Vergil, Aeneid IV 630-658

Haec ait, et partēs animum versābat in omnēs,630

invīsam quaerēns quam prīmum abrumpere lūcem.

Tum breviter Barcēn nūtrīcem adfāta Sychaeī,

namque suam patriā antīquā cinis āter habēbat:

'Annam, cāra mihī nūtrīx, hūc siste sorōrem:

dīc corpus properet fluviālī spargere lymphā,635

et pecudēs sēcum et mōnstrāta piācula dūcat.

sīc veniat, tūque ipsa piā tege tempora vittā.

sacra Iovī Stygiō, quae rīte incepta parāvī,

perficere est animus fīnemque impōnere cūrīs

Dardaniīque rogum capitis permittere flammae.'640

Sīc ait. Illa gradum studiō celebrābat anīlī.

At trepida et coeptīs immānibus effera Dīdō

sanguineam volvēns aciem, maculīsque trementēs

interfūsa genās et pallida morte futūrā,

interiōra domūs inrumpit līmina et altōs645

cōnscendit furibunda rogōs ēnsemque reclūdit

Dardanium, nōn hōs quaesītum mūnus in ūsūs.

Hīc, postquam Īliacās vestēs nōtumque cubīle

cōnspexit, paulum lacrimīs et mente morāta

incubuitque torō dīxitque novissima verba:650

'Dulcēs exuviae, dum Fāta deusque sinēbat,

accipite hanc animam mēque hīs exsolvite cūrīs.

Vīxī et quem dederat cursum fortūna perēgī,

et nunc magna meī sub terrās ībit imāgō.

Urbem praeclāram statuī, mea moenia vīdī,655

ulta virum poenās inimīcō ā frātre recēpī,

fēlīx, heu nimium fēlīx, sī lītora tantum

numquam Dardaniae tetigissent nostra carīnae.'

Manuscripts: M 630-641, 642-658 | P 630-647, 648-658

Dido sends Barce to bid her sister Anna bring at once all that is needful for her magic rite. Meanwhile in a frenzy of passion she mounts the pyre and draws a sword given her by Aeneas; then after a tearful pause, as she gazes on the memorials around her, she speaks her last words, recalling the greatness of her life—a life happy indeed had Trojan keels never touched her shore (Page).

631: quaerēns abrumpere: “seeking (how) to cut short” (F-B). invīsam…lūcem: “with all speed to be rid of hateful day” (Page), i.e., to take her own life (Carter). Abrumpere lūcem is a variation of abrumpere vītam, where abrumpere is used strictly (“to break off”) what would otherwise continue. Here lūcem is substituted for vītam to give force to invīsam, for “light” is always connected with cheerfulness, but abrumpere loses its strict force (Page). quam prīmum: “as soon as possible” (Pharr).

632: Barcēn nūtrīcem: The “nurse” or “foster-mother” was held in high esteem (Page); Dido is attended by her husband’s, as her own is dead (F-B). The nurse as confidante goes back to Eurycleia in the Odyssey; but here it is Dido’s dead husband’s nurse to whom alone she can turn—the ghost of her past is always near: and now there is a fresh person whom she must deceive (Austin).

633: namque suam: “(she addressed the nurse of Sychaeus, not her own) for her own…” cinis āter: Properly, the ashes of the funeral pyre, over which rose the tumulus or tomb (F-B). patriā antīquā: i.e., in Tyre (Frieze).

634: mihi: join with siste (Frieze). hūc siste: “fetch” (Carter). Dido is very quiet now. Her paroxysm is past, and the way to death is clear. Just as it was Anna who had made the arrangements for the pyre, so now she is to bring the ritual offerings for the pretended sacrifice. But the need for pretence is nearly over: Dido really needs Anna to come in time to comfort her as she dies—but her sister must not yet suspect the true reason for her summons.

