Aeneid Book 2, lines 1-13

Aeneas prepares to tell Dido his story

by Virgil

As Book 2 begins, Queen Dido of Carthage has asked Aeneas to tell the story of his wanderings and the fall of Troy. Aeneas dominates the scene: The company cannot take their eyes off him in his elevated place of honour, spellbound by his presence and the dignified emotion with which he speaks. The poem’s audience were no doubt meant to think of Aeneas’s descendant, the Emperor Augustus. The Myrmidons were the followers of Achilles, and Ulixes is Homer’s Odysseus, the trickster-king who thought of the Trojan Horse.

See 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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Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant.
inde toro pater Aeneas sic orsus ab alto:
“infandum, regina, iubes renovare dolorem,
Troianas ut opes et lamentabile regnum
eruerint Danai, quaeque ipse miserrima vidi
et quorum pars magna fui. quis talia fando
Myrmidonum Dolopumve aut duri miles Ulixi
temperet a lacrimis? et iam nox umida caelo
praecipitat suadentque cadentia sidera somnos.
sed si tantus amor casus cognoscere nostros
et breviter Troiae supremum audire laborem,
quamquam animus meminisse horret luctuqe refugit,
incipiam.”

All fell silent and kept their gaze intently on him.
From his high couch Father Aeneas began to speak:
Inexpressible, O Queen, is the pain you bid me revive,
how Trojan wealth and its lamented kingdom
were annihilated by Greeks, terrible events I witnessed
and was great part of. Who, telling of such things,
even a Myrmidon, Dolopian, or one of cruel Ulysses’s men,
would not weep? Already, night and dew fall swiftly
from the heavens, and setting stars call us to sleep.
Yet if you would so love to know our disasters
and briefly hear the final agony of Troy,
though my mind, shuddering to recall,shies away in pain,
I shall attempt it.”

`

More Poems by Virgil

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