Vergil, Aeneid I 272-296

Hīc iam ter centum tōtōs rēgnābitur annōs

gente sub Hectoreā, dōnec rēgīna sacerdōs

Mārte gravis geminam partū dabit Īlia prōlem.

Inde lupae fulvō nūtrīcis tegmine laetus275

Rōmulus excipiet gentem et Māvortia condet

moenia Rōmānōsque suō dē nōmine dīcet.

Hīs ego nec mētās rērum nec tempora pōnō:

imperium sine fīne dedī. Quīn aspera Iūnō,

quae mare nunc terrāsque metū caelumque fatīgat,280

cōnsilia in melius referet, mēcumque fovēbit

Rōmānōs, rērum dominōs gentemque togātam.

Sīc placitum. Veniet lūstrīs lābentibus aetās

cum domus Assaracī Pthīam clārāsque Mycēnās

servitiō premet ac victīs dominābitur Argīs.285

Nāscētur pulchrā Trōiānus orīgine Caesar,

imperium Ōceanō, fāmam quī terminet astrīs,

Iūlius, ā magnō dēmissum nōmen Iǖlō.

Hunc tū ōlim caelō spoliīs Orientis onustum

accipiēs sēcūra; vocābitur hic quoque vōtīs.290

Aspera tum positīs mītēscent saecula bellīs:

cāna Fidēs et Vesta, Remō cum frātre Quirīnus

iūra dabunt; dīrae ferrō et compāgibus artīs

claudentur bellī portae; Furor impius intus

saeva sedēns super arma et centum vīnctus aēnīs295

post tergum nōdīs fremet horridus ōre cruentō.'

Manuscripts: M 272-291, 292-296 | P 277-296 | R 272-288, 289-296

Under a great Caesar, War shall be enchained and Peace shall triumph (Austin).

272: hic: “here” (F-B). i.e., at Alba Longa (Wetherell). iam: “next,” marking another stage (F-B). totos: sine intermissione (Servius). regnabitur: Impersonal passive (Carter), literally, “it will be ruled,” putting emphasis on the action, not the agent (AG 208d). An intransitive verb used impersonally in the passive. According to Vergil, Aeneas was in Latium three years before founding Lavinium. Thirty years later Ascanius founded Alba Longa, and again three hundred years later Romulus founded Rome (F-B). annos: acc. of duration of time (Robertson) (AG 423).

273: Hectorea: i.e., Trojan, because Hector was the great Trojan hero in the war with the Greeks (F-B). Emphatic substitute for Troiana, as Hector was the most renowned hero of Troy (Frieze).

273–4: regina sacerdos…Ilia: sacerdos and Ilia are in apposition with regina, which we may translate as an adjective (Frieze). Ilia (or Rhea Silvia) was a member of the royal house of Alba Longa and also a vestal virgin (F-B).

274: Marte gravis: “pregnant by Mars” (F-B). Marte “by means of Mars,” the instrumental abl. of the person (Conway) (AG 405b). geminam prolem: Romulus and Remus. (F-B). partu dabit: = pariet, “shall bear” (F-B). = edet, “will give birth to” (Wetherell). partu: abl. of means or manner (Wetherell).

275: inde: “then,” “thereupon” (F-B). lupae nutricis: “the she-wolf, his nurse” (F-B). The infants Romulus and Remus were nourished by a she-wolf until they were discovered by the shepherd Faustulus. Translate: “rejoicing in the skin of the nursing wolf”; that is, “a wolf such as nursed him.” He did not actually wear the hide of his foster-mother (Frieze). tegmine: ablative after laetus, which is used poetically to signify possessing or using, with the accessory idea of pleasure or advantage. It is analogous to the abl. after contentus, praeditus, and fretus (Frieze) (AG 431a).

276–277: Mavortia moenia: “the city of Mars,” i.e., Rome. (F-B). The walls, or city, of Mars. (Frieze).

276: Romulus excipiet gentem: “Romulus shall receive the race” (under his power), succeed to the dominion. The gentem is the Alban or Trojan nation. The Ascanian dynasty of Alban kings terminates with Amulius and Numitor. Romulus receives the dominion which is passing away with them, and reestablishes it in Rome (Frieze) (Smith’s Dictionary, s.v. Romulus).

278: his: the Romans (Frieze). ego: the expression of the pronoun gives greater weight to the promise; “even I, who have the power both to promise and fulfill” (Frieze). nec metas rerum nec tempora pono: “I assign neither boundaries nor periods to empire,” i.e., no limits in space or time (F-B). rerum: belongs to both metas and tempora (F-B). metas refers to the territorial extent, and tempora to the duration of their dominion (Frieze).

