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Virgil, Aeneid, 4.1–299


4. Commentary

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Avant Propos: The Set Text and the Aeneid

  • 20 Fans of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series may wish to compare the irony that the evil wizard Vold (...)

1For the most part, Aeneid 1–4, a third part of the epic overall, is set in Carthage. In the larger scheme of things, this detour via Africa appears to be an accident. After the extended proem (1.1–33), Virgil begins his narrative proper medias in res with Aeneas and his crew on their way from Sicily to the Italian mainland. Yet the sight of the Trojan refugees about to reach their final destination stirs the hero’s divine arch-enemy Juno, who already figured prominently in the extended proem, into action. The violent storm she unleashes with the help of the wind-god Aeolus does not end in the desired outcome (wrecking of the ships and mass drowning). But the Trojan fleet is blown well off course. When Neptune finally calms the cosmic commotion at 1.142, Aeneas and his men find themselves not in Italy, but near the recently founded city of Carthage in Northern Africa, ruled by Queen Dido, herself a recent exile from her native Tyre in Phoenicia. (In terms of geopolitics, the drift in the Aeneid tends to be from East to West.) There is irony to savour in the fact that Juno, who, in the proem, is presented as deeply worried about the future of her city Carthage (destined to be destroyed by Aeneas’ people, the Romans), sets up the enmity between the two cities by causing Aeneas’ tragic sojourn in Africa: thus are the inscrutable twists and turns of fate!20

  • 21 Compare Odysseus’ account of his travels at the court of Phaeacia at Odyssey 9–12 before his onward (...)
  • 22 For Aeneas as spin doctor in Aeneid 2 see Powell (2011).

2The tragedy of Dido unfolds over the course of the rest of Book 1 as well as Book 4. In between, Aeneas takes on the role of ‘internal narrator’ at the welcome banquet laid on by Dido. He recounts the fall of Troy and his flight from the burning city (Aeneid 2) and tells of his subsequent travels and travails until his arrival at Carthage (Aeneid 3).21 One of the interpretative challenges involved in reading an excerpt from Aeneid 4 is to see it in the context of what came before, especially in Book 1, and what follows after, especially in the remainder of Book 4. But you may also wish to ponder what the flashback in Aeneid 2 and 3, as well as explicit and implicit resonances of the Dido-episode in subsequent books of the epic, may have to contribute to our understanding of the set portion of text. For instance, Aeneas, in his account of the fall of Troy in Aeneid 2, makes much of the figure of Sinon, a treacherous Greek who persuades the gullible Trojans to breach their city walls to pull in the Wooden Horse; and in a sense, unbeknownst to him, Aeneas does something very similar in Carthage, employing his persuasive skills to gain entry into the heart of his hostess.22 The outcome is in each case the same: Troy and Carthage end up in flames, and Aeneas leaves a conflagration behind him at the end of both Aeneid 2 and Aeneid 4. Is he another Trojan horse?

  • 23 See especially 4.617–18: ... uideatque indigna suorum/ funera (‘let him see the wretched deaths of (...)

3Likewise, the ghost of Dido and her tragic suicide haunt subsequent books. A particular poignant instance is the meeting of Dido and Aeneas in the Underworld at Aeneid 6.440–76. Just as the shadow of Ajax at Odyssey 11.541–67, who sulks speechless when his mortal enemy, still alive, appears in the world of the dead and tries to engage him in conversation, Dido refuses to respond to our hero and moves away in fraught and dignified silence, joining the shade of her former husband Sychaeus. Another moment of similar emotive power comes in Aeneid 11, when Aeneas covers the dead body of Pallas, the only son of his guest friend Euander, who got killed by Turnus, with magnificent pieces of garment made by Dido (11.72–5) — not unlike the one, perhaps even the same, he is wearing at Aeneid 4.262–64 (which is part of the set passage and discussed in detail below). The death of Pallas is by far the worst catastrophe that Aeneas suffers in the course of the poem. It turns him into a beast of sorts, leads to his performance of human sacrifice during the funeral of his fallen charge, and motivates the final scene of the epic: Aeneas kills Turnus in a fit of rage upon seeing Pallas’sword-belt on his prostrate enemy, which instantly wipes away any thought of mercy. By evoking Dido as Aeneas bends over the dead body of Pallas, Virgil, among other things, subtly reminds us that the curse with which Dido sends Aeneas on his way at 4.590–629 is hitting home.23

4But the most crucial part of the poem for appreciating the set text is of course Book 1. It sets the stage. To recapitulate briefly what happened after Aeneas’ unplanned arrival in Africa, in the understanding that the following is no substitute for giving Aeneid 1 a quick (re-)read: Aeneas’ divine mother Venus, none too pleased at seeing her son tossed all over the Mediterranean by a vindictive Juno, seeks out Jupiter to protest. The father of the gods reassures his daughter and unrolls a bit of the scrolls of destiny for her benefit, revealing the impressive future that lies in store for her city of Rome. He also sends down Mercury to ensure that the Trojans will receive a friendly welcome (a passage discussed in more detail below: also our set text features a Mercurial descent from Mt. Olympus at the bidding of Jupiter, at 4.238–78). But Venus, whether still worried or, on the contrary, reassured and hence keen on some vindictive mischief, also decides to meddle. She devises a scheme to have Dido fall madly in love with Aeneas, which involves her son Cupid (Aeneas’ divine half-brother) impersonate Aeneas’ son (and Cupid’s nephew) Ascanius and, thus disguised, poison the queen during her welcoming cuddle with passionate desire for the Trojan hero. At the end of the Book, Carthaginians and Trojans settle down to a magnificent banquet, during which Aeneas tells the spellbound audience of their labours so far — an account Virgil reproduces in Books 2 and 3, where the narrative focus is thus inevitably squarely on Aeneas. But with the opening line of Book 4, the attention of the author switches decisively to Dido. Aeneid 4 is her book. And she owns her book like no other ‘secondary’ character. Even Turnus, the other principal adversary of Aeneas, does not dominate the narrative stretch granted to him in quite the same way. Dido truly is Aeneas’ most significant other — a subversive figure with the potential to derail his destiny, the foundation of Rome, and the history of the world. As Alessandro Schiesaro puts it:

  • 24 Schiesaro (2008), pp. 206–07.

Dido’s challenge to the ostensible ideology of the Aeneid is more radical than the specific alternative she posits to Aeneas’ itinerary: she stands in Virgil’s poem as the most powerful incarnation of a radically alternative world-view. Thrown on the shores of a potentially hostile land, welcomed (not without divine intervention) by a generous and attractive queen whose fate is in many respects parallel to his own, Aeneas is faced — for the first time — with a real alternative to his life’s business, the search of a new homeland for his displaced people. The false foundations which dotted his earlier wanderings , even the emotional encounter with Andromache’s pathetic (and pathological) solution to a similar problem — how can the defeated Trojans construct a new Troy? —, were temporary, limited, and patently unviable detours. Carthage is different. There he can become the co-regent, effectively the king, of a prosperous new land; his people can merge with the locals; royal succession would be guaranteed by Ascanius, or, down the line, by the child he will eventually conceive with Dido, the queen he has fallen in love with: we can glimpse, tantalizingly, a totally different world-history. The text is ready to acknowledge how much Aeneas is tempted by this unexpected scenario: coming to Carthage on Jupiter’s orders, Mercury finds him fundantem arces ac tecta novantem (260), forgetful (oblitus) of his reign and his mission (267).24

5The overall structure of Aeneid 4 is tripartite. Virgil marks the beginning of each section with the quasi-formulaic phrase at regina, which draws programmatic attention to the protagonist of the book (Dido, queen of Carthage) and the adversative (cf. at) role she plays in the narrative:

1 (At regina graui iamdudum saucia cura/ uulnus alit uenis...) –295.
296 (
At regina dolos (quis fallere possit amantem?)/ praesensit...) –503.
504 (
At regina, pyra penetrali in sede sub auras/ erecta ingenti taedis atque ilice secta/ intenditque locum sertis et fronde coronat/ funerea... (‘But the queen, when in the deepest recess of her home the pyre had been built skywards, enormous in size with pine logs and cut oak, hangs the place with garlands and crowns it with funeral boughs...’) –705.

  • 25 Quinn (1968), p. 135.

6As Quinn notes: ‘The book is the shortest of the twelve and the most dramatic in form. A tripartite structure is more clearly discernible than in the other books: lines 1–295 recount the beginning of the affair; lines 296–503, the alienation; lines 504–705, the end of the affair — Aeneas’ departure and Dido’s suicide.’25 He also notes that for each section the word following the phrase at regina (i.e. graui, dolos, pyra) ‘strikes the keynote of the ensuing action.’

Lines 1–8: Sleepless in Carthage

  • 26 The most striking use of at as a keynote has to be the opening of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass: it is t (...)

71–2: At regina graui iamdudum saucia cura/ uulnus alit uenis et caeco carpitur igni: the ‘at’ at the beginning startles. Rather than announcing a fresh start, the adversative force of the particle sets up a contrast to what immediately came before.26 To appreciate its full force, it is therefore necessary to recall how Book 3 ended (3.716–18):

Sic pater Aeneas intentis omnibus unus
fata renarrabat diuum cursusque docebat.
conticuit tandem factoque hic fine quieuit.

[Thus father Aeneas, with everyone listening eagerly, was alone recounting the destinies ordained by the gods and was teaching of his travels. At last he fell silent and, having come to a stop here, rested.]

  • 27 facto hic fine arguably refers both to the action in the poem (the deictic hic in a temporal sense: (...)

8This marks the end of Aeneas’ narrative of the fall of Troy and his subsequent odyssey, which covered two full books (Aeneid 2 and 3). There can be few more apposite uses of tandem (‘finally’, ‘at last’). Virgil gives the finish triple emphasis: conticuit, facto hic fine, quieuit.27 The silence that settles in has a funerary finality: the last event Aeneas has recounted before ceasing to speak is the death of his beloved father Anchises (3.708–11):

hic pelagi tot tempestatibus actus
heu! genitorem, omnis curae casusque leuamen,
amitto Anchisen; hic me, pater optime, fessum
deseris, heu! tantis nequiquam erepte periclis!

[Here I, who have been driven by so many storms of the ocean, lose, alas! my father Anchises, solace of every care and contingency; here, best of fathers, you desert me in my weariness, snatched, alas! from such great dangers all in vain.]

  • 28 Austin (1963), p. 25.

9The pathos is palpable — and chimes well with Dido’s own sense of abandonment and grief at the murder of her husband Sychaeus, which she voices at 4.15–29. Both characters are coping with traumatic bereavement when they meet, yet are forced to move on, driven by divine forces. Aeneas continues on his way to Italy; and Dido is compelled to re-experience erotic desire. At the end of Book 1, she had requested of her host a comprehensive account of his labours (1.753: a prima dic, hospes, origine nobis...; ‘Tell us, guest, from the first beginning....’), forcing Aeneas to relive his grief (2.3: ‘infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem...; ‘Unspeakable is the grief you bid me renew, o queen...’). He does so for two full books. But now, at the beginning of Book 4, it is Dido who is suffering from something that she cannot well put into speech, something infandum (see explicitly 4.85: ... infandum si fallere possit amorem, with note below). And thus the ‘at’, a pointed antithetical gesture across book boundaries, fittingly cancels any premature sense of closure. Whereas Aeneas has finally come to a momentary rest, the opposite is true of Dido: we encounter her in a permanent state of restlessness. Contrast, especially, 3.718: ... quieuit and 4.5: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem. The ‘at’ thus underscores the sense that Aeneas and Dido constitute a complementary couple. As Austin notes, ‘the strongly contrasting particle at not only shows that the story now turns from Aeneas and the Trojans to Dido, but also points the antithesis between Aeneas’ sufferings that are now past, a mere tale that is told (conticuit tandem, iii. 718), and Dido’s sufferings that are already beginning, between his composed silence and her agitation’28 — though one may debate in what sense the trials and tribulations of Aeneas ‘are now past.’ A more ambivalent reading of at, which takes into account that the moment of closure Aeneas experiences at this stage is ephemeral, could start by considering to what extent Dido’s mental unrest highlights Aeneas’ failure to understand and communicate with the Carthaginian queen. Presumably, the last thing he wished to do is to mentally unsettle his gracious hostess.

  • 29 I owe this Extra Information section to John Henderson, who recommended its inclusion ‘to emphasise (...)

10[Extra information: especially for the history buffs among you, the end of Aeneid 3 is worth a closer look. In his account of how they sailed along the shore of Sicily, Aeneas mentions as the final two spots Lilybaeum (706) and Drepanum (707). They are situated on the western-most point of Sicily — virtually midway between Carthage and Rome. Intriguingly, Lilybaeum was founded by Phoenician settlers in the 8th century (under the name Motya); and, even more intriguingly, Lilybaeum and Drepanum were both sites of major military actions in the First Punic War (when this part of Sicily was a stronghold of the Carthaginians). In 250 BC a Roman Consular army led by Gaius Atilius Regulus Serranus and Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus put Lilybaeum under siege, which was, however, lifted after the battle of Drepanum, in which the Romans suffered their one major naval defeat in the First Punic War (249 BC). Once Lilybaeum had fallen under Roman domination, it served Scipio Africanus Maior as boot camp and launching pad for the invasion of Africa towards the end of the Second Punic War (from 205 BC onwards). Add to this the etymological affinity of Lilybaeum and Libya (where Aeneas has now ended up on his Juno-triggered detour: cf. 3.715: hinc me digressum uestris deus appulit oris; ‘departing from there a god drove me to your shores’), the end of Book 3 obliquely prepares not just for the African setting of Book 4 but also prefigures the historical consequences of Aeneas’ legendary stay with Dido: the lethal enmity between Rome and Carthage and the series of Punic Wars.]29

  • 30 Homer was considered the fountainhead of every conceivable type of discourse, including political t (...)
  • 31 A good starting point for exploring Virgil’s representation of Aeneas and Dido as king and queen ag (...)

111: regina: After referring to the anonymous, ‘eager crowd’ that listened to Aeneas’ account at the end of Book 3 (cf. 716: intentis omnibus), Virgil, in the first line of Book 4, singles out the queen for exclusive attention. This is Dido’s book and with At regina Virgil uses an appropriate keynote. Significantly, he chooses to return our attention to Dido not by mentioning her name but her social role: she is a queen. The noun regina recalls Dido’s royal entry into the epic at 1.496–97: regina ad templum, forma pulcherrima Dido,/ incessit (‘the queen Dido, of surpassing beauty, approached the temple’). But the contrast between her first appearance and the state she is in when Book 4 opens is pointed and poignant: whereas she is ‘surrounded by a large throng of followers’ in Book 1 (1.497: magna iuuenum stipante caterua), at the beginning of Book 4 we encounter Dido all alone. And whereas Virgil invited us to observe Dido discharging her civic responsibilities when we first set eyes on the queen, we now see a helpless victim of uncontrollable desire, tossing about sleeplessly: the focus has shifted from her impressive public persona to her tormented inner self. Yet Virgil’s programmatic use of ‘regina’ at a moment when she is, above all, a woman madly in love serves as encouragement to appraise her not just as a desiring individual, but as a queen, that is, as someone who has a key social role to perform and may do so well or badly. The question of what makes a good king (or, more generally, leader) was a topic of hot debate in antiquity (it still is now), to which literary genres made important contributions. Reflections on excellence or shortcomings in leadership constitute an important facet of the political discourse of epic poetry in particular, from Homer onwards.30 Virgil’s handling of the topic is characteristically complex, insofar as he invites his readers to assess his royal personnel against various and often conflicting benchmarks of excellence, deriving from literary predecessors (both Greek and Roman), philosophical discourse (in particular Stoicism), and lived experience, both republican and imperial. In the case of Dido, it is worth paying particular attention to her gender (and the difficulties this causes not least for male observers such as king Iarbas: see 4.206–18, discussed in detail below) and the potential conflict between her feelings for Aeneas and the role-expectations that come with being the royal leader of a young city and civic community in a hostile environment.31

121: regina graui iamdudum saucia cura: regina (a1) agrees with saucia (a2), graui (b1) with cura (b2). We thus have the following pattern: noun (a1)–adjective (b1)–adverb: iamdudum (c)–adjective (a2)–noun (b2). The arrangement artfully combines a parallel patterning in the way the two phrases regina saucia and graui cura interweave (a1 b1 c a2 b2) with a chiastic design in terms of grammatical categories (noun, adjective; adjective, noun). The set-up helps to foreground the adverbial modification of time at its centre (iamdudum), which reminds the reader of what happened before Aeneas started speaking: Dido has been burning with love ever since Cupid’s stealth attack on the unsuspecting queen in the guise of Aeneas’ son Ascanius in Book 1. See esp. 1.719–22: at memor ille [sc. Cupido]/ matris Acidaliae paulatim abolere Sychaeum/ incipit et uiuo temptat praeuertere amore/ iam pridem resides animos desuetaque corda (‘But he [sc. Cupid], mindful of his Acidalian mother [sc. Venus], little by little begins to efface Sychaeus [i.e. Dido’s deceased former husband], and attempts to incite with live passion her long-inactive soul and her heart that had unlearned to love’). The adverb, which means ‘some while ago now’, thus serves as bridge between Books 1 and 4 and, like tandem at the end of Book 3, mischievously underscores the length of Aeneas’ narration.

131: cura: the meaning of cura ranges from ‘anxiety’ to a (public) ‘task’ or ‘responsibility’, to be carried out with diligence and care. Here the former sense is of course paramount, but in signifying love pangs the term also evokes negatively its public-political meaning: Dido’s real cura ought to be the prudent governance of her city’s affairs. Some interesting passages to consider for the semantics of cura in the Aeneid include 1.227 (the first occurrence of the word in the epic, referring to the cosmic administrative responsibilities of Jupiter), 1.562 (Dido replying to Aeneas’ impassioned plea for support: … secludite curas (‘set aside your cares’), which resonates ironically in the light of our passage), 1.662 (Venus imagining Juno preoccupied by anxiety, a passage cited and discussed below), 1.678 (Venus referring to Ascanius as mea maxima cura), and the trail of further instances of the word in Book 4 at lines 5, 59, 332, 341, 379, 394, 448 (magno persentit pectore curas, of Aeneas), 488, 521, 531, 551, and 608.

  • 32 For further discussion and other possible intertexts see Essay 5.3: Allusion.

142: uulnus alit uenis et caeco carpitur igni: uulnus alit uenis and caeco carpitur igni are two carefully balanced clauses of three words each. Both feature the verb in the middle (alit, carpitur: Dido is the subject of both) and involve alliteration (uulnus uenis; caeco carpitur). But Virgil alternates the construction. The first clause consists of an active verb, a direct object (uulnus) and an ablative of either place or instrument (uenis: ‘in or with her bloodstreams’), the second of a passive verb and an ablative of agency (caeco igni, as often in poetry without the preposition a/ ab). Caecus has both an active (blind, i.e. unable to see) and a passive (hidden, i.e. invisible) sense. Here it is clearly the latter: the consuming fire of Dido’s passion does its damage out of sight, more specifically in or through her bloodstreams. There is, then, a thematic link between the last word of the first clause (uenis) and the first word of the second clause (caeco). Virgil may be alluding to Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1120: usque adeo incerti tabescunt uolnere caeco (‘in such uncertain state they waste away with a wound invisible’). Appropriately, the line is part of his diatribe against love (‘a romantic delusion’) as opposed to sex (‘a biological necessity’). And he certainly has in mind book 3 of Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, which features Medea burning in secret love for Jason after being hit by one of Eros’ arrows.32

  • 33 See Lyne (1987), p. 120, n. 31, with reference to Otis (1964), pp. 70–72 and others.

15The metaphorical wound of Dido here corresponds to the literal wound she inflicts upon herself at the end of the book. 4.689: infixum stridit sub pectore uulnus recalls both 4.2: uulnus alit uenis and 4.4: haerent infixi pectore, the latter also via the deer simile at 4.70–3. (See further below on 4: haerent infixi.) Likewise, the metaphorical caecus ignis here has a real counterpart at the end of the book: the flames of Dido’s funeral pyre. At 5.4–5 Aeneas gazes back from his departing ship to a Carthage aglow in flames: quae tantum accenderit ignem/ causa latet (‘Which cause set ablaze so great a fire remains hidden’). In the case of the fire-imagery there is an intermediate stage: the literal fire of the funeral pyre not only harks back to the fiery passion from which Dido suffers at the beginning but also picks up the transformation of the fires of love into the fires of wrath midway through the book: see the ‘black fires’, the atri ignes, that animate her curse at 4.384, which will pursue Aeneas and his descendants.33 The gradual transformation of metaphors of love into realities of death is one of the most haunting (and poetically brilliant) aspects of Aeneid 4. As Oliver Lyne puts it: ‘These sequences of fire and wound images are fine examples of “linked imagery”… They introduce among other things a sense of tragic inevitability. Dido’s love wound is converted remorselessly and seemingly inevitably in the maintained imagery into the wound of her suicide; and the fire of her love is converted with similar but less sympathetic inevitability into the fires of her curse.’

16[Extra information: in the lines that follow upon Dido stabbing herself, Virgil uses a simile to connect her suicide to the historical fate of her city (4.667–71):

lamentis gemituque et femineo ululatu
tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether,
non aliter quam si immissis ruat hostibus omnis
Karthago aut antiqua Tyros, flammaeque furentes
culmina perque hominum uoluantur perque deorum.

The palace rings with laments, sobbing, and women’s shrieks, heaven echoes with load wails — as if all of Carthage or ancient Tyre were collapsing under the onslaught of enemies and raging flames were rolling over the roofs of men and over the roofs of the gods.

17As already Macrobius observed (Saturnalia 4.6), Virgil adapts the scene of lament and the illustrative simile from Iliad 22.408–11, where we have a similar intertwining of individual and city in the context of lament: Priam and the Trojan women mourn for Hector slain, in anticipation of the fall of their city:

ᾤμωξεν δἐλεεινὰ πατὴρ ϕίλος, ἀμϕὶ δὲ λαοὶ
κωκυτῷ τεἴχοντο καὶ οἰμωγῇ κατὰ ἄστυ.

τῷ δὲ μάλιστἄρἔην ἐναλίγκιον ὡς εἰ ἅπασα
Ἴλιος ὀϕρυόεσσα πυρὶ σμύχοιτο κατἄκρης.

His father groaned piteously, and all around the people were given over to wailing and groaning throughout the city. To this it was most alike, as if all of proud Troy were smouldering with fire from top to bottom.

  • 34 See Polybius 38.21–2 and Appian, Roman History 8.19.132.

18And, in the teeth of Jupiter’s promise in Aeneid 1 that the Romans would come to enjoy an imperium sine fine (1.279: ‘an empire without end’), Greek sources report that Scipio Africanus Minor was stirred into a moment of tragic reflexivity after his sack of Carthage in 146 BC, reciting two verses from the Iliad, in which Hector recognizes the inevitability of the fall of Troy (6.448–49):34

ἔσσεται ἦμαρ ὅτἄν ποτὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ
καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς ἐϋμμελίω Πριάμοιο.

The day shall come when sacred Ilios will perish and Priam and the people
of Priam with goodly spear of ash.

  • 35 Otis (1964), p. 72.

19This is a particular striking instance of the way in which Virgil in the Aeneid intertwines Roman history and the literary tradition by means of an oblique allusion — behind the scenes as it were of the tragic plot that is centred in the gruesome transformation of erotic passion into bloody suicide and lethal hatred: in this epic, the personal is always already also political. Or, as Otis puts it: ‘The wound and the flames that mark Dido’s end, and proleptically Carthage’s end as well (flammae furentes, 670), are thus the visible signs of an inner tragedy: the course of the book has developed Dido’s private wound and private conflagration into a public catastrophe, foreshadowing a greater one to come.’35]

203–4: multa uiri uirtus animo multusque recursat/ gentis honos: there is a switch in subject from Dido to the contents of her thought. Two assets of Aeneas are foremost in her mind. Virgil captures them in the pair of grammatically identical phrases multa uiri uirtus and multus gentis honos, i.e. the excellence of the man (uiri uirtus) and the distinction of his lineage (gentis honos). (The-que after multus links uirtus and honos.) The polyptotic adjectives multa and multus that modify uirtus and honos stand in place of adverbs and combine with the frequentative verb recursat to highlight the obsessive nature of Dido’s mental activity: Aeneas’ manly qualities and family prestige render any peace of mind impossible.

21[Extra information: the repetition of multa/ multus recalls both the beginning and the end of Book 1. See 1.3–5: multum ille et terris iactatus et alto/ ui superum … multa quoque et bello passus (‘much thrown around on sea and land by violence of the gods ... and also much enduring in war’) and 1.749–50: longumque bibebat amorem,/ multa super Priamo rogitans super Hectore multa (‘she drank deeply of love, asking much of Priam, much of Hector’). Likewise, recursat harks back to 1.662: urit atrox Iuno, et sub noctem cura recursat, a parallel discussed in further detail below.]

  • 36 See esp. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 2.43: appellata est enim ex uiro uirtus (‘for the word for e (...)
  • 37 For a recent monograph on the term, see McDonnell (2006), though reviewers have argued that he undu (...)

223: uiri uirtus: an alliterative figura etymologica: uirtus is what distinguishes the uir.36 Originally, uirtus seems to have indicated martial prowess above all. But in the course of the Roman assimilation of Greek philosophical thought, the semantics of the term expanded considerably, as uirtus became the preferred Latin term to render the Greek arete.37 In this process it also became a generic designation for good qualities more generally. The English ‘virtue’, while deriving from Latin uirtus, inevitably carries moral connotations and hence does not capture the full semantic range of the Latin term very well. ‘Excellence’ (uirtus) or ‘excellences’ (uirtutes) is therefore frequently the better option in translating. (Not all excellences need have a moral dimension.)

  • 38 For a splendid and exhaustive treatment of this difficult subject matter see Smith (2006).
  • 39 Jupiter, in his magisterial unscrolling of destiny in Book 1, comments on this nomenclature as foll (...)
  • 40 Hence the difficulties ‘new men’ (homines noui) such as Marcus Tullius Cicero faced, who hailed fro (...)

234: gentis honos: in enjambment. The phrase yields a metrical pattern (– u u –) called the choriamb, which enhances its unity and impact. Both gens and honos are key components of the political culture of the Roman republic. Latin authors tend to contrast the populus Romanus with foreign people (gentes), but with reference to Rome itself the term gens invariably designates one of the noble families (gentes) that formed the traditional polycentric core of Rome’s senatorial ruling elite:38 Hence we have (say) the gens Claudia (giving us the Claudii), the gens Cornelia (to which the Cornelii belonged) or the gens Fabia (the kin-group of the Fabii). Julius Caesar and hence also his adopted son Caesar Octavianus (later to be known under the honorific name Augustus) were part of the gens Iulia, which famously derived its name from Aeneas’ son Ascanius, also named Ilus, from Ilion, the Greek name of Troy (hence Iliad) and renamed Iulus after the fall of Troy.39 During the years of the republic (and also, under slightly altered circumstances, imperial times), members of the various gentes vied with each other for public offices (honos/ honores; the phrase gentis honos hints anachronistically at this key feature of Roman republican politics). In so doing, they could draw on the prestige of their gens in making themselves attractive to voters.40

  • 41 See further Gildenhard (2007), esp. pp. 92–98.

24[Extra information: Against this republican background of a plurality of gentes, Virgil throughout the Aeneid promotes a semantic reorientation of the term: from the proem onwards, he integrates the multiple gentes into a single overarching gens, the gens Romana. See his announcement at the end of his extended proem at 1.33: tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem! (‘So vast was the effort to found the Roman race!’). This shift from many aristocratic gentes to one Roman gens is programmatic: at various places in his epic, Virgil uses the language of blood-descent to intimate an overlap approximating identity between the family of Anchises and Aeneas (later called the gens Iulia) and the entire Roman people (conceived not as the populous Romanus but the gens Romana). This is spin, very much aligned to the ideological preoccupations of the Augustan principate, which it is important to bear in mind whenever Virgil uses gens.41]

  • 42 The passage is important also to illustrate that Aeneas, from the beginning, considered his stay in (...)

25Dido here repays Aeneas the compliment Aeneas had paid her in Book 1.609–10: semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt,/ quae me cumque uocant terrae (‘forever shall your honour, your name, and your praises abide, whatever lands summon me’), especially if one considers that nomen is a virtual synonym of gens (via the phrase nomen gentile: see e. g. 6.756-59).42 She knows of his partly divine lineage: at 1.615–18 she addresses Aeneas as soon as she realizes who has just walked into her city as nate dea (‘goddess-born’) before displaying an impressively detailed knowledge of his parentage and the circumstances of his birth: tune ille Aeneas, quem Dardanio Anchisae/ alma Venus Phrygii genuit Simoentis ad undam? (‘Are you that Aeneas, whom nurturing Venus bore to Dardanian Anchises by the wave of Phrygian Simois?’).

264–5: haerent infixi pectore uultus/ uerbaque: Virgil here systematically inverts standard word order: the main verb (haerent) precedes the subjects (the alliterative uultus uerbaque) and the participle infixi precedes its adverbial qualification (pectore). Vultus (which, as infixi makes clear, is in the ‘poetic plural’) refers to Aeneas’ appearance, uerba to his speech: he is a handsome hero and a spell-binding speaker. Together, these two qualities affect Dido profoundly and stay fixed deep within her heart. uerbaque is another instance of enjambment. Yet unlike in lines 3–4, where the enjambment of gentis honos was set up by multus — which was left ‘dangling’ without referent in the previous line — uerbaque comes as a surprise. It is tagged on, without advanced warning, either as an afterthought or for special emphasis. The design could suggest that it does not really matter what, precisely, Aeneas is saying since Dido is anyway completely beholden, stunned by his striking good looks; or it could mean that the verbal stimuli outweigh the visual ones in importance. Virgil underlines the contrast between the stable presence of Aeneas’ appearance and the mellifluous nature of his discourse metrically: apart from pectore, the phrase haerent infixi pectore uultus is spondaic, whereas uerbaque, for a moment, picks up dactylic speed, which comes to a somewhat abrupt stop at the diaeresis after the first foot. Virgil’s lexical choices here recall 1.717-19, where Dido cuddles Cupid disguised as Ascanius: haec oculis, haec pectore toto/ haeret et interdum gremio fouet, inscia Dido,/ insidat quantus miserae deus (‘with her eyes, with all her heart Dido hangs on him and from time to time fondles him in her lap, unknowing how great a divinity sits there to her sorrow’). As planned by Venus, the physical affection Dido displays for Aeneas’ insidious ‘son’ has evolved into a mental obsession with the father.

  • 43 For a word of caution on the possible etymological connection between Venus and uenenum, see O’Hara (...)

27Vultus and uerba is the third pair of words linked by u-alliteration in the opening lines, after uulnus uenis and uiri uirtus. Virgil seems to be hinting at a thematic link between the uulnus of Dido and the uirtus, uultus, and uerba of the uir Aeneas — a nexus reinforced if we take into consideration the erotic uenenum (poison) that Venus ordered her son Cupid to assault Dido with fire and poison (cf. 1.688: occultum inspires ignem fallasque ueneno; the poison metaphor continues at 1.749: longumque bibebat amorem).43

284: haerent infixi: Virgil reuses infixus with reference to Dido’s suicidal wound at 4.689: infixum stridit sub pectore uulnus. The lexical parallel thus constitutes another literalization of a metaphorical image as love turns into death. Both verbs also recur in the stricken-deer simile at 4.70–3: quam [sc. ceruam] ... fixit/ pastor agens telis; ... haeret lateri letalis harundo (again inverting subject and verb). The simile marks a midway stage in the gradual transformation of the metaphorical imagery at the opening of the book into deadly reality at its end: it is a narrative comparison, designed to illustrate Dido’s pathological condition (and as such is a figurative use of language), but involves the actual wounding and killing of an animal.

295: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem: the subject (cura) recalls the cura of line 1, but the switch from ablative to nominative suggests a subtle increase in Dido’s anxiety. The phrase membris dat cura separates the adjective placidam from the noun it modifies (quietem), generating a hyberbaton that is thematically appropriate: the unsettled word order enacts Dido’s inability to achieve a restful state of mind. The opening five lines contain a veritable anatomy of Dido: after hailing her wholesale as queen (regina, 1), Virgil focuses in turn on her veins (uenis, 2), her mind (animo, 3), her heart or breast (pectore, 4), and the rest of her limbs (membris, 5).

30[Extra information: Before moving on, it is instructive to set the opening five lines of Aeneid 4 against a passage from Book 1 — a backward glance designed to illustrate how Virgil generates intratextual coherence and suggestive complexity by means of the strategic repetition of key words and phrases (1.657–63):

at Cytherea nouas artes, noua pectore versat
consilia, ut faciem mutatus et ora Cupido
pro dulci Ascanio ueniat, donisque furentem
incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem; 660
quippe domum timet ambiguam Tyriosque bilinguis;
urit atrox Iuno, et
sub noctem cura recursat.
ergo his aligerum dictis adfatur Amorem:

But Venus revolves new designs, new schemes in her breast, how Cupid transformed in face and form may come instead of sweet Ascanius and by means of his gifts inflame the raging queen and embed the fire in her bones. In fact, she fears the uncertain house and the double-tongued Tyrians; black biled Juno burns and at nightfall her anxiety rushes back. Therefore she addressed winged Amor with the following words…

31Parallels to note include:

  1. At Cytherea (1.657) correlates with At regina (4.1).

  2. pectore uersat (1.657) points to animo … recursat (4.3) and infixi pectore (4.4)

  3. the sentence incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem (1.660) anticipates regina ... uulnus alit uenis [~ ossibus] et caeco carpitur igni (1–2) in the sense of ‘mission accomplished.

  4. sub noctem cura recursat (1.662) prefigures the opening of Aeneid 4 more generally, with a specific lexical parallel in animo... recursat (4.3): in both passages, it is night; cura (worry on behalf of Aeneas on the part of Venus, love of Aeneas in the case of Dido) causes emotional upheaval; and emotive thoughts assault the peace of mind of the character in question.

32At the same time a displacement has occurred: because of the cura that Venus felt in Book 1, Dido feels cura in Book 4. The lexical reminiscences thus serve as a reminder that Dido’s pathological condition owes itself at least in part to a divine intervention and therefore encourage theological reflection about the interface between the divine and the human realm (as well as the ethics thereof).]

  • 44 Virgil hints at the mythic background later in the book. See 4.584–85: Et iam prima nouo spargebat (...)

336–7: postera Phoebea lustrabat lampade terras/ umentemque Aurora polo dimouerat umbram: Virgil here offers an elaborate description of dawn (or Dawn, the goddess Aurora, who is the subject of both lustrabat and dimouerat). Myth has it that Aurora fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal, son of the Trojan king Laomedon. She prevailed upon Jupiter to grant her beloved immortality but forgot to request eternal youth as well.44 The lines feature two striking hyperbata: postera... Aurora (‘the following dawn’) and umentemque ... umbram, the last linked by the um-alliteration and containing a touch of paronomasia that suggests a thematic affinity between umens and umbra. The symmetry of line 7 is striking: umentem and umbram frame the subject (Aurora) and the verb (dimouerat), with polo, in the ablative of separation, dead centre. Aurora and dimouerat thus function as buffers that keep the dewy (umentem) darkness (umbram) away from the sky (polo): in other words, Virgil reproduces on the level of verbal architecture the result of the action described in the line.

  • 45 Maclennan (2007), p. 74.
  • 46 Virgil here develops an idiom pioneered by Cicero, de Republica 6.17, where Sol is described as of (...)

346: Phoebea lustrabat lampade: the phrase acquires formal coherence through alliteration (lu-, la-) and assonance (-bea, -ba-, -pade). Phoebeus means ‘of or associated with Phoebus Apollo; of Phoebus, belonging or sacred to him.’ It is formed as a calque on Greek Φοίβειος, which explains why the -be- is scanned as a long syllable: it represents a long syllable (the diphthong -ει-) in Greek. lampas, in the poetic sense that Virgil uses it here means ‘the light of the sun’; but its primary meaning is ‘torch’ or ‘fire-brand.’ As such the term could be taken to foreshadow the tragic turn of events, more specifically Dido’s funeral pyre. The last image that Aeneas catches of Carthage are the city walls aglow with the funeral flames of Dido at 5.3–4: moenia respiciens, quae iam infelicis Elissae/ conlucent flammis (‘looking back on the city walls, which now gleam with the funeral flames of unlucky Dido’). The primary meanings of lustrare are ‘to purify ceremonially with rituals usually involving a procession’ and hence ‘to walk around, to circle.’ Here it means ‘to spread light over or around, to irradiate’ (OLD s. v. 4), though Maclennan believes that the primary meaning also registers ‘because Dido feels in some way polluted by her feelings for Aeneas.’45 This is an interesting suggestion, but the rising of the sun does not alter the religious quality or implications of Dido’s feelings, and the key thematic contrast here seems rather between night/ darkness/ secrecy/ solitude and day/ light/ confession/ company.46

  • 47 For metrical devices underscoring Dido’s mental disposition see Austin (1963), p. 28: ‘the elision (...)

358: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem: The so-called cum-inversum — inverted because the background action (here: sunrise) comes in the main clause, whereas the main action (here: Dido approaching her sister to share confidences) is put in the subordinate cum-clause — is a favourite device of Virgil to enhance a dramatic scene.47

36[Extra Information: two correlated instances of the cum-inversum occur at the beginning of the poem. See Aeneid 1.34–7: uix e conspectu Siculae telluris in altum/ uela dabant laeti, et spumas salis aere ruebant,/ cum Iuno, aeternum seruans sub pectore uulnus, haec secum [sc. dixit]... (‘Hardly out of sight of Sicilian land, they were spreading their sails onto the high sea and were gladly ploughing the foaming sea with brazen prow, when Juno, nursing an immortal wound in her breast, spoke thus to herself...’). The narrative stretch thus introduced, i.e. Juno’s outraged soliloquy, her subsequent visit to the wind-god Aeolus, and the unleashing of the storm that will blow Aeneas’ fleet off-course to Carthage, finds its conclusion at 1.223–26, with another cum-inversum: Et iam finis erat, cum Iuppiter aethere summo/ despiciens mare ueliuolum terrasque iacentis/ litoraque et latos populos, sic uertice caeli/ constitit... The syntactic device thus frames the initial stretch of action, being first associated with Juno, the goddess of beginning, interference and obstruction, whose intervention verges on generating chaos but also provides dramatic energy, and then with Jupiter, the god of ending (cf. finis), entropy, settlement, ordaining, and order.]

  • 48 For the dialogue with Catullus and Callimachus that is arguably built into Virgil’s use of the adje (...)

378: unanimam … sororem: Dido’s sister (Anna, who is not named until the following line) appears out of nowhere, but Virgil obliquely stresses the strong attachment that unites the siblings by means of two formal instances of bonding: the adjective unanimus enacts its meaning by merging the two words unus and animus into one; and the elision of unanimam adloquitur practices bonding at the level of metre. The notion of two individuals being of one mind ultimately goes back to the Homeric ideal of ‘likemindedness’(ὁμοϕροσύνη) that forms the basis of Odysseus’and Penelope’s perfect marriage. After Dido has mortally wounded herself on her funeral pyre, Virgil stages a last encounter between her and her sister Anna, using language that refers the reader back to the beginning of Book 4. Anna bedding her dying sister in her lap (686): semianimemque … germanam amplexa (‘embracing her dying sister’) constitutes a tragic gloss on 8: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem. Since Dido and Anna are each a unanima soror to the other, the phrase semianimis germana not only captures Dido’s limbo state between life and death, but also the fact that Anna and Dido, who were unanimous, are split in half: half of Anna dies with Dido.48

388: male sana: a periphrastic, colloquial way of saying insana, though male seems more than a mere synonym for non: combined with sana, it is not simply a negation but produces a contradictio in adiecto or even an oxymoron. The phrase stands in predicative position to the subject of the cum-clause, i.e. Dido: ‘she addressed her sister, in a state of ill-health/ mentally disturbed.’

39The reference to Dido’s psycho-pathological condition concludes the multi-faceted metaphorics of love that Virgil has splashed across these opening lines. It will be useful to take stock of the images he uses here and elsewhere in Aeneid 1 and 4 to capture Dido’s amorous feelings for Aeneas:

    • 49 Lyne (1987), p. 195.

    Wounds: 4.1: saucia, 4.2: uulnus, 4.69–73: the simile of the deer killed by an arrow. Note, though, that, in contrast to his counterpart Eros in Apollonius’ Argonautica 3, Virgil’s Cupid does not use arrows in inflicting a wound on Dido; bow and arrow imagery are displaced upon Aeneas: ‘Vergil’s Cupid is emphatically not an archer. That role is reserved for his half-brother: for Aeneas, here in 4.69ff.’49

  1. Fire: 1.660: incendat [sc. Amor] reginam atque ossibus implicet ignem (1.660), 1.688 (Venus to Amor): occultum inspires ignem, 4.2: igni, 4.68: uritur infelix Dido. At the end of the book, the hidden fire inside Dido will turn into the conflagration that engulfs her corpse on the funeral pyre.

  2. Poison: 1.688 (Venus to Amor): fallasque ueneno, 1.750: bibat amorem, 4.2: uenis (hints at uenenum), 4.73: Cretans in stories hunt with poisoned arrows.

  3. Pathologies of the body, i.e. infection and disease: 1.712: pesti deuota futurae, 4.8: male sana, 4.90: tali persensit peste teneri, 4.389: aegra.

  4. Pathologies of the mind, i.e. madness: 1.659: furentem, 4.8: male sana, 4.69: furens, 4.78: demens, 4.301: bacchatur, 4.642: effera.

40The metaphors point to different stages and aspects of erotic experience: the metaphorics of wounding construe being in love as the outcome of an assault by Eros, Amor, or Cupid, the god of love, armed as he is with bows and arrows, though he also uses more insidious means to press his attack. Fire imagery, too, has associations with Cupid, the fire-brand or marriage torch, but the notion of a conflagration also refers to physiological symptoms of love (going hot and cold at the sight of the beloved, for instance). The idea of poisoning points to Cupid as an infiltrator who secretly enters the bloodstream — as do notions of ill-health (whether physical or mental).

Lines 9–30: Sister Act I: Dido’s Address to Anna

41Not having slept during the night, Dido seeks out her sister Anna the following morning and tries to articulate her thoughts and feelings. Despite her emotional turmoil, her speech is well structured, in two different ways:

  1. It comprises 21 lines in all, which fall into two halves of near-equal length (11/10), marked by two direct addresses to the internal audience, her sister Anna: Anna soror (9) and Anna (20). Those who count along and expect the second half to be precisely equal in length to the first half will thus be disappointed. In line 30, which could have been the 11th line of the second half, Dido has finished speaking and bursts into tears. But this slight imbalance and seemingly premature end to her speech may be an artistic effect designed to convey Dido’s emotionally unbalanced condition.

  2. In thematic terms, the structure is tripartite, again in a symmetrical design (6/ 9/ 6):

  1. 9–14: Dido’s attempt to articulate in words her thoughts and feelings about Aeneas

  2. 15–23: Exploration of a ‘what-if’

  3. 24–29: Rejection of the ‘what-if’

429–14: ‘Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!/ quis nouus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes,/ quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!/ credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum./ degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!

43The opening segment of the speech comprises an attempt by Dido to articulate in words the impression Aeneas has made on her. In doing so, she repeats from a personal, subjective perspective what Virgil has just described from the external, objective perspective of the narrator. She is so overpowered by feelings and emotions (ranging from deep reverence to strong erotic attraction and incipient sexual desire) that she appears to be ‘gushing’, and her Latin is accordingly palpably out of control. Noteworthy features that underscore that Dido is here venting strong feelings include the sequence of exclamations introduced by quae (9), quis (10), quem (11), quam (11), quibus (13), quae (14); the overemphatic string quis nouus hic (10); and the contorted expression quem sese ore ferens (11). Dido reaches the height of her pathos-dripping outburst with the exclamation heu (13), a profound expression of empathy for the trials and tribulations her hero has suffered, but also indicative of the profound yearning and passion-driven anxiety that she is experiencing herself this very moment, before she sobers down to a more measured mode of discourse from line 15 onwards.

  • 50 See in particular 4.450–51, the moment when Dido embraces death: tum uero infelix fatis exterrita D (...)

449: quae ... insomnia terrent: paradoxically, insomnium, usually in the plural, can mean both ‘sleeplessness’ (OLD s. v. 1) and ‘an apparition seen in a trance or dream’(OLD s. v. 2). Virgil may here play with both possibilities to convey a sense of Dido’s ‘altered’ state of mind: she cannot sleep and partly as a result begins to hallucinate as if dreaming. She hovers between wakefulness and sleep, a condition liable to blur any clear-cut boundary between what is based on ‘real’ sense perceptions and what are figments of the imagination. terrent raises similar issues of interpretation. It is a highly emotive verb and rather unexpected: why should Dido feel fear? She has fallen in love. But the notion that she experiences ‘erotic nightmares’ is in dramatic terms highly appropriate and psychologically insightful: it introduces at the outset a sinister note, as Dido confesses that her obsessive passion for Aeneas conjures up ghosts of terror, however erotically thrilling the experience may be. (Goold’s ‘what dreams thrill me with fears?’ captures the paradox nicely.) Specifically, Dido may here betray awareness of the impact these insomnia have on her resolve to remain faithful to her dead husband Sychaeus, and she fears the consequences. In other words, Dido is afraid of herself, afraid of what she will do: the verb thus carries a strong sense of foreboding of what will happen later in the book.50

  • 51 I cite the translation of William H. Race in the Loeb Classical Library edition (Cambridge, MA, and (...)

45[Extra information: One of Virgil’s models here is Apollonius, Argonautica 3. At 3.616–18 he describes Medea asleep, but worried for Jason: ‘As for the girl, deep sleep was furnishing relief from her troubles as she lay in bed. But soon deceptive, baleful dreams began to disturb her, as they do when a girl is in distress.’51 And when she wakes up, Medea soliloquizes as follows (3.636–44):

δειλὴ ἐγών, οἷόν με βαρεῖς ἐϕόβησαν ὄνειροι.
δείδια, μὴ μέγα δή τι ϕέρῃ κακὸν ἥδε κέλευθος
ἡρώων· περί μοι ξείνῳ ϕρένες ἠερέθονται.
μνάσθω ἑὸν κατὰ δῆμον Ἀχαιίδα τηλόθι κούρην,
ἄμμι δὲ παρθενίη τε μέλοι καὶ δῶμα τοκήων. 640
ἔμπα γε μὴν, θεμένη κύνεον κέαρ, οὐκέτἄνευθεν
αὐτοκασιγνήτης πειρήσομαι εἴ κέ μἀέθλῳ
χραισμεῖν ἀντιάσῃσιν, ἐπὶ σϕετέροις ἀχέουσα
παισί· τό κέν μοι λυγρὸν ἐνὶ κραδίῃ σβέσει ἄλγος.’

‘Poor me! How these dire dreams have frightened me! I fear that this expedition of heroes will indeed bring some great harm — my mind is all aflutter about the stranger. Let him woo an Achaean girl far away among his own people, and let my care be for virginity and the home of my parents. Yet nevertheless, I will make my heart shameless and, no longer remaining aloof, will test my sister, to see if she will entreat me to aid in the contest because she is distressed for her sons — that would quench the terrible pain in my heart.’

46There are, then, clear parallels in plot (a heroine in erotic distress, deciding to seek out her sister after a night of frightful visions), and Virgil’s Latin obliquely recalls Apollonius’ Greek also on the level of metre and diction. Compare the opening line of Medea’s self-address with the opening line of Dido’s speech to Anna:

δειλὴ ἐγών, οἷόν με βαρεῖς ἐϕόβησαν ὄνειροι.
Poor me! How these dire dreams have frightened me!

Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!
Anna, my sister, what dreams frighten me with fears?

  • δειλὴ ἐγών [poor me] ~ Anna soror: Medea’s address to herself, i.e. δειλὴ ἐγών [poor me], has been replaced by Dido’s address to her sister Anna (Anna soror) in the same metrical pattern.

  • οἷόν [how] ~ quae: Instead of an adverb, Virgil uses an an interrogative adjective (quae modifies insomnia: ‘what dreams...’). Apollonius’ Medea stresses the degree of her fear (how!); Virgil’s Dido enquires into the nature of her frightening dreams.

  • με [me] ~ me: in both Apollonius and Virgil, the direct object of the verb is the first person personal pronoun.

  • βαρεῖς [dire] ~ suspensam: Apollonius here uses an adjective to modify the dreams; Virgil instead chooses to elaborate on Dido: suspensam, which means something akin to ‘on tenterhooks’ (see next note) modifies me.

  • ἐϕόβησαν [have frightened] ~ terrent: both authors use a verb with the basic meaning ‘to frighten.’ But Virgil shifts the tense from the past (ἐϕόβησαν is a so-called aorist) to the present. Whereas Medea reflects on the nightmares from which she has just woken up, Dido (who has never fallen asleep) confesses to her sister that she is being plagued by ‘nightmarish visions’ at this very moment. Virgil thereby achieves a heightened sense of urgency and immediacy.

  • ὄνειροι [dreams] ~ insomnia: in line with the present tense, Virgil uses a term that can refer to visions in dreams or hallucinations while awake.]

479: suspensam: in predicative relation to me, meaning ‘in a state of anxious uncertainty or suspense, on tenterhooks’ (OLD s. v.).

  • 52 Goold in the Loeb edition (‘Who is this stranger guest…?) and Mclennan in his commentary (‘What a s (...)

