Virgil, Aeneid 2.768-791
Aeneas is escaping from Troy when he realises that his wife, Creusa, is no longer with the party. Frantic to find her, he returns to the city now in flames and teeming with hostile Greeks. Translation by kind permission of David West. His translation of The Aeneid is published by Penguin Classics: ISBN 0140 449329.
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ausus quin etiam voces iactare per umbram
implevi clamore vias, maestusque Creusam
nequiquam ingeminans iterumque iterumque vocavi.
quaerenti et tectis urbis sine fine ruenti
infelix simulacrum atque ipsius umbra Creusae
visa mihi ante oculos et nota maior imago.
obstipui, steteruntque comae et vox faucibus haesit.
tum sic adfari et curas his demere dictis:
‘quid tantum insano iuvat indulgere dolori,
o dulcis coniunx? non haec sine numine divum
eveniunt; nec te hinc comitem asportare Creusam
fas, aut ille sinit superi regnator Olympi.
longa tibi exsilia et vastum maris aequor arandum,
et terram Hesperiam venies, ubi Lydius arva
inter opima virum leni fluit agmine Thybris:
illic res laetae regnumque et regia coniunx
parta tibi. lacrimas dilectae pelle Creusae.
non ego Myrmidonum sedes Dolopumve superbas
aspiciam aut Grais servitum matribus ibo,
Dardanis et divae Veneris nurus;
sed me magna deum genetrix his detinet oris.
iamque vale, et nati serva communis amorem.’
haec ubi dicta dedit, lacrimantem et multa volentem
dicere deseruit, tenuisque recessit in auras.
Grief-stricken, I called her name ‘Creusa! Creusa!’ again and again, but there was no answer. I would not give up the search but was still rushing around the houses of the city when her likeness appeared in sorrow before my eyes, her very ghost, but larger than she was in life. I was paralysed. My hair stood on end. My voice stuck in my throat. Then she spoke to me and comforted my sorrow with these words: ‘O husband that I love, why do you choose to give yourself to such wild grief? These things do not happen without the approval of the gods. It is not their will that Creusa should go with you when you leave this place. The King of High Olympus does not allow it. Before you lies a long exile and a vast expanse of sea to plough before you come to the land of Hesperia where the Lydian river Thybris flows with smooth advance through a rich land of brave warriors. There prosperity is waiting for you, and a kingdom and a royal bride. Wipe away the tears you are shedding for Creusa whom you loved. I shall not have to see the proud palaces of the Myrmidons and Dolopians. I am a daughter of Dardanus and my husband was the son of Venus, and I shall never go to be a slave to any matron of Greece. The Great Mother of the Gods keeps me here in this land of Troy. Now fare you well. Do not fail in your love for our son.’
She spoke and faded into the insubstantial air, leaving me there in tears and longing to reply.