Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

Page: 170

The tempest.

This request was immediately granted. The vessels, tossed hither and thither, lost sight of each other. Some were stranded, some sank, and still the tempest raged on with unabated fury, and death stared the unhappy Trojans in the face. The commotion on the deep finally aroused Neptune, who came to the surface just in time to see all the misfortunes which had overwhelmed Æneas. He imperiously sent the winds away, and lent a helping hand to float the stranded ships once more.

“‘Back to your master instant flee,
And tell him, not to him but me
The imperial trident of the sea
Fell by the lot’s award.’”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).

The Trojans, grateful for his timely aid, and reassured by the calm which now reigned supreme, steered for the nearest port, where they anchored their seven vessels, all that now remained of their once large fleet.

Arrival in Libya.

Æneas and Achates, his faithful friend, immediately set out to view the land, and ere long encountered Venus, disguised as a mortal, who informed them that they had landed upon the Libyan coast, which was under the sway of Dido, a fugitive from Tyre. Dido’s husband, Sychæus, King of Tyre, the possessor of untold riches, had been murdered by Pygmalion, his brother-in-law; but the queen was kept in complete ignorance of this crime, until visited in a dream by the shade of Sychæus, which bade her fly with his treasures, whose place of concealment she alone knew.

Dido obeyed the ghost’s commands, and, accompanied by a number of faithful subjects, landed on the Libyan coast, where [367] she entreated the inhabitants to sell her as much land as an ox-hide would inclose. This seemingly modest request was immediately granted; but the Libyans regretted their compliance when they saw the ox-hide cut up into tiny strips, which inclosed a considerable tract of land, the site of Dido’s beautiful capital, Carthage.

Æneas and Dido.

Thither Venus advised her son to proceed and claim the queen’s protection. Æneas and Achates obediently hastened onward, and entered the town unseen, for Venus had enveloped them both in a mist. Their attention was first attracted by the festive appearance of the people assembled together, and by the beauty of the queen, giving audience to some of their companions, who had miraculously escaped from the waves.

These men spoke to the queen of their renowned chief, whose fame had already reached her ear; and she gladly promised to send out a search party to discover him, and aid him if necessary.

“‘I will send
And search the coast from end to end,
If haply, wandering up and down,
He bide in woodland or in town.’”
Virgil (Conington’s tr.).

At these gracious words, Æneas stepped forward, the mist vanished, and he stood before the queen in all his manly beauty.