Vergil, Aeneid I 464-493

Sīc ait atque animum pictūrā pāscit inānī

multa gemēns, largōque ūmectat flūmine vultum.465

Namque vidēbat utī bellantēs Pergama circum

hāc fugerent Grāī, premeret Trōiāna iuventūs;

hāc Phryges, īnstāret currū cristātus Achillēs.

Nec procul hinc Rhēsī niveīs tentōria vēlīs

agnōscit lacrimāns, prīmō quae prōdita somnō470

Tӯdīdēs multā vāstābat caede cruentus,

ārdentēsque āvertit equōs in castra prius quam

pābula gustāssent Trōiae Xanthumque bibissent.

Parte aliā fugiēns āmissīs Trōïlus armīs,

īnfēlīx puer atque impār congressus Achillī,475

fertur equīs currūque haeret resupīnus inānī,

lōra tenēns tamen; huic cervīxque comaeque trahuntur

per terram, et versā pulvis īnscrībitur hastā.

Intereā ad templum nōn aequae Palladis ībant

crīnibus Īliades passīs peplumque ferēbant480

suppliciter, trīstēs et tūnsae pectora palmīs;

dīva solō fīxōs oculōs āversa tenēbat.

Ter circum Īliacōs raptāverat Hectora mūrōs

exanimumque aurō corpus vēndēbat Achillēs.

Tum vērō ingentem gemitum dat pectore ab īmō,485

ut spolia, ut currūs, utque ipsum corpus amīcī

tendentemque manūs Priamum cōnspexit inermēs.

Sē quoque prīncipibus permixtum agnōvit Achīvīs,

Ēōāsque aciēs et nigrī Memnonis arma.

Dūcit Amāzonidum lūnātīs agmina peltīs490

Penthesilēa furēns mediīsque in mīlibus ārdet,

aurea subnectēns exsertae cingula mammae

bellātrīx, audetque virīs concurrere virgō.

Manuscripts: M 464-465, 466-493 | P 464-483, 484-493 | R 464-468, 469-486, 487-493 | F 464-481, 482-493

Some of the scenes from the Trojan War are described (Wetherell).

464: pictura...inani: instr. abl. (Knapp) (AG 409). pictura: “painting, picture, image,” in a general sense, referring to the whole collection (Frieze). inani: “unsubstantial,” nothing more than a picture (F-B). “He feeds his soul on what is nothing but a picture” (Bellamy).

465: multa: with adverbial force: “heavily” (Bennett).

466: uti: “how,” followed by indirect questions (F-B). bellantes Pergama circum: note the position of these words which qualify all the nominatives in the next two lines —“warring around the walls of Pergamum here the Greeks fled (and) the Trojan youth pursued, there the Phrygians (fled, and) Achilles...pressed on” (Page). Pergama: means properly the citadel of Troy, but is sometimes put, as here, for the whole city (Frieze). circum: post-positive (Carter).

467–468: hac...hac: “here...there.” The first two pictures contrast victories of the Trojans and of the Greeks (F-B).

467: fugerent: “were fleeing,” while Aeneas was looking at them. So with the other imperfects. By making the action expressed in these verbs contemporaneous with that in videbat, the poet indicates the life-likeness with which the paintings brought the scenes before the eyes of his hero (Chase).

468: Phryges: i.e., Trojans; sc. fugerent (F-B). curru: an ablative of the instrument (Frieze). cristatus: emphatic, “with his awful crest” (Jerram); “with the crested helm” (Carter).

469: nec procul hinc: i.e., in the next picture (F-B). Rhesi: Rhesus was a king of Thrace, who came to Troy to aid Priam. As an oracle had declared that Troy could not be taken, if the horses of Rhesus should graze there or drink of the Xanthus, Odysseus and Diomedes waylaid him and seized the horses (F-B). The story is told in the tenth book of the Iliad, and in the Rhesus, a play of Euripides. niveis…velis: huts, not tents, were used in the Homeric age (F-B). Ablat. of description; “with snowy coverings” (AG415). Virgil is thinking of his own times. Huts of twigs and turf were used in the heroic age (Frieze).

470: primo somno: “first (i.e., deepest) sleep” (F-B).

471: Tydides: Diomedes (F-B). vastabat: “had just been devastating.” He was not represented in the painting as actually engaged in slaughter, but the bodies of the slain, scattered around in the picture, suggest this idea (Frieze). multa caede: better with vastabat than cruentus (Frieze). caede cruentus: note the emphasis given by alliteration and the position of the adjective (F-B). Notice the descriptive adjective placed emphatically at the end of the line (Carter).

473: gusta(vi)ssent, bibissent: pluperfect subjunctives, denoting the purpose of Diomedes (Jerram). “Before they should taste (should have tasted),” “in order that they should not first taste,” “too soon for them to taste …” (Peters)

474: Troilus: Troilus was the youngest son of Priam, slain by Achilles (F-B).

475: infelix atque impar congressus Achilli: the second part of the line explains the first, “unhappy because no match for Achilles” (F-B).

