Vergil, Aeneid II 730-751

Iamque propinquābam portīs omnemque vidēbar730

ēvāsisse viam, subitō cum crēber ad aurīs

vīsus adesse pedum sonitus, genitorque per umbram

prōspiciēns 'Nāte,' exclāmat, 'fuge, nāte; propinquant.

ārdentīs clipeōs atque aera micantia cernō.'

Hīc mihi nesciō quod trepidō male nūmen amīcum735

cōnfūsam ēripuit mentem. namque āvia cursū

dum sequor et nōtā excēdō regiōne viārum,

heu miserō coniūnx fātōne ērepta Creǖsa

substitit, errāvitne viā seu lapsa resēdit,

incertum; nec post oculīs est reddita nostrīs.740

nec prius āmissam respexī animumve reflexī

quam tumulum antīquae Cereris sēdemque sacrātam

vēnimus: hīc dēmum collēctīs omnibus ūna

dēfuit, et comitēs nātumque virumque fefellit.

Quem nōn incūsāvī āmēns hominumque deōrumque,745

aut quid in ēversā vīdī crūdēlius urbe?

Ascanium Anchīsēnque patrem Teucrōsque Penātīs

commendō sociīs et curvā valle recondō;

ipse urbem repetō et cingor fulgentibus armīs.

stat cāsūs renovāre omnīs omnemque revertī750

per Trōiam et rūrsus caput obiectāre perīclīs.

    Manuscripts: M 692-693, 794-722, 723-751 | P 692-713, 714-736, 737-751  

    735 ff.: Virgil purposely makes Creusa’s disappearance a mystery, telling it in such a way that it need not wholly discredit Aeneas, although Aeneas makes it very plain that he cannot forgive himself for his neglect. As he relives the scene in his narrative to Dido the pain of it is still with him, his sudden panic, his losing his way, his horrified discovery that Creusa was not at the rendezvous (Austin 1964).

    735: mihi: AG 381. nescio quod: = aliquod (Frieze). nescio quod (literally, “I know not what,” i.e. “some”) is a compound indefinite pronoun (Bennett) (AG 575d). trepido: agrees with mihi (Bennett). male: belongs to amicum, like male fida, 23 (Sidgwick). = inimicum (Bennett). numen: Aeneas cannot explain what it was which drove him to act as he did; he can only describe it as “some mysterious power"; “some power he knows not what” (Page).

    736: confusam eripuit: equivalent to confudit et eripuit (Frieze). confusam, though limiting mentem, is equivalent to a coordinate clause, — a frequent use of the Latin participle (Bennett). lit. “took away my confused sense,” i.e. took them away by confusing them (G-K). avia: scil. loca (H-H). “byways,” i.e. ways apart from (a) the main way (via) (F-B). the adjective avius is used in the neuter plural as a noun (Williams). cursu: lit. “at a run” (Page).

    737: To avoid capture he had to follow by-paths (G-K). nota...viarum: restates avia...sequor, “I leave the beaten paths (Knapp). regione: in its proper original sense of “line” or “direction” from rego “to guide” (Sidgwick).

    738-739: The disjunctive style is used very appropriately for Aeneas’ confused emotions in the face of this disaster for which he was primarily responsible (Williams). There are several irregularities here. fatone...erravitne: the two ne’s would strictly be attached to the verbs: and is the strict usage, though poetry has many varieties. The chief point is the use of the indicatives substitit, erravit, resedit in the indirect question: a looseness which is probably due to incertum on which they depend coming last: the sentence starts as though for a direct question, and the structure is modified. Also observe the unusual seu for an (Sidgwick). The irregular construction and arrangement are occasioned by deep emotion (Frieze) (AG 575c). Three possible ways of accounting for Creusa’s loss present themselves to Aeneas, either she stayed behind (substitit), or she lost her way (erravit via), or she sat down to rest (lassa resedit) (Carter).

