Vergil, Aeneid II 234-249

Dīvidimus mūrōs et moenia pandimus urbis.

Accingunt omnēs operī pedibusque rotārum235

subiciunt lāpsūs, et stuppea vincula collō

intendunt; scandit fātālis māchina mūrōs

fēta armīs. Puerī circum innūptaeque puellae

sacra canunt fūnemque manū contingere gaudent;

illa subit mediaeque mināns inlābitur urbī.240

Ō patria, ō dīvum domus Īlium et incluta bellō

moenia Dardanidum! Quater ipsō in līmine portae

substitit atque uterō sonitum quater arma dedēre;

īnstāmus tamen immemorēs caecīque furōre

et mōnstrum īnfēlīx sacrātā sistimus arce.245

Tunc etiam fātīs aperit Cassandra futūrīs

ōra deī iussū nōn umquam crēdita Teucrīs.

Nōs dēlūbra deum miserī, quibus ultimus esset

ille diēs, fēstā vēlāmus fronde per urbem.

Manuscripts: M 234, 235-249 | P

The Trojans bring the wooden horse into the city (Bennett).

234: dīvidimus: the city gates would not be as high as the walls, which would be continuous above them. Hence, even if the gates were wide enough to receive the horse, the wall above would have to be removed (F-B). “We break down the walls (muros), and [thus] lay open the defences (moenia) of the city”; moenia is the more general word (G-K). Others understand by moenia the “buildings” within the walls. The Trojans are here supposed to throw down that part of the wall which forms the top and sides of the Scaean gate. See 242, where the term portae would seem to indicate that the horse was carried in through one of the gates of Troy (Frieze).

235–240: Notice the very short clauses, with eight main verbs in six lines, to convey the relentless movement of the action (Williams).

235–236: pedibus...collō: dative with the compounds subiciunt and intendunt (AG 370).

235: accingunt: for sē accingunt (Bennett). i.e., apply themselves, alluding to the long loose robes of the ancients which were tucked up for active work (H-H). rotārum...lāpsūs: = rotās lābentēs (H-H); “gliding wheels,” so mīnae murōrum, 4.88, for “threatening walls” (Sidgwick). A bold form of expression, common in poetry; the quality or property of a person or thing, which would naturally be expressed by an adj., is embodied in an abstract noun, and the person or thing itself follows in the gen. This emphasizes the quality (G-K). The reference is to cylindrical rollers (Anthon). Had the Trojan Horse been wheeled from the first, Sinon’s task of persuasion would have been too arduous (even Trojans might have jibbed at a vast unexplained statue with wheels); here we pass lightly over the converse difficultuies of fitting wheels to a TH full of armed warriors (Horsfall).

236: vincula: “cords, ropes” (Bennett).

237: Contrast the slow spondaic movement here with the dactyls of 240, where the Horse has negotiated the walls and is moving smoothly into the heart of Troy (Austin). intendunt: the word is not used loosely for “fasten on,” “throw over,” but rather describes the “drawing taut” of a rope so placed when they begin to haul up the horse (Page). scandit: “climbs” or “mounts”; a bold figure, indicating the difficulties overcome in conducting the wooden horse through the walls and to the summit of the citadel (Frieze).

238: fēta armīs: = fēta armātis virīs (H-H); i.e., filled with armed men (Bennett) (AG 409a). puerī...puellae: again a Roman custom. Many such customs of Vergil’s time alluded to in the Aeneid were supposed to have been imported direct from Troy (G-K). circum: the adverb (F-B).

239: sacra canunt: = sacra carmina canunt: “chant hymns.” Vergil is evidently thinking of the hymns chanted at the secular games when maidens and youths sang songs to Apollo and Diana (H-H).

240: illa: referring to machina (Bennett). mediae...urbī: = in urbem (Comstock) (AG 428h). mināns: combines the notion of towering and threatening (Storr).

241: Note the feeling expressed by this outburst. The line is a quotation from Ennius (H-H). div(ōr)um. Vergil pays homage to Ennius as tragedian: cf. trag. 87 ō pater, ō patria, ō Priamī domus; cited by Cicero (de Or. 3.217) to illustrate miserātiō ac maeror (Horsfall).

242: līmine: stumbling, as it were, on the threshold, always a bad omen with the Romans (G-K). Dardanid(ār)um. Tripping on the sill brings ill-luck to the tripper, so no close analogy is to be drawn (Horsfall).

