead cases better, and, with a rod, describe the movements of the heavens, and predict the rising of the stars (more accurately); you, Romans, remember to rule with authority the peoples (of the earth) - these will be your arts - to impose the custom of peace, to spare the vanquished, and to crush the proud in war."

33.  Ll. 854-886.   Last among the pageant of Romans yet unborn is Augustus' nephew, Marcellus, a youth of singular beauty and great promise, but doomed to an untimely death. [N.B. When Virgil read these lines to Marcellus' mother Octavia, she is reputed to have fainted with emotion.] 

Thus spoke father Anchises, and, as they marvel, he adds these (words): "Look, how Marcellus (i.e. Marcus Claudius Marcellus, consul 222 B.C.) advances, marked out by the supreme spoils (i.e. the 'spolia opima'), and towers victoriously over all other men! He shall uphold the (fortunes of) the Roman state, (when) a great uprising shakes it; as a horseman, he shall lay low the Carthaginians and rebellious Gaul, and for the third time he shall offer up captured arms to Father Quirinus." But at this (point) Aeneas (said) - for he saw that there went along with (him) a youth, peerless in his beauty and in his resplendent armour, but his brow (was) far from joyful and his eyes (had) a downcast look - "Who, Father, is that, who thus accompanies the hero as he goes? (Is it) his son, or (is it) someone (else) from the great line of his descendants? What a stir (there is) round about his companions! What a great presence (there is) in (the youth) himself! But dark night hovers around his head with a mournful shadow." Then, father Anchises, his tears welling up, began (to speak): "O, my son, do not inquire about your (people's) great grief. The Fates will only give the earth a glimpse of him, and not allow him to live any longer. (O) Gods, the Roman stock would have seemed much too powerful to you, if these gifts of yours had been lasting. What bitter lamentations of warriors will the Field of Mavors waft to the mighty city! Or what a funeral cortege will you see, (Father) Tiber, when you glide past the newly-built tomb! Nor shall any other boy of the race of Ilium so much exalt his Latin ancestors in hope; nor will the land of Romulus ever take so much pride in any (one) of her children. Alas for his piety, alas for his ancient (sense of) honour, and his right (arm), invincible in war. No one would have borne himself unscathed when meeting him in battle, whether he were going against his enemy (as) a footsoldier, or he were pricking the flanks of his foaming steed with spurs. Alas, O pitiable boy, if (only) you could break, by any (means), the harsh (decrees) of fate! You will be Marcellus! Grant that I may scatter in handfuls purple lily flowers, and, that with these gifts at least I may crown the soul of my descendant and perform this service, unavailing (though it be)."

34.  Ll. 886-901.   Having fired up his son with the greatness of his destiny and having warned him of the trials that lie ahead of him in Italy, Anchises guides Aeneas and the Sibyl back to the world above via the Ivory Gate of Sleep. Aeneas rejoins his comrades and sails to Caieta.

So, they wander everywhere across the whole region among the broad misty fields, and they survey every (scene). After Anchises has led his son through them one by one, and has fired his spirit with longing for the glory that was to come, he then relates to the hero the wars that must then be waged, and tells (him) of the Laurentine people and the city of Latinus, and by what means he may avoid or endure each tribulation.

There are two Gates of Sleep, of which one is said (to be) of horn, by which an easy exit is offered to the spirits, (and) the other is made of shining white ivory, but (through it) the shades send false dreams up to the sky. When these (words) have been said, Anchises then escorts his son, and with (him) the Sibyl, and sends them forth through the Gate of Ivory.

He (i.e. Aeneas) traces his way to his ships and rejoins his comrades; then, he sails straight along the coast to the harbour of Caieta (i.e. Gaeta). The anchors are cast from the prows, and the sterns stand on the shore.


(These quotations are taken from Sabidius' article, "Quotations from Virgil," (see dated 8 October 2017).

1) Ll. 86-87.  Bella, horrida bella, / et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno. (I see wars, dreadful wars, and the Tiber foaming with much blood.

2) Ll. 126-129.  ... Facilis descensus Averno; / noctes atqui dies patet atri ianua Ditis; / sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, / hoc opus, hic labor est. (The descent to Avernus is straightforward: the door of black Dis stands open night and day, but to retrace one's steps and ascend to the air above, this is the task, this is the difficulty.)

3) L. 258.  Procul o, procul este, profani!  (Away with you, O away with you, you unhallowed ones!)

