Aeneid Book 11, lines 24 - 58

Mourning for Pallas

by Virgil

As Book 11 begins, there has been a shift in the balance of fortunes for the Trojans and the Italians in their war against one another. Until now, the battle has been fought outside, and even inside, the beleaguered camp of the Trojans, while now Aeneas is able to advance on King Latinus’s stronghold. But first the dead must be honoured and buried, and Pallas, the fallen son of Aeneas’s ally, King Evander, must be brought home to his father.

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The English is from the translation by the 17th century poet, John Dryden.

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“Ite,’ ait ‘egregias animas, quae sanguine nobis
hanc patriam peperere suo, decorate supremis
muneribus, maestamque Evandri primus ad urbem
mittatur Pallas, quem non virtutis egentem
abstulit atra dies et funere mersit acerbo.’
Sic ait inlacrimans, recipitque ad limina gressum
corpus ubi exanimi positum Pallantis Acoetes
servabat senior, qui Parrhasio Evandro
armiger ante fuit, sed non felicibus aeque
tum comes auspiciis caro datus ibat alumno.
circum omnis famulumque manus Troianaque turba
et maestum Iliades crinem de more solutae.
ut vero Aeneas foribus sese intulit altis
ingentem gemitum tunsis ad sidera tollunt
pectoribus, maestoque immugit regia luctu.
ipse caput nivei fultum Pallantis et ora
ut vidit levique patens in pectore vulnus
cuspidis Ausoniae, lacrimis ita fatur obortis:
‘tene,’ inquit ‘miserande puer, cum laeta veniret,
invidit Fortuna mihi, ne regna videres
nostra neque ad sedes victor veherere paternas?
non haec Evandro de te promissa parenti
discedens dederam, cum me complexus euntem
mitteret in magnum imperium metuensque moneret
acris esse viros, cum dura proelia gente.
et nunc ille quidem spe multum captus inani
fors et vota facit cumulatque altaria donis,
nos iuvenem exanimum et nil iam caelestibus ullis
debentem vano maesti comitamur honore.
infelix, nati funus crudele videbis!
hi nostri reditus exspectatique triumphi?
haec mea magna fides? at non, Evandre, pudendis
vulneribus pulsum aspicies, nec sospite dirum
optabis nato funus pater. ei mihi quantum
praesidium, Ausonia, et quantum tu perdis, Iule!’

“That conquer’d earth be theirs, for which they fought,
And which for us with their own blood they bought;
But first the corpse of our unhappy friend
To the sad city of Evander send,
Who, not inglorious, in his age’s bloom,
Was hurried hence by too severe a doom.”
Thus, weeping while he spoke, he took his way,
Where, new in death, lamented Pallas lay.
Acoetes watch’d the corpse; whose youth deserv’d
The father’s trust; and now the son he serv’d
With equal faith, but less auspicious care.
Th’ attendants of the slain his sorrow share.
A troop of Trojans mix’d with these appear,
And mourning matrons with dishevel’d hair.
Soon as the prince appears, they raise a cry;
All beat their breasts, and echoes rend the sky.
They rear his drooping forehead from the ground;
But, when Aeneas view’d the grisly wound
Which Pallas in his manly bosom bore,
And the fair flesh distain’d with purple gore;
First, melting into tears, the pious man
Deplor’d so sad a sight, then thus began:
“Unhappy youth! when Fortune gave the rest
Of my full wishes, she refus’d the best!
She came; but brought not thee along, to bless
My longing eyes, and share in my success:
She grudg’d thy safe return, the triumphs due
To prosp’rous valor, in the public view.
Not thus I promis’d, when thy father lent
Thy needless succor with a sad consent;
Embrac’d me, parting for th’ Etrurian land,
And sent me to possess a large command.
He warn’d, and from his own experience told,
Our foes were warlike, disciplin’d, and bold.
And now perhaps, in hopes of thy return,
Rich odors on his loaded altars burn,
While we, with vain officious pomp, prepare
To send him back his portion of the war,
A bloody breathless body, which can owe
No farther debt, but to the pow’rs below.
The wretched father, ere his race is run,
Shall view the fun’ral honors of his son.
These are my triumphs of the Latian war,
Fruits of my plighted faith and boasted care!
And yet, unhappy sire, thou shalt not see
A son whose death disgrac’d his ancestry;
Thou shalt not blush, old man, however griev’d:
Thy Pallas no dishonest wound receiv’d.
He died no death to make thee wish, too late,
Thou hadst not liv’d to see his shameful fate:
But what a champion has th’ Ausonian coast,
And what a friend hast thou, Ascanius, lost!”


More Poems by Virgil

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