4810: quis nouus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes: The design is symmetrical: quis nouus hic agrees with hospes and nostris with sedibus, leaving the verb (successit) at the centre. (The position of successit between nostris and sedibus enacts its meaning, i.e. ‘has entered into.’) The use of quis as an exclamation together with the demonstrative pronoun hic makes a literal translation difficult: ‘What an unforeseen guest, this, who has entered our house!’52 As Conington points out, Dido here quotes herself. See 1.627 (Dido speaking to Aeneas and his men): quare agite, o tectis, iuuenes, succedite nostris (‘Come therefore, young men, enter our halls’).

49[Extra information: Virgil repeats the phrasing of 1.627 and 4.10 with minor variation at 8.123: nostris succede penatibus hospes. The speaker is Pallas, the son of Euander, addressing Aeneas — the same Pallas, in other words, who will go to war with the Trojan leader only to have his life cut short by Turnus. The correspondence in diction draws attention to parallels in plot, which are further underscored by the remarkable fact that the last time we hear of Dido is when Aeneas covers the corpse of Pallas with the cloak of gold and purple Dido had made him (11.72-5; for the cloak see below 4.262–64). Is Virgil hinting at the fact that playing host to Aeneas leads to tragedy and death? Or is the point of these parallels that Aeneas, just like Dido, is a tragic figure who deserves our respect and sympathy?]

5011: quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!: syntactically, the line continues in apposition to hospes, giving two further specifications in different constructions: a present participle (ferens), followed by ablatives of quality (forti pectore et armis). The phrase ore ferre means ‘to exhibit or display in one’s features or expression’ (OLD s. v. ferre 9c). A painfully literal translation of quem sese ore ferens would go something like: ‘as whom (quem) displaying (ferens) himself (sese) in his mien (ore)!’ It may be significant that Virgil already used the expression se ferre during Dido’s entrance into the narrative, more specifically the Diana-simile at 1.503–04: talem se laeta ferebat/ per medios. And it is certainly significant that a similar formulation recurs later on in the book when Dido wishes that Aeneas had made her pregnant before setting sail (4.327–30):

saltem si qua mihi de te suscepta fuisset
ante fugam suboles, si quis mihi paruulus aula
luderet Aeneas, qui te tamen ore referret,
non equidem omnino capta ac deserta uiderer.

[If at least before your flight an offspring of yours had been conceived by me, if in my hall a little Aeneas were playing, who would bring you back in his mien, I would not seem entirely conquered and deserted.]

  • 53 According to Homer, Odysseus, despite sharing the bed with various immortals during his voyage (Cir (...)

51From a modern perspective, getting Dido pregnant before abandoning her would seem to heighten the sense of betrayal. But Dido is so obsessed with the Trojan hero that she would prefer a living reminder of their time together to being left all alone. The wish, of course, is perverse since it hints at incest, and Virgil continues the Homeric paradigm of ‘sterile sex’ for his protagonist during his travels.53 But Dido cannot/ does not want to ever take her eyes off the Trojan hero.

  • 54 Gutting (2006), p. 268.
  • 55 I owe the complications to John Henderson, per litteras.

52[Extra information: Gutting points out a powerful Catullan intertext in 4.327–30: ‘The phrase parvulus Aeneas is striking because it is a rare use of a diminutive adjective in Vergil’s epic. The diminutive recalls the parvulus Torquatus of Catullus 61. There, the parvulus Torquatus exemplifies perfectly the use of children as tokens of the conjugal bond. Catullus explains that the child should be a replica of his father in order to serve as a sign to all of his mother’s pudicitia (61.209–18). But in Dido’s case, the typically conjugal desire for a child who looks like his father has become a facet of erotic desire.’54 And yet: if we take the genre Catullus is writing in seriously, then Dido is thinking of a wedding first of all, a proper and joyful union blessed with offspring — the problem is that she infects this Roman model of wedlock and procreation with the warped and disturbing desire worthy of a Cleopatra, who did indeed give birth to such a child, Caesar’s ill-fated son Caesarion. Roman readers who pursued the implications of this intertext, then, would have ended up in uncomfortable territory.]55

5311: quam forti pectore et armis!: literally, this part of the sentence means ‘with how brave a chest and arms/ shoulders!’ pectore recalls 4.4: haerent infixi pectore uultus, but whereas in the earlier passage pectus means Dido’s heart, here pectus seems to be referring above all to Aeneas’ musculature, specifically his pects. armis could come either from armus (‘shoulder’) or, more likely, from arma (‘arms’). While armus is a possibility (Dido appreciating the buff chest and broad shoulders of her hero), arma yields a better meaning. Dido’s diction here (and elsewhere: see above all below on heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!) recalls the language of the proem: if armis comes from arma, forti pectore et armis chiastically paraphrase Virgil’s keynote, which introduces his plot and his protagonist, i.e. arma uirumque cano (1.1), with forte pectus as a metonym, or pars pro toto, for uir. Dido’s appraisal of Aeneas is thus grounded in the poet’s reality, however much her overall picture may be distorted by the influence of Cupid.

5412: credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum: credo introduces the indirect statement genus esse deorum, with nec uana fides [sc. est] inserted as a parenthetical exclamation. Dido’s assertion that she believes in Aeneas’divine ancestry is strategically placed between her appreciation of his appearance (11) and a sympathetic recapitulation of and reaction to his tale of adventures (13–14): both his looks and his account of his deeds confirm his supernatural lineage, which she already took for granted at 1.615–18. The use of fides also subtly hints at the desirability of a third quality, in addition to appearance and bravery, namely trustworthiness and reliability in social relations — which Aeneas, from Dido’s point of view, ultimately reveals himself as conspicuously lacking. Her vote of confidence here functions as ironic foil for the aspersion she casts on Aeneas after she has heard the news of his imminent departure (4.365–67):

nec tibi diua parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
perfide, sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus, Hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tigres.

[‘You do not have a divine mother nor is Dardanus the founder of your
lineage, treacherous one, but rugged Caucasus on his hard rocks begot you,
and Hyrcanian tigresses suckled you…’]

55In the light of this radical change of heart, the parenthesis nec uana fides acquires a touch of tragic irony. Even if Aeneas remains of divine descent, the fides (‘trust’) that Dido invests in Aeneas more generally (and not just his DNA) turns out to be uana (‘misplaced’): he is not fidus (‘trustworthy, loyal’) but perfidus (‘treacherous’).

  • 56 The term occurs one other time in the Aeneid (at 2.549, with reference to Neoptolemus) and, unsurpr (...)

5613: degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille: a ‘breathless’, dactylic line. The gnomic formulation degeneres animos timor arguit is a curiously abstract and negative way of making the positive point that Aeneas has shown no fear and hence is not a ‘degenerate.’ (A degener is a person who has fallen short of the standards of excellence shown by his ancestors, indicating a worsening of the blood-line: put differently, Dido assesses Aeneas as living up to his illustrious ancestry.) This negative proof — arguere, in its basic sense, means ‘to show, demonstrate’, then also, in law court settings, ‘to convict, prove guilty’— reinforces Dido’s and Virgil’s obsession with lineage: the theme of noble descent and ignoble disposition recalls gentis honos at 4.4 (though the causal link Dido asserts between a show of fear and degeneracy also comes as a bit of a surprise given that a few lines earlier she had confessed to be suffering from a significant amount of fear: insomnia me ... terrent). Still, by way of etymology, degeneres continues the thought that concluded the previous line, i.e. genus esse deorum, in a kind of chiastic paronomasia: the prefix de- playfully alludes to deorum (though pointing downwards, rather than upwards), whereas-generes picks up genus.56 As Henderson suggests (per litteras), it is almost as if Dido tries her best to think of ways to put Aeneas down, to diagnose some holes in his impeccable armour and appearance, but without apparent success. From her point of view, Aeneas will indeed come to oscillate sharply between someone of quasi-divine status and being a lowly brute (see the rhetorical bestialization she performs on her former lover at 4.365–67, cited in the previous note): the decisive criterion is the key Roman value of fides (‘trustworthiness’), which he fails to live up to.

5713–14: heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat! Dido continues to speak of Aeneas in an ‘authorial’ idiom and additionally assimilates Aeneas to the narrator. Her own assessment in quibus ille iactatus fatis matches that of Virgil (see fato profugus and multum ille et terris iactatus et alto at Aen. 1.2 and 1.3, respectively), and her quae bella exhausta, while referring to Aeneas’ account of the sack of Troy, harks back to Aen. 1.1: arma [= bella] and 1.5: multa quoque et bello passus and anticipates Aen. 7.41 (Virgil addressing the Muse Erato): tu uatem, tu, diua, mone. dicam horrida bella). By referring to Aeneas’ dinner performance with the verb canebat, Dido correlates his narrative with Virgil’s own narration of the Aeneid: arma uirumque cano (Aen. 1.1). How does Dido know that Aeneas is tossed about by fate, given that she thinks of her own biography as shaped by fortune? She may have picked up a hint from Aeneas’discourse in Books 2 and 3, where fata figures prominently as a divine force shaping affairs in the human realm. Yet Dido, while adopting the idiom of historical necessity, remains unwilling to draw the necessary consequences.

  • 57 See further Essay 4: Religion.

5814: fatis: fatum (or, as here, in the plural fata) is a key concept in Virgil’s theology, which he introduces right at the beginning of his epic (1.2: fato profugus). Scholarship has been much preoccupied with sorting out how it works in the Aeneid, not least in relation to Jupiter. What has been somewhat overlooked in all this is that the notion of historical necessity implied by fatum was at variance with the conception of history that prevailed in republican times, i.e. an annalistic sequence of years, marked by the entry into office by publicly elected consuls (who gave their names to the year), with an open future. Rome’s civic religion, tailored to maintaining the so-called pax deorum, i.e. ‘peace with the gods’, tried to ensure that this contingent future brought success and prosperity rather than defeat or disaster — but it was a continual process of negotiation with the supernatural sphere with an uncertain outcome. Those who invoked the concept of fate as supporting their own ambitions during the republic tended to be revolutionaries (followers of Catiline, for instance, who argued that Rome was heading towards an apocalyptic and preordained moment of crisis), warlords and potentates (such as Caesar or Octavian who liked to represent their rise to power as the fulfilment of destiny), or individuals with a passionate belief in their historical importance (notably Cicero, who, towards the end of his career, started to see a coincidence between his fatum and the fatum of the res publica, though he remained strictly opposed to any notion of historical necessity). Virgil’s theology is therefore indebted not primarily to the civic religion of the Roman republic but to this revolutionary, autocratic rhetoric.57

5914: quae bella exhausta canebat!: Dido has a point: Aeneas’narration must have lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Still, the attribute exhausta, which here has the sense of ‘down to the bitter end’, is highly ironic if one ponders the fact that horrida bella (Aen. 7.41) lie in store for Aeneas upon his arrival in Italy and Dido herself will curse the future city of Rome with the prospect of prolonged warfare against her avenger Hannibal (4.621–29).

  • 58 Morwood (1999), p. 116.
  • 59 Gutting (2006), p. 269.
  • 60 Maclennan (2007), p. 76.

6015–19: si mihi non sederet ... si non pertaesum ... fuisset, ... potui succumbere...: Lines 15–19 contain one long conditional sequence. The protasis consists of two asyndetic si-clauses (15: si… sederet; 18: si… pertaesum fuisset). The first is in the imperfect subjunctive (a present contrary-to-fact), the second is in the pluperfect subjunctive (a past contrary-to-fact). They share the apodosis, i.e. potui, which is in the perfect indicative (rather than the subjunctive) since it is one of those verbs that ‘contain within themselves a subjunctive type of meaning (e. g. “could”, “should”).’58 Scholars are divided on the meaning of the change in tense from imperfect to pluperfect subjunctive. Here is Gutting: ‘Dido’s first protasis is a statement that precludes infidelity to Sychaeus at the present time, but the second protasis only precludes infidelity in past time. The possibility of present infidelity is left open. Thus the change in tense reflects the incremental paulatim abolere Sychaeum begun by Cupid at 1.720. The apodosis, huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpae, leaves no doubt of the cracks in Dido’s fidelity.’59 Contrast Maclennan, who offers a more innocent reading: ‘The strength of feeling in this sentence is worth setting out. Dido could say in routine language, using the imperf. subj., si non me taederet succumbere possem —“If I were not weary, I could yield”. Virgil gives her the intensive prefix per-; he suggests that the matter is over once and for all by using the pluperf. subj., intensifying that idea by pertaesum fuisset rather than esset.’60 Who is right?

  • 61 See Morwood (1999), p. 10.
  • 62 I owe this point to John Henderson.

6115–16: si mihi non animo fixum immotumque sederet/ ne cui me uinclo uellem sociare iugali: mihi: a so-called ‘ethic dative’.61 The ne-clause, which is the subject of the first si-clause with fixum immotumque as a predicative complement (‘if it were not planted in my mind as fixed and immovable that…’), specifies what Dido thinks she will remain unconditionally committed to. (ali) cui (ali- dropping out after si, nisi, ne and num) is the dative object, me the accusative object of sociare, which is a complementary infinitive with uellem. The generic reference to a comprehensive aliquis (‘anyone’) already prepares for the exception. In fact, nomen est omen: if one derives Dido from a Phoenician root, it means ‘Wanderer’— suitably enough for someone forced into exile, but the exact opposite of anything fixum immotumque that remains settled and in place (sederet).62

  • 63 Lyne (1989), pp. 31–32.

6217: postquam primus amor deceptam morte fefellit: primus amor refers to Dido’s feelings for her first husband Sychaeus or Sychaeus himself (‘my first love’). Virgil elides the direct object of fefellit, i.e. the personal pronoun me, on which deceptam depends. morte goes with both deceptam and fefellit, and there is a striking alliterative patterning that gives stylistic coherence to the entire formulation: p-, p-; am-, mo-; fe-fe-. Note also the paronomastic relation amor ~ morte. The intervening deceptam almost makes the two words merge into one another: amor-de [cept] am-morte. The phrasing is iconic, suggesting the tragic identity of love and death. In the figure of ‘Dido deceived’ the two coincide twice: her first husband is the victim of brutal murder; and her would-be husband causes her suicide. Lyne offers a nuanced interpretation of Virgil’s syntax and Dido’s psychology. He first notes that the idiom derives from funerary inscriptions where it takes two forms: ‘the bereaved are said to be cheated by the death of a loved one, and the dead persons themselves are said to have been cheated by death’ (31).63 Then he points out that Virgil tweaks the commonplace in an interesting way: here it is the deceased (Sychaeus) who is thought to have deceived and cheated his surviving spouse by dying: ‘“deceptam” may legitimately be seen as reinforcing the action in “fefellit”: “deceptam fefellit” = “decepit atque fefellit”’(31). He concludes: ‘By his death Sychaeus has cheated her as surely as, much more surely than he would have by leaving her for another woman. Such unfair (and perhaps largely unconscious) resentment in the face of bereavement is something that I think we can all understand. Certainly Dido feels it, and Vergil’s language extorts it for her’ (32). There is yet another unconscious plot embedded in Dido’s choice of idiom, to do with her description of her love and marriage to Sychaeus as primus amor. Tragically, the ‘second love of her life’, her secundus amor, will also deceive her and result in death, this time her own. Dido, of course, is unaware that her phrasing is both retrospective and proleptic: a case of tragic irony, here reinforced by the fact that she falls prey to the (subliminal) trickery of her own idiom, which too deceives her (cf. fefellit).

  • 64 Hersch (2010), pp. 166–67.

6318: si non pertaesum thalami taedaeque fuisset: the verb of this second si-clause is the impersonal pertaesum fuisset, the pluperfect subjunctive of pertaedet, ‘to fill with exceeding weariness or disgust.’ The intensifying per-, which picks up postquam and primus from the previous line, and the etymological play in per-taesum ~ taedae are meant to emphasize Dido’s tedium. But the intensification is arguably a feeble, rhetorical gesture, especially in the light of her subsequent confession that there is one (cf. huic uni, solus hic), who could rekindle positive associations of the wedding torch. Impersonal verbs of feeling have the person who feels in the accusative (remember the jingle me piget, pudet, paenitet, me taedet et me miseret; in our verse, a me has to be supplied mentally) and the object that causes the feeling in the genitive (here it is thalami taedaeque, i.e. sex and marriage). The three times in Aeneid 4 that Virgil uses the term taeda, the wedding torch, mark three important stages in the plot. See Hersch: ‘In Book Four of Virgil’s Aeneid, taeda surfaces three times; the first two taedae are unequivocally nuptial. At the beginning of the book, Dido tells her sister Anna that she is thoroughly tired of the “torch and the bridal chamber”.’64 Later, Aeneas quite specifically denies that any wedding occurred when he says, “I never held out the torches of a spouse, or entered into a pact!” [4.337–39] The third time Virgil uses taeda in Book Four, he does so in what appears to be a simultaneous wedding, suicide, and funeral: at the end of the book, Dido commits suicide surrounded by the trappings of an elaborate antiwedding. Dido decorates the space with foliage and makes her pyre “huge with torches (perhaps pine-torches are meant here) and cut oak” [4.504–08].’

6419: huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpae: up to succumbere, it appears as if huic uni (words that are unspecific in terms of gender) refer to Aeneas, as the one exception to Dido’s earlier, comprehensive dimissal of ‘anyone’(cui)— an impression perhaps reinforced by her use of the demonstrative pronoun in line 10 (quis nouus hic … hospes). Hence culpae at the end of the line — the noun that huic and uni modify — comes as a surprise. Virgil’s temporarily ambiguous syntax arguably reflects the movement of Dido’s thought. She starts singling out Aeneas as the one man to whom she might yield before calling herself to order and recognizing that such a move would amount to an instance of wrongdoing (culpa). Support for this reading comes from line 22, where solus hic, which is all but synonymous with huic uni, indeed refers to Aeneas. forsan introduces a hedge: Dido confesses to her sister that if matters had turned out otherwise in her past and she had not committed herself to a life of chastity, then, perhaps (forsan), she might have given herself up to this one (huic)— but this one only (uni)— transgression (culpae). This, of course, is precisely what will happen: ironically, Dido’s seemingly counterfactual musings prefigure the plot. It is noteworthy that she here acknowledges to Anna, and to herself, that the pull of desire she feels is a guilty pleasure and giving in to temptation an act of transgression or wrongdoing (culpa) — in contrast to her behaviour at 4.172, after the fateful encounter in the cave, where she re-evaluates her position: coniugium uocat [sc. Dido], hoc praetexit nomine culpam (see note ad loc.).

6520–22: Anna (fatebor enim) miseri post fata Sychaei/ coniugis et sparsos fraterna caede penatis/ solus hic inflexit sensus animumque labantem/ impulit: the two names (Anna; Sychaei) are placed at the beginning and end of line 20 — in antithetical correlation (Anna will pull Dido one way; Sychaeus another). Dido has reached the midway point of her speech, which she marks by a renewed address to her sister (Anna). We learn of Dido’s past in Book 1.343–59, where Venus recounts her story to Aeneas: Dido’s brother Pygmalion (hence fraterna caede) killed her husband Sychaeus out of greed, forcing her into exile from her home in Tyre. Dido’s account of the murder is considerably more bloody, dramatic, and detailed than the one Venus gives to Aeneas at 1.348–50: ille Sychaeum/ impius ante aras atque auri caecus amore/ clam ferro incautum superat (‘he [sc. Pygmalion], impious before the altars and blinded by lust for gold, stealthily overcomes unsuspecting Sychaeus with a sword’). Indeed, there are some incongruous touches: according to Venus, Pygmalion managed to hide the deed for long (1.351: factum diu celauit), which is difficult to reconcile with the notion that the images of the household gods (penates) were splattered in blood as Dido would have it. One wonders whether her specific reference to the penates owes anything to the fact that her new object of adoration, Aeneas, is worldfamous for carrying the penates of Troy out of the burning city — together with his father and his son. Arguably, his powerful versus spondiacus and its monosyllabic ending from the beginning of Book 3 (11–12: feror exsul in altum/ cum sociis natoque, Penatibus et magnis dis; ‘As exile, I am carried upon the high seas, with my comrades and son, my household gods and the great deities’) still resonates with the queen, as she empathizes away for love. If so, Dido’s foregrounding of her own desecrated household gods subtly hints at her exile from home and underscores the striking parallels in the biographies of herself and Aeneas.

6620: fatebor ... fata: a figura etymologica.

  • 65 Maclennan (2007), p. 77.

6720–21: miseri post fata Sychaei/ coniugis: another effective enjambment that may convey a hint of reluctance on Dido’s part to acknowledge her status as widow sworn to chastity: ‘after the death of wretched Sychaeus — my husband.’ Alternatively, we can read the enjambment as underscoring her persistent loyalty to her dead husband: ‘by placing Sychaei coniugis in enjambment Virgil makes Dido stress the idea of “husband”, and thus continue the process of attempting to persuade herself not to think of Aeneas so.’65 Which reading do you prefer?

  • 66 Austin (1963), p. 30.

6822: post fata ... et sparsos fraterna caede penatis: the et links fata and penatis (accusative plural = penates); the second clause ‘particularizes the meaning of fata Sychaei (et is often so used by Virgil in appending an explanation or an enlargement of a theme).’66 Note the mimetic word order: the murderous actions of her brother have torn Dido’s household apart, and the notion of shattering something to pieces is hinted at by the hyperbaton: the phrase fraterna caede, an instrumental ablative going with sparsos, separates the participle (sparsos) from the noun it modifies (penatis).

6922: solus hic: this picks up chiastically the huic uni of line 19, and obliquely hints at the fact that Dido had other options before Aeneas’arrival, notably the local king Iarbas; but she rejected all suitors, making a lot of enemies in the process — as Anna points out at 36-8 (despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii...). Her spotless record of having rejected all comers until Aeneas heightens her tragedy: so far Dido has been true to her word and proud of it!

  • 67 Austin (1963), p. 31. Others, including Conington (1884), argue that labantem should be taken with (...)

7022–23: inflexit sensus animumque labantem/ impulit: the design is chiastic: verb (inflexit) — accusative object (sensus): accusative object (animum labantem)— verb (impulit). Overall, the phrase works up to a climax in three stages: (a) inflecto in its primary sense signifies ‘to bend, curve’; here it means ‘to cause to turn from one’s purpose, principles, or mode of life’(OLD s. v. 3); (b) this sense of turning from what is right is picked up and reinforced by the attributive participle labantem (labo: to be unsteady, waver, falter); (c) then comes the finale (impulit): Aeneas has indeed overthrown the mind that was already faltering: ‘The run-on to impulit, followed by a strong pause, is characteristic of Virgil (cf. 72, 83, 261, 624 etc.) and very effective...; Dido draws a deep breath before her explicit admission that she is in love.’67 Note the perfect tense of inflexit and impulit: Dido, who previously talked about yielding to her passion in a present and past counterfactual condition, now owns up (cf. fatebor enim) to her altered mental disposition. She has become a person torn in two, being pulled this way by former loyalties and that way by overpowering attraction to Aeneas.

7123: ueteris uestigia flammae: the phrase looks backward to the internal conflagration of Dido that opens Book 4 and forward to the conflagration of her corpse that opens Book 5 (3–4: moenia..., quae iam infelicis Elissae/ conlucent flammis).

  • 68 Schiesaro (2008), p. 107.

7224-27: sed mihi uel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat/ uel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,/ pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam,/ ante, pudor, quam te uiolo aut tua iura resoluo. With sed Dido calls herself to order: yes, passions are stirring; but, so she reminds herself, she is under religious obligation not to break her vow of loyal chastity to her dead husband. The syntax of the period is as follows: the potential subjunctive optem (24) introduces a wish-clause that specifies two things that should happen (uel dehiscat; uel adigat) before she breaks her vow: the prius in line 24 is picked up by ante ... quam (note the tmesis, effected by the direct address to Pudor) in line 27. It is a very elaborate way of saying ‘I’d rather die than fail to respect my sense of shame by being disloyal to my murdered husband.’ This passage is picked up in 457–65, i.e. shortly before her suicide, when Dido visits the marble chapel she had constructed in honour of Sychaeus and where she now hears his voice calling at night (460–61: hinc exaudiri uoces et uerba uocantis/ uisa uiri, nox cum terras obscura teneret; ‘thence she heard, it seemed, sounds and speeches of her husband calling, whenever dark night held the earth’): ‘As Sychaeus calls from the grave, he unexpectedly realizes the adynata which Dido relied upon in her initial oath (4.24-29).’68

7324: mihi: a dative of disadvantage.

7424: tellus ... dehiscat: the notion of the earth gaping open recurs in a simile in the Hercules and Cacus episode, where terra dehiscens (8.243) reveals the Underworld below.

7525: pater omnipotens: Jupiter. omnipotens (‘all-powerful’) is the standard epithet of the supreme Olympian divinity in the Aeneid.

7626: pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam: the entire line stands in apposition to ad umbras (25): it specifies more precisely what kind of shades she means: those in the Underworld. Erebus is a Greek loanword in Latin, and several passages in Homer and Hesiod in particular come to mind. At Iliad 9.571–72, we learn that the Erinys, the Avenging Fury, the divinity, in other words, who sees to it that violations of oaths or self-imprecations like the one Dido is here uttering do not go unpunished, dwells in Erebos. At Odyssey 11.563–64, Ajax, after being addressed by Odysseus, silently wanders off ‘into Erebus’ in a scene that Virgil rewrites in Book 6, with Dido taking the role of Ajax and Aeneas that of Odysseus. And Erebus is also the place where Father Sky kept his defiant sons Obriareus, Cottus, and Gyges in bondage, until Zeus released them so that they could aid the Olympians in their battle with the Titans (Hesiod, Theogony 616–86, esp. 669). In Greek, erebos, apart from specifying a location within the Underworld, means ‘shadowy darkness’, and the placement of umbras next to Erebo thus provides a neat Latin gloss on what Erebus signifies in Greek. Otherwise, the design of the verse is perfectly symmetrical, with a chiasmus of attribute (pallentis) — noun (umbras): noun (noctem) — attribute (profundam) framing the decisive cosmographic specification, Erebo (an ablative of place: in Erebus, i.e. the Underworld) further stressed by the caesura (hepthemimeres). A further stylistic touch is the alliteration of the two attributes pallentisprofundam placed at the beginning and the end of the line. Dido does not fool around: she calls herself to order, to re-bind herself to her vow of chastity, by the strongest possible means. (As Henderson puts it, per litteras, ‘putting the fear of Hesiodic Zeus up herself SHOULD work!’) But of course it doesn’t — and the consequences are indeed as dire as the self-imprecation designed to prevent them.

7727: pudor: the basic meaning of pudor, which is here personified and addressed directly in an apostrophe, is a gender-neutral ‘sense of shame.’ It is clearly one of the key themes of the Dido episode: see also 4.55, and 4.322. The following considerations may serve as stimuli for further discussion of a complex term:

  1. Pudor Personified: The personification of pudor is a development of the Augustan period. Bendlin, in his Brill’s New Pauly entry on ‘Pudor’, points out that, unlike other personifications (such as Pudicitia, the personification of female chastity), pudor as a personification of human social behaviour never received a public cult, though Augustan poets often seem oblivious to this distinction.69

    • 70 Collard (1975), p. 145.

    The Literary Background: Virgil has crafted his text with the αἰδώς (the Greek equivalent of pudor, also meaning ‘sense of shame’) of Apollonius’ Medea in mind, and it is instructive to consider the relation between the maiden and the emotion in his Greek model, both for similarities and differences. After waking up from nightmares about Jason and what she might be doing on his behalf, Medea decides to consult her sister, but is checked by her sense of shame (Argonautica 3.646–55): ‘And she truly desired to visit her sister and crossed the threshold to the courtyard, but for a long time she remained there in the vestibule of her room, held back by shame (αἰδώς). She turned around and went back again, but once more came forth from within, and again shrank back inside. Her feet carried her back and forth in vein: whenever she started forth, shame (αἰδώς) held her back inside, but while restrained by shame (αἰδώς), bold desire kept urging her on. Three times she tried, three times she halted. The fourth time she whirled back around and fell face down on her bed.’ Alerted to Medea’s crying, Chalciope then seeks out her sister, whereupon Medea experiences another struggle between shame (αἰδώς) and desire (3.681–87): ‘The girl’s cheeks blushed, and for a long time her virgin shame (αἰδώς) restrained her, although she longed to reply. At one moment her words rose up to the tip of her tongue, but at another fluttered deep down in her breast. Often they rushed up to her lovely lips for utterance, but went no further to become speech. At last she spoke these words deceitfully, for the bold Loves were urging her on.’ And finally, once back on her own, she decides to help Jason and sends shame packing, in a direct address (3.785–86): ἐρρέτω αἰδώς,/ ἐρρέτω ἀγλαΐη; ‘Away with Shame, away with glory!’. Despite the Apollonian model, it is important to note that αἰδώς and pudor are not entirely identical in meaning. As Collard puts it: ‘Pudor is a concept of moral restraint of far greater meaning than Greek αἰδώς. Its power within Dido increases her stature as a symbolic adversary to Aeneas. She is here invested with a peculiarly Roman quality: her humanity and sympathy for Aeneas are overlaid with a dignity of personal conduct appropriate to a Roman lady.’70 This leads to the next aspect:

    • 71 Kaster (1997), p. 5, and, in more detail, Kaster (2005), Ch. 2: ‘Fifty Ways to Feel Your Pudor.’
    • 72 Kaster (1997), pp. 9–10.

    The Social and Cultural Logic: Pudor is an emotion that ensures that our actions conform to what is acceptable behaviour, either by our own standards or those of others: ‘People feel pudor not only because they are seen, or fear being seen, by someone else, but also because they see themselves and know that their present behavior falls short of their past or ideal selves.’71 Its remit of reference is broader than pudicitia, which, while deriving from pudor, has the more specific sense of ‘female virtue in sexual matters.’ But, as Kaster notes, in the case of women, pudor ‘was largely limited to a single frame of reference, the sexual: the pudor of women is, in effect, congruent with their pudicitia, or sexual respectability.’72

    • 73 O’Hara (2011), p. 23. See Pease (1935), p. 110 for further details.

    Dido as uniuira?: Some scholars have tried to explain Dido’s feeling of pudor with the Roman ideal of a woman who only ever had one husband. But as O’Hara points out, such a contextual solution is far from straightforward: ‘Dido’s feelings also involve the Roman concept of univiratus, or a woman’s having only one husband for life, which in Vergil’s time was partly revered, partly ignored as old-fashioned. Only univirae could sacrifice to the goddess Pudicitia, but around the time of the posthumous publication of the Aeneid widows were strongly encouraged to remarry by the Augustan marriage laws of 18 BCE.’73 It is thus not entirely clear what aspect of yielding to her feelings for Aeneas provokes pudor and what, precisely, the laws (iura) of pudor are that Dido feels she would break. Her sister Anna, for instance, will argue shortly that giving in to her feelings should be no cause for pudor whatsoever. The different attitude of the two sisters suggests that Dido’s pudor is to some extent self-made or perhaps even excessive — or is Anna simply shameless?

    • 74 See Essay 2: Historiographical Dido, for the full story.

    Rewriting History: Personally, I believe the discussion could benefit from a shift in emphasis away from sexual ethics to what one might call the problem of ‘literary slander.’I suspect that the complicated prominence of pudor in Virgil’s text has a lot to do with the fact that this concept focalizes his outrageous rewriting of Dido’s story: before Virgil — and for many authors after Virgil, who refused to give any credence to the Virgilian version — Dido was an exemplar of chastity, who preferred to commit suicide rather than remarry: in our historiographical sources, her own people tried to force her into an arranged marriage with Iarbas and she escaped from the imposition by taking her own life. Inverting this tradition, Virgil eroticizes the historical Dido in making her fall in love with Aeneas, which drives a wedge between the queen and her pudor, hitherto her hallmark quality: if in the historiographical tradition Dido kills herself to preserve her sense of shame, in Virgil she kills herself because she has lost her sense of shame and tries to regain at least some of it in a cataclysmic act of suicidal wrath.74

  • 75 O’Hara (2011), p. 24.
  • 76 Maclennan (2007), p. 78.

7828–29: ille meos, primus qui me sibi iunxit, amores/ abstulit: Dido’s way of saying ‘he was the first — and is going to be the last.’She returns to themes first broached in 16–17: vinclo...sociare iugali is picked up by me sibi iunxit, and primus amor by meos...amores and primus. Commentators note the ‘convoluted word order’ (such as the hyperbaton of meos... amores or the placement of primus outside the relative clause into which it belongs), which ‘reflects Dido’s confusion and agitation’,75 and the alliteration and enjambment in amores/ abstulit: as Maclennan notes, perceptively, ‘Dido half wishes this were true.’76 But Virgil, through verbal architecture, has already made clear that Dido is lying or, rather, deceiving herself — even before she bursts out in tears in the subsequent line. For in terms of verse design, lines 28–29 mirror lines 22–23 (animumque labantem/ impulit), an effect enhanced by the fact that no other line in the vicinity features a diaeresis after the first foot. This is hardly coincidental: the words in enjambment, i.e. impulit (subject: Aeneas) and abstulit (subject: Sychaeus), stand in antithetical relation to one another and the construction of the metre, as well as the homoioteleuton-pulit/ -tulit, subtly intimate that her assertion here is belied by her earlier confession that she has fallen for Aeneas.

7929: ille habeat secum seruetque sepulcro: the accusative object of habeat has to be supplied from the previous sentence: meos amores; sepulcro is an ablative of place, set up by the alliterative sequence secum seruetque sepulcro. The anaphora of ille in lines 28 and 29 contrasts with Dido’s use of the demonstrative pronoun hic to refer to Aeneas in lines 10 and 22 (and with ille in line 14), suggesting that Aeneas has already acquired a more urgent and immediate presence in Dido’s heart than her dead husband. It is poignant that Dido’s first speech in the Book ends with a reference to a tomb (sepulcro). In fact, whereas Dido tends to be deluded in matters of love, she sees remarkably clear in matters of death. Sychaeus has indeed preserved his affection for her, as Aeneid 6.473–74 illustrates: after her encounter with Aeneas in the Underworld, Dido recedes to a shady grove, coniunx ubi pristinus illi/ respondet curis aequatque Sychaeus amorem (‘where Sychaeus, her former husband, devotes himself to her sorrows and gives her love for love’).

  • 77 Pease (1935), p. 113.

8030: sic effata sinum lacrimis impleuit obortis: Pease notes with reference to lacrimis ... obortis that ‘the verb seems to imply that the tears came spontaneously, in spite of her intention, as opposed to the lacrimis ... coactis of Sinon (2, 196).’77 He cites the ancient commentator Donatus for possible reasons: Dido may have been overwhelmed by the affectionate memory of her dead, yet faithful husband; or the tears could be interpreted as an index of the profound misery her determination to remain loyal to Sychaeus is causing her. The two reasons are not mutually exclusive and there may be others as well: the tears could perhaps also be taken as an indication of her dawning realization that she will soon abandon her resolve?

31–53: Sister Act II: Anna’s Reply

81Dido has put her sister in an impossible situation. It does not require much intuition on Anna’s part to divine that what Dido really yearns for is to yield to her fatal attraction to the Trojan hero. At the same time, Dido has done her very best to close down this option. Her self-imprecation linked to an apostrophe of Pudor preemptively deprives Anna of much leeway in giving advice. In fact, at the end of her speech, Dido sidelined her partner and confidante, invoking Pudor personified and entering into an ‘unbreakable vow’, in a desperate attempt to prevent herself from succumbing to her irresistible passion: if she honours Pudor and remains loyal to Sychaeus, she lives; if she violates the terms of her vow, she dies. Anna, however, disregards both Dido’s personal scruples and the metaphysical obligations her sister has imposed on herself. She gives absolute priority to what she knows Dido longs for deep in her heart. Her reply, which is just slightly longer than Dido’s speech, falls into four parts of gradually diminishing length (8/ 6/ 5/ 4):

  1. 31–38: Consideration of Dido’s (non-existent) love life, which falls into two halves of four lines each:

  1. 31–34: Dido, Anna urges, deserves to experience love again and to have children and should quit wasting pieties on the ashes of her former husband.

  2. 35–38: A quick, contrastive retrospective: Dido, while in mourning (aegra) understandably rejected her host of local suitors; but why fight genuine love?

  1. 39–44: Strategic advantages of giving in to her feelings for Aeneas: he will protect Carthage from the many enemies that are threatening the city.

  2. 45–49: Suggestion that the arrival of Aeneas at Carthage is part of a divine plan to ensure a glorious future for the city.

  3. 50–53: Practical proposals of what to do to ensure divine support and get Aeneas to stay.

  • 78 I owe appreciation of this contrast to John Henderson.

82In formal terms, Anna’s basic strategy in the first two parts of her speech is the use of the rhetorical question. 1.1 comprises two rhetorical questions; 1.2 begins by stating facts, which yield a further rhetorical question (38: placitone etiam pugnabis amori?); and 2 inverts this pattern by beginning with a rhetorical question (39: nec uenit in mentem quorum consederis aruis?) before stating the answer and concluding with another rhetorical question cast as praeteritio (43–44: quid bella Tyro surgentia dicam/ germanique minas?). Throughout this section of the speech, then, Anna does not so much dispense advice as ask ‘how could you not act on your passion’? She then changes tack (3). After assuring Dido that there is no reason why she ought not to give in, but countless reasons why she should, Anna embeds Dido’s love within larger frames of reference: divine will and the prospect of a glorious future for Dido’s city Carthage owing to a marriage-alliance with Aeneas. Civic considerations already dominated in part 2, but are here turned from something negative (threats) to something positive (a vision of future greatness). As if Dido’s decision is by now a foregone conclusion, Anna ends her speech with practical advice on how to ensure the continuing goodwill of the gods and the continuing presence of Aeneas. Overall, then, she counters Dido’s commitment to the dead (and Death!), with an affirmation of Life, in all its facets, personal and political: fulfilling sex, a happy marriage, the joys of children, the prospect of being the reigning monarch of a powerful and prosperous city, future fame, and the blessing of the gods. She thus counters Dido’s final endorsement of social norms, backed by a religious resolution, with her own, countervailing invocation of a patriotic vision and a concluding appeal to the gods.78

83In tragedy, confidants hardly ever give sound advice, however wellintentioned they may be. A good example of this dynamic is the speech of the nurse in Euripides’ Hippolytus, who also counsels Phaedra to act on her feelings and reveal her illicit desires to her stepson Hippolytus to disastrous results. What can be said for Anna is that she argues not in favour of a love affair, but a marriage alliance (grounded in love, to be sure).

8431–33: Anna refert: ‘o luce magis dilecta sorori: dilecta (‘beloved’, sc. Dido) is in the vocative; luce is ablative of comparison after magis (‘more beloved than light’); sorori (= mihi), a dative of agency, is Anna herself. Anna’s keynote luce, which stands in stark antithesis to the last words of Dido’s speech, i.e. sepulcro, is programmatic. As John Henderson puts it (per litteras): ‘He’s dead; you’re not is the obvious way to knock closure with sepulcro | on the head.’

8532: solane: the particle-ne introduces a question. By singling out Dido with sola, Anna arguably picks up Dido’s reference to Aeneas with solus hic in line 22, suggesting, however subliminally, that the two are made for each other.

8632: perpetua... iuuenta: an ablative of time: ‘during your entire [for this sense of perpetuus, see OLD s. v. 1d: Dido is not eternally youthful] period of youth.’ maerens carpere:-pe-scans long: carpere is second person singular future passive indicative of carpo (an alternative form to carperis); it has the intransitive sense ‘to waste away’(OLD s. v. 7c), thus here: ‘are you going to waste away?’Ironically, Virgil used the same verb in a similar sense at 4.2: the fact is that Dido is wasting away, though not ‘in mourning’(maerens is a circumstantial participle).

8733: nec dulcis natos Veneris nec praemia noris?: noris is the syncopated form of noueris, i.e. the second person singular future perfect active of nosco. dulcis (accusative plural; = dulces), which grammatically goes with natos, is most likely meant to modify praemia as well — just as Veneris could also be construed with both dulcis natos (see below) and praemia. The goddess of love clearly takes centre-stage in this verse, presiding over studiously ambiguous syntax and semantics. One way to construe the two accusative objects dulcis natos and praemia (with the genitive attribute Veneris) is as ‘theme and variation’, i.e. sweet sons are the rewards (praemia) of engaging in sexual intercourse (Veneris). On this reading, Anna would slyly cover up Dido’s overwhelming erotic desire by downplaying the act, and emphasizing the socially desirable outcome, of sex, i.e. offspring. But one could read her rhetoric against the grain and see dulcis natos and praemia Veneris as two diverse notions, detailing two distinct functions of sex, i.e. reproduction and pleasure, in what would amount to a coy husteron proteron, in which she first refers to procreation and then hints at sexual gratification. After all, the phrase praemia Veneris leaves quite a bit to the (erotic) imagination: what exactly are ‘the rewards of love/ Venus’?

  • 79 O’Hara (2011), p. 24.

88There are further details to savour: while the genitive Veneris depends on praemia (‘the rewards of love’) the postponed nec (standard word order would be: nec Veneris praemia) does more than to provide ‘metrical flexibility’.79 For a fleeting moment, Virgil’s design creates the impression that Veneris modifies dulcis natos, with Anna asking her sister whether she will never have come to know ‘the sweet sons of Venus.’Unbeknowst to either her or Dido, Dido of course has come to know both sons of Venus, i.e. Aeneas and Cupid (whom she fondled on her lap in the guise of Ascanius), rather well by now. (For the brother-act, see 1.664–69, where Venus addresses her son with nate, meae uires, mea magna potentia, solus,/ nate... before enlisting him to help his brother: frater... Aeneas... tuus.) Virgil thus also plays with the double sense of Venus, which may either refer to the anthropomorphic goddess of love or signify, metonymically, the emotion/ experience of ‘love’(just like Ceres = ‘grain’etc.). Anna most likely has the latter sense in mind, but we, the readers, are surely encouraged to activate the former sense as well. After all, Venus is a powerful presence in Virgil’s divine machinery and has already arranged for Dido to receive presents from Love. See 1.695–96 (Iamque ibat dicto parens et dona Cupido/ regia portabat Tyriis...: ‘And now, obeying her word, Cupid went forth and carried the royal gifts for the Tyrians...’). In short, the phrase praemia Veneris is replete with dramatic (and tragic) irony.

8934: id cinerem aut manis credis curare sepultos?: cinerem and manis (= manes) sepultos are the subject accusatives of the indirect statement introduced by credis. The pronoun id, which sums up the previous rhetorical question (is Dido to waste away her youth in mourning for her murdered husband?), is the accusative object of curare (here: ‘to pay heed to’). manes, manium (m. pl.) are primarily ‘the spirits of the dead’or ‘the shade of a particular person’(OLD s. v. 1b and c), but, as sepultos makes clear, Anna uses the word in the sense of ‘mortal remains’(OLD s. v. 2), i.e. almost synonymously with cinis. This line is Anna’s answer to Dido’s closing sentence ille habeat secum seruetque sepulcro, which grants Sychaeus continuing existence in the hereafter. Picking up sepulcro with sepultos, Anna argues that Sychaeus is dead and buried and hence unable to concern himself with what Dido feels or does, either in terms of grieving for him or opting to enter into a new relationship. This position has affinities with Epicurean philosophy: Epicurus too maintained that our soul does not survive our body, consisting as it does of an agglomeration of atoms that simply disperse in death. But it turns out to be disastrously misguided in Virgil’s world.

9035–38: esto: aegram nulli quondam flexere mariti,/ non Libyae, non ante Tyro; despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii, quos Africa terra triumphis/ diues alit: placitone etiam pugnabis amori?: esto (a third person singular future imperative) has a concessive sense: ‘so be it!’(OLD s. v. sum 8b). Anna uses the exclamation as proleptic point of departure for rehearsing Dido’s past opportunities to remarry, recalling the sequence of suitors she rejected, both in her native Tyre and then in Libya. Intriguingly, she thereby reaffirms the image of Dido perpetuated within the historiographical tradition, in which the queen features as a model of chastity. But Anna then goes on to clamour for fully embracing the Virgilian departure from the orthodox account, in which Dido and Aeneas never met: ‘Fair enough’, she says, ‘you didn’t love those others — but why deny yourself the second love of your life?’Her chosen idiom subtly aligns itself to Dido’s: nulli... flexere mariti picks up 22: solus hic inflexit sensus...

  • 80 O’Hara (2011), p. 24.
  • 81 Maclennan (2007), p. 79.

9135: aegram: the predicative adjective refers to Dido: ‘you [a te is implied], in your sorrow, no wooer has been able to move.’O’Hara asks: ‘in what way does Anna think Dido is “sick” (cf. male sana in 8)? With sorrow for Sychaeus? With disgust at her suitors...?’80 But Maclennan, taking aegram closely with quondam, ingeniously suggests that Anna does not think of Dido as sick at all, but rather as cured by her new-found love for Aeneas: ‘formerly [quondam], when you were sick with grief (for Sychaeus)...’81 The adjective may also recall 1.351–52 (from the account of Dido’s biography that Venus gives to Aeneas): ... factumque diu celauit [sc. Pygmalion] et aegram/ multa malus simulans uana spe lusit amantem (‘and for long he [sc. Pygmalion] covered up the deed [sc. of murdering Sychaeus] and by many a pretence cunningly cheated her, sick with love as she was, with empty hope’).

9235: mariti: usually a maritus is a husband, but here the sense clearly is something akin to ‘wooer’or ‘prospective husband.’Anna continues to plant the idea of marriage in the mind of her sister by using a term that suggests a fait accompli.

9336: Libyae... Tyro: we may be dealing with a grammatical enallage: in form, Libyae is locative, though in terms of sense it is perhaps best understood as an ablative of place or origin (Libya), whereas Tyro is in form an ablative of place, though in sense a locative (Tyri). Tyre is Dido’s hometown in Phoenicia, which she fled after the murder of Sychaeus. The reference here is curious since, at least according to Venus, there was no time for entering into a new relationship there anyway: initially, Pygmalion covered up the crime, so Dido did not know that her husband was dead, and as soon as she found out through an apparition she fled the city (1.345–64). Anna must have known this (indeed, one could argue that the grammatical enallage surreptitiously highlights her ‘spinning’of the facts), but her hyperbolic tweaking of the truth has a clear rhetorical purpose: it emphasizes the length of Dido’s refusal to get on with life and love, which has led to the indiscriminate rejection of both countrymen and foreign suitors. The implication is ‘enough is enough.’ 36: despectus Iarbas: Virgil elides est — the form is the third person singular perfect indicative passive of despicio. Iarbas, a son of Jupiter, is the African king in control of the land on which Dido is building her city, and, as it turns out, none too pleased that she rejected him as a suitor. When he hears of her affair with Aeneas (which is adding insult to injury), he kicks up a royal fuss with his dad: see below 196–221.

9437–38: ductoresque alii [sc. despecti sunt], quos Africa terra triumphis/ diues alit: note the enjambment (triumphis/ diues —’rich in triumphs’) and the alliterative patterning that links the opening of the two verses (ductores ~ diues; alii ~ alit). The choriambic opening (diues alit), with its strong caesura in the second foot, brings to a close the thought that Anna introduced with esto in line 35 and which serves as negative foil for the rhetorical question that takes up the rest of the verse.

  • 82 For a recent discussion, see Beard (2007).

9537: triumphis: The triumph is the quintessentially Roman victory ritual, involving the procession of the conquering general from the Campus Martius to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus (or Mars Ultor, in imperial times).82 Even though the term can also denote ‘military victory’more generally, its use here by Anna is curious and potentially contains another (historical) irony by evoking the Roman conquest of Africa and the many triumphal parades that ensued: Africa, on this reading, is rich in triumphs for the Romans. This at least is what Juno fears: see 1.21–2: hinc populum late regem belloque superbum/ uenturum excidio Libyae... (‘from there a people, kings far and wide and proud in war, should come forth for the downfall of Libya’). Arguably, we are dealing with another instance in which Virgil reveals Anna as a person with limited insight by giving her constructions and phrases that resonate with meanings she herself cannot possibly be aware of. Thematically, though, the reference to triumphs as a metonymy of military might is entirely appropriate: it anticipates Anna’s next argumentative turn. She submits that giving in to her love for Aeneas is also a good move on Dido’s part for strictly strategic reasons: the union would fortify the precarious position of Carthage in a supremely hostile environment.

9638: placitone etiam pugnabis amori?:-ne introduces a question. placitus is the perfect passive participle (though in sense active) of placeo: ‘a love that is pleasing.’The combination of placito amori and pugnabis (linked by alliteration) generates a paradox that Dido is asked to resolve by discontinuing her fight against love and marks a subtle change in Anna’s argument: after expressing sympathy for Dido’s rejection of suitors while she was still aegra with grief for Sychaeus (even though, as she implies, there were good strategic reasons for accepting one of her African suitors), Anna now switches into exhortative mode. The strategic rationale for a powerful alliance still applies, while one of the reasons for not entering into one (the lack of a suitor for whom Dido harbours amorous feelings) has disappeared. In her argument Anna silently passes over two rather salient points: (a) in line with her own belief that the dead ought to have no bearing on the living (see line 34), she refuses to reckon with Dido’s lingering feelings of loyalty to Sychaeus, making out as if her sister’s renewed ability to love would enable her to enter into another marriage freely and happily; (b) Anna takes Aeneas’consent simply for granted, even though Aeneas has not presented himself as a suitor; this is a nice touch in terms of boosting the morale of her sister, but proves the fatal flaw in her approach to the problem. Indeed, in both respects, Anna profoundly (and deliberately?) misunderstands, or begs to differ from, her sister, for whom Sychaeus remains a powerful point of reference throughout and who intuitively knows very well that Aeneas will not, cannot stay for good: even while their affair is in full swing (to the point of Aeneas helping with the construction of Carthage), Dido remains ill at ease (see below on 4.298: omnia tuta timens).