    738: misero: could conceivably go with fato, though it would be rather harsh. It is far better to take it dat. agreeing with mihi, easily understood (Sidgwick). emphatic position (Comstock). fato: the significant word, as the attached -ne shows (Austin 1964).

    739: seu: used for an (Bennett). lassa: Virgil has fessus thirty-nine times, lassus three Virgil has surely chosen the older and more homely word to convey the full pathos of Creusa’s state as Aeneas imagines it: she could not walk a step further, she was so tired, as any traveller might be (Austin 1964).

    741-742: This want of care, though strange to us, agrees with the manners of the ancients, according to which Aeneas’ chief care would be for Iulus. Of course in following the legend Virgil must get rid of Creusa (G-K). prius...quam: for priusquam (Bennett).

    741: amissam: limits eam to be supplied as object of respexi (Bennett). animumve reflexi: a substitute for the common animum...adverti; sc. ad eam (Knapp).

    742: tumulum: = ad tumulum (H-H) (AG 426 2, 1). the rising on which the temple stood (Sidgwick). antiquae: transferred from the temple to the goddess (Bennett). plainly a transferred epithet (Knapp). to a Roman reader antiquae would also suggest the honour due to Ceres for her age-old bounty to mankind (Austin 1964). Cereris: the temple of Ceres (Frieze).

    743: note the pathetic juxtaposition collectis omnibus ) ( una defuit: she was the only one “reported missing” (Austin 1964). demum: used only with (1) pronouns as is idem or (2) adverbs: tum, ibi, sic, nunc, iam: “here at last,” “here and not before” (H-H). una: “she alone” (Bennett).

    744: fefellit: “was missed by,” lit. “escaped the notice of” (Comstock). in a slightly unusual sense, “gave them the slip,” “was missing” (Sidgwick). this is a very intense use of the word, combining the ideas of her absence having been unnoticed till then and of her deceiving the hopes of her friends who were expecting her (Williams).

    745: amens: causal; “in my madness” (Frieze). added as an apology for his blasphemy (Carter). -que: is joined, in scanning, with the following verse (Frieze). the close of a Hypermeter Verse (Bennett) (AG 612e N). Virgil...appears purposely to have employed the hypermeter here, in order to avoid the unpleasant sound produced by the four times repeated syllable umque, namely natumque, virumque, hominumque, deumque (Anthon).

    746: aut quid in: the use of three monosyllables, to form the first foot, is very rare in Virgil (F-B).

    748: curva: for cava (Frieze). curvus suggests shelter as well as shape (Austin 1964).

    749: urbem...armis: Hysteron Proteron (Bennett). fulgentibus armis: no longer seeking to avoid notice. His armor would have been brought along by some one of the servants (G-K).

    750: stat: “I purpose,” like sedet 660 (Sidgwick). supply mihi sententia (Frieze) (AG 545).

    751: caput: for vitam (Frieze). obiectare: frequentative (F-B).


    propinquō, āvī, ātus, 1, a. and n.: to bring near; render favorable, 10.254; to draw near, approach, w. dat., 2.730, et al. (propinquus)

    ēvādō, vāsī, vāsus, 3, n. and a.: to go out, forth, or up; ascend, 2.458; come in flight, 2.531; come forth from, w. the idea of danger surmounted; (w. acc.), to escape the dangers of, 2.731; escape, 5.689; 6.425; w. dat., 11.702; 9.99.

    crēber, bra, brum: (adj.), repeated, frequent, 2.731; coming thick and fast, 11.611; blowing fresh; fresh, 5.764; abounding in, full of, 1.85.

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

    prōspiciō, spexī, spectus, 3, n. and a.: to look forth, forward; to see afar, in the distance, descry, see, 3.648; to look forth or out upon, w. dat., 1.127. (prō and speciō, look)

    exclāmō, āvī, ātus, 1, n. and a.: to call or cry out, 2.733.