243: uterō: abl. of source (AG 403.1 note 1). The clatter within the Horse now passed just as unnoticed as the clatter caused by Laocoon’s blow (53). But it must have been a bad moment for the Greeks: no wonder they wept with fright (Od. 11.523 ff.) (Austin). The clang of arms here is clearly placed out of chronological sequence as a moment appropriate to Vergil’s current theme of the Trojans’ deafness, literal and mental (Horsfall).

244: the rhythm, with no pause till the fourth foot, shows the hurry of the Trojans (Austin). immemorēs caecīque: here “heedless” rather than “forgetful” (C-R); “thoughtless” and “blind” in respect to the circumstances which should have awakened suspicion: the stumbling of the horse and the noise of the arms from within (Frieze). furōre: the Trojans were in a kind of ecstasy that made them blind to everything; so it was Orpheus’ furor that lost him his half-regained Eurydice (G. 4.495) (Austin).

245: Observe how the finality of this line is achieved by slow spondees, alliteration of s, use of the powerful word monstrum, and juxtaposition of the conflicting religious terms īnfēlīx and sacrātā (Williams). monstrum: The horse is a monstrum (1) because it is of enormous size, (2) because it was ominous of evil to the Trojans (Knapp). sacrātā...arce: = in sacrātā arce (H-H) (AG 430). sistimus: sistere is followed by the accusative with in, or by the ablative either with or without in (Frieze).

246: fātīs: probably the dative of purpose, “to disclose the coming doom” (Howson) (AG 382); ablative of manner, “with warnings of the future.” It might also be taken as a dative (P-H); this might be either dative or ablative, more probably the latter (showing the manner of her utterance) (Austin). Cassandra: Cassandra was the daughter of Priam and Hecuba. She pledged her love to Apollo and in return he gave her the gift of prophecy, but when she did not fulfil her pledges Apollo, unable to take back his gift, rendered its possession worse than useless by causing all her prophecies to go unheeded (Carter).

247: nōn crēdita: agrees with ōra (G-K); may be taken equally well with Cassandra or ora. The passive participle is irregularly used as if credo were transitive (C-R). Teucrīs: = ā Teucrīs (Chase) (AG 375).

248: nōs: sc. sed, emphatic asyndeton (F-B). de(ōr)um. quibus...esset: the subjunctive may be explained in two ways, (a) as causal, explaining miserī, “in that this was our last day,” (b) as concessive, opposed to festa velāmus fronde, “although that was our last day” (C-R) = quippe is nōbīs esset or quamvīs nōbīs esset (H-H) (AG 535e).

249: fronde: The leaves would be those of the trees sacred to each particular god: of laurel, to Apollo; oak, to Jupiter; myrtle, to Venus, etc. (H-H).


pandō, pandī, passus or pānsus, 3, a.: to spread out or open, 7.641; unfurl, 3.520; extend, expose, 6.740; break through, open, 2.234; unbind, dishevel, 1.480; (fig.), disclose, declare, explain, reveal, 3.179.

accingō, cīnxī, cīnctus (pass. inf., accingier, 4.493), 3, a.: to gird on; gird, 2.614; arm, equip, 6.184; make one’s self ready; prepare, 1.210; resort to, 4.493. (ad and cingō)

rota, ae, f.: a wheel, 1.147; (fig.), circle or orbit of time, 6.748.

subiciō, iēcī, iectus, 3, a.: to cast, throw, place or put under, 2.236; (fig.), to excite, kindle, 12.66; to subjoin, utter in reply, answer, 3.314; p., subiectus, a, um, cast under, put under, 6.223; situated under, bowed, bending, 2.721; put down, subdued, conquered, 6.853. (sub and iaciō)

lāpsus, ūs, m.: a slipping; gliding, 2.225; gliding movement, 2.225; turning, movement, 2.236; descent, flight, 3.225; course, 4.524. (1. lābor)

stūppeus, a, um: adj. (stūppa), made of tow or flax; flaxen, 2.236.

collum, ī, n.: the neck of men and animals, 1.654, et al.; of a plant, 9.436; pl., the neck, 11.692.

scandō, scandī, scānsus, 3, a.: to climb, 2.401; ascend, 2.237.

fātālis, e: adj. (fātum), fated, 4.355; of fate or destiny, 2.165; sent by fate, 12.232; fraught with fate, destructive, calamitous, deadly, fatal, 12.919.

māchina, ae, f.: a machine, fabric, engine, 2.46, et al.

fētus, a, um: pregnant, with young; bearing; filled, full, teeming, 1.51; 2.238; having brought forth; fruitful.

