Vergil, Aeneid I 387-401

'Quisquis es, haud, crēdō, invīsus caelestibus aurās

vītālēs carpis, Tyriam quī advēneris urbem;

perge modo atque hinc tē rēgīnae ad līmina perfer.

Namque tibī reducēs sociōs classemque relātam390

nūntiō et in tūtum versīs Aquilōnibus āctam,

nī frūstrā augurium vānī docuēre parentēs.

Aspice bis sēnōs laetantēs agmine cycnōs,

aetheriā quōs lāpsa plagā Iovis āles apertō

turbābat caelō; nunc terrās ōrdine longō395

aut capere aut captās iam dēspectāre videntur:

ut reducēs illī lūdunt strīdentibus ālīs

et coetū cīnxēre polum cantūsque dedēre,

haud aliter puppēsque tuae pūbēsque tuōrum

aut portum tenet aut plēnō subit ōstia vēlō.400

Perge modo et, quā tē dūcit via, dērige gressum.'

Manuscripts: M | P 387-391, 392-401 | R 387-396, 397-401 | G 387-399, 400-401

Venus tells him that his comrades are safe, confirming it by an omen of swans (Walpole). 

387: haud invisus caelestibus: “not hateful to the gods” (F-B). Litotes (Bennett). auras vitales: “the breath of life” (F-B).

388: qui: = cum tu (Wetherell). adveneris: causal subjunctive; in reaching Libya Aeneas owes his safety to the gods; but the personal misery that he was to find from his stay there makes the words full of irony (Austin). qui adveneris: causal, to be taken closely with haud invisus (Walpole). Clause of Characteristic with accessory idea of cause (Bennett) (AG 535e). Tyriam...urbem: acc. of place to which (AG 427.2).

389: te perfer: “convey yourself,” “proceed.” The common form is confer; but per denotes the completion of the walk which he has begun (Frieze). regina: i.e., Dido (Robertson). limina: for domum, the palace of Dido (Frieze).

390: namque: refers to her injunction to go straight without further anxiety to the palace (Conington). tibi: dat. after nuntio (Robertson) (AG 366). reduces socios: “the return of your comrades”; reduces is grammatically in a predicate relation to socios (F-B). Supply esse with reduces, relatam, and actam (Frieze). classem: refers to the twelve missing ships (Frieze). relatam: “brought back,” “recovered” (F-B).

391: in tutum: “to safe haven” (F-B) (AG 289a). Neut. of the adj., used as collective or abstract noun (Conway). versis Aquilonibus: “by a change in the winds.” Ablative absolute (F-B). Aquilonibus: as quite often, for the general term, ventis (Frieze).

392: ni frustra…: “unless my deceitful parents taught me augury for nought.” (F-B). The supposition is plainly meant to be regarded as utterly groundless; prose would use nisi forte (Knapp). docuere: sc. me (Walpole).

393–400: In the comparison here given, the twelve swans are the twelve ships. As the swans have been scattered by the eagle in the open air, so have the ships been dispersed by the storm in the open sea. As the swans have either alighted, or are now winging their flight down to earth, so the ships are either in the haven or are on the point of entering. And as the swans are happy in their deliverance, so are the Trojan sailors (F-B).

393: bis senos: 12, the number of the missing ships (Storr). laetantes agmine: “in exultant array,” because reunited after being scattered by the eagle (F-B). cycnos: swans were sacred to Venus (F-B).

394: aetheria...lapsa plaga: Order: quos Iovis ales, lapsa aetheriā plagā, turbabat apertō caelō (Chase). aetheria plaga: i.e., the upper region of air (Jerram). Iovis ales: i.e., an eagle, the “feathered king” (F-B). It was the fabled bearer of the thunder-bolt (Robertson).

394-395: aperto turbabat caelo: “was (just now) scattering in the open air” (AG 471.b). The caelum is lower than the aether or aetheria plaga (F-B).

395–396: terras….aut capere aut captas iam despectare videntur: “seem either to be settling in their places or even now gazing down on the places (where others have) settled”; i.e., some have alighted on the ground, while others are about to do so. The idea is still further explained in 400. iam modifies despectare, not captas (F-B).

396: capere: “alight,” “settle upon” (Carter).

398: et coetu...dedere: “and in company have circled the sky and uttered their songs.” cinxere and dedere are in the perfect tense, because the actions precede that of ludunt. The line applies, not to the panic of the swans when pursued by the eagle, but to their freedom from alarm after the eagle’s disappearance. Lines 397 and 398 are both an expression of joy (F-B). coetu: abl. of manner (G-K). cinxere: “encircled” (a poetic way of saying that they made a ring in the sky) (G-K). cantus: showing their freedom from alarm. This picture of security is a good omen for the ships (G-K).

399: haud aliter: = sic (Knapp). Correlative with ut in 397 (G-K). Sc. reduces, “with like joy (returning)”; literally, “not otherwise.” The climax in the comparison lies in the joyful return to safety of both the swans and the Trojans (F-B). pubes tuorum: “your comrades,” lit. “the youth (consisting) of your (people),” (Carter). tuorum: not a partitive genitive, but a limiting noun denoting that which goes to make up pubes (Frieze).

400: tenet portum: “holds, is in, a harbor” (Frieze). tenet, subit: Sing. because of the nearest subject pubes (Conway). subit ostia: “draw near to its mouth” (F-B).

401: qua: “whither,” “to the place which” (Carter).


invīsus, a, um: hated, hateful, odious, 1.387; (act.), inimical, an enemy, hostile, 11.364.

vītālis, e: adj. (vīta), pertaining to life; essential to life, vital, 1.388.

carpo, carpsī, carptus, 3, a.: to pluck or pull, crop, browse upon, eat, graze; cause to graze, pasture; gather, 6.146; (fig.), catch, breathe, enjoy, 1.388; consume, 4.2; devour, waste, 4.32; carpere prāta, etc., to course over.

