Venus, mother of Æneas and wife of Vulcan, obtained from her husband, by seductive witchery, a marvelous shield whose surface reflected a thousand years of future events. Venus describes the wonders of the magic armor.It's the seductive witchery that's the part you'll remember -- it's actually kind of better in the prim Dryden translation. It starts out like any sitcom: Venus needs something from her husband, so she's willing to sleep with him:
|When love’s fair goddess, anxious for her son,|
|(New tumults rising, and new wars begun,)|
|Couch’d with her husband in his golden bed,|
|With these alluring words invokes his aid;|
|And, that her pleasing speech his mind may move,||490|
|Inspires each accent with the charms of love|
Basically she wants a shield for her son (Vulcan's stepson). We'll skip the details -- I doubt Vulcan was paying attention either, when it got to this:
She said; and straight her arms, of snowy hue,The "secret smiles" would be to the camera, these days. Vulcan, of course, is down for whatever:
About her unresolving husband threw.
Her soft embraces soon infuse desire;
His bones and marrow sudden warmth inspire;
And all the godhead [heh heh heh -- ed.] feels the wonted fire.
Not half so swift the rattling thunder flies,
Or forky lightnings flash along the skies.
The goddess, proud of her successful wiles,
And conscious of her form, in secret smiles.
|Trembling he spoke; and, eager of her charms,|| |
|He snatch’d the willing goddess to his arms;|
|Till in her lap infus’d, he lay possess’d|
|Of full desire, and sunk to pleasing rest.|
I like "infused," because I haven't ever heard that used as a euphemism before. You do learn stuff from the classics!
Wikipedia says that Virgil wanted to cut this scene. He's crazy -- there's already too much of this:
|Not far from hence there stands a hilly town,|
|Of ancient building, and of high renown,|| |
|Torn from the Tuscans by the Lydian race,|
|Who gave the name of Cære to the place,|
|Once Agyllina call’d.|
Right, right. And the shield, of course, is amazing, because you'd think it'd have to be the size of of a Rockefeller Center mural to fit everything that's supposed to be on it. I don't even think our Pentagon could do that now in a million years of cost overruns. The other interesting thing to me is that Cleopatra -- the Egyptian who fought on the losing side -- gets the biggest description. It's like the Conn Smythe going to someone on the losing team.
Okay, off for the weekend.