Vergil, Aeneid II 57-76

Ecce, manūs iuvenem intereā post terga revīnctum

pāstōrēs magnō ad rēgem clāmōre trahēbant

Dardanidae, quī sē ignōtum venientibus ultrō,

hoc ipsum ut strueret Trōiamque aperīret Achīvīs,60

obtulerat, fīdēns animī atque in utrumque parātus,

seu versāre dolōs seu certae occumbere mortī.

Undique vīsendī studiō Trōiāna iuventūs

circumfūsa ruit certantque inlūdere captō.

Accipe nunc Danaüm īnsidiās et crīmine ab ūnō65

disce omnēs.

Namque ut cōnspectū in mediō turbātus, inermis

cōnstitit atque oculīs Phrygia agmina circumspexit,

'Heu, quae nunc tellūs,' inquit, 'quae me aequora possunt

accipere? aut quid iam miserō mihi dēnique restat,70

cui neque apud Danaōs usquam locus, et super ipsī

Dardanidae īnfēnsī poenās cum sanguine poscunt?'

Quō gemitū conversī animī compressus et omnis

impetus. Hortāmur fārī quō sanguine crētus,

quidve ferat; memoret quae sit fīdūcia captō.75

[ille haec dēpositā tandem formīdine fātur:]

    Manuscripts: M 57-59, 60-76 | P 57-69, 70-76 | R 57-72

    Some shepherds bring in a Greek who has purposely allowed himself to be made prisoner: we, pitying his feigned distress, ask his story (Page).

    57–59: Ecce…trahēbant: = Ecce intereā Dardanidae pastōrēs trahēbant iuvenem revīnctum manūs post terga (Pharr). ecce: introducing a new element into the story (Pharr); a word that recalls the narrator’s astonishment on the fatal evening (Horsfall). manūs…revīnctum: “his hands tied behind his back.” Manūs, accusative of specification / respect (AG 397) (“the Greek accusative”) with the middle voice participle revīnctum (Pharr). The use of the accusative after a passive participle is very widely extended in the Augustan poets, no doubt in imitation of Greek middle voice (Sidgwick).

    58: rēgem: supply Priamum (Pharr). magnō clāmōre: ablative of manner (AG 412) (Pharr). trahēbant: “came dragging” (Comstock).

    59: Dardanidae: common synonym for Troianī; used with no special point here (Horsfall);  masculine gender, though of the 1st declension, as are many words borrowed from the Greek (C-R); adjectival with pastōrēs (Carter). quī…ultrō: = [iuvenem] quī ultrō obtulerat sē ignōtum [pastōribus venientibus]; his name was Sinon (Pharr); “who had thrust himself before them…” (Storr). Join quī with obtulerat; it introduces a clause explanatory of the clause preceding (H-H). ignōtum: “a stranger” (Comstock). venientibus: supply eīs, “as they approached him” (Comstock). ultrō: “presented himself designedly in their path” (Howson); “of his own accord” (Comstock); take with obtulerat, not with venientibus (C-R).

    60: hoc ipsum: Explained by the second half of the line: “this very thing” which Sinon was plotting was “to open Troy to the Greeks”; his being brought before the king was merely incidental (Page). strueret, aperīret: subjunctive verbs in a purpose clause (AG 531) (Pharr). -que: “and thereby” (Comstock).

    61: fidēns animī: “confident in his spirit / soul / heart” (Page, Comstock). Animī is a survival of the locative use (AG 429) (Sidgwick). Vergil is very fond of using animī after adjectives: āmēns animī (4.203), inops animī (4.300), īnfēlix animī (4.529), furēns animī (5.202) (Carter). in utrumque: “for either fate”, “for either result”; explained by the infinitives of the next line (C-R).

    62: versāre dolōs: literally “to keep wiles turning,” “to practice shifts and wiles” (Page); “to work his scheme” (Comstock). Much trickery might be needed to induce the Trojans first to spare him, then to introduce the horse into the city; hence the frequentative verb versāre and the plural noun dolōs (C-R). versāre, occumbere: dependent on parātus (G-K), in apposition with utrumque (Pharr): prepared either to succeed in his stratagem, or to pay the price of failure—a certain death (Storr). certae mortī: dative object of the compound verb occumbere (AG 370) (Pharr).

