Aeneid Book 2, Lines 679 - 710

Aeneas rescues his Father Anchises

by Virgil

Aeneas is still telling Queen Dido of the fall of Troy. After the death of King Priam, Aeneas’s night again swings wildly. Desperate bloodshed alternates with supernatural and human encouragement to escape, preserve the gods and heritage of Troy and lay the basis for Rome and its imperial family. His mother, Venus, has just told him that it is really the Gods, who cannot be resisted, who are destroying the city, and not the Greeks. Aeneas has tried but failed to persuade his father Anchises to join him in escape. (Anchises has an unusual disability: Jupiter once scorched him with his thunderbolt for boasting about his affair with Venus.) In this extract, signs from Jupiter himself persuade Anchises to relent and allow Aeneas to carry him to safety. As well as being the grandson of Jupiter, the little boy, Iulus, is the ancestor of Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus.

See the illustrated blog post here.

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Talia vociferans gemitu tectum omne replebat,
cum subitum dictuque oritur mirabile monstrum.
namque manus inter maestorumque ora parentum
ecce levis summo de vertice visus Iuli
fundere lumen apex, tactuque innoxia mollis
lambere flamma comas et circum tempora pasci.
nos pavidi trepidare metu crinemque flagrantem
excutere et sanctos restinguere fontibus ignis.
at pater Anchises oculos ad sidera laetus
et caelo palmas cum voce tetendit:
“Iuppiter omnipotens, precibus si flecteris ullis,
aspice nos, hoc tantum, et si pietate meremur,
da deinde augurium, pater, atque haec omina firma.”
vix ea fatus erat senior, subitoque fragore
intonuit laevum, et de caelo lapsa per umbras
stella facem ducens multa cum luce cucurrit.
illam summa super labentem culmina tecti
cernimus Idaea claram se condere silva
signantemque vias; tum longo limite sulcus
dat lucem et late circum loca sulpure fumant.
hic vero victus genitor se tollit ad auras
adfaturque deos et sanctum sidus adorat.
“iam iam nulla mora est; sequor et qua ducitis adsum
di patrii; servate domum, servate nepotem.
vestrum hoc augurium, vestroque in numine Troia est.
cedo equidem, nec, nate, tibi comes ire recuso.”
dixerat ille, et iam per moenia clarior ignis
auditur, propiusque aestus incendia volvunt.
“ergo age, care pater, cervici imponere nostrae;
ipse subibo umeris nec me labor iste gravabit;
quo res cumque cadent, unum et commune periclum,
una salus ambobus erit.”

So saying, Creusa filled the whole house with her groans,
when suddenly there came an amazing portent.
Before his sad parents’ very eyes, and between
their hands, a soft glow was seen to pour
down light from the top of Iulus’s head and a flame,
harmless to the touch, to graze on his hair and temples.
Alarmed, we shook with fear, snuffed out his
burning hair and quenched the holy fire with water.
Joyfully, Father Anchises raised his eyes, hands
and voice to the stars and the heavens:
“Almighty Jupiter, if you are moved by any prayers,
look on us and, if by our faith we are worthy,
grant us the boon of confirming this omen!”
No sooner had he spoken, than with a sudden crash
There was thunder from the left, and from the sky
a star shot blazing through the dark with a great light.
We saw it streak over the rooftop and bury
its brightness in the woods of Mount Ida,
to show us the way; far and wide, its track shines
and the land all around smokes with sulphur.
Now convinced indeed, my Father stretches up,
addresses the Gods and worships the holy star.
“Not a moment’s delay; Gods of my Fathers, I follow
Where you lead; save my house, save my grandson!
This sign is yours, and Troy is under your protection.
I yield, my son, and do not refuse to be your comrade.”
As he ceased, at once the roar of fires is heard louder
Through the city, and the blaze rolls its storm closer.
“Come, dear Father, climb onto my back;
I will bear you on my shoulders and the task will be light;
come what may, for us there will be one shared
danger, and one safety for us both.”

`

More Poems by Virgil

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