Gateway to the Classics: The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church
The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by  Alfred J. Church

The Shipwreck

N OT many days after the burial of Anchises Æneas and his companions set sail. Now the goddess Juno hated the Trojans for many reasons, the chief of which was this. There was a certain city which she greatly loved, Carthage by name. It was just then being built by Queen Dido, and Juno hoped, if it might be possible, to make it the first city in the world. But she had been told that this could not be done, that the first city in the world would be one that the Trojans would build in Italy. And now she saw these very Trojans sailing from Sicily to this same land of Italy. They had wandered, as we have seen, for several years, and now they were about to find a home. She was very angry to see this, and said to herself: "Am I then to be disappointed? Shall I not be able to keep these Trojans from settling in Italy? Minerva burnt a whole fleet of Greeks, and drowned the men, because she was angry with one of them, even Ajax. She took Jupiter's own thunderbolts, and broke the ships with them. As for Ajax, she caught him up in a whirlwind, and dashed him upon the sharp point of a rock, so that he was pierced through. She could do this, and I, though I am Jupiter's own wife and sister, can do nothing against these Trojans! Who will honour me? Who will offer sacrifices to me, if I can do nothing?"

Then she went to a certain rocky island where Æolus, the king of the winds, lived. He had a great prison there in which he kept the winds under bolt and bar. This he had been set to do by Jupiter because if they were not so kept in they would blow away heaven and earth in their rage. Juno said to him: "King Æolus, Jupiter has given you the kingdom of the winds that you may do with them as you will. A nation which I hate is sailing across the sea from Sicily to Italy. Loose the winds upon them, and drown their ships in the sea. And now hear what I will give you if you will do this. I have twelve beautiful nymphs that wait on me; the most beautiful of them you shall have for your wife."

King Æolus said: "O mighty Juno, it is for you to speak and for me to obey. It is of your kindness that I am king of the winds, and that I am allowed to sit at the table of the gods." As he spoke he struck the great gates of the prison with his spear, and broke them in. In a moment the winds rushed out, and swept across the sea, making great waves before them. It was not long before they reached the Trojans' ships, for the island of Æolus was near to where they were sailing. In a moment the sky was hidden, and the day became as dark as the night, and there were lightnings and thunders all about.

When Æneas saw all this he grew cold with fear. He was not afraid of spears and swords in the battle, but it was a wretched thing, he thought, to be drowned. "O happy they," he cried, stretching out his hands, "who fell under the walls of Troy, before their fathers' eyes! O Diomed, bravest of the great, I would that you had slain me, even as Hector was slain by the spear of Achilles, and many a brave Trojan with him, whose bodies the river Simoïs rolled down to the sea!"

While he was speaking, a great gust of wind struck the sails of his ship from behind, and turned it broadside to the waves. Three other ships were tossed on to certain rocks which are in those parts. Men call them altars because they are flat, and sometimes they are covered with the waves, and sometimes they show above them. Three ships were tossed upon quicksands which were in those parts, and others were sadly shattered by the waves. And one was sunk outright. This was the one in which the Lycians with their chief Orontes sailed. The Lycians were friends of the Trojans, and had come a long way to help them, and were now going with them in their wanderings. Æneas was very sorry to see the broken planks, and the precious things floating about, and a few men swimming in the waves, for most of them were drowned.

It was not long before Neptune, the ruler of the sea, heard the noise of the winds and waves, where he sat in his palace at the bottom of the sea. He lifted his head above the waves, and saw how the ships were scattered, and he knew that his sister Juno had done this because she hated the Trojans. He called with a loud voice, which could be heard even above the storm, and said: "What is this that you are doing, O winds? Why are you troubling Heaven without my leave? I will—but I had best make the sea calm again; only be sure that if you do this again you will be punished. Go and tell your king that it is I who am the king of the sea, not he; let him keep to his rocks and make the winds obey him."

Then he commanded the waves to be still; also he scattered the clouds, and he brought back the sun. At his bidding other gods of the sea came to help. They lifted the ships off the rocks, and drew them out of the quicksands. And when this had been done he commanded that his chariot should be brought, and he rode in it across the sea, and as he went a great calm fell upon it. It was just as happens when there is a riot in a city, and the people are furious, and throw stones and burning torches about, till suddenly there comes among them some one whom they all honour; a good man and true. When he speaks they all listen to him, and the riot ceases.

Then Æneas and his companions made for the nearest shore. And this was the land of Africa, for they had been driven far out of their course. There they found a harbour running far into the land, so far that the water is quite calm within; on either side were high cliffs, and woods upon them. At the far end of the harbour was a cave, and a spring of sweet water. To this place Æneas came, with seven ships, all the rest being scattered about. Right glad were they to stand again on dry land. And one of them struck a spark out of a flint, and they lighted a fire with leaves and dry branches. They took also some of the wheat which they had with them in the ships, and parched it by the fire, and ground it, making it fit to eat. While they were doing this, Æneas climbed a hill which was close by, thinking that he might see some of the other ships. These he could not see, but he saw below him three great stags, and a herd of deer following them. Then he took the bow and the arrows which his companion, Achates by name, was carrying, and let fly. He killed the three great stags, and four out of the herd, making seven, one for each ship. These the men fetched. Also they took wine out of the ships; for King Acestes, who had entertained them in Sicily, had given them a good store of wine to take with them. So they made ready to feast. Some of the deer's flesh they broiled on spits, and some they boiled in water. And they drank of the wine, and were not a little comforted. And after supper they talked of their friends who were absent, wondering whether they were alive or dead.

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