    63: vīsendī studiō: “with the desire of seeing [him]” (Chase); “in their eagerness to see (the sight) (C-R); gerund (AG 502), objective genitive (AG 348) with studiō, ablative of cause (AG 404) (Pharr).

    63–64: iuventūs…ruit certantque: the change from a singular verb to a plural is natural and necessary (Page): the singular ruit, because they (iuventūs, a collective noun) rush as one mass; the plural certant, because they are regarded as acting individually (C-R); cf. stupet et mīrantur (2.31–32) (Pharr).

    64: circumfūsa: “crowding round” (Comstock). certant inlūdere: = certātim illūdunt (Storr): “they vie with each other in jeering at / taunting…” (H-H) (Chase). certāre “to contend” is allowed to take an infinitive as if it were a verb expressing “wish” or “desire,” because it means “am emulous and eager to,” “strive emulously to.” In place of the far more common ut illūdant (H-H), the infinitive is so convenient a form, and the final dactyl or trochee which it affords so usefully metrically, that the poets continually employ it where it would be impermissible, in prose, to extend, complete, or fully explain the meaning of a verb (Page). captō: dative with the compound verb inlūdere (AG 370) (Pharr).

    65: accipe nunc: “learn now” (G-K); “hear” (Comstock). Addressed to Dido, as a hint of her presence (Horsfall). Dido had said (1.753): age et ā primā dīc, hospes, origine nobis / īnsidiās…Danaum, “tell us, O guest, from the beginning of the treachery of the Greeks”; Aeneas now assents to her request (H-H). crīmine ab ūnō: = ab ūnīus crīmine (Storr): “learn from a single act of guilt what all of them [i.e., the Greeks] are” (Conington).

    66: an incomplete line (Pharr). Vergil died before he finished the Aeneid. According to the grammarian Donatus, the poet on his deathbed desired that the poem should be burned, but ultimately left it in the hands of Varius and Tucca, his literary testators, to edit. There are in all 58 incomplete verses (hemistichs); in this book they are common: vss. 234, 346, 468, 614, 720, and 767 (H-H). omnēs: = Danaōs.

    67: namque: the Greek γάρ introducing a narrative: it may be omitted in English (Page). ut: “as,” its usual meaning with the indicative (AG 543) (Pharr). turbātus: “abashed” (Comstock), “confused,” showing a want of self-possession (H-H); a pretense on the part of Sinon (Pharr). It seems needless to inquire whether Sinon’s emotion is altogether feigned. Aeneas is describing him as he saw him, first showing signs of utter prostration, then partially recovering himself (line 76), though still trembling (line 107). Inermis comes in naturally, as he is in the midst of a furious and armed populace (Conington). conspectū in mediō: “in the center of a staring throng” (Howson); “in the midst of our gaze” (C-R), i.e., in the midst of them, so that standing in a circle around him they could all see him (Carter).

    68: Phrygia: = Troiāna, Troy being a part of Phrygia Minor (Chase). agmina: suggesting a contrast with inermis of line 67 (C-R). circumspexit: “surveyed” (Comstock). The spondaic close, with its slow movement, helps the reader to visualize the slow-turning glance of Sinon as he looks over the crowd (Pharr).

    69–70: quae tellūs: supply potest mē accipere (Pharr). nunc…iam…dēnique: observe the emphasis (Page). nunc: “at the present moment” (H-H). iam dēnique: “now in my extremity” (Comstock); “now at last, after all” (Conington). quid restat: “what course is left” (Comstock). miserō mihi: a key word in Sinon’s self-portrait (79, 131), and a neat and natural placing for the words in the hexameter (Horsfall).

