In the Underworld


Aeneas and Sibyl into the great gathering of souls who were all busy in conversation. 'Come, I shall now explain to you destiny. I shall make clear by my words what glory shall in time to come fall to the progeny of Dardanus, and what manner of men will be your descendants of Italian birth, souls of renown now awaiting life who shall succeed to our name. The young warrior whom you see here, leaning on an unpointed spear, stands in his allotted place nearest to the world's day, and he is to be the first to rise into the upper air having an Italian strain in his blood. He has the Alban name of Silvius, and he is your son, to be born after your passing; your queen Lavinia will rear him in the forests, and he will be king and sire of kings, and founder of our dynasty which shall rule from Alba Longa. The nearest to him, there, is Procas, the pride of the Trojan race; and next Capys and Numitor, and Aeneas Silvius, who will revive your own name and be a prince exalted alike in his righteousness and his arms, if in fact he shall ever succeed. What men they are! See What strength they display, and how they wear the oak-leaves of the Civic Crown shading their brows! High on the mountains shall they build Nomentum, Gabii, Fidenae's city and Collatia's fortress, and Pometii also, the guard-post of Inuus, Bola and Cora, which are all now name-less places, but whose names shall be famous one day.

"Yes, and Romulus, son of Mars, shall join his grandfather and walk with him. He will be of the blood of Assaracus; the mother who will rear him is to be Ilia Do you see how on his head the twin crests stand, and how his father already marks him for the exalted life above with his own emblem? See, my son! It will be through his inauguration that Rome shall become illustrious, and extend her authority to the breadth of the earth and her spirit to the height of Olympus. She shall build her single wall round seven citadels, and she shall be blessed in her manhood's increase; like the Mother of Berecyntus, who rides in her chariot through Phrygian cities wearing her towered crown, happy in the divine family which she has borne, and caressing her hundred grandsons, who are all dwellers in Heaven and have homes on high. Now turn the twin gaze of your eyes this way, and look at that family, your own true Romans. For there is Caesar, and all the line of Iulus, who are destined to reach the brilliant height of Heaven. And there in very truth is he whom you have often heard prophesied, Augustus Caesar, son of the Deified, and founder of golden centuries once more in Latium, in those same lands where once Saturn reigned; he shall extend our dominion beyond the Garamantians and the Indians in a region which lies outside the path of the constellations, outside the track of the year and of the sun, where Atlas the Heaven-Bearer holds on his shoulders the turning sphere, inset with blazing stars. Even now, before he comes to them, the Caspian king-dom and the land round Lake Maeotis tremble at prophecies of his coming, and the sevenfold mouth of the Nile knows confusion and alarm. Yes, not even Hercules ever traversed so much of the earth, not even when he shot the bronze-footed hind, brought peace to the woods of Erymanthus, and made Lerna tremble at his bow; nor Bacchus himself when he drove his tigers from Nysa's high crest and in triumph guided their yoke with reins of vine. Can we now hesitate to assert our valour by our deeds ? Can any fear now prevent us from taking our stand on Italy's soil ?

"But who is that, apart, wearing the emblem of an olive--spray, and carrying implements of worship ? I recognize his hair and white-bearded chin. He is Numa, that King of Rome who will give to our city its first foundation on law; from little Cures and its barren soil he will have been called to a great dominion. He will be succeeded by Tullus who will shatter the peace of his fatherland and rouse to arms again men who have grown content with ease, and have lost the habit of marching in ranks of triumph. Ancus follows him closely; he is self-assertive and even now takes too much pleasure in the breeze of popular favor. Do you wish also to see Tarquin's dynasty and the arrogant soul of Brutus the avenger, and see the rods of office won back again ? Brutus will be the first to be invested with a consul's authority and the ruthless axes; and, for resuming war anew, he, their father, shall hale his own sons to execution in liberty's glorious name. Pitiful, he! However later generations may account his deed, the victory will be with patriotism and limitless passion for fame. But look, also, at the Decii and the Drusi in the distance, at Torquatus ferocious in the use of the axe, and Camillus, rescuer of the standards.

"And then those other souls whom you see there, in the glitter of matching armor - they are in harmony now, and in harmony will they remain so long as the dark weighs on them here -; but, oh, the dreadful war, and the bitterness of battle and of carnage which in mutual conflict they will begin if ever they come to the light of the living I One, Caesar, the father of the bride, shall march from the fortress of Monoecus down over the Alpine mass, and her husband Pompey shall stand marshalled with the East to confront him. Ah, sons of mine, never inure your spirits to so wicked a war, never turn the stout strength of your homeland on her own vitals I And you, who are of my own blood and trace your descent from Olympus, you should be first in clemency, you should first fling your weapons from your hands I

"Over there is one Mummius who shall triumph over Corinth and drive his chariot to the towering Capitol in glorious victory after the slaying of Greeks. And another, there, Aemilius Pau-lus, shall uproot Argos and Mycenae, Agamemnon's own city, and kill Perseus the Aeacid himself, the descendant of Achilles the mighty in arms; so he shall avenge his Trojan ancestors and Trojan Minerva's desecrated shrine. And who would leave you without a word, great Cato, or, Cossus, you ? Or Gracchus and his family, or the two of Scipio's line, those paired thunder-bolts of war who are Africa's annihilation ? Or Fabricius with the power of his poverty ? Or, Regulus Serranus, you, sowing your furrow with seed ? Where would you hasten me to go when I am weary, you of the Fabii ? Yes, you are Fabius the greatest of them, Maximus, the only Roman who can give us back success by inactivity. Others, for so I can well believe, shall hammer forth more delicately a breathing likeness out of bronze, coax living faces from the marble, plead causes with more skill, plot with their gauge the mo-vements in the sky, and tell the rising of the constellations. But you, Roman, must remember that you have to guide the nations by your authority, for this is to be your skill, to graft tradition onto peace, to shew meFcy to the conquered, and to wage war until the haughty are brought low."

So spqke the father, Anchises. While they still wondered, he spoke again: 'Look how Marcellus, wearing the Supreme Spoils, strides conspicuous, a conqueror towering above all other warriorsl He shall set the strength of Rome free again when it is disordered by the Great Rising, and in mounted combat bring down Carthaginians, and Gauls renewing war-fare; and for the third time he shall dedicate to Father Quirinus the Captured Arms.'

But at this, seeing that there was another who walked beside him, a man young, very handsome and clad in shining armor, but with face and eyes downcast and little joy on his brow, Aeneas asked: '[father, who is that who thus walks beside Marcellus as he goes ? Is it a son or some other from the long line of descendants ? What a noble presence he has and how loud the acclaim of those who attend on them! But the night flits black about his head and shadows him with gloom.' Anchises, Aeneas' father, began to answer him with welling tears: 'Oh, Son, seek not to know the terrible sorrow of your family. Fate will allow the world merely to see him, no more, and thereafter allow him to live there no longer. Powers Above, you judged that the Roman stock would be too mighty should your gift to them remain their own. Bitter indeed shall be the lamentation raised by brave men about the Field of Mars, beside his own splendid city. Tiber, as you glide past the newly made tomb, what a cortege shall you see! No other boy of our Ilian clan shall uplift the hopes of his Latin ancestors so high, and in none of her sons shall the future land of Romulus take such pride. O righteousness, and old-time faithfulness, O hand unconquerable in war!