Tyrius, a, um: adj. (Tyrus), of Tyre; Tyrian or Phoenician, 1.12; subst., Tyrius, iī, m., a Tyrian, 1.574; pl., 1.747.

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

perferō, tulī, lātus, ferre, irreg. a.: to carry or bear through; carry, restore, return, 11.717; report, 5.665; convey completely, carry home, 10.786; reach the mark, 12.907; undergo, endure, suffer, 3.323; (w. reflex. pron.), betake one's self, go, 1.389; p., perlātus, a, um, carried to the mark; striking, 11.803.

redux, ucis: adj. (redūcō), led back, brought back, returning, 1.390.

nūntiō, āvī, ātus, 1, a. and n.: to announce, report, make known, announce, declare, 1.391, et al. (nūntius)

tūtum, ī, n.: safety, place of safety, 1.391; pl., tūta, ōrum, safe places, safety, security, 11.882.

Aquilō, ōnis, m.: the north wind; wind in general, 1.391; wintry, tempestuous wind, 3.285; the north, 1.102.

augurium, iī, n.: the business of the augur; augury, divination, 1.392; an augury, omen, portent, 2.703; oracle, 3.89; presage, 5.523. (augur)

bis: (adv.), twice, 1.381. (in composition bi-)

sēnī, ae, a: distrib. num. adj. (sex), six by six, six each; as a cardinal, six, 1.393, et al.

laetor, ātus sum, 1, dep. n.: to rejoice, w. abl., gen., infin., or absolute, 1.393, et al. (laetus)

cycnus, ī, m.: a swan, 1.393.

aetherius, a, um: adj. (aethēr), pertaining to the upper air; ethereal, heavenly, 1.394, et al.; airy, 8.608.

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.

plaga, ae, f.: a tract, region, 1.394; zone, 7.226.

Iuppiter, Iovis, m.: Jupiter, son of Saturn and Rhea, and king of the gods, 1.223; Iuppiter Stygius, Pluto, 4.638.

āles, itis (gen. pl. sometimes alituum, 8.27): adj. (āla), winged, swift, 5.861, et al.; subst. c., a bird, 1.394; an owl, 12.862.

aperiō, uī, tus, 4, a.: to uncover, lay bare, 1.107; throw open, open, 2.60; disclose to the view, 3.206; disclose, reveal, 6.12; (pass.), aperīrī, to appear, 8.681; p., apertus, a, um, opened, 8.585; unguarded, 11.748; adj., open, 1.155; clear, pure, 1.587. (ab and root par, whence pariō)

dēspectō, āvī, ātus, 1, intens. a.: to look down upon, 1.396. (dēspiciō)

lūdō, lūsī, lūsus, 3, n. and a.: to play, frolic, sport, 1.397, et al.; play with dice, 9.336; make sport of, mock, delude, deceive, 1.352; make one's sport, 11.427.

strīdeō, 2, n., and strīdō, strīdī, 3: to produce a grating or shrill sound; to creak, 1.449; gurgle, 4.689; rustle, 1.397; whiz, roar, 1.102; hiss, 8.420; twang, 5.502.

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.

coetus, ūs, m.: a coming together, an assembly, 5.43; a flock, 1.398; banquet, feast, 1.735. (coeō)

polus, ī, m.: the terminating point of an axis; the celestial pole; (meton.), the heavens, sky, 1.90; air, 1.398.

cantus, ūs, m.: a singing or playing; melody; song, 1.398; strain, sound, 6.165; incantation, charm, 7.754. (canō)

puppis, is, f.: the hinder part of a ship; the stern, 5.12; (by synecdoche), a vessel, boat, ship, 1.69; (meton.), crew, 8.497.

pūbēs, is, f.: the groin, middle, 3.427; the youthful population; youth, young men; youthful band, 1.399; brood, offspring, 6.580.

tuī, ōrum, m.: your friends, kinsmen, countrymen, descendants, etc., 3.488; freq. (tuus)

portus, ūs, m.: a port, harbor, haven, 1.159, et al; (fig.), 7.598.

subeō, iī, itus (p. subiēns, euntis), 4, n. and a.: to go or come under, into, or up to; alone, or with acc. and prep., or with dat.; without a case, come up, 2.216; go under, bend, stoop down under, 10.522; come after; follow, 2.725; take one's place, 12.471; enter, 1.171; come into or upon the mind, suggest itself, occur, 2.560; with acc. and prep., go, advance towards, 8.359; with dat., come or go up to, down to, into, 5.203; succeed to, 5.176; come after, follow, 10.371; with acc., approach, enter, 1.400; go under a burden, bear, with abl. of instrument, 2.708; go under the yoke, draw, 3.113; enter the mind of, strike, occur to, 9.757; approach, reach, 3.512; approach, 7.22; meet, encounter, 10.798; attack, 9.344.

ōstium, iī, n.: a mouth; entrance, gate, door, 6.81; pl., ōstia, ōrum, harbor, port, 5.281; mouth of a river, 1.14. (1. ōs)

vēlum, ī, n.: a cloth; sail, 1.103, et al.; a curtain, canvas, covering, 1.469.

dērigō, rēxī, rēctus, 3, a.: to lay straight, bring into a definite line; to aim, direct, 1.401, et al. (dē and regō)

gressus, ūs, m.: a stepping; step, walk, course, way, 1.401; of a ship, 5.162; air, mien, gait, 5.649; ferre gressum, to walk, 6.677; efferre gressum, to go forth or out, 2.753; comprimere gressum, to stop, stay one’s steps, 6.389. (gradior)

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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.