    71: cui neque locus: supply est; dative of possession (AG 373) (Pharr). super ipsī: take super as an adverb, “besides” (Pharr), “moreover even” (Comstock); i.e., even the Trojans whom I have come to assist (Howson). They might have been expected to welcome a deserter (for he had given himself up voluntarily) (C-R). Ipsī probably is not to be pressed, as though the Trojans might be expected to receive an outcast from the Greeks; it seems rather to have the force of etiam (Conington).

    72: infēnsī: “with threatening manner” (Comstock). The Trojans would naturally be rushing on Sinon, or at any rate menacing him with their weapons (Conington).  poenās cum sanguine poscunt: = poenās et sanguinem poscunt (Storr). A sort of hendiadys (Storr), the two demands being one, viewed from two aspects, abstract and concrete mixed (Sidgwick).

    73: quō gemitū: “by this piteous appeal” (Comstock); the coordinating use of the relative pronoun (AG 308) (C-R). conversī…impetus: = conversī [sunt nostrī] animī et compressus [est noster] impetus, “our feelings” or “minds” (Chase) were turned (from anger to pity) (Carter) and our violence was stayed” (Sidgwick). et: notice the unusual position of the conjunction (C-R).

    74: impetus: “thought of violence” (Comstock), “act of violence” (Conington). hortāmur fārī…: supply eum as the accusative subject of farī (Pharr). quō sanguine crētus: supply sit, subjunctive in an indirect question; quō sanguine (= quō genere (Carter)) is ablative of source / origin (AG 403a) (Pharr): “of what race are you?” (Page); “sprung from what blood?” (H-H).

    75: quidve ferat: quid = quem nuntium; subjunctive in an indirect question (AG 575): “or what he has to say” (Pharr); “or what news / information (Chase) he brings us” (Storr); “or what he offers” as advantage or advice to us (Sidgwick). memoret: supply ut, indirect command (AG 588) representing an imperative in direct discourse, dependent on hortāmur (Pharr): “we urge him to tell us…” (Howson). quae sit fīdūcia captō: “what makes a captive so bold” (Comstock); “what confidence our captive has,” i.e., what he relies on that he has come into our hands: what good he can do us to ensure his safety (Sidgwick). He had voluntarily given himself up (line 59), and had just spoken as though the Trojans might have been expected to shelter him (lines 71, 72); he is now asked on what hope of being spared he had been depending (C-R).

    76: This verse is not considered genuine (C-R), as it appears to have been inserted from 3.612. It is absent from the best MSS (Howson), and it is not noticed by Servius (Storr). It seems rather odd that Simon should “lay aside his fear” here, and be pavitāns in line 107 (Sidgwick). 


    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.

    intereā: (adv.), amid these things; meanwhile, in the meantime, 1.418, et al.

    post: (prep. w. acc., and adv. of place and time); (prep.), behind, 1.296; next to, 7.655; after, 5.626; (adv.), afterwards, then, next, 1.612; hereafter, 1.136.

    revinciō, vinxī, vinctus, 4, a.: to bind back, 2.57; bind fast, 3.76; bind around, wreathe, festoon, 4.459.

    pāstor, ōris, m.: one who feeds; herdsman, shepherd, 2.58. (pāscō)

    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.

    ignōtus, a, um: (adj.), unknown, 1.359; strange, 5.795; not well known, but little known, 11.527.

    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.

    ultrō: (adv.), to the farther side; furthermore, over and above, moreover, 2.145, et al.; even, 9.127; beyond the limit of necessity; uncompelled, unasked, unimpelled; apart from all external influences, of one's self, of one's own accord or motion, voluntarily, willingly; unprompted by any words on another's part, first, 2.372; 4.304; unaddressed, 10.606; promptly, 10.282; impetuously, 12.3. (cf. ulterior)

    struō, strūxī, strūctus, 3, a.: to place side by side or upon; to pile up; build, erect, 3.84; cover, load, 5.54; arrange, 1.704; like īnstruō, to form or draw out a line of battle, 9.42; (fig.), to plan, purpose, intend, 4.271; bring about, effect, 2.60. (rel. to sternō)

    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.

