The Aeneid: A Story of the Old West
Told in 5 Acts With Music and Dancing
Chorus: The narrator, a cowboy story teller.
Virgil: A young cowboy.
Aeneas: A cowboy preacher leading his refugee congregation into the West after the destruction of their city, Nauvoo; founder of a great new city and empire.
Ascanius: Aeneas’ son.
Anchises: Aeneas’ father and prophet. He founded the city of Nauvoo and had a vision from Zeus telling him to establish a new city and home for his people in the west. Zeus promises that the city Aeneas founds will become a great empire.
Juno: The queen of the gods and enemy of Aeneas and his people. Having lost a beauty contest in Nauvoo, she is determined to destroy Aeneas and thwart his future empire.
Jupiter: King of the gods and champion of Aeneas. He knows Aeneas will triumph in the end no matter what his wife does.
Venus: The mother of Aeneas and his constant champion and helper against Juno.
Dido: Heir to a gold mine fortune and favorite of Juno; Aeneas and his band wander into her territory on their exodus.
Latinus: The chief of a proud tribe inhabiting the Great Salt Lake basin. He has had a vision that his daughter would marry a foreigner.
Livinia: Latinus’ daughter, a beautiful native princess.
Pallas: The son of a local tribe that becomes and ally of Aeneas.
Turnus: A proud brave from a neighboring tribe to Latinus’ tribe; he has vowed to marry Livinia.
Camila: A chief of another tribe from Nebraska; she is a powerful warrior and ally of Turnus.
Scene: A campfire where an old man, the Chorus sits and strums a guitar. A young man, Virgil, enters and sits down.
Chorus: Come on boy, sit down! Are you ready to hear a story? I mean an epic story?
Virgil: For sure, but I hope you won’t keep me up too late. We have this herd to move tomorrow.
Chorus: Boy, either you want an epic or you don’t. I’m not going to tell you knock knock jokes. This is an epic. It is a story that sweeps across these mountains and down the hills, fills the valleys like a monsoon flood. It’s a story about love, and death; about life, and fate, and destiny.
Virgil: OK, old man, pour me a cup of that strong coffee and tell me the story.
Chorus: [Sings this to the tune of the Great Speckled Bird]
Arma virumque canō, Trōiae quī prīmus ab ōrīs
Ītaliam, fātō profugus, Lāvīniaque vēnit
lītora, multum ille et terrīs iactātus et altō
vī superum saevae memorem Iūnōnis ob īram;
multa quoque et bellō passūs, dum conderet urbem, inferretque deōs Latiō, genus unde Latīnum,
Albānīque patrēs, atque altae moenia Rōmae.
Aeneas and his group are moving along the trail on horseback, wagon, and some pulling carts. Juno calls up a great storm to fall on them. They struggle to find shelter and are scattered. But after a while, the storm abates with fervent prayers by Aeneas, and they find themselves in front of a huge pit. It is a gold mine. Aeneas and his party set up camp and search for food. The owner of the mine, Dido, is made aware of their presence. After awhile, her workers confront Aeneas.
Aeneas is brought before Dido and he explains the disaster at Nauvoo, the attack from the opponents of their tribe and faith, the death of his family, and his father’s vision that he shares with Aeneas before he dies. Dido is impressed by this story. She suggests they go hunting for that night’s dinner. Meanwhile, Juno creates a fog, and she calls upon Cupid to strike Dido with an arrow so that she’ll fall hopelessly in love with Aeneas so that he’ll stay with her.
While hunting it starts to rain, and along with the fog, it forces Dido and Aeneas to shelter in one of the openings to a mineshaft. While they are there, they fall in love and get intimate. Dido says now they are married. Aeneas affirms his love and says he’ll stay with her and that he’s found the home he’s looking for.
But Jupiter intervenes and argues with Venus. Aeneas has to continue to his destiny Dido is a distraction. Jupiter sends down Mercury to wake up Aeneas while he sleeps at Dido’s side. Aeneas remembers his calling to found a new city and he leaves Dido. Dido heartbroken kills herself.
Aeneas and his tired followers arrive in the basin of the Great Salt Lake. There they run into some Indians who great them. There are various feasts and introductions. Latinus, the greatest chief, meets him and thinks that Aeneas must be the one his daughter is to marry. This sets of as series of dramas including with Turnus who believes he should marry Latinus’s daughter Lavinia.
There are a series of meetings between characters including Aeneas, Livinia, and Turnus. Musical numbers ensue. Including this one below.
In a dream, Aeneas is taken to the underworld where he sees his dead father, first wife, and Dido. He’s commanded to pursue Livinia and build the new city as he’s shown the future by Sybil.
