Dido, founding Queen of Carthage, captivated by Aeneas’s tale of the fall of Troy and his years of wandering, has fallen madly in love.
To follow the story of the Aeneid in sequence, use this link to navigate from the foot of Virgil’s poet page.
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heu, vatum ignarae mentes! quid vota furentem,
quid delubra iuvant? est mollis flamma medullas
interea et tacitum vivit sub pectore vulnus.
uritur infelix Dido totaque vagatur
urbe furens, qualis coniecta cerva sagitta,
quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit
pastor agens telis liquitque volatile ferrum
nescius: illa fuga silvas saltusque peragrat
Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo.
nunc media Aenean secum per moenia ducit
Sidoniasque ostentat opes urbemque paratam,
incipit effari mediaque in voce resistit;
nunc eadem labente die convivia quaerit,
Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores
exposcit pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore.
post ubi digressi, lumenque obscura vicissim
luna premit suadentque cadentia sidera somnos,
sola domo maeret vacua stratisque relictis
incubat. illum absens absentem auditque videtque,
aut gremio Ascanium genitoris imagine capta
detinet, infandum si fallere possit amorem.
non coeptae adsurgunt turres, non arma iuventus
exercet portusve aut propugnacula bello
tuta parant: pendent opera interrupta minaeque
murorum ingentes aequataque machina caelo.
Ah, the unknowing minds of seers! What help are offerings
or shrines to one raging with love? Meanwhile soft flame
gnaws her marrow and the silent wound lives deep
in her breast. Poor Dido burns and, raging, wanders
the whole city like an unwary deer that a shepherd hunting
with his weapons in Cretan woods has hit with an arrow
far off and left the flying steel in her unawares:
she runs in flight through Dictaean woods and dales
and the deadly shaft sticks in her side.
Now she leads Aeneas through the middle of the city
showing Sidon’s wealth and the town she has built;
she begins to talk, breaks off in mid-speech;
now seeks the same banquet over again as day declines,
desperate, asks to hear again of the Trojans’ troubles,
and again hangs on the storyteller’s lips.
When they are gone, and the faint moon in turn dims
her light and declining stars counsel sleep, she mourns
alone in the empty house and lies on the couch he has
left. Away from him, she hears and sees him though not
there, or holds Ascanius in her lap, rapt with the father’s
image, in hope to cheat a love that cannot be uttered.
Towers, begun, rise no more, young men do not
practice combat, build harbours or safe
defences for war; the works, the mighty threats
of the walls, the soaring cranes, all hang suspended.