The Aeneid, Book 8, lines 26 - 67

Help for Father Aeneas from Father Tiber

by Virgil

In his dreams Aeneas, troubled at the prospect of war now that his enemy, Juno, has intervened to turn an initially peaceful relationship with the Latins sour, is visited and advised by Father Tiber. We have heard the river’s prophecy of the white sow before here in Book 3 of the Aeneid from Helenus, the Trojan prince who has won himself a new kingdom among Greeks.

The river says that Aeneas is bringing Troy and its gods “back” to Italy because in Virgil’s mythology Dardanus, the founder of Troy, was originally an Italian.

See the illustrated blog post here.

To follow the story of Aeneas in sequence, use this link to the full Pantheon Poets selection of extracts from the Aeneid. See the next episode here.

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nox erat et terras animalia fessa per omnis
alituum pecudumque genus sopor altus habebat,
cum pater in ripa gelidique sub aetheris axe
Aeneas, tristi turbatus pectora bello,
procubuit seramque dedit per membra quietem.
huic deus ipse loci fluvio Tiberinus amoeno
populeas inter senior se attollere frondes
visus (eum tenuis glauco velabat amictu
carbasus, et crinis umbrosa tegebat harundo),
tum sic adfari et curas his demere dictis:
‘O sate gente deum, Troianam ex hostibus urbem
qui revehis nobis aeternaque Pergama servas,
exspectate solo Laurenti arvisque Latinis,
hic tibi certa domus, certi (ne absiste) penates.
neu belli terrere minis; tumor omnis et irae
concessere deum.
iamque tibi, ne vana putes haec fingere somnum,
litoreis ingens inventa sub ilicibus sus
triginta capitum fetus enixa iacebit,
alba solo recubans, albi circum ubera nati.
hic locus urbis erit, requies ea certa laborum,
ex quo ter denis urbem redeuntibus annis
Ascanius clari condet cognominis Albam.
haud incerta cano. nunc qua ratione quod instat
expedias victor, paucis (adverte) docebo.
Arcades his oris, genus a Pallante profectum,
qui regem Euandrum comites, qui signa secuti,
delegere locum et posuere in montibus urbem
Pallantis proavi de nomine Pallanteum.
hi bellum adsidue ducunt cum gente Latina;
hos castris adhibe socios et foedera iunge.
ipse ego te ripis et recto flumine ducam,
adversum remis superes subvectus ut amnem.
surge age, nate dea, primisque cadentibus astris
Iunoni fer rite preces, iramque minasque
supplicibus supera votis. mihi victor honorem
persolves. ego sum pleno quem flumine cernis
stringentem ripas et pinguia culta secantem,
caeruleus Thybris, caelo gratissimus amnis.
hic mihi magna domus, celsis caput urbibus exit.’
Dixit, deinde lacu fluvius se condidit alto
ima petens; nox Aenean somnusque reliquit.

It was night, and over all the land a deep sleep held
all tired living things and the tribes of beasts and birds
as Father Aeneas, troubled at heart by cruel war,
lay down by the shore under the chilly vault of the sky
and finally gave over his limbs to rest. The venerable
Tiberinus, the God of the place, seemed to him to rise
from the pleasant river among the poplar leaves, wisps
of flax covering him with a grey cloak and shady reeds
hiding his hair, and to address him and solace his cares
with these words: “Aeneas, sprung from the race of Gods,
you who bring Troy back to us from its enemies
and preserve Pergamum immortal, persevere and do not
give up: here on Laurentine soil and in the fields of
Latium, hope for a home for you and your household gods
is certain. Do not be daunted by threats of war: all
the anger and resentment of the Gods have ceased.
Lest you should think this an illusion, caused by sleep,
you shall find a huge white sow, just farrowed of thirty
young, lying under the ilexes by the shore, and her
offspring, white like her, lying at her teats. Here will be
the site of your city, and certain rest from your trouble,
where, after three times ten returning years roll by,
Ascanius will found it under the famous name of Alba.
My prophecy is sure. Now listen, and I will tell plainly
why you will overcome the threats that face you now.
Arcadians, descended from Pallas, have come to these
shores as companions of Evander their King, and, guided
by omens, chosen a site and built a city in the hills,
calling it Pallanteum after their ancestor Pallas. They wage
ceaseless war with the Latin people: bring them into
your forces as allies, and bind them to you by treaty.
I myself will take you there upstream within my banks,
so that you can overcome the river’s flow under oars. Rise,
Goddess-born, and as the first stars set, make prayers
with due rites to Juno, and overcome her threats and anger
with vows. When you triumph, pay me due honours.
I am he that you see gliding by my banks and cutting
in my deep stream through the fertile fields, the blue
Tiber, most pleasing of rivers to heaven. There is my great
home, and my source rises among lofty cities.”
The river finished and vanished into the deeps of the pool:
night and dream loosed Aeneas from their hold.


More Poems by Virgil

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