[AENEAS WITH SYBIL IN THE UNDERWORLD. THEY ARRIVE IN A GREAT WOOD. TRANSLATION BY DAVID FERRY]
Aeneas: Sybil you know where you are taking me and through what hazards we must pass. Much lies ahead, but my mind wonders about a lost love.
Sybil: She is here. You can see her.
[From Ferry: “In the great woods wandering, was Phoenician Dido, The wound she made upon herself still fresh; And when Aeneas came close enough to know Who this was he was seeing—this form that moved So dimly among the shadows—it was like seeing, Or thinking you were seeing, the young moon rising, In the early days of its month, behind the clouds— Tears fell from his eyes and he spoke tenderly And lovingly to her:
Aeneas: Unhappy Dido, Is it true, what I was told, that you were dead, And with a sword had brought about your death? And was it I, alas, who caused it?]
[THE CHORUS ARRIVES, SWIRLING IN. DIDO IS IN WHITE, SURROUNDED BY BALLERINAS IN WHITE. THE CHORUS IS IN DARK BLACK DRESS AND MENACING]
From Ferry Aeneas: I Swear by the stars, and by the upper world, And by whatever here below is holy, I left your shores unwillingly. It was The gods’ commands which have brought me now down through The shadows to these desolate wasted places, In the profound abysmal dark; it was The gods who drove me, and I could not know That when I left I left behind a grief So devastated.
[DIDO AND THE DANCERS SWIRL AND FLY UPWARD ON CABLES]
Aeneas: Stay. Who is it you are fleeing from? Do not withdraw from sight. This is the last I am allowed by fate To say to you.”
[DIDO TURNS AND LANDS ON ONE FOOT NEAR HIM. MUSIC BEGINS. SHE SINGS AND DANCES AND THE CHORUS BACKS HER UP WHILE SHE SINGS THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL BY ABBA]
I don’t want to talk
About the things we’ve gone through
Though it’s hurting me
Now it’s history
I’ve played all my cards
And that’s what you’ve done too
Nothing more to say
No more ace to play
The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
Beside the victory
That’s her destiny
I was in your arms
Thinking I belonged there
I figured it made sense
Building me a fence
Building me a home
Thinking I’d be strong there
But I was a fool
Playing by the rules
The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses someone dear
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It’s simple and it’s plain
Why should I complain
But tell me does she kiss
Like I used to kiss you?
Does it feel the same
When she calls your name?
Somewhere deep inside
You must know I miss you
But what can I say
Rules must be obeyed
The judges will decide
The likes of me abide
Spectators of the show
Always staying low
The game is on again
A lover or a friend
A big thing or a small
The winner takes it allI don’t want to talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You’ve come to shake my hand
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
But you see
The winner takes it all
The winner takes it all
So the winner takes it all
And the the loser has to fall
Throw a dice, cold as ice
Way down here, someone dear
Takes it all, has to fall
It seems plain to me
Weeping he tried with these, His words, to appease the rage in her fiery eyes. She fixed her gaze upon the ground, and turned Away, and nothing was changed in her countenance, As if it were set in stone or Marpesian rock. Abruptly, then, she tore herself away, And went, his enemy, back to the shady grove In which Sychaeus, the lord of her marriage, was, Responding to her cares with equal love.
[HERE WOULD BE A HUGE STAGING OF ALL THE DANCERS AND CHORUS BEING BOURNE UP FROM THE STAGE AS IF IN A TORNADO, THE BLACK ROBES OF THE CHORUS SWALLOWING THE WHITE ROBES OF THE DANCERS UNTIL THE STAGE IS BEAR WITH JUST AENEAS AND SYBIL]
Aeneas, overcome by the knowledge of Her unjust fate, followed her as far As tears could follow, and pitied her as she went.
While Aeneas dreams, Turnus has gone to Camila, who is in love with him, and asks her to help him attack the newcomers. She agrees.
The act ends with Aeneas concluding peace with Latinus but with Juno sending Allecto to spread chaos among the tribes.
As the various tribes gather to affirm the treaty, a single arrow flying from somewhere in the crowd strikes Aeneas in the thigh. Chaos and battle ensues.
During the battle, Camilla is leading the anti-Aeneas tribes to victory. She spots Ascanius on the battlefield and admires his livery; she breaks from her successful attacks on others and aims her horse at him.
Aeneas sees Camilla moving against his son and he hurls a spear at her, striking her in the chest. As she dies, Ascanius takes the Diana icon hanging around her neck and hangs it around his own. He rides away. Turnus arrives and holds Camilla as she dies.
He turns to chase Ascanius but Aeneas, healed by a sage, arrives to stop him. Aeneas overcomes Turnus and wounds him fatally. As he dies, all the tribes gather around and Turnus dies he calls on Aeneas for peace and cries out for Camilla. Aeneas promises peace will follow and says, as he takes the Diana symbol from Ascanius, that he will honor Camilla forever, as he would his own wife.