Vergil's Aeneid, Books 2-3

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

The Departure from Chaonia

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 450 words.

Aeneas leaves the people of Buthrotum behind, and Andromache gives them farewell gifts and makes a speech as they part. You can see a clear opposition here between the fate of the refugees who travel with Aeneas and the refugees who have settled in Buthrotum. Aeneas and his comrade are going to go forge a new identity for themselves - they are going to lose their "Trojan-ness" and become merged into a new people in a new land, acquiring new customs, a new religion, a new language. But the people in Buthrotum are going to continue to live in the "little Troy", trying to hang on to their cultural identity even though the center of their culture has been burned to the ground and utterly destroyed by the Greeks.

After the seer had spoken these words with benign lips,
he ordered heavy gifts of gold and carved ivory
to be carried to our ships, and stored massive silverware
in the holds, cauldrons from Dodona, a hooked breastplate
woven with triple-linked gold, and a fine conical helmet
with a crest of horse-hair, Pyrrhus's armour.
There were gifts of his own for my father too.
Helenus added horses and sea-pilots: he manned
our oars: he also equipped my friends with weapons.

Meanwhile Anchises ordered us to rig sails on the ships,
so the rushing wind would not be lost, by our delay.

Apollo's agent spoke to him with great respect:
"Anchises, worthy of proud marriage with Venus,
cared for by the gods, twice saved from the ruins of Troy,
behold your land of Italy: sail and take it.
But still you must slide past it on the seas:
the part of Italy that Apollo named is far away.
Go onward, happy in your son's love. Why should I say more,
and delay your catching the rising wind?"

Andromache also, grieved at this final parting,
brought robes embroidered with gold weave, and a Phrygian cloak
for Ascanius, nor did she fail to honour him,
and loaded him down with gifts of cloth, and said:
"Take these as well, my child, remembrances for you
from my hand, and witness of the lasting love of Andromache,
Hector's wife. Take these last gifts from your kin,
O you, the sole image left to me of my Astyanax.
He had the same eyes, the same hands, the same lips:
and now he would be growing up like you, equal in age."

My tears welled as I spoke these parting words:
"Live happily, you whose fortunes are already determined:
we are summoned onwards from destiny to destiny.
For you, peace is achieved: you've no need to plough the levels
of the sea, you've no need to seek Italy's ever-receding fields.
I wish that you might gaze at your likeness of Xanthus,
and a Troy built by your own hands, under happier auspices,
one which might be less exposed to the Greeks.
If I ever reach the Tiber, and the Tiber's neighbouring fields,
and gaze on city walls granted to my people, we'll one day
make one Troy, in spirit, from each of our kindred cities
and allied peoples, in Epirus, in Italy, who have the same Dardanus
for ancestor, the same history: let it be left to our descendants care."

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

  • what presents did Helenus give to Aeneas and his comrades?
  • what presents did Andromache give to them?
  • what does Aeneas promise Helenus and Andromache as he is leaving?

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