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