By

Astyages

Virgil’s Aeneid (Part 3)

The queen herself suspended the rigid laws out of pity for the Trojans’ plight and protects their cause.

When Venus saw almighty Jove turn his gaze from the heavens to the Libyan realms, to ponder on the miseries of the humans there, she addressed him, with a downcast look and tears in her eyes,  

“Oh, King of gods and men, whose awful hand dispenses the thunder, and who disposes all with absolute command, how could my pious son arouse your anger? Or, what was Troy’s offense? Not only have the Trojans lost all hope of reaching Italy, but tossed by tempests on the seas, they now find themselves barred from every coast. You promised once that a divine progeny of Romans would spring from the Trojan line, which in future times would hold the world in awe and bring law to both land and sea, and this promise eased my grief for Troy when she was ruined in that cruel war. How is it that this doom is now reversed? Then I could balance one fate against the other, but now, while Fortune still maintains her present course, what can I hope for? What can still succeed? What is to be the end of all their labors by your decree? Antenor, from amidst the Grecian hosts could pass secure and pierce the Ilyrian coast near the nine channels of the mighty Timavus; where at length he founded the city of Padua, thus giving his Trojans a secure retreat. There they fixed their weapons and restored their name; ruling quietly, though crowned with fame. But we, who are descended from your own sacred line, entitled to your heaven and divine rites are banished from the earth, and for the wrath of one, are removed from Latium and the promised throne. Is this our just reward? And is this how Jove keeps his word?”

Jove smiled indulgently at the most beautiful of the goddesses and kissed her cheek before he replied,

 “Don’t worry! The fates of your followers are fixed! You will see your Lavinian walls; and when he is ripe for heaven and fate calls him, you shall bear Aeneas up, sublime, to me. I have searched the mystic rolls of fate concerning your son and you should know that very soon he will fight a successful war in Italy; he will tame fierce nations, impose successful laws and build cities until, with every foe subdued, three more years shall pass before he dies; this is his prefixed destiny. After him, Ascanius, now called Iulus, will reign for thirty years and then transfer the seat (of government?) from Lavinnium to Alba Longa, which he will build with hard labor. After this his descendants shall rule for another three hundred years. Then we shall see Ilia the fair; a priestess and a queen; give birth to twin boys, who will be exposed and reared by wolves. Then Romulus shall gain his father’s throne; he shall be the founder of martial towers and call his city Rome and its people, Romans. To them I have assigned neither boundaries to their empire, nor any fixed term of years for their immortal line. Even haughty Juno shall at length atone for embroiling the heavens, the earth and the seas in turmoil, and shall join her power to ours, to cherish and advance the Trojan line. The whole world will be subjected to Roman dominion, and shall adore the nation of the gown. The time is coming when Troy shall overturn the Grecian state; when she shall reap sweet revenge on those who engineered her city’s fall and crush them into submission. Then Caesar will arise from the Julian stock, the boundaries of whose empire shall be the skies themselves; our heaven, the just result of human toils, he shall securely reward with divine rites and from his shrine incense shall ascend; then impious war shall cease and the stern age be softened into peace. Then will banished faith return and Vestal fires shall burn once more in hallowed temples. And Remus, with Quirinus shall sustain righteous laws, and restrain force and fraud. Janus himself shall wait before his fane and guard the gate, bolted with iron bars, within which Fury himself is kept imprisoned; bound in brazen chains, raised high on a trophy of futile weapons he sits and threatens the world with vain alarms.” 

And with this he sent Cyllenius with a command to free the ports and open the the Punic land to Trojan guests, lest, ignorant of fate, the queen might force them from her town and state. Cyllenius flew down from the steep slope of Heaven, cleaving the yielding skies with his wings to descend soon upon the Libyan shore, where he revealed his rod of authority to perform his message. The surly murmurs of the people thus were made to cease and they gave their consent as the fates required. The queen herself suspended the rigid laws out of pity for the Trojans’ plight and protects their cause.

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