Vergil, Aeneid I 561-578

Tum breviter Dīdō vultum dēmissa profātur:

'solvite corde metum, Teucrī, sēclūdite cūrās.

Rēs dūra et rēgnī novitās mē tālia cōgunt

mōlīrī et lātē fīnēs custōde tuērī.

Quis genus Aeneadum, quis Trōiae nesciat urbem,565

virtūtēsque virōsque aut tantī incendia bellī?

Nōn obtūnsa adeō gestāmus pectora Poenī,

nec tam āversus equōs Tyriā Sōl iungit ab urbe.

Seu vōs Hesperiam magnam Sāturniaque arva

sīve Erycis fīnēs rēgemque optātis Acestēn,570

auxiliō tūtōs dīmittam opibusque iuvābō.

Vultis et hīs mēcum pariter cōnsīdere rēgnīs?

Urbem quam statuō, vestra est; subdūcite nāvēs;

Trōs Tyriusque mihī nūllō discrīmine agētur.

Atque utinam rēx ipse Notō compulsus eōdem575

adforet Aenēās! Equidem per lītora certōs

dīmittam et Libyae lūstrāre extrēma iubēbō,

sī quibus ēiectus silvīs aut urbibus errat.'

Manuscripts: M | P 561-575, 576-578 | R 561-576, 577-578 

Dido replies kindly and consoles the Trojans, offering them assistance and promising to send messengers in search of Aeneas (Pharr). Dido promises to send the Trojans safely on their way to Italy or to Sicily, as they prefer. But if they would like to stay in Carthage, her city shall be theirs. She will send a search-party to find Aeneas, whom she would so much like to see (Austin). 

561: vultum dēmissa: vultum is accusative of specification (the “Greek accusative”) with dēmissa, used in the “middle” voice (AG 397, notes b and c): “with downcast face.” Dido, though a queen, shows the modesty of a woman (F-B). She may also be chagrined on account of the outrages charged upon her subjects (Frieze).

562: solvite corde metum: a variant for solvite corda metū (Conington), as if fear contracted or congealed the heart (G-K).

563: rēs dūra: “hard fortune,” “stern necessity” (Page); “my hard case,” i.e., the difficulty she had in keeping her ground on a hostile territory, and her fears from her brother (Conington). novitās: like novus (as in res novae, novae tabellae, novus homo) generally (though not always) suggests unwelcome aspects of “newness” (Conway).

563–4: tālia molīrī: tālia (explained in 539–541 (F-B)), i.e., the attack on the Trojans as they attempted to land. This is Dido’s apology for the inhospitable conduct of her subjects (G-K): “to undertake such things” (Wetherell), “to make such preparations,” “to take such precautions.” The verb molīrī always indicates effort. Here it suggests the reluctance with which she had recourse to such expedients (Chase).

564: custōde: the so-called "collective singular" (Carter), where a singular noun is used in a plural sense (Conington). lāte tuērī: i.e., for fear of Pygmalion she cannot safely allow strangers even to land (G-K). Note the prevailing spondees in this and the preceding line (F-B).

565: quis genus nesciat?: nesciat is potential (AG 446) or deliberative subjunctive (AG 443, 444): “who could be ignorant of…?” (Chase). How Dido has heard of the Trojans is explained below (619 ff.) (Frieze). Aeneadum: syncope for Aenead[ār]um (Pharr): “the Trojans” generally, but with a courteous reference to their chief (G-K). Trōiae urbem: = Trōiam urbem (Wetherell).

566: virtūtēsque virōsque: hendiadys, more emphatic than virtūtēs virōrum: “brave deeds and brave men” (F-B), “the gallant deeds (or “the prowess” (Frieze)) and the heroes” (Conington). Note the assonance and polysyndeton of these words. incendia: “conflagration” (Page), “calamities” (Wetherell). tantī bellī: “of that great war” (G-K), i.e., the Trojan War (Pharr). Observe that, while virtūtēs and virōs are connected by –que, the calamities (incendia), being a separate class, are introduced by the adversative aut (G-K).

567: nōn obtūnsa adeō pectora: obtūnsa is literally “blunted,” i.e., having lost finer sensibilities and feelings (Carter): “not so dull are our Punic breasts” (F-B), that we do not know the name and fame of Troy and the Trojans (Pharr); “our minds are not so blunted,” i.e., by their own misfortunes (G-K); “we are not so outlandish…” The far west was regarded as the land of darkness and barbarism (Storr). Poenī: “we Carthaginians.”