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

innūptus, a, um: (adj.), not veiled; unmarried, virgin-, 2.31.

sacrum, ī, n.: a holy thing; pl., sacra, ōrum, n., sacred symbols, rites, 12.13; sacred rites, ceremonies, sacrifices, 2.132; sacred things, utensils, symbols, 2.293; mysteries, 3.112.

fūnis, is, m.: a rope, 2.239, et al.; cord, string, 5.488.

manus, ūs, f.: the hand, 1.487; freq.; (meton.), action, movement of the hand; work, art, handiwork, 3.486; prowess, heroic deed, action, 2.434; force, violence, 2.645; a collection of persons; a band, crew, troop; an army, 2.29; forces, 5.623; multitude, 6.660; pl., manūs, workmen, 11.329; dare manūs, to yield, 11.558; extrēma manus, the finishing hand or touch, 7.572.

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.

minor, ātus sum, 1, dep. n. and a.: to jut out, project; ascend, tower, 1.162; threaten, menace, 3.540. (minae)

inlābor, lāpsus sum, 3, dep. n.: to glide or fall into, w. dat.; move into, 2.240; descend into, inspire, 3.89.

ō: (interj. expressing joy, grief, astonishment, desire, or indignation), O! oh! ah! w. voc., 2.281, et al.; w. sī and the subj., oh that, 11.415; sometimes placed after the word to which it relates, 2.281.

Īlium, iī, n.: Troy, 1.68, et al.

inclutus, a, um: (adj.), famous, glorious, renowned, 2.82. (rel. to clueō, to be heard of; κλύω, hear; κλυτός, renowned)

Dardanidēs, ae, m.: a son or descendant of Dardanus; Aeneas, 10.545; pl., Dardanidae, ārum (um), the Trojans, 1.560, et al.; adj., Dardanian, Trojan, 2.59.

quater: (num. adv.), four times. (quattuor)

subsistō, stitī, 3, n. and a.: to stand after; halt, stand still, 2.243; wait, remain, 11.506; tarry, remain behind, 2.739; stop, 12.491; withstand, resist, hold out, 9.806.

uterus, ī, m.: the womb, belly, 11.813; cavity, 2.38.

sonitus, ūs, m.: a sounding; noise, 2.732, et al.; roaring, 2.209; thunder, 6.586. (sonō)

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.

immemor, oris: (adj.), not remembering, without memory, oblivious, 6.750; unconscious, 9.374; reckless, heedless, 2.244; often w. gen., unmindful, forgetful of, 5.39.

mōnstrum, ī, n.: the thing which warns; an omen, a portent, 3.26; supernatural token, sign, 12.246; a prodigy, marvel, wonder, terror, 3.583; monster, 2.245. (moneō)

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.

sacrātus, a, um: holy, 3.371. (sacrō)

sistō, stitī, status, 3, a. and n.: to cause to stand, put, set, place, w. abl. of place, 2.245, et al.; place before one, bring, 4.634; fix, plant, 10.323; stop, 12.355; arrest, stay, 6.465; support, sustain, maintain, 6.858; set, place, 6.676; n., stand still, to stop, remain, abide, 3.7; stand in fight, 11.873.

Cassandra, ae, f.: a daughter of Priam, beloved of Apollo, and inspired by him with prophecy; but because she did not requite his love, condemned to foretell the destruction of Troy without being believed by her countrymen, 2.246.

futūrus, a, um: about to be; future, 4.622. (sum)

iussus, ūs, m., only in abl. sing. (iubeō): by command, order, decree, 2.247.

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

dēlūbrum, ī, n.: the place for sacrificial cleansings; a shrine, temple, sanctuary, 2.225, et al. (dēluō, cleanse)

fēstus, a, um: (adj.), festive, festal, 2.249.

vēlō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to veil, 3.405; cover, clothe; bind around, wreathe, crown, 5.72; festoon, adorn, 2.249; to shade by bearing in the hand, 7.154; 11.101. (vēlum)

frōns, frondis, f.: a leaf, 3.449; leafage, foliage; leafy spray, branch, twig, bough, 2.249; a leafy crown, a garland, wreath, 4.148.

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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.