Vergil, Aeneid I 297-304

Haec ait et Māiā genitum dēmittit ab altō,

ut terrae utque novae pateant Karthāginis arcēs

hospitiō Teucrīs, nē fātī nescia Dīdō

fīnibus arcēret. Volat ille per āëra magnum300

rēmigiō ālārum ac Libyae citus astitit ōrīs.

et iam iussa facit, pōnuntque ferōcia Poenī

corda volente deō; in prīmīs rēgīna quiētum

accipit in Teucrōs animum mentemque benignam.

Manscripts: M | P 297-299, 300-304 | R

Iuppiter sends Mercury to Carthage, to ensure that Dido shall treat the Trojans kindly (Austin). 

297: Haec: = ita (Comstock). ait: sc. Iuppiter (Walpole). Maia genitum: abl. of origin (Wetherell) (AG 403.2a). The son of Maia, Mercury. Maia was one of the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione (H-M). Mercury, messenger of the gods. (Wetherell) (Smith’s Dictionary, s.v. Hermes and Mercurius.

298-300: Pateant follows the tense of the vivid present demittit, while arceret is past, because ...arceret expresses not the direct object for which Mercury is sent, but the fear which was in Jupiter’s mind before he sent him at all (Page).

298: novae: with Karthaginis (P-H). Karthago or Carthage means “New town” (F-B).

299: hospitio Teucris: double dative (F-B) (AG 382.1). Both datives after pateant (Walpole). fati nescia: “ignorant of fate”; ignorant of the destiny of the Trojans, which decreed that they should settle in Italy, she might suppose they intended to make their abode in Africa, and, hence, repel them from her territories (Frieze). As Juno may interrupt the course of destiny, so too may Dido (F-B).

300: finibus: abl. of separation (Wetherell) (AG 401). arceret: sc. eos (Robertson). negative purpose after demittit (Carter). aëra: Gk. acc. of aër (Robertson) (AG 81.2).

301: remigio alarum: “by the oarage of wings.” Metaphors from the sea and ships are much more common in Greek than in Roman literature, and this one is first found in a Greek author (Aeschylus, Agamemnon 52) (F-B). oris: astare, “stand,” or “light upon,” takes either the ablative or dative (Frieze).

302: iussa facit: “executes the commands (of Jupiter).” Note the parataxis instead of a subordinate ut clause (F-B). ponuntque: often used in poetry for deponere (Frieze).

303: volente deo: “because the god wills it.” (Frieze). Abl. abs., “at the will of the god.” Mercury may here be meant, or the expression may apply to the gods generally (Robertson). in primis: “especially” (Carter).

304: in: “toward” (Carter). animum mentemque: “spirit and mind”; a poetical tautology (P-H).



Māia (dissyll.), ae, f.: one of the Pleiades or seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, who became by Jupiter the mother of Mercury, 1.297.

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.

altum, ī, n.: the deep; the lofty; the deep sea, the main, the deep, 1.3; the sky, heaven, air, 1.297; from far, far-fetched, remote, 8.395. (altus)

Karthāgō, inis, f.: a city built by Phoenician adventurers on the northern coast of Africa, opposite Sicily, a short distance N.E. of the modern Tunis, 1.13, et al. (Καρχηδών, new city)

hospitium, iī, n.: the relation of host and guest; hospitality, 10.460; friendly reception, entertainment; protection, hospitality, welcome, 1.299; guest-land, ally, 3.15; refuge, 1.540; alliance, 11.114. (hospes)

Teucrī, ōrum, m.: the Trojans, descendants of Teucer, 1.38, et al.; adj., Teucrian, Trojan, 9.779, et al. (Teucer)

nescius, a, um: adj. (nesciō), not knowing, unaware, ignorant, 1.299; that knows not how, that can not.

Dīdō, ūs or ōnis, f.: Dido, daughter of Belus, king of Phoenicia, who fled from her brother Pygmalion to Africa, where she founded the city of Carthage, 1.299.

arceō, uī, 2, a.: to inclose, shut in; restrain, bind, 2.406; debar, keep off, repel, 1.435; protect, save from, 8.73.

volō, āvī, ātus, 1, n.: to fly, 1.300, et al.; of rumor, to be spread rapidly, noised or spread abroad, 3.121.

rēmigium, iī, n.: a rowing; oarage, rowing movement, 1.301; body of rowers, oarsmen; a crew, 3.471; rēmigium ālārum = ālae, wings, 6.19. (rēmex)

āla, ae, f.: a wing, 1.301; the feather of an arrow, 9.578; the wing of an army; cavalry, 11.730; troop, battalion, 11.604; horsemen, mounted huntsmen, 4.121.

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.

Libya, ae, f.: Libya; northern Africa; by poetic license, Africa, 1.22, et al.

adstō, stitī, 1, n.: to stand at, near, or upon; alight, 1.301; stand, 9.677; be present, 3.150; stand or be ready, 3.123; impend, 3.194.

ōra, ae, f.: a margin, border, 12.924; coast, shore, 3.396; region, 2.91; rim, extremity, 10.477; pl., outline, compass, 9.528.

iussum, ī, n.: a thing ordered; command, injunction, order, 1.77, et al. (iubeō)

ferōx, ōcis: adj. (ferus), wild; impetuous; ferocious, fiery, fierce, 5.277; warlike, martial; proud, 12.895.

Poenī, ōrum, m.: the Carthaginians, 1.302; Africans, 12.4.

imprīmīs: (adv.), especially, chiefly, 1.303.

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

quiēscō, quiēvī, quiētus, 3, n.: to rest, 7.6; repose, rest in death, 1.249; be hushed, still, quiet, 4.523; cease from action, 5.784; lie, 10.836; p., quiētus, a, um, at rest, quiet, 5.848; still, calm, tranquil, 5.216; peaceful, in repose, 4.379; gentle, friendly, 1.303. (quiēs)

benīgnus, a, um: (adj.), of a kindly spirit; benevolent, friendly, favorable, hospitable, 1.304.

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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.