9739: uenit: another instance where metre helps to clarify a point of grammar: uenit (with short e, as here) is the third person singular present indicative active; uênit (with long e), is the third person singular perfect indicative active.

9839: quorum consederis aruis?: ‘in whose lands you have settled.’Consederis, the verb of the indirect question, is second person singular perfect active subjunctive of consido, here: ‘to settle as a colonist, to make one’s home’(OLD s. v. 4). Note the second person singular: Anna’s focus remains exclusively on Dido, as she continues to marginalize both herself and the other Tyrian refugees. This stands in implicit contrast to the historiographical tradition against which Virgil is writing, where her fellow-travellers try to force Dido into a marriage alliance with a local ruler in the interest of communal safety.

9940–44: hinc Gaetulae urbes, genus insuperabile bello,/ et Numidae infreni cingunt et inhospita Syrtis;/ hinc deserta siti regio lateque furentes/ Barcaei: situated on a map, the geographical references in this sentence look as follows:

100Anna elaborates on the theme of disadvantageous location — wherever one looks, there are either enemies or wastelands around (hinc, hinc), and that is not even considering foes threatening from afar, i.e. Dido’s hometown Tyre, to which Anna alludes in the following sentence. As the map illustrates (if we want to presuppose that Anna operated with precise geographical awareness), she begins in the south with the Gaetulian cities, then moves clockwise to the southwest (the Numidians), the east (the Syrtis), and the southeast (the desert and the Barcaeans). At the same time, this circular motion (cf. cingunt; the verb lacks an accusative object, which one could supply mentally (te or nos), though the absolute use perhaps enhances the ominous sense of being ringed in on all sides by hostile people and inhospitable landscape) is belied by her use of hinchinc as a structuring device. It suggests a bipartite division: the Gaetulian cities, the Numidians, and the Syrtis on one side, the desert and the Barcaeans on the other. As the map shows, this does not quite work since the Numidians and the Syrtis are located on opposite sides of Carthage. What are we to make of this geographical imprecision? Are we dealing with another subtle hint that Anna’s point of view is not to be trusted in all details?

101Another point of interest is the implied antithesis Anna creates between the isolated city of Carthage, governed by a lonely queen in the thralls of love, and the hostile and warlike people that threaten to overpower her on all sides. The rhetorical agenda behind this construct is obvious: the more feeble and vulnerable Dido considers herself to be, the greater the appeal of a powerful union with the Trojan hero. But it is, at least to some extent, a construct: in earlier portions of the epic, Virgil has dropped unmistakable hints that the Phoenician settlers fit right into their new environment. Already in the proem, Carthage is characterized as diues opum studiisque asperrima belli (14) and in the narrative proper it requires a divine intervention for the Carthaginians to put aside their ferocious hearts and for Dido to adopt a benevolent disposition towards the shipwrecked Trojans (1.302–04: ponuntque ferocia Poeni/ corda uolente deo; in primis regina quietum/ accipit in Teucros animum mentemque benignam; ‘with the god willing it, the Punic people lay aside their savage hearts; above all the queen receives a gentle soul and friendly mind towards the Teucrians’). From the start of the Aeneid, the world-historical showdown between Rome and Carthage in the Punic Wars of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC forms a wider historical horizon against which the epic action unfolds, and Virgil drops consistent reminders that he is here providing the aetiology for the most lethal military conflict Rome experienced in its rise to empire.

10240: Gaetulae urbes, genus insuperabile bello: the adjective Gaetulus (‘of the Gaetulians, Gaetulian’) refers to the people that lived in the interior of North West Africa; there is a slippage from the topographical (urbes) to the ethnic (genus), with genus insuperabile bello standing in apposition to the notional urbes Gaetulorum. (The reference to actual cities may surprise in this context, though see 1.578 where Dido mentions the woods and cities of Libya where Aeneas may have got lost.) Anna’s idiom recalls many other passages in the Aeneid in which Virgil engages in ethnographic commentary. As here, this often involves reference to a city or a people/ ethnic community (genus) and an attribute in predicative position, rendered more precise by an ablative of respect, frequently indicating martial qualities. There are two instances of this in the extended proem, i.e. Karthago... studiis... asperrima belli (1. 13–14: ‘Carthage, extremely stern in the pursuits of war’) and populum... bello... superbum (1. 21: ‘a people... proud in war’, i.e. the Romans). Another parallel passage that resonates strongly here is 1.339, where Venus (disguised as a Carthaginian maid) describes the inhabitants of Libya as a genus intractabile bello. (Virgil in general has a fondness for adjectives ending in -bilis/ -bile; see below 4.53: tractabile and, perhaps most famously, 8.625: clipei non enarrabile textum (to convey the impossibility of putting into words the texture of images engraved on Aeneas’shield).

10341: Numidae infreni: Numida,-ae m., is a native of Numidia; Virgil calls them ‘unbridled’(infreni) because of the way they ride their horses, their ethnic character, and their way of life (true to their name, they lead a ‘nomadic’existence).

10441: inhospita Syrtis: the reference to the Syrtis recalls the sea-storm in Aeneid 1 that wrecked Aeneas’fleet. Three of the ships were forced by eastern winds from the deep into shallows and sandbanks (ab alto/ in breuia et syrtis) where they remained stuck (1.110-12) until Neptun removed the accumulated sand (1.146: et uastas aperit syrtis). Here, the singular Syrtis may refer either to the two areas of sandy flats between Carthage and Cyrene to the East or ‘the whole desert region adjoining the coast’(so the OLD s. v. c). Ancient etymologists connected the name with the Greek verb suro, ‘to drag off by force’, an aspect well brought out by the attribute inhospita.

10542–43: hinc deserta siti regio lateque furentes/ Barcaei: the information given under the second hinc forms a thematic chiasmus with the information given under the first hinc: after people (Gaetulians, Numidians) and place (Syrtis), we now get place (the desert region) and people (the Barcaeans). Barca is the Punic word for ‘lightning’, which comes out in their habit ‘to rage and range far and wide.’ siti is ablative (of cause) of sitis, sitis, f. Its primary meaning is ‘thirst’but here it has the transferred sense ‘arid weather, drought.’The Barcaei are the people of Barce, a city located in the Cyrenaica, close to present-day Tripoli. Virgil may have chosen this particular city since it calls up associations with the Carthaginian Barca family to which Hannibal belonged. late furentes (‘raging far and wide’) would certainly nicely describe Hannibal’s actions in Italy during the Second Punic War.

10643–44: quid bella Tyro surgentia dicam/ germanique minas?: Dido left Tyre with the state-treasure, much to the dislike of her brother. This is one of the reasons Aeneas and his men initially receive such a frosty welcome: the Carthaginians are expecting an attack from the sea, and would not at first allow Aeneas’men to land (see 1.540: hospitio prohibemur harenae). Tyro is ablative of origin (‘arising from Tyre’). germanus: Pygmalion, brother to both Dido and Anna.

10744: germanique minas?: one of the notorious half-lines in the Aeneid, evidence of the incomplete state the poem was in when Virgil died. Here a trailing-off halfway through the line would even be thematically appropriate: Anna, after all, is using the rhetorical device of praeteritio, where you mention something without elaborating on it since it would be unnecessary or inappropriate to do so.

10845–46: dis equidem auspicibus reor et Iunone secunda/ hunc cursum Iliacas uento tenuisse carinas: apart from the main verb reor and the qualifier equidem that goes with it, the two verses consist of an indirect statement: Iliacas carinas is the subject accusative, tenuisse the verb, and hunc cursum its accusative object. The most striking features are the two ablative absolutes dis auspicibus and Iunone secunda that belong in the indirect statement but are pulled up front for emphasis. auspex, auspicis denotes a religious functionary who gets information about the will of the gods from the behaviour of birds (flight or feeding patterns, cries), but can also have the more general sense of (divine) patron or supporter (OLD s. v. 3). The lines drip with unintended irony and are arguably the most blatant illustration that Anna hasn’t a clue what she is talking about: Juno had no intention whatsoever of blasting Aeneas to Africa; she set out to sink his fleet. The arrival of Aeneas at Carthage is thus a complete accident, and not at all the result of purposeful divine planning: Juno (etymologized as ‘helper’) is here the exact opposite of auspex or secunda, and the wind that blew Aeneas Dido’s way not a favourable (in Latin: secundus, implied by Juno’s attribute) breeze, but a destructive storm. This is already the second instance in which Anna makes a judgement upon a matter involving the sphere of the divine that turns out to be seriously mistaken, at least within the literary world of Virgil’s epic. (The first came in line 34 where she dismisses the notion of a conscious afterlife.) By now her ignorance and naiveté are glaringly obvious: the advice she gives Dido is bound to be deeply flawed, or at least out of touch with the realities that apply in the Aeneid. But this is in keeping with her dramatic role: ‘Anna’s job is to voice seductive thoughts “for” Dido, to feed them to her: the altera ego says what’s forbidden to the self’(Henderson, per litteras).

10947–49: quam tu urbem, soror, hanc cernes, quae surgere regna/ coniugio tali! Teucrum comitantibus armis/ Punica se quantis attollet gloria rebus!: Anna concludes her exhortation with three exclamatory sentences (quam... urbem,... quae... regna!–quantis... rebus!) designed to entice Dido to yield to her passion by invoking grand prospects of the city and the fame that is bound to ensue for her from the liaison. Overall, the design is chiastic: Anna begins with Dido and Carthage (urbem, regna) before adding a reference to Aeneas (coniugio tali); she then proceeds with another reference to Aeneas (Teucrum [= Teucrorum] comitantibus armis) before concluding with Carthage (Punica... gloria). The chiasmus ensures that Aeneas ends up at the centre of Carthage and its imperial future. In the third colon, there is also a shift in perspective: in the first two cola Anna imagines what Dido will see (cernes); in the third, she states an objective prospect (attollet gloria).

  • 83 Austin (1963), p. 38.

11047–48: quam tu urbem, soror, hanc cernes, quae surgere regna/ coniugio tali!: both cernes and surgere go with both exclamatory clauses: ‘what a city you will [note the future tense] see rise here, what a kingdom [sc. you will see] rise with such a husband.’’Hanc is deictic, as Anna sweeps her hand towards the city.’83 Anna systematically interrelates Carthage and Dido: quam (Carthage) tu (Dido) urbem (Carthage) soror (Dido) hanc (Carthage) cernes (Dido), a pattern reinforced by the elision of tu and urbem, which merges Dido with her city. coniugium (from coniunx: husband) signifies ‘marriage’but may also mean husband. Anna dramatically places the ablative of cause that will enable Carthage’s rise to imperial greatness in enjambment.

11149: Punica se quantis attollet gloria rebus!: almost a golden line: (a) Punica (b) quantis (c) attollet (a) gloria (b) rebus.

11250–51: tu modo posce deos ueniam, sacrisque litatis/ indulge hospitio causasque innecte morandi: Tu posce — indulge — innecte: Anna opts for a tricolon in these two verses, which details the three pieces of her advice: (1) get divine approval; (2) make Aeneas feel welcome; (3) entice him to stay. After line 47, this is the second time that Anna uses the (from a grammatical point of view unnecessary) second personal pronoun.

  • 84 O’Hara (1993), pp. 105–06.

11350: posce deos ueniam: posco, construed with a double accusative, means ‘to demand something (here: ueniam) of someone (here: deos)’, or, in another idiom, ‘to ask someone (here: deos) insistently or authoritatively for a thing (here: ueniam)’: see OLD s. v. 2a. uenia has a double meaning: ‘permission’and ‘forgiveness.’Arguably, both of these meanings are here in play. See O’Hara: ‘Anna’s phrase posce ueniam captures the ambiguity at the heart of this scene, for ueniam can mean “leave” or “permission” to do something, with no connotation of wrong, or it can mean “forgiveness” for a wrong done. Anna, who is arguing that there is nothing wrong with yielding to a new love, must be thought to mean, “ask for permission”. But the other connotation of uenia suggests a different perspective, that perhaps Dido needs forgiveness for even being attracted to Aeneas, or wishing to break faith with Sychaeus.’84 Indeed, just after Anna claimed that Aeneas has arrived as part of a larger divine plan, she has no reason to recommend to her sister to ask the gods for ‘forgiveness’; even ‘permission’seems a bit too forceful given that, according to Anna, Dido would simply align herself with the will of the gods if she were to marry Aeneas. We have, then, yet another instance in which Anna’s discourse, upon inspection, yields a highly ironic layer of meaning of which the character herself is unaware.

  • 85 Pease (1935), p. 128.

11450: sacrisque litatis: the-que links the two imperatives posce and indulge. lito is a technical term of Roman religion, with a variety of specific meanings to do with the communication between humans and gods. Here it means ‘to offer by way of propitiation or atonement to obtain divine favour.’In a way, it refers to the cult action (the performance of a sacrifice) that corresponds to, and should accompany, the prayer (a speech act) Anna has just referred to in posce deos ueniam. Pease argues that ‘the ablative absolute here expresses a condition; if the sacrifices have turned out favorably Dido may assume that the gods favor her course of action.’85 This, however, is a very innocent reading of Anna’s rhetoric. It glosses over the grammatical ambiguity inherent in the ablative absolute construction, which Anna exploits to help her argument. In contrast, if one takes sacris litatis in a temporal sense (i.e. ‘after divine favour has been obtained through sacrifices’), there is a nice if somewhat rash sense of progression built into her syntax. On this reading, Anna gives the impression that divine approval for her recommended course of action will certainly be forthcoming and she uses this (as it turns out erroneous) assumption as the basis for her advice on how best to retain Aeneas in Carthage.

11551: causasque innecte morandi: the-que links the imperatives indulge and innecte. The basic meaning of innecto is ‘to fasten, tie, bind.’Here it has the sense ‘to weave plots or to devise reasons’(OLD s. v. 4). Dido should try her best to tie together a series of arguments why Aeneas ought to stay.

11652–53: dum pelago desaeuit hiems et aquosus Orion,/ quassataeque rates, dum non tractabile caelum: another tricolon, in which the first and the second colon share one dum. The-que links desaeuit and quassatae [sc. sunt]. desaeuio means ‘to work off rage’, pelago is an ablative of place; the verb in the last colon/ the second dum-clause (est) is again elided. At 4.309–11, Dido uses the fact that Aeneas plans to depart outside the sailing season as evidence for his savage diposition towards her: quin etiam hiberno moliri sidere classem/ et mediis properas Aquilonibus ire per altum,/ crudelis? (‘Even during winter do you actually hasten to labour at your fleet, and to travel across the sea in the midst of nothern winds, cruel one?’) And she returns to the theme at 4.430, when she breathes to Anna, with gusto, of how she might trick Aeneas into staying: exspectet facilemque fugam uentosque ferentis (‘let him wait for an easy flight and favourable winds!’). Anna alternates references to the stormy seas (pelago desaeuit hiems; quassatae rates) and the stormy skies (aquosus Orion; non tractabile caelum), thus conveying a good sense of the entire cosmos in turmoil.

  • 86 Austin (1963), p. 39.

11752: aquosus Orion: ‘The setting of Orion in November marked the onset of stormy weather (hiems); such allusions are not simply learned ornament, but a natural idiom, the stock-in-trade of any farmer or sailor.’86 A reference to stormy Orion would no doubt resonate with Aeneas, given his recent experience at sea. See 1.535 where Ilioneus blames the trouble of the Trojans on nimbosus Orion in his address to Dido. The parallel suggests that Anna has been eavesdropping.

54–89: ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’(Queen)

118This section can be divided into five parts of 2, 12, 6, 12, and 4 lines respectively:

119a) Introduction

12054–55: Effect of Anna’s discourse on Dido

121b) Efforts to Ensure Divine Support

12256–64: Dido and Anna endeavour to win the favour of the gods 65–67: Dismissal of ‘civic’religion

123c) The Pathology of Love Illustrated

12468–73: Wounded-hind simile

125d) Dido’s Effort to Win over her Beloved

12674–79: Dido’s behaviour in the company of Aeneas 80–85: Dido’s behaviour when apart from Aeneas

127e) The Impact of Love on Leadership

12886–89: Effect of Dido’s condition on the construction of Carthage

129Virgil has designed a so-called ‘ring-composition’both in terms of the length of the units and theme: (a) corresponds to (e) and (b) to (d). That places (c), which consists of the famous ‘wounded-hind’simile at the centre of this segment. It is the first time Virgil uses this figure of speech in Book 4: the elaborated formal simile, the quintessential device of epic, could not deliver more impact.

  • 87 Austin (1963), p. 40.
  • 88 Ibid.

13054–55: His dictis impenso animum flammauit amore/ spemque dedit dubiae menti soluitque pudorem: line 54 contains textual issues. Manuscripts and commentators (from late antiquity to the present) disagree on whether Virgil wrote impenso or incensum and, with the latter, some read inflammauit instead of flammauit. Pease prints his dictis incensum animum flammauit amore, Austin follows the Oxford Classical Text (OCT) in printing his dictis impenso animum flammauit amore but actually prefers (with others) his dictis incensum animum inflammauit amore, Maclennan prints what Austin prefers, whereas O’Hara returns to the reading of the OCT. Austin justifies his preferences as follows: ‘The word impensus is not found elsewhere in Virgil, whereas incensum here would be very much in his manner (cf. 197); and although the fact Virgil does not elsewhere use flammare transitively except in the perfect participle need not exclude flammavit here, the intensive compound has more force.’87 Consider also the resulting pattern of alternating i- and a-alliteration incensum animum inflammauit amore as well as the iconic, metrically motivated ‘touching’of animum on each side by the two fire-terms incensum and inflammauit. Moreover, as Austin points out, ‘with that text, the caesura in the third foot is blurred by the elision, and there is none in the fourth foot, an unusual and very striking rhythm, giving a metrical picture of the inexorable spread of the fire in Dido’s heart.’88 What can be said in favour of impenso? To begin with, Dido’s mind was already glowing with love even before Anna spoke; incensum hence seems somewhat tautological. In contrast, impenso would take the obvious for granted (that Dido was already on fire) and concentrate on the fact that Anna has managed to up the ante: the love that was already simmering in her veins is now kindled into a full-blown, excessive conflagration, a point stylistically reinforced by the hyperbaton impenso... amore. There is, moreover, a certain elegance to keeping animum unencumbered by any attribute in line with the two accusative objects that follow, i.e. spem and pudorem.

131Irrespective of the readings, Virgil uses a tricolon to describe the impact of Anna’s speech. In terms of wordage it is descending or anti-climactic: not counting his dictis, which goes with all three (unless it is monopolized by incensum), the first colon covers four and a half feet (impenso... amore), the second three and a half (spemque... menti), and the third two and a half (soluitque pudorem). But the gradual decrease helps to generate a growing sense of inevitability as the fateful conclusion comes into ever-sharper focus. The concluding ‘punch-phrase’is slimmed down to essentials: soluitque pudorem. It harks back to the end of Dido’s speech where she addresses Pudor in declaring that she would sooner die than violate ‘Shame’and its laws (... ante, Pudor, quam te uiolo aut tua iura resoluo, 27). Virgil enhances the effect by arranging the third colon in chiastic order to the first two, which ensures that the key concept of pudor occupies the emphatic final position: accusative object (animum)— verb (inflammauit), accusative object (spem)— verb (dedit), verb (soluit)— accusative object (pudorem). The opposed key words pudorem (55) and amore (54) rhyming at successive verse-endings further stress the instant U-turn effect. We have reached a watershed moment, a point of no return: Dido has dissolved her feeling of Pudor, she has become ‘shame-less.’

13256–64: Once the dam has broken, the pace of the action picks up. These nine lines describe religious activities, first jointly undertaken by the two sisters (56–59), then by Dido alone (60–64). The switch is highly marked see comments on 60 and coincides with a shift from entirely appropriate to somewhat inappropriate behaviour. The passage here has a correlate in 450–73.

  • 89 Expressed in Latin the principle is the snappy do ut des, i.e. ‘I give [something] so that you may (...)

13356–59: principio delubra adeunt pacemque per aras/ exquirunt; mactant lectas de more bidentis/ legiferae Cereri Phoeboque patrique Lyaeo,/ Iunoni ante omnis, cui uincla iugalia curae: the tricolon delubra adeunt — pacem exquirunt — mactant bidentis, in which the last colon again stands in chiastic order to the first two: accusative object (delubra) + verb (adeunt)— accusative object (pacem) + verb (exquirunt)— verb (mactant) + accusative object (bidentis), specifies the different stages of how to enter into (efficacious) communication with the gods: approach to the temple; utterance of a request; sacrifical slaughter as initial human overture in the desired exchange of services. A sacrifice is part of an economy, whereby humans invest time and material resources (victims for sacrifical slaughter are expensive) to court the gods, in the hope of getting something in return.89 The syntax in these lines is straightforward, with Virgil privileging parataxis. We get three main clauses (the first and second linked by-que), the second and third juxtaposed asyndetically (exquirunt; mactant), an enumeration of four divinities, and a relative clause (cui... curae), the only element of hypotaxis. The lines contain no participles in contrast to 60–64.

13456: per aras: per conveys the sense that the sisters are making the rounds of the altars, leaving no stone unturned.

13557: lectas de more bidentis: bidens,-ntis f. is an animal for sacrifice, esp. a sheep. The term refers to the presence of two (bi-) prominent teeth (dens) indicating age (one or two years old). bidentis is the alternative accusative plural ending (= bidentes).

  • 90 Pease (1935), pp. 134–37.
  • 91 Somewhat ironically, the only parallel passage routinely cited that mentions all three divinities c (...)
  • 92 Terence, at Eun. 732, famously claimed sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus, i.e. without food and dr (...)
  • 93 Pease (1935), p. 135.

13658–59: legiferae Cereri Phoeboque patrique Lyaeo,/ Iunoni ante omnis, cui uincla iugalia curae: Anna and Dido appeal and make sacrificial offerings to Ceres, Apollo, Bacchus, and, above all, Juno, who receives syntactical elevation by means of the relative clause introduced by cui: the antecedent of cui is Iunoni, cui is dative of advantage, curae is a predicative dative with the verb ‘to be’; the verb (i.e. sunt) is elided. Apart from Juno invoked as the goddess of marriage: cf. her instantiation as Iuno Iuga, hinted at in the relative clause it is not entirely clear why Ceres, Apollo, and Bacchus are singled out, and commentators since antiquity have puzzled over this. While it is possible to find some source that connects each of the three to marriage individually (Pease offers a typically exhaustive survey of the evidence)90, often the connection does not compel. Moreover, this particular grouping is hard to parallel, not least because of a resounding silence: somehow Anna and Dido fail to sacrifice to Venus, a rather conspicuous oversight in this context, especially in the light of Anna’s earlier point that Dido deserves to enjoy the praemia Veneris (33).91 (Unless there was no altar to Venus in the city: but what would that tell us about Carthage?)92 Perhaps the late-antique commentator Donatus (cited by Pease)93 has a point in suggesting that Ceres stands for civic cohesion (grounded in law: see her epithet legifera, translated, arguably for the first time, from the Greek thesmophoros), Apollo for an auspicious future, and Bacchus for lasting joie de vivre. These aspects would of course also be very fitting in the context of a wedding, but they have a much broader remit; the choice of divinities thus arguably conveys a sense of Dido’s civic responsibilities, with the queen trying to ensure that the pursuit of her amorous passion will not only result in personal fulfillment but a prosperous and enjoyable future for all of Carthage. In fact, the lines here resemble line 45 from Anna’s speech: dis equidem auspicibus reor et Iunone secunda, where Juno too is singled out specially (as goddess of marriage and patron goddess of Carthage), and Anna goes on to stress that a marriage liaison with Aeneas is auspicious both for Dido and her city. From this point of view, lines 58–9 describe the ritual deeds to match the words.

137But the most compelling take on these lines, I find, is Henderson’s (per litteras): ‘I’d say the spray of divinities amounts to a smokescreen, hiding from themselves and one and all what this is all about, as if going the extra mile will make it right (cf. per aras). No sex, then and even marriage as if an obligatory (uincla...) afterthought, though that is what’s up-front. The slippage in the line from legiferae (from Greek thesmophoros) to “Lyaeo” (from Greek luo = soluo) amounts to further slippage from contract to release. Dido’s game is to transfer from one bond to the next instantly, cemented for good. Juno’s game is to we (l) d Aeneas to Carthage, with marriage as yoke (iugum) and shackles. All above board? But cura is, plain to see, a see-through cover for desire; and ancient marriages were arranged between families, not love-matches.’

13860–64: ipsa tenens dextra pateram pulcherrima Dido / candentis uaccae media inter cornua fundit,/ aut ante ora deum pinguis spatiatur ad aras,/ instauratque diem donis, pecudumque reclusis/ pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta: Line 60 marks the moment when the focus switches from the ritual actions that the sisters perform together to those that Dido performs alone. The plurals of 56–7 (adeunt, exquirunt, mactant) become singulars here (ipsa... Dido–fundit–spatiatur–instaurat–consulit). On a superficial reading, one may get the impression that Virgil here simply fleshes out details of the general picture sketched in 56–9, with a specific focus on Dido. But that is not the case: the actions in 60–4 come after those in 56–9. Virgil hints at this with the adverb principio in line 56 (what we get in 60–4 is the ‘deinde’as it were) but otherwise enters the new time-frame well-nigh imperceptibly: only with aut in line 62 does it become entirely obvious what is going on. This step forward in time and the attending switch from joint to individual action coincide with a shift from hopeful and orthodox supplication of the gods to the somewhat desperate performance of religious rites in the face of a distinct lack of divine enthusiasm.

  • 94 Maclennan (2007), p. 83.
  • 95 See also his note ad Aen. 6.244. Both are quoted by Pease (1935), p. 138.

13960–61: ipsa tenens dextra pateram pulcherrima Dido/ candentis uaccae media inter cornua fundit: pateram is perhaps best taken apo koinou with the circumstantial participle tenens and the main verb fundit. Virgil already used the epithet pulcherrima when Dido first entered the narrative (1.496); he uses it later of Aeneas (4.141). Maclennan offers a nice appreciation of this ‘moment of solemn beauty: Dido... as queen and priestess (pouring the wine herself); the spotless white cattle, the understood templebackground.’94 At the same time, it is somewhat peculiar that right after the sisters had sacrificed together to a comprehensive range of divinities, Dido is already at it again, and on her own. (This notion of inappropriate repetition, only obliquely intimated here, will become explicit with instauratque diem donis in 63: see below.) And not only that: the economic investment has noticeably increased, from sheep (57: lectas de more bidentis) to a white heifer (61: candentis uaccae), hinting at the fact, again rendered explicit shortly thereafter, that the initial offerings did not yield the desired results. Indeed, the way Virgil has constructed his vignette choosing a very early stage in the process leading up to the sacrifical killing leaves the felicity of the sacrifice open. As Servius points out ad locum, the pouring of the wine does not in itself constitute a sacrifice, but served to ascertain, by observation of how the animal reacted, whether or not the victim was well chosen (non est sacrificium sed hostiae exploratio, utrum apta sit).95 Virgil does not specify whether this uacca actually proved apta, but the way in which he continues strongly suggests that Dido’s ritual probing again may not have produced the hoped-for outcome. As Henderson points out (per litteras), Virgil also sets up a striking affinity between Dido and the victim: ‘both are a stunning sight (pulcherrima — candentis), both are mature females (uacca not iuuenca), they are out on public display, centre-stage, parading with nothing to hide (mediaante ora), and Dido is by proxy ripping open her heart to show us, not to find out, what’s beating there.’Indeed, as lines 66–7 make clear, Dido is the (sacrificial) victim: see commentary ad locum.

14061: media inter cornua: both media (which is placed in the middle of the line) and inter, which is placed between media and cornua, enact their meaning at the level of verse design.

  • 96 Pease (1935), p. 139.
  • 97 Maclennan (2007), p. 83.

14162: aut ante ora deum pinguis spatiatur ad aras: with the aut at the beginning of line 62, any sense of solemn and purposeful procedure starts to break down for good. This seemingly inconspicuous connective speaks volumes, by drawing attention to the increasingly random, indiscriminate, and desperate nature of Dido’s ritual efforts — if the queen, so Virgil thereby suggests, is not trying to identify victims fit for sacrifice, she does something, anything, else, in this case approaching (spatiatur) altars that are already laden with offerings (cf. pinguis, which refers to the fat and blood of slaughtered victims). Commentators tend to read spatiatur straight: ‘the verb signifies slow and dignified motion, that majestic gait (incessus) so dear to the Romans and proper for deities (1. 405) and monarchs’;96 ‘of walking where it is the walk itself which is important, especially of the solemn gait appropriate to the approach of a temple’.97 But I think the Scholia Danielis (cited by Pease ad locum) has a point when suggesting that Dido’s movements betray an impatience caused by love. It is, to say the least, suggestive that Virgil has inverted normal ritual sequence by moving from a libation at the altar to moving towards altars (ad aras; set up by ante ora deum), at which, by all accounts, she has already sacrificed previously. Taken as a whole, then, and in context, this line conveys a sense of unfocused drifting from altar to altar (however solemn in gait Dido may be moving about) that contrasts sharply with the deliberate and purposeful adeunt in line 56.

  • 98 The cultural logic behind this practice is fascinating and tells us a lot about how the Romans cons (...)

14263: instauratque diem donis: this phrase renders apparent the true degree of Dido’s desperation. Literally, it means ‘she renews each day with gifts.’But the verb instaurare is a technical term in Rome’s civic religion, signifying ‘to repeat a ritual or ceremony that was not correctly performed.’In other words, it refers to the option of repeating a ritual act of communicating with the gods once it has become apparent that the initial performance was in some way, intentionally or unintentionally, flawed and hence not efficacious.98 Dido, however, clearly makes an extreme use of this option: for an unspecified period, she revisits the temples each and every day — not, presumably, because her previous sacrifices were marred by a procedural flaw, but because they did not produce the desired results. Repeated attempts to secure favourable omens formed part of the system of belief and practice that constituted Rome’s civic religion. A particularly striking instance (which ultimately failed) comes from Livy 41.14.7–15.1–4:

Cn. Cornelio et Q. Petilio consulibus, quo die magistratum inierunt, immolantibus Ioui singulis bubus, uti solet, in ea hostia, qua Q. Petilius sacrificauit, in iocinere caput non inuentum. id cum ad senatum rettulisset, boue perlitare iussus. [...] consul curam adiecit, qui se, quod caput iocineri defuisset, tribus bubus perlitasse negauit. senatus maioribus hostiis usque ad litationem sacrificari iussit. ceteris diis perlitatum ferunt, Saluti Petilium perlitasse negant.
[In the consulship of Gnaeus Cornelius and Quintus Petilius, on the day they entered into office, they offered one bull each in sacrifice to Jupiter, as is customary. In the victim that Q. Petilius sacrificed, no lobe was found on the liver. When this was reported to the senate, they ordered him to keep sacrificing bulls until he obtained favourable omes. [...] The consul [sc . Petilius] added to the anxiety; he reported that, as the lobe had been missing from the liver of his first victim, he had failed to obtain favourable omensfrom three further bulls. The senate ordered the sacrifices to continue with the larger victims until the obtainment of favourable omens. They say that in the sacrifices for the other divinities favourable omens were obtained, but that Petilius did not obtain favourable omens in those for Salus.]

  • 99 For those of you who want to learn more about Rome’s civic religion (and Roman religion more genera (...)

143Petilius died shortly thereafter. But his death does not expose the gods as unreliable or malicious — indeed, rather the opposite: they prove themselves reliable and honest partners in communication about the future, only in this case they were unwilling to alter Petilius’unfavourable prospect. With Dido, we have a similar scenario: her repeated sacrifices (with subsequent inspection of the entrails), her decision to perform the entire ritual sequence herself (down to the menial pouring of the wine), her constant movements from one altar and statue to the next all combine to convey a sense of how desperate she is to receive a sign of divine reassurance — which is simply not forthcoming, despite her enormous investment.99

  • 100 Austin (1963), pp. 43–44.

14463–64: pecudumque reclusis/ pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta: the gap between reclusis and pectoribus (in the dative, to be construed with inhians, ‘gazing intently at’, ‘casting longing eyes on’) caused by the enjambment enacts the image of the breasts of the sacrifical victims split open for inspection. The hyperbaton in spirantia consulit exta produces a similar effect, articulating on the stylistic level the idea that Dido examines each bit of entrail separately. The scansion of pectoribus (the last syllable scanning long) and inhians (the first syllable scanning short) is unusual, but well explained and justified by Austin, who notes that the prosody ‘seems plainly intended to suggest metrically Dido’s lingering look at the exta.’100 In fact, ‘inhio clashes with consulo — improper desire defacing ritual due process’(Henderson, per litteras).

  • 101 See the excellent website by Eleanor Robson, ‘Sacrificial divination: confirmation by extispicy’, K (...)
  • 102 O’Hara (2011), p. 27. See also O’Hara (1993), p. 110 and O’Hara (1997), p. 251.

145Extispicy, the inspection of the still quivering (cf. spirantia) entrails (exta) of a recently slaughtered victim in order to find out the will of the gods, is a form of divination that the Romans adopted from the Etruscans, but which was practised in other areas of the ancient Mediterranean as well.101 O’Hara likes to stress that ‘we cannot see exactly what Dido sees’, which is true enough, but hardly surprising:102 the detailed description of (say) a liver still pulsating with blood (and perhaps missing a lobe) is not exactly an ecphrasis fit for inclusion in an epic. There are subtler ways to convey a sense of what the gods communicate to Dido. The overall thrust of the passage would seem to suggest that what Dido sees is not what she wants to see: hence the serial repetitions of the sacrificial offerings, as Dido again and again pours over the gory innards of victims in the search for a sign of divine approval — which is not forthcoming. Arguably, this is the essential point Virgil makes in this passage and he can make it without going into details about the innards that Dido looks at: all we really need to know about the fabric of the entrails she is inspecting is that she is searching in vain for supernatural support. With a view to the following verse and the mention of uates (‘seer-prophets’), it is important to note that the inspection of entrails at Rome was the domain of the so-called haruspices, which were interpreters of internal organs and prodigies, such as lightning or monstrous births. Together with the quindecemuiri sacris faciundis, who presided over the collection and the exegesis of Sibylline Oracles, and the augurs, who interpreted the behaviour of birds, the haruspices formed one of the three priestly colleges in charge of communication between the Roman res publica and the supernatural sphere. For an excellent survey and analysis of Rome’s priestly colleges see Beard (1990).

14665–67: heu, uatum ignarae mentes! quid uota furentem,/ quid delubra iuuant? est mollis flamma medullas/ interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus: after the nine-line built-up of religious suspense, these three lines explode: ‘An exclamatory outburst from the narrator is a rare event in epic, reserved for high-octane moments of pressure on characters and readers alike to interpret key issues, including issues of interpretation (authority, character, theme...)’(Henderson, per litteras). Virgil has again opted for a tripartite structure, with a gradual increase in length across the segments, consisting of an exclamation (heu... mentes!), a rhetorical question (quid.... iuuant?), and a concluding statement of fact (est... uulnus) that sees right through the vitals of sacrificial victims to the vitals of Dido.

  • 103 Maclennan (2007), p. 84.
  • 104 O’Hara (2011), p. 28.
  • 105 See e.g. the fabulations of Austin (1963), p. 44: ‘Virgil means that nothing could really help Dido (...)
  • 106 One haruspex appears in the Aeneid, the venerable Etruscan Tarchon, who backs Aeneas against Turnus (...)
  • 107 The strong line taken here should not obscure that distinguished scholars have argued the opposite (...)

14765: heu, uatum ignarae mentes!: Virgil concludes the description of religious activities on the part of the two sisters (and then Dido alone) with an exclamation in his own voice that includes an apostrophe of ‘minds’(mentes). It is not immediately obvious whose minds are meant since uatum (the genitive plural of uates, i.e. ‘prophet-poet’) is syntactically ambiguous: it can depend either on mentes (a genitive of possession) or ignarae (an objective genitive). The former would mean ‘alas, the ignorant minds of the prophets!’, the latter ‘alas, minds [sc. those of Anna and Dido] ignorant of the prophets!’. Commentators and translators are divided, but there is a tendency to favour the former, as do Goold in the Loeb (‘Ah, the blind soul of seers’) and Maclennan (‘Virgil very suddenly turns to address the interpreters — or rather their minds’).103 O’Hara maintains that the syntax is deliberately ambiguous: ‘The reader’s difficulty in handling the syntax of the genitive vatum parallels the difficulty both Dido and the reader have in interpreting the entrails. Dido does not learn from the sacrifices that her love for Aeneas is going to lead to a bad end [but: doesn’t she?]; the reader does not learn exactly why this happens [but: don’t we?].’104 In part, the way we read the text depends on our assessment of how precise (or imprecise) Virgil is with narrative details and key religious terminology. For the reading of Goold, Maclennan and others presupposes (a) that Dido relied on haruspices other than herself in her inspection of the entrails; and (b) that these — hitherto unnamed, unmentioned — haruspices are identical to the uates of line 65 despite the fact that, technically speaking, haruspices and uates go about divination in a radically different way and had a radically different cultural standing in Rome’s civic religion. If we assume both (a) that Dido consulted experts in extispicy (in the teeth of what Virgil’s text says, namely that she consulted the entrails herself) and (b) that Virgil here blithely ignored a key terminological and cultural distinction, then the syntax becomes indeed ambiguous and the construal of uatum as a possessive genitive becomes a distinct possibility. We are then free to imagine all sorts of scenarios.105 Ambiguous syntax in itself of course is hardly surprising: Virgil has plenty of it. But here a bit more probing may resolve the ambiguity. From a thematic (rather than syntactic) point of view, the text raises two basic questions: (1) So far, Virgil has made no mention that Dido consulted with either haruspices or uates. So who are the uates mentioned here? (2) uates and haruspices were in the same business (figuring out — or, in the case of uates, having inspired knowledge of — what the gods have in mind for the future); but they used different channels of communication with the divine (uates relied on divine inspiration, haruspices interpreted empirical signs from the gods, such as those found in the entrails of sacrificial victims) and had a different place and standing in Roman culture. Dido acted like a haruspex. Why does Virgil describe the divinatory practice of one type of religious specialist and then allude to another? Now, the notion that Dido has a crowd of (ignorant) haruspices-uates at her service has no support whatsoever in the text. But uates-figures of course do feature in the Aeneid — seer-prophets who have access to fatum (especially in the genitive plural there is a specious etymological link: uatum ~ fatum) and are hence able to predict the future. Three come to mind specially: Apollo; the Sibyl; and the narrator, who outs himself as a uates at Aeneid 7.41. This is rather illustrious company, and one may wonder why Virgil would here be making a throw-away gesture to the ignorant minds of prophets despite the fact that the authorial persona he adopts in the Aeneid is precisely that of a uates.106 In the light of these considerations, it is arguably best to construe uatum as an objective genitive with ignarae. What Virgil seems to be saying is the following: (a) Anna and Dido wish to pursue a marriage alliance with Aeneas; (b) they approach the divinities to solicit their favour; (c) Dido on her own invests long and meticulous efforts to find some sign of divine approval by means of extispicy — apparently, without success; (d) Virgil steps back from this scene and comments with a tragic exclamation on the ignorant minds of the two sisters: they could only embark upon this course of action and they could only harbour the hope of receiving divine benediction because they are ignorant of fatum and the poet-prophets (uates) who pronounce it.107

148Confirmation that this is the right interpretation comes from 8.626–28, where we meet a character (Vulcan) who is not ‘ignorant of the prophets’— and hence can prefigure the future: illic res Italas Romanorumque triumphos/ haud uatum ignarus uenturique inscius aeui/ fecerat ignipotens... (‘There the story of Italy and the triumphs of Rome had the Lord of Fire fashioned, not ignorant of the prophets or unknowing of the age to come...’). Here there can be no doubt that uatum is an objective genitive, and the anonymous uates here are presumably the same as the anonymous uates in Book 4 and form the human equivalent to the Parcae of the proem. Interestingly, 4.464–65 suggest that Dido has heard prophecies of uates and chose to ignore them. These predictions come back to haunt her: multaque praeterea uatum praedicta priorum/ terribili monitu horrificant (‘and in addition many a prediction of the prophets of old terrifies her with fearful boding’). On the divine level, of course, the rough and ready history of Carthage and Rome has always been known: it is one of the reasons why Juno is so upset. See 1.22: sic uoluere Parcas.

  • 108 For this complication see O’Hara (1990), a book best read in conjunction with the review by Alessan (...)

149The pathos Virgil packs into the apostrophe is appropriate: in a universe in which the larger plot is already fixed, the ritual efforts of the sisters to enter into communication with the gods to receive support for a course of action that would go against fate is bound to be futile. This also makes sense in how the text continues: quid uota furentem, quid delubra iuuant? In the world of the Aeneid key religious practices and institutions that normally shape interaction between humans and gods and are designed to enable humans to have a say in how history unfolds by winning over divinities with gifts and sacrifices are rendered at least to some degree impotent: however many white heifers Dido may sacrifice and however many livers she peruses for divine approval, the gods, in Virgil’s literary cosmos, will not give their support to a course of action that would involve a departure from what is predetermined by fate. (Note, though, that Virgil never says that they send Dido signs that lie!) But to know about fatum, you had better get to know what the uates have to say — however imperfect and misleading some of their utterances may turn out to be.108

15065–66: quid uota furentem,/ quid delubra iuuant?: uota and delubra are the subject of iuuant, furentem is the accusative object (‘one, who...’); quid is an accusative of respect (‘in what respect/ how...?’). The reference to uota and delubra sums up Dido’s religious efforts, which Virgil renders void with a pointed rhetorical question: someone out her mind (furens) will not be able to enter into meaningful communication with the gods or respond to the supernatural intelligence to be gathered from extispicy. (Divinely inspired madness for the purpose of divining the future — such as the one the Sibyl experiences when possessed by Apollo — is different.)

  • 109 See 1.294–96: Furor impius intus/ saeua sedens super arma et centum uinctus aënis/ post tergum nodi (...)
  • 110 Does Virgil thereby imply that his hero is flawed and the killing unjust and unjustified? Or does h (...)

151The verb furo (‘to be out of one’s mind’, ‘to rage’) and the noun furor are key terms in Virgil’s poetry; they designate excessive emotions (such as erotic passion or violent hatred) that render an agent incapable of rational thought and action and are associated with disorder and transgression. This is the first time in the book that Virgil diagnoses Dido as suffering from outright insanity (a diagnosis deftly prepared for by ignarae mentes: Dido’s mens is not just ignorant, but also addled, a-mens), but from now on these and related lexemes (such as furibunda or furiae) will accompany her till the bitter end: Virgil again calls her furens three lines later (68), and drops frequent reminders of Dido’s mental state throughout the rest of the book, at lines 91 (furor), 101 (furor), 283 (furens), 298 (furens), 376 (furiae), 433 (furor), 465 (furens), 501 (furores), 548 (furens), 646 (furibunda), and 697 (furor). Dido is by no means the only character to come under the sway of furor in the poem: other furibund figures include Juno, Turnus, as well as Aeneas. It is also a quality that occurs in vistas that look forward to historical Rome. Jupiter, for instance, when unscrolling the fates to Venus in Book 1, famously announces that under Caesar the temple of Janus will be closed, with a gruesomely personified Furor chained and locked up within — a (partisan) reference to the end of a century of civil bloodshed that associates the Augustan regime with overcoming the insane rage that had torn apart Rome’s civic community for over a century, in analogy to the control Jupiter exercises on the furor of Juno, who wreaks similar havoc in Virgil’s literary universe.109 One should beware, however, of drawing too facile and schematic an opposition between furor, violence, and disorder on the one hand and self-control, peace, and order on the other, not least in the light of how the poem ends: Aeneas kills Turnus furiis accensus et ira/ terribilis (12.946–47: ‘ablaze with fury and terrible in his wrath’).110 This raises the question to what extent Virgil conceives of civilization (or specifically Roman civilization, destined as it was to acquire imperial sway across the globe) as ultimately grounded in foundational acts of ‘furious’violence.

  • 111 The standard treatment is Hershkowitz (1998).
  • 112 See Gildenhard (2011), pp. 324–26, 328–30.

152Some further points: ‘madness’has its generic home in tragedy, from which it entered the epic tradition in full force.111 It is also a quality aristocratic regimes tend to associate with ‘the rabble’and its supposedly violent-revolutionary disposition (as does Virgil in the simile at 1.149–50: saeuitque animis ignobile uulgus,/ iamque faces et saxa uolant (furor arma ministrat) (‘the base rabble rage angrily, and now firebrands and stones fly: madness furnishes arms’). In late-republican Rome, charges of insanity were also the stock-in-trade of political invective, not least Cicero’s, who routinely accuses his adversaries (senatorial peers all) of being mentally deranged.112

  • 113 You may enjoy reading W. H. Auden’s poem ‘Secondary Epic’(1959), which mocks the pretension of Virg (...)

15366–67: est mollis flamma medullas/ interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus: note that est is not a form of sum/ esse, but is the third person singular present indicative active of edo, esse, edi, esum: to eat (away), to devour. Scanning of the line reveals that mollis (with long-is) modifies medullas, which is reinforced by the elegant alliteration and the pleasing pattern of vowels: the phrase features all five exactly once. Alliteration (uiuit... uulnus) also underscores thematic coherence in the second clause. The phrasing here picks up the imagery of ‘internal emotional bleeding’in lines 1–2: saucia, uulnus, alit (cf. uiuit), uenis (cf. medullas), caeco (cf. tacitum) igni. But there is also a shocking continuity in imagery from the sacrificial victims slaughtered on the altars to find out the will of the gods to Virgil’s depiction of Dido: mollis medullas recalls the spirantia exta that Dido is inspecting and the opened up chests of the sheep (63–63: pecudum reclusis pectoribus) are picked up by the reference to the chest of Dido (sub pectore). Put differently, Virgil continues to assimilate Dido to a sacrificial victim. Instead of inspecting the entrails of animals, she ought to inspect herself. He thereby also turns himself into a haruspex who performs extispicy on his character, inviting us to join him in his exercise of invasive ethopoeia: the same surgical operation that Dido performs on the innards of the uaccae she sacrifices to learn about her future, the narrator performs on the innards of Dido for his audience. What does he show and what do we learn, not least about us? Are we just as eager as Dido (cf. inhians) to find out what the future (of the narrative) holds? Or do we rather adopt the know-it-all posture of the omniscient uates for whom the future holds no secrets?113

  • 114 infelix is of course Dido’s standard epithet: apart from here, Virgil also uses it at 1.712, 749; 4 (...)

15468–69: uritur infelix Dido totaque uagatur/ urbe furens: the image is shocking — the queen is on the loose in the city, driven all but insane by her passion. uritur pulls out all the stops — the ignis caecus has burst forth, the queen is on fire. It is a major step forward from the metaphorical fire of love at the beginning of the book to the funeral pyre at the end. Other features to note include the alliteration and assonance in ur-i-tur ~ uaga-tur ~ ur-be ~ f-ur-ens; the sudden switch in epithet from pulcherrima (60) to infelix (or, to put this in generic terms, from love elegy to tragedy);114 the gradual increase in Dido’s drifting (from the purposeful adeunt to the more random spatiatur to the utterly aimless uagatur); and the circumstantial participle furens (‘in a state of madness’, ‘out of her mind’).

  • 115 In his first simile at 1.148–56, Virgil inverts the conventional dynamics of comparison by using a (...)
  • 116 Pöschl (1962), p. 81.

15569–73: qualis coniecta cerua sagitta,/ quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit/ pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum/ nescius: illa fuga siluas saltusque peragrat/ Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo: from Homer onwards, similes likening figures and phenomena in the human sphere to aspects of the animal kingdom or the world of nature more generally are an established stylistic feature of epic.115 The basic point the simile is designed to illustrate is the way in which ‘wounded’Dido moves about the city: uagatur (68) ~ peragrat (72). But the hermeneutic challenge (or opportunity) created by the simile does not stop here. There are many further points of contact or correspondence between the world of the narrative and the world briefly invoked in the simile that are worth identifying and discussing. In this case, the interface between narrative and simile is particularly complex. Victor Pöschl suggests the following multilayered interpretation: ‘the deer simile has a threefold function: (1) It makes the queen’s roaming more explicit (this is the original function of a simile in Homer — clarification of an exterior event); (2) it reveals Dido’s state of mind (clarification of an inner event); (3) it foreshadows her tragic end (symbolic prediction) through content, key, and pathos of the movement.’116

156This is a good starting point for untangling further correspondences between the world of the similar and the world of the surrounding narrative — an exercise, in which each word and phrasing deserves consideration. To begin with, incautam is a curious touch. Why does Virgil appear to apportion part of the blame for getting shot to death to the poor creature? And is there an equivalent to the unwary behaviour of the hind in how Dido has conducted herself? Is Virgil perhaps suggesting that Dido was too susceptible to the charms of Aeneas and should have been more on her guard? At the same time, procul and incautam stand in latent contradiction to one another: the hind, presumably, would have had to be supercautious to elude a herdsman shooting (at her?) from afar. Furthermore, the portrayal of the pastor in the simile likens him to Aeneas. But what are the precise correspondences between the herdsman and Aeneas? The one who has so far been shooting at deer in the Aeneid is the Trojan hero, who killed seven of them right after being washed ashore in Libya, one for each of his ships: see 1.184–93, especially 1.189–91: ductoresque ipsos primum, capita alta ferentis/ cornibus arboreis, sternit, tum uulgus et omnem/ miscet agens telis nemora inter frondea turbam (‘first he brings to the ground the leaders themselves, carrying their heads high with branching antlers, then he routs the crowd and the entire herd, driving them with his arrows amid the leafy woods’). In hindsight, these lines acquire a proleptic force, though Aeneas focused on stags.

