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