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 already here in Book 3 of the Aeneid from Helenus, the Trojan prince who has won himself a new kingdom among Greeks.

See the illustrated blog post here.

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.

To follow extracts from the Aeneid in narrative order, navigate from the links at the foot of Virgil’s poet page 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.

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