Newly arrived in Italy, Aeneas has sent an embassy to the King asking to be allowed to settle peacefully. King Latinus thinks hard about what Aeneas’s ambassador Ilioneus has had to say. He hesitates at first, but then whole-heartedly grants Aeneas’s request, and adds that he will offer him his daughter in marriage. Turnus, the leader of the neighbouring Rutuli and the candidate favoured by Latinus’s Queen for Lavinia’s hand, will not be pleased.
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Talibus Ilionei dictis defixa Latinus
obtutu tenet ora soloque immobilis haeret
intentos volvens oculos. Nec purpura regem
picta movet nec sceptra movent Priameia tantum,
quantum in conubio natae thalamoque moratur,
et veteris Fauni volvit sub pectore sortem,
hunc illum fatis externa ab sede profectum
portendi generum paribusque in regna vocari
auspiciis, huic progeniem virtute futuram
egregiam et totum quae viribus occupet orbem.
tandem laetus ait: ‘Di nostra incepta secundent
auguriumque suum; dabitur, Troiane, quod optas,
munera nec sperno. non vobis rege Latino
divitis uber agri Troiaeve opulentia deerit.
ipse modo Aeneas, nostri si tanta cupido est,
si iungi hospitio properat sociusque vocari,
adveniat voltus neve exhorrescat amicos:
illi pacis erit dextram tetigisse tyranni.
vos contra regi mea nunc mandata referte.
est mihi nata, viro gentis quam iungere nostrae
non patrio ex adyto sortes, non plurima caelo
monstra sinunt: generos externis adfore ab oris,
hoc Latio restare canunt, qui sanguine nostrum
nomen in astra ferant. Hunc illum poscere fata
et reor et, siquid veri mens augurat, opto.’
When Ilioneus finished, Latinus, face downturned,
sat motionless, except for his eyes intently scanning
the ground. The embroidered purple robe and Priam’s
sceptre do not move him beyond the hesitation he feels
about his daughter’s marriage and bridal bed, deeply
pondering old Faunus’s oracle, and whether this might be
the son-in-law predicted by the fates, come from abroad
and called to the realm with equal authority, if the
posterity to come was his that would excel through virtue,
occupy the whole world through its might. Content at last,
he said: “May the Gods second our purposes,and their own
augury; what you wish for, Trojan, will be granted;
gladly, I accept your gifts. While Latinus reigns, you will
not lack the wealth of fertile lands, rich as those of Troy.
Only let Aeneas himself, if his desire for us is so great, if
he is eager to be joined in friendship, to be called our ally,
let him come, and not shun our friendly faces: for him
it will mean peace to have clasped the hand of the king.
But now take my answer to your ruler. I have a daughter,
whom oracles from my fathers’ tomb and many signs
of heaven do not permit to be joined to a man of our own
blood. They sing of a match from foreign shores, who will
remain here in Latium, through his line will lift our name
to the stars. That this is he that the fates demand, I
believe, and, if my thought is true, I wish as well.