15769: qualis coniecta cerua sagitta: qualis introduces the simile. cerua, which is in the nominative (with a short-a), is framed by the ablative absolute coniecta... sagitta (both with a long-a).

  • 117 Anderson (1968), p. 9.

15870–72: quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit/ pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum/ nescius: the antecedent of quam is cerua; incautam is an adjective in predicative position (‘which, unwary,...’). The design is intricate: the accusative objects and verbs form a chiasmus, with the subject at the centre: (a) quam incautam (b) fixit (c) pastor agens telis (b) liquit (a) uolatile ferrum. (The-que in liquitque links fixit and liquit.) Virgil also achieves an interlacing of words referring to the hind (quam, incautam) and the action of getting pierced with an arrow from afar (procul, fixit); and he uses two emphatic instances of enjambment to foreground the shepherd and his actions (71: pastor agens telis) as well as his state of mind (72: nescius). The position of the adverb procul enacts what the word means: it is placed at some distance from the verb it modifies (fixit)— as does the preposition inter, which stands between the two words it governs, i.e. nemora and Cresia. On Virgil’s choice of a shepherd as the shooter, see Anderson: ‘It might seem odd that Vergil used the word pastor here rather than a noun like venator, for the shepherd shooting arrows is an unexpected image. However, the word-choice, I believe, is deliberate, designed to recall the simile of the shepherd in 2.304ff. No longer the unwitting spectator and victim of fiery fury, Aeneas has now become the unwitting perpetrator of the same, the innocent agent of all that he abhors. Entirely against his will, half-ignorant to the very end, he destroys the woman he loves, leaving her to the agonies of the fury he has caused, ultimately to the suicide which is implied in this very simile. After he abandons Carthage and looks back from the sea at the flames that rise from the pyre, where she lies pierced by his own sword, he does not know the reason for the fire (causa latet 5.5), but he has heavy forebodings. How far he has moved into the bitter world of reality from that pastoral innocence! How little he understands the destructive consequences of his actions!’117

  • 118 Lyne (1987), p. 196.

15972: nescius: what is the shepherd nescius of? Here is Lyne, taking issue with Austin among others, who have the tendency to exculpate the shooter: ‘Our hunting shepherd is not, as is often implied, totally “ignorant”, “nescius”, of his actions (how could he be?). He has, Vergil tells us, been vigorously and purposefully hunting the hind: “quam... agens telis” [“which, hunting with darts”]. What he is ignorant of is that one of his shafts has struck: that he has hit the “cerua”, that the “cerua” in fact carries a lethal wound inflicted by him.’118 Is Virgil thereby suggesting that Aeneas has been preying on Dido, while at the same time failing to realize that he is affecting her profoundly? To what extent do the two verbs fixit (he pierced her) and liquit (and left her) mirror Aeneas’arrival at and departure from Dido’s Carthage? (One important difference is that the shepherd does not pursue the hind because he does not realize that his arrow has hit the mark; Aeneas, of course, leaves Dido knowing full well the extent to which she has fallen in love with him. As 5.5–7 shows, he and his men had a good idea of how far she might go: duri magno sed amore dolores/ polluto notumque, furens quid femina possit,/ triste per augurium Teucrorum pectora ducunt; ‘but the harsh pains once great love has been profaned and knowledge of what a woman can do in frenzy, lead the hearts of the Trojans amid sad forebodings.’)

  • 119 Austin (1963), p. 47.
  • 120 Horsfall (1995), p. 124, n. 13.
  • 121 Morgan (1994), pp. 67–68 with reference to Cicero, de Natura Deorum 2.126: auditum est... capras au (...)

16072–73: siluas saltusque peragrat/ Dictaeos: the assonance in the hendiadys siluas and saltus (s * l ** s), the pattern of vowels (i, a; a, u), with the last syllable of siluas being picked up by first syllable of saltus, and the fact that both nouns are in the plural generates a plangent picture of tragic desperation as the wounded hind roams far and wide through the woods and groves on Mt. Dicte without being able to shake off the lethal arrow in her side. Cf. also the intensifying per- in peragrat. Dictaeus refers to Mt. Dicte on Crete; Virgil places the geographical specification, which is more precise than the earlier nemora inter Cresia, in enjambment. The continuing emphasis on the Cretan setting is remarkable and has long puzzled commentators. Austin suggests that ‘“Cretan” in itself has no special significance here, except that the Cretans were famous archers’,119 Horsfall thinks that Virgil has chosen Crete because the inhabitants of the island were notorious for using poisoned arrows,120 and Morgan argues that the Cretan setting reminds Virgil’s readers of animals who there find a herbal cure for poisoned arrows.121 The herb is called dictamnus, ‘dittany’(and associated with Mt. Dictys), and thought to have ‘the power to draw poisoned and barbed arrows from a wound.’As Morgan goes on to point out, ‘Vergil’s readers are going to be reminded of this potency when Venus herself culls the herb from Crete and gives it invisibly to Aeneas where he lies wounded. The arrow slips easily from his flesh, pain vanishes, and strength is restored. (12.423).’In the context of Aeneid 4, of course, the invocation of a possible cure inevitably highlights the terminal nature of Dido’s condition.

  • 122 Armstrong (2002), pp. 330–31. For what Cretan women get up to in Latin poetry, see Armstrong (2006) (...)

161Rebecca Armstrong, ingeniously, argues further that the Cretan setting reinforces a programmatic if oblique association between Dido and Cretan heroines that Virgil validates throughout the episode, in particular Ariadne but also, more surprisingly or, indeed, shockingly, Pasiphae, the notoriously adulterous wife of the Cretan king Minos who fancied intercourse with bulls. (See Virgil, Eclogue 6, for a take on this. At Eclogue 6.52, Pasiphae is in an almost identical condition as the Dido-hind: a, uirgo infelix, tu nunc in montibus erras.)122 Virgil may well have chosen this mountain for its mythological resonances: Mt. Dicte is, famously, the birthplace of Zeus/ Jupiter, the divinity in charge of the fata; and it is also associated with the goddess of hunting Artemis/ Diana, to whom Dido is compared when she first enters the epic (1.494–504), as well as one of her favourite nymphs, i.e. Britomartis or (renamed) Dictynna: see Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis 190–200.

16273: Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo: the abrupt caesura in the third foot, reinforced by asyndeton, sets up the punchline in a highly effective way: despite all her efforts to rid herself of the fatal arrow, the hind fails and falters. There is a powerful and brutal finality to the measured phrase haeret lateri letalis harundo. Alliteration (ha-, ha-) and assonance (-re-,-run-) link the framing words haeret and harundo and alliteration and vowel-patterning (a, e, i; e, a, i) link the central lateri (scanning short, short, long) and letalis, whereas lateri stands as dative object to haeret and letalis modifies harundo: an intricate design that conveys a tragic sense of (non-) closure. The wound is fatal, but the process of dying will be prolonged, an ominous image that stands in poignant parallel to what will unfold with Dido in the rest of the book. After sagitta, tela, and ferrum, harundo is the fourth term Virgil uses to denote the fatal arrow.

16374–79: nunc media Aenean secum per moenia ducit/ Sidoniasque ostentat opes urbemque paratam,/ incipit effari mediaque in uoce resistit;/ (77) nunc eadem labente die conuiuia quaerit,/ Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores/ exposcit pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore: this passage of six lines, divided into two blocks of three lines each marked by the anaphora of nunc at the beginning of lines 74 and 77 (italicized), details Dido’s conduct in the presence of Aeneas before we return to Dido on her own in lines 80–85. 74–76 cover the daytime activities, 77–79 describe the evening entertainment. Throughout, the syntax of the passage is predominantly paratactic (the main verbs are underlined), but Virgil has slightly altered the rhetorical design as he moves from daytime to evening. In 74–76 we get four main verbs (ducit — ostentat; incipit — resistit), of which the first two and the last two are linked by-que (Sidoniasque; mediaque), whereas incipit follows on ostentat asyndetically. In 77–79, we get a tricolon (quaerit — exposcit — pendet), with all verbs linked by-que (Iliacosque; pendetque).

164The switch from simile back to narrative is abrupt, especially since the creature hunted in the simile (the hind/ Dido) has turned into a huntress of sorts: after performing the rites, seeking in vain to ascertain a promising future and wandering aimlessly through the city, Dido now pursues her object of love with great purpose and does so rather successfully.

16574: media Aenean secum per moenia: a mimetic design: Aeneas and Dido are placed in the middle of media... per moenia. The lexeme moenia almost invariably recalls the last line of the proem, the altae moenia Romae (1.7): the foundation of Rome (as it may be worth recalling) will not happen until several hundred years after Aeneas’arrival at Latium according to Virgil’s chronology of Rome’s prehistory, but is the ultimate telos of his quest. Here it carries a latent accusatory charge: Aeneas ought not to be sightseeing among the walls of Carthage; he should see to his mission, which will eventually result in the walls of Rome. Given the close identification of Dido and Carthage, the vignette here also reinforces the notion that Dido/ her city is about to fall: Aeneas has infiltrated the protective walls, he is inside her defences, in her marrow (media/ medulla) and she is now trying to get inside his, making him part of her, turning his-story (Rome) into her-story (Carthage).

16675: Sidoniasque ostentat opes urbemque paratam: the first-que links ducit (74) and ostentat, the second-que opes and urbem. Virgil has arranged attributes and nouns chiastically: (a) Sidonias (b) opes (b) urbem (a) paratam. The adjective Sidonias refers to Sidon, a city in Phoenicia; the phrase Sidonias... opes harks back to 1.363–64 (Venus recounting Dido’s flight): portantur auari/ Pygmalionis opes pelago; dux femina facti (‘the wealth of greedy Pygmalion is carried overseas, the leader of the deed a woman’). opes and urbs thus refer to Dido’s past and future, and, together, are meant to extend a welcoming and inviting hand to Aeneas in what amounts to a salespitch: wealthy Carthage, so Dido implies, is ready (paratam) for him. Dido retains the same spirit of remarkable generosity (though now reinforced by amorous passion) that animated her invitation to the shipwrecked Trojans to stay, before she had even set eyes on Aeneas (1.572–73: uultis et his mecum pariter considere regnis? urbem quam statuo uestra est...’’Or do you wish to settle with me on even terms within these realms? The city I build is yours...’).

16776: incipit effari mediaque in uoce resistit: the verse-design reflects and reinforces the meaning of individual words: we have incipit at the beginning; media in the middle; and resistit at the end — enactment at its finest. The asyndetic continuation of the main clauses with incipit conveys a sense of the mental effort Dido has to make to muster sufficient courage to address Aeneas, only to break off midway. Put differently, she acts like a tongue-tied teenager in love.

  • 123 Henderson, per litteras. He refers us to A. D’Angour, The Greeks and the New: Novelty in Ancient Gr (...)

16878–79: Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores/ exposcit: (a) Iliacos (b) iterum (c) demens (b) audire (a) labores — the symmetrical design and the vast hyperbaton Iliacos... labores, together with the enjambment of exposcit and the caesura after it, helps to highlight Dido’s insanity: out of her mind (de-mens, placed conspicuously at the very centre of the design), she asks for a repeat of Aeneid 2. (A reference to a re-run of Iliadic material also brings to mind the fact that Virgil, in the Aeneid, re-works Homer: ‘The Aeneid makes us listen to the Iliad on re-wind, too, through all 12 books of re-run; and everything in the poem renews and tells otherwise another re-reading of the Iliad.’)123 In the light of the impact her obsession has on her own city, it is ironic but fitting that Dido prefers a re-run of the fall of Troy to another account of Aeneas’travels (the subject of Aeneid 3). As lines 86–89 make clear, the labores Carthaginienses have ceased, while she listens on an endless loop to repetitions of Aeneas’Iliad. In the light of how Aeneas reacted to the first request to tell his tale (2.3: Infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem; ‘O queen, you bid me to renew grief that is unspeakable’) Dido is indeed demens to ask for a repeat if she wishes to endear herself to her host. Aeneas, however, seems to oblige willingly. (Here as elsewhere in the opening of Book 4, he leads a very shadowy existence in the narrative and hardly figures as an independent agent.)

16978–79: iterum audire–pendetque iterum: the reiteration of iterum (in chiastic variation with the verbs it modifies) is another instance of enactment: Virgil twice uses the word that signifies ‘again’.

17079: pendetque... narrantis ab ore: English uses the same idiom: ‘to hang on someone’s lips’; narrantis is present active participle, modifying an understood genitive Aeneae, which depends on ore. A striking and compelling parallel is Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.36–7: pascit amore auidos inhians in te, dea, uisus/ eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore (‘he [sc. Mars] pastures on love his greedy sight while gazing on you, goddess [sc. Venus], and the breath of him, as he is reclining, hangs from your lips’).

  • 124 See further Austin (1963), p. 47: ‘Note the varied vowels, the repeated s sounds, the gentle assona (...)

17180–81: post ubi digressi, lumenque obscura uicissim/ luna premit suadentque cadentia sidera somnos: a long ‘atmospheric’ ubi-sentence sets the scene before the focus returns to Dido. It is designed as a tricolon, with the two-que (after lumen and suadent) linking the three verbs: digressi [sc. sunt], premit, suadent. obscura is the result of the action (lumen premere: to dim the light). Line 81 is entirely dactylic, rushing everybody off to sleep — somnos is the telos of both the verse and the action it describes and the sense of falling asleep (or coming to the end of the hexameter) is deftly enacted by the soothing coincidence of word accent and ictus in the final three words, linked by s-alliteration (suadentia, sidera, somnos) and the fact that the rhythm slows down: the two syllables of the last word and foot (somnos) are both long. In the speedy opening part, the vowel piano in cadentia sidera (a-e-i-a-e-a) reflects the quickly falling stars and acts as foil to the heavy ‘os’in somnos.124 Virgil repeats suadentque cadentia sidera somnos verbatim from 2.9, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek: there the words are uttered by Aeneas in the attempt to dissuade Dido from insisting on hearing the bitter tale, if to no avail; here the phrase occurs quite properly after the narration has come to an end — though sleep is of course the last thing on Dido’s mind after another evening of ‘sexy epic recitation’by her beloved Aeneas.

17282–83: sola domo maeret uacua stratisque relictis/ incubat: the sola marks an emphatic return to Dido (‘she alone’); uacua modifies domo. Dido throws herself onto the couch that Aeneas has just left and broods there, an action reflected in the enjambment of incubat, which takes the dative (stratis relictis). For a moment stratis relictis may look like an ablative absolute (‘after the couches have been emptied’, i.e. after everyone else has departed) before the first word of the subsequent line clarifies the construction. Dido’s practice of lying down on the couch recently abandoned by her beloved Aeneas is a poignant articulation of her yearning for his presence and for intimate, physical contact.

  • 125 See Austin (1963), p. 48: ‘This use of double-que is a mannerism of high epic style, very common in (...)

17383: illum absens absentem auditque uidetque: the-que after uidet links audit and uidet; the-que after audit is technically speaking redundant.125 The pleonastic polyptoton absens absentem constitutes a powerful and poignant paradox, which exposes as hallucination Dido’s sense that Aeneas remains present. Both circumstantial participles have concessive force: ‘Dido, even though she is physically distant from him (absens), hears and sees him (illum), even though he is physically distant (absentem).’The verbs audit and uidet are arranged climactically: one may conceivably hear someone who is not physically present; but one certainly cannot see such a person, at least by means of ordinary sight. With the concluding uidetque we have firmly entered Dido’s fevered imagination.

17484–85: aut gremio Ascanium genitoris imagine capta/ detinet: the aut constitutes an abrupt temporal and chronological break, as the action described must refer to another (moment in the) day: it can certainly not refer to the evening in which she remains left behind alone. Most likely, the moment in the day when she cuddles with Ascanius is anyway not the evening: otherwise one would wonder about Aeneas’lack of parental supervision. Still, the image unsettles: Dido, demens as she is, is increasingly getting out of control. In metrical position and effect (in enjambment, caesura after first foot) detinet (85) mirrors incubat (82), underscoring the switch in focus — from Dido sleeplessly brooding on her bed to fondling Ascanius in her lap. The passage belongs into a sequence that begins at 1.717–22 and ends at 4.327–30.

  • 126 The second-century BC historiographer Polybius (a Greek hostage in Rome) gives an account of the ri (...)

17584: genitoris imagine capta: capta is in the nominative modifying the subject of the sentence, i.e. Dido. The sense of the participle is causal — Dido cuddles Ascanius because he resembles his father. Beyond its literal meaning, the phrase genitoris imago resonates powerfully within the memorial culture of republican and early imperial Rome. Imago, or, in the plural, imagines were the wax masks of deceased former magistrates that hung in the atria of noble houses and were donned by actors during the funeral processions of deceased members of the family who had held public office. This was one of the most remarkable rituals of the Roman republic, designed to celebrate family-achievement and lineage.126 Virgil may also obliquely hint at Lucretius’’genetic’explanation of family-resemblance across generations in his account of sexual procreation in De Rerum Natura 4.1209–1230.

  • 127 Maclennan (2007), p. 87.
  • 128 O’Hara (2011), p. 30.
  • 129 The other passage to bear in mind here is 4.296: quis fallere possit amantem?

17685: infandum si fallere possit amorem: the formulation recalls the opening words of Aeneas’narrative at 2.3–5: Infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem,/ Troianas ut opes et lamentabile regnum/ eruerint Danai... (‘Unspeakable grief, O queen, you order me renew, how the Greeks overthrew Troy’s wealth and pitiable kingdom...’). Both the attribute infandum and the phrase fallere amorem raise tricky problems of interpretation. infandum is a term of disapproval a bit stronger than a literal translation with ‘unmentionable’(Maclennan) or ‘beyond all utterance’(Goold) would seem to suggest: something infandum is ‘too horrible or shocking to speak of, unspeakable, monstrous, accursed’(OLD s. v.), and one therefore wonders about focalization: is it Dido who conceives of her amor as infandus (and why? should she?) or is this a comment on the part of the narrator, who here clarifies to his readers that Dido’s inability to speak at line 76 (incipit effari, mediaque in voce resistit), which there refers simply to her nervosity in the presence of her beloved Aeneas, has a more troubling dimension: she is not just unable to speak, but unable to confess her love since (she knows/ wrongly feels that?) it is, literally, unspeakably monstrous. fallere amorem is Dido’s futile response to exercise control over an amor that is infandus. What does fallere refer to here? At least three possible interpretations come to mind, depending on what precisely fallere and amor are taken to mean. Maclennan argues that Dido here tries to delude herself: ‘... in fondling Ascanius she wants to persuade herself that she is merely expressing maternal affection for her friend’s child, which is something acceptable and mentionable.’127 This downplays amor as an independent force, which O’Hara maintains when suggesting that ‘Dido tries to cheat her love by displaying affection for his son Ascanius as a substitute for Aeneas.’128 But in what way does Dido think she can deceive her love by cuddling Ascanius in her lap, especially since she is attracted to the child in the first place because of his strong resemblance to his father? Both the ‘incubation’of Aeneas’couch and the cuddling of his son are, in the first instance, strategies of getting closer to the man himself. One could consider reading amorem with a capital A (Amorem), especially since the scene here strongly recalls 1.683–88 (part of Venus instructions to Cupid): tu faciem illius noctem non amplius unam/ falle dolo, et notos pueri puer indue uultus,/ ut, cum te gremio accipiet laetissima Dido/ .../ cum dabit amplexus atque oscula dulcia figet,/ occultum inspires ignem fallasque ueneno (‘For only a single night impersonate in deceit his form and, boy that you are, don the familiar face of the boy, so that when Dido, exceedingly happy, receives you in her lap, gives you hugs and imprints sweet kisses, you may breathe into her a hidden fire and beguile her with poison’). It is as if Dido is keen on another dose of Love. Conversely, one could argue that the scene in Book 4 is an attempt to invert the deception: whereas in Book 1 Cupid/ Amor impersonates Ascanius to push Dido towards Aeneas, in Book 4, Dido tries (of course unsuccessfully) to cheat Amor by channeling her affection away from Aeneas towards Ascanius. If that seems too contrived, one could understand fallere in the sense of ‘to conceal the nature of, to disguise’: rather than referring to Dido’s attempt to deceive herself or her love, the clause would then refer to her attempt to displace her (seemingly compulsive) ‘public display of affection’onto the boy to keep her true passion a secret.129

  • 130 The wording also recalls Laocoon’s assessment of the wooden horse at 2.46: haec in nostros fabricat (...)

17786–89: non coeptae adsurgunt turres, non arma iuuentus/ exercet portusue aut propugnacula bello/ tuta parant: pendent opera interrupta minaeque/ murorum ingentes aequataque machina caelo: Virgil describes the disastrous effects of Dido in love on her city-building project, emphasized by the anaphora of non (italicized), in two tricola, one consisting of verbs, the other of nouns: (a) adsurgunt turresiuuentus exercetparant (note the switches in subject; the third is only implied, i.e. the anonymous collective–hence the switch to plural–of Carthage’s citizens); (b) operaminaemachina (all ‘hanging’on pendent). non... adsurgunt in particular underscores the neglect, given that it harks back to 1.437 when Aeneas, upon seeing the building-site, exclaims: o fortunati, quorum iam moenia surgunt! (‘O the happy ones, whose walls are already rising!’) The iam makes it clear that Aeneas thinks comparatively — Carthage’s walls are already rising, the walls of his own city (cf. 1.7: altae moenia Romae) not yet. Especially with this line resonating here, the passage subtly intimates that two sets of walls have ceased to make progress: the future of both cities, Carthage and Rome, lies forgotten. With coeptae turres, portus aut propugnacula... tuta, opera interrupta, minae murorum ingentes, and aequata machina caelo Virgil uses grandiose images to convey both, the vast scale of the building project and a sense of its unfinished state. The emphasis is almost exclusively on the development of the cityscape (including the harbour and fortification) rather than the civic community, with the exception of non arma iuuentus/ exercet.130

17887: portusue: the-ue links non... exercet and parant.

17988: pendent opera interrupta: in ironic analogy to 79, where Dido hangs (pendet) on the lips of Aeneas narrating, the building works now ‘hang’— in the sense of: ‘are suspended’— as well.

18088–89: minae murorum ingentes: a contorted way of saying ‘walls (muri) that are huge (ingentes) and menacing (minaces).’Virgil has chosen to turn one of the attributes (minax) into a noun (minae), quaintly modified by the second attribute (ingens) that in sense goes with muri: ‘the huge threats of walls.’Why? One possible answer could be that minae, inevitably, invokes the future (threats are inherently prospective) and hence draws attention to the incomplete state of the building works. The m-alliteration in minae murorum is continued by machina.

18189: aequataque machina caelo: caelo serves as pointer to where the narrative will continue at 90.

90–128: Love and Marriage, or: A Match Made in Heaven

182After a day-by-day, even hour-by-hour unfolding of events in Books 1–4.53, narrative time has started to drift a little after Anna’s speech. The conversation between the two sisters took place ‘the morning after’Aeneas’arrival and first narration of his adventures during the welcome festivities. But from then on, it is difficult to keep track of how many days have been passing by. Going by the (imprecise) temporal markers in 63 (instauratque diem donis) and 82–85, it is just about possible to cram the action of Aeneid 4.1–89 into three days:

Day 1: conversation between Anna and Dido; initial sacrifices
Day 2: renewal of sacrifices; raging through the city; sightseeing with Aeneas; second evening banquet; Dido being left behind alone
Day 3: cuddling time with Ascanius

183But that does not account for the atmosphere of indefinite drift that Virgil has created. In particular, the comment on the abandoned building works in 86–89 that concludes this section, implies that more time has elapsed than a three-day period. Still, it is important to bear in mind that Aeneas both arrives and departs during the same non-sailing season. What has he been up to while we learn about Dido in love? We only get glimpses of him, in very passive roles: in 74, he is the accusative object (Aenean), whom Dido leads through the city; in 79 he is ‘he, who narrates’at the behest of Dido; and in 83 he is ‘absent’(illum... absentem). It is almost as if Virgil gives his protagonist a break, after three full books in the narrative limelight. (Homer, too, has long stretches in which Achilles and Odysseus all but disappear from view.) Still, developments have reached something of an impasse, and in such situations the epic poet has at his disposal a reliable source of new narrative stimuli: the gods. The action now shifts back to the divine plane, with Juno, the goddess of conjugal bonds, (who has faded from the narrative after derailing the fleet of Aeneas at the very beginning of the epic) accosting and confronting Venus, the goddess of erotic passion. The two scheming divinities, one more deceitful than the other, engage in a battle of wits. Each one walks away in the belief to have fooled the other. Only Venus, of course, is right: whereas Juno dominates the conversation (she gets two speeches), the goddess of love knows that she will emerge victoriously in the end. She has, after all, been briefed in the workings of destiny by none other than Jupiter (see Aeneid 1.223-96) and uses this privileged insight into the plot to play cat and mouse with Dido and her divine patron Juno. Here is the section in outline:

90–92: Juno seeks out Venus
93–104: Juno’s first speech
105–07a: Venus’hidden thoughts (1)
107b–114a: Venus’response
114b–127a: Juno’s second speech 127b–128: Venus hidden thoughts (2)

184Hera/ Juno soliciting the help of Aphrodite/ Venus has an epic history, starting with Iliad 14, the famous ‘Deception of Zeus’, where Hera uses the girdle of Aphrodite to seduce her husband into some truly extraordinary sex, so as to use his post-coital slumber to meddle in the Trojan war against his will.

  • 131 For discussion of this relationship see Nelis (2001), p. 147 and Hall (2011), pp. 624–27. Hall argu (...)

185[Extra information: the most salient model for this encounter between Juno (the goddess of marriage) and Venus (the goddess of love and erotic desire) is Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.49–111, which features a conversation between Hera (the Greek equivalent of Juno), Athena, and Aphrodite (the Greek equivalent of Venus). The parallels, set out by Nelis and Hall, are as follows:131

  1. The opening gambit includes a sarcastic comment: compare Aeneid 4.93–95 (Juno speaking) with Argonautica 3.51–54 (Aphrodite speaking, slyly hailing Hera and Athena as goddesses who ‘excel all others’— a malicious if veiled allusion to the judgement of Paris).

  2. Juno/ Hera explains the situation: compare Aeneid 4.96–104 with Argonautica 3.57–75.

  3. Venus/ Aphrodite yields to the higher authority of Juno/ Hera: compare Aeneid 4.107–14 with Argonautica 3.79–82.

  4. Juno/ Hera suggests a plan to which Venus/ Aphrodite agrees: compare Aeneid 4.115–28 with Argonautica 3.84–110. Ironically, in Apollonius, this plan consists in Aphrodite calling upon Eros to enchant Medea with desire for Jason–exactly what Venus, in Virgil, then does also to Dido, much to the displeasure of Juno. Viewed intertextually, Venus clearly has learned a trick or two from past encounters with the queen of the gods.

186The passage from Apollonius contains further material not included in Virgil’s rewrite (notably a complaint by Aphrodite that her son Eros is unruly). And, of course, in Virgil the power relation is inverted: in Apollonius, Hera and Athena are in charge and Aphrodite does their bidding (see esp. 3.100); in Virgil, Venus pulls the strings and is secretly in charge (see esp. 4.128). This manifests itself not least in a slippage in plot: in Apollonius, Hera first engineers Medea’s infatuation with Jason with the help of Aphrodite and Eros and then orchestrates a proper wedding when the need arises (in Argonautica 4, discussed below). But when Juno approaches Venus in Virgil, the erotic assault on the heroine is already a fait accompli: in the Aeneid, Venus is a step ahead in the divine power struggle. In intertextual terms, then, it is payback time: this is not the Argonautica, where Aphrodite stands for sex and little else; this is the Aeneid, where Venus, apart from sex and erotic attraction, also figures as the mother of the founding-hero of the Roman people, as the daughter of Jupiter, as mistress of fate.]

18790–92: Quam simul ac tali persensit peste teneri/ cara Iouis coniunx nec famam obstare furori/ talibus adgreditur Venerem Saturnia dictis: a difficult set of verses, with untidy word-order, possibly reflecting Juno’s flustered state of mind:

  1. The basic structure is a subordinate clause introduced by simul ac (‘as soon as’) with cara Iovis coniunx (91) as subject and persensit (90) as verb, followed by the main clause in 92 (with Saturnia as subject and adgreditur as verb).

  2. Within the simul-ac-clause, persensit introduces an indirect statement that falls into two parts linked by nec. quam and famam are the subject accusatives, teneri and obstare the infinitives.

  3. Quam, the subject accusative of the first part of the indirect statement introduced by persensit, is a connecting relative pronoun (= eam): the referent is Dido.

18890: tali persensit peste teneri: note the alliterative pattern ta-, pe-, pe-, te-. teneri, which shares its first syllable with the last syllable of the preceding word (peste) and rhymes with tali (taliteneri) thus relates on the sound level to the paraphrase of the force that is doing the holding. In the light of our discussion of time, the per- in persensit is important: it underscores that it dawns on Juno gradually what is going on and as soon as (simul ac) she has become fully conscious of the dirty trick Venus and her son have been playing on Dido, she takes action. pestis is a very strong term: it signifies a fatal disease of epidemic proportions, but can also refer by way of personification to a baneful individual (Cicero uses it of Catiline, for instance) or ruin and destruction more generally. Here it refers either to Dido’s love-sickness or Cupid (whom Juno calls magnum et memorabile numen a few lines later) or both. The wording recalls 1.712 where the phrase pesti deuota futurae (‘doomed to impending ruin’), in apposition to infelix no less, turns Dido metaphorically into a sacrificial victim about to be slaughtered — just before she unwittingly embraces Cupid disguised as Ascanius. Henderson, per litteras, proposes Catullus 76.20 as salient model: eripite hanc pestem perniciemque mihi! (‘Get me rid of this pernicious pest!’).

18991: famam obstare furori: iconic word order in which fama (Dido’s sense of her reputation, or, indeed, the reputation she has hitherto enjoyed in the historiographical accounts) stands in the way of (obstare) furor (the insane passion that she suffers from in Virgil): the two nouns of the antithesis, kept apart from each other by obstare (which thereby enacts its meaning) are linked by alliteration.

19091–92: cara Iouis coniunx... Saturnia: Juno has been absent from the narrative for a while, and upon her re-entry Virgil goes out of his way to stress her important position within the Olympic pantheon: she is the wife of Jupiter and the offspring of Saturn. Both her marriage to the ruler of gods and men and her ancient lineage mark her as Venus’superior in the divine hierarchy, but Venus manages to counterbalance inferior power and prestige with superior knowledge and potential for mischief.

19192: talibus adgreditur Venerem Saturnia dictis: another symmetrical line, with talibus modifying dictis, and the verb adgreditur correlating with the subject Saturnia. This places Venerem, the accusative object of adgreditur, smack in the middle, reproducing on the level of verse design the scenario of Venus being ‘cornered’by Juno, but also emphasizing her central role in what is unfolding on the level of plot: despite the fact that she is in the ‘oblique’accusative and Juno holds, from a grammatical point of view, the subject position, Venus is clearly pulling the strings here.

93–104: Juno’s first speech

192Juno’s first speech falls into two halves of 6 lines each: 93–98 comprise a disapproving commentary on what Venus has been up to; 99–104 follow this up with a proposal of peace and alliance.

19393–95: egregiam uero laudem et spolia ampla refertis/ tuque puerque tuus (magnum et memorabile numen),/ una dolo diuum si femina uicta duorum est: Juno chisels her opening, a conditional sequence, into the air with meticulous deliberation and emphasis, verse by self-standing verse: 93 contains the main clause (apodosis); 94 contains a magnificent elaboration of the subject implied in refertis; 95 contains the si-clause (protasis). Some editors, however, (including Conington and Pease) prefer to read nomen instead of numen and to punctuate differently:

egregiam uero laudem et spolia ampla refertis
tuque puerque tuus; magnum et memorabile nomen,
una dolo diuum si femina uicta duorum est.

194We would then be dealing with two sentences roughly equal in length: the first, consisting of a main clause only, comes to an end after tuus; and magnum et memorabile nomen (with the verb erit understood) becomes the apodosis of the conditional sequence (‘it will be a great and memorable exercise of divine power, that...’). Which reading do you prefer and why?

  • 132 Hall (2011), p. 625.

19593: egregiam uero laudem et spolia ampla refertis: refertis is the 2nd person plural present indicative active of refero. Its accusative object is presented chiastically: adjective (egregiam), noun (laudem), noun (spolia), adjective (ampla). The entire phrase, but in particular the attributes, are dripping with sarcasm, as Juno uses technical language to refer to the success of Venus’limey plot: laus at Rome is primarily associated with excellence in the public sphere, spolia are ‘the spoils of (military) victory’, and referre is a standard verb used to describe the return of a triumphant general. This sarcastic praise for a conquest that could not have been easier to achieve may deliberately recall Iliad 5, where Aphrodite saves Aeneas from Diomedes, though not without being wounded in the process, leading to much lament. ‘Juno’s mocking description of Venus’psychological conquest of Dido in martial terms thus not only insults Venus for directing her powers against an overmatched opponent but also reminds her of her earlier failure on the literal battlefield.’132 And, as John Henderson points out, per litteras, ‘it also reminds us that all this typologically prefigures the Roman obliteration of Carthaginian Carthage (before the Julian and Augustan re-foundation as Roman Carthage). This love tragedy soups and serves up superpower struggle on the world stage: but in Virgil’s hands, the rights and wrongs are inextricably tangled beyond chauvinist simplication from the start. Juno isn’t wrong, then — especially in claiming that this (first third of arma uirumque) is a sordid story out of keeping with epic decorum, a lapse into Hellenistic romance and the theatre of boudoir persecution of the femme fatale. What a mess the Aeneid is making of getting from Troy to Rome — wrong continent, wrong genre... correct: it’s an ordeal.’

19694: tuque puerque tuus (magnum et memorabile numen): Juno does not give her rival a lot of verse-space; after the monosyllabic tu at the outset, she devotes the rest of the line to an appreciation of Cupid. He may be Venus’boy, but proves to be a divinity of extraordinary and ‘numinous’power (magnum numen). Numen stresses the efficaciousness of divine power; it can either denote a divinity in its own right (as here: in Juno’s phrasing, Cupid is a numen) or refer to the ability of gods to influence events or indeed govern the entire cosmos. Later on in our passage, Mercury will refer to Jupiter as deum... regnator, caelum et terras qui numine torquet (4.268–69). Numen is a key concept in the religious infrastructure of Virgil’s epic more generally, from the proem onwards. Indeed, Juno’s words here specifically recall Virgil’s famous address to, and questioning of, the Muse at 1.8–11: Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso/ quidue dolens regina deum tot uoluere casus/ insignem pietate uirum, tot adire labores/ impulerit (‘Tell me, o Muse, the reasons, wherein thwarted in will or why angered, did the queen of the gods drive a man outstanding in piety, to traverse so many perils, to undergo so many toils?’). Ironically, Juno, who was the object of theological commentary by Virgil in the proem, has now turned into the commentator: she grudgingly concedes that Cupid has usurped what ought to be her narrative. Whereas Virgil is asking the Muse to recount the memorable reasons for Juno’s hostility towards Aeneas (1.8: memora), Juno here recognizes that what Cupid did to Dido is at least as memorable (cf. memorabile). There is also the additional irony that the issue of theodicy, which Virgil raises in the proem (the implication of his question to the Muse is that Juno’s actions are not just, given Aeneas’outstanding pietas), here recurs in a slightly different key, insofar as it registers negatively. Juno does not seem interested in justice at all. For her, this is a matter of power and the pursuit of selfish interests. She does not remonstrate with Venus that Dido suffers unfairly. Rather, she mocks her counterpart for a cheap victory. The difference between the human and the divine perspective is telling: mortals have much at stake in the justice of the gods; the gods themselves, however, arguably nothing.

  • 133 Conington (1884), p. 148.
  • 134 Austin (1963), p. 51.

19795: una dolo diuum si femina uicta duorum est: The protasis of the explanatory si-clause here comes after the apodosis (refertis). Juno points out that Dido never had a chance, whether in terms of ontology and gender (a mortal femina vs. immortal diui) or number (two against one: Virgil stresses the contrast by placing una and duorum at either end of the verse). As Conington observes: ‘The words are chosen so as to be as sarcastic as possible; the triumph is of two over one, of gods over a mortal, and that not even a man but a woman.’133 Austin notes the intricate, antithetical design: ‘una contrasted with duorum, dolo paired with victa and completing its sense, divum contrasted with femina.’134 The phrase dolo diuum... duorum (an ablative of means) is nicely held together by alliteration and homoioteleuton of the genitive phrase (-um), though duorum elides with est.

19896–97: nec me adeo fallit ueritam te moenia nostra/ suspectas habuisse domos Karthaginis altae: fallit (impersonal, to be construed with me: ‘It does not escape me...’) introduces an indirect statement, with te as subject accusative and habuisse as infinitive; domos (with suspectas in predicative position: ‘in suspicion’) is the accusative object of habuisse. ueritam is a circumstantial participle agreeing with te (you, in fear of...), taking moenia nostra as accusative object. With the phrasing moenia nostra... domos Karthaginis altae Juno co-opts for Carthage what Virgil, in the proem, marked out as the destiny of Rome: the telos of Aeneas’efforts (even though he doesn’t build them himself) are the altae moenia Romae at 1.7 (‘the walls of high Rome’). In both passages, we are dealing with a so-called transferred epithet: the attribute altus would go more naturally with another noun (moenia or domos) than the one it modifies grammatically (Romae or Karthaginis), though the transference invites us to think of, literally, ‘high walls’and of, figuratively, ‘exalted Rome or Carthage.’It is a nice touch that in the formulation Juno here ‘pinches’from Virgil, the transference does not work so well: ‘high’is much better suited as an attribute of ‘walls’than of ‘homes’. Juno’s Carthage thus emerges as an inferior alternative, a perverse rival to Rome also on the stylistic level. That Juno mentions moenia (modified by the proud-possessive-protective nostra) in the same breath arguably highlights her rhetorical gaffe. But we may pardon the goddess for not being in top form, given her state of emotional distress: after all, the fear of Carthage she here projects onto Venus (ueritam te...), she herself suffers from because of Rome (cf. 1.23: id metuens [sc. Iuno], with id refering to the future destruction of Carthage by the Romans).

19998: sed quis erit modus, aut quo nunc certamine tanto?: Juno has reached the mid point of her speech; after her sarcastic opening and confrontational ‘the game’s up: I know what this is all about’, she changes tack. In a more conciliatory vein, she begins to question the point and purpose of the scheming, enquiring into the limit of what she considers an excessive use of divine force. She then poses, in a sentence that fittingly lacks a verb such as tendimus, the open-ended question what all that strife and meddling is supposed to achieve: ‘whither (quo) now [do we go from here] in this rivalry (certamine tanto)?’These are good questions, as Juno here picks up on a potential flaw in Venus’machinations: what precisely is Venus trying to achieve by driving Dido into erotic insanity? Yes, ensuring a friendly welcome for Aeneas was important; but one would have thought that Venus’ultimate goal (getting Rome underway) would have been better served by a more reserved type of hospitality so that Aeneas and his men could be back on their way to Italy soon. As it turns out, the reduction of Dido to a state of hopeless passion is now derailing the founding of two great cities: Carthage and Rome. Juno, for her own selfish interests to be sure, tries to offer a way out of the deadlock. (More generally speaking, Venus has seemingly gained very little from unleashing the powers of her son to the fullest extent or even caused significant damage: not only has she further delayed Aeneas on his travels; the tragic break-up and ensuing hatred, resulting in a vicious curse further empowered by Dido’s suicide, cause much suffering for Aeneas and Rome in the future. She of course knows, after her consultation with Jupiter, that matters will turn out well in the end: imperium sine fine and all that. But in the form of Hannibal especially, Dido’s wrath will continue to haunt her Romans, almost bringing them to their knees.)

20099–100: quin potius pacem aeternam pactosque hymenaeos/ exercemus?: Juno concludes the first half of her speech with an open-ended question, suggesting to Venus how immoderate and pointless her attack on Dido has been so far (see above on 98); and she opens up the second half of her speech with a concrete proposal, which she casts as a question — though note that quin (‘why don’t we...?’) introduces questions ‘equivalent to commands or exhortations’: OLD s. v. A1. Juno wraps her offer to Venus in impressive rhetoric: pacem aeternam pactosque hymenaeos is chiastic in terms of grammar (noun: adjective; adjective: noun). Further links between the two phrases include a figura etymologica reinforced by alliteration in pacem ~ pactos (which comes from paciscor, ‘to negotiate, agree on, settle’) and the assonance ae-,-nae-in aeternam and hymenaeos.

201100–101: habes tota quod mente petisti:/ ardet amans Dido traxitque per ossa furorem: petisti = petiuisti. Juno pretends that Venus’scheming does not extend beyond making Dido fall madly in love with Aeneas and that she therefore has achieved everything she ever desired. (Cf. tota... mente; the placement of tota outside the relative clause into which it belongs emphasizes the comprehensive wish-fulfillment that Juno, in an act of strategic incomprehension, projects onto Venus.) per ossa harks back to both uenis (4.2) and, especially, medullas (4.66). Note the husteron proteron in line 101: Juno first foregrounds that Dido is ‘on fire’with love (cf. ardet in the exposed front position), before stating the cause: she has drawn in the insane passion through her bones.

  • 135 Pease (1935), p. 167.
  • 136 Austin (1963), pp. 53–54.

202102–103: communem hunc ergo populum paribusque regamus/ auspiciis: regamus is an exhortative subjunctive (‘let us rule’). the-que links communem (in the predicative position, modifying populum) and paribus auspiciis. The two phrases indicate how Juno intends to rule with Venus, namely ‘together and sharing power equally’, with communem identifying the basic principle (‘jointly’) and paribus auspiciis specifying the precise terms (‘equally’). What looks like a generous proposal is in fact both insidious (communem) and deeply problematic in terms of practical arrangement (paribus auspiciis). The Scholia Danielis (cited by Pease135) put the finger on the problem by asking whether communem means that Juno offers Venus joint rule of her city Carthage or that Tyrians and Trojans will have merged into one populus. The former of course all but implies the latter: a joint rule of the two goddesses will ultimately result in a joint people. Juno never spells this out (she only mentions marriage of their two princely and principal charges), but in effect she here suggests for Carthage what has been pre-scripted for Italy: the ethnic merging of the Trojan refugees with the indigenous population. In other words, she here again plots to derail fatum and the founding of Rome. paribus auspiciis too is far from unproblematic. Auspicium is, in the first instance, ‘the practice of augury from the behaviour of birds’or ‘information about the future gleaned from the behaviour of birds’, but also refers more generally to the legitimate power invested in a Roman general: ‘the commander-in-chief alone had authority to take the auspicia, in virtue of his imperium, and so the auspicia could themselves be regarded as a symbol of imperium.’136 There is considerable humour in the fact that Juno, a goddess, uses a technical term of Rome’s civic religion that refers to a practice designed to figure out the will of the gods. Taken literally, with paribus auspiciis Juno proposes that each goddess has to consult the other on anything before taking any action and that the opinion of each has exactly equal weight. It is an interesting question of how they would have worked this in practice. Rome’s political culture was quite good at sharing power: for instance, when both consuls were together on campaign, the right to take auspices (and decide on a course of action) alternated between them on a daily basis. But this sort of collegial arrangement is fraught with problems and can break down easily (Eteocles and Polynices also initially agreed to rule in alternating years: we all know what happened at the moment the regime was supposed to change hands for the first time), and one wonders whether it would have been practicable here. In Augustan Rome, especially, after a century of civil bloodshed had proven the difficulty of sharing power, the mode of government that Juno evokes with communem and paribus auspiciis would probably have been deemed doomed to failure. ‘Yet this fake deal also test runs the solution for Rome — Italia in the Aeneid’s finale AND the way that models of mutual treaty and partial/ phased/ wholesale incorporation developed within Italy in history; in Virgil’s day, the challenge was how to project civil relations out to communities outside Italy (such as Roman Carthage). Juno wouldn’t be the only one fudging and manoeuvering over this politics, in Rome or in other centres. No doubt you have to get past hate to make any of it work; one way to do that is to agree to treat the past and its conflicts as tragedy, as miscommunication, as cock-up’(Henderson, per litteras).

  • 137 I owe this point to John Henderson, per litteras.

203103–104: liceat Phrygio seruire marito/ dotalisque tuae Tyrios permittere dextrae: Dido, the subject of liceat (‘let her/ may she...’), is otherwise effaced; the-que links seruire and permittere; dotalis (in predicative position) continues the idea of marito and modifies Tyrios —’to hand over the Tyrians to your right hand as dowry.’Juno here introduces the human analogue to the divine power-sharing she proposed previously: the linking of Dido and Aeneas in wedlock. She seems here to assume that the purpose of Venus’intervention was to have Dido fall in love with Aeneas to get them married and now playacts as if she is willing to go along with the plan — however bitter it may be. When she utters the phrase Phrygio seruire marito she is best imagined as spitting in disgust: her queen (regina) and leader (dux), and thus also herself, enslaved — and to an effeminate, ‘slavish’Phrygian on top! (Given that ‘Phrygian’is a stock Roman term for ‘slave’, Juno phrases her irritation by means of a striking paradox: I am willing, she says, to enslave my Dido to a slave.)137 But the show of contempt, apart from being presumably genuine, also has a rhetorical point: Juno hams it up to show how much she is (apparently) yielding.

105–114: Venus’reply

204105–107 contain some authorial comments on what Venus is thinking. Her speech falls into three parts:

107–109: a conciliatory opening which, however, already introduces a touch of reservation in the si-clause.
110–112: explicit articulation of doubts: Jupiter may not be willing to go along with Juno’s proposal.
113–114: exhortation to Juno that it is her responsibility to solve that problem; reiteration of her willingness to go along with Juno’s plan.

  • 138 Quint (1993), p. 93.

205It is noteworthy that Venus here brings into play two categories that go right to the heart of Virgil’s theology of history and how his characters position themselves and their experiences within a wider, temporal horizon: fortuna (109) and fata (112). Dido conceives of herself as a figure under the sway of fickle fortune (see esp. 1.628–29, with its striking reminiscences of the proem: me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores/ iactatam hac demum uoluit consistere terra ‘Me, too, has a like fortune driven through many toils, and willed to find rest at last in this land’), whereas Aeneas is of course a figure of fate. As Quint has pointed out, the Aeneid tends to associate the losers of history with fortuna and the winners with fatum; but in aesthetic terms the tragic figures of fortune arguably prevail over the characters who carry destiny on their shoulders: ‘Fortune denotes short-term contingency as opposed to the historical long run that is Fate. History’s losers only have the short term and must make the most of it. Their fortunes become personalized, allowing for the assertion of selfhood and the willfulness that make Dido and Turnus the most vivid characters in the poem.’138

206[Extra information: Some of the formulations in this passage recall the encounter between Hera and Aphrodite (the Greek counterparts of Juno and Venus) in Iliad 14, where Hera approaches Aphrodite to borrow her girdle of erotic desire so she can lull her husband into a post-coital slumber in order to abet the Greeks. (Since Aphrodite of course favours the Trojans, Hera tells her a cock-and-bull story about needing the girdle to reconcile the estranged couple of Oceanus and Tethys.) Venus’ references to factum, fortuna, and fata are similar to her musings on fate and wishfulfilment at Iliad 14.194–96:

Ἥρη πρέσβα θεὰ θύγατερ μεγάλοιο Κρόνοιο
αὔδα τι ϕρονέεις · τελέσαι δέ με θυμὸς ἄνωγεν,
εἰ δύναμαι τελέσαι γε καὶ εἰ τετελεσμένον ἐστίν.

‘Hera, reverent goddess, daughter of great Cronos, speak what is on your mind; the heart bids me to fulfil it, if fulfil it I can, and if it is something that has fulfilment.’

207telos, which means ‘end’, ‘purpose’, or ‘final cause’(from which comes teleology), is a Greek equivalent to fatum. After Hera has taken up this invitation to speak and has voiced her request, Aphrodite replies in language that has affinities with Venus’ conciliatory opening gambit at Aeneid 4.107–09 as well as her subsequent point that Juno is Jupiter’s husband and ought to put the case to him. See Iliad 14.211–13:

Τὴν δαὖτε προσέειπε ϕιλομειδὴς Ἀϕροδίτη ·
οὐκ ἔστοὐδὲ ἔοικε τεὸν ἔπος ἀρνήσασθαι ·
Ζηνὸς γὰρ τοῦ ἀρίστου ἐν ἀγκοίνῃσιν ἰαύεις.

Laughter-loving Aphrodite answered her: it is not to be nor is it seemly that
I say no to your speech; for you sleep in the arms of Zeus the mightiest.

208Bear in mind Aphrodite’s ornamental epithet ‘laughter-loving’ (ϕιλομειδὴς). She will do it justice in Virgil at 128 below; and unlike in Homer, she is not to be deceived.]

  • 139 O’Hara (2011), p. 32.