568: nec tam āversus…: āversus = “remote” (Frieze). Both this and the preceding line are intended to rebut the supposition of ignorance respecting the history of Troy, not of want of feeling. The notion seems to be “we do not lie so far out of the pale of the civilized world” (Conington). aversus describes attitude, not locality: “nor does the rising sun so turn his chariot away”; he does not yoke his horses at down in such a direction as to leave Carthage utterly in darkness (Conway).

569: Hesperiam magnam: like Ītaliam magnam (4.345), seemingly an ornamental epithet (Conington). “The great land of the west,” spoken as befitted a queen of the Tyrians, the navigators par excellence of the early Mediterranean, and containing their unconscious tribute to their future rivals (Conway).  Sāturnia: = “Italian,” because Saturn was the chief god of Italy, where he had ruled during the Golden Age (Pharr); Saturnia arva, an appellation for Latium, because it had been the retreat of Saturn, when driven by Jupiter from his throne in Olympus (Frieze).

570: Erycis fīnēs: = “Sicily” (Pharr). Eryx, a son of Butes and Venus, gave his name to a mountain in the west of Sicily near Segesta, where was a celebrated temple of Venus. He is mentioned afterwards as a famous pugilist (5.392) (G-K). optātis: “you choose,” not wish (Conington).

571: auxiliō tūtōs: sc. vōs (Pharr): “guarded by a force” (F-B), “protected by an escort” (Conington). Auxiliō, i.e., men and arms, an ablative of means (AG 410) (Frieze), joined with tūtōs, a perfect participle of tueor (Storr). ōpibus iuvābō: i.e., she will open her stores and arsenals to them (Conington).

572: vultis…rēgnis: sc. vel sī (Chase): “on the other hand if you wish” (Carter); “and again if you wish” (G-K). The question is equivalent to a condition, to which the following line would be the apodosis (F-B). Dido is simply giving them their choice, not pressing an invitation. The whole tenor of Dido’s language to the end of the speech seems to show that she hopes they will settle there (Conington). et: “or” (Wetherell). pariter: in its strict sense: “on equal terms [with me]” (Conington). consīdere: of settling in a country (Conington). rēgnīs: sc. in; ablative of place where (AG 429) (Pharr); the preposition is omitted by poetical license (Chases).

573: urbem quam statuō vestra est: poetic for ea urbs quam statuō vestra est (Wetherell). urbem quam: for the prosaic quam urbem, a common trajection, as telum quod in 11.552 (Conway). The peculiar form of the sentence throws great emphasis on urbem, to which Dido points with pride as she offers to share it with the Trojans (Page). Urbem praeclāram statuī are Dido’s words in 4.655 (Conington). subdūcite: i.e., and remain here (G-K).

574: Trōs Tyriusque mihi nūllō discrīmine agētur: this expression has become proverbial for impartial justice (Pharr): “Trojan and Tyrian shall be regarded (or “treated” (Frieze), “dealt with” (G-K, “ruled” (Carter)) by me with no distinction” (Chase). Tyrius is probably adopted for the sake of its assonance with Trōs—their names are alike; they shall be treated alike (F-B). Mihi is dative of agent (AG 375, note a). Agētur is a singular verb, despite the plural subject, which emphasizes the idea that both Trōs and Tyrius will be as one (Wetherell).

575: Nōtō eōdem: Nōtō = ventō (Frieze) by metonymy, of any violent wind (Storr), the same gale as procācibus Austrīs (536); “driven by the same wind (as yourselves)”; nothing is gained, save harshness and prosaic precision, by separating eōdem as an adverb (“to the same spot”) from Nōtō (Conway). compulsus: compellō, like cōgō, means originally to drive together to the same spot, hence to drive together into straits, constrain. Either sense would be tenable here (Conington).

576: adforet: poetical for adesset (F-B) (AG 170a); optative subjunctive (AG 442) (Pharr), the imperfect marks an unaccomplished wish in the present (AG 441) (Wetherell). equidem: “in fact,” I will even go so far as to send in search of him (G-K). certōs: = fidōs (Chase), here in its primitive sense of “trusty messengers” (Conington).

