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ACT II, SCENE i
DIDO, AENEAS, THE FALSE ASCANIUS
DI. Come, friends, let us dismiss these things. Someday it will be pleasant to remember what was hard to experience, but meanwhile banish cares from your mind. Behold, a feast awaits us. Recline yourselves, I beg you. Bacchus will lighten your cares. Great-hearted prince, if you were convinced how welcome you are as a guest coming to our court, and Iulus likewise and also your comrades, I shall not say that you would entirely forget Troy and your ancestral home, but you would surely be happier.
AEN. Queen, shining star of your people, my tongue cannot express what is in my heart, my visage cannot express what I think. A trifling happiness eagerly expresses itself, but a great one is dumbfounded, cannot control itself, and is silent. Who can describe the words of this kindly queen, her placid countenance, the faith and help she gives us wretched people in our misfortune? Who can properly describe this royal splendor, all this magnificence? If you think of me, think of me as joyfully pondering your merits.
DI. I do not value highly these merits of which you speak. But I must confess that I desire, and hope I am achieving, that Aeneas is not ashamed to have Elisa as his hostess. But why is Iulus staring at his meal in sorrow?
ASC. That city of Troy showed me its image, and at the doleful sight sorrow came over my mind. What my father told you last night at greater length, you may see here put briefly before your eyes.
DI. Iulus, pray retell the fate of Troy. [At this point servants hold up a platter containing a map executed in marzipan. Iulus stands before it, pointing out its individual features.]
ASC. Imagine this dish you see to be Troy. Here went the river Simois, here is located Mount Ida with its thick forests, in this direction lie Tenedos, Cilla, Chryse, the circle of outlying towns ruined in the war. Here was the harbor for our enemies’ thousand ships, here were the camps, with the battlefield lying between. Imagine that these are Pergamum’s high battlements; this is the Scaean gate out of which warlike Hector used to lead his squadrons to battle. Here was the house of Priam, here my father’s, there dwelt Anchises. Here is a portion of the wall pulled down, and by the trick of the horse a great avenue is opened into the middle of the city. Here the killing has begun. How can I say more? After all the deaths, the slaughter of captains, thus by Sinon’s deceit and the Danaans’ torches the city is turned into insubtantial ash.
DI. Oh, what an example of amazing ingenuity is offered here! Oh father, happy to have such a noble offspring — and you, son, blessed son of such a parent! Iulus, you must be true to your nature’s divine character. I hope you will reap praises like those of your warlike father, I pray you surpass the span of your aged grandfather. Receive this kiss as the pledge of my love.
ASC. Father, why don’t you kiss your son too? [They drink a cup, while Iopas sings.]
THE HYMN OF IOPAS
What god’s name should I attribute to you? It is right to call you Mars, or Lycian Phoebus, or Zeus-born Hercules?
Or do you claim a lesser title, if it you please you to be called a mortal (but surely you can be seen to have an admixture of divine blood)?
What praises should I pronounce, or celebrate you with? With that plectrum may I strike my lyre? What song should I bring to mind worthy of such a prince?
Hail, glory of heroes, famous light of your nation, of your ancient line. No ship has ever attained our shores more welcome than yours.
But though you are so great and overwhelm my heart’s understanding, Elisa is yet greater, oh guest so fortunate to have Elisa as hostess.
Nobody is any lesser, save in comparison to her, nor should it shame you to be called the lesser. The world sees nothing like or equal to our Elisa.
As Cynthia shines among the stars, such is our Elisa’s splendor on earth. See, happy guest, to whom you have come when you left your homeland.
But you gain a reputation second only to hers, you follow close behind, and Iopas’ voice sings your praises next to hers.
Let decorated garlands encircle the cups, let Bacchus be placed in the noble gold, let great shouts ring through the hall. Thus orders Elisa.
We salute you as a noble guest. Now it is pleasing to redouble our lengthy praises, now our happy voices ring through this great hall.
ACT II, SCENE ii
DI. Great captain of the Teucrians, what dishes would delight you?
AEN. Neither this one nor that one: they’re all delightful. I am given serving upon serving, dish upon dish, and the huge amount obstructs my pleasure.
DI. This is not Priam’s kingdom. What Carthaginian would ever compare his hospitality with that of your Troy? But this faint rumor has struck my ears, that there were certain secret prophecies about Ilium. I beg you, guest, to tell me what they were.