209105–107: Olli (sensit enim simulata mente locutam,/ quo regnum Italiae Libycas auerteret oras)/ sic contra est ingressa Venus: olli is an archaic form of illi, which Virgil had already used of Venus addressed by Jupiter at 1.254 (olli subridens hominum sator atque deorum...): ‘We are reminded of that conversation about the Roman future, as Venus conceals from Juno the knowledge that she has learned from it’.139 Virgil may have opted for these archaizing touches to suggest divine gravity. sensit introduces an indirect statement; the subject accusative (eam, sc. Juno) is elided, just like the esse that completes locutam. quo introduces a purpose clause (‘in order to’). The subject of auerteret is Juno; in prose, the accusative of direction Libycas oras would normally have taken the preposition ad. The chiastic design of regnum Italiae Libycas oras stylistically underscores the intended redirection, with the two geographical markers juxtaposed in the centre and Italy yielding to Libya (note the homoioteleuton-cas,-ras).

210107–109: ‘quis talia demens/ abnuat aut tecum malit contendere bello,/ si modo quod memoras factum fortuna sequatur?: talia refers to the terms that Juno is offering. abnuat and malit are present subjunctives. Since Iliad 1, nodding (ab-nuat) is a trademarked way of Olympian divinities to signal assent (or as here dissent) from above. See also 1.250 (Venus addressing Jupiter): nos, tua progenies, caeli quibus adnuis arcem... (‘but we, your offspring, to whom you grant the citadel of heaven...’). After Juno’s second speech, Venus indeed adnuit (128). When Venus asks quis... demens (‘who is so insane as to...’) a wry smile may well play around her lips given that Dido has just been diagnosed as demens (78). bello picks up Juno’s certamine tanto (98), but drops any hint of euphemism: Venus recognizes that she must choose between Juno’s proposal or outright warfare. The way she wriggles out of this dilemma is deft indeed: the rhetorical question introduced by quis implies the negative answer (‘no-one is so mad as to pick a fight with you, Juno’) that Juno wants to hear, but Venus instantly if surreptitiously qualifies her apparent consent by adding a si-clause (si modo = utinam: ‘if only’), in which she feigns concern that fortune, despite her hopes, may not favour the course of action (factum) that Juno has in mind (quod memoras). factum, the ‘antecedent’ of quod, is placed after the relative clause, generating an ironic juxtaposition, reinforced by alliteration, of factum and fortuna: by itself factum, the perfect participle of facere, signifies a deed or action that has already happened (‘a fact’), but together with the preceding relative clause it refers to a ‘planned action’, i.e. something in the future. And while in other contexts divinities operate on the principle of dictum factum (‘no sooner said than done’), here Venus reminds Juno that in principle the future is contingent insofar as it requires the smile of fickle fortuna to actually come about — ‘in principle’, since she by now knows full well that the future of Rome is no longer up for negotiation, but prescripted, and hence, in its essentials, removed from the realm of fortune. In other words, Venus knows very well that what Juno here plans will never become a factum. To some degree Virgil, the retrospective prophet, has eliminated contingency from his literary universe, tracing a story that is in outline historically predetermined — which in this case means that Juno will not be able to shape history the way she wants. With her maliciously double-layered and disingenuous gesture to fortuna, Venus reminds Juno that the successful execution of her scheme is not entirely up to them, but also secretly mocks her antagonist in the full knowledge that her scheming will be in vain.

  • 140 Pease (1935), p. 171.
  • 141 Ibid.

211110: sed fatis incerta feror si...: as Pease notes ‘the grammatical construction of fatis is hard to explain.’140 One possibility is to take fatis with feror (note the alliteration), i.e. ‘I am carried along by the fates’ (giving Juno the impression that she bows to the destiny her counterpart has determined), with incerta (perhaps to be understood in a concessive sense) setting up the si-clause, i.e. ‘(even though) uncertain, whether...’ One could, perhaps, also take fatis with incerta: ‘uncertain of the fates, I am carried along (by your proposal, not knowing) whether...’— although ‘we lack other cases of such an ablative dependent upon incertus, our nearest analogy perhaps being the ablative with callidus and peritus’.141 It is maybe best to take fatis with the entire phrase incerta feror, in the sense of ‘as someone ignorant of destiny I am carried along by it.’The syntactical ambiguity involving fatis (which is in itself an irony to savour: grammatical indeterminancy around a concept that signifies predetermination) is thematically fitting: Venus is trying to be evasive, and well she might. That she is carried along by the fates is true enough (who isn’t), but that she is ignorant of either the fates or Jupiter’s will is a bald-faced lie: in Aeneid 1, she visited Jupiter who assured her that the fata would remained unmoved. See esp. 257–58 (Jupiter speaking): ‘parce metu, Cytherea: manent immota tuorum/ fata tibi...’(‘Spare your fears, Lady of Cythera; the fates of your kin remain unmoved...’). What is more, he also revealed that even Juno would eventually come round to favouring her ‘race’(gens): see 1.279–82. To be knowledgeable of the future sure is a nice position to be in: here, her superior insight into the fata enables Venus to be simultaneously smug and coy.

212110–112: si Iuppiter unam/ esse uelit Tyriis urbem Troiaque profectis,/ misceriue probet populos aut foedera iungi: the-que after Troia links Tyriis and (Troia) profectis (‘those, who have departed from Troy’) the-ue after misceriue links uelit and probet, the aut coordinates misceri and iungi. The binary phrasing (Tyriis & Troia profectis; uelit & probet; misceri & iungi) and the different types of connectives (-que,-ue, aut) mirrors on the formal level both the theme of the si-clause (the potential merger of Tyrians and Trojans) and Venus’ simulated uncertainty about the precise terms of such a merger. Venus’ train of thought proceeds from the city (unam: ‘one only’, ‘a single one’), that is to be shared by Tyrians and Trojans (the datives Tyriis... Troiaque profectis refer to the respective origins of the ethnic communities of Dido, i.e. the people from Tyre in Phoenicia, and of Aeneas, i.e. those who departed from Troy), to an inevitable consequence of this sharing: some sort of merger or bond between the two peoples. Venus invokes two models: a ‘biological’ one (misceri), and a legal one (foedera iungi). She thereby signals awareness of two different ways of conceiving of a socio-political entity, nicely contrasted by means of the chiasmus (a) misceri (b) populos (b) foedera (a) iungi: as an ‘ethnic’ community, in which the members are thought to be linked by intermarriage and blood-descent, or as a ‘civic’ alliance, in which the members participate on the basis of some sort of legal-contractual arrangement (such as citizenship). The two are of course not mutually exclusive. Here the merger of two peoples is only mooted as a hypothetical possibility; but the theme dominates the second half of the Aeneid, which revolves around the merging of Trojans and Latins, again at the level of a royal couple (Aeneas and Lavinia) and two entire peoples. There, too, Virgil uses both ethnic and legal terminology to describe the union (See e.g. 12.191: foedera). An idiosyncratic notion of Roman ethnicity also informs Virgil’s reconfiguration of the populous Romanus as gens Romana (uel Iulia): see note on 4: gentis honos.

  • 142 The irony becomes even more marked if we factor in the ‘Deception of Zeus’ in Iliad 14, where Hera (...)

213113-114: tu coniunx [sc. Iouis es], tibi fas [sc. est] animum remptare precando./ perge, sequar: another guileful utterance: as Virgil’s readers know full well from Book 1, Venus has no scruples whatsoever to approach Jupiter and ask him for ressurance and support.142 Venus’ use of fas is another instance of a divinity bandying about Roman religious terminology: the term refers to divinely sanctioned law. and Venus hilariously implies that her accosting Jupiter would constitute an instance of nefas something that is prohibited by religious law). She effectively shifts full responsibility for the success of the plan onto Juno (who has a notoriously stormy relationship with her husband), rhetorically underscoring her devious proposal with the solemn and emphatic polyptoton tu ~ tibi and the laconic exhortation and promise that concludes her speech (perge, sequar).

214114: tum sic excepit regia Iuno: the phrasing recalls 107: sic contra est ingressa Venus; now Juno takes over (cf. excepit) again The epithet regia underscores her superior position in the Olympic hierarchy anew and has proleptic force: fire opening of her speech is marked by ‘royal’ pomposity and self-importance.

115–27: Juno’s second speech

215After briefly dealing with Venus’ speech, Juno proceeds to outline her plan for getting Aeneas and Dido into wedlock. The speech is well-structured, but there is a slight shift from measured exposition, where sections come to a close at the end of a verse, to a more animated, enjambed mode of speech that matches Juno’s mounting excitement as she works up to the triumphant finale in line 127: hic hymenaeus erit:

115-116: Preamble, consisting of a reply to Venus’ concerns and an exhortation designed to ensure Venus’ full attention (2 lines).
117–119: Description of the context in which the goddesses should strike: Aeneas and Dido go hunting (3 lines).
120–122: Juno’s interference: she plans to conjure up a storm (3 lines).
123–125a: The consequences: everyone scatters, and Dido and Aeneas, all by themselves, seek shelter in a cave (2 + lines).
125b–127a: Bingo: Juno will see to sex and marriage (2 + lines).

  • 143 Pease (1935), p. 173.
  • 144 Maclennan (2007), p. 91.

216115–116: ‘mecum erit iste labor. nunc qua ratione quod instat/ confieri possit, paucis (aduerte) docebo: Juno reacts to Venus’ feigned doubts and duplicitous humility with some reassuring verbal strutting: mecum erit iste labor means something akin to ‘Don’t you worry, I’ll take care of that!’ Her use of the future tense (erit) is telling. She has absolutely no intention to consult with Jupiter any time soon. Far from clearing her plan with her husband beforehand, she clearly intends to let him know only after the liasion between Dido and Aeneas is already a fait accompli (if at all: in the end he finds out about what is going on from his son Iarbas). The tone is both matey and dismissive, as Juno instantly moves on. With nunc her attitude changes as she sets out methodically (qua ratione) and briefly (paucis) what the two goddesses ought to do on their own and right away (quod instat, contrasting with iste labor). There might be a touch of the ‘schoolmistress’143 about the way she speaks, but I wonder whether the imperative aduerte is really ‘peremptory’ ‘as if Venus might not be paying attention’144: such an aggressive stance could backfire. Perhaps Juno is rather being chummy and conspiratorial?

217117–119: uenatum Aeneas unaque miserrima Dido/ in nemus ire parant, ubi primos crastinus ortus/ extulerit Titan radiisque retexerit orbem: uenatum is the accusative of the supine, expressing purpose (‘in order to...’) with a verb of motion (ire). The-a of una scans long: it is an adverb meaning ‘together with’. Juno mentions Aeneas only by his bare name, without ornamental epithet, whereas Dido receives an attribute in the superlative (for a similar snide innuendo see line 124). But what is the force of miserrima, which recalls and stands in implicit contrast to the pulcherrima Virgil uses elsewhere)? Is it an expression of pity (‘my poor, love-sick Dido’) — or contempt (‘that Dido, love-sick to the hilt’)? Is it accusatory, directed against Venus (‘Dido, whom you have reduced to such a sorry state of wretchedness’)? Or is it proleptic, as the Scholia Danielis would have it: ‘Dido — most wretched in that she is about to lose her reputation for chaste loyalty to her dead husband and has to enter into wedlock with that Phrygian cast-away of yours’? The ubi-sentence is an elaborate and memorable way of saying ‘tomorrow at sunrise’: primos modifies ortus, and crastinus modifies Titan (= Sol), which produces an interlaced patterning of a 1 (adjective: primos) a 2 (adjective: crastinus) b 1 (noun: ortus) c (verb, placed in enjambment) b 2 (noun: Titan). extulerit Titan radiisque retexerit features alliteration (ra-, re-), assonance (ex-,-tex-;-tu-, Ti-,-ta-), and homoioteleuton (-erit,-erit). The-que links extulerit and retexerit. Usually it is the narrator who establishes the setting with evocative descriptions (cf. 4.6–7 above), so this underscores Juno’s powers: she is here taking control of Virgil’s narrative. What follows is her plot: here she outlines what she will then proceed to put into practice, in what amounts to giving Venus (and Virgil’s readers) an advanced ‘performance script’that allows us to appraise later on how well she manages to execute her plan.

218120–122: his ego nigrantem commixta grandine nimbum,/ dum trepidant alae saltusque indagine cingunt,/ desuper infundam et tonitru caelum omne ciebo: after a sneak-preview of the day’s divertissements, Juno moves on to an elaborate weather forecast. The hyperbaton of subject (120: ego) and accusative object (120: nigrantem... nimbum) and the corresponding verb (122: infundam) is as big as Juno’s ego. The word order of nigrantem commixta grandine nimbum is iconic: the hail is contained within the black cloud. In Book 1, Juno enlisted Aeolus to unleash a storm. In Book 7, she will enlist the Fury Allecto to unleash hell on earth. The thunderstorm here is her own creation, and while the imagery is impressive (both here and when Virgil describes the actual event), the spot of bad weather pales in comparison to the cosmic upheaval caused by the winds and the fury: despite her grandiose rhetoric, the passage also underscores the limits of Juno’s powers.

219121: dum trepidant alae saltusque indagine cingunt: after Juno has spoken of gathering her black cloud, she effectively delays how she will unleash it with a retarding dum-clause. alae are the hunters on horseback who ‘bustle’(trepidant) about to stir up the game and, in doing so, form a circle around the hunting grounds. indago,-inis, f. means ‘a ring of huntsmen or nets thrown round a wood, etc., to prevent the escape of game’: OLD s. v. 1a.

220122: desuper infundam et tonitru caelum omne ciebo: after the delay, desuper marks a startling return to the weather. Juno plans to underscore her deluge with a suitable soundtrack that will rattle heaven. Note the two elisions infundam et and caelum omne, giving metrical support to the theme of pouring rain and resounding thunder.

221[Extra information: what causes thunderstorms? They are frightening, and are often taken as a means of the gods to communicate with humans. To combat this notion, Lucretius, in the final book of his De Rerum Natura, an account of the world grounded in Epicurean physics (Epicurus was an atomist who dismissed divine interference in human affairs as noxious superstition), devotes a lengthy discussion of what natural phenomena might cause thunderstorms, trying to dispel any irrational fear of them. Some of the language is quite close: with Virgil’s phrase caelum ciere, cf. e. g. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 6.376: ... tempestasque cietur turbida caelo.]

222123: nocte tegentur opaca: again an iconic arrangement, in which the phrase nocte... opaca in framing/ embracing does to the verb what the verb means: ‘they will be covered by dark night.’

  • 145 Austin (1963), p. 57.

223124–125: speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem/ deuenient: the hyberbaton of speluncam... eandem is a beautiful case of iconic word order: Dido and Aeneas will end up inside the same cave, just as the noun and the attribute ‘embrace’the pair in the verse. The postponed et has a double effect: (a) it generates the momentary impression that Dido is the dux (an effect reinforced by alliteration); and (b) it separates the adjective that identifies Aeneas (Troianus) from the noun that indicates his leadership abilities (dux). Both the elevation of Dido and the slighting of Aeneas that the word order entails are of course fully in line with how the speaker (Juno) sees matters more generally. The postponed et thus underpins a beautifully subtle piece of ethopoiea. (The use of dux here also harks back to 1.364, where Venus, after recounting Dido’s departure from Tyre, notes: dux femina facti — a challenging formulation that gives Dido a masculine role.) deuenient, effectively placed in enjambment, is in the future indicative. On the diaeresis after deuenient see Austin: ‘the pause is effective; Juno waits a moment to let Venus appreciate her plot to the full.’145

224125–127: adero et, tua si mihi certa uoluntas,/ conubio iungam stabili propriamque dicabo; hic hymenaeus erit: Juno captures her own involvement in a tricolon: aderoiungamdicabo; the verb of the si-clause (est) is elided. conubio iungam stabili is another instance of mimetic wordorder and verse-design reinforcing meaning: iungam is placed between and hence ‘links’ conubio and stabili. Some have suspected line 126 here as a repetition of 1.73, where Juno promises one of her nymphs to Aeolus, in return for unleashing the sea-storm that was supposed to sink Aeneas’fleet. But the re-use may also be part of Virgil’s characterization of Juno: to cause chaos and thwart fate she resorts to the resources that she has at her disposal as the goddess of marriage. At the same time, the comparison with 1.73 illustrates the irregular nature of Juno’s plan. In Book 1, Juno gives Aeolus the following promise (71–73):

  • 146 She follows this up with two lines in which she promises Aeolus that the marriage will be ever-last (...)

Sunt mihi bis septem praestanti corpore nymphae,
quarum quae forma pulcherrima, Deiopea,
conubio iungam stabili propriamque dicabo.

[I have fourteen nymphs of outstanding beauty, of whom I shall link who is
most beautiful in appearance, Deiopea, [to you] in stable wedlock and will
give her over [to you] as your own.]

225Since Juno addresses Aeolus, tibi is easily understood with iungam and dicabo. In Book 4, however, matters are less clear. Juno obviously intends to link Dido and Aeneas in wedlock and will give over Dido to Aeneas as his own. But the person whom she addresses here, as the equivalent to Aeolus, is Venus. The awkward syntax thus continues her policy of marginalizing and eliding the Trojan hero, and it even generates an interesting ambiguity: is she giving over Dido to Aeneas or to his mother Venus (or both)?

226The fuzziness of Juno’s discourse continues to the very end. What initially may look like a sharp and unambiguous punchline — hic hymenaeus erit — is anything but: does she mean ‘Hymenaeus [i.e. the god of wedding] will be here [hic = adverb]’? Or does she mean ‘This [hic = demonstrative pronoun] will be their marriage’? The former reading seems feeble; but if the meaning is supposed to be the latter, the use of the singular hymenaeus is unusual. (In the singular, hymenaeus tends to mean ‘wedding song’.) The lack of precision may be Virgil’s way of having Juno drawing unwittingly attention to the dodginess of her plan.

  • 147 On Venus’ smile see further Konstan (1986).

227127–128: non aduersata petenti/ adnuit atque dolis risit Cytherea repertis: Cytherea is one of Venus’cult titles, deriving from the worship she received on the Aegean island of Cythera. Venus, of course, is not fooled by the peace offer and sees through Juno’s guile. But she is quite happy to play along. Recent commentators (Pease, Austin, Maclennan, O’Hara) are unanimous in taking dolis... repertis to mean something akin to ‘after Juno’s guile had been discovered’(ablative absolute) or ‘(she smiled) at Juno’s guile discovered’(as ablative object with ridere). But this interpretation yields a feeble sense: already after Juno’s first speech, which ended with the proposal of marriage, Virgil tells us that Venus was not fooled for a second (105: sensit [sc. Venus] enim simulata mente locutam...), so why would he repeat this point here, as if Venus had not seen through Juno all along and only discovered her treacherous intentions now? True, Juno’s second speech lays out her precise strategy, but that in itself is a problem: what Venus has just learned is not so much that Juno is deceitful, but how she intends to put deceit into practice. And this is exactly what makes Venus smile: she laughs at the trickery that Juno has devised (for reperio in the sense of ‘to make up, devise, intent’, see OLD s. v. 6). Why should she? Well, the goddess of erotic desire can hardly keep a straight face when the goddess of lawful marriage engineers a romp in a cave that is to be dressed up as a legitimate wedding (though it will be anything but). Moreover, Venus knows full well that this sexual encounter may just prove disastrous for Dido (as it does)— and thus further Aeneas’destiny, getting him back on the road to Rome. It is an insidious, even perverse sense of humour that Venus puts on display here — but perfectly in character.147

129–172: The Hunting Party148

  • 148 In 1945 a mosaic illustrating the hunt was discovered at Low Ham in Somerset. For a picture, see R. (...)

228After the divine interlude the action switches back to the human plane. The basic structure of the section is as follows:

129: Indication of time
130–50: Preparation for the hunt and departure
130–35: Nameless attendants from Carthage
130–32: The youth and Massylian horsemen
133–35: Punic princes
136–39: Queen Dido
140–41a: Aeneas’companions, above all his son Iulus/ Ascanius
141b–50: Aeneas, including simile that compares him to Apollo, correlating with the Dido-Diana simile in Book 1.494–504.
151–59: The hunt
151–55: General activities
156–59: Ascanius/ Iulus enjoying the hunt
160–72: The perfect storm
160–64: Scattering of the companions
165–72: The encounter in the cave

  • 149 Caldwell (2008), passim, with the quotation from p. 426.
  • 150 See Catullus 61.76–100, which also features a reference to the pudor of the bride (83).
  • 151 The sentence reads like Virgil’s response to Juno’s pronouncement: ille picks up hic; the perfect f (...)

229In broad outline, 129–172 recount the events that Juno had anticipated in 117–127, but the match is uneven. In particular, Virgil elaborates on the preparation for the hunt (the one and a half lines 117–18: uenatum Aeneas unaque miserrima Dido/ in nemus ire parant prefigure 130–50) and the hunt itself (the one line 121: dum trepidant alae saltusque indagine cingunt prefigures 151–59). More intriguingly, Virgil manages to keep Juno’s notion that a ‘marriage’is in the works resonant throughout. He follows up the programmatic announcement ‘hic hymenaeus erit’with subtle hints that assimilate the proceedings to a Roman wedding ceremony, leading up to the climax in the cave. ‘Echoes of wedding language and imagery’include 133: thalamo; 133: cunctantem; 137–39: Dido’s incongruously ornate dress; 142: iungit; perhaps also 165: dux.149 Possibly, Virgil encourages the reader to recall the ‘long poems’by Catullus (61–68) and in particular Catullus 61, the famous wedding poem, which features many thematic parallels to this section of Aeneid 4, most conspicuously perhaps the belated appearance of the ‘bride’/ Dido.150 These persistent hints open up various avenues of interpretation: (i) to begin with, they serve as subtle reminders that Juno is orchestrating events in the background for a specific purpose; (ii) at the same time, the oblique and refracted gestures to a proper Roman wedding ceremony cannot help but highlight that the ‘wedding’that is unfolding here is profoundly distorted and deeply flawed: if hic hymenaeus erit (127) stands at the beginning of the section, death (letum) and evil (mala) mark the end: ille dies primus leti primusque malorum/ causa fuit (169–70);151 (iii) more specifically, the conflation of a hunt and a wedding produces jarring results, as it brings into close contact two cultural spheres that are often configured as diametrically opposed: if wedding and marriage revolve around a domestic union for the purpose of procreation, hunting is about going off into the wild for the purpose of killing. Likewise, hunting in ancient thought is a sexually charged activity, but the erotics associated with hunting are of the violent, trangressing kind, as opposed to the civilized values that inform proper marital arrangements. In English, as John Henderson reminds me, ‘venery’traditionally covers both hunting and sex.

  • 152 Syed (2005), p. 101.

230The joining of Carthaginians and Trojans in the hunt extends the theme of union beyond the two leaders to include two ethnic groupings: the two mingle, and Virgil uses the language of social ties (4.142: infert se socium) in the run-up to the physical mingling in the cave, thus recapitulating the two modes of civic and ethnic union that the two goddesses voiced in their plotting. The intermingling of Carthaginians and Trojans raises the question whether Virgil uses the occasion to demarcate ethnic differences. But at least on the level of the entourage, similarities outweigh differences: in fact, Virgil opts for studied symmetry in how he presents the two peoples. At first sight the same does not quite apply to the same degree to the two leaders: here differences dominate, also on the syntactical level. As Syed points out:152

The description of Dido’s appearance in lines 133–39 starts out with Dido as the grammatical object, being awaited by her companions (4.133–34: reginam ... exspectant). She is the subject of hardly a single active verb, excepting the (ironically) deponent progreditur in 4.136. For the most part, she is watched for (4.134: exspectant), surrounded (4.136: stipante), clothed (4.137: circumdata ), her hair tied (4.138: nodantur), her brooch clasping her dress (4.139: subnectit ). By contrast, Aeneas and Apollo to whom Aeneas is compared, are insistently active, they are the subjects of active verbs in the passage: Aeneas joins Dido (4.142: infert se socium) and unites his companions with hers (4.142: agmina iungit). In the simile, Apollo leaves Lycia (4.144: deserit) and comes to Delos (4.144: invisit). He renews dances (4.145: instaurat), he walks (4.147: graditur), he presses his locks (4.148: premit crinem) and braids them with gold (4.148 : implicat auro). Just so, Aeneas, too, walks (4.149: haud illo segnior ibat).

231There is, then, a much greater emphasis on Aeneas in this section, who re-enters the text with a vengeance. But on inspection, the differentiation between Dido and Aeneas is perhaps less marked than Syed makes it out to be. It is true that Dido, throughout this passage, remains strangely out of focus and her agency marginalized. But this does not square at all with Syed’s conclusion that ‘Dido is the object of the reader’s gaze.’Instead, Virgil directs the attention of his audience onto Aeneas, his comparandum Apollo, and Ascanius/ Iulus: they are the protagonists in the unfolding drama of the hunt and regain the narrative limelight. And there are subtle touches through which Virgil breaks down any stark opposition between the Trojan hero and the Phoenician queen: many of the thematic concerns that dominate the stretch on Dido, in particular ‘gold’and ‘hair’recur in the simile that compares Aeneas to Apollo. Also in light of the fact that we later meet Aeneas as if dressed for a Punic catwalk, with a cloak aflame in Phoenician gold and purple (4.261-64), we may legitimately wonder whether his attire here does not provide a fitting match for that of the queen. And as for syntax, just as Dido, Apollo, too, struts about in a deponent: graditur (147). The passage, then, seems studiouly ambiguous about the countervailing dynamics of assimilation and differentiation.

232129: Oceanum interea surgens Aurora reliquit: this is Virgil’s equivalent to Juno’s ubi primos crastinus ortus/ extulerit Titan radiisque retexerit orbem (118–19). He had already used Aurora to indicate daybreak at 6–7 (postea Phoebea lustrabat lampade terras/ umentemque Aurora polo dimouerat umbram). The goddess of Dawn will again mark the beginning of a day at 584–85 (which is set up by a reference to her in 568, within a speech by Mercury): Et iam prima nouo spargebat lumine terras/ Tithoni croceum linquens Aurora cubile (‘And now early Dawn, leaving the saffron bed of Tithonus, was sprinkling the earth with fresh light’). Virgil thus uses Aurora three times in Aeneid 4 to indicate the beginning of a day: the first day is Dido’s first day in love; on the second day, the fateful encounter in the cave takes place; and on the third day, Aeneas departs. Moreover, over the course of the book Aurora gradually morphs from a personified concept into a mythological character. At 6–7 there is hardly any hint of her involvement with Tithonus; here, at 129, surgens and reliquit refers to her daily departure from the bed of her aging husband, for whom she requested immortality, while forgetting to ask for eternal youth as well; and at 584–85, the sad story of a love-quest that went tragically awry is alluded to explicitly, with linquens harking back to (and providing a gloss on) surgens and reliquit in 129. In a sense, then, the repeated references to Aurora and the ever more concrete allusion to her myth offer a cosmic correlate to the evolving tragedy of Dido.

233130–139: The Carthaginians (and, notably, Dido) get themselves ready for the hunt. The section falls into three parts:

130–32: Out come the youth (3 lines)
133–35: The Carthaginian nobles and her horse wait for dallying Dido (3 lines)
136–39: Dido’s entrance (4 lines)

234130–132: it portis iubare exorto delecta iuuentus,/ retia rara, plagae, lato uenabula ferro,/ Massylique ruunt equites et odora canum uis: Three ‘excited’lines that describe how the Carthaginian hunting party bustles from the gates. Several formal features magnify the sense of jostling excitement and expectation:

  1. The missing verb: whereas the delecta iuuentus (130) ‘comes forth’(it) and the Massyli equites (132) ‘rush out’(ruunt) together with the hounds, the three pieces of equipment mentioned in line 131 (retia, plagae, uenabula), which are also in the nominative, lack a verb. Given that these are inanimate objects, it is difficult to construe them either with it or with ruunt, and one has mentally to supply something like portantur (‘are brought’).

  2. Word order: the monosyllabic verb at the outset (it) instantly emphasizes motion and conveys something of the hustle and bustle of the hunting party: everyone is eager to get going. (The expression ‘tally ho!’generates a similar effect.) See also below on stat sonipes (135).

    • 153 Austin (1963), pp. 61–62.

    Ictus, accent, and monosyllabic verse ending: the concluding phrase of 132 is agitated by a clash between ictus (odóra canúm uis) and accent (odóra cánum uís), in addition to featuring a highly unusual monosyllabic line ending. The two aspects go together as Austin explains, as part of a little disquisition on word accents in Latin more generally:153

A glance at any page of Virgil shows two normal patterns in the last two feet, either that of delecta iuventus, or that of venabula ferro: i.e. the last word is a disyllable or a trisyllable, and the last two feet are shared between two words only. Thus the metrical beat or ‘ictus’, in a normal ending, falls on the same syllable as that which bears the accent of the spoken word; for that accent falls on the penultimate syllable of all disyllabic words, and of all longer words if that syllable is long, but on the antepenultimate of trisyllabic or longer words if the penultimate is short; and this rule gives delécta iuvéntus, venábula férro, with word-accent and ictus coinciding. When the normal end-pattern is disturbed, the rhythm is disturbed too, so that there is no longer this coincidence: the ictus falls thus, odóra canúm vis, but the accent thus, odóra cánum vís, and so with an abnormal end-pattern an abnormal rhythm is obtained. The line has a bustling, agitated close instead of a calm, smooth one, and the metre itself shows the excitement of the scene, with the hounds poking about vigorously and appearing in unexpected places.

  • 154 Horace makes fun of this feature at Ars Poetica 139: Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus (‘Th (...)

235Monosyllabic verse-endings are always very dramatic: cf. e. g. 1.105: insequitur cumulo praeruptus aquae mons (‘down in a heap comes a sheer mountain of water’) which also features the same sequence of adjective, genitive attribute, noun.154 In both cases, Virgil enhances the effect by stepping down the number of syllables in the words that precede the climactic monosyllable: 3 (odora/ praeruptus): 2 (canum/ aquae): 1 (uis/ mons).

236130: iubare exorto: an ablative absolute; iubar signifies the radiance of heavenly bodies, here the sun. The party sets out ‘at sunrise.’

237131: retia rara, plagae, lato uenabula ferro: a surprising asyndetic continuation of delecta iuuentus, specifying some items of accoutrement that are carried out for the hunt: two different kinds of nets (retia rara are ‘broad-meshed’to channel the game in a certain direction; plagae are nets for trapping) and spears with broad blades (lato... ferro is an ablative of description).

238132: Massyli... equites: the Massyli are another ethnic grouping in Northern Africa, apparently on friendly terms with the Phoenician settlers — in contrast to the hostile people mentioned by Anna in 40–43. The priestess supposed to have supplied Dido with a counter-spell to love is ‘of Massylian race’(4.483: hinc mihi Massylae gentis monstrata sacerdos). The most famous member of the tribe in historical times was king Massinissa, the first king of Numibia, who lived during the time of the Second Punic War, starting out as an ally of Carthage but then switching sides and playing a key role in the battle of Zama (202 BC), which ended the war. The Roman general Scipio nevertheless refused to pardon his wife, the Carthaginian princess Sophonisba; to avoid the humiliation of being paraded in a Roman triumph, she committed suicide. For those who know their Roman history Sophonisba and the fate of Carthage more generally beckon on the historical horizon and in turn foreshadow Dido’s tragic end within the Aeneid.

  • 155 See Pease (1935), pp. 182–83.

239132: odora canum uis: Virgil uses a transferred epithet: the hounds, not the uis, are ‘keen-scented’(odora). The phrasing has precedents in Homer, Ennius, and Lucretius.155

  • 156 For the topos, in Catullus and elsewhere, see Hersch (2010), pp. 144–48.
  • 157 Austin (1963), p. 62.
  • 158 Caldwell (2008), p. 428 points out that the sinister connotations of the term increase significantl (...)
  • 159 ‘Supposedly’ since the reluctance of the bride, at least according to Catullus, may well be faked.
  • 160 Segal (2000), p. 94.

240133–135: reginam thalamo cunctantem ad limina primi/ Poenorum exspectant, ostroque insignis et auro/ stat sonipes ac frena ferox spumantia mandit: in direct antithesis to the eagerness of the rest of the party and the hounds, Dido lingers (cunctantem) in her chamber (thalamo), holding up proceedings. Both the lingering and the term Virgil uses for ‘chamber’hint at the Roman wedding ritual. The reluctance of the bride to enter into the house of her husband on the day of her marriage, as a preliminary step towards her first experience of sexual intercourse, is a key theme of Catullus’wedding poems designed to highlight her modesty and her virginity (see especially Catullus 61 and 66, but the whole bloc of Catullus’ long poems comes into play here).156 And as Austin points out, ‘Virgil’s choice of the word thalamus is significant (he could have written tecto)’157: in a transferred sense, thalamus means ‘bridal-bed’or ‘wedlock’— as in 4.18 above.158 Its use here seems to imply that Dido has become a bride — but one wonders about focalization: does Dido already conceive of herself as a bride and display bridal hesitation before the upcoming ‘wedding’? Or is she simply busy with her toilette, and the oblique reference to her as a bride is Virgil’s way of emphasizing that Dido, unknowingly, prepares for (another) wedding experience? But the ‘wedding associations’of cunctantem and thalamo, once put together, are somewhat disturbing: after all, what is Dido doing dallying in the wedding chamber? Far from highlighting her sense of shame (pudor, pudicitia) or virginity, her prolonged presence in the room marked for encounters of the carnal kind would seem to suggest that sex is on her mind and that she longs for the physical consumation of her visceral passion in a way that is supposedly entirely alien to innocent brides.159 Alternatively, we could read the moment of hesitation as ‘a last saving instinct, a natural pull back to the safety of her home and her goals before she enters upon her hard fata.’160 Whatever the answer, the leading men of the Carthaginians (primi/ Poenorum: a phrase linked by alliteration across the enjambment) patiently wait for her; her horse, too, ‘stands’(stat, another monosyllabic beginning that ‘stands’in contrast to the it in line 130), but does so impatiently: see below on 135.

241134–135: ostroque insignis et auro: the phrase describes Dido’s horse, but the referent does not become clear until the following line. For a moment one could therefore assume that Dido is meant, especially since both the purple and the gold evoke her hometown of Tyre — which was famous for the sea snail from which the purple dye was extracted and which she fled on ships laden with gold. The joke continues in line 136, where Virgil switches the subject, almost imperceptibly, from the horse (mandit) to Dido (progreditur).

242[Extra Information: Here is the opening of the excellent Wikipedia entry on ‘Tyrian Purple’, which includes discussion of the biology of the sea snails, the chemistry behind the secretion used to make dye, and the snails’contribution to cultural history:

  • 161 It is worth citing the passage in Athenaeus that preserves this tidbit from Theopompus since it bri (...)

Tyrian purple (Greek, πορϕύρα, porphyra, Latin: purpura), also known as royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye, is a purple-red natural dye, which is extracted from sea snails, and which was possibly first produced by the ancient Phoenicians. This dye was greatly prized in antiquity because it did not fade but became more intense with weathering and sunlight. Tyrian purple was expensive: the 4th-century-BC historian Theopompus reported, ‘Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon’in Asia Minor. The expense meant that purple-dyed textiles became status symbols, and early sumptuary laws restricted their uses.]161

243135: stat sonipes ac frena ferox spumantia mandit: sonipes is a combination of sonus + pes, i.e. a creature that makes a noise with its feet, especially a horse. Virgil may be cracking a bit of a joke here by combining this metonymy for horse with the verb stat. The two verbs (stat, mandit) frame the line; note also the alliteration (stat sonipes... spumantia; frena ferox). Cicero calls ‘f’a lettera insuauissima (‘a most unpleasant letter’) at Orator 163, and the f-alliteration, reinforced by the assonance of fre-fer- and spumantia mandit here perhaps conveys something of the impatient chomping of the horse.

244136–137: tandem progreditur magna stipante caterua/ Sidoniam picto chlamydem circumdata limbo;: Dido finally issues forth, but she remains strangely oblique throughout this passage: Virgil mentions the delecta iuuentus (130), the Massyli equites (132), the primi Poenorum (133–34), the Phrygii comites (140), Iulus/ Ascanius (twice in the nominative: 140, 156), and Aeneas (also twice in the nominative: 142, 150), whereas Dido registers only as an absent queen (reginam... exspectant) and an implied subject (progreditur). See also below on 138–39. This is very much in contrast to her magnificent entrance in Book 1, to which Virgil here gestures (1. 496–97):

regina ad templum, forma pulcherrima Dido,
incessit, magna iuuenum stipante caterua.
[The queen, Dido, of surpassing beauty, approached the temple, with a large throng of youths crowding around her.]

245In this earlier scene, which is followed by a simile that compares Dido to Diana, Aeneas lurks in the shadows and watches. In our passage, which includes a simile that compares Aeneas to Apollo, the positions are reversed: Dido is out of the limelight for the time being, whereas Aeneas and his son are very much in it. After Juno’s performance script, which foregrounded Dido, this comes as a bit of a surprise. Virgil, it seems, deliberately inverts the emphases and preferences of the goddess.

246137: Sidoniam picto chlamydem circumdata limbo: Virgil often construes perfect passive participles with a direct object as if they had a reflexiveactive (or Greek middle) sense, as here circumdata: Dido has surrounded herself with a Sidonian (= Phoenician) riding-cloak that sports an adorned border (picto... limbo). The two phrases are interlaced according to the pattern adjective 1 (Sidoniam), adjective 2 (picto), noun 1 (chlamydem), noun 2 (limbo).

247138–139: cui pharetra ex auro [sc. est], crines nodantur in aurum,/ aurea purpuream subnectit fibula uestem: Dido’s disappearing act continues: we get her at the beginning of 138 in the dative of ownership (cui), but the focus is on her golden bow, her hair (literally ‘tied into gold’), and her golden buckle that clasps her purple-dyed cloak: the polyptoton ex auro, in aurum, aurea that dominates the tricolon, together with the reference to the purple colour of her cloak, gives the impression that Dido is decked out like a Christmas tree but remains strangely out of focus herself — in contrast, as we shall see, to Aeneas. In terms of plot, one begins to understand why her companions were in for such a long wait, though Dido’s sense of dress is clearly out of kilter: hunting is dirty business, whereas she is clothed as if for a beauty pageant. The chlamys, though, a Greek type of cloak, is an appropriate hunting garment, and the quiver recalls her special association with the goddess of the hunt, Diana: see 1.500–01: illa [sc. Diana] pharetram/ fert umero gradiensque deas supereminet omnis (‘she carries a quiver on her shoulder and, striding along, surpasses all the other goddesses in height’). (The lines are from the simile that accompanies the entry of Dido into the poem and powerfully resonates in the passage here: see below.) Ironically, the golden display strongly recalls Dido’s dead husband Sychaeus. See Book 1.343–44 (from Venus’speech to Aeneas, instructing him about Dido’s past): huic coniunx Sychaeus erat, ditissimus auri/ Phoenicum (‘Her husband was Sychaeus, richest in gold of the Phoenicians’). After his murder by Dido’s brother Pygmalion, Sychaeus appears to his wife in a vision, showing her the place of his hidden treasures (359): ignotum argenti pondus et auri (‘a secret mass of gold and silver’), which Dido then loads on a ship and flees (362–64): nauis, quae forte paratae,/ corripiunt onerantque auro; portantur auari/ Pygmalionis opes pelago (‘ships, which by chance were ready, they seize and load with gold; the wealth of greedy Pygmalion is carried overseas’). So in essence, Dido is here wearing the treasures of her dead husband to impress her would-be new consort.

  • 162 O’Hara (2011), p. 35. He references John Dryden’s Preface to his Sylvae (1685).
  • 163 For more statistics and general information on the golden line and the history of scholarship on it (...)

248[Extra information: As for the gold, to top it all off, line 138 is a so-called ‘golden line’, a uersus aureus, i.e. it features the pattern adjective 1 (aurea) adjective 2 (purpuream) verb (subnectit) noun 1 (fibula) noun 2 (vestem), though it ought to be noted that ‘the term was not used in antiquity.’162 Such golden lines are comparatively speaking uncommon in the Aeneid and could be considered an Alexandrian-neoteric mannerism. So from the point of view of genre, Dido is not really dressed here as befits an epic protagonist.163 Likewise, the passage recalls two passages in Callimachus, in which the Alexandrian poet describes the golden regalia of Artemis (Hymn 3.110–12):

Ἄρτεμι Παρθενίη Τιτυοκτόνε, χρύσεα μέν τοι
ἔντεα καὶ ζώνη, χρύσεον δἐζεύξαο δίϕρον,
ἐν δἐβάλευ χρύσεια, θεή, κεμάδεσσι χαλινά.

Artemis, Lady of Maidenhood, Slayer of Tityus, golden were your weapons and your belt, and golden the car you yoked, and you put golden bridles, goddess, on your deer.

249and Apollo (Hymn 2.32–5):

χρύσεα τὠπόλλωνι τό τἐνδυτὸν τἐπιπορπίς
τε λύρη τό τἄεμμα τὸ Λύκτιον τε ϕαρέτρη,
χρύσεα καὶ τὰ πέδιλα · πολύχρυσος γὰρ Ἀπόλλων
καὶ πουλυκτέανος ·

Golden is the tunic of Apollo, his mantle, his lyre, his Lyctian bow, and his quiver. Golden, too, are his sandals; for rich in gold is Apollo and also in possessions.

  • 164 Clausen (1987), p. 60.
  • 165 Reed (1995), p. 95.

250These gestures would certainly be thematically appropriate and enriching in a passage that, by means of allusions to Book 1.494–504, correlates Dido with Diana/ Artemis and Aeneas with Apollo.164 The result is something one may call intertextual cross-dressing: ‘The queen of Carthage proceeds to the hunt resplendent in finery from various corners of the Callimachean wardrobe, matched with consummate skill by her Roman dresser.’165]

  • 166 Austin (1963), p. 64.

251140: nec non et Phrygii comites et laetus Iulus/ incedunt. ipse ante alios pulcherrimus omnis/ infert se socium Aeneas atque agmina iungit: the litotes nec non marks the switch from Phoenicians to Trojans. Virgil’s design nicely conveys a sense of hierarchy and importance: in a first step he introduces the anonymous collective and Iulus, who is singled out by name, but is syntactically situated at the same level as the comites (see the coordination by et... et...). They enter the scene together, in enjambment: incedunt. Then there is a slight pause, signalled by the caesura (a trithemimeres), which ‘marks the moment of their waiting for Aeneas to take up his position.’166 Then Aeneas steps forward to take his place next to Dido and to join their forces. agmina refers to the Carthaginians and the Trojans who have come from separate quarters and are here joined together into one troop by Aeneas. Dido is nowhere to be seen, though some translations obfuscate her eclipse. Goold, for instance, renders the lines thus: ‘Aeneas himself, goodly beyond all others, advanced to join her and unites his band with hers.’’Her’and ‘hers’are not in the Latin. The verse design enacts the central and conspicuous leadership role of Aeneas. The design is chiastic with Aeneas as pivot — verb: infert, accusative object: se socium, subject: Aeneas, accusative object: agmina, verb: iungit — and thereby mirrors on the figurative level what happens at the level of plot: the intermingling of the two peoples around Aeneas who stands at dead centre. One could imagine that the meeting of the two groups resulted in a huge hullabaloo, but Virgil suggests otherwise: the two elisions (socium Aeneas; atque agmina) enact the smooth joining of forces by the joining of words. If one sees the preparations for the hunt as the distorted and distorting performance of a wedding ritual, agmina iungit recalls 126: conubio iungam stabili.

  • 167 Clausen (1987), p. 23.
  • 168 In his version of the Medea myth in the Metamorphoses, Ovid sends this tradition up by suggesting t (...)

252141–142: ipse ante alios pulcherrimus omnis/ infert... Aeneas: Aeneas’entry into the narrative here is modelled on Dido’s entry in Book 1 and its accompanying simile (see below). Cf. esp. lines 1.496–97: regina ad templum, forma pulcherrima Dido/ incessit, 501: gradiensque deas supereminet omnis (of Diana), and 503: talem se laeta ferebat. Parallels include the epithet pulcherrima/ us (as W. Clausen puts it: ‘Dido and Aeneas are thus beautifully paired’),167 the effective use of enjambment for a verb of entry (incessit, infert), and the notion of excelling all others, with omnis positioned for emphasis in the last foot of the line. While the adjective pulcherrimus helps to correlate Dido’s entry in Book 1 with the scene here, it otherwise strikes an odd note: apart from underscoring that Dido has remained entirely faceless in the verses devoted to her (her last ornamenting epithet came in 117, where Juno called her miserrima), ‘outstanding beauty’is an attribute better suited to erotic contexts than the hunt. In fact, it is an epic topos that goddesses work some cosmetic magic on their favourite heroes before crucial encounters with a girl: Athena prettifies Odysseus before his encounter with Nausicaa; Hera prettifies Jason before his encounter with Medea; and Venus, in Book 1, had rendered Aeneas stunning to behold before he left his protective cloud to meet Dido (1.586–91). While Virgil mentions no divine intervention here, his use of pulcherrimus constitutes a gesture to this commonplace.168

253143–149: qualis ubi hibernam Lyciam Xanthique fluenta/ deserit ac Delum maternam inuisit Apollo/ instauratque choros, mixtique altaria circum/ Cretesque Dryopesque fremunt pictique Agathyrsi;/ ipse iugis Cynthi graditur mollique fluentem/ fronde premit crinem fingens atque implicat auro,/ tela sonant umeris: The Apollo-simile interrupts the plot and transports the reader into the realm of the gods. The tricolon is an operative principle throughout: we get three geographical locations (hibernam Lyciam, Xanthi fluenta, Delum maternam), three main verbs in the opening sequence (deserit, inuisit, instaurat), three types of companions (Cretes, Dryopes, picti Agathyrsi), three main verbs in the closing sequence with Apollo as subject (graditur, premit, implicat)— though, perhaps for the sake of variation, with a fourth tagged on but with a change in subject (sonant). In pairing Dido with Diana and Aeneas with Apollo by way of similes Virgil follows a pattern set by Apollonius who likens Jason to Apollo at Argonautica 1.307–09 and Medea to Artemis (the Greek equivalent to Diana) at 3.876–84. (Virgil inverts Apollonius’sequence of male — female.) Here is Argonautica 1.306–11, details of which Virgil preserved in his own simile:

, καὶ μὲν προτέρωσε δόμων ἒξ ὦρτο νέεσθαι.
οἷος δἐκ νηοῖο θυώδεος εἶσιν Ἀπόλλων
Δῆλον ἀνἠγαθέην ἠὲ Κλάρον, ὅγε Πυθώ
Λυκίην εὐρεῖαν ἐπὶ Ξάνθοιο ῥοῇσι
τοῖος ἀνὰ πληθὺν δήμου κίεν, ὦρτο δἀυτή 310
κεκλομένων ἄμυδις.

[He spoke and went forth from his home to make his departure. And as Apollo goes from his fragrant temple through holy Delos or Claros, or through Pytho or broad Lycia by the streams of Xanthus, so he went through the crowd of people, and a shout went up as they cheered with one voice.]

254143: qualis ubi: ‘as when....’ qualis translates οἷος in the Greek, but ubi, which introduces an emphasis on a precise moment in time, has no equivalent in Apollonius. It sets up the highly resonant hibernam: see next note.

255143: hibernam Lyciam Xanthique fluenta/ deserit: hibernam Lyciam Xanthique fluenta translates almost verbatim Apollonius, Argonautica 1.300: Λυκίην εὐρεῖαν ἐπὶ Ξάνθοιο ῥοῇσι, i. e.:

Λυκίην (Lukiên) > Lyciam
εὐρεῖαν (eureian) ~ hibernam
Ξάνθοιο (Xanthoio) > Xanthi
ῥοῇσι (rhoêsi) > fluenta

  • 169 Weber (2002), p. 324.

256Three items are all but identical (indicated by ‘>’). Virgil, however, changes the attribute of Lycia (signalled by ‘~’). Instead of εὐρεῖαν (‘broad’) we get hibernam, an adjective here used instead of an adverb: it signifies the moment in time when Apollo leaves Lycia, i.e. ‘in winter.’See Weber: ‘Lycia is not Apollo’s “winter home” [Austin (1963) 64]; on the contrary, it is the place in Asia that in winter the god leaves behind for Greece.’169 The adjustment seems minor; but it is fraught with meaning, as it interrelates the simile with a wide range of key thematic concerns in Aeneid 4. To begin with, the thought that Apollo leaves Lycia in winter (as Weber goes on to point out) surprises: ‘it is an unfamiliar Apollo who joins his worshippers in the dead of winter.... the presence of the visitors named in 4.146 actually rules out winter rites on Delos. The god whose epiphany coincides with winter is rather Dionysus, winter being the season when this god renews his biennial dances on Parnassus and, probably, on Cithaeron as well’(324).

  • 170 See also 4.193, from Fama’s song: nunc hiemem inter se luxu, quam longa, fouere.

257The theme of ‘abandoning a place in winter’is a charged theme in the context of Aeneid 4, ominously proleptic of what Aeneas will do later on in the book. The reference to winter not only recalls the end of Anna’s speech, where she suggests to Dido that she should use the time of the year as an argument for Aeneas to stay (4.51–53), but also sets up 309–11 (Dido’s outraged confrontation with Aeneas upon finding out that he will even brace the winter-storms to get away from Carthage as quickly as he can): quin etiam hiberno moliri sidere classem/ et mediis properas Aquilonibus ire per altum,/ crudelis? (‘Even in the winter season you hasten to get your fleet ready and to travel across the sea in the midst of northern gales, cruel one?’).170 Virgil’s use of the verb deserit (‘he abandons’), which he placed for special effect in enjambment (followed by a weak diaeresis after the first foot), is equally charged and it, too, features prominently in Dido’s confrontation with Aeneas. See 323: cui me moribundam deseris hospes?, as well as Dido’s concluding self-portrayal at 330 as capta ac deserta. A look at the Apollonian model is again instructive: in the Argonautica, the god simply ‘goes’(309: εἶσιν).