635: dīc…properet: jussive subjunctive, in parataxis with dīc (AG 439): “bid her hasten” (F-B). Dīc is the singular imperative (irregular) of dīcere (AG 182). corpus spargere: as a ceremony of purification (Page). Bathing was a necessary preliminary in approaching the gods (Stephenson). flūviālī lymphā: because river (i.e. running) water was necessary for purification (Carter).

636: pecudēs: the black sheep, for a sacrifice to Pluto (Iovī Stygiō, 638) (G-K). piācula: “offerings of atonement”; meaning here the sacrifices which were to aid in setting her mind free from Aeneas, or in restoring him to her. So Anna understands the object (Frieze); the pecudes and the piacula are probably identical (Austin). vittā: Roman matrons wore such “fillets” at sacrifice, and a Roman idea is here attributed to Carthage (Carter). [add image of vittae]

637: sīc: “under these circumstances” (Stephenson); “so,” i.e., when she has done what lines 636–7 require (Page); i.e., with the animals for sacrifice, after she has duly purified herself. Dido’s real object is to delay the return of the nurse and her sister so that she may kill herself in the meantime (Pharr).

638: Iovī Stygiō: “to nether Jove” (F-B) = Plutō (Pharr)

Dido sends Barce to bid her sister Anna bring at once all that is needful for her magic rite. Meanwhile in a frenzy of passion she mounts the pyre and draws a sword given her by Aeneas; then after a tearful pause, as she gazes on the memorials around her, she speaks her last words, recalling the greatness of her life—a life happy indeed had Trojan keels never touched her shore (Page).

631: quaerēns abrumpere: “seeking (how) to cut short” (F-B). invīsam…lūcem: “with all speed to be rid of hateful day” (Page), i.e., to take her own life (Carter). Abrumpere lūcem is a variation of abrumpere vītam, where abrumpere is used strictly (“to break off”) what would otherwise continue. Here lūcem is substituted for vītam to give force to invīsam, for “light” is always connected with cheerfulness, but abrumpere loses its strict force (Page). quam prīmum: “as soon as possible” (Pharr).

632: Barcēn nūtrīcem: The “nurse” or “foster-mother” was held in high esteem (Page); Dido is attended by her husband’s, as her own is dead (F-B). The nurse as confidante goes back to Eurycleia in the Odyssey; but here it is Dido’s dead husband’s nurse to whom alone she can turn—the ghost of her past is always near: and now there is a fresh person whom she must deceive (Austin).

633: namque suam: “(she addressed the nurse of Sychaeus, not her own) for her own…” cinis āter: Properly, the ashes of the funeral pyre, over which rose the tumulus or tomb (F-B). patriā antīquā: i.e., in Tyre (Frieze).

634: mihi: join with siste (Frieze). hūc siste: “fetch” (Carter). Dido is very quiet now. Her paroxysm is past, and the way to death is clear. Just as it was Anna who had made the arrangements for the pyre, so now she is to bring the ritual offerings for the pretended sacrifice. But the need for pretence is nearly over: Dido really needs Anna to come in time to comfort her as she dies—but her sister must not yet suspect the true reason for her summons. (Austin)

635: dīc…properet: jussive subjunctive, in parataxis with dīc (AG 439): “bid her hasten” (F-B). Dīc is the singular imperative (irregular) of dīcere (AG 182). corpus spargere: as a ceremony of purification (Page). Bathing was a necessary preliminary in approaching the gods (Stephenson). flūviālī lymphā: because river (i.e. running) water was necessary for purification (Carter).

636: pecudēs: the black sheep, for a sacrifice to Pluto (Iovī Stygiō, 638) (G-K). piācula: “offerings of atonement”; meaning here the sacrifices which were to aid in setting her mind free from Aeneas, or in restoring him to her. So Anna understands the object (Frieze); the pecudes and the piacula are probably identical (Austin). vittā: Roman matrons wore such “fillets” at sacrifice, and a Roman idea is here attributed to Carthage (Carter). [add image of vittae]

637: sīc: “under these circumstances” (Stephenson); “so,” i.e., when she has done what lines 636–7 require (Page); i.e., with the animals for sacrifice, after she has duly purified herself. Dido’s real object is to delay the return of the nurse and her sister so that she may kill herself in the meantime (Pharr).