    Achīvī, ōrum or um: the Greeks, the Achaeans 2.102.

    fīdēns, entis: (adj.), trusting, bold, confident, w. abl., dat., or gen., freq. (fīdō)

    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)

    occumbō, cubuī, cubitus, 3, n.: to sink, fall upon; die, 1.97; meet, 2.62. (ob and cubō)

    vīsō, vīsī, vīsus, 3, intens. a.: to look at much; look at carefully, observe, see, 2.63; visit, 8.157. (videō)

    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)

    circumfundō, fūdī, fūsus, 3, a.: to pour around; to encompass, surround; (pass.), circumfundor, fūsus sum, (in middle signif.), to rush around, surround, 2.383; p., circumfūsus, a, um, surrounding, 1.586; gathering around, 6.666.

    ruō, ruī, rutus, 3, n. and a.: to fall with violence; tumble down, fall, freq.; fall in battle, 10.756; of the sun, go down, set, 3.508; rush forward, 2.64; of the chariot of Nox, hasten up; ascend, rise, 2.250; advance, 10.256; plunge, rush, 2.353; flee, 12.505; tremble, quake, 8.525; hasten, pass away, 6.539; cause to fall; cast down, 9.516; plow, 1.35; cast, throw up, 1.85; throw up or together, 11.211.

    inlūdō, lūsī, lūsus, 3, n. and a.: to play upon; w. dat.; (fig.), insult, mock, 2.64; set at naught, 4.591; injure, hurt; (w. acc.), insult, 9.634.

    Danaī, ōrum, m.: the Greeks, 2.327.

    īnsidiae, ārum, f.: a sitting down, or lying in ambuscade; an ambush, 11.783; snare, toil; plot, treachery, wile, 2.36; stealthy journey or enterprise, 9.237; artifice, stratagem, 2.421; personif. pl., Īnsidiae, ārum, Stratagem, 12.336. (īnsideō)

    cōnspectus, ūs, m.: a seeing or viewing; view, sight, 1.34; presence, 6.108; mediō in cōnspectū, in the midst of the gazing assembly. (cōnspiciō)

    inermis, e: unarmed; helpless, defenseless, 1.487, et al.

    Phrygius, a, um: Phrygian, Trojan, 1.381; subst., Phrygiae, ārum, f., Phrygian or Trojan women, 518. (Phryx)

    circumspiciō, spexī, spectus, 3, a. and n.: to look around; cast a glance round upon; survey, 2.68; look round and see, 12.896; observe, 3.517; look round for, look out, seek. (cīrcum and speciō, look)

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

    possum, potuī, posse, irreg. n.: to be able; can, 1.242, et al.; to avail, have influence, power, 4.382. (potis and sum)

    restō, restitī, 1, n.: to remain in place; to stand, stop; to be left, 2.142; remain, 1.556; remain for infliction, wait to be repeated, be in reserve, 10.29; w. abl., 1.679.

    ūsquam: (adv.), anywhere, 1.604; by any means, at all, 8.568.

    super: (adv.), above, 4.684, et al.; above, from above, 10.384; moreover, 4.606; besides, 1.29; more than enough, 2.642; remaining, surviving, left (with ellipsis of esse), 3.489, et al.; still (or above), 4.684; of time, in, during, 9.61.

    īnfēnsus, a, um: hostile, inimical, 5.587; fatal, destructive, 5.641; angry, furious, 2.72.

    gemitus, ūs, m.: a groaning; a groan, 3.39, et al.; sigh, 1.485; lamentation, 2.486; cry, 2.413; noise, roaring, 3.555. (gemō)

    comprimō, pressī, pressus, 3, a.: to press together; repress, check, restrain, stay, 2.73. (com- and premō)

    impetus, ūs, m.: an attack; a strong impulsion; pressure, impulse, impetus, 5.219; vehemence, violence, 2.74. (impetō, attack)

    memorō, āvī, ātus, 1, a.: to call to memory; mention, rehearse, relate, 1.8; say, speak, 3.182; name, 1.327; mention proudly, boast of, 5.392. (memor)

    fīdūcia, ae, f.: confidence, trust, reliance, assurance, hope, 2.75, et al. (fīdō)

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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.