279: quin: “nay more” (F-B). “nay, even,” what is still more worthy of remark (Frieze).

280: metu: “in her fear,” i.e., for Carthage (F-B). Understood by some as an abl. of cause, “on account of her fear”; i.e., Juno’s fear for Carthage as expressed in 23, id metuens; by others as an abl. of means with fatigat, she wearies out, or exhausts by exciting fear (Frieze).

281: in melius referet: “will change for the better” (F-B). The preposition in prefixed to adjectives, as in the present instance, gives the phrase a kind of adverbial force (Anthon).

282: rerum: “of the world.” Note the various ways in which res can be translated, according to the context (F-B). gentemque togatam: the toga was the distinctive garb of the Romans (F-B). The Romans wore the toga, the Greeks the pallium, and most other nations of Asia and Europe the bracae, drawers or trousers (Frieze).

283: sic placitum: sc. est mihi (Walpole). “Thus I have decreed” (Frieze). lustris labentibus: “as the seasons slip by.” Note the alliterative phrase (F-B). The lustrum was the offering made by the censor at the expiration of his term of office of five years—hence used for a period of five years and roughly for any period of time (Carter).

284–285: Phthiam...Mycenas...Argis: these places represent Greece, and from them came respectively Achilles, Agamemnon, and Diomedes. Greece became a Roman province in 146 B.C. (F-B). The reversion of the relation of Greeks and Trojans is here predicted to be complete; for while these three places represent Greece in general, still there is special significance in the mention of the cities of Achilles, Agamemnon, and Diomedes respectively (H-M). Greece and Macedon were brought under sway of Rome by T.Q. Flamininus, Aemilius Paulus, and Mummius between B.C. 200 and 146 (Frieze).

284: domus Assaraci: i.e., the Trojan race, in their Roman descendents (F-B). The Romans are so called because their founder, Aeneas, was the great-grandson of Assaracus, the son of Tros (Frieze).

286: origine: join with Troianus as an abl. of quality (Frieze). Caesar: the reference here seems to be to Augustus, who was also called Julius Caesar, in consequence of his adoption by the dictator. Nearly all the earlier commentators, however, understand this passage to refer to the dictator himself (Frieze).

287: qui terminet: “destined to bound,” a relative clause of purpose (F-B) (AG 531.2). astris: an allusion to his expected deification. His glory shall be like that of Hercules, Achilles, Quirinus, and other heroes, who have been received into Olympus (Frieze).

288: Iulius: the full name of Augustus was Caius Iulius Caesar Octavianus Augustus. The word Iulius doubtless suggested to a Roman reader the connection of Augustus with Julius Caesar, but 289 and 294 show that Augustus is the Caesar of the prophecy (F-B).

289: hunc: i.e., Augustus (Walpole). hunc tu: notice the very emphatic placing side by side of the two personal pronouns (Carter). olim: of future time (Frieze). caelo: either dat. = in caelum, or instr. abl. (Knapp). spoliis Orientis onustum: the power of Octavian was finally established in B.C. 31 by the battle of Actium, after which he reduced Egypt, traversed Syria and Asia Minor, and finally celebrated a great triumph in Rome in B.C. 29 (F-B).

290: secura: “freed from care.” In emphatic position before the pause (F-B). hic quoque: “he too” (F-B). Augustus as well as Aeneas. Augustus was called Divus and Deus by the Romans, and temples were erected and sacrifices made to him in the provinces, even before his death and apotheosis (Frieze).

291: aspera positis saecula bellis: Augustus was not only “first in war,” but also “first in peace.” The Altar of Peace, in some respects the noblest work of art of the Augustan age still extant, was set up six years after Vergil’s death (F-B) [add image].

292: cana: “hoary” “venerable.” The epithet goes with Vesta as well as Fides (F-B). Also sometimes applied to Vesta, hoary, or venerable, as pertaining to the primitive and most righteous period (Frieze). Vesta: the goddess of the hearth, represents religion and domestic virtue (Frieze) (Smith’s Dictionary, s.v. Vesta. Quirinus: The deified name of Romulus. “Romulus reconciled with Remus” indicates the restoration of concord among the citizens of Rome (Frieze) (Smith’s Dictionary, s.v. Quirinus.