AEN. Queen, they are accounted variously. Among them are customarily reckoned Troilus’ death, the breaking of the Scaean gate, Helenus the priest, the abduction of Rhesus’ horses, and also Pyrrhus. But the chief portents for Troy are remembered as being two, the statue consecrated to fair-haired Pallas, and Hercules’ bow together with its arrows and quiver.
DI. What, pray tell, was that statue of Minerva?
AEN. When wealthy Ilus governed Asia and built walls for his new Ilium, this is said to have dropped out of the sky on a festival day, in a striding pose, holding a distaff in its left and and a spear in its right, showing the goddess in full battle-dress. Ilus, amazed, piously consulted Apollo. The god, being asked, gave the following response. “In this thing will rest both Troy’s ruin and her salvation. Protect the goddess under your roofs, along with your city. If she is taken away, she will take with her your dominion over this place.” So Ilus built a consecrated shrine for Pallas, placed the heaven-sent statue in this safe place, and set guards upon it. Nor, Laomedon, were you less careful as his heir. But, alas, it was not preserved in the reign of Priam. This Pallas herself decided, in her outrage, beginning on the day she was bested in the contest about beauty, by judgment of Paris.
DI. Who was the contriver of such a misdeed?
AEN. Ulysses, prone to deceit, born to trickery, as he sought his furtive way through the city’s sewers.
DI. Explain Pergamum’s second fate.
AEN. When Alcmenus’ victorious son was about to burn on the pyre, seeking the stars and the gods’ dwelling place, he said “Philoctetes, son of Poeas, accept this gift.” As a present he gave him his bow, and also his quiver, heavy with arrows. These weapons showed him to be Hercules.
DI. What god revealed this destiny to the Greeks?
AEN. Helenus, consecrated to Phoebus, himself an obstruction to Destiny’s fulfilment, pronounced this and the other doom. Captured by the Ithacan’s deceit, he revealed these things to the Danaans while possessed by the god. “Lo, this final undertaking depends on Alcides’ arrows. Even though the Fates have snatched him, they ordain that his heir share in this glory. Hercules will play no small part in this achievement. Troy and the kingdom of Pergamum cannot be laid low before Philoctetes, wounded by the serpent’s heavy bite and now an exile on Lemnus, comes to your camp, so that in the slaughter of their captains Hercules’ arrows will be drenched with Phrygian blood. Let no arduous task be undertaken, now that Hercules is dead.” And this is the sum of the prophecies concerning Troy. (Enter a procession of masquers.)
ACT II, SCENE iii
DI. Jupiter, governor of the gods and father of mankind, they say you ordain the laws of hospitality. If my father Belus and his descendants have duly filled a cup for you, let today be a happy one for Tyrians and Trojans alike. Grant that his posterity and also ours will remember it. Bacchus, giver of happiness, be present, and also motherly Juno, already kindly to the Phrygians. And, o Tyrians, I ask you to be favorable. ( She pours a libation to Jupiter.)
ACT II, SCENE iv
ASC. Queen, I ask that at lest these dishes be cleared. Sufficient feasting and luxury have been provided. I beg you, let us ease our limbs in walking.
DI. Your wish will be granted. Servants, remove this stuff quickly. Meanwhile, let this house ring with glad music. We shall stroll in the royal garden. [Exeunt. Enter Mahabal and Hanno.]
ACTUS II, SCENA v
MAH. Hanno, how I fear all this hospitality will lead to ruin! If, as often happens (but may the god avert this omen!) Dido falls in love with our foreign guest, as often happens, what wars, what riots will this marriage engender?
HAN. Maharbal, what fear are you imagining? I don’t like anybody to be careless, nor yet over-cautious. Suppose she marries — what wars do you prophesy?
MAH. Could Iarbas, still burning with love, tolerate such a great unavenged wrong? Will the princes of Libya, so often spurned by her, allow this guest to be received in her realm while the native-born are rejected?
HAN. Maharbal, if you should think it a terrible thing for those empty youths to be thrust aside, so that our queen, powerful in her resouces, a mature woman, should make a marriage, then do you think she marry according to your wishes or to her own? Would you prefer her to obey Iarbas? If I could be king according to such an arrangement, I’d rather be dead. I don’t want Dido as his consort to be thrust aside or ordered about. I think that would be much worse. What threats of Iarbas or the princes are you speaking about? With a Trojan at the head of the Tyrian army, Carthage will hold her head up proudly among the nations.
