Aeneid Book 7, lines 116- 147

Aeneas arrives in Italy

by Virgil

Aeneas and the Trojans anchor at long last in Italy at the mouth of the Tiber, in the realm of King Latinus. The King is old and has no male heirs: his succession depends on his daughter, Lavinia. His Queen, Amata, favours a marriage with Turnus, King of the neighbouring Rutuli, but Latinus has doubts because, as we have already seen, omens have been contrary, with Lavinia’s hair set alight in an eerie accident which a seer has interpreted as foretelling that Lavinia will wed and found a famous race, but with a foreign, not an Italian, bridegroom.

Meanwhile an oracle is fulfilled which leads Aeneas to prepare to found his new city. The Harpy Celaeno (not Aeneas’s father, Anchises, as Virgil says here) has foretold that the Trojans will be reduced by hunger to gnawing their tables. The Trojans have just ended a meal by eating the wheaten platters it has been served on.

You can see the Harpy’s prophecy here, and the illustrated blog post here.

To follow the story of Aeneas in sequence, use this link to the full Pantheon Poets selection of extracts from the Aeneid. See the next episode here.

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“Heus! etiam mensas consumimus,” inquit Iulus,
nec plura adludens. ea vox audita laborum
prima tulit finem, primamque loquentis ab ore
eripuit pater ac stupefactus numine pressit.
continuo: “Salve fatis mihi debita tellus
vosque,” ait, “O fidi Troiae salvete penates:
hic domus, haec patria est. genitor mihi talia namque
(nunc repeto) Anchises fatorum arcana reliquit:
‘cum te, nate, fames ignota ad litora vectum
accisis coget dapibus consumere mensas,
tum sperare domos defessus ibique memento
prima locare manu molirique aggere tecta.’
haec erat illa fames; haec nos suprema manebat,
exiliis positura modum.
quare agite et primo laeti cum lumine solis
quae loca, quive habeant homines, ubi moenia gentis,
vestigemus et a portu diversa petamus.
nunc pateras libate Iovi precibusque vocate
Anchisen genitorem, et vina reponite mensis.”
sic deinde effatus frondenti tempora ramo
implicat et geniumque loci primamque deorum
Tellurem nymphasque et adhuc ignota precatur
flumina, tum Noctem Noctisque orientia signa
Idaeumque Iovem Phrygiamque ex ordine matrem
invocat et duplicis caeloque ereboque parentis.
hic pater omnipotens ter caelo clarus ab alto
intonuit radiisque ardentem lucis et auro
ipse manu quatiens ostendit ab aethere nubem.
diditur hic subito Troiana per agmina rumor
advenisse diem, quo debita moenia condant.
certatim instaurant epulas atque omine magno
crateras laeti statuunt et vina coronant.

“Well, we’re even eating the tables!” said Iulus
as a brief joke. Hearing that speech first brought an
end to their troubles, and his father snatched it from
his lips even as he spoke and took it up, stunned by the
omen. At once, “Hail, land promised by the fates,
and hail you loyal household Gods of Troy!” he said:
This is our home, this our fatherland. Now I remember,
my father Anchises left me these secrets from the fates:
‘son, when you are brought to unknown lands and food
runs short and hunger makes you eat your tables, then,
though exhausted, hope for homes, and remember to set
your hand for the first time to building a city
and rampart. This was that hunger, the culmination
destined to put an end to our exile. So come, and
at the first light of the sun, in gladness let us spread
out from the anchorage, find out what place this is,
who possesses it and where their city is.
But now pour libations to Jove, call on my father
Anchises in prayer, and put wine again on the tables.”
With that he bound his temples with a branch in leaf,
and prayed in due order to the spirit of the place,
Gaea, first of the Gods, the nymphs, the rivers, till now
unknown, then Night, and the signs Night gives of dawn,
Idaean Jove and Cybele, the Phrygian Mother, and both
his own parents, in heaven and the netherworld.
The almighty Father thundered clearly three times,
and showed in the golden heavens a cloud, blazing with rays of light, brandishing it in his own hand.
At once the news spreads through the Trojan lines that
the day has come to found their promised city walls. They
race to prepare the feast and, joyful at the great
portent, set up the mixing-bowls and pour out the wine.


More Poems by Virgil

  1. Aeneas comes to the Hell of Tartarus
  2. Charon, the ferryman
  3. Juno is reconciled
  4. Aeneas is wounded
  5. Dido and Aeneas: Hell hath no fury …
  6. Dido and Aeneas: royal hunt and royal affair
  7. Laocoon warns against the Trojan horse
  8. The Fury Allecto blows the alarm
  9. The Aeneid begins
  10. Aeneas sees Marcellus, Augustus’s tragic heir
  11. Virgil begins the Georgics
  12. The death of Pallas
  13. Sea-nymphs
  14. The infant Camilla
  15. Omens for Princess Lavinia
  16. The Trojans reach Carthage
  17. More from Virgil’s farming Utopia
  18. The death of Dido.
  19. Virgil’s poetic temple to Caesar
  20. Fire strikes Aeneas’s fleet
  21. King Latinus grants the Trojans’ request
  22. Love is the same for all
  23. Virgil predicts a forthcoming birth and a new golden age
  24. The Trojan Horse enters the city
  25. Turnus at bay
  26. The death of Priam
  27. The journey to Hades begins
  28. Help for Father Aeneas from Father Tiber
  29. The Trojans prepare to set sail from Carthage
  30. Storm at sea!
  31. Aeneas reaches the Elysian Fields
  32. Turnus the wolf
  33. Aristaeus’s bees
  34. Mourning for Pallas
  35. Rumour
  36. The death of Euryalus and Nisus
  37. Aeneas prepares to tell Dido his story
  38. The portals of sleep
  39. Souls awaiting punishment in Tartarus, and the crimes that brought them there.
  40. How Aeneas will know the site of his city
  41. Aeneas’s vision of Augustus
  42. The Syrian hostess
  43. Aeneas tours the site of Rome
  44. Aeneas learns the way to the underworld
  45. The farmer’s starry calendar
  46. Dido’s release
  47. Aeneas saves his son and father, but at a cost
  48. Aeneas joins the fray
  49. Juno throws open the gates of war
  50. Aeneas’s oath
  51. Rites for the allies’ dead
  52. Turnus is lured away from battle
  53. The farmer’s happy lot
  54. Signs of bad weather
  55. Aeneas rescues his Father Anchises
  56. Virgil’s perils on the sea
  57. A Fury rouses Turnus to war
  58. Catastrophe for Rome?
  59. In King Latinus’s hall
  60. Aeneas’s ships are transformed
  61. Palinurus the helmsman is lost
  62. Hector visits Aeneas in a dream
  63. Anchises’s ghost invites Aeneas to visit the underworld
  64. New allies for Aeneas
  65. The natural history of bees
  66. Laocoon and the snakes
  67. Aeneas finds Dido among the shades
  68. The Harpy’s prophecy
  69. King Mezentius meets his match
  70. Mercury’s journey to Carthage
  71. Jupiter’s prophecy
  72. Vulcan’s forge
  73. Dido falls in love