293: iura dabunt: “shall administer laws, shall rule” (Frieze). dirae ferro et compagibus artis…: “grim with close-fitting bars of iron.” (F-B). An instance of hendiadys, for ferreis compagibus artis (Frieze). The phrase ferro et compagibus artis stands between dirae and claudentur portae and colors all three words; they are (1) the material of the gates, and they make (2) the gates formidable and (3) their closing effective (Conway).

294: Belli portae: the reference is to the temple of Janus, which was closed in time of peace and stood open in time of war. Augustus closed it in B.C. 29, after it had remained open more than two centuries (F-B). Janus was an ancient Italian deity, usually represented with two faces. [add image] His temples at Rome were numerous (Platner-Ashby, s.v. Aedes Iani). In wartime the gates of the principle one—that of Janus Quirinus—were always open; in peace they were closed to retain wars within; but they were shut only once between the reign of Numa and that of Augustus, namely, at the close of the first Punic War (H-M). Furor impius: i.e., civil strife, when the citizen, with his hand against his neighbor, is no longer pius (F-B). With special reference to the horrors of civil war (Walpole).

295: centum: poetic for a large number (Conway). vinctus: “bound,” sc. manūs, with respect to his hands (Jerram). Pliny (Natural History 35.10) tells us that Augustus placed in his forum a painting by Apelles, representing the god of war in chains (F-B).

296: ore cruento: causal ablative with horridus (F-B) (AG 404). Ablative of quality (Carter) (AG 415). 


ter: (num. adv.), thrice, three times, 1.94, et al. (trēs)

rēgnō, āvī, ātus, 1, n. and a.: to exercise sovereignty; to be king, to reign, 1.141; rule, govern, 3.14; impers., rēgnātur, etc., there is kingly rule, 1.272. (rēgnum)

Hectoreus, a, um: adj. (Hector), of Hector, 2.543; Hectorean, Trojan, 1.273.

rēgīna, ae, f.: a queen, 1.9; princess, 1.273. (rēx)

Mārs (archaic form, Māvors), Mārtis: Mars, son of Jupiter and Juno; the patron of war and tutelar god of the Romans, 1.274, et al.; (meton.), martial spirit, courage, warlike fury, 6.165; battle, conflict, 2.335, et al.

geminus, a, um: (adj.), twin, 1.274, et al.; twofold, 6.203; double, two, 4.470; pl., geminī, ae, a, twin, 2.500; two, 1.162.

partus, ūs, m.: a bringing forth; birth, 1.274; offspring; son, 7.321. (pariō)

Īlia, ae, f.: Ilia, a name assigned by the poets to Rhaea Silvia, the daughter of Numitor, 1.274.

prōlēs, is, f.: that which springs forth; offspring, race, progeny, 1.75; lineage, 3.180.

lupa, ae, f.: a she-wolf, 1.275. (cf. lupus)

fulvus, a, um: (adj.), reddish or tawny yellow; yellow, 5.374; tawny, 2.722; brown, 11.751; glowing, bright, 12.792.

nūtrīx, īcis, f.: a nurse, 1.275. (nūtriō)

tegmen (tegumen), inis, n.: a means of covering; skin, hide, 1.275; clothing, 3.594; shield, 9.577; tegmen crūrum, close-fitting trousers worn by Phrygians, 11.777. (tegō)

Rōmulus, ī, m.: Romulus, the eponymous founder of Rome, son of Mars and Rhea Silvia or Ilia, 1.276, et al. (cf. Rōma)

Māvortius, a, um or Mārtius, a, um: adj. (Māvors), pertaining to Mavors or Mars; ; warlike, martial; of Mars, 1.276; son of Mars, 6.777; received in battle, honorable, 7.182; sacred to Mars, 9.566.

Rōmānus, ī, m.: a Roman, 1.234.

nec or neque: (adv. and conj.), and not; neither, nor, 1.643, et al.; in prohibition, 3.394, et al.; neque (nec) — neque (nec), neither — nor, 5.21, et al.; nec — et, or -que, may be rendered neither — nor, 12.801; 2.534; nec nōn, and also, nor less, 6.183; nec nōn et, and also, 1.707.

mēta, ae, f.: a meta; one of the cone-shaped pillars, three of which terminated each end of the spina in the Roman circus, and marked the turning point of the course; a turning point, goal, 5.129; (fig.), limit, extremity, end, bound, 1.278; 8.594; meridian, zenith, 5.835; mētae mortis, the bounds of death; i.e., fixed by death, 12.546. (mētior)

tempus, oris, n.: 1. Time in general, a period, time, 1.278; interval or space of time, 4.433; crisis, circumstance, juncture, 7.37; season, fitting time, opportunity, proper moment, 4.294; ex longō (tempore), in or for a long time, 9.64. 2. The temple of the forehead, 9.418; commonly pl., 2.684; of animals, 12.173.

asper, era, erum: (adj.), rough, 2.379; rugged, craggy, jagged, 6.360; chased, embossed, 5.267; (fig.), of the weather, stormy, 2.110; of temperament, spirit, or nature, barbarous, 5.730; formidable, fierce, 1.14; full of strife, warlike, 1.291; cruel, stern, 6.882; angry, 1.279; bitter, 2.96; displeased, 8.365.