577: dīmittam: = in diversās partēs mittam (Conington). lustrāre: “to explore” (Frieze), “range,” “hunt through” (Carter). extrēma: sc. loca, the frontiers (Chase).

578: sī: depends on some word like explōrātūrōs, the sense of which is contained in lustrāre (Storr): “in case that” (Pharr); “to see whether” (Conington). is interrogative here. As an interrogative (in dependent questions), is sometimes followed by the indicative and sometimes by the subjunctive (Frieze). quibus: “any,” the indefinite adjective aliquī (AG 151) (Pharr), dropping its ali- prefix after . ēiectus: sc. ex undīs “shipwrecked” (Pharr). silvīs, urbibus: sc. in, ablative of place where (AG 429) (Pharr); silvīs is taken in an indefinite sense for uninhabited places (Wetherell), urbibus for inhabited places (Frieze). Strictly speaking there were no cities in the neighborhood except Carthage, but Vergil evidently thinks of Africa as containing many cities. Compare 4.40 Gaetulae urbēs and 4.173 Libyae magnās urbēs (Carter). errat: although introduces a virtual indirect question (Wetherell), the indicative expresses a confident belief that he is somewhere wandering (Storr): “in case the shipwrecked man is straying in any forests or cities” (F-B).


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.

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.

profor, fātus sum, 1, dep. a. and n.: to speak out; say; speak, 1.561.

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

sēclūdō, clūsī, clūsus, 3, a.: to shut apart, off, out; shut up, 3.446; shut out, dismiss, 1.562. (se- and claudō)

novitās, ātis, f.: newness, 1.563. (novus)

mōlior, ītus sum, 4, dep. a. and n.: to pile up; build, erect, construct, 1.424; plan, undertake, attempt, 2.109; pursue, 6.477; cleave, 10.477; contrive, devise, 1.564; occasion, 1.414; prepare, equip, 4.309; arrange, adjust, 12.327; of missiles, discharge, hurl, 10.131. (mōlēs)

lātē: (adv.), widely; far and wide, 1.21; on all sides, far around, 1.163; all over, 12.308. (lātus)

tueor, tuitus or tūtus sum, 2, dep. a.: to look at, gaze upon, behold, regard, 4.451, et al.; watch, guard, defend, maintain, protect, 1.564, et al.; p., tūtus, a, um, secure, safe; in safety, 1.243; sure, 4.373; subst., tūtum, ī, n., safety, place of safety, 1.391; pl., tūta, ōrum, safe places, safety, security, 11.882; adv., tūtō, with safety, safely, without danger, 11.381.

Aeneadēs, ae, m.: a son of Aeneas; pl., Aeneadae, ārum, followers of Aeneas, the Trojans, 1.565; Aeneadae, 3.18.

Trōia, ae, f.: 1. Troy, the capital of the Troad, 2.625, et al. 2. A city built by Helenus in Epirus, 3.349. 3. A part of the city of Acesta in Sicily, 5.756. 4. The name of an equestrian game of Roman boys, 5.602.

incendium, iī, n.: a burning, conflagration; flame, fire, 2.706; desolation, 1.566; fiery material, firebrand, 9.71. (incendō)

obtūsus, a, um: enfeebled, blunted, unfeeling, 1.567. (obtundō, tudī, tūsus/tunsus, 3, a., to beat against; beat up; to make blunt, dull)

gestō, āvī, ātus, 1, a. and n.: to carry habitually; bear, 1.336; have, 1.567. (gerō)

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

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.

āversus, a, um: turned away, 1.482; with averted faces, 6.224; askance, 4.362; remote, 1.568; (fig.), indignant, 7.618; displeased, 2.170.

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

sōl, sōlis, m.: the sun, 1.431, et al.; a day, 3.203; sunlight, 2.475; as a god, Sōl, 1.568, et al.; pl., sōlēs, days, 3.203.

Hesperia, ae, f.: the western land; Italy, 1.569, et al.

Sāturnius, a, um: adj. (Sāturnus), belonging to Saturn; Saturnian; sprung from Saturn; Saturnian, 4.372; subst., Sāturnius, iī, m., the son of Saturn, 5.799; Sāturnia, ae, f., 1. Daughter of Saturn, Juno, 1.23; 2. The city of Saturnia, built by Saturn on the Capitoline hill, 8.358.

sīve or seu: (conj.), or if, freq.; or, 5.69; elliptical, 11.327; sīve (seu) — sīve (seu), whether — or, 1.569, 570; either — or, 4.240, 241.