    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)

    clipeus, ī, m., and clipeum, ī, n.: a round shield; a shield, 2.227, et al.

    micō, micuī, 1, n.: to vibrate, dart, 2.475; flash, glitter, gleam, 1.90; tremble, quiver, 10.396.

    nesciō, īvī or iī, ītus, 4, a.: not to know, to be ignorant of, 1.565; w. object clause, 2.735, et al. (nē and sciō)

    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.

    cōnfūsus, a, um,: mingled, confused, promiscuous, 6.504; bewildered, confounded, 12.665. (cōnfundō)

    āvius, a, um: pathless, 2.736; devious, unapproachable, 12.480; that cannot be tracked, inaccessible, eluding pursuit, 11.810; subst., āvium, iī, n., a devious, inaccessible place, or way, 9.58.

    excēdō, cessī, cessus, 3, n.: to go out or away; depart, 6.737; flee from, 1.357; withdraw from, 5.380; retire, 9.789.

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

    Creūsa, ae, f.: the wife of Aeneas, and daughter of Priam, 2.562.

    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.

    lassus, a, um: (adj.), faint, tired, wearied, 2.739.

    resideō, sēdī, 2, n.: to be or remain seated; remain behind, 2.739; encamp, 8.503. (re- and sedeō)

    incertus, a, um: (adj.), uncertain, 2.740; wavering; fickle, 2.39; doubtful, 3.7; undistinguished, base, 11.341.

    reflectō, flexī, flexus, 3, a. and n.: to bend back; bend, 11.622; twist back, 10.535; change, 10.632; animum reflectere, to turn one's thoughts to any object; think of, recollect, 2.741.

    sacrātus, a, um: holy, 3.371. (sacrō)

    dēmum: (adv.), at length, at last, 1.629; at least, indeed, especially. (dē with n. superl. ending -mum, hence, perhaps meaning downmost)

    dēsum, fuī, esse, irreg. n.: to be absent, 7.678; to be wanting or missing, 2.744; fail, be wanting, lacking, 10.378. (deest, deeram, deero, etc., often pronounced and sometimes spelled dest, etc.)

    incūsō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to bring a cause or case against any one; to accuse, reproach, blame, 2.745; without object, upbraid, complain, 1.410. (1. in and causa)

    āmēns, entis: out of one’s mind or senses; amazed, beside one’s self, frantic, mad, furious, 2.314; 4.203; distracted, 3.307.

    ēvertō, vertī, versus, 3, a.: to upturn, 1.43; overthrow, demolish, destroy, 2.603.

    crūdēlis, e: adj. (crūdus), unfeeling, ruthless, cruel, inhuman, 2.124; relentless, 1.547; unnatural, 6.24; mortal, deadly, 2.561; bloody, 1.355; bitter, 1.361.

    Ascanius, iī, m.: Ascanius, son of Aeneas, and traditional founder of Alba Longa, 1.267.

    Anchīsēs, ae, m.: son of Capys and Themis, and father of Aeneas by Venus, 2.687, et al.

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

    commendō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to commit, consign, intrust, 2.748. (com- and mandō)

    curvus, a, um: (adj.), curved, bent, bending, 2.51; winding, 2.748; crooked.

    vallēs, is, f.: a valley, dell, dale, ravine, vale, 1.186, et al.

    recondō, didī, ditus, 3, a.: to place again; put back, up, or away; hide, conceal, 1.681; bury, 10.387; bury in oblivion, 5.302.

    fulgēns, entis: gleaming, flashing, 2.749; glowing, bright, 9.614. (fulgeō)

    renovō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to renew; revive, suffer again, 2.3; brave, risk, dare again, 2.750.

    revertō, 3, n., and revertor, versus sum, 3, dep. n.: to turn back; go, come back, return, 3.101.

    obiectō, āvī, ātus, 1, intens. a.: to throw towards, before, or against; to expose to, 2.751. (obiciō)

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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.