Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

fecisti me cernere : caused me to see,' a rare construction instead of fecisti ut cernerem ; cf. Ov. Her. 17. 174 illum forma timere facit, Cic. Br. 38 actio tales oratores videri facit quales ipsi se videri volunt; Pub. Sch. Lat. Gr. 8 166.

539. patrios] Emphatic: the 'defilement' is not due to the mere contact with a dead body, but to the fact that it was the dead body of a son.

540. satum quo...) 'whom falsely thou callest thy sire lit. 'from whom thou dost falsely state that thou art sprung.' His conduct showed him no true son of Achilles.

541. talis...] ‘so dealt with Priam though his foe': in hoste lit. 'in the case of a foe.' fidem : this word often means 'protection,’ as in the phrases in fidem et clientelam se committere, in alicuius fidem ac potestatem venire, di vostram fidem !, and here iura fidemque seems to mean 'claim to protection.'

542. erubuit] 'blushed at,' i.e. reverenced.' Many intransitive verbs thus acquire a secondary meaning and become transitive, cf. 31 stupet 'is amazed at’; 3. 394 horresce 'shudder at’; 3. 648 tremisco ; and so exire, evadere='escape from,' 5. 438 n. ; 6. 177 festino “perform hurriedly,' 517 euantes orgia celebrating with the cry euoe.'

After Achilles had slain Hector, Priam went to beg the dead body and it was restored to him.

544. sine ictu] The spear struck the shield of Pyrrhus, but too feebly to pierce it and ‘strike' him-'ineffectually hurled his unwarlike missile.'

545. rauco] 'hollow-sounding,' echoing.'

546. umbone pependit] The umbo is a projecting boss in the centre of the shield, intended to cause a weapon to glance aside. Here we must suppose that it is strengthened or covered with leather which the spear just pierces and in which it is caught so as to 'hang idly from the boss.'

547. referes] The future is used almost as an imperative (cf. “Thou shalt not steal ') : 'therefore (i.e. as thou tauntest me with cruelty) thou shalt bear thy tale....' As the phrase reddere epistolam describes duly delivering a letter, so referre is here duly to deliver a message entrusted to one, cf. 3. 170 n.

548. illi] Emphatic—to him take heed to tell my baneful deeds and that N. is no true son of his.'

552. dextraque...] 'and with his right raised high the flashing sword and buried it to the hilt in his side.' For extulit cf. 458 n. and for lateri 19 n.

me.

554. Priami fatorum] The 'fate of Priam' became proverbial as an instance of a great reverse of fortune : cf. Arist. Eth. 1. 10. 14 Iplauikai túxam. The pathos and simplicity of these closing words deserve attention.

555. sorte tulit] 'by fate befell him.' Cf. 600 tulerint ; 4. 679; 5. 356 me fortuna...tulisset.

556. populis terrisque] Abl. of the instrument: 'once by so many (subject) peoples and lands exalted (to be) the lord of Asia.' The nunerous subject peoples and lands raise him to the proud position in which he can be described as lord of Asia’: by making a slight pause after superbum the meaning becomes clear. Others render 'once for so many peoples...the haughty lord of Asia.'

557. iacet...] Virgil must surely in writing this have had before his mind the fate of Pompey.

559—566. The sight recalls to my mind my own deserted. father, and I remember the danger of my own household. Looking round I find that all my comrades have disappeared.

559. tum primum] Hitherto he had felt the courage of despair ; “but then first a horrible dread stood round about

Observe how the dread' is spoken of not as an inward feeling but as a real external presence, cf. Ezekiel vii. 18 “horror shall cover them.'

561. aequaevum] ‘of like age' with Anchises.

563. direpta domus] ‘my home plundered': the picture of his house as already plundered presented itself to his imagination in his fear. It had not been actually plundered. domüs et: cf. 5. 521 n.

565. saltu] Cf. 323 n. Translate: “and with a bound have flung their bodies to the ground (i.e. from the roof) or have let them drop fainting into the flames.'

567—633. 1 chance to see Helen hiding at the entrance of the temple of Vesta, where she had taken refuge fearing the wrath both of the Trojans and the Greeks. A passionate desire came over me to slay her as I thought of her returning in queenly state to Sparta while my country lay in ashes. 'Surely,' I was saying to myself, 'vengeance demands that I should kill even a woman,' when suddenly my goddess mother revealed herself to me in all her heavenly beauty, and rebuked my wrath, reminding me of the hazardous position of my father, my wife, my son. * Not Helen' she said but heaven causes the fall of Troy :- look, for I open thine eyes, and see where Neptune and Juno and Pallas, ay, and the great Father himself are busy with the work of destruction. Away! I will guide thee safe to thy home.' She vanished, and I looked and saw that it was even as she had said ; I saw the awful forms of the destroying deities, I saw all Troy sink into the flames, and then I make my way homewards.

Lines 567—588 are found in very few good MSS., and are said by Servius to have been written by Virgil but omitted by Varius and Tucca, his literary executors, when editing the Aeneid after his death. It is an objection to them that a different account is given of Helen's action 6. 511-527, where she is described as guiding the Greeks, but in an unfinished and unrevised poem, in which incidents are borrowed from many sources, such discrepancies are natural. The question of style depends much on individual judgment, but Fox (quoted by Henry 2. 277) justly says, 'If the lines are spurious they are the happiest imitation of Virgil I ever saw. Moreover in the speech of Venus 594 seems a clear reference to 575, and 601 to the description of Helen, and to be difficult of explanation if this passage be struck out.

567. iamque adeo] Virgil frequently places adeo thus second in a clause to strengthen the preceding word : here it emphasises the transition in the narrative, which is marked by iamque, as being an important one. Cf. 5. 268 iamque adeo donati omnes; 5. 864; 3. 203 tres adeo ; 4. 96 n. nec me adeo; 4. 533 sic adeo insistit ; 6. 498 vix adeo.

super separated by tmesis from eram.

