Uergil's epic, the Aeneid, tells how the Trojan hero Aeneas leaves Troy after its capture by the Greeks and, after many trials, arrives in Italy to begin a settlement that is destined to develop into the Roman nation. Vergil's primary objectives in writing the Aeneid were to establish a foundation myth for Rome and to extol Augustus and the contemporary state, whose fortunes, after decades of civil war, Augustus had restored. However, the complex interplay between the poem's ostensible aims and Vergil's views on humanity and the human condition gives the Aeneid a depth of meaning and a relevance that transcend the period in which it was written.
Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris Italiam fato profugus Laviniaque venit litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram, text P. Vergili Maronis Opera, ed. R. A. B. Mynors
(Oxford Classical Texts, 1969) meter hexameter [§mi]
arma vi|rumque ca|no || Tro|iae qui | primus ab | oris Itali|am fa|to || profu|gus La|vlniaque | venit (Lavinia is pronounced la-vin-ya.)
1 Arma (arms) is used by metonymy [§G97] for wars; cano (tr.) I sing of—the notion that a poet sang his composition comes from early Greek epic poetry, when this was the normal practice; Troiae ... ab oris from the shores of Troy (Troia -ae f.); qui is postponed [§g4]; primus jirsi. 2f. Italiam ... Laviniaque ... litora acc. of motion toward [§g 13] to Italy (Italia -ae f.) and the coasts of Lavinium (lit., Lavinian coasts)—Lavinium was the name of Aeneas' first settlement in Italy; fato (abl. of cause [§G48]) profugus (-1 m.) an exile by fate (the phrase is in apposition [§G5a] to the subject)—Aeneas was fated to leave Troy and sail to Italy; venit perf. came; two phrases structured around the participles iactatus and passus (1. 5) are in apposition to the subject of the adjectival clause (qui, i.e., Aeneas), but for emphasis ille (that man) is added—this can be dropped in translation; take multum (here adv.) with iactatus (perf. pple. of iacto -are) having been much tossed about; et terris ... et alto abl. of place where [§g38] both on land (pi. for sg. [§g53]) and on the deep (altum -l n.). 4 vi (abl. of vis) superum (= superorum [§g 95]) through the violence of the gods (lit., upper gods)—for a Roman, there were two types of divinities, the super!, the upper gods, who controlled the world of the living, and the infer!, the lower gods, who ruled the dead; take saevae with Iunonis and memorem with iram, because of the unforgetting (i.e., obsessive) anger of fierce Juno (Iuno Iunonis f.)—Juno had supported the Greeks in the Trojan War and was therefore prejudiced against Aeneas; she was also concerned that her current project, the development of Carthage, might be affected by what was destined for Aeneas and his descendants.
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem 5
inferretque déos Latio; genus unde Latinum
Albanique patres atque altae moenia Romae.
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso quidve dolens regina deum tot volvere casus insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores 10
impulerit. tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
<s Vergil Aeneid i.i-n
5 having suffered (passus perf. pple. of patior pati) many things also (quoque) in war (lit., by war, abl. of cause [§g48]) as well (et); dum + subj, until; condo -ere establish (the subjunctive indicates what was to happen in the future); urbem i.e., Lavinium.
6 infero -ferre bring; deos [his] gods, i.e., the household gods (Penates) of Troy; Latio dat. of motion toward [§035] to Latium (Latium -(i)f n.); unde (which is postponed [§G4]) is here the relative adverb from which source, i.e., from Aeneas and those who established Lavinium with him; trans, with a new sentence From this source [arose] the Latin race
7 The initial settlement at Lavinium, near the west coast of central Italy, was moved farther inland by Aeneas' son Ascanius to Alba Longa (AlbanI patres (the Alban fathers) refers to the ruling families of the time); much later came the establishment of Rome (Roma -ae f.) itself.
8 Vergil follows Homer in supposing all his information comes from the Muse (Musa -ae f.), whom he here addresses—the nine muses were the divinities in charge of cultural matters; a poet often thought it unnecessary to call the muse he was addressing by her individual name; memora 2 sg. imp. act. memoro -are recount; causas (the reasons) is followed by an indirect question stating what has to be explained; quo numine laeso lit., through what divine power [of hers, i.e., of Juno] having been offended (laeso perf. pple. of laedo -ere)—Juno had numen (divine power) in several areas, e.g., as a war goddess and as goddess of childbirth; trans, through offense to what aspect of her divinity.
9ff. quidve dolens or grieving over what; regina deum (= deorum [§g95]) is the subject of impulerit (1. 11; 3 sg. perf. subj. act. impello -ere drive), which is followed grammatically by virum volvere (volvo -ere here suffer, go through) tot casus (casus -us m. misfortune), adire (aded adire here take on) totlabores; insignem pietate (abl. of cause [§g48j; pietas pietatis f.) distinguished by his piety— Vergil places heavy emphasis on this aspect of Aeneas' character; take tantaene (tantae + -ne (interr. particle)) with irae (pi. for sg. [§G53]) and supply sunt; animis caelestibus abl. of place where [§G38] in divine hearts (lit., minds).
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