Aeneid Book 4, lines 129 - 172

Dido and Aeneas: royal hunt and royal affair

by Virgil

A royal hunt follows a gorgeous levee: a great storm rocks all of nature and is matched by the storm of passion between Dido and Aeneas, sheltering in their cave.

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Oceanum interea surgens Aurora reliquit.
it portis iubare exorto delecta iuventus,
retia rara, plagae, lato venabula ferro
Massylique ruunt equites et odora canum vis.
reginam thalamo cunctantem ad limina primi
Poenorum exspectant, ostroque insignis et auro
stat sonipes ac frena ferox spumantia mandit.
tandem progreditur magna stipante caterva
Sidoniam picto chlamydem circumdata limbo;
cui pharetra ex auro, crines nodantur in aurum,
aurea purpuream subnectit fibula vestem.
nec non et Phrygii comites et laetus Iulus
incedunt. ipse ante alios pulcherrimus omnis
infert se socium Aeneas atque agmina iungit.
qualis ubi hibernam Lyciam Xanthique fluenta
deserit ac Delum maternam invisit Apollo
instauratque choros, mixtique altaria circum
Cretesque Dryopesque fremunt pictique Agathyrsi;
ipse iugis Cynthi graditur mollique fluentem
fronde premit crinem fingens atque implicat auro,
tela sonant umeris: haud illo segnior ibat
Aeneas, tantum egregio decus enitet ore.

postquam altos ventum in montis atque invia lustra,
ecce ferae saxi deiectae vertice caprae
decurrere iugis; alia de parte patentis
transmittunt cursu campos atque agmina cervi
pulverulenta fuga glomerant montisque relinquunt.
at puer Ascanius mediis in vallibus acri
gaudet equo iamque hos cursu, iam praeterit illos,
spumantemque dari pecora inter inertia votis
optat aprum, aut fulvum descendere monte leonem.

Interea magno misceri murmure caelum
incipit, insequitur commixta grandine nimbus,
et Tyrii comites passim et Troiana iuventus
Dardaniusque nepos Veneris diversa per agros
tecta metu petiere; ruunt de montibus amnes.
speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem
deveniunt. prima et Tellus et pronuba Iuno
dant signum; fulsere ignes et conscius aether
conubiis summoque ulularunt vertice Nymphae.

Meanwhile Dawn, rising, left the Ocean. Day broken,
the pick of the young men go to the gates, fine nets,
snares, spears with broad blades, Massylian riders
burst forth, and sharp-nosed strength of hounds.
The Phoenician élite at the threshold await the Queen,
pausing in her chamber: her horse stands splendid
in purple and gold – fiery, it champs the foaming bit.
Finally she comes forth, in a Sidonian robe with an
embroidered border, a large throng crowding round,
her quiver is of gold, her hair bound in gold,
golden the brooch that fastens her purple dress.
The Trojan comrades, and joyous Iulus too,
come forward. Beyond all others in beauty, Aeneas
himself bestows his company and unites both throngs.
Like Apollo when he leaves wintry Lycia and
Xanthus’s stream, visits his Mother’s Delos
and revives the dances, and mingling round the altars
the Cretans, Dryopes and painted Agathyrsi roar;
he mounts the ridge of Cynthus, tops his flowing hair
with soft leaves, dressing and binding it with gold,
his weapons ring on his shoulders: no less strikingly went
Aeneas, the same glory shines from his matchless face.

When they had come to the high hills and pathless wilds,
see, the wild goats, driven from the top of the crag,
pour down the ridges; elsewhere herds of deer cross
the open ground at a run, unite their bands, kicking up the dust in flight, and leave the high country behind.
In the valleys young Ascanius glories in his keen mount,
outpaces now these, now those in the chase, wishing that
among this dull quarry a frothing boar might be bestowed
for his vows, or a golden lion descend from the mountain.

Meanwhile the sky began to be churned with a great
rumbling, cloud follows mingled with hail and everywhere
the Phoenician brotherhood, Trojan youth and Venus’s
grandson, alarmed, sought shelters throughout the fields:
torrents hurtle down from the mountains. Dido and
the Dardan leader come to the same grotto. Primal Earth
and Juno, Lady of weddings, give the sign: lightning
and sky, sensing the union, flashed, Nymphs
howl on the topmost peak.