570. erranti] As Aeneas only descends at 632 we must suppose him still on the roof : it is on the roof that he is wandering and casting his glance everywhere over all things'in vague uncertainty what to do, when he sees Helen.

571. illa sibi... praemetuens] The rare word praemetuo suggests two ideas, (1) fear of a thing, here of the hostile Trojans etc.,' (2) a desire to take precautions against the evil anticipated (in which case it takes a dative of the person on whose behalf the 'cautious fear' is shown); cf. Caes. B. G. 7. 49 Caesar praemetuens suis.

Here it has both constructions, for sibi does not go with infestos but with praemetuens, its position being due to the Latin tendency to bring pronouns together-'She in cautious fear for herself, yes, fearing the hatred of the Trojans....'

573. Erinys] So Aeschylus calls Helen νυμφόκλαυτος 'Ερινύς (Ag. 749).

Some say

574. invisa] This word may either be (1) the participle of invideoʻshe was crouching a hateful being,' or (2) from in and visus—she was crouching (so as to be) unseen.' Virgil's use of the word 601, 647 = 'hateful' is strongly in favour of the former meaning: moreover it is very harsh to describe her as sitting unseen at the very moment she is discovered, whereas the description of her as 'hateful' naturally precedes the outburst of hate described in the next line.

575. exarsere...] 'the fire kindled in my soul’; cf. Ps. xxxix. 3 'while I was musing the fire burned ; then spake I with my tongue.'

ira: 'angry longing'; hence the inf. ulcisci, cf. 10 n.

576 sceleratas poenas : 584 feminea poena : 585 merentes (or merentis) poenas. Of these three phrases following so closely on one another, the second alone is clear, for feminca poena is certainly taking vengeance on a woman.' that similarly sceleratas p. can mean 'vengeance on the guilty and that sumpsisse merentes poenas can=s. poenas merentes ut sumantur, to have exacted vengeance deserving to be exacted.' Others maintain that 'guilty vengeance' cannot mean 'vengeance on guilt' but is='sacrilegious vengeance,' i.e. on a suppliant at the altar, while in 585 they read merentis and render ' vengeance on one who deserved it,' cf. 229 merentem. It would seem that Virgil must have altered this passage on revision.

577. scilicet] 'doubtless, of course, marking strongly the indignant bitterness of the words which follow. The sentence is really affirmative in form, and its interrogative character is imparted to it by the tone in which it is uttered. Conington renders 'So she is to see Sparta again in safety ?'

579. coniugium] 'wedlock' and so her husband,' cf. 11. 270. patres=parentes : apparently only Tyndarus the father of Helen was alive, and she had only one daughter Hermione, but Virgil rhetorically exaggerates Helen's happi

ness.

580. ministris] The captive Trojan women would become her 'servants.

581. occiderit] The Future Perfect is often used to describe an event which precedes an event described by the simple Future. Thus you say ego veniam cum tu discesseris; put as a question this becomes egone veniam cum tu discesseris?, and, if this sentence is broken up into two indignant contrasted clauses, it becomes egone veniam ? tu discesseris? Translate 'Shall it be for this (i.e. that this result might follow) that Priam has fallen by the sword ?' Cf. 4. 590 ibit... et inluserit ?="shall he go after mocking ?'

Wagner notices the balance of the three questions aspiciet ? ibit? videbit? with the three questions occiderit? arserit? sudarit? and that they correspond to one another in inverse order ; 3. 4 her home happy, my king murdered ; 2. 5 she in triumph, Troy in flames ; 1. 6 she safe at Sparta, the Dardan coast reeking with blood.

585. nefas] ‘guilt,' put with great force for a guilty creature,' cf. Hor. Od. 1. 15. 21 Laertiaden, exitium tuce genti, where the son of Laertes, ruin to thy race' is much more forcible than 'ruinous to thy race' would be.

exstinxisse laudabor: the word laudabor is here=cum laude dicar and so is followed by an infinitive.

586. animumque...] 'and it shall be my joy to have filled my soul with avenging fire (or ‘fury ') and to have satisfied the ashes of my kindred.'

Nettleship instead of flammae prints faman, and marks the passage as corrupt. He says that flammae is a late correction : it is however an excellent one, and rightly accepted by most editors, nor is there anything to object to in the passage. Explere is not elsewhere followed by a genitive, but verbs and adjectives expressing fulness are commonly so followed and 1. 215 we have inplentur Bacchi. The expression 'avenging flame' is vigorous and perfectly clear (cf. 575 ignes), the ideas of 'fire' and 'fury' being closely akin, cf. Jeremiah xxi. 12 'lest my fury go out like fire,' Lam. ii. 4 'poured out fury like fire.' With satiasse it is clear that some such idea as 'with vengeance' is easily supplied : the dead are naturally thought of as hungering for vengeance and needing to be 'fed full of it.

Doubtless the whole style of the passage is bold, but this is exactly what it ought to be: the 'wild and whirling words' (iactabam, cf. 1. 102 n.) mark the 'frenzy of his soul' (furiata mente).

588. ferebar] ‘I was rushing (to slay her).'
590. refulsit] 'shone out’: cf. 1. 402 n.

591. confessa deam] Not for confessa se deam esse, but deam is boldly put as the direct acc. after confessa'acknowledging (i.e. revealing) the goddess.'

qualisque... : 'beauteous and stately as she ever appears to the dwellers in heaven': not merely superior beauty but superior size always characterises the ancient gods and heroes. Cf. 1. 752 1. ; 5. 241 n.

« PreviousContinue »