Aeneid Book 2, lines 286-313

Hector visits Aeneas in a dream

by Virgil

Sinon, a Greek agent who has infiltrated the Trojans, has released the warriors hidden in the wooden horse. The sack of Troy is starting, and what an electrifying piece of writing it will be. But Virgil has a problem to solve. Epic heroes stand and fight: how can Aeneas flee without forfeiting his honour and mystique? Here, the dead Hector, Troy’s supreme fighting hero, begins the groundwork. He comes to Aeneas in a dream and tells him that the city must fall. Aeneas’s duty is not to die vainly, but to take responsibility for Troy’s sacred relics and bring them safely to a new home. Aeneas wakes and finds himself confronted by a terrible reality.

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ille nihil, nec me quaerentem vana moratur,
sed graviter gemitus imo de pectore ducens,
“heu fuge, nate dea, teque his”, ait, “eripe flammis.
hostis habet muros; ruit alto a culmine Troia.
sat patriae Priamoque datum: si Pergama dextra
defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.
sacra suosque tibi commendat Troia penates:
hos cape fatorum comites, his moenia quaere
magna, pererrato statues quae denique ponto.”
sic ait et manibus vittas Vestamque potentem
aeternumque adytis effert penetralibus ignem.
diverso interea miscentur moenia luctu,
et magis atque magis, quamquam secreta parentis
Anchisae domus arboribusque obtecta recessit,
clarescunt sonitus armorumque ingruit horror.
excutior somno et summi fastigia tecti
ascensu supero atque arrectis auribus asto:
in segetem veluti cum flamma furentibus Austris
incidit, aut rapidus montano flumine torrens
sternit agros, sternit sata laeta boumque labores,
praecipitesque trahit silvas: stupet inscius alto
accipiens sonitum saxi de vertice pastor.
Tum vero manifesta fides, Danaumque patescunt
insidiae. iam Deiphobi dedit ampla ruinam,
Vulcano superante domus; iam proximus ardet
Ucalegon; Sigea igni freta lata relucent:
exoritur clamorque virum clangorque tubarum.

He says nothing and ignores my empty questions,
but drawing deep and heavy groans, says “Ah, flee,
Goddess-born, snatch yourself from these flames.
the enemy has the walls; Troy crashes from its zenith.
Enough has been given for Troy and Priam: if the citadel
were defensible by deeds, mine would have defended it.
Her sacred relics and her Gods, Troy entrusts to you:
take them to share your fate, seek them a stronghold, one
you will found when long journeys on the sea are done.”
Next, in his hands he brings great Vesta, her priests’
bands and the eternal flame from the holy of holies.
Meanwhile, in the city cries of grief and confusion reign,
and more and more, though my Father Anchises’ house
is secluded and screened by trees, the noise grows
louder, and the grim sound of battle intensifies.
Torn from sleep, I climb to the very top of the roof
and stand listening intently: it is as though flame
were tearing into cornfields as south winds rage, swift
torrents from a mountain river laying flat the fields,
the thriving crops and the fruits of the oxen’s labour,
smashing the woodlands down: confused and dumbstruck,
the shepherd faces the din from the top of his rock.
Now the Greeks’ honour is clear, their betrayals laid
bare. Deiphobus’ mansion, Vulcan’s fire towering above,
has fallen in ruin: by it burns the house of Ucalegon;
the broad Sigean strait blazes with reflected light:
up go the shouts of men and the blare of trumpets.


More Poems by Virgil

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