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The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by  Alfred J, Church


 

 

THE PLOTS OF JUNO

[161] WHEN Juno saw that the Trojans were come to the land of Italy, and that they were building houses in which to dwell, and that King Latinus was showing them no little kindness, she said to herself: "So this wicked race has vanquished me. The flames of the burning city of Troy did not destroy them, nor did the sea swallow them up. And lo! they have come unharmed to the river Tiber, to the very place which they desired. Yes: it is but too true; I, who am the sister and the wife of Jupiter, have been overcome by this Æneas. Nevertheless there is still something which I can do. The gods in heaven will not help me; therefore I will go to the powers of hell. I cannot keep this fellow from the kingdom of Latium, and it is the pleasure of the gods that he should have Lavinia for his wife. But I will see to it that he shall buy this kingdom of his at a [162] great price, and that your dowry, O daughter of Latinus, shall be the blood of Italy and of Troy. Then Juno went down into the lower parts of the earth, and called to her Alecto, who was one of the Furies, who loved anger and war and treachery, and all evil and hateful things. Even her own sisters, the Furies, could not bear to look on her, so dreadful was she to behold. Juno said to her: "Daughter of Night, I have suffered a great wrong and disgrace, and I want you to help me. A man whom I hate, Æneas by name, desires to have a kingdom in Italy: keep him from it. He wishes to have Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus, to wife: see that he does not. You can set brother against brother; you can bring strife into kingdoms and into homes. Break this peace that the Latins and the Trojans are making. Bring about some occasion of war."

Alecto first went to the palace of Latinus. There she found the queen, Amata by name, in great anger and trouble. She was much displeased by the doings of the king, her husband. She did not wish to have Æneas for her son-in-law, and she loved the prince [163] Turnus with all her heart. Then the Fury thought to herself: "The queen hates Æneas already; I will turn her hatred into madness." So she took a snake out of her hair and thrust it into the bosom of the queen. The evil beast crept about her so that the poison got into her heart; then it changed itself into a collar, as of twisted gold, round her neck, and poisoned her very breath.

At the first, before the evil altogether overpowered her, she spoke gently to her husband, weeping as a mother might weep when she is afraid that she may lose her daughter. She said: "Are you not afraid, my husband, to give Lavinia to this exile from Troy? Have you no pity for her or me or yourself? Well I know that so soon as the north wind begins to blow, he will fly from this land and carry her away with him. Do you not care for the promise that you made to Turnus—yes, made with an oath—that he should have Lavinia for his wife? You say that she must marry a stranger. Is he not a stranger? Are not all who are not subjects of your kingdom strangers? This, and this only, is what the [164] gods command. Further, if you look into the matter, you will see that he is a stranger also in race, for he is of the family of Inachus, and is by race a Greek."

But when she saw that her husband was not moved at all by her words, the madness altogether overcame her. She rushed out of the palace, and through the streets of the city, taking her daughter with her. And, as she went, she called to the other women to follow her, so that a whole multitude went after her. Like to so many wild creatures, they ran through the woods, the queen leading them, holding a burning torch in her hand, and singing the marriage song of her daughter and Turnus.

The next thing that the Fury did was that she went to the city where Turnus lived. He was asleep, and the Fury went in and stood by his bedside. She had taken the shape of an old woman, the priestess of the Temple of Juno, and she said: "Turnus, are you content that you should lose that which is your right, and that your kingdom should be taken from you? King Latinus takes from you the wife that he had promised, [165] and is about to hand over his kingdom to a stranger from over the sea. Juno bade me come and tell you this. Arm your people; drive these strangers out of the land, and burn their ships with fire. And if the king will not keep his promise, let him learn for himself that Turnus is not one who will suffer wrong."

So the old woman spoke, and Turnus answered—for so it seemed to him in his dream—"Old woman, I know that the ships of the strangers have come to the Tiber. But these are idle tales that you tell me. I know that Queen Juno cares for me; therefore, I am not afraid. But you, mother, are old, and wander somewhat in your wits, and trouble yourself for nothing, and are afraid when there is nothing to fear. Keep, I pray you, to your own business; serve the temples of the gods, but leave war and the things of war to men, for such matters belong to them."

And then it seemed to Turnus in his dream that the old woman grew very angry, yea, that she changed into the shape of a Fury, and that a thousand snakes hissed [166] round her. And when he tried to speak again, the words would not come, and when he would have risen from his bed, she thrust him back, and caught two snakes from her hair and lashed him with them, crying: "I am old, forsooth! and I wander from my wits! and I am afraid when I have nothing to fear! Nay, but I am the greatest of the Furies, and war and death are in my hands." And it seemed to him, still in his dream, that she threw a lighted torch at him, and that it fixed itself in his heart. Then he woke with a great start. He did not know whether the things which he had seen and heard in his sleep were true or not, but his heart was full of anger. He called for his arms, and commanded all the young men to make themselves ready for war. "I will drive these Trojans," he cried, "out of Italy, and if Latinus and his people stand by them, then they shall go also."

And now there was one thing left for the Fury to do, and this was to make a cause of quarrel. King Latinus had a man to keep his cattle, and this man's daughter, Silvia by name, had a tame stag which her brothers [167] had found when it was a fawn, and had brought to her. The girl was very fond of the creature, and would put garlands of flowers about its neck, and comb its hair, and give it a bath. All day long the stag would wander about the woods, and at night it came back to the house. Now it so happened that Ascanius, with other Trojan lads, was hunting that day, and his dogs caught scent of the stag and followed it. And Ascanius, riding after them, saw the beast, and shot an arrow at it, and hit it, for the Fury took care that the arrow should not miss its aim. Then the stag, being wounded to death, ran back to the herdsman's house, and filled it with most lamentable cries. Silvia heard it, and was greatly grieved to see her dear pet in such a case, and cried out for help. And here again the Fury—for she was hiding in the woods—did all she could to increase the trouble. From all sides the country folk came together, each picking up for a weapon anything that came to hand. One had a brand that had been half-burned in the fire, and another a great stick with knots in it. The herdsman [168] himself carried an axe in his hand. On the other hand, the Trojans ran together to help Ascanius, and soon there was a regular battle. Some were slain both on the one side and on the other. Among them was Almo, who was the eldest son of the herdsman, and an old man Galæsus, who was killed as he tried to make peace between the two parties. He came between them as they fought, and the spears wounded him to the death. A good man was he, and rich, for he had five flocks of sheep and five herds of cattle, and as much land for wheat and the like as could be worked by a hundred ploughs.

Then said Juno to the Fury: "It is enough; go to your own place. Jupiter would be angry if he saw you here. The rest I will do."


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