reading hume and rousseau, and wondering how things got as they are, i always wonder sometimes whether there is a point to civilization? why don't we simply submit to our dreams and our passions and our instincts. why all this guilt, chastisement, all these fetters of civilization and reason? why all my reverence of stoicism?

i came across this checking up stuff for the italy trip again... and about this history of rome, which rousseau speaks much of. it's a confusing amalgam of myth and history, and virgil has made aeneas out to be one of the forefathers of the roman empire (he did get a vision of its future greatness).

just like my favourite passage in alice of wonderland is the knight bidding alice goodbye, this is one i like from the aeneid. i told ms rachel tan one day that in my spare time, i wouldn't read greek literature, but hey, people change.

setting: venus got her son cupid (who happens to be aeneas's half brother) to shoot dido with some love arrows. dido falls madly enough with aeneas, and during a hunting expedition a storm drove them into a cave where they had sex (wow, what a convenient storm). but then aeneas has a destiny, as is typical of most greek heroes, and has to leave. dido, queen of carthage has burned herself at the pyre after the heartless bastard aeneas left for the fertile lands of italy. aeneas, being the clueless guy he was, had no idea that dido was that into him. aeneas finds an opening to the underworld at cumae in order to find his father's spirit and encounters the dead. there he runs into dido.

it's so nice because here was crazywoman dido who burnt herself at the stake for this fucker, and when she gets to meet him again in hell she is able to detach herself, see everything stoically, replies with silence and returns to her ex-husband sichaeus, who she broke her vow of fidelity too in making off with aeneas.

Not far from these Phoenician Dido stood,
Fresh from her wound, her bosom bath'd in blood;
Whom when the Trojan hero hardly knew,
Obscure in shades, and with a doubtful view,
(Doubtful as he who sees, thro' dusky night,
Or thinks he sees, the moon's uncertain light,)
With tears he first approach'd the sullen shade;
And, as his love inspir'd him, thus he said:
"Unhappy queen! then is the common breath
Of rumor true, in your reported death,
And I, alas! the cause? By Heav'n, I vow,
And all the pow'rs that rule the realms below,
Unwilling I forsook your friendly state,
Commanded by the gods, and forc'd by fate-
Those gods, that fate, whose unresisted might
Have sent me to these regions void of light,
Thro' the vast empire of eternal night.
Nor dar'd I to presume, that, press'd with grief,
My flight should urge you to this dire relief.
Stay, stay your steps, and listen to my vows:
'T is the last interview that fate allows!"
In vain he thus attempts her mind to move
With tears, and pray'rs, and late-repenting love.
Disdainfully she look'd; then turning round,
But fix'd her eyes unmov'd upon the ground,
And what he says and swears, regards no more
Than the deaf rocks, when the loud billows roar;
But whirl'd away, to shun his hateful sight,
Hid in the forest and the shades of night;
Then sought Sichaeus thro' the shady grove,
Who answer'd all her cares, and equal'd all her love.

No comments: