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Caieta, Circe, Tiber

September 15, 2012

The beginning of Aeneid, Book VII

Aeneas’ nurse, you dying gave our shores
a name that will not die, Caiéta you,
And honor guards your grave, your bones throughout
The West—but what can such fame mean to you?
With death’s rites duly done, a tomb-mound made—
Soon as the deep is calm, Aeneas will
Hoist sail to voyage on, forsake your port.

Deep into night airs breathe; the Moon has deigned
To pace her shining walkway; Ocean shakes with light.
We all but shore against the isle of Circe’s
Rich occluded groves. The Son’s girl sings
To endless echoes here, in chambers tall
Burns nightlights of bright-smelling pine,
Her shrill comb running lightly through her webs.
We hear in darkness, late at night, the grumblings,
Groans of lions wrestling chains, the roars,
Bears raging at their cages, bristling boars,
The howls of wolvine creatures–men whose faces,
Human once, bright Circe’s potent drugs
Drowned long ago in beastly hides and snarls.
Our Trojans will not suffer her weird charms
Nor put in there to stalk her perilous shores,
For Neptune fills their sails with following winds,
Grants safe-escape across the glowing shoals.

Now sunken beams are brightening the sea;
Deep in the sky, Dawn lights her rosy car.
The winds subside and each gust holds its breath.
Oars pull against a sun-clear marble plain.
And now Aeneas sees across the sea
A giant clearing. Here–with pleasant streams
And snatching whirlpools churning grains of gold–
Lord Tiber bursts to sea. Around, above,
All kinds of bank- and hollow-haunting birds
Make glad the sky with singing, glade with flight.
He bids his captains turn their prows to land
And joyfully heads up the shady stream.

Vergil’s Latin:

Tu quoque litoribus nostris, Aeneia nutrix,
Aeternam moriens famam, Caieta, dedisti;
Et nunc servat honos sedem tuus, ossaque nomen
Hesperia in magna, si qua est ea gloria, signat.
At pius exsequiis Aeneas rite solutis,
Aggere composito tumuli, postquam alta quierunt
Aequora, tendit iter velis portumque relinquit.

Aspirant aurae in noctem nec candida cursus
Luna negat, splendet tremulo sub lumine pontus.
Proxima Circaeae raduntur litora terrae,
Dives inaccessos ubi Solis filia lucos
Adsiduo resonat cantu, tectisque superbis
Urit odoratam nocturna in lumina cedrum
Arguto tenuis percurrens pectine telas.
Hinc exaudiri gemitus iraeque leonum
Vincla recusantum et sera sub nocte rudentum,
Saetigerique sues atque in praesepibus ursi
Saevire ac formae magnorum ululare luporum,
Quos hominum ex facie dea saeva potentibus herbis
Induerat Circe in vultus ac terga ferarum.
Quae ne monstra pii paterentur talia Troes
Delati in portus neu litora dira subirent,
Neptunus ventis implevit vela secundis,
Atque fugam dedit et praeter vada fervida vexit.

Iamque rubescebat radiis mare et aethere ab alto
Aurora in roseis fulgebat lutea bigis,
Cum venti posuere omnisque repente resedit
Flatus, et in lento luctantur marmore tonsae.
Atque hic Aeneas ingentem ex aequore lucum
Prospicit. hunc inter fluvio Tiberinus amoeno
Verticibus rapidis et multa flavus harena
In mare prorumpit. variae circumque supraque
Adsuetae ripis volucres et fluminis alveo
Aethera mulcebant cantu lucoque volabant.
Flectere iter sociis terraeque advertere proras
Imperat et laetus fluvio succedit opaco.

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