  • 171 Weber (2002), p. 323.

258144: Delum maternam... Apollo: Delos was the island on which Leto gave birth to her twins Diana and Apollo. The position of the attribute after the noun it modifies generates a chiasmus with hibernam Lyciam in the previous line, mirroring the dynamics of ‘departure’(deserit) and ‘arrival’(inuisit). Virgil identifies the subject (Apollo) only at the very end of the second verse of the simile, though the geographical locations, and in particular the phrase Delum maternam, already provide fairly decisive clues. Virgil has changed the attribute of Delos from ἠγαθέην (‘most holy’, an attribute used of places under divine protection) in Apollonius to maternam. The emphasis on returning to a maternal location may aid in the subtle assimilation of Apollo to Dionysus that pervades the simile.171 The purposeful direction of Apollo’s travels in Virgil contrasts sharply with the somewhat haphazard enumeration of cult locations in Apollonius and thereby enhances the parallels between Apollo’s actions in the simile and Aeneas’action later on in the narrative.

  • 172 Ibid.

259145: instauratque choros: choros instaurare means ‘to renew the dance.’This is a further hint of a Dionysiac presence in the simile: ‘the god who, after an absence abroad in Asia, returns to the Greek land of his mother and there sets his votaries to dancing...— this god is first and foremost Dionysus.’172

  • 173 Pease (1935), p. 193.
  • 174 Weber (2002), p. 325, with particular reference to Euripides’ Bacchae. He goes on to show that the (...)
  • 175 Dryopes: ‘the Dryopians share with Dionysus nomenclature connecting them with trees in general and (...)
  • 176 Weber (2002), p. 329: ‘In the realm of diction, Virgil’s verb fremere is something of a vox propria (...)

260145–146: mixtique altaria circum/ Cretesque Dryopesque fremunt pictique Agathyrsi: the-que attached to mixti links instaurat and fremunt; the-que attached to Dryopes links Cretes and Dryopes; the-que attached to picti links Dryopes and Agathyrsi. The-que attached to Cretes, in contrast, despite scanning long, does not link anything and is thus strictly speaking superfluous. (Converting the-ques into ‘ets’, one would get et Cretes et Dryopes et picti Agathyrsi.) Who are the people that participate in Apollo’s rites? Cretes are inhabitants of the island of Crete, a straightforward designation. The Dryopians and Agathyrsians, on the other hand, here ‘make their debut in Latin verse’: Weber (2002) 328. Pease describes the Dryopians as ‘a rude and predatory tribe’,173 whereas the Agathyrsians are, according to Weber, ‘obscure barbarians.’174 He notes: ‘this heterogeneous mélange of mainstream and marginal Greeks mingling with outlandish foreigners has no place in the elitist cult of Apollo. Such retinue of polyglot worshipers would rather be at home in the ecumenical milieu of Dionysus’(325–26). He points out other Dionysiac touches, including the etymology of both Dryopians and Agathyrsians;175 the modifier of the Agathyrsians, that is, picti (‘whether this word refers to tattooing or to some other means of coloring the skin or hair, painted or tattooed devotees are out of place in the cult of Apollo’: 328); the verb fremunt, which recalls Dionysus’epithet Bromius;176 and the neologistic licence and dithyrambic flair of the verse design, with the extra-que scanned long in the second arsis. (The overemphatic polysyndeton arguably also underscores the action of the verbs: mixti and fremunt, the mixing and crowding around the altar.)

261147: ipse: picks up Apollo.

  • 177 Weber (2002) pp. 329–30, 332–33.

262147: iugis Cynthi: Dionysus, too, is a mountain god.177

  • 178 Pease (1935), p. 195.

263147: graditur: ‘in 1, 501 the same verb is used of his sister Diana in her rites on Cynthus.’178 See also 1.312 (of Aeneas): ipse uno graditur comitatus Achate (‘he himself strides forth, accompanied only by Achates’).

  • 179 Weber (2002), p. 330.
  • 180 ibid., p. 331.

264147–148: mollique fluentem/ fronde premit crinem fingens atque implicat auro: Virgil lavishes as much attention on Apollo’s hairdo as he did on Dido’s. crinem is the accusative object of both premit and fingens (an ‘apo-koinou’position), as well as implicat, and all three verbs address the quality captured in the attribute of crinem, i.e. fluentem: Apollo puts his hair in order (premit) by shaping (fingens) his flowing locks with soft foliage (note the alliteration fluentemfrondefingens) and braiding it (implicat) with a golden diadem. The Dionysiac touches continue: mollis is, as Weber points out, ‘virtually a vox propria for objects connected with Dionysus.’179 He also provides the following analysis of the participle fingens, which turns out to be syntactically and thematically ‘camp’: ‘The effeminacy implicit in molli... is further suggested by the fingens in the next line. This participle acquires a degree of emphasis from being somewhat superfluously appended to a clause that is already complete both syntactically and semantically.... Aeneid 4.148 is... unique in Latin verse for not applying fingere of setting the hair either to a woman or to a male of precarious masculinity. Here fingens combines with molli in the preceding line to frame fluentem/ fronde premit crinem, and both words together imbue the intervening expression with a strong suggestion of effeminacy that is at once alien to Apollo and intrinsic to Dionysus.’180

  • 181 See Conington (1884), p. 266: ‘The image is from Il. 1. 46 ... though the nature of the motion is d (...)

265149: tela sonant umeris: a sudden shift in tone from the peaceful imagery of the previous lines, especially if one recalls Iliad 1.43–47:181

Ὣς ἔϕατεὐχόμενος, τοῦ δἔκλυε Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
βῆ δὲ κατΟὐλύμποιο καρήνων χωόμενος κῆρ,
τόξὤμοισιν ἔχων ἀμϕηρεϕέα τε ϕαρέτρην · 45
ἔκλαγξαν δἄρὀϊστοὶ ἐπὤμων χωομένοιο,
αὐτοῦ κινηθέντος · δἤϊε νυκτὶ ἐοικώς.

[Thus he [sc. Chryses] spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him.
Down from the peaks of Olympus he came, irate at heart,
bearing his bow on his shoulder and his covered quiver. 45
The arrows rattled on the shoulders of the angry god,
while he was moving, and his coming was like the night.]

266This is Apollo’s highly dramatic entry into Western literature, and Virgil seemingly lifts and translates a key component from Homer’s description of the wrathful divinity striding down from Mt. Olympus to shoot his plague-bearing poisoned arrows into the camp of the Greeks. In Virgil, the reference to the arrows of destruction rattling in the quiver on Apollo’s shoulders comes as an unpleasant surprise after the peaceful scenes of dancing and hair-dressing — a dark reminder that both the god and the hero he is meant to illustrate may have a baleful impact on those around them. Specifically, it recalls the deer-simile at 4.69–73, where a pastor, who represents Aeneas, mortally wounds a deer with his arrows. The sudden switch in theme from celebration to death in the simile thus mirrors on the micro-level the progression from what is supposed to be a wedding (127: hymenaeus) but actually is the beginning of a tragic plot that leads to misery and death (169–70: ille dies primus leti...). With supreme economy Virgil thereby recapitulates the Homeric paradox that the god of brightness and light (see his epithet Phoebus) may also resemble darkness and night, that the god of healing may cause a plague. For the first appearance of the divinity in Western literature, the terms of entry are fittingly complex and problematic, setting the tone for what was to follow.

  • 182 Lyne (1987), p. 124.

267[Extra Information: The question whether the passage from Iliad 1 is ‘relevant’here triggered a little tussle between the two Virgilian scholars Oliver Lyne and Nicholas Horsfall. Lyne offers the following interpretation of our passage:182

Aeneas is armed for Apollo, armed for the hunt. But Apollo in arms is surely too significant and ominous a figure to perform merely this function: poets introduce him in warlike as opposed to peaceful guise with deliberation, and for awesome purposes. Added to which, the arms here in question are particularly sinister arms, for this is Apollo from a most sinister source. A highly disturbing allusion is in fact operating. ‘Tela sonant umeris’ is a translation of Hom. Il. 1.46. And Il. 1.46 describes Apollo the plague-bringer, describes, to be precise, the very means by which Apollo delivered plague .In Iliad 1 Apollo came down from Olympus to punish the Achaeans with plague, and ‘his arrows’, the instruments of that plague, ‘clashed on his shoulders’as he descended — a striking, ominous, and memorable moment: ἔκλαγξαν δἄρὀϊστοὶ ἐπὤμων, ‘tela sonant umeris.’ Vergil’s simile therefore culminates in a recall of this most memorable moment, the advent of the divine plague-bringer. So the allusion (assuming it to be such) intimates the suggestion: Aeneas the plague-bringer. Aeneas a plague-bringer?

  • 183 Lyne (1994), p. 199.

268Nicholas Horsfall reviewed Lyne at Classical Review 38.2, 243–45, and objected: ‘L.’s hunt for allusions comes up with answers of varying credibility: I can see why he finds the Homeric plague god behind Aen. 4.143ff., but not here alone we might pause to ask “is that association actually relevant?”, “does it make sense, or serve any real purpose?” and above all, “can we believe that that is what V. himself wanted us to conclude?”.’To which Lyne responds: ‘We have no evidence for what Vergil wanted us to conclude — beyond the text. The question is pointless and evades the interest [ing] fact in the text. “Is that association actually relevant?” Why shouldn’t it be, unless we have preconceptions about what Vergil “intends” to be relevant?’183 What are we to make of this? Horsfall’s question ‘is that association actually relevant?’, far from being ‘pointless’(as Lyne would have it), strikes me as a good one — as a challenge to the reader who has this association to make it ‘relevant’(whatever this is taken to mean: ‘relevance’, too, is under continual negotiation as the history of engaging with Latin texts amply shows) by offering a good argument in its favour (and the criteria for what counts as ‘good’are of course also to some extent in flux). Conversely, Horsfall seems to rule out relevance in part by failing to see any point or purpose, in part by appealing to the poet behind the text as a decisive instance of critical authority. Yet I agree with Lyne that the reference to Iliad 1 (if it is one) makes a lot of sense and serves a very real purpose: for starters, it renders Virgil’s text more resonant with meaning, makes for a perfect fit with the overarching dynamics of this section, and enhances the complexity and appeal of his artistry. Put differently, if Virgil did not want his readers to have this association and consider it relevant, he should have.]

269149–150: haud illo segnior ibat/ Aeneas, tantum egregio decus enitet ore: Virgil foregrounds two points of comparison, juxtaposed asyndetically: the graceful energy that animates Aeneas’movements (emphasized by means of the litotes haud segnior); and his beauty. illo is ablative of comparison and refers to Apollo; in the second clause the comparison is understood: so much (tantum) beauty shines forth from the face of Aeneas as (quantum) shines forth from that of Apollo. (a 1) tantum (a 2) egregio (b 1) decus (c) enitet (b 2) ore, i.e. attribute 1 attribute 2 noun 1 verb noun 2, almost forms a ‘golden pattern’. Note the enjambment of Aeneas; the name serves as pivot between the two clauses of which he is the subject.

270151: postquam altos uentum in montis atque inuia lustra: uentum, sc. est, i.e. the third person singular perfect indicative passive of uenio, here used impersonally (‘they came’). The preposition in modifies both altos montis and inuia lustra. The line features three elisions (postquam altos, uentum in, atque inuia), where the space between words disappears: is this, perhaps, Virgil’s way of emphasizing by formal means the pathless thickets into which the company moves? Along those lines, note the clash of accent and ictus in both altos and montis — a formal feature arguably used to underscore their steepness. The ascent into the mountains surprises: Juno, in her masterplan, had twice mentioned ‘groves’as venue for the hunt (see 118: in nemus ire parant; 121: saltusque indagine cingunt) and there are other incongruous touches, such as hunters on horseback (135, 156–57), including Ascanius, who enjoys himself ‘in the middle of the vale’ (156: mediis in uallibus). Weber explains the unexpected mountain setting as a means of sustaining affinities between Aeneas and Dionysus: ‘As Dionysus is a mountain god who hunts, Aeneas is a hero who hunts in the mountains’ (333), or, more specifically, ‘Aeneas is the Virgilian counterpart of Euripides’ Dionysus, as both the hunter who survives the hunt and a stranger newly arrived from Asia. His advent, like that of Dionysus, leads to the death of the reigning monarch’ (334).

  • 184 Ecce occurs 37 times in the Aeneid: for what it is doing in the epic, see the nuanced discussion by (...)

271152: ecce: the particle — a colloquialism integrated into high poetry by Virgil — marks a moment of transition, from preparation to the actual start of the hunting.184

272152–153: ferae saxi deiectae uertice caprae/ decurrere iugis: Virgil interlaces words modifying the hunted animals (feraedeiectaecaprae: note the hyberbaton of attribute (ferae) and noun (caprae), effectively placed at the end of the line) with words describing the topography (saxiuertice). The result is a combination of symmetry and order on the level of form that generates a moment of suspense before the sudden resolution in the subsequent lines: decurrere (= decurrerunt) iugis. The placement of deiectae between the genitive attribute (saxi, here used as a synonym of montis) and the noun on which it depends (uertice) enacts its meaning and prepares for the main verb (de-iectae ~ de-currere): the mountain goats are separated from (‘driven off’) their usual haunts on the rocky mountain-crags.

273153–155: alia de parte patentis/ transmittunt cursu campos atque agmina cerui/ puluerulenta fuga glomerant montisque relinquunt: the subject of all three clauses (transmittunt, glomerant, relinquunt) is the much-delayed cerui (corresponding in metrical position to the caprae in line 152). There is a sharp change in rhythm from 154, where all the feet, except the fifth, are spondaic, to 155, where all the feet, except the fourth, are dactylic. In each case the rhythm is thematically appropriate: first, the deer crowd together; then they take off. Virgil further enhances the speed of their flight by a husteron proteron: logically, the deer must first leave the mountains before they can rush across the plain, but Virgil has inverted the natural order to convey a ‘head-over-heels’ impression. Compare, for instance, Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene 10: ‘The Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral,/ With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder.’(The logical sequence would require ‘they turn the rudder and fly.’) Other unsettling features include the hyperbata patentis ... campos (which ‘opens’ up a space for the words of movement transmittunt and cursu that Virgil places within the ‘open .... fields’) and agmina ... puluerulenta (reinforced by the verse break). The sequence of attribute — noun: noun — attribute is chiastic, an effect reinforced by the chiastic symmetry of verb (transmittunt) — ablative (cursu) — accusative object (campos): accusative object (agmina) — ablative (fuga) — verb (glomerant). The excitement of the verse design calms down and resolves itself in the final colon, which is simplicity itself: montisque [= montesque] relinquunt.

274156–159: at puer Ascanius mediis in uallibus acri/ gaudet equo iamque hos cursu, iam praeterit illos,/ spumantemque dari pecora inter inertia uotis/ optat aprum, aut fuluum descendere monte leonem: To end his description of the hunt, Virgil includes a vignette of Ascanius, who displays the exuberant enthusiasm of youth, both in how he hustles and bustles around the hunters on his high-spirited horse and in his heroic fantasizing. (acri, prominently placed at the end of the line, harks back to Ascanius through the alliteration, but modifies equo; acri/ gaudet equo is a highly effective verse break, with the enjambment followed by a choriambic phrase.) The passage forms a tricolon, organized around the three main verbs gaudetpraeteritoptat. optat introduces an indirect statement that falls into two parts, linked by aut: the first revolves around a boar — note the awe-inspiring hyperbaton spumantem ... aprum, the second around a lion (also marked by a hyperbaton, though a less impressive one: fuluum ... leonem). Ascanius’ fascination with hunting will play a major role in the second half of the poem, where his shooting of a treasured stag is one of the main reasons why war breaks loose: see 7.475–510. Ascanius is also notably, if not surprisingly, absent from Juno’s script.

275156: mediis: true to its meaning, the word is placed plumb in the middle of the line.

276158: pecora inter inertia: the preposition inter (‘between’), true to its meaning, is placed between the two segments of the phrase it coordinates. iners here means something akin to ‘unadventurous’ or ‘harmless’, i.e. not suited to test the mettle Ascanius thinks he has.

277158: uotis: in the dative, with dari: ‘... may be granted to his vows.’ Votum is a technical term of Rome’s civic religion and usually involves a promise to a god in return for his or her aid, especially in situations of military crisis. Here the term ironically ennobles Ascanius’ day-dreaming and wishful thinking.

278The Perfect Storm: the concluding part of this section consists of thirteen lines, falling into three blocks of roughly equal length:

160–164: The storm starts; everyone is running for cover (5 lines)
165–168: Dido and Aeneas ‘happen’ to find themselves in the same cave and have sex (4 lines)
169–172: The disastrous consequences (4 lines)

279160–164: Interea magno misceri murmure caelum/ incipit, insequitur commixta grandine nimbus,/ et Tyrii comites passim et Troiana iuuentus/ Dardaniusque nepos Veneris diuersa per agros/ tecta metu petiere; ruunt de montibus amnes: these lines fulfill Juno’s announcement in 120–24. See in particular the repetitions (with variation) of nigrantem commixta grandine nimbum (120) ~ commixta grandine nimbus (161) and tonitru caelum omne ciebo (122) ~ magno misceri murmure caelum (160). Overall, the design of 160–64 is systematically chiastic: clause 1: subject (caelum) and verb (incipit), clause 2: verb (insequitur) and subject (nimbus), clause 3: subject (Tyrii comites, Troiana iuuentus, Dardanius nepos) and verb (petiere), clause 4: verb (ruunt) and subject (amnes). In his coverage of personnel and weather conditions Virgil has achieved ‘asymmetrical balance’: three clauses (1, 2, and 4) are about the weather and its consequences, one clause (3) is about the personnel, but the number of subjects for each of the two topics is identical: caelum, nimbus, amnes — Carthaginians, Trojans, Ascanius.

  • 185 For a discussion of the cave of the winds, see Essay 1: Content and Form.

280160–161: Interea magno misceri murmure caelum/ incipit, insequitur commixta grandine nimbus: magno misceri murmure is a magnificent instance of onomatopoeia, combining m-alliteration with assonance (-ri, mur-, -mur-, -re) and a deft mixing of vowels, all of which are present: a, o, i, e, i, u, u, e. The formulation recalls Virgil’s description of the cave of the winds, which are said to roar around their prison magno cum murmure montis (1.55), before they are set loose at Juno’s behest. Again the goddess takes control of the weather, infringing upon a domain where her husband Jupiter is nominally in charge, and unleashes chaos and destruction.185

281161: incipit, insequitur: the asyndeton emphasizes the speed with which the cloud gathers — it is there in an instant: insequitur thus does what it means: it follows immediately upon what precedes, without room for a connective. The alliterative beat in-, in- reinforces the effect. (See already 1.104–05: tum prora auertit et undis/ dat latus; insequitur cumulo praeruptus aquae mons; ‘then the prow turns and exposes the ship’s side to the waves; down in a heap follows a steep mountain of water.’)

  • 186 Austin (1963), p. 68.

282162–164: et Tyrii comites passim et Troiana iuuentus/ Dardaniusque nepos Veneris diuersa per agros/ tecta metu petiere; ruunt de montibus amnes: Virgil accounts for all parties of the hunt mentioned before, i.e. the Carthaginians, the Trojans, and Ascanius (= Dardanius nepos Veneris), though he devotes significantly more space to the entourage than Juno did in her preview, who dismissed it with two words (123: diffugient comites). He also introduces an element of variation: when describing the preparations for the hunt, he wrote of Carthage’s delecta iuuentus (130) and Aeneas’ Phrygian companions (140: Phrygii comites); here the Carthaginians (from Tyre) are the companions (Tyrii comites), and the Trojans the youth (Troiana iuuentus). The ‘confused’ word order is not dissimilar to the design Virgil used to describe the hunted beasts in flight at 153–55. Note the hyperbaton, reinforced by enjambment, of diuersa ... tecta, enacting the notion of ‘being scattered’ all across the fields (per agros, deftly placed between) and the two adverbial modifications sprinkled in at the beginning (passim) and the end (metu). (Cf. 153–55: cursu and fuga.) The main verb (petiere = petierunt: ‘a perfect of sudden action’186 is long in the coming. Just as incipit and insequitur in 161, petiere and ruunt are juxtaposed asyndetically — a startling effect enhanced by the preceding polysyndeton et ... et ... -que.

283165–166: speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem/ deueniunt: an almost verbatim repetition of 124–25: speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem/ deuenient; only the future deuenient has become a present (deueniunt). See above for comments on the design. Virgil’s closest Greek model for the encounter in the cave is Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1128–69, which describes the consummation of the marriage between Jason and Medea (also in a cave). But in Apollonius, the situation is quite different: the Argonauts have reached the land of the Phaeacians, ruled by king Alcinous and his wife Arete, hotly pursued by the enraged Colchians. In desperation, Medea pleads with Arete not to be handed back over to the Colchians to take her back to her father’s home (4.1014–28), mentioning in passing that she has so far retained her virginity (4.1024–25). But when Arete presents Medea’s case to her husband, Alcinous, who is disinclined to offend either Zeus or Aeetes with a partial judgment in favour of Medea, makes his judgment dependent on Medea’s virginity (or lack thereof): ‘If she is a virgin, I direct that she be returned to her father; if, however, she is sharing a bed with a husband, I will not separate her from her spouse, nor will I hand over to enemies any child she may be bearing in her womb’(1006–9). Thereupon he falls asleep, giving Arete the opportunity to inform the Argonauts of her husband’s intent. Thus put into the picture, Jason and Medea do not hesitate for an instant to get the wedding ceremony and the physical consummation of their marriage underway (4.1128–69):

Immediately they prepared a mixing-bowl of wine for the blessed gods, as is proper, and following correct ritual procedure led sheep to the altar. On that very night they made ready a bridal bed for the girl in the sacred cave where Macris once lived... Here, then, they prepared the great bed; over it they threw the gleaming golden fleece, so that the wedding night should be honoured and become the subject of song. And for them the nymphs gathered flowers of many colours and brought them cradled in their white breasts. ... Some were called daughters of the river Aegaeus, others haunted the peaks of mount Melite, and others were woodland nymphs from the plains. Hera herself, Zeus’ wife, urged them to come in Jason’s honour. To this day that holy cave is called the Cave of Medea, where the nymphs spread out fragrant linen and brought the marriage of the couple to fulfilment. ... The crew ... to the pure accompaniment of Orpheus’ lyre, sang the wedding song at the entrance of the bridal chamber. It was not in Alcinous’ domain that the heroic son of Aeson [Jason], had wished to marry, but in the halls of his father after his retun to Iolcus; and Medea also had the same intention, but necessity led them to make love at that time. But so it is: we tribes of woe-stricken humans never enter upon delight wholeheartedly, but always some bitter pain marches alongside our joy. Thus, though they melted in sweet love-making, both were fearful whether Alcinous’ sentence would be brought to fruition.

284Yes, we may share Apollonius’ sentiment and sympathise with Jason and Medea that they did not have the palace wedding both of them dreamed of. Arrangements are indeed a bit makeshift and premature and the mingling in the cave perhaps not quite what Jason and Medea had in mind for their first night together. And yet: we get a proper wedding ritual, nymphs honouring the bride in joyful humour at the behest of Hera, and Hera herself overseeing the proceedings and giving her blessings. The Golden Fleece, too, one would have assumed, is a reasonable substitute for a wedding couch, and the music (Orpheus’ lyre!) is of the finest quality. The contrast to the illicit romp we get in Aeneid 4, where Dido and Aeneas, sweaty from the hunt and drenched by the sudden downpour, just ‘happen’ to find themselves all alone, with Juno’s nymphs howling on top of the mountain, could not be starker. It is the difference between a one-night stand motivated by sudden opportunity and overwhelming passion and deliberate and purposeful, if somewhat reluctant, entry into the bonds of marriage according to proper ritual protocol: Jason and Medea ‘get legal’; Aeneas and Dido do not.

285166–168: prima et Tellus et pronuba Iuno/ dant signum; fulsere ignes et conscius aether/ conubiis summoque ulularunt uertice Nymphae: upon the arrival of Dido and Aeneas in the same cave, Virgil shifts the focus back to the sphere of the divine — a euphemistic side-stepping of what, precisely, the pair get up to in the cave. Instead, we get a cosmic spectacle, put on by Tellus, Juno, Aether, and the Nymphs, that mimics aspects of a wedding ritual. Here are three assessments:

  • 187 Austin (1963), p. 69.

286Austin: ‘Virgil thus makes the wedding ritually correct, as one would expect him to. But it remains a supernatural ceremony, and an uncanny one for all its seeming correctness.’187

  • 188 Moles (1984), p. 52. See also Pöschl (1962), p. 82: ‘But the signs, multiplied by earth tremor... a (...)

287Moles: ‘For her own purposes Juno desires the union of the two lovers to be a permanent marriage: this does not amount to an objective statement of the nature of their union. While the divine responses to the “ wedding ” are indeed ritually correct the emotional effect is of a ghastly parody of the norm, suggesting rather that this marriage presided over by Juno is not a true marriage at all.’188

  • 189 O’Hara (2011), p. 38.

288‘Vergil’s passage suggests either a wedding or a parody of a wedding, and the event is described in such a way that it is hard to know what is really happening.’189

289You may (or may not) wish to use these views as points of departure in developing your own reading of the text.

  • 190 See Hersch (2010), pp. 266–67.

290166–167: Tellus... fulsere ignes et conscius aether: a presence of Earth (or Mother Earth) nicely complements the presence of aether and the flashes of lightning that come down from the sky — but neither Tellus nor Aether are standard divinities in the context of a Roman wedding.190

  • 191 Hersch (2010), p. 193, in the context of a broader discussion of the attestations of pronuba in Lat (...)

291166: pronuba Iuno: a pronuba was ‘a married woman who conducted the bride to her bridal chamber’ (OLD s. v.). It derives from nubo, to marry, and is hence etymologically related to conubium (see below, 168). Here the term is used as an epithet of Juno, clearly in her self-assigned role as assistant in the wedding she plans, stages, but arguably fails to execute properly. Juno is thus portrayed as present during the cave-encounter in her ritual function as goddess of marriage. Intriguingly, however, pronuba is not attested as an attribute of Juno before our passage (though later becomes common in Virgilian imitators, from Ovid onwards). This raises the question: ‘does Virgil use the epithet Pronuba in an ironic sense?’191

292167: dant signum: they give a/ the sign — for what?

  • 192 Pease (1935), p. 207.

293167–168: fulsere ignes et conscius aether/ conubiis: possibly a hendiadys (= fulsit ignibus aether).192 fulsere = fulserunt, i.e. third person plural perfect indicative active of fulgeo. conscius is ‘a witness’, and Virgil links the witnessing and what is being witnessed through alliteration: consciusconubiis. The enjambed conubiis correlates with the enjambed dant signum in the previous line, almost as if the two form a complete sentence (dant signum conubiis). The clause picks up 4.126 from Juno’s speech: conubio iungam stabili. (Virgil had already used the plural of a single marriage at 3.319.)

294168: summoque ulularunt uertice Nymphae: ulularunt = ululauerunt; ululo, which is an onomatopoeic word, here means ‘to howl in religious excitement’: OLD s. v. 2c. Significantly, the corresponding noun makes an appearance at 4.667–68 (the collective response to the news of Dido’s suicide): lamentis gemituque et femineo ululatu/ tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether (‘the palace rings with lamentations, sobbing, and the howling of women, heaven echoes with loud wails’). As such, it foreshadows Virgil’s comments in the subsequent lines that the event in the cave, whatever it was, inaugurated a plot that would end in death (leti... causa). Virgil’s lexical intertwining of sex and death has a proto-Freudian ring to it.

  • 193 Pease (1935), p. 209.
  • 194 Virgil uses a similar formulation in Aeneid 7, with reference to Ascanius’ shooting of the pet-stag (...)

295169–170: ille dies primus leti primusque malorum/ causa fuit: the transition from the flashes of lightning and the howling nymphs of the previous lines to the sober and brutal assessment of the consequences is stark, especially since Virgil states the consequences (death and evils) before giving the reasons, which follow in lines 170–72. (This inversion, of course, also enables the close proximity of sex and death discussed above, and suggests that the event in the cave itself, and not just what it does to Dido, causes what follows.) Virgil stresses that his narrative has reached a tragic turning point (in Aristotelian terms: peripeteia) through the reiteration of primus, which is perhaps best understood adverbially and indicating ‘degree rather than chronology’, i.e. ‘that day before all others.’193 For the encounter in the cave clearly has a prehistory: it is not that Dido’s condition changes; rather, the physical consummation of her passion entails a change in her behaviour, which has tragic consequences.194 As John Henderson points out (per litteras), the Homeric word for this notion, which would turn into a cliché of tragic historiography, is arche-kakos, i.e. ‘the beginning of evil.’ One also wonders when the evils are supposed to have run their course. Do they end with Dido’s suicide? Or with the end of the Aeneid? With the historical fulfilment of Dido’s course in the figure of Hannibal? Or with the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC? Virgil’s formulation is open-ended in terms of chronology and endows Dido’s and Aeneas’ romp in the cave with world-historical significance, along the lines of William Butler Yeats, Leda and the Swan, 19–21, which traces the destruction of Troy and the subsequent murder of Agamemnon back to a divine orgasm: ‘A shudder in the loins engenders there/ The broken wall, the burning roof and tower/ And Agamemnon dead.’

  • 195 furtiuus in the sense of ‘stealthy’ or ‘clandestine’ is also used of love-affairs by Catullus 7.8 a (...)
  • 196 Moles (1984), pp. 48–54.

296170–172: neque enim specie famaue mouetur/ nec iam furtiuum Dido meditatur amorem:/ coniugium uocat, hoc praetexit nomine culpam: Dido comes out. She no longer has any regard for appearances (specie) or for what people say (fama, which sets up the personified entry of the concept, i.e. Fama, in 173). Considerations of face or reputation no longer bother her: she lives her love out in the open and calls it marriage.195 Note the gradual increase in agency: Virgil starts out with a negated passive (neque ... mouetur) and continues with a negated deponent (nec iam ... meditatur), which together serve as foil for two verbs in the active: uocat, praetexit. The diaeresis after uocat is unusual: a caesura in the third foot (after hoc, in this case) is far more frequent. There is, then, a ‘premature’ shift from a description of what Dido is doing to a critical evaluation of her action, from a ‘subjective’ to an ‘objective’ point of view. At the same time, one could construe hoc both with coniugium (neuter accusative singular) and nomine (neuter ablative singular), especially since coniugium lacks a predicative complement: ‘she calls this marriage, and with that name covers her culpa.’ hoc, then, functions as a marked pivot between Dido’s lie or self-delusion (coniugium) and the authorial assessment (culpam). There is a shift from the dactylic coniugium uocat to the heavily spondaic hoc praetexit nomine culpam, reinforced by the complete coincidence of accent and ictus in each word after uocat. As Moles puts it: ‘Virgil’s words clearly imply that Dido is behaving badly and knows it: she “is no longer influenced by appearances or reputation; no longer is it a secret love she practises. She calls it marriage — with this name she conceals her ‘culpa’”. Dido, now shameless, says something... which is not true. Virgil draws a clear contrast between Dido’s outward behaviour and the inner reality.’196 The two key nouns coniugium and culpam frame the line and are linked by alliteration. The verb praetexo [prae + texo], here in the figurative sense of ‘to cloak (with)’(OLD s. v. 2b), links sex and death in the Dido episode insofar as it recurs at 4.500 (Anna not realizing that her sister is about to commit suicide): non tamen Anna nouis praetexere funera sacris/ germanam credit (‘yet Anna does not believe that her sister cloaks her death with these new rites’).

  • 197 Ibid., pp. 51–52.

297What does the culpa consist in? Moles has an excellent discussion of the various possibilities that have been suggested, including the popular view that the culpa lies in her disloyalty to Sychaeus, her reneging on her oath of eternal faithfulness.197 But, he argues, ‘this makes no sense in context. To defend herself against criticism Dido calls her “culpa” a “coniugium”. Her “culpa” cannot be disloyalty to Sychaeus, for any association with a man, whether licit or illicit, necessarily involves abnegation of her oaths to Sychaeus and to protest that her association with Aeneas was a “coniugium” does nothing at all to meet that charge, as indeed Dido herself has already recognized (Aen. 4.15–19).’ The right answer, according to Moles, is that the culpa ‘consists in the illicit nature of her love-making with Aeneas, which Dido, to defend her reputation, tries to present as proper “coniugium”.’ This generates a powerful split in perceptions (or versions) of reality. Dido may be dishonest in trying to cover up her sexual misdemeanour, but Juno certainly is of the considered opinion that the act of intercourse that took place in the cave represents a proper marriage (see Aeneid 4.99, 103–4, 125–27), for which she has even solicited the agreement of Venus. So what is missing? Most importantly, as Moles makes clear, the consent of the supposed groom. Even if one were to assume that the sex-act could serve as substitute for the speechact (the equivalent of the ‘I do’ in a modern wedding), for it to be felicitous would seem to require mutual consent. And Aeneas himself never regards his fling in the cave (and whatever commingling and cohabitation comes after) as a coniugium. See esp. 4.338–39 (Aeneas speaking to Dido): nec coniugis umquam/ praetendi taedas aut haec in foedera ueni (‘I never held out the torch of a bridegroom or entered into such a contract’).

173–197: The News Goes Viral

173–77: Introduction to Fama (5 lines)
178–83: Parentage and appearance (6 lines)
184–88: Generic description of her movements (5 lines)
189–95: The rumours she spreads of Aeneas and Dido (7 lines)
196–97: Pinpointing a specific target: Iarbas (2 lines)

298The term fama has already made an oblique appearance at 170 (neque enim specie famaue mouetur, sc. Dido). Now Fama, as goddess, enters the epic for good. Even after her first intervention, she remains a latent presence, not least at the end of Iarbas’prayer to Jupiter (if unanswered, he implies, Jupiter is nothing more than an idle rumour, a fama inanis: 218) and in the form of the fama melior of 222 that Aeneas and Dido have become oblivious to. In Dido’s case, it would seem to refer to her unblemished reputation that she needs for effective civic leadership; in his case it refers, as Jupiter’s subsequent address to Mercury makes clear, to the future gloria that comes with the founding of Rome and the Roman people (see 232: ... tantarum gloria rerum). Personified Fama then reappears: in reporting news of Aeneas’ intention to leave, she triggers the same reaction in Dido as she triggered in Iarbas when she reported that Dido and Aeneas are staying together (4.298–300: eadem impia Fama...). She makes two further interventions later in Book 4: at 556–59, she takes delight in bringing news of Aeneas’ impending departure to Dido in a dream appearance; and at 666 she glories in spreading news of Dido’s suicide through the stricken city.

  • 198 See also Homer, Iliad 2.93 and Odyssey 24.413 (for the workings of rumour). For a survey of earlier (...)

299There are some precedents for this figure. Two are particularly noteworthy: Iliad 4.439–43, where Strife (Eris) grows from small beginnings until her head reaches heaven; and Hesiod, Works & Days 760–64, where Rumour is explicitly identified as a pernicious goddess.198

300Homer, Iliad 4.439–43:

ὦρσε δὲ τοὺς μὲν Ἄρης, τοὺς δὲ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Δεῖμός τἠδὲ Φόβος καὶ Ἔρις ἄμοτον μεμαυῖα,
Ἄρεος ἀνδροϕόνοιο κασιγνήτη ἑτάρη τε,
τὀλίγη μὲν πρῶτα κορύσσεται, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξε κάρη καὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει·

[The Trojans were urged on by Ares, and the Greeks by flashing-eyed Athene, and Terror, and Rout, and Discord that rages incessantly, sister and comrade of man-slaying Ares; she at first rears her crest only a little, yet thereafter plants her head in heaven, while her feet tread on the earth.]

301Hesiod, Works & Days 760–64:

ὧδἔρδειν· δεινὴν δὲ βροτῶν ὑπαλεύεο ϕήμην·
ϕήμη γάρ τε κακὴ πέλεται κούϕη μὲν ἀεῖραι
ῥεῖα μάλ’, ἀργαλέη δὲ ϕέρειν, χαλεπὴ δἀποθέσθαι.
ϕήμη δοὔ τις πάμπαν ἀπόλλυται, ἥντινα πολλοὶ
λαοὶ ϕημίξουσι· θεός νύ τίς ἐστι καὶ αὐτή.

[Act this way. Avoid the wretched talk of mortals. For talk is evil: it is light to raise up quite easily, but it is difficult to bear, and hard to put down. No talk is ever entirely gotten rid of, once many people talk it up: it too is some god.]

  • 199 Hardie (2009), p. 108.
  • 200 The nickname of the now defunct News of the World, for instance, was ‘News of the Screws’: see http (...)
  • 201 Hardie (2009), p. 67, with a more detailed discussion at pp. 116–25 (‘The Sublime and Grotesque Bod (...)

302Yet despite these parallels in earlier literature, the entry of Fama into Virgil’s narrative comes as a surprise: ‘For the modern reader Fama seems to spring from the poet’s head as the first circumstantially elaborated personification set to work within the action of a human narrative.’199 She is a fascinating figure in her own right, as the personification of a phenomenon we are all familiar with, that is, rumour and gossip, often malicious: in that sense Fama is, as it were, Virgil’s equivalent of the modern tabloids, not least in how she delights in (illicit) sex, scandal, and sensation.200 But there is another, ‘metapoetic’ side to her: besides her activities on the level of plot within Virgil’s epic world, she has also strong affinities with the poet of the Aeneid (hence ‘metapoetic’), who is trying to spread his ‘epic news’ far and wide. Philip Hardie magisterially sums up the double nature of our goddess, also bringing out the gender-angle to her function and portrayal: ‘The personification of Fama in Book 4 of the Aeneid (173–97) is a Hellish female monster, the embodiment of the unattributable and irresponsible voices of the multitude, the manyheaded beast, who thrives on distortion and defamation, as she spreads a malicious version of the behaviour of Dido and Aeneas. At the same time Fama is a figure for the ambitions of the male epic poet and for the fame that he confers on his subject-matter and on himself.’201

  • 202 Another famous instance of this trope occurs at the very end of the Aeneid. Just before Aeneas deal (...)

303173–174: Extemplo Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes,/ Fama, malum qua non aliud uelocius ullum: Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes is another instance of iconic word order: subject (Fama) and verb (it) are placed right in the middle of the phrase that refers to the sites through which Fama moves, an effect reinforced by the ensuing hyperbaton Libyae magnas...urbes. Note the epanalepsis (‘taking up again, repetition’) of Fama, which is strictly speaking unnecessary from the point of view of syntax, but generates a great rhetorical effect.202 The relative pronoun qua is in the ablative of comparison (dependent on uelocius); the antecedent is Fama; the verb (sc. est) is elided. Virgil’s identification of Fama as a malum no doubt recalls the malorum of line 169.

304175–177: mobilitate uiget uirisque adquirit eundo,/ parua metu primo, mox sese attollit in auras/ ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit: The three lines portray the exponential growth of a rumour, which gains in power as it is spreading. The basis of Fama’s strength is hence her mobility, which Virgil states as a matter of principle (mobilitate uiget) before glossing it further (uirisque adquirit eundo). (uiris is the accusative plural of uis and forms an alliterative figura etymologica with uiget.) After this ‘theoretical’ perspective, he goes on to illustrate the phenomenon with a striking image: from small beginnings (cf. parua), Fama soon takes flight and eventually stretches from earth to heaven.

  • 203 Hardie (2009), p. 71. (Note that the bolding of auget in Lucretius points to uiget in Virgil. One c (...)

305[Extra information: Hardie points out that Virgil has modelled his portrayal of Fama in part on Lucretius’ description of the thunderbolt: ‘Fama is introduced as an agent in motion through the world of human society (173: magnas ... per urbes). But in the manner of her motion she allusively embodies a force in the natural world, the Lucretian thunderbolt: with lines 174–5 compare [Lucretius’] De Rerum Natura 6.177 (wind in clouds creating thunderbolt) mobilitate sua feruescit ‘it grows hot through its own motion’, 340–2 (thunderbolt) denique quod longo uenit impete, sumere debet | mobilitatem etiam atque etiam, quae crescit eundo | et ualidas auget uiris et roborat ictum ‘then too as it advances with a long-continued moving power, it must again and again receive new velocity, which increases as it goes on and augments its powerful might and strengthens its stroke.’203 He sums up: ‘Allusively [i.e. if we read Virgil’s Fama-passage with Lucretius’ thunderbolt-passages in mind] Fama is a natural force, translated to the theatre of human actions and words.’ This raises the question: why does Virgil cast his character as ‘thunderbolt-Fama’? What are the affinities, what the differences between Virgil’s Fama and Lucretius’ thunderbolt? Why does he model his divine force on a natural force? (Lucretius, it is worth recalling, writes a poem that explains the world by way of Epicurean physics, i.e. atomic motions. He programmatically eliminates any possibility of divine intervention in human affairs.) Is it meaningful that Lucretius’ thunderbolt flashes from Heaven to Earth, whereas Fama moves from Earth to Heaven?]

306176: parua metu primo: fear is a quality that Virgil associates with Fama throughout the passage. But there is a curious reversal: to begin with (primo: perhaps best taken adverbially), Fama is small because of fear, but as she grows she starts to terrify: see esp. 187: et magnas territat urbes. But why should Virgil foreground fear, either that of Fama herself or that caused by her? The dynamics that enable her success and sway are perhaps not dissimilar to what animates Freddy Krueger, the child murderer from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, who, though dead, comes to haunt those who give credence to his continued existence, by which he transforms from a nightmare into a reality. Likewise with Fama: in terms of physique, she is a repulsive monster; but her frightening powers gain in force only by people engaging with her — by perpetuating what they hear and believing what she says. Or, as John Henderson has it (per litteras), ‘Fama is just like any lively classroom/ supervision/ seminar discussing the Aeneid.’

  • 204 Hardie (2009), p. 72. See also p. 93: ‘The unpacking of Religio into fama (deum), fulmina, minitans (...)
  • 205 Ironically, Fama goes on to stimulate religious doubts in at least one character in the poem, i. e. (...)

307A further consideration is the continuing relevance of the Lucretian intertext: as Philip Hardie has pointed out, Fama in Virgil corresponds to Religio in Lucretius; and the prime function of religio, according to Lucretius, is the generation of (unjustified) fear of the gods: ‘Religio and fama go together, DRN [sc. Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura] 1.68–9 (Religio’s weapons of terror) quem neque fama deum nec fulmina nec minitanti | murmure compressit caelum ‘he [sc. Epicurus] was quelled neither by stories about the gods, nor by thunderbolts, nor by the heaven with its threatening rumble.’204 In general, Virgil ‘re-mythologizes’ Lucretius’ mechanical universe, which is devoid of meaningful religious agency: according to the philosophy of Epicurus, which Lucretius professes, the gods live carefree lives in so-called ‘intermundia’, i.e. ‘between worlds’, and take no interest in human affairs. Fama is an extreme case: Virgil not only revalidates divine agency as an important factor in the human sphere, but even turns an abstract concept (‘rumour’) into a powerful, supernatural agent.205

308177: ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit: the design of the verse is chiastic: ingreditur correlates with condit, solo with inter nubila; and the accusative object of the second verb (caput; 177) stands at the centre of the arrangement (not unlike uiris in 175).


illam Terra parens ira inritata deorum
extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Enceladoque sororem
progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis, 180
monstrum horrendum, ingens, ...

  • 206 Cf. Aeneid 3.658 (of Polyphemus): monstrum horrendum informe ingens...

310The basic syntax of these lines is simple: accusative object (illam) subject (Terra) verb (progenuit). But Virgil manages to ‘inflate’ this basic structure to convey something of Fama’s monstrous nature. His basic technique is to add a predicative complement (extremam ... sororem) and two appositional phrases (pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis and monstrum horrendum, ingens) to illam to expand Fama’s presence throughout these verses (see the parts in italics). In comparison, the presence of Fama’s mother (see the bits in bold) dwindles in importance. Two hyperbata reinforce the effect of monstrosity, ensuring that both the figure of Fama and Virgil’s verse-design and syntax are terribly ‘out of shape’: (i) Terra parens... progenuit (reinforced by the front-position of illam); (ii) extremam ... sororem. Rhythm, too, matches theme: line 180, which describes Fama’s swiftness, is almost entirely dactylic (the exception being the fourth foot), whereas the subsequent verse has a horrendously spondaic opening: monstrum horrendum ingens. (Note the two elisions, which generate a monstrous agglomeration.) Virgil further enhances the impression of speed in line 180 by means of alliteration (progenuit, pedibus, pernicibus) and preference for the ‘light’ vowels e and i, especially in the central portion pedibus celerem et pernicibus — in contrast to the heavy mons-, and hor- and the plodding homoioteleuton-strum,-dum (which impacts despite the elision) in line 181.206

311178: Terra parens, ira inritata deorum: the mother of Fama is Earth, who brought forth Fama because she was angry at the gods (deorum is an objective genitive dependent on ira; the paronomasia ira inritata almost amounts to a specious figura etymologica).

312179: extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Enceladoque sororem: Fama figures here as the last of the giants. Her brother Enceladus already figured at 3.578–62: fama (sic!) has it, so Aeneas says while recounting their adventures on Sicily, that Jupiter struck Enceladus low with his thunderbolt and then piled Mt. Etna on top of him. In Greek mythology, Coeus is one of the Titans, but the 1st-century AD mythographer Hyginus (writing in Latin) includes him in a list of giants. He is the obscure father of Leto/ Latona, the famous mother of Apollo and Diana. Ovid makes fun of his obscurity at Metamorphoses 6.185–86 (Niobe speaking): nescio quoque audete satam Titanida Coeo/ Latonam praeferre mihi... (‘dare to prefer to me the Titan-daughter Latona, born from some Coeus or other...’).

313179: ut perhibent: this vague reference to ‘hearsay’, by which the author both acknowledges his use of sources and distances himself from their truth value, is particularly appropriate in the present context: Virgil is picking up rumours on Rumour.

  • 207 Austin (1963), p. 72.

314180: progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis: Fama is swift on the ground (pedibus) and in the air (pernicibus alis; pernix,-icis: ‘swift’, ‘agile’). The verse enacts the quality: ‘note the swift rhythm and the hard, clattering consonants’,207 notes Austin, referring to the preponderance of dactyls and the alliteration plus assonance of pro-,-ge-, pe-, ce-, pe-,-ci-.

  • 208 See further Hardie (2009), pp. 99–100 who points out that a variant of this construction recurs at (...)

315181–183: cui, quot sunt corpore plumae,/ tot uigiles oculi subter (mirabile dictu),/ tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris: Virgil seems to be saying that Fama has as many (quot) feathers on her body as she has eyes (oculi), tongues and mouths (linguae, ora), and ears (auris). In the quot-clause an ei (matching cui) needs to be supplied mentally, just as the verb [sc. sunt] needs to be supplied in the first tot-clause: cui, quot [ei] sunt corpore plumae, tot uigiles [sunt] oculi subter. In the second and third segment of the tricolon Virgil gradually abandons this construction. A break in syntax (‘anacoluthon’) ensues: we are notionally still in the relative clause introduced by cui, but have to assume a shift in the kind of dative (from dative of possession to the ethical dative) in the second segment to stay within this construction; and there is a complete break in syntax in the third segment:208

  • cui... tot uigiles oculi subter [sunt], with cui a dative of possession

  • cui] tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, with cui an ethical dative

  • quae] tot subrigit auris, with the notional relative pronoun in the nominative since Fama is the subject of subrigit, though it is perhaps better to assume that Virgil does not continue with the relative clause at all.

316One could consider the anacoluthon a deliberate rhetorical effect: ordinary syntax is incapable of describing this extraordinary creature. And in one sense, the image seems reasonably straightforward: rumour flies, after all, (hence the feathers) and needs the specified organs to spread effectively. Problems arise because of the subter, which seems designed to specify where, precisely, the watchful eyes are located: one each under each feather? And are we supposed to imagine that the same applies to tongues, mouths, and ears? Visualized, this would turn the underside of each feather into a fullblown face — a seemingly grotesque idea.

  • 209 Dyer (1989). He argues that this interpretation would go some way towards explaining Virgil’s prefe (...)

317One solution would be to say, with Dyer, that the first and second tot clauses do not refer to Fama’s physique at all, but to the fact that as she flies, below her (subter) human beings watch and chatter, feeding her as she flies by and pricks her ears.209 Dyer thus construes (and hence punctuates) the cui differently, as a connecting relative that belongs into the quot-clause only: cui quot sunt..., i.e. ‘How many feathers she has, so many watchful eyes there are... etc.’ I am not convinced: this reading would rather reduce Fama’s monstrosity, which Virgil has underscored so much. One could, however, ponder a deliberate ambiguity, insofar as Fama is both a goddess and the sum-total of all human gossip-mongerers, not least since Virgil emphasizes the need for our collaboration with Fama for her to grow and succeed. The open-ended construction may therefore gesture to the fact that the concentrated assemblage of eyes, tongues and mouths, and ears on her body has a numerical, if dispersed, equivalent of individual eyes, tongues, mouths, and ears among us humans: she is not unlike Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, who, in Abraham Bosse’s famous frontispiece, emerges from the earth as a monstrous creature put together of many individual human beings.

318182–183: tot uigiles oculi ...,/ tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris: within the basic tricolon marked by the anaphora tot, tot, tot, Virgil introduces an element of variation in the second colon, following up the pars pro toto, i.e. linguae, with the totum, i.e. ora, which enables him to slip in another reference to the innumerable devices of communication that Fama has at her disposal.