Iūnō, ōnis, f.: Juno, the Sabine and Roman name for the wife and sister of Jupiter, daughter of Saturn, 1.4, et al.; Iūnō īnferna, the Juno of the lower world, Proserpine, 6.138.

fatīgō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to weary, tire, 1.316; exhaust, 11.306; goad, 9.610; harass, vex, pursue, 6.533; infuriate, 9.63; rouse, 4.572; beat up, hunt, scour, 9.605; disturb, confound, 1.280; strike upon, beat, 10.304; demand with importunity, clamor for, 7.582.

foveō, fōvī, fōtus, 2, a.: to keep warm; (fig.), foster, protect, cherish, 1.281; soothe, 12.420; caress, make love to, 1.718; rest, incline, 10.838; to toy away, enjoy, 4.193; cherish, hope, long, desire, 1.18.

togātus, a, um: adj. (toga), wearing the toga; of the toga, 1.282.

veniō, vēnī, ventus: to come, freq.; come forth; approach, 6.755; rise, appear, 1.353; dawn, 10.241; to present one's self or itself, 5.344; descend, spring from, 5.373; impers., ventum est, we, they came or have come, 4.151.

lustrum, ī, n.: bog, morass; den or haunt of wild beasts; a wood, forest.

lābor, lapsus sum, 3, dep. n.: to slide, glide down, or slip, freq.; fall down, 2.465; ebb, 11.628; pass away, 2.14; descend, 2.262; glide, sail, skim along, 8.91; flow, 3.281; fall, perish, 2.430; decline, 4.318; faint, 3.309.

Assaracus, ī, m.: Assaracus, a king of Phrygia, son of Tros, brother of Ganymede and Ilus, and grandfather of Anchises, 1.284; Assaracī, ōrum, m. the Assaraci, two Trojan heroes, 10.124.

Phthīa, ae, f.: Phthia, the native town of Achilles in Thessaly, 1.284.

Mycēnae, ārum, and Mycēna, ae, f.: Mycenae, an ancient city of Argolis; the abode of Danaus, Pelops, and Agamemnon, 1.284, et al.

servitium, iī, n.: slavery, bondage, 3.327. (servus, slave)

atque, or ac: (conj.), and in addition, or and besides; and, as well, and indeed, and, 1.575; freq.; even, 2.626; in comparisons, as, 4.90; than, 3.561.

dominor, ātus sum (pass. inf., dominārier, 7.70), 1, dep. n.: to be lord or master; rule, reign, be supreme, 2.363; foll. by abl. w. in, 2.327; by abl. without in, 6.766; and in 1.285; take possession, overrun, prevail. (dominus)

Argī, ōrum, m., and Argos, n.: Argos, the capital of Argolis, and a favorite abode of Juno, 1.24; Greece, 2.95. (nom. and acc.)

Trōiānus, a, um: adj. (Trōia), Trojan, 1.19; subst., Trōiānus, ī, m., a Trojan, 1.286; pl., Trōiānī, ōrum, m., the Trojans, 5.688.

orīgō, inis, f.: a source, origin, beginning, 1.372; descent, lineage, birth, 1.286; source, root, founder, 12.166. (orior)

Caesar, aris, m.: a surname of the Julian gens, esp. Gaius Iulius Caesar, dictator and founder of the Roman Empire. His name was inherited by his nephew and adopted son Octavius and his successors; Augustus Caesar, 1.286; 6.792.

Ōceanus, ī, m.: the god Oceanus; the waters encompassing the lands; the ocean, 1.287; distinguished as eastern and western, 7.101.

terminō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to put bounds to; limit, 1.287. (terminus)

Iūlius, iī, m.: Julius, the name of the Roman gens in which the family of Caesar was the most prominent, 6.789; applied to Augustus, 1.288.

dēmittō, mīsī, missus, 3, a.: to send down, 1.297; shed, 6.455; let down into, receive, admit, (of the mind or the senses), 4.428; consign, condemn, 2.85; convey, conduct, 5.29; transmit, hand down, 1.288; dēmittere mentem, to lose heart, sink into despair, 12.609.

