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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Francesco Solimena. Dido Receiving Aeneas and Cupid Disguised as Ascanius
Francesco Solimena. Dido Receiving Aeneas, &c. 1720s.




They whisted1 all, with fixed face attent,
When prince Æneas from the royal seat
Thus gan to speak.  O Queen! it is thy will
I should renew a woe cannot be told:
How that the Greeks did spoil, and overthrow
The Phrygian2 wealth, and wailful realm of Troy:
Those ruthful things that I myself beheld;
And whereof no small part fell to my share.
Which to express, who could refrain from tears?
What Myrmidon?3 or yet what Dolopes?4
What stern Ulysses' waged soldier?5
And lo! moist night now from the welkin6 falls;
And stars declining counsel us to rest.
But since so great is thy delight to hear
Of our mishaps, and Troyè's7 last decay;
Though to record the same my mind abhors,
And plaint eschews, yet thus will I begin.
      The Greeks' chieftains all irked8 with the war
Wherein they wasted had so many years,
And oft repulsed by fatal destiny,
A huge horse made, high raised like a hill,
By the divine science of Minerva:9
Of cloven fir compacted were his ribs;
For their return a feigned sacrifice:
The fame whereof so wandered it at point.
In the dark bulk they closed bodies of men
Chosen by lot, and did enstuff by stealth
The hollow womb with armed soldiers.
      There stands in sight an isle, hight10 Tenedon,
Rich, and of fame, while Priam's kingdom11 stood;
Now but a bay, and road, unsure for ship.
Hither them secretly the Greeks withdrew,
Shrouding themselves under the desert shore.
And, weening12 we they had been fled and gone,
And with that wind had fet13 the land of Greece,
Troy discharged her long continued dole.14
The gates cast up, we issued out to play,
The Greekish camp desirous to behold,
The places void, and the forsaken coasts.
Here Pyrrhus' band; there fierce Achilles pight;15
Here rode their ships; there did their battles join.
Astonnied16 some the scatheful17 gift beheld,
Behight18 by vow unto the chaste Minerve;
All wondering at the hugeness of the horse.
      The first of all Timœtes gan advise
Within the walls to lead and draw the same;
And place it eke amid the palace court:
Whether of guile, or Troyè's fate it would.
Capys, with some of judgment more discreet,
W1lled it to drown;19 or underset with flame
The suspect present of the Greeks' deceit;
Or bore and gage the hollow caves uncouth.20
So diverse ran the giddy people's mind.
      Lo! foremost of a rout that followed him,
Kindled Laocoon hasted from the tower,
Crying far off: 'O wretched citizens!
What so great kind of frenzy fretteth21 you?
Deem ye the Greeks our enemies to be gone?
Or any Greekish gifts can you suppose
Devoid of guile? Is so Ulysses known?
Either the Greeks are in this timber hid;
Or this an engine is to annoy our walls,
To view our towers, and overwhelm our town.
Here lurks some craft. Good Troyans! give no trust
Unto this horse; for what so ever it be,
I dread the Greeks; yea! when they offer gifts.'
And with that word, with all his force a dart
He lanced22 then into that crooked womb;
Which trembling stuck, and shook within the side:
Wherewith the caves gan hollowly resound.
And, but for Fates, and for our blind forecast,
The Greeks' device and guile had he descried;
Troy yet had stood, and Priam's towers so high.

[AJ Notes:
1. whisted, became silent; hushed.
2. Phrygian, of the kingdom of Phrygia, located in what is now Turkey.
3. The Myrmidons were an ancient tribe of Greece. They were the soldiers of Achilles.
4. The Dolopes were a tribe in Thessaly, on the outskirts of Greece.
They were soldiers of Neoptolemus, or Pyrrhus, son of Achilles.
5. waged soldier, soldier that gets paid wages, i.e. hired soldier; mercenary.
6. welkin, heavens.
7. As common to the poets of the era, Surrey alternately makes words monosyllabic or disyllabic in pronunciation, to support the metre. Thus, Troy is monosyllabic above in line 6, disyllabic here and on many occasions later in the text.
8. irked with, sick of.
9. Goddess of Wisdom and Invention.
10. hight, called.
11. Priam was King of Troy.
12. weening, thinking; assuming.
13. fet, fetched; i.e., reached.
14. dole, dolor; grief.
15. pight, pitched.
16. astonnied, astonished.
17. scatheful, injurious.
18. behight, promised.
19. to drown, to be drowned (in the sea).
20. uncouth, unknown.
21. fretteth, agitates.
22. lanced, launched.

Surrey, Henry Howard, Earl of. "Second Book of Virgil's Aeneid."
Poetical Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Robert Bell, Ed.
London: John W. Parker & Sons, 1854. 144-146.

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