Aeneid translation notes, Book I, lines 210-222
February 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
Talia voce refert, curisque ingentibus aeger
spem voltu simulat, premit altum corde dolorem.
Illi se praedae accingunt, dapibusque futuris;
tergora deripiunt costis et viscera nudant;
pars in frusta secant veribusque trementia figunt;
litore aena locant alii, flammasque ministrant.
Tum victu revocant vires, fusique per herbam
implentur veteris Bacchi pinguisque ferinae.
Postquam exempta fames epulis mensaeque remotae,
amissos longo socios sermone requirunt,
spemque metumque inter dubii, seu vivere credant,
sive extrema pati nec iam exaudire vocatos.
Praecipue pius Aeneas nunc acris Oronti,
nunc Amyci casum gemit et crudelia secum
fata Lyci, fortemque Gyan, fortemque Cloanthum.
They gird themselves for the future feast: they tear the hides from the ribs and lay bare the flesh; some they cut into pieces and fix them still quivering to spits, they bronze on the shores, and they kindle the flames. Then by food restored to their strength, they filled themselves with the wine that the King of Sicily had given them. After their hunger was taken away by the feast, they reclined on the grass, filling themselves with old wine and rich venison. After the banquet took away their hunger and the tables were removed, they let go and lost themselves in deep conversation, wavering between hope and fear, whether or not their companions were alive or if they suffered death and no longer can hear their names. Devout Aeneas especially mourns now for spirited Orontēs, now for Amycus and then for the cruel fate of Lycus and brave Gyās and valiant Cloanthus.
Oddly, back in 1994, I left over half of this short scene untranslated (I didn’t have my notes checked by the professor; we just had to be ready for translating the occasional “seen” translation for our exams), so I used a combination of the vocabulary words in the edition of Books I-VI that I own, my Latin dictionary, and comparing two translations elsewhere, one prose and the other poetic, in order to fill in the gaps. There are more gaps in lines 223-304, but these aren’t as pronounced (a line or two here and there) as the seven out of thirteen lines left untranslated in my notes.
I’m finding it interesting, reading both my old/new notes and comparing those to what I’m doing with two World War I-related stories that aren’t yet readily available in English, to see the ways in which grief is described. There are no poignant passages on the desire for revenge, but instead here there is a brief yet emotional outpouring that makes passages like this, brief as they may be, powerful to consider at length. But the worldviews certainly differ over nearly two millenia and the qualities of what makes one “great” or a leader certain vary considerably. Regardless, there certainly is an elegance here in Vergil’s lines that can barely be seen in translation, but even those glimpses provide just enough to enable the reader to appreciate the achievement that the poet made even with his unfinished work.