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