638: Iovī Stygiō: “to nether Jove” (F-B) = Plutō (Pharr)

639: perficere: “perform” (Carter); she will now execute the rites commenced (509 ff.), including the burning of the funeral pyre (Frieze). est animus: = volō. Dido is concealing her real purpose (Pharr): “I am minded to fulfil” (F-B).

639–640: fīnemque……flammae: “and put an end to my troubles by giving to the flame the funeral pyre of the Trojan monster.” The clause introduced by –que in 640 is really explanatory (“by giving over” (F-B)). The rogus is that on which Aeneas’ wax image (effigiēs) is placed. (Stephenson).

640: Dardaniī rogum capitis: = rogum Aenēae; caput is often used in the sense of “person” in such periphrases (G-K), here probably meant to mark abhorrence (Page), and by its use Dido avoids mentioning his name (Pharr). Servius remarks on this: “she calls her own pyre his to avoid suspicion” (Stephenson). This would be all the more natural, as on it his belongings were piled (F-B). She is really preparing her own pyre; but ostensibly the rite is to be a mock funeral, in which, to free her from her unhappy love, the effigiēs of Aeneas and his exuviae are to be burned (G-K).

641: Illa: = Barce, the nurse (Pharr). gradum celebrābat: “quickened her steps” (Carter). studiō anīlī: “with an old dame’s zeal” (F-B). The MSS are divided between this and anīlem. Anīlem is perhaps more dignified, “in her zeal she hastened her aged steps,” but anīlī “she hastened with an old woman’s eagerness” is more natural, and the touch of humor in fine contrast with the tragedy of the context (Page). The old nurse is a stock figure in heroic story (G-K).

642: coeptīs…effera: “wild” (Pharr), “beside herself” (Carter), or “maddened (G-K) with her awful purpose” (F-B). Coeptīs is ablative of cause (AG 404) (Pharr).

643: sanguineam aciem: supply oculōrum (Pharr): “bloodshot eyes” (Page).

643–644: maculīsque…genās: “and her quivering cheeks flecked with spots” or “splotches of color” (Carter). Genās is a Greek accusative / accusative of respect, specification (AG 397 note b) with the middle voice participle interfūsa (Pharr).

645: interiōra domūs līmina: of the inner court of the palace, where the pyre had been erected (Pharr). She rushes down (inrumpit) from the tower (586), where she has been hitherto, into the inner open court (G-K).

647: nōn hōs…ūsūs: “a gift besought for no such use as this” (F-B); “a gift not begged for such a purpose.” In 507 ēnsem relictum seems to describe a sword left behind by chance, but here the sword is clearly described as a gift (mūnus) which Dido had begged (quaesītum) from Aeneas (who had given it to her as a keepsake (Pharr)), and which was to be a fatal gift. Line 507 need not be regarded as inconsistent with the present passage (F-B).

648: hīc: temporal (F-B): “hereupon” (G-K); “thereupon” (Carter). Īliacās vestēs: = the exuviās mentioned in 496 (Carter); some more presents from Aeneas (Pharr).

649: lacrimīs…morāta: “pausing in tearful thought” (Page), i.e., in recalling the past (Frieze); lost in reverie. In thought she lives it all over again (Carter). Some call the ablatives causal (AG 404), others modal / means (AG 409) (Page), and others place where (AG 429) (G-K).

650: -que…-que: correlative (G-K). novissima: “last” (Pharr).

651: dulcēs…fāta: Dum relates to dulcēs, “dear while the fates…” (Frieze). deus: not any particular god, but the deity, the divine power in general (Carter).

