cWben Aeneas, in his wanderings after leaving Troy, arrives at Carthage in north Africa, a banquet is held in his honor by Dido, the beautiful queen of the newly founded city. At her request, Aeneas tells of the capture of Troy by the Greeks and of his subsequent adventures. The following is his description of how Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, breaks into the palace of Priam, the Trojan king.
Vestibulum ante ipsum primoque in limine Pyrrhus exsultat telis et luce coruscus aena: 470
qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus, frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat, nunc, positis novus exuviis nitidusque iuventa, lubrica convolvit sublato pectore terga text P. Vergili Maronis Opera, ed. R. A. B. Mynors
(Oxford Classical Texts, 1969) meter hexameter [§mi]
vestibü|l(um) änt(e) ¡p|süm || pri|möqu(e) in | limine | Pyrrhüs exsül|tät te|lis || et | lüce cö|rüscüs ä|enä
469 Vestibulum -1 n, entrance hall; the first phrase is more closely defined by prlmö in limine, lit., on the first [part of the] threshold (llmen liminis n.), trans, on the edge of the threshold—Pyrrhus (-1 m.) is about to break down the door.
470 exsultat historic pres. [§g6o] of exsultö -äre swagger—later uses of this idiom are not noted; tells and lüce aenä abl. of respect [§G46] with coruscus, lit., shining with respect to [his] weapons and [their] bronze light—tells et lüce form a hendiadys [§g 96], trans, shining with the bronze gleam of his weapons.
471 qualis lit,, of what sort, rel. adj. of quality agreeing with coluber (colubri m. snake)—the construction of the simile is somewhat obscured by the word order; lit., of what sort [is] a snake when ..., but trans, just as when a snake ...; in lücem (toward the light [of day]) is placed here for emphasis but is to be taken with convolvit ... terga (1. 474) and refers to the snake's movement from its hole after hibernation; mala grämina harmful plants (grämen gräminis n.); pastus (pascö -ere) here has the active sense having eaten.
47a quem (antecedent coluber) is postponed [§g4]; frigida ... brüma the cold winter (brüma -ae f.); tumidus swollen—before hibernating, the snake had gorged itself to survive the winter. 473 positis ... exuviis abl. absolute [§G49], trans, after shedding [its] skin (exuviae -ärum f.pl.); novus here fresh; nitidus iuventa shining with youth (instrumental abl. [§G47]; iuventa -ae f.)—it is as if the snake is reborn. 474f. lübrica ... terga [its] slippery back (pi. for sg. [§053]; tergum -1 n.); convolvö -ere roll; sublätö pectore abl. absolute [§g 49], lit., breast (pectus pectoris n.) having been raised (suffero -ferre)—the snake, lifting its head and the part of its body immediately below (here called pectus), advances with a writhing movement;
arduus ad solem, et Unguis micat ore trisulcis. una ingens Periphas et equorum agitator Achillis, armiger Automedon, una omnis Scyria pubes succedunt tecto et flammas ad culmina iactant. ipse inter primos correpta dura bipenni limina perrumpit postisque a cardine vellit aeratos; iamque excisa trabe firma cavavit robora et ingentem lato dédit ore fenestram. apparet domus intus et atria longa patescunt; apparent Priami et veterum penetralia regum, armatosque vident stantis in limine primo.
it has emerged from its hole and is now arduus ad sôlem (rearing up to the sun); linguls ... trisulcis with a three-forked tongue (pi. for sg. [§C353]; instrumental abl. [§g47]); micô -are flash; ore abl. of place from which [§g 3 g] from [its] mouth.
476f. una functions as an adverb, trans, together (i.e., with Pyrrhus); Periphâs Periphantis m. a Greek warrior; agitator (agitâtôris m. driver) is in apposition [§g 52] to Automedôn (Automedontis m.); Achillis gen. sg. of Achilles (Achillis m.), the greatest of the Greek warriors, who had been killed some time before the capture of Troy; armiger armigerï m. armor-bearer (i.e., to Pyrrhus); una (1. 477) as in the previous line; Scyrius adj. of Scyrus -i f. Scyros (a small island in the northern Aegean Sea, birthplace of Pyrrhus); pùbës pubis f. force (i.e., of men).
478 Take succêdunt (succëdô -ere + dat. move up to) with tectô (dat. sg. of tectum -i n. building); culmen culminis n. roof, iactô -are toss.
