Aeneid Book 4, lines 642 – 668

The death of Dido.

by Virgil

Dido has had a great bonfire prepared, ostensibly to burn everything that Aeneas has left behind when his fleet sailed: in fact, she knows that it is her own funeral pyre.

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at trepida et coeptis immanibus effera Dido
sanguineam volvens aciem, maculisque trementis
interfusa genas et pallida morte futura,
interiora domus inrumpit limina et altos
conscendit furibunda rogos ensemque recludit
Dardanium, non hos quaesitum munus in usus.
hic, postquam Iliacas vestis notumque cubile
conspexit, paulum lacrimis et mente morata
incubuitque toro dixitque novissima verba:
‘dulces exuviae, dum fata deusque sinebat,
accipite hanc animam meque his exsolvite curis.
vixi et quem dederat cursum Fortuna peregi,
et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago.
urbem praeclaram statui, mea moenia vidi,
ulta virum poenas inimico a fratre recepi,
felix, heu nimium felix, si litora tantum
numquam Dardaniae tetigissent nostra carinae.’
dixit, et os impressa toro ‘moriemur inultae,
sed moriamur’ ait. ‘sic, sic iuvat ire sub umbras.
hauriat hunc oculis ignem crudelis ab alto
Dardanus, et nostrae secum ferat omina mortis.’
dixerat, atque illam media inter talia ferro
conlapsam aspiciunt comites, ensemque cruore
spumantem sparsasque manus. it clamor ad alta
atria: concussam bacchatur Fama per urbem.
lamentis gemituque et femineo ululatu
tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether.

Dido, borne up by her agitation, her deadly purpose
begun, rolling bloodshot eyes, her trembling cheeks
mottled, blenching at her approaching death, bursts
through the inner threshold of her house, raging,
mounts the heaped-up pyre and draws the Trojan
sword, a gift not sought with this use in mind.
Here, after she had looked on the Trojan robes and
familiar bed, pausing a moment in thoughts and tears,
she lies on the couch and utters her dying words:
“Relics that were sweet when fate and God allowed,
receive this soul and free me from these cares.
I have lived, and run the course that Fortune gave me,
and now my mighty ghost will pass under the earth.
I have founded a great city, seen my own walls rise,
avenged my husband on my enemy brother,
happy, too happy alas, if only Trojan ships
had never touched my shores.” She paused,
then, lips pressed to the couch, “I die unavenged”,
she said, “but let me die! I joy, joy to enter the shades!
Let the cruel Trojan see this fire from the sea, and take
omens from my death with him! As she concluded,
her train saw her fall on the blade, the blood welling
round the sword, spattering her hands. In the lofty halls
the cry goes up: Rumour runs amok
through the dumbstruck city.
The roof quakes with lamenting, groans and the shriek
of women and the sky shakes with the mighty din.

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