MAH. But think how guests’ faith is to be regarded. Let Theseus teach you by Ariadne’s injury, Jason by Medea’s. Foreigners’ desertion is commonplace.
HAN. Ah, the wickedness of two men should not convict them all. But Dido is coming outside, wearing an unhappy look. Let us steal indoors. [Exeunt. Enter Dido and Anna.]
ACT II, SCENE vi
DI. Sister Anna, what dreams terrify me in my doubtful state! Who is this strange guest newly come to our home? What distinction he has in his looks! How brave with his deep chest, famous for his prowess at war! Sister, I believe he is born of the gods. Nor is this an idle belief of the gullible, for fear betrays the low-born spirit. How many hardships has he undergone by land and sea! How many battles has this warlike man fought! If I had not made up my mind firmly that I do not want to marry, after Love had previously cheated me by my husband’s death, and if marriage torches and the bridal chamber were not hateful to me, perhaps I would yield to sin gladly for this one man. But I pray that the earth would swallow me up beforehand, or that the almighty Father with his lightning would bring me to the shades, the shades of pallid Erebus and the infernal Styx, before I break your laws and do injury to you, Modesty. Let that man who married me before and stole my heart keep me with him, let him keep me in his tomb. Let nobody accuse me of inconstancy.
AN. Oh sister, dearer to me than the sight of day, are you always going to lead a celibate life in mourning? Are you never to have known the pledges of Venus, the lawful pleasures of the bed, sweet children? Do you think that shades cares about this? I grant you, no men have previously moved you in your misery, not noble Iarbas, scorned in your Tyre, nor the princes of Libya and the men nourished by Africa, rich in victories. Are you now going to be the only one to struggle against love’s god? Does it not occur to you whose land you inhabit? This land is surrounded by the fierce Gaetuli, indomitable in war, and by the Numidians. On this side is a land parched by thirst and the vast Syrte. From the other direction the Barcaeans shout defiance at us, raging over great distances. Why must I speak of the wars impending for Tyre? Why mention your brother’s horrible threats? I think the wind drove the Dardanian ships here according to the will of Juno and the gods. Oh sister, imagine what city, what manner of kingdom will quickly arise here, with Aeneas our prince! With the Teucrian soldiers as allies, how Punic glory will extol your name throughout the world!
DI. That which you say does not escape my attention. And now I shall confess, Anna, after the sad death of my Sychaeus and the impious scattering of my household by my brother’s slaughter, this man alone has moved my feelings, has unhinged my tottering mind, and now I acknowledge the first signs of that old flame. But doubtful timidity and bashfulness trouble my mind. What encouragement can you offer my desire, sister?
AN. Sister, just ask the gods’ forgiveness; having offered sacrifices, entertain your foreign guest. Manufacture reasons for his delay, while winter’s heavy wrath now rages against the sea, while their ships are shattered, while the winds are howling in a sky now unserene.
DI. It is sufficient. You kindle my ardent love. I shall loosen the reins, let foolish shame depart. Tomorrow I shall ingratiate myself to the gods with plentiful victims. I have made up my mind to search for peace in sacrifice. A heifer shall fall for you, Ceres, and also one for Bacchus. By far the first, I shall offer to Juno, who is concerned for marriage bonds. [Exeunt.]
Alas, Dido, we are sorry for you. O ignorant minds of prophets! What use is there in grasping the altar in supplication? No prayers will help her in her amorous rage. Fire smoulders in her marrow, a secret wound lives in her heart.
Dido is scorched by piteous fires, she roams throughout the city in her frenzy like an arrow-stricken hind shot unexpecting from afar in some Cretan glade by a shepherd who, unawares, leaves the steel implanted in mid-breast. In her frenzy she seeks the woods, but the whirring arrow sticks in her flank.
Now frantic Eliza escorts Aeneas along the battlements. Now she displays her Sidonian wealth, her new city. She craves to speak, but her voice soon catches in mid-utterance. Now she begs to hear about Ilium’s agonies, and now, at day’s waning, she seeks renewed feasting. Not now are rising the towers she has started. The youths are not now practising at arms, nor are they storing up weapons for battle or making ready the harbors. They tarry at their work, the high pinnacles of the walls suspended. Oh, which merciful one of the gods will give raging Elisa surcease from her great malady?
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