479ff. ipse i.e., Pyrrhus; correptâ ... bipenni abl. absolute [§g 49], lit., ax (bipen-nis bipennis f.) having been snatched (corripiô -ere); take dùra (stout) with limina, which, by metonymy [§g 97], here means door, i.e., the double door at the entrance to the palace; perrumpô -ere break through; postis ... aeratos the bronze-clad rails (postis postis m.), i.e., the upper and lower horizontal rails of the door, onto each of which a hinge pin (cardô cardinis m.) was fitted (cf. Propertius Elegies 4.8.49, page 114)—in addition to splitting the door, Pyrrhus'ax wrenches (vellô -ere) the rails from their pins (cardine sg. for pi. [§g 53]), but the door continues to stand; excisa trabe abl. absolute [§G49], lit., a panel (i.e., of the door; trabs trabis f.) having been cut through (excïdô -ere); firma ... rôbora the solid oak (pi. for sg. [§053]; rôbur rôboris n.); cavô -âre make a hole in—Pyrrhus cuts through a panel and so makes a hole in the door, trans, he made a hole in the solid oak by cutting through a panel; làtô ... ore abl. of description [§G44] with a wide opening; dédit (dô dare) he made; fenestra -ae f. window.
483 appàreô -ere be visible; intus adv. inside; àtria longa long hall (pi. for sg. [§G53]; atrium -il n.); patescô -ere be disclosed.
484 Priamus -ï m. Priam, the king of Troy; penetràle penetràlis n. here chamber.
485 armâtôs ... stantis armed men standing (i.e., the Greeks) in limine prïmô (cf. 1. 469); the understood subject of vident is Priam and the other Trojans inside the palace.
at domus interior gemitu miseroque tumultu miscetur, penitusque cavae plangoribus aedes femineis ululant; ferit aurea sidera clamor, turn pavidae tectis matres ingentibus errant amplexaeque tenent postis atque oscula figunt. 490 instat vi patria Pyrrhus; nec claustra nec ipsi custodes sufferre valent; labat ariete crebro ianua, et emoti procumbunt cardine postes, fit via vi; rumpunt aditus primosque trucidant immissi Danai et late loca milite complent. 495
<-: Vergil Aeneid 2.469-495
486 interior inner; gemitü (gemitus -üs m. wailing)... tumultü (tumultus -üs m.
uproar) instrumental abl. [§G47]. 487F. miscëtur is in confusion; penitus adv. from within; cavae ... aedês hollow rooms (aedes aedis f.)—cavae suggests high ceilings, which would have produced a loud echo; plangoribus ... fëmineïs instrumental abl, [§G 47], lit., with female laments (plangor plangôris m.), trans, with the lamentations of women; ululó -are howl; ferió -Ire strike; aureus golden; sidus slderis n. star; clamor clâmôris m. clamor—the lamentations reach the heavens.
489 pavidus frightened; tectis ... ingentibus abl. of place where [§g 38] in the huge building (pi. for sg. [§g53]).
490 postis (here, by metonymy [§g97], doors) is accusative after both amplexae (perf. pple. of amplector -ârï) and tenent, trans, and they embraced and clung to the doors; osculum -I n. kiss; figo -ere here plant—the women are bidding farewell to the home they will soon be leaving.
491 insto -are press on; vi patria abl. of manner [§045], lit., with paternal force, i.e., with the. same force that characterized his father, Achilles; claustrum -I n. bar—horizontal bars were fastened on the inside of doors to secure them.
492 sufferô -ferre withstand; valeô -ère be [sufficiently] strong; labô -àre give way; ariete (three syllables) crëbrô instrumental abl. [§g47], lit., with frequent battering ram (ariës arietis m.), trans, with frequent blows from a battering ram.
493 iânua (-ae f.) is the front double door already mentioned and the postés are its rails, which have already been wrenched from their pins—this is mentioned again in the phrase êmôtî ... cardine (dislodged (ëmoveô -ëre) from [their] pins (sg. for pi. [§g53], abl. of separation [§G4o])); now the claustra (1. 491), which have still been holding the rails up, give way and the rails collapse (prôcumbô -ere).
494í. fit via vl a way is made by violence (instrumental abl. [§g47]); rumpô -ere here force; aditûs pl. for sg. [§053] (aditus -üs m. entrance); primos are the front line of the Trojan guards; trucîdô -àre slaughter; immissi lit., having been admitted (immittô -ere), but trans, after gaining entry; Dana! -drum m.pl. another name for Greeks; lâtë adv. over a wide area; milite instrumental abl. [§G47], sg. for pi. [§g53]; complet) -ëre fill.
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