Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Taranto (Tarentum)


By Virgil (70–19 B.C.)

(From Æneid, Book III)
Translated by C. P. Cranch

AND next Tarentum’s bay,

Named, if report be true, from Hercules,

Is seen; and opposite lifts up her head

The goddess of Lacinia; and the heights

Appear of Caulon, and the dangerous rocks

Of Sylaceum. Then far off we see

Trinacrian Ætna rising from the waves;

And now we hear the ocean’s awful roar,

The breakers dashing on the rocks, the moan

Of broken voices on the shore. The deeps

Leap up, and sand is mixed with boiling foam.

“Charybdis!” cries Anchises; “lo, the cliffs,

The dreadful rocks that Helenus foretold!

Save us,—bear off, my men! With equal stroke

Bend on your oars!” No sooner said than done.

With groaning rudder Palinurus turns

The prow to the left, and the whole cohort strain

With oar and sail, and seek a southern course.

The curving wave one moment lifts us up

Skyward, then sinks us down as in the shades

Of death. Three times amid their hollow caves

The cliffs resound; three times we saw the foam

Dashed,—that the stars hung dripping wet with dew.

Meanwhile, abandoned by the wind and sun,

Weary, and ignorant of our course, we are thrown

Upon the Cyclops’ shore.