652: accipite: It will be upon these mementos of Aeneas that she will fall (Frieze). She is addressing the exuviae upon which she is leaning and in which she is going to breathe out her life (Carter). exsolvite: supply per mortem (Pharr).

653: vīxī: “I have lived my life.” The word conveys the idea that the life thus lived has not been an empty and useless one, i.e., “I have lived” and not merely existed (Page). dederat: i.e., at her birth (F-B), hence pluperfect (Carter).

654: et nunc…imāgō: “and now I shall pass beneath the earth a mighty shade” (Page). magna: “illustrious” (so Heyne); her shade will retain the glory which attaches to her character as a successful founder of a state (Frieze); i.e., I shall go a famous woman (G-K). meī: possessive genitive, used instead of mea for metrical reasons (G-K). Not precisely the same as mea, for imāgō mea would mean “my shade,” while imāgō meī is the shade of what I have been (F-B).

655: mea: “my own”; emphatic (F-B)

656: ulta: the time of ulta is the same as, not prior to, that of recēpī. Dido avenged her husband by punishing her brother. This she did by sailing away with so many of his subjects (Carter) and by carrying off his ill-gotten wealth (F-B), which see 1.360–4 (G-K). poenās recēpī: recēpī = sumpsī, giving the notion of what is due, as in reddō (Stephenson): “I have taken vengeance” (Frieze); “I have inflicted the due punishment” (G-K).

657: fēlīx: fuissem is implied as the apodosis of tetigissent; conclusion of a condition contrary to fact (AG 517) (Pharr). tantum: “only” (F-B), i.e., so much and no more (G-K).

CORE VOCABULARY

versō, āvī, ātus, 1, freq. a.: to turn much; writhe, 11.753; turn, 5.408; handle, wield, 9.747; to buffet, drive, beat round and round, 5.460; drive to and fro, 12.664; toss about, 6.362; turn, hurry, 4.286; involve in or distract with, 7.336; with or without mente, pectore, etc., revolve, meditate, devise, consider, 1.657. (vertō)

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

quam: (adv. interrog. and rel.) how, freq.; as, answering to tam, expressed or understood, even as, just as, so far as, 6.96; quam māgnus, so great as, 10.763; with a superl., to denote the highest degree possible; quam prīmum, as soon as possible, instantly, 4.631; after the comparative, than, freq.; antequam, priusquam (often separated by tmesis), before that, before, 4.27, freq.; postquam, often separated, after that, after, as soon as, 3.463, et al.

abrumpō, rūpī, ruptus, 3, a.: to break off, away, or tear away from, 9.118; tear asunder, rend, 3.199; end suddenly or abruptly, 4.388; put an end to, 4.631; violate, 3.55; p. abruptus, a, um, having burst, bursting, breaking forth, subst., abruptum, ī, n., anything broken off; a precipice; abyss, chasm, 3.422; in abruptum, headlong, 12.687.

Barcē, ēs, f.: the nurse of Sychaeus, 4.632.

nūtrīx, īcis, f.: a nurse, 1.275. (nūtriō)

adfor, fātus sum, 1, dep. a.: to speak to; address, 1.663; beseech, supplicate, 2.700; bid adieu, farewell to, 2.644.

Sӯchaeus, ī, m.: a Tyrian prince, the husband of Dido, 1.343, et al.

āter, tra, trum: (adj.), black; dark, gloomy, 1.60, et al.; smoky, lurid, 7.456; 4.384; clotted, dark, 3.622; soiled, blackened, 2.272; (fig.), sad, fatal, 6.429; venomous, deadly; of the odor of smoke, 12.591.

Anna, ae, f.: a sister of Dido, 4.9.