319182: mirabile dictu: dictu is an ablative supine: ‘marvellous to relate.’ Virgil does not say mirabile uisu, i.e. ‘marvellous to behold.’ Why does he put the emphasis on verbal, rather than visual representation? Most obviously, perhaps, this is about Fama, after all, etymologically related to fari, to speak, so Virgil, within his visualization/ personification of the abstract concept, points to its primary meaning and mode of operation.

320184–188: After a portrait of the figure, we get a description of her activities, both during nighttime (184: nocte uolat) and daytime (186: luce sedet). (The two verse openings correspond to each other syntactically and metrically.) After taking two lines each to describe Fama during night (184–85) and day (186–87), Virgil sums up his general description of the monster in 188, before focusing on her actions in the case at hand.

  • 210 Mercury, who is, in many ways, chthonic Fama’s Olympian double, is also depicted as flying midways (...)

321184–185: nocte uolat caeli medio terraeque per umbram/ stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno: the two verses describing Fama at night revolve around the present participle stridens, which stands like an emphatic pivot between ‘she flies’ (uolat) and ‘she does not sleep’ (nec... declinat...). medio enacts its meaning ‘midway between’ twice: it is placed in the middle of the line and in the middle of its two genitive attributes caeli and terrae (linked by the -que). The effect is enhanced by how Virgil frames the line: nocte is picked up by per umbram.210 per umbram could go either with uolat (as a pleonastic reinforcement of nocte) or with stridens. If one construes per umbram/ stridens, stridens most likely signifies the whirring sound of her wings as she flies through the dark; if stridens stands without any circumstantial qualification it may also refer to Fama’s screeching.

322185: stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno: a heavily spondaic line (with the exception of the fifth foot). The soothing alliterative assonance dulci decli- and the coincidence of accent and ictus in declinat lumina somno would lull any reader to sleep, but not Fama! (Note that accent and ictus also coincide in stridens and nec — there is, then, a real tension in this verse: the opening, with its emphasis on screeching and the negation, renders the potential resolution hinted at in the second half ineffectual.)

323186–187: luce sedet custos aut summi culmine tecti/ turribus aut altis, et magnas territat urbes: as in the night part, Virgil uses two verbs linked paratactically: sedet and territat. The aut... aut (with the second postponed) coordinates summi culmine tecti and turribus altis. Fama is always on her guard (cf. custos), keeping under surveillance both private dwellings (tecta) and public fortifications (turres), and always choosing the most advantageous, i.e. highest, spot from which to keep watch. (Virgil emphasizes this especially in the phrase summi culmine tecti: she sits on the highest point of the highest roof.)

324188: tam ficti prauique tenax quam nuntia ueri: tenax and nuntia stand in apposition to the (implied) subject of uolat, declinat, sedet, and territat, i.e. Fama. The design is chiastic, with the objective genitives framing the adjective and the noun on which they depend (both of which have a verbal force: ‘grasping’ (tenax); ‘announcing’ (nuntia): (a) ficti prauique (b) tenax (b) nuntia (a) ueri. It is, however, slightly unbalanced because of the two negative genitives dependent on tenax: with Fama, it seems, for each bit of the truth we get two bits that are freely invented (cf. ficti) or distorted (cf. praui).

  • 211 Hardie (2009), p. 71. See also Pease (1935), pp. 36–38 and Dyson (1996), both cited by Hardie.

325189–197: After the generic description of who Fama is, what she looks like, and how she operates, Virgil proceeds to specify what she does with regard to Dido and Aeneas. The section falls into two parts: we first get the general dissemination of the news (189–95); then, after spreading the news far and wide, Fama proceeds to target Iarbas, knowing full well that he will find the rumours particularly upsetting (196–97). Overall, she conveys the impression that Dido and Aeneas have become, to echo Horace, ‘two pigs in the sty of Epicurus’, giving themselves over to a life of luxury and sex, slaves of their desires: ‘Dido’s court’, Fama intimates, has become ‘the location for a(n)... attempt to realize an Epicurean life.’211

  • 212 Austin (1963), p. 73.

326189–190: haec tum multiplici populos sermone replebat/ gaudens, et pariter facta atque infecta canebat: replebat — canebat is an unusual rhyme. canere is also what the epic poet (and his internal narrator Aeneas) do. So why does Virgil choose this charged word here? Is he suggesting an analogue between Fama and epic poetry, or, indeed, the problematic truth-value of his (and Aeneas’narration) and that of the monster? Austin observes that the assonance in facta ~ infecta and replebat ~ canebat ‘effectively suggests the way in which Fama keeps hammering away remorselessly.’212

327190: gaudens: in terms of syntax, verse position, scansion, and rhetorical function, gaudens mirrors stridens in line 185.

  • 213 Hardie (1986), p. 274.

328190: pariter facta atque infecta: it is the perfect mixture of truths and falsehoods that makes rumour so insidious: Virgil enacts the mixture by way of the two elisions in fact(a)atqu(e)infecta. In what Fama says, it is impossible to draw a line between what is true and what is false. And consider what she says: is not everything true in one way or another? Sure, she gives the facts an insidious spin, but she does not utter an outright lie. See the allegorical generalization by Hardie for whom Fama ‘represents the power of the spoken word to exceed the truth while yet remaining anchored to it.’213 He points out the affinity with the rhetorical trope of hyperbole, which, as he shows in his monograph, is absolutely fundamental for Virgil’s aesthetics. What do you make of such (rather disturbing) parallels between Fama and Virgil’s epic song?

329191–194: uenisse Aenean Troiano sanguine cretum,/ cui se pulchra uiro dignetur iungere Dido;/ nunc hiemem inter se luxu, quam longa, fouere/ regnorum immemores turpique cupidine captos: the verses, which contain ‘Fama’s song’, are in indirect speech, dependent on canebat: the two main verbs are uenisse (with the subject accusative Aenean) and fouere (with the implied subjects Aeneas and Dido).

330191: Troiano sanguine cretum: Virgil is much concerned with ‘blooddescent’— it is a key theme of his epic and governs the interface between the world of the epic and the wider historical context, i.e. the principate of Augustus, not least since it is a Virgilian innovation. Lineage allows Virgil to centre the story of Rome in the one gens to which Aeneas and Iulus, Julius Caesar and Caesar Octavianus belong — even though, as John Henderson rightly reminds us (per litteras) ‘adoption, along with other relations (affinal, fostering, alliance...), turns out to be cardinal in the perpetuation of Rome and Roman tradition: Octavian, Claudius Marcellus, Agrippa, Pallas — all the social sons of the pater patriae throughout the gens Romana. Within the idea of blood-descent, the crucial clash will be thoroughbred Iulus, Trojan on both sides, so “autochthonous” vs. the hybrid Italian-Trojan son of Aeneas and Lavinia. This is the excruciation of “dynastic royalty”, and Augustans knew that already.’ The first time the idiom of blood-descent enters the epic is in the extended proem (1.19–20: progeniem sed enim Troiano a sanguine duci/ audierat [sc. Juno], Tyrias olim quae uerteret arces; ‘Yet in truth she had heard that a race was springing from Trojan blood, to overthrow some day the Tyrian towers’); it then recurs at prominent places throughout, not least in Venus address to Jupiter in Aeneid 1 (235–37: hinc fore ductores, reuocato a sanguine Teurci... pollicitus [sc. es, i.e. Jupiter]; ‘you promised that from Teucer’s restored blood-line should come leaders...’) and the so-called ‘parade of heroes’ towards the end of Aeneid 6.

331192: cui se pulchra uiro dignetur iungere Dido: Virgil nicely interlaces the two lovers, in what could be seen as an enactment of iungere: Aeneas (cui) Dido (se pulchra) Aeneas (uiro) Dido (dignetur... Dido). uiro (‘as a husband’) complements cui. But Fama picks on ‘beautiful Dido’(note the hyperbaton), especially by her choice of verb: dignetur, in nice assonance with Dido, slyly refers to her earlier refusal to entertain proposals of renewed wedlock; that she deems the foreign cast-away proper husband-material must grate with the local dignitaries who suffered the indignity of rejection when they went wooing.

332193: nunc hiemem inter se luxu, quam longa [sc. sit], fouere: Fama uses a slyly contrived expression. Literally, she says that ‘Dido and Aeneas keep the winter warm between them’, but what she really means is that ‘all winter long, Dido and Aeneas keep each other warm’, in what is a thinly veiled allusion to sex and postcoital hugging. The formulation, together with luxu (see below), is designed to generate envy in those left out in the cold.

333193: luxu: luxus refers to ‘soft or extravagant living’, or ‘(over-)indulgence’: OLD s. v. 1. It is a life-style often associated with effeminacy and the perceived decadence of the East. At Rome, the term had a stellar career in stories of decline that set in over the last centuries of the republic, with the influx of wealth and the apparent loosening of the martial-marital ethos that supposedly made Rome great. One influential representative of this view is Sallust, both in his War Against Jugurtha and the War Against Catiline (53.5). The theme of luxury certainly plays a key role in Iarbas’ reaction: below 198–218.

334194: regnorum immemores: that this is not simply Fama’s point of view becomes manifest at 221, where Aeneas and Dido are described in the authorial voice (or perhaps through the eyes of Jupiter) as oblitos famae [sic!] melioris amantis (‘lovers forgetful of their better reputation’). Epic is a ‘genre of memory and remembrance’ through and through, from Homer onwards: the basic premise of the Iliad is Achilles’ choice of a short life in return for everlasting fame in Homeric song (the Greek term is kleos) over a long life in forgettable obscurity. And, in the Odyssey, the memory of his wife and home in Ithaca sustains Odysseus on his travels and protects him from all temptation (even the option of acquiring a divine consort, Calypso, and the attendant prospect for immortality): the basis of his kleos (‘immortal fame’) is, not least, a successful nostos (‘return home’). The theme of forgetting is central to the episode of the ‘Lotus-eaters’ (Odyssey 9.91–104), where some of Odysseus’ men eat of the sweet-tasting lotus and become mindless (or, in Latin, immemores) of their desire to return to their native island. In the Aeneid, memory and forgetting operate in an even more complex key, as Aeneas has to overcome his memories and allegiances to the Trojan past to facilitate and found the Roman future. In Carthage, this basic storyline of the epic has reached a temporary dead end.

335194: turpique cupidine captos: turpis is ‘morally depraved.’

336195: haec passim dea foeda uirum diffundit in ora: this line, which concludes the general section of Fama’s newsreel correlates in diction and meaning with the initial verse, i.e. 189: haec tum multiplici populos sermone replebat. Note the identical openings (haec, followed by an adverbial qualification of time (tum) or space (passim), the similar meanings of the verbs (replebat, diffundit) and the well-nigh synonymous formulations multiplici populos sermone and uirum ... in ora. The adjective foeda could modify either haec (‘these foul things’), or dea (‘the foul goddess’), or ora (‘the foul lips of men’); most naturally, it is an epithet of the goddess purely on the basis of proximity in the verse, but the various grammatical possibilities are by no means mutually exclusive. Arguably, the range of options is deliberate, designed to convey something of Fama’s infectious power: the rumours (haec) the foul (foeda) goddess (dea) spreads are foul (foeda) and those who listen to her and disseminate her rumours further become ‘foul-mouthed’ (foeda in ora) as well.

337196: protinus ad regem cursus detorquet Iarban/ incenditque animum dictis atque aggerat iras: after the shot-gun approach indicated by passim, protinus conveys a clear sense of purpose and direction. Fama’s plan unfolds in three steps, with the first (accusative object: cursus and verb: detorquet) standing in chiastic order to the second (verb: incendit and accusative object: animum) and third (verb: aggerat and accusative object: iras) cola of the tricolon. detorqueo here means something akin to ‘she changes her path so as to seek out specifically king Iarbas.’ Iarbas was the African king who granted Dido the land on which to build her city and became one of her suitors; he did not take kindly to being rejected (Anna singles him out at 36–7 from among the other African princes: despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii), much less to hearing about her willingness to enter into a liaison with a Trojan refugee instead: this was adding insult to injury. Fama knows how best to stir up trouble.

338197: dictis: best taken apo koinou with both incendit animum and aggerat iras.

339197: aggerat iras: aggero,-are,-avi,-atum [agger + o] here means ‘to reinforce, intensify’: OLD s. v. 6a. Iarbas was already aggrieved by Dido’s rejection of his advances.

198–218: In Dad I Tru$t

340198–202: The five lines provide a brief introduction to Iarbas (hic), his lineage, and his extraordinary devotion to Jupiter. The flashback (cf. the perfect posuit and the pluperfect sacraverat) serves as explanatory foil for his outrage at the news about Dido that Fama brings his way.

341198: Hic Hammone satus rapta Garamantide nympha: born, i.e. son, of Hammon (in the ablative of origins). Hammon, a Libyan deity, was identified with Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter (a phenomenon called ‘syncretism’: various cultures are claimed to call the same divinity by different names). The mother remains virtually anonymous (an odd Garamantian nymph) and is deprived of active participation in the procreation — a point nicely reinforced by the ablative absolute construction rapta ... nympha and Virgil’s choice of satus, the perfect passive participle of sero, ‘to sow’, which reduces the importance of the nymph to providing a vessel for Jupiter’s seed: syntax and lexicon reinforce Virgil’s callous account of Iarbas’ parentage.

342199–202: templa Ioui centum latis immania regnis,/ centum aras posuit uigilemque sacrauerat ignem,/ excubias diuum aeternas, pecudumque cruore/ pingue solum et uariis florentia limina sertis: temple ... centum ... immania, centum aras is one of the most impressive accusative objects in the entire poem. Note the chiasmus (a) templa (b) centum (b) centum (a) aras. The word order enacts the deliberate placement (cf. posuit) of the temples in his expansive kingdom: Virgil intersperses the phrase that signifies the temples (templa), their number (centum), and their size (immania) with references to their dedicatee (Ioui: ‘for Jupiter’) and their position (latis ... regnis). Here it sounds as if Hammon situated the temples at various places throughout his realm; but the fact that he prays in front of altars (plural) in 204 would seem to suggest that some, if not all, are concentrated in one location.

  • 214 See O’Hara (2011), p. 42.

343We move from temples to the altars in the temples to the fire on the altars: a gradual, climactic narrowing of focus, even though the tense (sacrauerat is pluperfect, posuit perfect) would seem to suggest that Hammon first dedicated the ever-watchful fires before constructing the buildings in which to house them.214 excubias ... aeternas stands in apposition to uigilem... ignem (explaining its function), with a chiastic inversion of attributes and nouns: (a) uigilem (b) ignem (b) excubias (a) aeternas. pingue solum and limina are either further accusative objects with sacrauerat or, more likely, nominatives with the verbs (erat, erant), elided. Overall, the nouns in the second half of the description pick up the accusative objects in the first half in inverse order, creating the pattern abc ~ cba: (a) templa (b) aras (c) ignem; (c) excubias (b) solum (a) limina. The thresholds (limina) refer to the entrance to the temples (templa); the ground (solum) that is fat with the blood of sacrificial victims harks back to the altars where the beasts are slaughtered (aras); and at the centre, as we have seen, excubias articulates the purpose of the fire (ignem).

344202: uariis florentia limina sertis: another Virgilian word-picture, with the varied garlands ‘wreathed around’ the florentia limina. serta,-orum n. comes from sero, (serui), sertus, ‘to wreathe’, which is not to be confused with sero, seui, satus, ‘to sow’, which Virgil used in 198 (see above on satus).

345203–205: isque amens animi et rumore accensus amaro/ dicitur ante aras media inter numina diuum/ multa Iouem manibus supplex orasse supinis: The basic structure of the sentence consists of is (203)... dicitur (204)... Iouem supplex orasse (205): ‘he is said to have beseeched Jupiter as suppliant.’ Then we get further specifications of why he did this (he was amens animi and rumore accensus amaro), where he did it (ante aras, media inter numina diuum), how he did it (manibus supinis) and with what frequency or intensity he did it (multa: perhaps best taken as an adverbial accusative). These verses ironically recall and invert 1.48–49 (Juno speaking): et quisquam numen Iunonis adorat/ praeterea aut supplex aris imponet honorem? (‘And will any still worship Juno’s divine powers or humbly lay sacrifice upon her altars?’) If there a goddess feels she needs to assert herself to avoid a crisis of recognition and identity, here Iarbas demands the same of Jupiter.

  • 215 Hardie (2009), p. 72.

346203: amens animi et rumore accensus amaro: commentators read the striking phrase amens animi (where animi is either a locative or a genitive of reference or specification) as a Virgilian response to Lucretius’ phrase mens animi (De Rerum Natura 3.615, 4.758 etc.), in which mens designates ‘the intellectual rather than the emotional side of animus.’215 If that is the case, it would imply that Iarbas, whose animus has lost (a-) its mens, is now ruled entirely by his passions. accensus picks up the metaphorics of fire from 197: incenditque animum. This is the first of a series of revelations that cause the recipient to lose his/ her mind and burst into fiery passion. See below 279 (Aeneas in shock at Mercury’s epiphany and reacting to his message): obmutuit amens and 281: ardet abire fuga; and 300–01 (Dido reacting to Fama’s news that Aeneas is getting his fleet ready): saeuit [sc. Dido] inops animi totamque incensa per urbem/ bacchatur.

347204: ante aras media inter numina: a replay of the scene we get at 62, where it is Dido who ante ora deum pinguis spatiatur ad aras. The verse features another media in the middle, and another inter ‘between’ the two components of the phrase it governs, here reinforced by ante aras. As behooves a preposition meaning ‘before’, ante comes before the noun it governs. For numen/ numina, see above on 4.94.

348205: minibus ... supinis: Iarbas prays with his hands turned upwards, i.e. towards the divinity he is trying to reach.

349206–218: Iarbas’ prayer to Jupiter falls into three parts:

206–210: Opening remarks that issue a challenge to Jupiter (5 lines)
211–214: Dido’s past misbehaviour (4 lines)
215–219: Her current licence and its religious implications (4 lines)

350206–210: Iarbas begins with two questions of roughly equal length, in which he poses a dilemma: either Jupiter sees what is going on with Dido and Aeneas, or there is no point in worshipping him; but if he is aware of what is going on, so the implication, his inaction is disgracefully negligent given the dutiful veneration he receives. Jupiter is thus placed in an impossible position: the way Iarbas frames the situation, he cannot plead ignorance and hence is undoubtedly guilty of negligence. In essence, the fact that these going-ons can happen without any sign of divine disapproval or intervention suggests that the economy that sustains religious worship has broken down, and Iarbas puts it to Jupiter that it is in the god’s own interest to restore it.

351206–208: Iuppiter omnipotens, cui nunc Maurusia pictis/ gens epulata toris Lenaeum libat honorem,/ aspicis haec?: overall, the rhetorical force of the sentence is finely calibrated between respect for the god and outrage at his inactivity. Iarbas begins in prayer-mode, with a vocative (Iuppiter) and honorary epithet (omnipotens) as if to invoke the divinity or address him in a hymn. The relative clause, however, already introduces a subtle switch in focus. In a hymn, this construction is often used to detail the powers and achievements of the divinity invoked. But Iarbas does not retain Jupiter in the subject position — instead, he, with a whiff of indignation, puts on record what he and his people are doing for Jupiter (the relative pronoun cui is in the dative of advantage). Then comes, effectively placed in emjambment, the choriambic punchline: aspicis haec? Only now it becomes manifest that we are not dealing with a respectful invocation but a question that challenges Jupiter as potentially remiss in his oversight of human affairs.

352omnipotens is a standard epithet of Jupiter, but Iarbas here uses it with a special edge: given that Jupiter is assumed to be all-powerful (an erroneous assumption, as we shall see), the question whether he sees what happens in Carthage becomes rhetorical; and as a rhetorical question it carries a bitter accusation: you see this — and do nothing? The very fact that Iarbas questions whether Jupiter has been paying attention puts an oblique questionmark over the supreme divinity’s epithet omnipotens. In articulating frustration with divine inaction in the face of injustice, Iarbas touches upon a problem that haunts many religious belief-systems: if gods or God are/ is all-powerful, how come that there is perceived injustice and evil in the world? Iarbas adds a second aspect to his accusation: in the relative clause introduced by cui he underscores the material investment that he and his people have devoted to ensuring Jupiter’s approval and support. There is a clear implication here that in the economy of exchange and services that tends to inform many religious transactions (sacrifice and worship in return for divine benevolence, according to the logic of do-ut-des, i.e. ‘I, the human, give [something] in order that you, the god, give [something] in return’: see above Footnote 89), Jupiter miserably fails to uphold his part of the bargain.

  • 216 See Pease (1935), p. 230.

353206–207: ... cui nunc Maurusia pictis/ gens epulata toris Lenaeum libat honorem...: the force of the nunc is either that now, i.e. under the rule of Iarbas, the people of Mauretania (Maurusia is the Greek name for the region of North-West Africa) have started to worship Jupiter whereas they did not do so before, or that the worshipping is going on at this very moment, i.e. is concurrent with Iarbas’ prayer.216 pictis ... toris: translators and commentators are virtually unanimous in thinking that the phrase refers to ‘couches decorated with embroidered covers’, but my colleague Dr Clemence Schultze, an expert in ancient clothing, assures me that they are mistaken. pictus, she argues, simply means ‘decorated’ and here refers most likely to woven, figurative decoration, rather than embroidery (which apparently was very rare compared to weaving patterns and figures). Cf. 1.708: during Dido’s banquet, the Trojans are ‘summoned to decline on decorated couches’ (toris iussi discumbere pictis). Note the regular pattern of attributes (Maurusia, pictis, Lenaeum) and nouns (gens, toris, honorem), nicely interlaced in the first two cases, which are organized around the participle epulata. (As often, the deponent past participle here expresses an action that started in the past but continues contemporaneously with the action of the main verb.) Lenaeum... honorem is a contrived way of saying ‘an offering of wine’ (Lenaeus, a, um = Bacchic, from Greek Lênaios, in turn derived from lênos, which means ‘wine-press’), but note the nice alliteration Lenaeum libat that ensues. libare is a ritual action, the pouring of wine in honour of the god.

354208–210: an te, genitor, cum fulmina torques/ nequiquam horremus, caecique in nubibus ignes/ terrificant animos et inania murmura miscent?: after already getting into Jupiter’s face with the importunate question aspicis haec?, Iarbas now becomes even more aggressive. He could have made it clear that the question is entirely rhetorical (with the implied answer from Jupiter being ‘of course I do’) by following it up with a request for a divine intervention to right the wrong. Instead, he leaves the answer open and posits the stark alternative that either Jupiter sees what is going on or he is impotent. As with the first rhetorical question, the set of beliefs behind this rhetorical posture seems to be the following:

  1. Jupiter, far from being impotent, is omnipotent (at least that is what Iarbas calls him);

  2. he hence sees exactly what is going on (which turns aspicis haec? into a rhetorical question);

  3. he does nothing about it — despite the worship he receives from his son and his people.

355As the following narrative makes clear, the presuppositions that inform the prayer are not aligned with the realities of Virgil’s literary world: (i) is only partially correct (Jupiter is neither impotent nor omnipotent); (ii) is incorrect; and (iii) is both moot (since (ii) is incorrect) and ironic: Jupiter will react to Iarbas’ prayer, but not out of a concern for Iarbas, but for Aeneas and his destiny! In other words, Iarbas, just like Anna, is a minor character who thinks about the gods and engages in religious activities while being shown up by the poet as profoundly misunderstanding the supernatural realities that apply within the narrative universe of the Aeneid.

356The an-sentence pursues the implications of Jupiter not seeing what is happening at Carthage. If that were the case, Iarbas argues, the meteorological phenomena that tend to be seen as expressions of his will, are in fact devoid of meaning, and the religious awe they trigger beside the point. Iarbas raises the possibility of absence of divine purpose in the universe (which implies that one may well cease to pay attention to divinities or try to interact with them) by means of one subordinate clause (cum fulmina torques) and three main clauses: te nequiquam horremus; caeci in nubibus ignes terrificant animos; and inania murmura miscent (with the subject remaining caeci in nubibus ignes). Jupiter retains meaningful agency in the cum-clause, but the three main clauses then gradually proceed to cancel it out. Each contains a term that evokes a world defined by supernatural indifference: nequiquam, caeci (‘blind’ in the sense of ‘random’, i.e. without point or purpose), and inania. Iarbas thus removes Jupiter from the scene bit by bit. In the first colon, which also includes a direct address in apostrophe (genitor), he juxtaposes a frightening action undertaken by Jupiter (cum fulmina torques: second person singular) with fear on the part of humans (horremus: a generic first person plural, ‘we humans’). The second person personal pronoun te, which is the accusative object of horremus and harks back to torques, functions as link between the cum-clause and the main clause. In the second and third main clause, matters look very different. We get the same natural phenomenon, but without reference to divine agency. And Iarbas pointedly shifts from the personal ‘you — we’ to the third person plural: ignes terrificant animos. While terrificant picks up horremus, Iarbas no longer presupposes a relationship between Jupiter and humanity. Instead of considering lightning (ignes) and thunder (murmura) the result of divine action (Jupiter throwing his thunderbolts for a reason), Iarbas gives a ‘natural’ explanation: they become meteorological occurrences that are devoid of intention (cf. caeci) and purpose (cf. inania). (The breaking apart of fulmen, i.e. thunder-bolt, into bolt (ignes) and thunder (murmura) hints at a quasi-scientific approach to a phenomenon often endowed with religious import. Virgil/ Iarbas here use/ s the idiom of Epicurean physics as elaborated by Lucretius in the De Rerum Natura.)

357208: genitor: the meaning is both generic and specific: Iarbas, after all, is the son of Jupiter.

358210: murmura miscent: an onomatopoetic phrase.

359211–214: femina, quae nostris errans in finibus urbem/ exiguam pretio posuit, cui litus arandum/ cuique loci leges dedimus, conubia nostra/ reppulit ac dominum Aenean in regna recepit: In four verses Iarbas presents his take on the affair between the Carthaginian queen and the Trojan castaway, reminding Jupiter of what happened when Dido arrived in the region. He outlines the background in a series of relative clauses (quae, cui, cui), framed by the exposed subject femina and the rest of the main clause (conubia nostra ... recepit). The last line of this account features a nice antithesis between reppulit at the beginning of the verse (in enjambment and followed by a very effective diaeresis after the first foot) and recepit at the end: linked by alliteration, the two verbs refer to diametrically opposed actions on Dido’s part.

360His prayer has intriguing parallels with the accusations Dido levels at Aeneas when she hears of his preparations for departure (4.373–75): eiectum litore, egentem/ excepi et regni demens in parte locaui;/ amissam classem, socios a morte reduxi (‘I welcomed him, a castaway on the shore, a beggar, and madly gave him a share in my kingdom; his lost fleet I rescued, his crews I saved from death’). She prefaces these observations with an invocation of the gods as guardians of justice (371–72: iam iam nec maxima Iuno/ nec Saturnius haec oculis pater aspicit aequis; ‘Now neither mighty Juno nor the Saturnian father looks on these things with righteous eyes!’), but then goes on to mock the notion that Aeneas’ desire to leave Carthage has been kindled by a messenger from Jupiter, endorsing in the process a quasi-Epicurean conception of the gods as tranquil beings uninterested in human affairs (376–80), only to follow up on this with a renewed appeal to pia numina to shipwreck Aeneas on his way to Italy (382–84): just like Iarbas, Dido, too, is confused about the supernatural forces at work in the (literary) world she inhabits.

361211: femina: Dido, of course, but Iarbas cannot bring himself to call her by her name; instead he spits out the generic ‘a woman’.

362211: nostris errans in finibus: Just as Dido has come wandering around in Iarbas territory, so errans has roamed into the midst of nostris ... in finibus. Note that Iarbas uses an ablative, rather than an accusative of direction, emphasizing the haphazard and random nature of Dido’s movements.

  • 217 Pease (1935), p. 233.

363211–212: urbem/ exiguam: ‘to be contrasted with the ingentia ... moenia of 1, 365–366 and the minae ... murorum ingentes of 4, 88–89. Perhaps Iarbas had not lately seen the city which had risen so rapidly, or else he wished to disparage the upstart town or to emphasize the smallness of the tributary territory upon which its economic life depended.’217 A third possibility is perhaps even more likely: he knows full well what Carthage has been turning into, but feels betrayed, and is unwilling to acknowledge that a woman has had the better of him.

364212–213: litus arandum ... loci leges: Iarbas continues to deprecate Dido’s achievements: after his reference to the supposedly small size of the city, he laughs at her people ploughing the shore (not the most fertile of soils) and highlights that he has dictated the terms on which she can use the land. From a legal point of view, he considers himself her overlord.

  • 218 Austin (1963), p. 77.

365212: pretio posuit: the phrase puts the emphasis on Dido’s mercenary, rather than military, modus operandi in taking possession of the land: she purchased (pretio is an ablative of price), rather than conquered, her kingdom. Austin detects ‘snarling contempt’218 in the p-alliteration. Virgil may here be hinting at the reputation of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians as nations of traders.

366214: dominum Aenean: dominum is best taken predicatively: ‘Aeneas as (her) lord.’ Dominus (unlike uir) is a marked term: like Juno at 4.103 (liceat seruire marito), Iarbas diagnoses a servile streak in Dido, implying that she has willingly become Aeneas’slave. These internal perspectives on her status and condition contrast sharply with Virgil’s systematic use of regina throughout the book. Dido thereby turns into a challenging paradox: she belongs to both the highest and the lowest category of human beings, nominally a queen, but, according to some of her fellow-characters, thinking and acting like a slave. The formulation also stands in implicit contrast to conubia nostra and suggests that Dido has got a worse deal by choosing Aeneas over himself.

367215–217: et nunc ille Paris cum semiuiro comitatu,/ Maeonia mentum mitra crinemque madentem/ subnexus, rapto potitur: the design is similar to 211–14: Iarbas begins with a contemptuous reference to Aeneas (ille Paris; cf. femina in 211), which he pads out with a prepositional phrase (cum ... comitatu) and a lengthy participle construction (Maeonia ... subnexus; cf. the relative clauses in 211–213) before the main verb of the sentence (potitur). Dido is reduced to the level of spoils, raptum. (Like uti, frui, fungi, and uesci, potiri takes an ablative object.)

368215: ille Paris: Iarbas construes an analogy: as Paris is to Helen and Menelaus, so Aeneas is to Dido and himself. In each case, the rightful husband had his wife stolen by an unwarlike Trojan prince. The notion that Aeneas is ‘another Paris’ recurs as an insult in the second half of the poem: see 7.321: Paris alter; 7.363; 9.138–39. This, as John Henderson points out (per litteras), is ‘part of an all-pervasive typological struggle for the roles of Trojans and Achaeans in Virgil’s re-make of the Iliad, which eventually casts Aeneas as Achilles, and his victim Turnus as Hector — mutatis, however, mutandis.’

  • 219 Pease (1935), p. 235.
  • 220 O’Hara (2011), p. 44.
  • 221 Weber (2002), p. 336.

369215: cum semiuiro comitatu: ‘with his entourage of eunuchs.’ semiuir (put together from semi- and uir) seems to be a Virgilian neologism, but he relies on a more general discourse: ‘This particular taunt was made by Greeks and Romans against various Oriental peoples, from the Persian Wars onward, including the Trojans.’219 The verse design adds to the effect: ‘the rhythm produced by the four-syllable line-end comitatu, with clash of ictus and accent in the fifth foot..., adds to the “foreign” sound of the line.’220 The construal of the other as ‘foreign’, ‘feeble’, and ‘effeminate’, as both threatening and inferior, is an insidious if widespread rhetorical technique. The insults also continue the oblique affiliation of Aeneas with Dionysus: ‘Iarbas’allegation that the entourage accompanying Aeneas is male only in part (cum semiuiro comitatu) applies quite literally to Dionysus, whose thiasos in fact consists partly of men, partly of women.’221

  • 222 Ibid.

370216: Maeonia mentum mitra crinemque madentem/ subnexus: the m-alliteration, combined with the assonance crinemque madentem (one can almost feel the oil dripping), nicely conveys disgust. The Maeonian mitre or ‘Phrygian cap’ again evokes associations of an Eastern locale (Maeonia refers to Lydia, a region situated next to Phrygia) and Dionysus: it is a ‘headgear so typical of Dionysus that in Propertius, the god Vertumnus claims that donning a mitre will allow him to pass for Dionysus [Prop. 4.2.31]. ... Iarbas’ mockery of Aeneas for hair damp with perfume is paralleled in Pentheus’ ridicule of Dionysus for the same affectation.’222 Some editors prefer to read subnixus instead of subnexus, which would (literally) heighten the insult.

  • 223 Austin (1963), p. 80.

371217–218: nos munera templis/ quippe tuis ferimus: Iarbas construes an antithesis between Aeneas (ille) and himself (nos): Aeneas takes possession of what is not his (rapto), whereas Iarbas offers gifts (munera) to the supreme divinity. At the end of his prayer, he thus returns to his personal relationship with Jupiter, underscored by the alliterative attribute of templis, i.e. tuis. For quippe see Austin: ‘Like scilicet and nimirum, it is often ironical, as here; it should probably be taken closely with tuis, although its effect colours the tone of the whole sentence.’223

372218: ferimus famamque fouemus inanem: the f-alliteration, combined with homoioteleuton (-mus ... -mus), again may convey a sense of irritation. Fama’s news induces Iarbas to reduce Jupiter to the level of a rumour (fama), and one that is inanis on top. Iarbas thereby continues his Epicurean/ Lucretian deracination of divinely animated nature into atmospheric phenomena. Put differently, he is supplying the Epicurean physics to match Dido’s pseudo-Epicurean ethics. (inane is the technical term for the void through which Epicurus’ atoms move; Iarbas had already used the adjective at 210 above: inania murmura.)

Jupiter’s Wake-up Call

373Jupiter does indeed heed Iarbas’ prayer — just not in the way Iarbas intended him to. Far from engaging with the concerns voiced by his son, Jupiter decides that it is time to issue a wake-up call to our forgetful hero Aeneas, and he instructs his underling Mercury, traditionally responsible for delivering messages from the divine to the human sphere, to pay a visit to Carthage and get destiny back on track. The structure of this section is as follows:

219–222: Narrative (3 lines)
223–237: Jupiter’s speech to Mercury (15 lines)
223–226: Jupiter’s order to Mercury (4 lines)
227–231: Appraisal of Aeneas’ failure to live up to expectations (5 lines)
232–236: Expression of bafflement at said failure (5 lines)
237: Concluding order to be conveyed to Aeneas (1 line)

374There is an important Homeric model for this scene: in Odyssey 5, Zeus, after having been visited by an upset Athena pleading on behalf of her hero Odysseus, who is held captive on the island of Ogygia, against his wishes, by the nymph Calypso, addresses Hermes with the order to visit Calypso to get Odysseus’ voyage home underway (Odyssey 5.28–42):

ῥα, καὶ Ἑρμείαν, υἱὸν ϕίλον, ἀντίον ηὔδα the three main clauses then·
Ἑρμεία, σὺ γὰρ αὖτε τά τἄλλα περ ἄγγελός ἐσσι,
νύμϕῃ ἐυπλοκάμῳ εἰπεῖν νημερτέα βουλήν, 30
νόστον Ὀδυσσῆος ταλασίϕρονος, ὥς κε νέηται,
οὔτε θεῶν πομπῇ οὔτε θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων·
ἀλλ γἐπὶ σχεδίης πολυδέσμου πήματα πάσχων
ἤματί κ᾽ εἰκοστῷ Σχερίην ἐρίβωλον ἵκοιτο,
Φαιήκων ἐς γαῖαν, οἳ ἀγχίθεοι γεγάασιν, 35
οἵ κέν μιν περὶ κῆρι θεὸν ὣς τιμήσουσιν,
πέμψουσιν δἐν νηὶ ϕίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν,
χαλκόν τε χρυσόν τε ἅλις ἐσθῆτά τε δόντες,
πόλλ’, ὅσἂν οὐδέ ποτε Τροίης ἐξήρατὈδυσσεύς,
εἴ περ ἀπήμων ἦλθε, λαχὼν ἀπὸ ληίδος αἶσαν. 40
ὣς γάρ οἱ μοῖρἐστὶ ϕίλους τἰδέειν καὶ ἱκέσθαι
οἶκον ἐς ὑψόροϕον καὶ ἑὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν”.

[He spoke, and said to Hermes, his son: ‘Hermes, for you are also at other times our messenger, declare to the fair-tressed nymph our fixed resolve, the return of steadfast Odysseus, that he may return with guidance neither of gods nor of mortals, but that on a well-constructed raft, suffering woes, he may come on the twentieth day to deep-soiled Scheria, the land of the Phaeacians, who are near of kin to the gods. They shall show him honour with all their heart, as if he were a god, and shall send him in a ship to his native land, after giving him stores of bronze and gold and clothing, more than Odysseus would ever have won for himself from Troy, if he had returned unscathed with his due share of the spoil. For in this wise it is his fate to see his friends, and reach his high-roofed house and his native land.’]

375This section is also in part a re-run of the narrative sequence in Aeneid 1 that unfolds after the storm. There, too, Jupiter’s attention is drawn to what is going on in Libya (see 1.226: Libyae defixit [sc. Iuppiter] lumina regnis); Venus appears in order to remonstrate with him on behalf of her son; and Jupiter, after unscrolling the scripts of destiny for the benefit of Venus, sends down Mercury to ensure that fate takes its course (1.223–304).

376219–221: Talibus orantem dictis arasque tenentem/ audiit Omnipotens, oculosque ad moenia torsit/ regia et oblitos famae melioris amantis: some commentators take audiit (= audiuit) to mean ‘answered’; but this would seem to imply that Jupiter listened to, agreed with, and acted on the contents of Iarbas’ prayer. As it turns out, however, he only uses him as an ‘alarm bell’ that alerts him to the fact that Aeneas’ historical mission is currently on hold in Carthage. He does not seem to care a jot for Iarbas’ own grievances and desires. Hence a simple ‘heard’ might convey a better sense. Virgil’s use of the epithet Omnipotens in the narrative harks back to Iarbas’use of the term at the beginning of his prayer (206: Iuppiter omnipotens...), just as oculosque ad moenia torsit/ regia picks up aspicis haec? in 208. The reiteration of omnipotens is either affirmative (‘yes, Jupiter is indeed allpowerful’) or slightly ironic (‘he who got hailed as “All-Powerful”’) — or both. Virgil/ Jupiter appraises the walls of Troy differently from Iarbas: regia, in emphatic enjambment underscores Dido’s royal-imperial ambition (and the scope of her construction site). Jupiter first casts his gaze on the royal walls (ad moenia ... regia) and then the lovers (amantis is accusative plural: = amantes). The et thus links moenia and amantis, and both accusatives are governed by the preposition ad. The phrase famae melioris, which is dependent on oblitos, introduces an interesting twist: apparently, there is fama, in the sense of rumour, and then there is fama melior, i.e. fame. Aeneas’ fama melior is the equivalent to the fama (in the sense of ‘good reputation’) that Dido begins to disregard after the encounter in the cave (170: neque enim specie famaue mouetur).

377222: tum sic Mercurium adloquitur ac talia mandat: with Jupiter’s address to Mercury (who just happens to be around to do the supreme divinity’s bidding), compare 4.8: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem (Dido addressing her sister Anna).

378223: ‘uade age, nate, uoca Zephyros et labere pennis: four imperatives (or ‘bossy forms of the verb’), i.e. uade, age, uoca, labere (of the deponent labor) and one vocative, i.e. nate, in the opening line: Jupiter takes charge, and no mistake. uade and age are best taken together as a colloquial ‘off you go’, which gives the command a tripartite structure. zephyri are the western winds, though it is not entirely easy to correlate geography and favourable flying conditions: how do you best get to Carthage from Mt. Olympus via Mt. Atlas? Here is Henderson (per litteras) on the sound effect: ‘just say the w-w-word (ua-uo) “Zephyros” and hey presto! you’re gliding: soft sound for soft puff.’

379224–226: Dardaniumque ducem Tyria Karthagine qui nunc/ exspectat fatisque datas non respicit urbes/ adloquere: the -que after Dardanium links labere (223) and a fifth imperative, i.e. adloquere in 226, of which Dardanium ducem is the accusative object. Virgil used adloqui of Jupiter addressing Mercury in 222 (tum sic Mercurium adloquitur) and the reiteration reinforces on the lexical level the ‘chain of command’: Jupiter > Mercury > Aeneas. Jupiter fills the hyperbaton between the accusative object Dardanium ducem and the verb adloquere with a relative clause that contains his appraisal of what he considers disgraceful behaviour. Syntax reinforces sense: by pulling the specification (in the locative) Tyria Karthagine out of the relative clause into which they belong (the relative pronoun qui is in post-positive position), Virgil generates a particularly jarring juxtaposition of Dardanium ducem and Tyria Karthagine: what, so Jupiter implies, has a Trojan leader got to dally in Tyrian Carthage? Likewise, Karthagine stands in contrast to the urbes that the fata have granted to Aeneas and his descendents upon his arrival in Italy: Lavinium, Alba Longa, Rome. Dido’s city is thus poised midway between a reference to Aeneas’ past, i.e. Troy (founded by Dardanus), and a reference to Aeneas’ future. (Cities—and not Iarbas’ aggrieved feeling of justice or Dido’s sense of shame—concern Jupiter.) Another dramatic moment in these lines comes at the end of 224, which, unusually, concludes with the two monosyllables qui nunc: ‘...who now’— does what, precisely? Line break, 227: exspectat, i.e. ‘wastes his time’.

  • 224 Pease (1935), p. 241.

380226: et celeris defer mea dicta per auras: the et links adloquere and Jupiter’s sixth imperative, i.e. defer. The word order again creates an iconic enactment of the sense, with defer mea dicta ‘passing through’ celeris ... per auras. Pease notes ‘the figurative transfer of speed from the messenger to the medium through which he passes’,224 but the celeris auras may also pick up Zephyros in 223.

  • 225 Note that Virgil switches from the perfect (promisit) to the present tense (uindicat), for greater (...)

381227–231: non illum nobis genetrix pulcherrima talem/ promisit Graiumque ideo bis uindicat armis/ sed fore qui grauidam imperiis belloque frementem/ Italiam regeret, genus alto a sanguine Teucri/ proderet, ac totum sub leges mitteret orbem: the syntax is difficult: illum, together with its predicative complement talem, is the accusative object of promisit and uindicat;225 but promisit also introduces the indirect statement that begins with sed fore (= futurum esse; the subject accusative, which is also the antecedent of the generic qui-clause, i.e. eum, is implied). The non in 227 negates talem: ‘not as such a one (read: not as a slothful womanizer forgetful of his destiny) did his pretty mother promise him to me...’; the striking hyperbaton of non... talem underscores the perceived difference between Venus’ promise and current realities. Jupiter here presupposes that Aeneas’ mother Venus (= genetrix pulcherrima) at one point vouched for her son to him (= nobis). We may be dealing with an ironic reflex of the scene in Book 1.235–37, where Venus accosts Jupiter to remind him of a promise he made to her: hinc fore ductores, reuocato a sanguine Teucri,/ qui mare, qui terras omnis dicione tenerent,/ pollicitus [sc. es] (‘you promised that from Teucer’s restored blood-line should come leaders, who hold the sea and all lands under their rule...’). The parallels in terms of syntax, lexicon, and theme are striking:

1.235: hinc fore ductores... qui ~ 4.229: sed fore, qui
1.235: reuocato a sanguine Teucri ~ 4.230: genus alto a sanguine Teucri
1.236: qui mare, qui terras omnis ~ 4.231: totum... orbem
1.236: dicione tenerent ~ 4.231: sub leges mitteret
1.237: pollicitus ~ 4.228: promisit

382The joke is multilayered: in Book 1, Venus quotes Jupiter back at himself. Here Jupiter recalls Venus recalling what he himself had promised at an earlier occasion and turns things around in such a way that his original promise to her, of which she reminded him in Book 1, now sounds like her promise to him.

383228: Graiumque ideo bis uindicat armis: Jupiter refers to the rescue operations Venus performed on the battlefield of Troy (Iliad 5.311–18) and during the sack of the city (see Aeneid 2.620, 665). Graium (= Graiorum) is Virgil’s preferred form of the genitive plural.

384229–231: sed fore qui grauidam imperiis belloque frementem/ Italiam regeret, genus alto a sanguine Teucri/ proderet, ac totum sub leges mitteret orbem: Jupiter anticipates Aeneas’future in Italy (as well as Italy’s future) in a tricolon: ... regeret, ...proderet (= propagaret), ...mitteret. Italy, placed in enjambment (Italiam), comes with a massive predicative complement, designed chiastically: (a) grauidam (b) imperiis (b) bello (a) frementem. It is unclear to what moment in time Jupiter’s striking image of an Italy ‘pregnant’ with military commands (imperia) and ‘buzzing’ with war refers: to the time of Aeneas’ arrival in Italy or to Italy as the future centre of a world-empire (or both)? Jupiter, of course, condenses several centuries of Roman history in the figure of Aeneas.

385230–231: genus alto a sanguine Teucri/ proderet: Jupiter again employs the idiom of blood-descent and racial founding, which (as here) has the tendency to blur the distinction between the gens of Aeneas and the gens Romana: the genus is both specifically the gens Iulia and more generally the people of Rome. As we already had occasion to note, the first time Virgil introduces the theme of ‘Trojan blood-descent’ focused in the figure of Aeneas is in the proem. See 1.19–20: progeniem sed enim Troiano a sanguine duci/ audierat [sc. Juno]. Jupiter thus casts his accusatory assessment in the idiom of the proem (progenies and genus are virtual synonyms), suggesting an affinity between the author and the supreme divinity of the Olympic pantheon.

386231: totum sub leges mitteret orbem: Jupiter here prefigures the ‘Roman mission statement’ that Anchises will pass on to his son in Aeneid 6.847–53, esp. 851–53:

tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

[you, Roman, be mindful to rule the peoples with the power to command (these shall be your arts), to impose traditional order upon peace, to spare the vanquished, and to war down the proud.]

387The image combines imperial conquest on a cosmic scale (totum ... orbem is a hyperbole) with the imposition of legal order (sub leges): Roman civilization and its worldwide spread are, seemingly paradoxically, grounded in superior violence and a commitment to law. Readers of the Aeneid debate furiously whether the Aeneid has Aeneas fail to live up to the mission statement at the death (of beaten and pleading) Turnus that concludes the poem.

388232: si nulla accendit tantarum gloria rerum/ nec super ipse sua molitur laude laborem,/ Ascanione pater Romanas inuidet arces?: in the two parts of the si-clause, Aeneas is the understood accusative object of accendit (sc. eum) and the emphatic subject (cf. ipse) of molitur. This sequence, in which Aeneas first figures as an absent presence and then comes fully into focus, serves as foil for the main clause where Jupiter remonstrates that at least Aeneas’ role as father ought to get him going: he insidiously implies that Aeneas dallies with Dido since he begrudges his son his stellar future. gloria and laus represent the core desire of Rome’s ruling elite: immortality through fame, involving the public recognition of praiseworthy deeds on behalf of the community. These ambitions sustained and defined the political culture of the Roman republic and continued to play a decisive role in imperial times even though the presence of a princeps put a glass ceiling on what heights of gloria (in particular) other members of the ruling elite could reach. Jupiter refers to the glory that will accrue to Aeneas if he pursues his destiny. tantae res refers to both his epic quest in the Aeneid and its aftermath, the history of Rome. He again uses the language of the (extended) proem: labor is a leitmotif since 1.10–11 (... tot adire labores/ impulerit) and molitur, together with tantarum and Romanas, echoes the final line (1.33): tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem. But Jupiter observes that Aeneas’ current conduct suggests that he could not care less for core Roman values, that he has morphed, at least temporarily, from a proto-Roman into an anti-Roman character. (Though Aeneas is by no means averse to labor: see 235 below; he just misapplies his efforts.)

  • 226 Pease (1935), p. 243.

389233: super ipse sua molitur laude laborem: the preposition super governs the ablative phrase sua laude. Pease notes that ‘super ... sua ... laude is interlocked with ipse ... molitur ... laborem’,226 which, among other things, generates the thematically effective juxtapositions of ipse and sua and of laude and laborem. (The alliterated laude laborem almost verges on a specious figura etymologica: labor tends to entail laus.)

390234: Ascanione pater Romanas inuidet arces?: the particle-ne attached to Ascanio signals the question. Again Jupiter interlocks syntactic units: pater ... inuidet is situated between Ascanione ... Romanas ... arces. This spacing is iconic especially since other stylistic devices suggest that ‘Ascanius’, ‘Roman’, and ‘citadels’ form a unity: Romanas modifies arces and Ascanione and arces are linked by alliteration and assonance; but the supposed envy (inuidet) of father (pater) Aeneas breaks this unity apart. Jupiter’s insinuation is spiteful not least since Aeneas elsewhere takes loving care of his offspring.

391235: quid struit?: after Iarbas’ prayer, in which he expresses outrage at the supposedly Epicurean leisure that Dido and Aeneas indulge in, this question comes as a bit of a surprise. Clearly, what Jupiter sees (220–21: oculosque ad moenia torsit/ regia...) does not correspond in every respect to what Fama reports (and Iarbas mindlessly reiterates). Apparently, Aeneas, far from being idle, is hard at work in building up Carthage! Later on we learn that Jupiter’s gaze captures the truth better than Fama’s gossip: see below, 259–71.

392235: aut qua spe inimica in gente moratur: there is a hiatus (absence of elision) between spe and inimica. The description of the Carthaginians as a gens inimica recalls the fact that earlier on Jupiter had dispatched Mercury to suppress their warlike spirit (1.302–303: et iam iussa facit [sc. Mercury], ponuntque ferocia Poeni/ corda uolente deo; ‘Instantly, he carries out the order, and at the will of the god, the Carthaginians soothe their savage hearts’) and also foreshadows the inveterate enmity between Carthage and Rome in historical times.