476: curru: dative (AG 89) with haereo, “clings to” (Carter). resupinus: “thrown backward.” The chariot in this case is empty, because Troilus is thrown out, and the charioteer, perhaps, has been slain (Frieze).

477: tamen: “yet,” though he has been thrown out of the chariot (Frieze). huic: dative of reference (F-B) (AG 376). Dat. of disadvantage (Walpole) (AG 376). Dative of possession, “his” (Carter) (AG 373).

478: versa hasta: “by his inverted spear,” which trails after the car (F-B). “With his inverted spear,” which, being held in the right hand, and thrown backward over his shoulder, inscribes the dust with its point as he is dragged along (Frieze).

479: interea: “in the meanwhile,” (Frieze). The incident illustrated in the next scene is conceived as contemporaneous with the preceding, because the two pictures are side by side (F-B). non aequae: “unfriendly” (F-B). “Unpropitious.” Minerva was under the same provocation to anger as Juno, namely, the judgment of Paris (Frieze).

480: crinibus...passis: i.e., in their distress (F-B). Abl. abs. (Comstock). The hair was unbound in token of woe (Frieze). Iliades: “The Trojan women” (Walpole). peplum: a costly and elegant robe. Such were often presented to the gods by suppliants (Walpole).

481: suppliciter: “as suppliants”; join with tristes (Frieze). tunsae pectora: = tundentes pectora (Carter). “Beating their breasts.” The perfect participle is here used in the sense of a present (F-B). pectora, acc. of respect after tunsae (Robertson).

482: solo: the ablative after fixos (Frieze). aversa: “turned away”; to be taken literally; not “hostile,” though it implies that. The statue is represented in the painting with the head averted, and the eyes cast toward the ground (Frieze). The gods are said to be aversi when they do not listen to the prayers of their suppliants (Robertson).

483: ter...raptaverat: i.e., according to the story. The picture could only show the effects of this action (F-B). This line suggests the mangled state of the body. Note the use of the tenses (Walpole). In Homer Achilles dragged Hector’s body around Patroclus’ tomb: Virgil follows a later Greek version (Eur. Andr. 107f.) which emphasises even more the cruelty of Achilles (Williams). Hectora: accusative (AG 81).

484: auro: “for gold.” Priam gave Achilles ten talents (Walpole). Ablative of price (AG 416). vendebat: this is the incident represented in the picture: Achilles, as in the bas-relief in the capitol [add image], listening to the entreaties of the aged Priam, who kneels before him, and begs the body of Hector; while near by is seen the chariot of Achilles with the corpse fastened to it by leather thongs. The scene is described in the 24th Book of the Iliad (Frieze).

486: spolia: refers to the arms of Hector, lying near the tent of Achilles (Frieze). currus: i.e., of Achilles, to which the body of Hector had been bound (Walpole). Poetic plural (F-B).

488: se quoque: We need not suppose that the poet has in mind any one picture, but that he conceives of Aeneas as conspicuous in several of the paintings (Frieze). principibus: “with the leading (fighters)” ablative or dative with permixtum (AG 413a note).

489: Eoasque acies: “Eastern ranks.” Again the second half of the line explains the first (F-B). nigri Memnonis: Memnon, the son of Aurora, was leader of the Aethiopians, hence nigri. He was slain by Achilles (F-B).

490: Amazonidum: more commonly Amazonum (F-B). The Amazons, a race of female warriors, were said to dwell near the River Thermodon, in the northern part of Asia Minor. According to the post-Homeric poets, they came to the help of Priam under their queen, Penthesilea, who was killed in battle by Achilles (Frieze). lunatis...peltis: “with crescent shields,” such being peculiar to the Amazons (F-B). An ablative of description, limiting agmina (Frieze) (AG 415).

491: Penthesilea: the famous queen of the Amazons, slain by Achilles (Carter). furens: “in warlike fury” (F-B).

492: “A golden girdle bound beneath her bared breast.” (Knapp) subnectens: = gerens subnexa, “wearing a girdle bound,” etc. (Frieze). = subnexa habens (Robertson). exsertae...mammae: Dative with subnectens (Carter).

493: bellatrix: “a warlike heroine”; in apposition with Penthesilea. Observe the emphasis given to this appellative by its position in the verse (Frieze). viris...virgo: the assonance emphasizes the contrast in ideas (F-B). concurrere: a military word, “to meet with the shock of” (Knapp).


pīctūra, ae, f.: the art of painting; painting, 1.464. (pingō)

pāscō, pāvī, pāstus, 3, a. and n.: to furnish with food; to feed; rear, breed, 6.655; nourish, 1.608; (fig.), 1.464; let grow, 7.391; cherish, indulge, nourish, 10.627; pass. as dep., pāscor, pāstus sum, 3, a. and n., to graze, 1.186; feed upon, eat, 2.471; use for pasture, to pasture, 11.319.

inānis, e: (adj.), empty, void, 3.304; light; vain, idle, fruitless, 4.210; valueless, trivial; little, brief, 4.433; lifeless, unreal, 1.464; shadowy, 6.269; unsubstantial, shadowy, airy, phantom, 6.651; subst., ināne, is, n., void space, a void, 12.354.

gemō, uī, itus, 3, n. and a.: to groan, 7.501; sigh, 1.465; bemoan, bewail, lament, 1.221; of inanimate things, creak, 6.413.

largus, a, um: (adj.), ample; spacious, expansive, 6.640; plentiful, copious, flowing, 1.465; bountiful, free, 10.619; w. gen., lavish, 11.338.

