Vergil's Aeneid, Books 2-3

Week 5: Ancient Rome - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

The Trojans Reach Delos

Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 500 words.

You might want to take a look at this map illustrating the journey of Aeneas. Troy is in the east, in what the Romans called Asia Minor, and what is often called today the Middle East (the ruins of Troy are located in Turkey near the Dardanelles). Aeneas ultimately heads west, to Italy, but he began by going north to Thrace (which you just read about). After the disaster in Thrace, they decide to head south, to Delos, where they will ask the god Phoebus Apollo for advice. Based on his father's interpretation of the the divine oracle, they decide to head further south, to Crete.

Then as soon as we've confidence in the waves, and the winds
grant us calm seas, and the soft whispering breeze calls to the deep,
my companions float the ships and crowd to the shore.
We set out from harbour, and lands and cities recede.
In the depths of the sea lies a sacred island, dearest of all
to the mother of the Nereids, and Aegean Neptune,
that wandered by coasts and shores, until Apollo,
affectionately, tied it to high Myconos, and Gyaros,
making it fixed and inhabitable, scorning the storms.

I sail there: it welcomes us peacefully, weary as we are,
to its safe harbour. Landing, we do homage to Apollo's city.
King Anius, both king of the people and high-priest of Apollo,
his forehead crowned with the sacred headband and holy laurel,
meets us, and recognises an old friend in Anchises:
we clasp hands in greeting and enter his house.
I paid homage to the god's temple of ancient stone:

"Grant us a true home, Apollo, grant a weary people walls,
and a race, and a city that will endure: protect this second
citadel of Troy, that survives the Greeks and pitiless Achilles.
Whom should we follow? Where do you command us to go?
Where should we settle? Grant us an omen, father, to stir our hearts."

I had scarcely spoken: suddenly everything seemed to tremble,
the god's thresholds and his laurel crowns, and the whole hill
round us moved, and the tripod groaned as the shrine split open.
Humbly we seek the earth, and a voice comes to our ears:

"Enduring Trojans, the land which first bore you from its
parent stock, that same shall welcome you, restored, to its
fertile breast. Search out your ancient mother.
There the house of Aeneas shall rule all shores,
his children's children, and those that are born to them."

So Phoebus spoke: and there was a great shout of joy mixed
with confusion, and all asked what walls those were, and where
it is Phoebus calls the wanderers to, commanding them to return.
Then my father, thinking of the records of the ancients, said:
"Listen, O princes, and learn what you may hope for.
Crete lies in the midst of the sea, the island of mighty Jove,
where Mount Ida is, the cradle of our race.
They inhabit a hundred great cities, in the richest of kingdoms,
from which our earliest ancestor, Teucer, if I remember the tale rightly,
first sailed to Trojan shores, and chose a site
for his royal capital. Until then Ilium and the towers of the citadel
did not stand there: men lived in the depths of the valleys.
The Mother who inhabits Cybele is Cretan, and the cymbals
of the Corybantes, and the grove of Ida: from Crete came
the faithful silence of her rites, and the yoked lions
drawing the lady's chariot. So come, and let us follow
where the god's command may lead, let us placate
the winds, and seek out the Cretan kingdom.
It is no long journey away: if only Jupiter is with us,
the third dawn will find our fleet on the Cretan shores."

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what oracle does the god Apollo give to the wandering Trojans?
  • how does Aeneas's father Anchises interpret the oracle?
  • why does Anchises think that Crete is their "ancient mother"?

Source: A.S.Kline, translator. Vergil's Aeneid (2002). Weblink. Kline has made his English translation of Vergil's Aeneid freely available over the Internet.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM