Aeneid translation notes, Book I, lines 561-656

March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Now the story of Book I is beginning to draw to a close.  The scattered Trojans have arrived, almost as supplicants, to the Libyan shore and Queen Dido has come to render her judgment.  From here, the story begins to turn into a tragedy of the sort that centuries later the likes of Shakespeare could turn into something poignant.  However, this is but one of the many twists and turns in the narrative of “that man marked by his piety”; other facets are soon to come to the fore.  What I recall from first reading this in Latin 20 years ago is that while on the surface the love story that is introduced in the final 200 lines of Book I can seem rather stilted by modern standards, there is a symbolic level, between nascent Carthage and the Rome-to-be, that adds more layers to what transpires.  While this section stops just short of the introduction of the love angle, there are signs here of what is to come when Aeneas and Achates emerge from their cloud hiding to greet their lost comrades.
Tum breviter Dido, voltum demissa, profatur:
‘Solvite corde metum, Teucri, secludite curas.
Res dura et regni novitas me talia cogunt
moliri, et late finis custode tueri.
Quis genus Aeneadum, quis Troiae nesciat urbem,
virtutesque virosque, aut tanti incendia belli?
Non obtusa adeo gestamus pectora Poeni,
nec tam aversus equos Tyria Sol iungit ab urbe.
Seu vos Hesperiam magnam Saturniaque arva,
sive Erycis finis regemque optatis Acesten,
auxilio tutos dimittam, opibusque iuvabo.
Voltis et his mecum pariter considere regnis;
urbem quam statuo vestra est, subducite navis;
Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur.
Atque utinam rex ipse Noto compulsus eodem
adforet Aeneas! Equidem per litora certos
dimittam et Libyae lustrare extrema iubebo,
si quibus eiectus silvis aut urbibus errat.’


Then Dido briefly with a downcast look said:  “Dismiss fear from your hearts, Trojans, shut out grief.  Harsh necessity and the newness of the realm force me to make such things and guards to watch far and wide the boundary.  Who does not know of the followers of Aeneas nor of the city of Troy, of the valor of its men or the fires of the great war?  We Phoenicians do not have such hard hearts nor does the sun bridle his horses so far away from Carthage.  Whether you do go to mighty Hesperia and the Saturnian lands or if you choose the summit of Eryx and Acestes for a king, I will help send you all on your way with my wealth.  Or is it your weill to settle in this realm as equals?  The city which is being built, it is yours; draw up your ships, there will be no difference between Trojan and Carthaginian to me.  And oh would that your great leader himself would appear.  Indeed, I will send out reliable men throughout the shores and I will order them to search the extreme limits of Libya, if, as a castaway he is wandering in any of my woods and any of my towns.”

 I had to fill in a gap of a couple of lines and I reworded a couple of phrases here, but on the whole this is what I wrote in 1994.  I think the loftiness of Dido’s speech can be seen here in my translation, but some of it is perhaps a bit much, at least for those who read this and don’t hear the intonations of the original.  Now for Aeneas’ sudden appearance at this audience:

His animum arrecti dictis et fortis Achates
et pater Aeneas iamdudum erumpere nubem
ardebant. Prior Aenean compellat Achates:
‘Nate dea, quae nunc animo sententia surgit?
omnia tuta vides, classem sociosque receptos.
Unus abest, medio in fluctu quem vidimus ipsi
submersum; dictis respondent cetera matris.’  
Vix ea fatus erat, cum circumfusa repente
scindit se nubes et in aethera purgat apertum.
Restitit Aeneas claraque in luce refulsit,
os umerosque deo similis; namque ipsa decoram
caesariem nato genetrix lumenque iuventae
purpureum et laetos oculis adflarat honores:
quale manus addunt ebori decus, aut ubi flavo
argentum Pariusve lapis circumdatur auro.

Tum sic reginam adloquitur, cunctisque repente
improvisus ait: ‘Coram, quem quaeritis, adsum,
Troius Aeneas, Libycis ereptus ab undis.
O sola infandos Troiae miserata labores,
quae nos, reliquias Danaum, terraeque marisque
omnibus exhaustos iam casibus, omnium egenos,
urbe, domo, socias, grates persolvere dignas
non opis est nostrae, Dido, nec quicquid ubique est
gentis Dardaniae, magnum quae sparsa per orbem.
Di tibi, si qua pios respectant numina, si quid
usquam iustitia est et mens sibi conscia recti,
praemia digna ferant. Quae te tam laeta tulerunt
saecula? Qui tanti talem genuere parentes?
In freta dum fluvii current, dum montibus umbrae
lustrabunt convexa, polus dum sidera pascet,
semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt,
quae me cumque vocant terrae.’ Sic fatus, amicum
Ilionea petit dextra, laevaque Serestum,
post alios, fortemque Gyan fortemque Cloanthum.


Their spirits were raised by these words and brave Achates and father Aeneas for some time were eager to break out of the cloud.  Achates first spoke of Aeneas:  “Goddess-born, what purpose now surges in your soul?  All are safe, you see, ships and comrades received.  One is missing, which we saw ourselves sink in the middle of the sea; the rest correspond to your mother’s words.”  Scarely had he finished when suddenly the cloud that poured around them parted and dissolved in the open sky.  Aeneas remained and in the clear light his face and shoulders shined like a god’s; and indeed Venus herself breathed on her son’s beautiful locks and added the ruddy glow of youth and joyous grace to his eyes:  such beauty as the hands of an artist add to ivory, or where silver or Parian stone is surrounded by yellow gold.  Then he addressed the queen, unexpected by everyone, he suddenly said these words:  “In your presence, I, the man whom you are seeking, am present, the Trojan Aeneas, saved from the Libyan sea.  Oh, only you have pitied the accursed hardships of the Trojans, which us, the remnants left by the Greeks, exhausted now by misfortune everywhere on land and on sea, lacking everything, a city, a home you offer to share, it is not in our power to pay fully the gratitude worthy of you, Dido, nor in the power of whatever of the Trojan race there is anywhere, which are dispersed across the great world.  To you may the gods bring, if they regard the name of piety, if justice counts for anything anywhere and if to their minds is a conscious to itself a virtue, a fitting reward.  What so happy of an age produced you?  What so marvelous of parents have borne such a lady?  While into the sea rivers flow, while the shadows traverse the mountains, while the sky feeds the stars, your honor, your name, and your praise always will remain, whatever lands call me.”  Saying this, Aeneas sought the right hand of Ilioneus and the left hand of Serestus, next the others, and brave Gyas and brave Cloanthus.

 I loved the metaphors employed here to describe the emergent hero.  It may be a bit too much again for some, but it is beautiful-sounding to me.  Now on Dido’s greeting of the hero and the dinner plans that follow:

Obstipuit primo aspectu Sidonia Dido,
casu deinde viri tanto, et sic ore locuta est:
‘Quis te, nate dea, per tanta pericula casus
insequitur? Quae vis immanibus applicat oris?
Tune ille Aeneas, quem Dardanio Anchisae
alma Venus Phrygii genuit Simoentis ad undam?
Atque equidem Teucrum memini Sidona venire
finibus expulsum patriis, nova regna petentem
auxilio Beli; genitor tum Belus opimam
vastabat Cyprum, et victor dicione tenebat.
Tempore iam ex illo casus mihi cognitus urbis
Troianae nomenque tuum regesque Pelasgi.
Ipse hostis Teucros insigni laude ferebat,
seque ortum antiqua Teucrorum ab stirpe volebat.
Quare agite, O tectis, iuvenes, succedite nostris.
Me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores
iactatam hac demum voluit consistere terra.
Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.’

Sic memorat; simul Aenean in regia ducit
tecta, simul divom templis indicit honorem.
Nec minus interea sociis ad litora mittit
viginti tauros, magnorum horrentia centum
terga suum, pinguis centum cum matribus agnos,
munera laetitiamque dii.

At domus interior regali splendida luxu
instruitur, mediisque parant convivia tectis:
arte laboratae vestes ostroque superbo,
ingens argentum mensis, caelataque in auro
fortia facta patrum, series longissima rerum
per tot ducta viros antiqua ab origine gentis. 

 
Sidonian Dido stood agape at first sight, then at the many misfortunes of the man, and she said thus from her mouth:  “What misfortune, goddess-born, pursues you through so many dangers?  What force drives you to these dreadful shores?  Are you that Aeneas who to the Trojan Anchises kind Venus bore in Phrygia by the waters of Simois?  And indeed I recall that Teucer, coming to Sidon, expelled from his country’s borders, seeking Belus to help found a new kingdom; when my father Belus was ravaging fertile Cyprus and it was held defeated under his sway.  From that time on, it has been known to me the misfortune of the city of Troy, your name and the names of the Greek kings.  Although Teucer himself was an enemy, he extolled the glories of Troy and he often wished that he had been born of the race of the ancient Trojans.  Oh, therefore, come, young men, enter into my house.  Fortune also tossed me about in many similar hardships until at last it would have it that I halt here on this land.  I know from my evil misfortunes to not ignore those suffering seeking help.”  Thus she recalled; at the same time, she led Aeneas to her regal abode, at the same time she orders a sacrifice in the temple of the gods.  Meanwhile, she moreover sends twenty bulls to the comrades on the shore, a hundred great bristling hog backs, a hundred fat lambs with their mothers, as gifts and to celebrate the day.  However, in the inner part of the palace was being prepared with regal luxury, and in the halls they prepared a banquet feast; in the house the tapestries were worked with skill and was of proud purple, an enormous display of silver is on the tables, engraved with gold the brave deeds of her ancestors, a very long succession of deeds through so many heroes back to the beginnings of her people.

George R.R. Martin has nothing on feast descriptions here…

Aeneas (neque enim patrius consistere mentem
passus amor) rapidum ad navis praemittit Achaten,
Ascanio ferat haec, ipsumque ad moenia ducat;
omnis in Ascanio cari stat cura parentis.
Munera praeterea, Iliacis erepta ruinis,
ferre iubet, pallam signis auroque rigentem,
et circumtextum croceo velamen acantho,
ornatus Argivae Helenae, quos illa Mycenis,
Pergama cum peteret inconcessosque hymenaeos,
extulerat, matris Ledae mirabile donum:
praeterea sceptrum, Ilione quod gesserat olim,
maxima natarum Priami, colloque monile
bacatum, et duplicem gemmis auroque coronam.
Haec celerans ita ad naves tendebat Achates. 

Aeneas (parental love could not indeed suffer his mind to stand fast) sent swift Achates back to the ships, so that he should take this news to Ascanius and to lead him to the city; all of the care of the father were for dear Ascanius.  He ordered for gifts snatched from the ruins of Troy, a figured robe stiff with gold and a veil woven with the golden acanthus, the arrangement of the Greek Helen, which she had taken from Mycenae when she was leaving for Troy and her unholy marriage, a fabulous gift of her mother Lyda; the sceptor that the oldest of Priam’s daughters, Ilione, held, and a necklace strung with pearls and a double crown with gems and gold.  Achates, given these orders, hastened his way toward the ships.

Vergil makes a surprising mistake here; Helen flees from Sparta, not Mycenae.  Again, the descriptions are purposely redundant in order to create a larger rhythm here, one that perhaps is largely lost on modern readers used to fewer descriptions of things being collected into a group.

The next scene will show Venus intervening again in the affairs of her son, yet this time it would seem to go against the destiny that Jupiter foretold.  If I have the time, in the next few days, I’ll post the final 100 lines of Book I in a single post, or perhaps split it in twain. 

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