Iūlus, ī, m.: Iulus or Ascanius, son of Aeneas, 1.267, et freq.

spolium, I, n.: that which is taken from the body of a slain man or beast; spoil, trophy, 1.289; spolia opīma, the arms or spoils taken by a victorious general from the body of a hostile commander slain in battle, 6.855.

Oriēns, entis, m.: the rising; morning, morn, 5.42; the east, 1.289; the rising sun, 5.739.

onustus, a, um: adj. (onus), loaded, laden, 1.289.

mītēscō, 3, inc. n.: to become mellow; to become mild, gentle, peaceful, 1.291. (mītis)

cānus, a, um: (adj.), white, of the hair and beard; whitened, hoary, of frost and cold; of the sea, foaming, hoary, 8.672; gray-haired, venerable; hoary, 1.292.

fidēs, eī, f.: a trusting; confidence, faith, belief, reliance, trust, 3.69; confident hope, trust, 9.260; trustiness, faithfulness, sincerity, fidelity, honor, 2.143; 4.597; an alliance, league, 10.71; truth, fact, 2.309; certainty, assurance, 3.375; personified as a goddess, Faith, Fides, 1.292, et al. (fīdō)

Vesta, ae, f.: Vesta, daughter of Saturn, and granddaughter of Vesta, wife of Coelus; goddess of the hearth and household, 2.296, et al.; (meton.), the hearth, the fire.

Remus, ī, m.: a Rutulian warrior, 9.330; the twin brother of Romulus, by whom, tradition says, he was murdered for leaping over the new walls of Rome in mockery, 1.292.

Quirīnus, ī, m.: Quirinus, the name of the deified Romulus, 1.292.

dīrus, a, um: (adj.), accursed; portentous; fearful, dreadful, awful, dire, cruel, horrible, freq.; accursed, 2.261; unhallowed, impious, 6.373; foul, carrion, 3.262; wild, furious, ardent, 9.185; pl., dīra (adv.), fearfully, 10.572.

compāgēs, is, f.: a joining; fastening, joint, 1.122. (com- and pangō)

artus, a, um: (adj.), straitened, narrow; close, tight, 1.293.

bellum, ī, n.: conflict; war, freq.; a battle, 8.629; personified, Bellum, war, the demon of war, 1.294. (duellum, cf. duo)

furor, ōris, m.: rage, madness, fury, 1.150, et al.; frenzy, 4.91; love, desire; personif. as a deity, a Fury, 1.294. (furō)

impius, a, um: undutiful in sacred relations; iniquitous, impious, 2.163; nefarious, detestable, perfidious, 4.496; with reference to civil war, 6.612; of actions, 4.596.

intus: (adv.), within, 1.294, et al. (in)

vinciō, vinxī, vinctus, 4, a.: to bind, 11.81; bind round, 1.337; wreathe, bind round, 12.120.

aēnus, a, um: adj. (aes), of bronze; brazen, 2.470; subst., aēnum, ī, n., a bronze or brazen vessel; caldron, 1.213, et al.

post: (prep. w. acc., and adv. of place and time); (prep.), behind, 1.296; next to, 7.655; after, 5.626; (adv.), afterwards, then, next, 1.612; hereafter, 1.136.

nōdus, ī, m.: a knot, 1.320, et al.; of a tree, 11.553; bond, 1.296; coil, 2.220; (fig.), difficult point; center of strife, 10.428.

fremō, uī, itus, 3, n. and a.: to make a murmuring noise; to roar, 1.56; whinny, neigh, 12.82; raise lamentations, 6.175; whiz, 12.922; resound, 4.668; rage, 5.19; to be fierce, furious, 4.229; fume, rave, 12.535; shout and sing, 4.146; a., rage, rave for, clamor for, 11.453, et al.; ore fremere, applaud, shout applause, 5.385; p., fremēns, entis, raging, 4.229.

horridus, a, um: adj. (horreō), rough, bristling, 3.23, et al.; bristling with arms; shaggy, grizzly, stiffened, 4.251; blustering, tempestuous, 9.670; terrible, fearful, 1.296.

cruentus, a, um: (adj.), bloody, blood-stained, 1.296; covered with blood, 10.498.

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Suggested Citation

Christopher Francese and Meghan Reedy, Vergil: Aeneid Selections. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-947822-08-5.