Aeneid Book 8, lines 505 - 531

New allies for Aeneas

by Virgil

The God of the Tiber has advised that Aeneas should seek an alliance with an Arcadian people living on the future site of Rome. In this extract, their King, Evander, explains that he can give only limited help: he offers it anyway, and also suggests where Aeneas may be able to find reinforcements on a much bigger scale.

Agyllina, an Etruscan city, has expelled a cruel tyrant, Mezentius, who has taken refuge with Turnus, Aeneas’s bitter enemy. The Etruscans want to continue the battle against Mezentius and are a powerful force, but an oracle has told them that no Italian leader can prevail against Turnus’s Rutulians, and they should seek a foreign general. Evander, who is Greek, has been offered the task, but turned it down because of age and infirmity, and his valiant son, Pallas, is ineligible because his mother was Italian. Aeneas, however, Evander suggests, could be the very man.

The English version is from the translation of Virgil published by John Dryden (1631 – 1700) in 1697. Dryden was appointed Poet Laureate in 1668.

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“ipse oratores ad me regnique coronam
cum sceptro misit mandatque insignia Tarchon,
succedam castris Tyrrhenaque regna capessam.
sed mihi tarda gelu saeclisque effeta senectus
invidet imperium seraeque ad fortia vires.
natum exhortarer, ni mixtus matre Sabella
hinc partem patriae traheret. tu, cuius et annis
et generi fatum indulget, quem numina poscunt,
ingredere, o Teucrum atque Italum fortissime ductor.
hunc tibi praeterea, spes et solacia nostri,
Pallanta adiungam; sub te tolerare magistro
militiam et grave Martis opus, tua cernere facta
adsuescat, primis et te miretur ab annis.
Arcadas huic equites bis centum, robora pubis
lecta dabo, totidemque suo tibi nomine Pallas.’
Vix ea fatus erat, defixique ora tenebant
Aeneas Anchisiades et fidus Achates,
multaque dura suo tristi cum corde putabant,
ni signum caelo Cytherea dedisset aperto.
namque improviso vibratus ab aethere fulgor
cum sonitu venit et ruere omnia visa repente,
Tyrrhenusque tubae mugire per aethera clangor.
suspiciunt, iterum atque iterum fragor increpat ingens.
arma inter nubem caeli in regione serena
per sudum rutilare vident et pulsa tonare.
obstipuere animis alii, sed Troius heros
agnovit sonitum et divae promissa parentis.

“Tarchon, the Tuscan chief, to me has sent
Their crown, and ev’ry regal ornament.
The people join their own with his desire;
And all my conduct, as their king, require
But the chill blood that creeps within my veins,
And age, and listless limbs unfit for pains,
And a soul conscious of its own decay,
Have forc’d me to refuse imperial sway
My Pallas were more fit to mount the throne,
And should, but he’s a Sabine mother’s son,
And half a native; but, in you, combine
A manly vigor, and a foreign line.
Where Fate and smiling Fortune shew the way,
Pursue the ready path to sov’reign sway.
The staff of my declining days, my son,
Shall make your good or ill success his own;
In fighting fields from you shall learn to dare,
And serve the hard apprenticeship of war;
Your matchless courage and your conduct view,
And early shall begin t’ admire and copy you
Besides, two hundred horse he shall command;
Tho’ few, a warlike and well-chosen band.
These in my name are listed, and my son
As many more has added in his own”
Scarce had he said; Achates and his guest,
With downcast eyes, their silent grief express’d;
Who, short of succors, and in deep despair,
Shook at the dismal prospect of the war.
But his bright mother, from a breaking cloud,
To cheer her issue, thunder’d thrice aloud;
Thrice forky lightning flash’d along the sky,
And Tyrrhene trumpets thrice were heard on high.
Then, gazing up, repeated peals they hear,
And, in a heav’n serene, refulgent arms appear:
Redd’ning the skies, and glitt’ring all around.
The temper’d metals clash, and yield a silver sound.
The rest stood trembling, struck with awe divine;
Æneas only, conscious to the sign,
Presag’d th’ event, and joyful view’d, above,
Th’ accomplish’d promise of the Queen of Love.


More Poems by Virgil

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