sed medio finem bello excidiumque vicissim molitae gentes, propiusque fuere periclo, quis superare datum: reseravit Dardanus arces 15ductor Agenoreas, obsessa Palatia vallo Poenorum, ac muris defendit Roma salutem.
Tantarum causas irarum odiumque perenni servatum studio et mandata nepotibus arma fas aperire mihi superasque recludere mentes. 20iamque adeo magni repetam primordia motus.
Pygmalioneis quondam per caerula terris pollutum fugiens fraterno crimine regnum fatali Dido Libyes appellitur orae. tum pretio mercata locos nova moenia ponit, 25cingere qua secto permissum litora tauro. hic Iuno ante Argos (sic credidit alta vetustas) ante Agamemnoniam, gratissima tecta, Mycenen optavit profugis aeternam condere gentem. verum ubi magnanimis Romam caput urbibus alte 30exerere ac missas etiam trans aequora classes totum signa videt victricia ferre per orbem, iam propius metuens bellandi corda furore Phoenicum extimulat. sed enim conanime primae contuso pugnae fractisque in gurgite coeptis 35Sicanio Libycis, iterum instaurata capessens
second wara each nation strove to destroy and exterminate her rival, and those to whom victory was granted came nearer to destruction: in it a Roman generalb stormed the citadel of Carthage, the Palatine was surrounded and besieged by Hannibal, and Rome made good her safety by her walls alone.
The causes of such fierce anger, the hatred maintained with unabated fury, the war bequeathed by sire to son and by son to grandson—these things I am permitted to reveal, and to disclose the purposes of Heaven. And now I shall begin by tracing the origin of this great upheaval.
When Dido long ago fled across the sea from the land of Pygmalion,c leaving behind her the realm polluted by her brother’s guilt, she landed on the destined shore of Libya. There she bought land for a price and founded a new city, where she was permitted to lay strips of a bull’s hide round the strand. Here—so remote antiquity believed—Juno elected to found for the exiles a nation to last for ever, preferring it to Argos, and to Mycenae, the city of Agamemnon and her chosen dwelling-place. But when she saw Rome lifting her head high among aspiring cities, and even sending fleets across the sea to carry her victorious standards over all the earth, then the goddess felt the danger close and stirred up in the minds of the Phoenicians a frenzy for war. But the effort of their first campaign was crushed, and the enterprise of the Carthaginians was wrecked on the Sicilian sead; and then Juno took up the sword again
- aThere were three Punic wars: the second of these is the subject of the poem.
- bScipio Africanus, in 202 b.c. Silius often uses Dardanus as equivalent to Romanus, because the Romans were descendants of Aeneas, an exile from Troy.
- cPygmalion, king of Tyre, treacherously murdered Sychaeus, his brother-in-law and Dido’s husband, for the sake of his wealth; but Dido managed to carry the treasure off to Africa.
- dThe first Punic war ended in a great victory at sea for the Romans, near the Aegatian islands off the promontory of Lilybaeum (242 b.c.).