4) Ll. 295-297.  Hinc via Tartarei quae fert Acherontis ad undas. / turbidus hic caeno vastaque voragine gurges / aestuat atque omnem Cocyto eructat harenam. (From here lies the way that leads to the waters of Acheron. Here a mighty whirlpool seethes in mud and in its vast abysses, and belches forth all it sludge into the Cocytus.)

5) Ll. 298-300.  Portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina servat / terribili squalore Charon; cui plurima mento / canities inculta iacet; stant lumina flamma. (A grim ferryman keeps watch over these waters and rivers, Charon, terrible in his squalor: on his chin there grows a mass of untrimmed grey hair; his eyes are set in a blazing stare.)

6) L. 314.  Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.  (And they stretched out their hands in longing for the farther bank.)

7) Ll. 726-727.  Spiritus intus alit: totamque infusa per artus / mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet. (A spirit sustains from within: and Mind, coursing through its members, keeps the whole mass moving and mingles itself within its massive form.)

8)  Ll. 851-853.  Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, - / hae tibi erunt artes, - pacisque imponere morem, / parcere subiectis, et debellare superbos. (You, Romans, remember to rule with authority the peoples of the earth - these will be your arts - to impose the custom of peace, to spare the vanquished, and to crush the proud in war.

9) Ll. 893-896.  Sunt geminae Somni portae: quarum altera fertur / cornea, qua veris facilis datur exitus umbris, / altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto / sed falsa ad caelum mittunt insomnia Manes. (There are two gates of Sleep, of which one is said to be of horn, by which an easy exit is offered to the spirits, and the other is made of shining white ivory, but through it the shades send false dreams up to the sky.)


1. Alliteration i.e. repetition of the same sound, usually at the beginning of words.

a) L. 160.  multa inter sese vario sermone serebant (They exchanged many words between themselves in a conversation covering various matters.)

b) Ll. 335-336.  quos simul a Troia ventosa per aequora vectos / obruit Auster, aqua involvens navemque virosque. (who, while voyaging together with him over the windswept seas from Troy, the South Wind overwhelmed, engulfing both ship and crewmen.)

c) L. 390.  umbrarum hoc locus est, somni noctisque soporae. (This is the land of the shades, of sleep, and of sleep-inducing night.)

d) L. 683.  fataque fortunasque virum moresque manusque. (and the fates and fortunes of these men, and their characters and their exploits.)

e) L. 833.  neu patriae validas in viscera vertite viris. (nor turn your mighty strength against the vital organs of your native-land.)

f) L. 844.  vel te sulco, Serrane, serentem. (or you, Serranus, sowing in your furrow.)

2. Hendiadys i.e. a figure of syntax, in which a phrase, normally constituted by a noun and a modifying adjective is one involving two nouns joined by a conjunction.

a) L. 21.  Daedalus ipse dolos tecti ambagesque resolvit. Daedalus himself unravels the deceptive windings (lit. deceptions and windings) of the palace.

b) L.57-58.  Dardana qui Paridis derexti tela manusque / corpus in Aeacidae.  who guided an arrow from the hands (lit. arrow and the hands) of Paris into the body of Achilles.

c). L. 108.  ire ad conspectum cari genitoris et ora.  to go to see the sight of the face (lit. the sight and face) of my dear father.

d) L. 230.  spargens rore levi et ramo felicis olivae.  sprinkling them with a light dew from (lit. and with) the bough of a fruitful olive-tree.

e) L. 255. ecce autem, primi sub lumina solis et ortus.  but look, just before the rising beams (lit. beams and rising) of the new day

3. Hypallage. i.e. a change in the relation of words, by which a word, instead of agreeing with the case it logically qualifies is made to agree grammatically with another case.

a)  L. 26.  hic labor ille domus. Here is that house of toil (lit. that toil of a house)

4) Syllepsis i.e a figure of syntax in which a word has the same syntactical relationship to two or more words but has a different sense in relation to each.

a) L. 623.  hic thalamum invasit natae vetitosque hymenaeos (invasit). (This other man entered his daughter's bed-chamber and (contracted) a forbidden marriage

5. Tmesis. i.e. the separation of two parts of a compound word.

a) L. 62.  hac Troiana tenus fuerit fortuna secuta.  (Thus far only may the luck of Troy have followed us.) hactenus = thus far.

b) L.254.  pingue super oleum fundens ardentibus extis.  (pouring rich oil over the burning entrails.) superfundens = pouring over.
Last modified onSaturday, 07 April 2018 15:50

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