Aeneid Book 8, lines 347- 369

Aeneas tours the site of Rome

by Virgil

Father Tiber has appeared to Aeneas and advised him to ally himself with King Evander of the Arcadians, and has stilled his flow to allow Aeneas with two ships to row upstream against the current to Evander’s humble city of Pallanteum. Aeneas is well-received by Evander, whom he finds celebrating a festival to Hercules, commemorating the Demigod’s destruction of Cacus, a thieving ogre. The tale is told and the feast concluded, and Aeneas is entertained as a friend (The Arcadians are of course Greek, but that awkwardness is dealt with by demonstrating that Aeneas and Evander have ancestors in common). Now Evander shows Aeneas around Pallanteum, which is none other than the future Rome. Every site and every name on the tour makes a clear topographical reference to the Rome in which Virgil and his contemporary audience lived. It is as if a modern Londoner were shown a forest on the site of Buckingham palace and cattle grazing on the site of Big Ben.

See the illustrated blog post here.

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Vix ea dicta, dehinc progressus monstrat et aram
et Carmentalem Romani nomine portam
quam memorant, nymphae priscum Carmentis honorem,
vatis fatidicae, cecinit quae prima futuros
Aeneadas magnos et nobile Pallanteum.
hinc lucum ingentem, quem Romulus acer asylum
rettulit, et gelida monstrat sub rupe Lupercal
Parrhasio dictum Panos de more Lycaei.
nec non et sacri monstrat nemus Argileti
testaturque locum et letum docet hospitis Argi.
hinc ad Tarpeiam sedem et Capitolia ducit
aurea nunc, olim silvestribus horrida dumis.
iam tum religio pavidos terrebat agrestis
dira loci, iam tum silvam saxumque tremebant.
‘hoc nemus, hunc’ inquit ‘frondoso vertice collem
(quis deus incertum est) habitat deus; Arcades ipsum
credunt se vidisse Iovem, cum saepe nigrantem
aegida concuteret dextra nimbosque cieret.
haec duo praeterea disiectis oppida muris,
reliquias veterumque vides monimenta virorum.
hanc Ianus pater, hanc Saturnus condidit arcem;
Ianiculum huic, illi fuerat Saturnia nomen.’
talibus inter se dictis ad tecta subibant
pauperis Evandri, passimque armenta videbant
Romanoque foro et lautis mugire Carinis.
ut ventum ad sedes, ‘haec’ inquit ‘limina victor
Alcides subiit, haec illum regia cepit.
aude, hospes, contemnere opes et te quoque dignum
finge deo, rebusque veni non asper egenis.’
dixit, et angusti subter fastigia tecti
ingentem Aenean duxit stratisque locavit
effultum foliis et pelle Libystidis ursae:
nox ruit et fuscis tellurem amplectitur alis.

With that Evander pressed on and pointed out what
the Romans call the Carmental altar and gate,
as an age-old tribute to the Nymph Carmentis,
a seeress, the first to prophesy that the line of Aeneas
would be great and that Pallanteum would be noble.
Here he shows the huge grove that fierce Romulus would
turn into the Asylum, the Lupercal under its chilly crag,
by Arcadian tradition named after Pan of Mount Lycaeus.
He points out too the grove of sacred Argiletum,
tells of the death of Argus while his guest, and where
it happened. From here he leads on to the Tarpeian seat
and the Capitol, gold now, once a-bristle with thorn
brakes. Even then the dread aura of the place terrified
the country folk, even then they quaked at the wood
and the crag. “This grove, this leafy hill, a God haunts,
which one is uncertain; we Arcadians believe we have
seen Jove himself, shaking his black aegis with his
own hand to summon the storm-clouds.
Now, you see these two towns with walls in ruins,
the remains and memorials of men of old:
Father Janus founded this citadel, Saturn that one;
This one was called Janiculum, that one Saturnia.”
After their talk they neared the home of Evander, no
rich King, and saw cattle lowing everywhere in
the Roman forum and exclusive Carinae. As they
arrived, he said “Hercules himself crossed this
threshold after his victory, and this palace received
him. Be bold, hold riches in contempt and make yourself
also worthy of the God, do not look askance on our
humble means.” So saying, leading the huge Aeneas
under the roof of his narrow home, he installed him on
a couch of leaves topped with a Libyan bearskin:
night falls taking the world in its dark wings.


More Poems by Virgil

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