Aeneid Book 10, lines 215 - 248

Sea-nymphs

by Virgil

As Book 10 of the Aeneid begins, Jupiter calls a council in the hope of resolving conflict between the Gods who support Aeneas and those who oppose him. After further unresolved argument between Aeneas’s mother, Venus, and Juno, the partisan of his enemy Turnus, the Chief of the Rutulians, Jupiter closes the discussion and swears to remain neutral. Meanwhile, the battle continues to rage around the Trojan camp, and Aeneas, unaware even that it has broken out, is sailing back from his successful diplomatic mission to seek new allies.

The English is taken from the classic translation by the 17th-century Poet-Laureate John Dryden.

See the illustrated blog post here.

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Iamque dies caelo concesserat almaque curru
noctivago Phoebe medium pulsabat Olympum:
Aeneas (neque enim membris dat cura quietem)
ipse sedens clavumque regit velisque ministrat.
atque illi medio in spatio chorus, ecce, suarum
occurrit comitum: nymphae, quas alma Cybebe
numen habere maris nymphasque e navibus esse
iusserat, innabant pariter fluctusque secabant,
quot prius aeratae steterant ad litora prorae.
agnoscunt longe regem lustrantque choreis;
quarum quae fandi doctissima Cymodocea
pone sequens dextra puppim tenet ipsaque dorso
eminet ac laeva tacitis subremigat undis.
tum sic ignarum adloquitur: ‘vigilasne, deum gens,
Aenea? vigila et velis immitte rudentis.
nos sumus, Idaeae sacro de vertice pinus
nunc pelagi nymphae, classis tua. perfidus ut nos
praecipitis ferro Rutulus flammaque premebat,
rupimus invitae tua vincula teque per aequor
quaerimus. hanc genetrix faciem miserata refecit
et dedit esse deas aevumque agitare sub undis.
at puer Ascanius muro fossisque tenetur
tela inter media atque horrentis Marte Latinos.
iam loca iussa tenent forti permixtus Etrusco
Arcas eques; medias illis opponere turmas,
ne castris iungant, certa est sententia Turno.
surge age et Aurora socios veniente vocari
primus in arma iube, et clipeum cape quem dedit ipse
invictum ignipotens atque oras ambiit auro.
crastina lux, mea si non inrita dicta putaris,
ingentis Rutulae spectabit caedis acervos.’
dixerat et dextra discedens impulit altam
haud ignara modi puppim: fugit illa per undas
ocior et iaculo et ventos aequante sagitta.

Now was the world forsaken by the sun,
And Phœbe half her nightly race had run.
The careful chief, who never clos’d his eyes,
Himself the rudder holds, the sails supplies.
A choir of Nereids meet him on the flood,
Once his own galleys, hewn from Ida’s wood;
But now, as many nymphs, the sea they sweep,
As rode, before, tall vessels on the deep.
They know him from afar; and in a ring
Inclose the ship that bore the Trojan king.
Cymodoce, whose voice excell’d the rest,
Above the waves advanc’d her snowy breast;
Her right hand stops the stern; her left divides
The curling ocean, and corrects the tides.
She spoke for all the choir, and thus began
With pleasing words to warn th’ unknowing man:
“Sleeps our lov’d lord? O goddess-born, awake!
Spread ev’ry sail, pursue your wat’ry track,
And haste your course. Your navy once were we,
From Ida’s height descending to the sea;
Till Turnus, as at anchor fix’d we stood,
Presum’d to violate our holy wood
Then, loos’d from shore, we fled his fires profane
(Unwillingly we broke our master’s chain),
And since have sought you thro’ the Tuscan main.
The mighty Mother chang’d our forms to these,
And gave us life immortal in the seas.
But young Ascanius, in his camp distress’d,
By your insulting foes is hardly press’d.
Th’ Arcadian horsemen, and Etrurian host,
Advance in order on the Latian coast:
To cut their way the Daunian chief designs,
Before their troops can reach the Trojan lines.
Thou, when the rosy morn restores the light,
First arm thy soldiers for th’ ensuing fight:
Thyself the fated sword of Vulcan wield,
And bear aloft th’ impenetrable shield.
To-morrow’s sun, unless my skill be vain,
Shall see huge heaps of foes in battle slain.”
Parting, she spoke; and with immortal force
Push’d on the vessel in her wat’ry course;
For well she knew the way. Impell’d behind,
The ship flew forward, and outstripp’d the wind.

`

More Poems by Virgil

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