ūmectō, āvī, ātus, 1, a. and n.: to moisten, bedew, bathe, 1.465.

ut (utī): (adv., interrog.), in what manner, how? 1.466, et al.; sometimes with indic. in a dependent question, 6.855; how gladly, 8.154.

bellō, āvī, ātus, 1, n., and bellor, dep. 1, n.: to wage war; fight, 1.466; dep., 11.660; subst., bellāns, antis, c. pl., bellantēs, ium or um, combatants, warriors, 1.466. (bellum)

Pergama, ōrum, n., Pergamum, ī, n., and Pergamus (-os), ī, f.: 1. The citadel or walls of Troy, 3.87; Troy, 4.344, et al. 2. The Trojan citadel of Helenus in Epirus, 3.336.

circum: (adv.), about, around; (prep. with acc.), around, about.

hāc: (adv.), by this way or route, 8.203; this way, here, 1.467; on one side, 12.565.

Grāī (Grāiī) (dissyll.), ōrum, m.: the Greeks, 1.467, et al.

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

iuventūs, ūtis, f.: youthfulness; the age of youth; collective, young people, the youth; warriors, 1.467. (iuvenis)

Phryges, um, m.: Phrygians; the inhabitants of Phrygia, which originally included the Troad; hence, also, Trojans, 1.468, et al.; sing., Phryx, ygis, m., a Phrygian or Trojan, 12.99.

īnstō, stitī, 1, n.: to stand on or upon; w. dat., acc., inf., or alone; w. dat., to stand on, 11.529; stand or hang over, 10.196; (w. acc.), to work at, ply work upon, 8.834; (w. inf.), urge on, press on, 1.423; persist, 10.118; (alone), to follow up, press on; pursue, 1.468; struggle, 12.783; be near at hand, approach, threaten, 12.916; to be urgent, important, incumbent, 4.115.

cristātus, a, um: adj. (crista), crested, plumed, 1.468.

Achillēs, is (eos or ī), m.: the son of Peleus, king of Thessaly, and Thetis, daughter of Nereus, 1.468, et al.

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.

Rhēsus, ī, m.: a Thracian king allied with the Trojans, 1.469.

niveus, a, um: adj. (nix), snowy, of snow; snow-white, 1.469.

tentōrium, iī, n.: a tent, 1.469. (tendō)

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

adgnoscō, nōvī, nitus, 3, a.: to recognize, 1.470.

lacrimō, āvī, ātus, 1, n. and a.: to shed tears, weep, 1.459. (lacrima)

Tӯdīdēs, ae, m.: the son of Tydeus, Diomedes or Diomed, 1.97, et al.

vāstō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to make void or empty; to desolate, lay waste, ravage, devastate, 1.471, et al.; deprive of, strip, rob, with acc. and abl., 8.8. (vāstus)

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

ārdēns, entis: burning, hot, sparkling, flaming, 5.637; bright, 4.482; impassioned, ardent, eager, 1.423; spirited, fiery, 1.472; glowing, lofty, 6.130; fierce, furious, 2.529; angry, 6.467. (ardeo)

āvertō, vertī, versus, 3, a.: to turn (anything) away from, followed by an abl. with or without a prep., 1.38, et al.; turn or drive away, 1.472, et al.; transfer, with acc. of place, 4.106; drive away, end, 4.547; neut. by omission of se, to turn away, 1.402; (pass.), avertī, as middle or dep., with acc., to be averse to; to shun, loathe.

pābulum, ī, n.: feeding material; food, pasturage, pasture, 1.473. (pāscō)

gustō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to taste, 1.473. (gustus, taste)

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.

Xanthus, ī, m.: 1. The Xanthus or Scamander, a river near Troy, 5.808, et al. 2. A small river in Epirus named by Helenus after the Trojan Xanthus, 3.350. 3. A river in Lycia, 4.143.

bibō, bibī, 3, a.: to drink, 1.473, et al.; (fig.), take in, drink in, 1.749; of weapons, 11.804.

Trōilus, ī, m.: one of the sons of Priam, 1.474.

īnfēlīx, īcis: (adj.), unlucky; unfortunate, luckless, unhappy, 1.475, et al.; sad, miserable, 2.772; of ill omen, ill-starred, ill-boding, fatal, 2.245; unfruitful.

impār, aris: (adj.), unequal, in unequal combat, 1.475; unequally matched.

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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.