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.

fluviālis, e: adj. (fluvius), pertaining to a river or brook, 4.635.

spargō, sparsī, sparsus, 3, a.: to scatter, strew; cast in fragments, 3.605; disperse, 1.602; shower, hurl, 12.51; sprinkle, 4.512; besprinkle, bedew, stain, 8.645; infuse, 4.486; (fig.), spread abroad, disseminate, 2.98; bring over or upon, diffuse, 7.754.

lympha, ae, f.: clear spring water; water, 4.635, et al.; pl., for sing., 1.701, et al.

pecus, udis, f.: one animal of a flock or herd; an animal, 1.743; a sheep, 3.120; victim for sacrifices, 4.63.

mōnstrō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to show, point out, indicate, 1.444; inform, tell, 1.321; direct, incite, 9.44; ordain, appoint, prescribe, 4.636. (mōnstrum)

piāculum, i, n.: an expiation; expiatory, sacrifice, offering, 4.636; purifying sacrifice; lustration, 6.153; (meton.), that which requires such expiation; sin, crime, 6.569. (piō)

veniō, vēnī, ventus: to come, freq.; come forth; approach, 6.755; rise, appear, 1.353; dawn, 10.241; to present one's self or itself, 5.344; descend, spring from, 5.373; impers., ventum est, we, they came or have come, 4.151.

tempus, oris, n.: 1. Time in general, a period, time, 1.278; interval or space of time, 4.433; crisis, circumstance, juncture, 7.37; season, fitting time, opportunity, proper moment, 4.294; ex longō (tempore), in or for a long time, 9.64. 2. The temple of the forehead, 9.418; commonly pl., 2.684; of animals, 12.173.

vitta, ae, f.: a fillet, band, or chaplet for the head, especially for religious occasions, 5.366, et al.

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.

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

Stygius, a, um: adj. (Styx), pertaining to the Styx; of Hades; Stygian, 4.638, et al.

rīte: (adv.), properly, fitly, rightly, 6.145; justly, meetly, 3.36; well, 3.107. (rītus)

perficiō, fēcī, fectus, 3, a.: to make completely; finish, complete, 6.745; perform, 3.178; p., perfectus, a, um, worked, wrought, executed, 5.267; fulfilled, 3.548. (per and faciō)

Dardanius, a, um: adj. (Dardanus), Dardanian, Trojan, 5.711; subst., Dardanius, iī, m., the Dardanian; the Trojan, 12.14.

rogus, ī, m.: a funeral pile, 4.640.

celerō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to speed, hasten, 1.357, et al. (celer)

anīlis, e: adj. (anus), of an old woman; an old woman’s, 4.641.

trepidus, a, um: (adj.), agitated, uneasy, disturbed, trembling, affrighted, 2.380; excited, tumultuous, 11.300; confused, in disorder, 10.283; alarmed, fearful of, anxious for, w. gen., 12.589; panic-stricken, 12.583.

coeptum, ī, n.: a thing begun; an undertaking, enterprise, design, 4.642, et al. (coepiō)

immānis, e: (adj.), vast, huge, immense, 1.110; wild, savage, barbarous, 1.616; cruel, ruthless, 1.347; unnatural, monstrous, hideous, 6.624; (adv.), immāne, wildly, fiercely, 12.535.

efferus, a, um: adj. (ex and ferus, wild), extremely wild; savage, frantic, 4.642; fierce, 8.6; cruel, 8.484.

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.

sanguineus, a, um: adj. (sanguis), of blood; bloodshot, 4.643; of bloody color or aspect, bloody, 2.207; fiery, bloody, 10.273; ruddy, burnished, 8.622; bloodthirsty, 12.332.

volvō, volvī, volūtus, 3, a.: to roll, 1.86; roll along or down, 1.101; roll or cast up, 3.206; toss, hurl, 12.906; roll over, roll in the dust, 12.329; cast, hurl down, 1.116; 9.512; roll, wheel, 1.163; of books, open, unroll, 1.262; of the Fates, fix the circle of events, decree, ordain, dispose, 1.22; 3.376; of the mind, revolve, meditate, reflect upon, 1.305; pass, continue, live through, experience, endure, suffer, 1.9; rotam volvere, to complete a cycle, period; (pass.), volvī, roll over, roll, 10.590; turn or wind about, 7.350; to be shed, to flow, 4.449; roll on, revolve, 1.269.

