1994 Translation Notes on Vergil’s Aeneid, Book I, Lines 50-80

January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

The story here turns to Juno’s visit to the wind god Aeolus.  Juno’s anger, which takes turns that might be disconcerting to modern readers, underscores just how differently moral codes were in the first decades of the Christian/Common Era compared to the early 21st century CE.  To the left is my handwritten translation notes from late January/early February 1994 (if you click on the image, it’ll appear nearly the size of the original paper).  I’ll transcribe here (and add lines 76-80, which are on the opposite page and were appended as part of an ad hoc assignment (the next assignment was lines 81-100).  Here at least two and maybe three edits of the translation can be seen; more undoubtedly would have been done if the class called for it.  I’ll post the Latin original first, for comparison’s sake:

Talia flammato secum dea corde volutans
nimborum in patriam, loca feta furentibus austris,
Aeoliam venit. Hic vasto rex Aeolus antro
luctantes ventos tempestatesque sonoras
imperio premit ac vinclis et carcere frenat.
Illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis
circum claustra fremunt; celsa sedet Aeolus arce
sceptra tenens, mollitque animos et temperat iras.
Ni faciat, maria ac terras caelumque profundum
quippe ferant rapidi secum verrantque per auras.
Sed pater omnipotens speluncis abdidit atris,
hoc metuens, molemque et montis insuper altos
imposuit, regemque dedit, qui foedere certo
et premere et laxas sciret dare iussus habenas.
Ad quem tum Iuno supplex his vocibus usa est: 
Pondering in her inflamed heart such thoughts, Juno came to the country of the stormclouds, a place teeming with raging Auster, there she came to Aeolia.  Here in a vast cave King Aeolus rules the roaring winds and storms, represses them and by bondage restrains them.  There frustrated and with a great mountain roar overhead they roar against their bolts [confinement[; in his towering citadel Aeolus sits, holding his scepter and he soothes their spirits and controls their anger; if he did not do this, the seas, lands, and the high heaven indeed [itself] the winds in their rapidity would carry them away and [they] would sweep them through the airs.  But the almighty father, in fear of this, hid them in these black caverns and the high mountain and mass he placed above them, and he gave the kingship to a sure ally who would know when ordered to restrain and when to let them go.  To whom Juno as a suppliant used these words:
A bit rough in places (I added brackets to clarify a few points; would like to reword the middle section if I had the time/former fluency), but I think one can see some of Vergil’s beautiful wordplay here.  Certainly the imagery lends itself to many poetic adaptations, but needless to say, I didn’t have any such training in 1994 to attempt such a thing.  Poor as it may be, the prose translation does possess some charms of its own.  Now for Juno’s request and bribe:
‘Aeole, namque tibi divom pater atque hominum rex
et mulcere dedit fluctus et tollere vento,
gens inimica mihi Tyrrhenum navigat aequor,
Ilium in Italiam portans victosque Penates:
incute vim ventis submersasque obrue puppes,
aut age diversos et disiice corpora ponto.
Sunt mihi bis septem praestanti corpore nymphae,
quarum quae forma pulcherrima Deiopea,
conubio iungam stabili propriamque dicabo,
omnis ut tecum meritis pro talibus annos
exigat, et pulchra faciat te prole parentem.’
 “Aeolus, for to you the father of the gods and men has granted the power to soothe the wwaves and to raise them by the wind, a [people hostile to me] a hostile people to me is sailing on the Tyrrhenian Sea, carrying with them Ilium and their conquered household gods into Italy:  strike [them] with the force of the winds, sink and overwhelm the ships, and drive them in different directions and scatter their bodies on the sea.  I have to me twice seven [fourteen] nymphs of surpassing bodies, the one who is most beautiful, Deiopea, I will join with you in permanent wedlock and I will call her your own so that she might spend all of her years with you as a reward for the sake of such merits and that she might make you the father of beautiful offspring.”
The fierce anger, followed immediately by a wheedling tone that speaks much more to Aeolus’ loins than to his heart, certainly is striking here.  Not much I would change with the translation, other than tightening some of the sentences to remove extraneous words/phrases.  And now for Aeolus’ response, which illustrates his recognition of his lower status compared to the queen of the gods:
Aeolus haec contra: ‘Tuus, O regina, quid optes

explorare labor; mihi iussa capessere fas est.
Tu mihi, quodcumque hoc regni, tu sceptra Iovemque
concilias, tu das epulis accumbere divum,
nimborumque facis tempestatumque potentem.’


Aeolus replies:  “You, O Queen, it is your task to figure out what you want.  It is proper for me to undertake your commands.  Whatever this is in way of a kingdom, you have by the uniting of your power and Jove’s, you give me the right to recline at the banquets of the gods, you make for me the clouds and the powerful tempests.”

This is a fitting place to close, as the next section will see the first fruits of Juno’s machinations against the refugee Trojans.

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