The Story of Palinurus

Now see! the Sleep-god, his bough wet with Lethean dew
and a Stygian power of slumber, shakes it over both his
temples and releases the swimming eyes from all struggle.
Then, as the unexpected sleep was just unloosening his limbs,
from above he hurled the sprawling pilot along with a torn-off
fragment of taffrail and the steering oar into the bright waves,
in headlong fall still calling hopelessly to his shipmates.
The god himself took wing and flew into tenuous air,
but the fleet goes racing safely on its course as before,
unterrified in the promises granted by father Neptune.
And now, borne ever onward, it approached the Sirens' reef,
dangerous once and white with the bones of many men
(from afar the raucus rocks resounded with unceasing surf),
when Aeneas felt the ship, her helmsman lost, drifting
badly and himself guided it true through nocturnal waves,
sighing often and deeply stunned by the fate of his friend:
"You trusted far too much in serene sky and calm sea
and will now, O Palinurus, lie naked on an unknown strand."

--Vergil, The Aeneid, 5.854-71

translated by Steven J. Willett,
University of Shizuoka, Hamamatsu Campus, Japan

(read the whole of Book 5 in Dryden's translation)

Alan Liu
& Palinurus Team
E-mail Liu
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