Aeneid Book 1, lines 81 - 143

Storm at sea!

by Virgil

Juno, the Queen of the Gods, is the sworn enemy of Aeneas and the Trojans. She has bribed Aeolus, the master of the winds, to unleash them on Aeneas and the fleet as they sail the high seas.

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Haec ubi dicta, cavum conversa cuspide montem
impulit in latus: ac venti, velut agmine facto,
qua data porta, ruunt et terras turbine perflant.
incubuere mari, totumque a sedibus imis
una Eurusque Notusque ruunt creberque procellis
Africus, et vastos volvunt ad litora fluctus.
insequitur clamorque virum stridorque rudentum.
eripiunt subito nubes caelumque diemque
Teucrorum ex oculis; ponto nox incubat atra.
intonuere poli, et crebris micat ignibus aether,
praesentemque viris intentant omnia mortem.
extemplo Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra:
ingemit, et duplicis tendens ad sidera palmas
talia voce refert: ‘O terque quaterque beati,
quis ante ora patrum Troiae sub moenibus altis
contigit oppetere! o Danaum fortissime gentis
Tydide! mene Iliacis occumbere campis
non potuisse, tuaque animam hanc effundere dextra,
saevus ubi Aeacidae telo iacet Hector, ubi ingens
Sarpedon, ubi tot Simois correpta sub undis
scuta virum galeasque et fortia corpora volvit?’
talia iactanti stridens Aquilone procella
velum adversa ferit, fluctusque ad sidera tollit.
franguntur remi; tum prora avertit, et undis
dat latus; insequitur cumulo praeruptus aquae mons.
hi summo in fluctu pendent; his unda dehiscens
terram inter fluctus aperit; furit aestus harenis.
tris Notus abreptas in saxa latentia torquet—
saxa vocant Itali mediis quae in fluctibus aras—
dorsum immane mari summo; tris Eurus ab alto
in brevia et Syrtis urget, miserabile visu,
inliditque vadis atque aggere cingit harenae.
unam, quae Lycios fidumque vehebat Oronten,
ipsius ante oculos ingens a vertice pontus
in puppim ferit: excutitur pronusque magister
volvitur in caput; ast illam ter fluctus ibidem
torquet agens circum, et rapidus vorat aequore vortex.
adparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto,
arma virum, tabulaeque, et Troia gaza per undas.
Iam validam Ilionei navem, iam fortis Achati,
et qua vectus Abas, et qua grandaevus Aletes,
vicit hiems; laxis laterum compagibus omnes
accipiunt inimicum imbrem, rimisque fatiscunt.
Interea magno misceri murmure pontum,
emissamque hiemem sensit Neptunus, et imis
stagna refusa vadis, graviter commotus; et alto
prospiciens, summa placidum caput extulit unda.
disiectam Aeneae, toto videt aequore classem,
fluctibus oppressos Troas caelique ruina,
nec latuere doli fratrem Iunonis et irae.
Eurum ad se Zephyrumque vocat, dehinc talia fatur:
“Tantane vos generis tenuit fiducia vestri?
Iam caelum terramque meo sine numine, venti,
miscere, et tantas audetis tollere moles?
Quos ego—sed motos praestat componere fluctus.
post mihi non simili poena commissa luetis.
maturate fugam, regique haec dicite vestro:
non illi imperium pelagi saevumque tridentem,
sed mihi sorte datum. tenet ille immania saxa,
vestras, Eure, domos; illa se iactet in aula
Aeolus, et clauso ventorum carcere regnet.”
Sic ait, et dicto citius tumida aequora placat,
Collectasque fugat nubes, solemque reducit.

He struck the hollow mountainside with the butt of his sceptre, and the winds, like an army in formation, hurtle through the opened gates and blow over the earth, a hurricane! Instantly, Eurus, Notus and Africus with his mass of squalls, have battened  on the sea, crashing into its lowest depths, and rolling vast breakers to the shore! Shouts and the shrieking of cordage rise up, cloud snatches skies and daylight from the Trojans’ view, and  darkness lies black upon the ocean. All of a sudden, thunder has crashed through the heavens, the air blazes, flash after flash, and everything threatens the Trojans with instant death ! A sudden chill makes Aeneas stagger: he groans and, lifting both hands, cries: “Thrice and four times blessed, you whose lot it was to die beneath the high walls of Troy in the sight of your fathers! Ajax, mightiest of your race! Could I not meet my death on Trojan ground and pour out this life of mine at your hand, where fierce Hector lies, brought low by Achilles’s spear, and mighty Sarpedon, where the Simois took the shields and helms and the strong bodies of so many men and rolls them beneath its stream?” As he speaks, a shrieking blast from the North Wind hits the sail head-on and rears the seas sky-high.  Oars shatter, then the prow veers, the ship lies beam-on to the waves, and a huge mountain of water gathers! Some Trojans hang  at the peak; the rollers, as they sunder the ocean, show others the sea bed itself, and the water boils with sand. Three times Notus snatches and flings a ship onto a hidden reef, a deadly ridge at the water line, which Italians call the Altars, and three times Eurus rolls a vessel from deep water down towards the Syrtes, a pitiful sight to see, smashes it into the shoals and buries it in a mound of sand! Before Aeneas’s eyes, a vast sea crashes from a tremendous height onto the stern of a ship carrying Lycians and loyal Orontes: he is flung overboard, head-over-heels;  raging water drives the ship three times round, and a rushing whirlpool sucks it under! A few men can be seen floating in enormous seas along with planks, arms and treasures from Troy. Now the storm has overwhelmed Ilioneus’s strong ship, and brave Achates’, and those bearing Abas and  aged Aletes: all, rigging lost, are broached by the deadly waters and start at the seams. Now Neptune, deeply disturbed, could feel that the ocean had been stirred into a great commotion, that the storm had been unleashed and the waters of the deep drawn up to the shallows: maintaining his composure, he raised his head from the water to look above it  He sees Aeneas’s fleet driven far and wide over the sea, Trojans struggling with the surge and the chaos of the sky  – Juno and her vengeful tricks did not escape her brother. He called Eurus and Zephyrus to him: “You winds profess such commitment to your godly breeding! But did it hold you back? Now do you dare, without my sanction, to confound the earth and sky and create such  upheaval? That I – but first, to calm the seas you  stirred up. If you do this again, you will not get away so lightly. Go,  quickly,  tell your king that power over  the sea, and the dread trident, are my prerogative, not his. He can stay in those horrible caves –  your home, Eurus – that’s the court where he can boast he’s Aeolus! Let him lord it in the prison of the winds – so long as they stay locked in!” Faster than it takes to say, he calms the swollen waters, disperses the massed clouds and brings back the sun.


More Poems by Virgil

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