Key to Reading Unit 24

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Unit 24

  1. All fell silent and held their faces in close attention (lit. [they], attentive, kept their faces [still]). Then father Aeneas thus began (supply est with orsus) from his high couch, ‘You order [me], O Queen, to revive a terrible sorrow [in describing] how the Greeks overturned the Trojan dominion (opes) and kingdom for which men mourn (lamentabile), and [in describing] most terrible events which (lit. what most terrible things) I myself saw and in which I played a large part (lit. of which I was a large part). In telling of such things who of the Myrmidons or Dolopians (troops of Achilles and his son, Pyrrhus) or soldier of cruel Ulysses would refrain from tears? And already moist night is falling quickly from the sky and the setting stars advise sleep (i.e. as the banquet has lasted most of the night they really should go to bed). But if [your] desire to learn our misfortunes and to hear in a short space the final labor of Troy [is] so great, I shall begin, although [my] mind shudders to remember and has recoiled in grief (metre tells us that we have refūgit (perfect), not refugit (present)). The leaders of the Greek, broken in war and rejected by the fates, with so many years already slipping by, build with the divine aid of Pallas a horse the size of a mountain and wove its ribs with sawn fir-wood. They feign vows for their return; this rumour spreads abroad. After selecting picked men (lit. bodies of men), they secretly shut them in this (huc lit. hither), in its hollow side (caeco lateri is dative after includunt (28.1/1a, i) and expands and explains huc) and they fill the great hollows and stomach with armed soldiers (here the singular is used for the plural). (Vergil, Aeneid, II, 1-20; the vivid presents of the last eight lines have been retained)

  2. After the gods (lit. upper gods) decided (visum [est] 20.1/2g) to overturn the fortunes of Asia and the race of Priam, [though] not deserving [it], and proud Ilium fell and all Troy built by Neptune (lit. Neptunian) lay smoking on (lit. from) the ground, we were driven by signs of the gods to seek far-off exiles and abandoned lands and we laboured at [building] a fleet by Antandrus itself and the mountains of Phrygian Ida, uncertain where the fates were bearing us, [or] where it would be granted [to us] to stay; and we assembled men. Scarcely had the first [part of] summer begun and father Anchises was ordering [us] to give our sails to the fates when I, in tears, left the shores and harbours of my land and the fields where Troy [once] was. I was borne off on to the deep, an exile, with my companions and my son [and] household divinities and great gods. (Vergil, Aeneid, III, 1-12; the vivid presents have not been retained)

  3. Meanwhile the house of all-powerful Olympus was opened and the father of the gods and king of men summoned a council to his starry seat, from where he, high up, viewed all the lands and the camp of the Dardanidae (Trojans) and the Latin peoples. They sat down in the building with its two entrances [and] he himself began, ‘Mighty dwellers of the sky, why has your opinion turned back and [why] do you contend so much with spiteful minds? I had forbidden Italy to engage in battle with the Trojans. What [is this] dissension against my ban? What fear has urged either these or those (lit. these or these, i.e the Trojans or the Italians; Jupiter presumably points now to one group, now to the other, and so uses hic in each case) to take up (lit. follow) arms and provoke battle (ferrum is used by metonymy for battle). A proper time for fighting will come–do not hasten [it]–when one day (olim) fierce Carthage will let loose great destruction and opened Alps against Roman citadels (arcibus can be taken as either a dative of motion towards [28.1/1j] or dative of disadvantage [28.1/1e]; the clause is a highly poetical way of referring to Hannibal taking his army across the Alps and bringing destruction to Italy). Then you will be allowed (lit. it will be allowed [to you]) to contend in your hatreds, then [you will be allowed] to plunder (lit. plunder things; in poetry the perfect active infinitive, here rapuisse, is sometimes used in a present sense). Now let [things] be and happily make (lit. join) the treaty which I have ordained (lit. decided on [by me]). (Vergil, Aeneid, X, 1-15)

  4. But neither the woods of the Medes, the richest land, nor fair Ganges and the Hermus muddy with gold could vie with the praises of Italy; not Bactra nor the Indians and all Panchaia rich in incense-bearing sands. Bulls breathing fire from their nostrils have not turned these fields (lit. places; invertēre = invertērunt, 4.1/6 note 1), sown with the teeth of a mighty dragon (lit. teeth. . . having been sown; the allusion is to Cadmus and the founding of Thebes–Vergil is saying here that Italy lacks violent myths of the sort associated with Greece) nor has a harvest bristled with helmets and dense spears of men. But heavy crops and the Massic liquid of Bacchus (i.e Massic wine from a famous district in Campania) have filled [our land]. Olive trees and happy flocks possess [it]. From here the war-horse bears itself loftily (lit. lofty) on the plain, from here, O Clitumnus, white herds and a bull, the greatest sacrificial victim, sprinkled from your sacred river have often led Roman triumphs to the temples of the gods (Clitumnus was a river in Umbria where white cattle were reared for sacrifices). (Vergil, Georgics, II, 136-148)

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(c) Gavin Betts 2000