Eryx, ycis, m.: a mountain on the northwest coast of Sicily, 1.570. A Sicilian giant and king, son of Venus and Butes, and brother of Aeneas; slain by Hercules, 5.419.

Acestēs, ae, m.: Acestes or Segestus, the son of Crimisus, a Sicilian river god, and Egesta or Segesta, a Trojan woman, 1.195.

pariter: (adv.), equally, 2.729; also, in like manner, in the same manner, on equal terms, 1.572; side by side, 2.205; at the same time, 10.865; pariter — pariter, 8.545. (pār)

cōnsīdō, sēdī, sessus, 3, n.: to sit or settle down together or completely; sink, 2.624; sit, 4.573; sit in mourning, 11.350; take a seat, 5.136; alight, 3.245; settle, 10.780; dwell, 1.572; abide, rest, 11.915; to lie at anchor, to anchor, 3.378; to be moored, stationed, 7.431.

subdūcō, dūxī, ductus, 3, a.: to haul, draw up, 1.573; w. abl. of place, 3.135; (w. acc. and dat.), draw, rescue from, 10.81; draw or take away stealthily, withdraw, 6.524; draw from beneath, 3.565.

Trōs, ōis, m.: Trojan, 6.52, et al. (Tros, one of the kings of Troy)

discrīmen, inis, n.: a separating interval, space, 5.154; separation, division, 10.382; distance, 3.685; difference, distinction, 1.574; variation, division, of sound; note, 6.646; crisis, danger, peril, 1.204; pl., difference, 10.529. (discernō)

utinam: (interj.), O that! would that! with subj., 1.575.

Notus, ī, m.: identical in meaning with auster; the south-wind, 1.85; wind, 6.355; storm, 1.575.

compellō, pulī, pulsus, 3, a.: to drive together; compel; force, drive, 1.575.

adsum, adfuī, esse, irreg. n.: to be near or by; to be present, at hand, or here, 1.595; to have arrived, 2.132; to be with, attend, 2.701; aid, accompany, 10.547; be propitious, 3.116; to beset, 2.330; inf., adfore, to be about to come, destined to come, 7.270. (imp. subj., adforem, -ēs, -et, -ent)

Aenēās, ae, m.: 1. A Trojan chief, son of Venus and Anchises, and hero of the Aeneid, 1.92. 2. Aenēās Silvius, one of the Alban kings, 6.769.

equidem: (adv.), indeed, at least, certainly, surely; w. first person, for my part, 1.238. (demonstr. e or ec and quidem)

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

lūstrō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to purify by atonement, 3.279; go round the fields with the victims; hence to bless, ask for a blessing on; go or dance around an altar or the image of a god, 7.391; traverse, pass across, around, or over, 1.608; pass in review, parade before, 5.578; run through, 2.528; search, 1.577; observe, survey, 1.453; watch, mark, 11.763; of the sun, illuminate, 4.607. (lūstrum)

exterreō, uī, itus, 2, a.: to frighten; alarm, startle, terrify, 3.307; flutter in terror, 5.505; p., exterritus, a, um, startled; roused, 4.571.

iubeō, iussī (fut. perf. iussō for iusserō, 11.467), iussus, 2, a.: to order, request, usually w. inf., freq.; bid, 2.3; ask, invite, 1.708; will, wish, desire, 3.261; direct, enjoin, admonish, 3.697; persuade, advise, 2.37; to clear by command, 10.444; w. subj., 10.53.

quis, qua or quae, quid or quod: (indef. pron., adj., and subst.), any, some, 2.94, et al.; some one, any one, any body, anything, something, 1.413, et al.; sī quis, nē quis, etc., if any, lest any, etc., freq.; (adv.), quid, as to anything, in anything, at all, freq.; sī quid, if at all, freq.

ēiciō, iēcī, iectus, 3, a.: to cast out, forth, away; p., ēiectus, a, um, cast ashore, 1.578; banished, 8.646; stretched out at full length, thrust forth, 10.894. (ex and iaciō)

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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.