macula, ae, f.: a spot, 5.566, et al.

tremō, uī, 3, n. and a.: to tremble, quake, shake, quiver, 5.198; tremble at, fear, dread, 8.296.

interfundō, fūdī, fūsus, 3, a.: to pour between; besprinkle; mark, 4.644; pass. as middle, pour itself, flow between, 6.439.

gena, ae, f.: the cheek, 4.644, et al.; eye, 6.686.

pallidus, a, um: adj. (palleō), pale, pallid, 3.217; ghastly, 8.197.

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

interior, ius: (adj.), inner, interior; interior or inner part of, 1.637; on the inner side, 5.170; superl., intimus, a, um, innermost, 1.243. (compar. of obs. interus, rel. to inter)

inrumpō, rūpī, ruptus, 3, n. and a.: to burst; w. acc., rush into, rush through, 11.879; w. dat., burst into, 6.528.

cōnscendō, scendī, scēnsus, 3, a. and n.: to ascend, climb, 1.180; mount, 12.736; embark on, 1.381. (com- and scandō, climb)

furibundus, a, um: adj. (furō), filled with frenzy; raging, raving, wild, frantic, 4.646.

ēnsis, is, m.: a sword, 2.393, et al.; knife, 2.155.

reclūdō, clūsī, clūsus, 3, a.: to unclose; to open, freq.; throw open, 3.92; reveal, disclose, 1.358; unsheathe, 4.646; cut or lay open, 4.63. (re- and claudō)

Īliacus, a, um: (adj.), belonging to Ilium; Ilian, Trojan, 1.97, et al.

cubīle, is, n.: a lair, bed, couch, 3.324. (cubō, lie down)

cōnspiciō, spexī, spectus, 3, a.: to have a complete view of; to look at, see, behold, 1.152; descry, discover, find, 6.508; p., cōnspectus, a, um, conspicuous. (com- and speciō, look)

paulum: (adv.), a little, 3.597. (paulus, small)

incumbō, cubuī, cubitus, 3, n.: to lay one's self upon; lean or recline upon; (w. dat.), lie on or stretch over, 2.205; fall upon, 1.84; bend to, ply, 5.15; hasten, urge, press on, 2.653; overhang, 2.514; press or bend toward, 5.325; (w. ad and acc.), lean, hang, incline, 8.236; absolute, bend to, urge on the work, 4.397.

torus, ī, m.: a bed, couch, 1.708; seat, 5.388; royal seat, throne, 8.177; bank, 6.674; the swelling part of flesh; a brawny muscle.

exuviae, ārum, f.: that which has been taken off; a garment, vestment, 4.496; armor, arms; spoils, 2.275; memorials, relics, 4.651; skin, 2.473; hide, 11.577. (exuō)

exsolvō, ī, solūtus, 3, a.: to loosen completely, w. acc. and abl.; disengage, 11.829; set free, deliver, 4.652.

peragō, ēgī, āctus, 3, a.: to drive through; carry through; execute, achieve, accomplish, finish, perform, 4.653; pursue, 6.384; fulfill, achieve, 3.493; go through with, distribute, 5.362; go through mentally, 6.105.

praeclārus, a, um: (adj.), very clear or bright; illustrious, splendid, 4.655.

ulcīscor, ultus sum, 3, dep. a.: to take revenge for, to avenge, 2.576.

heu: (interj.), alas! ah! oh! 2.289, et al.

carīna, ae, f.: the keel of a ship, ship, 4.398; a boat, 6.391; frame, timber, 5.682.

Text Read Aloud
Maps and Images
article Nav

Suggested Citation

Christopher Francese and Meghan Reedy, Vergil: Aeneid Selections. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-947822-08-5. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/vergil-aeneid/vergil-aeneid-iv-630-658