393236: nec prolem Ausoniam et Lauinia respicit arua?: Jupiter continues to use charged language, not least from the proem, foregrounding Aeneas’ final destination by means of the chiasmus (a) prolem (b) Ausoniam (b) Lauinia (a) arua: references to Ausonia, a poetic name for Italy, recur throughout the prophetic utterances in Aeneid 3; and Lauinia... arua recalls the very beginning of the Aeneid, i.e. 1.2–3: Lauiniaque uenit/ litora. The geographical specification ‘Lavinian’ refers to the town of Lavinium, which Aeneas is destined to found and name after his Italian wife Lavinia. Jupiter’s discourse thus spans the entire epic (and beyond), looking backwards to the prophetic proem and forward to events in Italy that are recounted in the second half of the epic, as well as ‘Aeneid 13’.

  • 227 See the bilingual edition (Latin text/ English translation) by Michael C. J. Putnam for the I Tatti (...)

394[Extra information: as you know, the poem comes to an abrupt end with Aeneas’killing of Turnus, at 12.952. It does not include the narrative material that would go into a ‘happy end’, such as Aeneas’marriage to Lavinia and his founding of Lavinium. Dissatisfied with this (lack of) closure, a Renaissance scholar, Maffeo Vegio (1407–1458), added a further book to the epic, a sequel known as Aeneid 13, which contains all the good stuff that happened after the final showdown between Turnus and Aeneas.227]

  • 228 Pease (1935), p. 246.

395237: nauiget!: a subjunctive of command: ‘let him set sail!’: ‘the chief point in Jupiter’s command, emphasized by its position in the line, yet entirely omitted by Mercury in 4, 265–276.’228

396237: haec summa est, hic nostri nuntius esto: esto is third person singular imperative of sum; nostri is the genitive of nos (Jupiter uses the so-called ‘majestic plural’): ‘let this be the message from Us’. He here sums up and crosses his ‘ts’: see the assonance in nostri nuntius esto.

238–258: Mercury Descending

397Mercury’s departure is closely modelled on those of his Homeric counterpart Hermes at Iliad 24.339-48 and Odyssey 5.43-54. This allusive engagement has attracted critical comment since antiquity: see Macrobius, Saturnalia 5.6.11-12. In the Iliad, Zeus sends Hermes to make sure that Priam will arrive safely at the tent of Achilles to ransom the body of his son Hector (Iliad 24.339–48):

Ὣς ἔϕατ’, οὐδἀπίθησε διάκτορος Ἀργειϕόντης.
αὐτίκἔπειθὑπὸ ποσσὶν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα 340
ἀμβρόσια χρύσεια, τά μιν ϕέρον ἠμὲν ἐϕὑγρὴν
ἠδἐπἀπείρονα γαῖαν ἅμα πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο·
εἵλετο δὲ ῥάβδον, τῇ τἀνδρῶν ὄμματα θέλγει
ὧν ἐθέλει, τοὺς δαὖτε καὶ ὑπνώοντας ἐγείρει·
τὴν μετὰ χερσὶν ἔχων πέτετο κρατὺς Ἀργειϕόντης. 345
αἶψα δἄρα Τροίην τε καὶ Ἑλλήσποντον ἵκανε.

[So he spoke, and the messenger, the slayer of Argus, did not disobey. Straightway he bound beneath his feet his beautiful sandals, immortal, golden, which were wont to bear him over the waters of the sea and over the boundless earth together with the blasts of the wind. And he took the wand wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he wishes, while others again he awakens out of slumber. With this in his hand the strong slayer of Argus flew, and quickly came to Troy and the Hellespont.]

398The first time we meet Odysseus in the Odyssey, he lives the life of a castaway on the island of Ogygia, the dwelling place of the nymph Calypso, who is madly in love with the hero and wishes to make him her husband (a proposition that includes the offer of immortality). However, Odysseus, far from jumping at this opportunity, just wants to go home. Sure, he sleeps with the nymph; but for the rest of the time, he just sits forlorn on the shore, gazing out upon the waves, and weeps. Zeus sends down Hermes to let Calypso know that she has to let Odysseus go (Odyssey 5.43–54; the speech that precedes the following passage is cited above, on Aeneid 4.219–37):

ὣς ἔϕατ’, οὐδἀπίθησε διάκτορος Ἀργεϊϕόντης.
αὐτίκἔπειθὑπὸ ποσσὶν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα,
ἀμβρόσια χρύσεια, τά μιν ϕέρον ἠμὲν ἐϕὑγρὴν 45
ἠδἐπἀπείρονα γαῖαν ἅμα πνοιῇσἀνέμοιο.
εἵλετο δὲ ῥάβδον, τῇ τἀνδρῶν ὄμματα θέλγει,
ὧν ἐθέλει, τοὺς δαὖτε καὶ ὑπνώοντας ἐγείρει ·
τὴν μετὰ χερσὶν ἔχων πέτετο κρατὺς Ἀργεϊϕόντης.
Πιερίην δἐπιβὰς ἐξ αἰθέρος ἔμπεσε πόντῳ · 50
σεύατἔπειτἐπὶ κῦμα λάρῳ ὄρνιθι ἐοικώς,
ὅς τε κατὰ δεινοὺς κόλπους ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο
ἰχθῦς ἀγρώσσων πυκινὰ πτερὰ δεύεται ἅλμῃ ·
τῷ ἴκελος πολέεσσιν ὀχήσατο κύμασιν Ἑρμῆς.

[So he spoke, and the messenger, the slayer of Argus, did not disobey. Straightway he bound beneath his feet his beautiful sandals, immortal, golden, which were wont to bear him over the waters of the sea and over the boundless earth together with the breeze of the wind. And he took the wand wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he wishes, while others again he awakens out of slumber. With this in hand the strong slayer of Argus flew. On to Pieria he stepped from the upper air, and swooped down upon the sea, and then sped over the wave like a bird, the cormorant, which in quest of fish over the dread gulfs of the unresting sea wets its thick plumage in the brine. In such fashion did Hermes ride over the multitudinous waves.]

399The final passage that ought to be compared with Mercury’s departure is Aen. 1.297-304, which describes his first mission:

Haec ait, et Maia genitum demittit ab alto,
ut terrae, utque nouae pateant Karthaginis arces
hospitio Teucris, ne fati nescia Dido
finibus arceret: uolat ille per aëra magnum 300
remigio alarum, ac Libyae citus adstitit oris.
Et iam iussa facit, ponuntque ferocia Poeni
corda uolente deo; in primis regina quietum
accipit in Teucros animum mentemque benignam.

[This he says and sends the son of Maia down from the sky that the lands and towers of newly-built Carthage may open in welcome to the Teucrians and Dido, ignorant of fate, may not keep them away from her realm. He flies through the wide air on the oarage of his wings and quickly stands on the shores of Libya. At once he carries out the orders and, with the god willing it, the Punic people lay aside their savage hearts; above all the queen receives a gentle soul and friendly mind towards the Teucrians.]

400Several features are worth noting. To begin with, in Aeneid 1 Virgil covers the plot elements very briskly: we neither get Jupiter’s order to Mercury in direct speech nor Mercury’s preparation for departure. Details of the voyage are likewise skipped over, and the god carries out his orders unseen: unlike Aeneas, Dido does not become the beneficiary of a theophany as Mercury simply ensures that the disposition of the Carthaginians (and especially their queen) corresponds to Jupiter’s will, without the recipients of divine attention being any the wiser that a god has manipulated their outlook.

  • 229 Hardie (2009), p. 75.
  • 230 Ibid., p. 78.

401[Extra information: As Hardie points out, Mercury is ‘Fama’s good double’.229 He elaborates: ‘Fama and Mercury are related as two divinities of the word: both fly freely through the air on the horizontal and vertical axes, both easily span the gap between heaven and earth, and reach still further into the underworld (Mercury as psychopomp, Fama through her chthonic origin). There is a strong polarization between Fama as a divinity of the perverted word, and Mercury as the embodiment of the rational logos of Jupiter, but this is a dichotomy that is not in the end maintained. Mercury’s final message to Aeneas is a defamation of Dido as tendentious as Fama’s initial report of her and Aeneas’ behaviour, 4.569–70 uarium et mutabile semper | femina “woman is always an unstable and changeable thing”.’230]

402238: Dixerat: the Latin equivalent, also metrically, of the Homeric ὣς ἔϕατ’ (‘thus he spoke’).

403238–239: ille patris magni parere parabat/ imperio: the hyperbaton of the possessive genitive patris magni and the noun on which it depends, i.e. imperio (in enjambment no less), emphasizes the weight an order by Jupiter carries. (Though, as we shall see, it is not that Mercury jumps into action.) patris is both specific (Jupiter sired Mercury with Maia) and generic (he is called father of gods and humans). The insistent p-alliteration, which frequently conveys a sense of movement, here also contains a hint of retardation: by far the most prominently placed item in the sequence patris, parere, parabat, which continues with primum and pedibus in 239, is the one in the middle, i.e. parabat. (Note also the assonance in imperio, which integrates this key term into the sequence of words connected via alliteration.) parere parabat is a witty paronomasia, combining paro, parere ~ to obey with paro, parare ~ to prepare, get ready. Teenagers faced with a parental request are particularly well placed to appreciate the joke in parabat. The tense (imperfect) adds to the humour: is it durative (meaning that Mercury is taking his time to get ready)? Or is it iterative (after Iliad 24, Odyssey 5, and Aeneid 1, this is already the fourth time he is heading off on such a mission in high literature)? Or is it both (faced with yet another such request, who could blame Mercury for dragging his feet a bit)? Comparison with the Homeric models reinforces the sense that the Virgilian divinity dallies just a little: οὐδἀπίθησε διάκτορος Ἀργειϕόντης./ αὐτίκ.’... (‘the messenger, the slayer of Argos, did not disobey. Straightaway...’). In contrast, Mercury here proceeds very deliberately. In both Homer and Virgil, we get a detailed appreciation of Mercury’s special attributes, especially his winged shoes and his magic wand, and his functions. He is a god who operates at interfaces, acting as messenger between mortals and immortals and negotiating the boundary between life and death, the upper and the underworld, and, relatedly, being awake and being asleep.

404239–241: et primum pedibus talaria nectit/ aurea, quae sublimem alis siue aequora supra/ seu terram rapido pariter cum flamine portant: these lines are very closely modelled on Homer, Odyssey 5.44–46, which makes the departures and additions particularly marked (strike-through indicates words left out by Virgil):

405(1) pedibus talaria nectit/ aurea ~ ὑπὸ ποσσὶν ἐδήσατο καλὰ πέδιλα,/ ἀμβρόσια χρύσεια:

pedibus (‘on his feet’): ὑπὸ ποσσὶν
talaria (‘the winged sandals’): πέδιλα
nectit (‘he binds’): ἐδήσατο
aurea (‘golden’, modifying the sandals): χρύσεια

406The translation is almost verbatim, with some minor tweaks: Virgil inverts the order of verb (nectit/ ἐδήσατο) and accusative object (talaria/ πέδιλα) and economizes on the number of attributes of Hermes’/ Mercury’s sandals, only taking over one out of three: he retains ‘golden’(aurea/ χρύσεια), placed in enjambment, but does without an equivalent for καλὰ (‘beautiful’) and ἀμβρόσια (‘divinely excellent’).

407(2) quae sublimem alis siue aequora supra/ seu terram rapido pariter cum
flamine portant
~ τά μιν ϕέρον ἠμὲν ἐϕὑγρὴν/ ἠδἐπἀπείρονα
γαῖαν ἅμα πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο ·(‘which were wont to bear him both
over the sea and over the boundless earth together with the breeze
of the wind’):

quae (‘which’): τά.
sublimem alis (‘him high on wings’): μιν [= him]
siue...seu... (‘either... or...’): ἠμὲν... ἠδ’... (‘both... and...’)
aequora supra (‘over the sea’): ἐϕὑγρὴν
terram (‘earth’): ἐπἀπείρονα γαῖαν
rapido... cum flamine (‘with the swift breeze’): ἅμα πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο
(‘with the breeze of the wind’)
pariter (‘as’): no equivalent
portant (‘bear’): ϕέρον

  • 231 See Hardie (2009), pp. 78–79 on the ‘sublimity of Mercury’s flight’: ‘As often in the Augustan poet (...)

408Virgil here follows Homer in minute detail, to the point of imitating the variation in the correlating particles: siue ~ seu: ἠμὲν ~ ἠδ.’ But as with the sandals, he suppresses a Homeric epithet: his Mercury flies over the earth (terram) plain and simple, whereas Homer’s earth (gaian) is ἀπείρονα (‘boundless’). Conversely, he adds two components: in place of the plain Homeric μιν (‘him’, i.e. Hermes), Virgil uses the predicative attribute sublimem, which he further qualifies and explains via an ablative of means: alis (‘on his wings’). There is, then, an added emphasis on Mercury’s skyhigh altitude in Virgil: the god is soaring in an awe-inspiring, ‘sublime’ sort of way.231 Likewise, Virgil adds the adjective rapido as an attribute to flamine and changes the construction slightly by means of pariter: in Homer, Hermes flies ‘with the breeze of the wind’ (ἅμα πνοιῇς ἀνέμοιο), which could be taken to mean that it is the breeze that carries him and his winged-sandals only keep him in the air, rather than providing significant forward-motion. Virgil eliminates this ambiguity: in his epic, Mercury’s flying equipment operates at a speed equal to (pariter) a powerful (cf. rapido) gust of wind (flamine). Overall, then, we here have the Olympic motto citius, altius, fortius (‘faster, higher, stronger’) applied to the realm of intertextual poetics: Roman-Virgilian Mercury surpasses his Greek-Homeric counterpart Hermes in speed, height, and flying ability: imitatio et aemulatio, the two principles by which authors situate their works vis-à-vis their predecessors, at their finest!

409242–244: tum uirgam capit: hac animas ille euocat Orco/ pallentis, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit,/ dat somnos adimitque, et lumina morte resignat: the three lines of Virgil rework two formulaic lines from Homer (see Iliad 24.344–345; Odyssey 5.47–48; Odyssey 24.1–5):

εἵλετο δὲ ῥάβδον, τῇ τἀνδρῶν ὄμματα θέλγει,
ὧν ἐθέλει, τοὺς δαὖτε καὶ ὑπνώοντας ἐγείρει·

[And he took the wand wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he
wishes, while others again he awakens out of slumber.]

410Again, the parallels are striking — as are the differences:

tum uirgam capit (‘Then he takes his wand’): εἵλετο δὲ ῥάβδον (‘And he took the wand’)
hac (‘with this’): τῇ (‘wherewith’)
animas ille euocat Orco/ pallentis (‘he calls pale ghosts from Orcus’): no Homeric equivalent
alias sub Tartara tristia mittit (‘and sends others down to gloomy Tartarus’): no Homeric equivalent dat somnos adimitque (‘gives and takes away sleep’): ἀνδρῶν ὄμματα θέλγει,/ ὧν ἐθέλει, τοὺς δαὖτε καὶ ὑπνώοντας ἐγείρει (‘he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he wishes, while others again he awakens out of slumber’)
et lumina morte resignat (‘and unseals the eyes in/ from death’): no Homeric equivalent.

  • 232 Again, Virgil’s departure from Homer, which enables him to associate Mercury with the pits of Hell (...)
  • 233 Pease (1935), p. 249.
  • 234 O’Hara (2011), p. 47.

411Following Homer, Virgil opts for a parenthetical elaboration of Mercury’s wand (uirgam/ ῥάβδον). But he alters his model in two ways: he streamlines presentation of the one area of Hermes’ responsibility that Homer foregrounds, i.e. the two states of consciousness ‘asleep’ and ‘awake’; and he adds an elaborate description of a second function associated with his wand, i.e. patrolling the crossings between the living and the dead.232 Hermes in his role as psychopompos, i.e. as guide (-pompos) for souls (psycho-) of the dead, is a frequent presence in Greek literature, in particular Greek tragedy and Orphic writing, but also in Homer. At Odyssey 24.1–5 Hermes acts in his role as guide to the Underworld for the shades of the recently murdered suitors. Yet whereas the Homeric Hermes summons the souls of the suitors to lead them down into the Underworld, Virgil’s Mercury also calls souls up from out of the Underworld. This part is truly difficult to comprehend. To begin with, the emphasis Virgil places on Mercury as a god who calls shades up from out of the Underworld (Orco is an ablative of separation) baffles: there tends to be rather little traffic in this direction. So what does Virgil refer to? Are those the shades of the deceased that visit the living during dreams or visions? Are we dealing with a reference to necromancy, as Pease supposes?233 Or is Virgil thinking of reincarnation along Orphic-Pythagorean lines? (This doctrine, of course, plays an important role in Aeneid 6, where Aeneas encounters the souls of great Romans about to re-enter life on earth.) And secondly, it is unclear what the phrase et lumina morte resignat means. There are three options: (i) ‘and he unseals eyes in death’; this would imply a reference to the Roman custom of opening the eyes of the dead on the funeral pyre: see Pliny, Natural History 11.150. (ii) Conversely, Servius believes that resignat here has the same meaning as claudit, i.e. that it refers to the custom of closing the eye-lids of the deceased. (iii) ‘and he unseals eyes from death,’taking morte as an ablative of separation. As O’Hara notes, ‘the rendering “unseals from death” would return to the idea of 242 animas ille euocat Orco, or refer mysteriously to some aspect of existence in the underworld.’234 Recent translators and commentators show a marked preference for (i), but I think (iii) deserves serious consideration, not in least in the light of Aeneid 6.748–51 (the end of Anchises’ account of reincarnation):

has omnis [sc. animas], ubi mille rotam uoluere per annos,
Lethaeum ad fluuium deus
euocat agmine magno,
scilicet immemores supera ut conuexa
reuisant 750
rursus, et incipiant in corpora uelle reuerti.

[All these souls, when they have rolled the wheel of time through a thousand
years, the god summons to the river Lethe in a vast throng, so that, without
recall, they may revisit the vault above again, and conceive of the wish to
return into bodies.]

412242–243: animas ... pallentis: cf. 4.25–26: ad umbras/ pallentis umbras Erebo, where pallentis figures in the same metrical position and thematic context as here.

413243: alias sub Tartara tristia mittit: the design suggests the unconditional speed with which Mercury dispatches the dead into Tartarus: note the dactylic Tartara tristia mittit, reinforced by alliteration and assonance (tar-,-tar-, tris-, tia, mit-,-tit). The fact that the last three words only contain the vowels a and i enhances the effect. One may usefully compare the demythologizing account of death (and the subsequent dismissal of any descent into the Underworld) in Lucretius, De Rerum Natura. See especially 3.966: nec quisquam in barathrum nec Tartara deditur atra (‘no one ever falls into the deep pit or black Tartarus’) and 1012: Tartarus horriferos eructans faucibus aestus (‘Tartarus belching horrible flames from its throat’), where ‘hell (its monsters) is (just) a horrible belching noise’ (Henderson, per litteras).

414245–246: illa fretus agit uentos et turbida tranat/ nubila: illa, which is in the ablative dependent on fretus, is still the wand (virgam, 242). With agit uentos Virgil reinforces the point that his Mercury does not drift in the winds — he drives them. The design of turbida tranat/ nubila, enacts the idea of Mercury passing, or, literally, swimming, through the clouds.

415246–251: iamque uolans apicem et latera ardua cernit/ Atlantis duri caelum qui uertice fulcit,/ Atlantis, cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris/ piniferum caput et uento pulsatur et imbri,/ nix umeros infusa tegit, tum flumina mento/ praecipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba: the main verb of the sentence is cernit (with Mercury as subject). There are two accusative objects: apicem et latera ardua; they come with a possessive genitive, i.e. Atlantis duri (247), reiterated without attribute in the following line: Atlantis. Each of the genitives serves as the antecedent of a relative clause (with the relative pronoun in postpositive position): caelum qui uertice fulcit; cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris etc. The first is straightforward. The second causes the same sort of problem as the relative clause Virgil uses to describe Fama at 181–183 (also introduced by cui): the construction seems to change after imbri: what follows could be taken as a tricolon of main clauses in anakoluthon. (This parallel in extraordinary syntax is not a coincidence: it further helps to correlate Fama and Atlas as two complementary monsters.) Virgil at any rate only loosely connects the different elements of the enumeration:

  1. caput pulsatur

  2. nix tegit

  3. flumina praecipitant (linked to the preceding by tum)

  4. riget barba (linked to the preceding by et; the sequence ‘verb — subject’ inverts the order in the previous three clauses)

  • 235 Austin (1963), p. 87.
  • 236 Hardie (1986), p. 278.

416Overall, Virgil has created an anthropomorphic landscape that plays on correspondences between Atlas the man, and Atlas the mountain. While Atlas certainly is a geological formation to begin with, it is possible to identify humanoid parts, which come gradually into focus, without Atlas ever ceasing to be also a mountain: vertex, caput, umeri, mentum, and barba. Virgil also calls Atlas a senex. Austin notes the progressive personification: ‘from using vertex and caput, which suit the mountain as well as the human figure, Virgil passes to purely human features in umeros, mento, barba, while the mountain has become a senex.’235 For the wider significance of Atlas in the set passage see Hardie:236

Mercury’s descent is interrupted by the striking picture of the man mountain Atlas. This apparent digression may also be integrated into the wider context. Atlas is the measure of the vertical distance between heaven and earth that Mercury has to cover; he occupies the space which Fama threatened to infect. He, like Fama, is a giant, and, like Fama, he has his head in the clouds, but, unlike Fama, he reaches beyond the clouds to touch and support the heavens themselves. Atlas is a giant who has been immobilized and rendered safe; from hubristic sky-reacher he has been transformed into a stable prop of the established order, a guarantee of cosmic cohesion. ... The descent of Mercury thus represents a reversal of the ascent of Fama, the reimposition of Olympian order in a space which has been threatened by an evil chthonic power.

417247–248: Atlantis duri–Atlantis: a gemination as with Fama at 173–174: Extemplo Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes,/ Fama, malum qua non aliud uelocius ullum. Atlas, one of the first of the Titans (see e.g. Hesiod, Theogony 507–511), just as Fama was the last (179: extremam) of the Giants, belonged to the generation of primordial, and often monstrous, divinities that preceded the Olympian order. After the so-called Titanomachy (the battle between Titans and Olympians), Atlas was forced as punishment to support the vaults of heaven on his shoulders, stationed in Northwestern Africa. In certain versions, he was said to have been petrified into the mountain range, which Virgil here (re-)personifies. Titanic and Olympian lineages of course intersected in complex ways, and Aeneas himself happens to be a distant descendant of Atlas — as we learn in Book 8, where Aeneas draws on this ancestral connection to plead kinship bonds with Euander, a settler on the future site of Rome, to whom he appeals for help (8.134–41):

Dardanus, Iliacae primus pater urbis et auctor,
Electra, ut Grai perhibent,
Atlantide cretus, 135
aduehitur Teucros; Electram maximus
edidit, aetherios umero qui sustinet orbis.
uobis Mercurius pater est, quem candida Maia
Cyllenae gelido conceptum uertice fudit;
at Maiam, auditis si quicquam credimus,
Atlas, 140
Atlas generat caeli qui sidera tollit.

[Dardanus, the first father and founder of the city of Ilium, born (as Greeks recount) of Electra, daughter of Atlas, came to the Teucrians. The mightiest Atlas who sustains the heavenly spheres on his shoulder, sired Electra. Your ancestor is Mercury, whom fair Maia once conceived and gave birth to on the icy peak of Mt. Cyllene. But Maia, if we believe at all in what we have heard, Atlas brought forth, the same Atlas, who holds up the stars of heaven.]

418247: caelum qui uertice fulcit: caelum belongs into the relative clause introduced by qui: it is the accusative object of fulcit.

419248–249: cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris/ piniferum caput et uento pulsatur et imbri: the relative pronoun cui is in the dative of reference (‘for whom’); the subject of the relative clause is caput, which is modified by the participle cinctum and by the adjective piniferum. nubibus atris is an ablative of agency with cinctum (as often in poetry without the preposition a/ ab); et uento et imbri are also ablatives of agency (again without preposition) with pulsatur. adsidue is an adverb (with cinctum), meaning ‘constantly’.

420250–251: flumina mento/ praecipitant senis: Virgil seems to be referring to glaciers, i.e. ‘frozen rivers’ that hang down from Atlas’ chin: senis is genitive singular of senex, dependent on mento.

421252–253: hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis/ constitit: a nice image: Mercury first poises himself on his wings paribus nitens ... alis, before touching down, if only for a moment (or a metrical foot: after the diaeresis after constitit he is instantly on his way again).

422252: Cyllenius: the e scans long since it represents an ‘êta’ in Greek (which is naturally long): see e. g. Odyssey 24.1: Ἑρμῆς ... Κυλλήνιος. Again below 258: Cyllenia proles. The name derives from his place of birth, i.e. on top of Mt. Cyllene in Arcadia. In the Aeneid, Virgil uses it only in this passage here, though three times (see also 258 and 276), in what is a learned (‘Alexandrian’) joke, as Aeneid 8.138–141 (cited above) makes clear: Maia, daughter of Atlas, who got turned into an icy mountain, gave birth to her son on an icy mountain, and Mercury in Aeneid 4 pays a brief visit to his grandfather, with a brief touch-down on top of him. Grandfather and grandson thereby enact a nice contrast between (Olympian) mobility and (Titanic) fixity. For those not up on their mythological geography, Virgil kindly offers a pointer in 258: materno ueniens ab auo Cyllenia proles.

423253–255: hinc toto praeceps se corpore ad undas/ misit aui similis, quae circum litora, circum/ piscosos scopulos humilis uolat aequora iuxta: The lines rework Odyssey 5.50–53:

Πιερίην δἐπιβὰς ἐξ αἰθέρος ἔμπεσε πόντῳ·
σεύατἔπειτἐπὶ κῦμα λάρῳ ὄρνιθι ἐοικώς,
ὅς τε κατὰ δεινοὺς κόλπους ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο
ἰχθῦς ἀγρώσσων πυκινὰ πτερὰ δεύεται ἅλμῃ·
τῷ ἴκελος πολέεσσιν ὀχήσατο κύμασιν Ἑρμῆς.

[On to Pieria he stepped from the upper air, and swooped down upon the sea, and then sped over the wave like a bird, the cormorant, which hunting fish over the dread gulfs of the unresting sea wets its thick plumage in the brine. In such wise did Hermes ride upon the multitudinous waves.]

hinc (‘hence [sc. from Atlas]’): Πιερίην δἐπιβὰς (‘stepping on Pieria’)
toto... corpore (‘with his whole body’): no equivalent
praeceps (‘sheer down’): no equivalent
se... misit (‘he sent himself’): ἔμπεσε (‘he swooped down’)
ad undas (‘to the waves’): πόντῳ (‘upon the sea’) and σεύατἔπειτἐπὶ
κῦμα (‘he then sped over the wave’)
aui similis (‘like a bird’): λάρῳ ὄρνιθι ἐοικώς (‘like a bird, the cormorant’)
quae (‘which’): ὅς (‘which’)
circum litora, circum piscosos scopulos (‘round the shores, round the
fish-haunted cliffs’):
τε κατὰ δεινοὺς κόλπους ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο ἰχθῦς
ἀγρώσσων (‘hunting fish over the dread gulfs of the unresting sea’)
humilis uolat aequora iuxta (‘flies low near the water’): πυκινὰ πτερὰ
δεύεται ἅλμῃ (‘wets its thick plumage in the brine’)
haud aliter (‘even thus’): τῷ ἴκελος (‘in such wise’)

424Which image is the more successful? Homer gives the kind of bird; the reference to hunting fish introduces purpose into its flight; and the wetting of the wings with brine adds a bracing note of excitement. In contrast, Virgil’s unidentified fowl seems to circulate pretty aimlessly, and one does not quite understand why it is skirting the waves, though the attribute of the cliffs, i.e. piscosos, at least hints at hunting: these are good grounds for fishing. For etymological reasons, humilis (from humus) strikes an odd note with aequora iuxta, even though it correlates well and antithetically with sublimem in 240. Where Virgil arguably has the edge is the bold image of Hermes plunging himself headlong down towards the sea praeceps se... misit, though ἔμπεσε πόντῳ (‘... he swooped down upon the sea’) is full of drama as well. In terms of ornamentation, Virgil’s lines for once are pretty flat: there is the repetition of circum, conveying a sense of the ceaseless circling, but overall that isn’t a patch on Homer’s deft handling of alliteration — see in particular κατὰ δεινοὺς κόλπους λὸς τρυγέτοιο (‘over the dread gulfs of the unresting sea,’ where the depth of the sea is further emphasized by the rhyhm δεινοὺς κόλπους) and πυκινὰ πτερὰ (‘thick plumage’) — as well as the beautiful chiastic design that concludes the simile: (a) τῷ [‘to it’] ἴκελος [‘equal,’ modifying Hermes] (b) πολέεσσιν [‘many,’ modifying waves] (c) ὀχήσατο [‘went over,’ the verb taking Hermes as subject] (b) κύμασιν [‘the waves’] (a) Ἑρμῆς [‘Hermes’].

425256: terras inter caelumque: inter again does its meaning proud, sitting snugly between the two nouns it governs.

426257: litus harenosum ad Libyae: the preposition ad, which governs the accusative phrase litus harenosum, is in striking postpositive position, perhaps enacting the helter-skelter speed with which Mercury arrives at his destination.

427258: materno ueniens ab auo Cyllenia proles: Virgil, like Homer, concludes his description with the god in the nominative, but he uses a learned paraphrase. Cyllenia proles, i.e. Mercury, corresponds to Ἑρμῆς (‘Hermes’) at Odyssey 5.53, also at line-end. As pointed out above, the materno... auo is Atlas, the father of Maia, mother of Mercury. For Cyllenia, see above 252: Cyllenius.

  • 237 See Knauer (1964) (in German) and (1965) (in English). His studies mark a watershed in our apprecia (...)

428[Extra information: It is neat and tidy to think of Aeneid 1–6 as ‘Virgil’s Odyssey’ and of Aeneid 7–12 as ‘Virgil’s Iliad’, developing, in chiastic sequence, the two opening words of the poem: arma = war = Iliad; uirum = the man and his travels = Odyssey. But as Knauer has shown, matters are much more complex: the Aeneid sustains a parallel with the Odyssey all the way through.237 It is easy to forget, in the excitement over Odysseus’ travel adventures, which are narrated in Books 9–13, that the poem ends in mass-slaughter on Ithaca and the outbreak of civil strife: in the last scene of the poem Athena borrows the thunderbolt of Zeus to break up civil war between the families of the murdered suitors and Odysseus and his family. Put differently, at the end the Odyssey stages an Iliad at home, turning external warfare into civil conflict — a constellation of particular relevance to Virgil and his readers. The simultaneous presence of Iliad and Odyssey in the second half of the Aeneid underscores the ambiguous status of Aeneas, as both a foreign arrival in Italy and a proto-Roman returnee.]

259–278: Back To The Future

429Mercury touches down in Carthage to pass on Jupiter’s orders and get (Aeneas’) destiny back on track. The Homeric model is Hermes’ appearance to Calypso in Odyssey 5, telling the nymph that she has to let the hero go. There is, then, a shift from the clinging host in Homer to the lingering guest in Virgil. (One could have imagined a divine messenger appearing to Dido: but she is cut off from communication with Olympian divinities and later on also doubts that Aeneas has been the beneficiary of a genuine theophany: see 4.379–80.) Mercury displays notable independence in his address to Aeneas: far from repeating Jupiter’s discourse virtually word for word (as some characters in Homer are wont to do who act as messengers), he gives his speech an idiosyncratic spin. In part, he is reacting to the shocking scene he encounters at Carthage. For far from being idle, as Fama had it, Aeneas is in fact hard at work at building a city — just not the one he is supposed to. Mercury takes in the proceedings in lines 259–265a; bursts into speech (and Aeneas’ sight) in lines 265b–276a; and abruptly disappears again at lines 276b–278.

  • 238 Pease (1935), pp. 260–61.

430259: ut primum alatis tetigit magalia plantis: magalia (here in the neuter accusative plural, object of tetigit) are ‘North African huts, of lowly and temporary character’, here, specifically, ‘the first rude and hasty dwellings of the immigrants, not yet replaced by the newer houses which are in the next line represented as under construction. For this contrast of the temporary and the permanent styles of building, cf. 1.421.’238

431260–261: Aenean fundantem arces ac tecta nouantem/ conspicit: the present participles fundantem and nouantem, which form a chiasmus with their accusative objects (arces, tecta) beautifully capture Aeneas misplaced energies: far from lording it over Dido as dominus, as Iarbas supposes, he is doing her work. (The following lines show that he is amply rewarded for his efforts.) The correlation of Aenean and conspicit at the beginning of two successive lines nicely underscores what catches Mercury’s eyes upon touching down: that the proto-Roman hero lays the foundations of Carthage. (The enjambment of conspicit, following suddenly upon the heavily spondaic line 260, which labours just as much as Aeneas, and the diaeresis thereafter, convey something of the shock value.)

432261: conspicit: after cernit in 246, Virgil switched into the past tense, first the perfect (253: constitit; 255: misit, both placed dramatically at the beginning of a verse), then, to emphasize the duration of the flight, the imperfect (256: uolebat; 257: secabat, both placed soothingly at the end of a verse). Now he is back to the present. conspicit recalls both cernit (in terms of semantics) and constitit (in terms of alliteration and assonance, scansion, and placement in the verse).

  • 239 Weber (2002), pp. 337–38. See Plutarch’s Life of Antony, which was one of Shakespeare’s primary sou (...)

433261–264: atque illi stellatus iaspide fulua/ ensis erat Tyrioque ardebat murice laena/ demissa ex umeris, diues quae munera Dido/ fecerat, et tenui telas discreuerat auro: the-que after Tyrio links erat and ardebat, which takes laena as subject; munera, which is the antecedent of quae but has been attracted into the relative clause, stands in apposition to laena (‘the coat glowed, a gift, which...’: quae is in the neuter accusative plural). Diues, pulled up front before the relative clause in which it belongs, modifies Dido (note the paronomasia created by the alliteration diues Dido). After the initial focus on Aeneas’ activity, we get a detailed account of the hero’s ornate apparel, specifically his sword (ensis) and cloak (laena). A laena is a thick woollen cloak; depending on design it could be used in a military context or for representational purposes; here it is clearly an Eastern luxury item that assimilates Aeneas to Dionysus (and Antony): ‘luxurious robes dyed crimson or yellow and trailing down to the feet are thoroughly typical of Dionysus and so figure repeatedly in descriptions of the god’— as well as the Roman who went East and promoted himself as Dionysus reborn, that is, Mark Antony.239 A sword studded with precious gems (iaspis is jasper, a loanword in Latin; more generally ia with vocalic i-a, as in Iarbas, is un-Roman stuff) and a purple cloak shot through with threads of gold are items designed for ostentatious display rather than everyday use: that Aeneas actually wears them while building the city would seem to suggest that he oversees the building efforts, rather than getting his own hands dirty in the trenches. The cloak will reappear at 11.72–75, as one of the garments Aeneas uses to cover the corpse of his protegee Pallas, the son of Euander:

tum geminas uestis auroque ostroque rigentis
extulit Aeneas, quas illi laeta laborum
ipsa suis quondam manibus Sidonia Dido
fecerat et tenui telas discreuerat auro.

[Then Aeneas brought forth two garments stiff with gold and purple, which
Sidonian Dido, glad of the labour, had once made for him herself with her
own hands, interweaving the web with fine gold.]

434The death of Pallas fulfills part of the curse Dido utters before her suicide where she wishes Aeneas to see the shocking deaths of his friends (4.617–18: uideatque indigna suorum/ funera). That Dido’s garments should reappear at this moment of utter despair hints at the efficaciousness of her imprecation.

435261: illi: dative of possession.

436262: Tyrio... murice: the murex is the sea-snail out of which purple dye was extracted; the best and most expensive variant came from the snails whose habitat was Dido’s native Tyre in Phoenicia. See above 134–135: ostroque insignis et auro.

437262–263: laena/ demissa ex umeris: the placement of demissa ex umeris in enjambment nicely enacts the way the coat is hanging down from Aeneas’ shoulders.

438264: et tenui telas discreuerat auro: Dido had interwoven (discreuerat) the fabric (telas) with finely spun gold (tenui auro).

439265: continuo inuadit: Mercury displays a decisiveness that startles. Without hesitation (continuo) he attacks (inuadit) if with words. The forceful approach corresponds to the shock and disgust at what he is seeing. Virgil does not even comment on the fact that a theophany has occurred, though he will remark on Mercury’s disappearance (below, 276–78).

  • 240 Pease (1935), p. 264.

440265–267: ‘tu nunc Karthaginis altae/ fundamenta locas pulchramque uxorius urbem/ exstruis?: Pease cites the insightful comment of the Scholia Danielis on the first two words of this sentence: ‘tu’invectio est, et ‘nunc,’id est, hoc tempore, quo tibi navigandum vel pro tua spe laborandum est (‘“tu” is an invective attack, and “nunc” means “at the very moment when you ought to be sailing or exerting yourself on behalf of your own future”’).240 Karthaginis altae/ fundamenta: the placement of fundamenta in the line under high Carthage iconically mirrors the actual architecture by means of verse design.

  • 241 See Syed (2004), p. 188, cited by O’Hara (2011), p. 49. Translation by Earnest Cary in the Loeb Cla (...)

441266: uxorius: ‘too much beholden to his woman/ wife.’ A passage in Dio Cassius suggests that accusations of enslavement to a foreign woman formed an important theme in Octavian’s propaganda warfare against Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the run-up to the battle at Actium in 31 BC (50.26.5–27.1):241

... τῇ δὲ γυναικὶ δουλεύων τόν τε πόλεμον καὶ τοὺς κινδύνους τοὺς ὑπὲρ
αὐτῆς αὐθαιρέτους καὶ καθἡμῶν καὶ κατὰ τῆς πατρίδος ἀναιρεῖται
τί λοιπὸν ἄλλο πλὴν ἀμύνασθαι καὶ τοῦτον μετὰ τῆς Κλεοπάτρας
ἡμῖν προσήκει; μήτοὖν Ῥωμαῖον εἶναί τις αὐτὸν νομιζέτω, ἀλλά τινα
Αἰγύπτιον, μήτἈντώνιον ὀνομαζέτω, ἀλλά τινα Σαραπίωνα·

[... but being a slave to that woman, he undertakes the war and its self chosen dangers on her behalf against us and against his country. In view of all this, what is left to us but the duty of fighting him, together with Cleopatra, and repelling him? Therefore let no one count him a Roman, but rather an Egyptian, nor call him Antony, but rather Serapion.]

442Mercury, in other words, joins in the ethnic abuse that Aeneas suffers from several other characters in the poem (notably Iarbas and Turnus), who cast him as an effeminate Eastener who lacks proper virility and heroic stature. In contrast to the human characters, however, who believe to have pinpointed ‘the essence’ of Aeneas, Mercury knows that his present condition is simply a momentary aberration: Aeneas has slipped into ‘un-Roman’ behavioural patterns, prefiguring in myth the historical liaison between Mark Antony and another African Queen, i.e. Cleopatra. This wider horizon endows Mercury’s wake-up call with special urgency, at least for Virgil’s readers: Aeneas, the ancestor of Octavian, is running the danger of turning into a prototype of Mark Antony.

443267: heu, regni rerumque oblite tuarum!: oblite is the vocative form of the masculine singular perfect participle of obliuiscor, i.e. oblitus; it governs the two objective genitives regni and rerum tuarum. Mercury here reuses the idiom of 221, where Jupiter’s eyes fall on oblitos famae melioris amantis.

444268–270: ipse deum tibi me claro demittit Olympo/ regnator, caelum et terras qui numine torquet,/ ipse haec ferre iubet celeris mandata per auras: after giving Aeneas the treatment on his own account, Mercury moves on to report why he has come in the first place: Jupiter sent him. Mercury gives the king of the gods appropriate prominence: note the pattern ipse — regnator — ipse at the beginning of the three verses, a quasi-hymnic design reinforced by the massive hyperbaton deum (= deorum)... regnator (the noun on which the objective genitive depends). regnator is etymologically related to regnum (267), so Mercury here obliquely hints at the affinity of Aeneas and Jupiter, as prospective and present rulers of empire and cosmos.

445269: caelum et terras qui numine torquet: qui is in postpositive position.

446270: ipse haec ferre iubet celeris mandata per auras: iubet introduces an indirect statement: the implied subject accusative is me (easily supplied from the previous clause in which me is the direct object of demittit), the infinitive is ferre, which takes haec... mandata as accusative object. mandata harks back to the beginning of Jupiter’s speech at 222: ac talia mandat, reinforcing the (erroneous) impression that Mercury has just delivered a verbatim message from Jupiter. The phrasing celeris (= celeres)... per auras generates a similar effect: it harks back to 226 (Jupiter speaking): et celeris defer mea dicta per auras. Mercury reuses this and other Jovian speech-fragments to underscore that what he has just said is a faithful reproduction of what he was told by Jupiter. But the switch from compound verb (defer) to simple (ferre) and the elegant switch from mea dicta to mandata gives the game away even here: Mercury does not consider Jupiter’s speech unalterable gospel.

447271: quid struis?: Jupiter’s question precisely: see 235 above: quid struit?.

448271: aut qua spe Libycis teris otia terris?: teris is the second person singular indicative present active of tero. Note the mocking homoioteleuton Libycis — teris — terris, with the last two items also featuring an alliterative paronomasia as well as a figura etymologica: see Varro, de Lingua Latina 5.4.21: Terra dicta ab eo, ut Aelius scribit, quod teritur. Itaque tera in augurum libris scripta cum R uno. (‘Terra is called like this, according to Aelius, because it is trodden upon. This is why in the books of the augurs tera is written with one R only.’). otium, here in the accusative plural (otia), means ‘leisure’. In recasting 235 of Jupiter’s speech (aut qua spe inimica in gente moratur?) Mercury suppresses Jupiter’s anticipation of future historical hostilities between Rome and Carthage and falls back into Iarbas’ perspective, disregarding for a moment the fact that Aeneas is busy at work building up Carthage. So the sense of otia here is probably something akin to ‘idling away time better spent on advancing your own mission.’

449272–276: si te nulla mouet tantarum gloria rerum/ [nec super ipse tua moliris laude laborem,]/ Ascanium surgentem et spes heredis Iuli/ respice, cui regnum Italiae Romanaque tellus/ debetur.’: the final part of Mercury’s speech remains fairly close to Jupiter’s wording and ideas, but also significant alterations on the level of detail:

232: si nulla accendit tantarum gloria rerum ~ 272: si te nulla mouet tantarum gloria rerum
233: nec super ipse tua molitur laude laborem ~ 273: nec super ipse tua moliris laude laborem [though most editors and commentators consider this line an interpolation]
Ascanione pater Romanas inuidet arces? and 236: nec prolem Ausoniam et Lauinia respicit arua? ~ 274–276: Ascanium surgentem et spes heredis Iuli/ respice, cui regnum Italiae Romanaque tellus/ debetur.

450Specifically, Mercury drops Jupiter’s invidious speculations about the psychology behind Aeneas’ dallying with Dido (some sort of resentment over his son’s future career in Italy) and takes exactly the opposite approach: he presents the filial prospects (spes heredis Iuli more likely refers to the hopes Iulus harbours, rather than the hopes others have invested in him) as a prime motivating factor. The placement of Ascanium and Iuli at the beginning and the end of the line hints at the temporal development: Ascanius as Iulus will fully come into his own in Italy. These departures from Jupiter’s script also enable Mercury to streamline Jupiter’s rhetorical questions (inuidet? respicit?) into one imperative: respice! Overall, Mercury’s version is much more economical and to the point: in the main clause, we get two sturdy phrases as accusative objects (Ascanium surgentem, spes heredis Iuli) followed by the verb (respice) in enjambment, attached to which is a relative clause that repeats this pattern with slight variation: regnum Italiae and Romana tellus are two resonant and compact subjects (the chiastic placement of the geographical indicators reproduces the stylistic effect of Jupiter’s prolem Ausoniam and Lauinia arua in 236); the verb, debetur, is again placed in enjambment. Mercury thereby neatly turns Jupiter’s somewhat idle rhetorical questions into a powerful image of the future and a command. What he leaves out, though, is the concluding order (237: nauiget!).

451277: mortalis uisus medio sermone reliquit: an elegant if abrupt ending: adjective + noun (accusative object), adjective + noun (ablative of time), verb. Mercury’s is indeed a sermo interruptus: he does not even pass on Jupiter’s command to set sail (237: naviget!), perhaps because he knows or suspects that what he has said is quite enough to get Aeneas going. medio, here as elsewhere, is placed in the middle of the verse.

452278: et procul in tenuem ex oculis euanuit auram: Mercury comes out of nowhere and vanishes again into thin air: no wonder Aeneas is under shock.

279–295: The Great Escape

  • 242 Hardie (2009), p. 78.

453As Hardie notes, ‘the effect of Mercury’s first message on Aeneas had been similar in its incendiary emotional effects to the effect of Fama’s words on Iarbas’242 as well as, one may add, to the effect of Fama’s words on Dido (see below 298–301). Aeneas now too has lost his mind (he is amens: 279) and he is on fire (ardet: 281): two pathological conditions that also characterize ‘Dido in love.’ The section falls into unequal parts:

279–282: First reactions (4 lines)
283–287: Aeneas ponders possibilities (5 lines)
288–294a: Aeneas calls his men and instructs them of his intentions (6 + lines)
294b–295: His men gladly obey (1 + line)

454Some stylistic features go across section divisions, such as the striking a-alliteration that runs throughout Aeneas’ reaction (all words come at the beginning of the line):

279: At (followed by Aeneas, aspectu, and amens, to set the tone)
281: ardet abire
282: attonitus 283: heu quid agat? (as well as ambire)
audeat adfatu?
285: atque animum

455For a full seven lines Virgil maintains the image of Aeneas’ hair standing on ends and his mouth and eyes open in shock and astonishment, silently screaming Ahhhhh!, while various thoughts rush through his head (summed up in 285–86, i.e. when the sequence of verses starting with a- comes to an end). The one exception, 283: heu quid agat?, is a nice break in the pattern that signals the gradual transition from shock to thought. There is a touch of closure to the pattern in the rhyming line endings sumat (284) and uersat (286).

456279–280: At uero Aeneas aspectu obmutuit amens,/ arrectaeque horrore comae et uox faucibus haesit: Virgil uses a tricolon to describe Aeneas’ reaction to the theophany: he is speechless (obmutuit), his hair stands on end (arrectae [sc. sunt] comae), and his tongue is stuck in his throat (haesit). It is a very vivid image, worth visualizing, though also fairly formulaic: cf. 2.774 (= 3.48): obstipui steteruntque comae et uox faucibus haesit and 12.868, which is identical to 4.280.

  • 243 Pease (1935), p. 268.

457279: amens: commentators play down the full force of the attribute (‘bewildered rather than frenzied, as noted by Conington.’243 I am inclined to disagree: there is a striking sequence from Iarbas (203: amens animi) via Aeneas here to Dido just below (300: saeuit inops animi) that emphasizes loss of rational faculties in response to news from Fama (Iarbas, Dido) or Mercury (Aeneas). Aeneas’ is clearly the most muted response, but ‘bewildered’ does not quite capture his state of holy horror (cf. horrore in the following line) that overpowers the reasoning part (mens) of his brain.

458281–282: ardet abire fuga dulcisque relinquere terras,/ attonitus tanto monitu imperioque deorum: dulcis (= dulces) ... terras, as a periphrasis of Carthage, makes it clear that Aeneas enjoyed himself in Carthage, and there is a striking contrast between his pleasurable experience and his desire to abscond (cf. fuga): he is torn in two. The design of the massive and momentous tanto monitu imperioque deorum is chiastic and climactic: Aeneas is left in no doubt, this admonition (monitu) amounts to an order (imperio). Note also the assonance attonitus tanto monitu. The awkward notion of receiving an ‘order to flee’, which amounts to a contradiction in terms (obeying an imperium deorum has positive connotations; absconding in flight is shameful), revisits the paradox that defines Aeneas from the outset: he is fato profugus, exiled by fate (1.2). What looks like running away is actually an imposition to move history forward. The problem of a hero turning his heel is particularly acute in Book 2, where Aeneas does his excruciating best to explain and justify why he left his native Troy in a moment of dire need. He is far less eloquent with Dido — and much more eager to flee (a. k. a. ‘to follow fate’) once more.

459283–284: heu quid agat? quo nunc reginam ambire furentem/ audeat adfatu? quae prima exordia sumat?: agat, audeat, and sumat are ‘indirect deliberative subjunctives’: the poet hence indirect (direct deliberative subjunctives would be in the first person: quid agam? etc.)— is describing the deliberations that pass through the mind of his character. The hyperbaton quo ... adfatu is as gigantic as Aeneas’ aporia and embarrassment are excruciating. Aeneas already knows exactly what the outcome of the encounter will be: Dido will ‘make a scene’, ‘fly off the handle’ or, indeed, ‘go crazy’ (furentem). He is not far off the mark: primed by Fama, Dido becomes furens (298).

  • 244 Austin (1963), p. 93.
  • 245 O’Hara (2011), p. 51.

460283: ambire: ambire means, literally, ‘to go around, to surround’, ‘to approach’, but is also a technical term for ‘going around and canvassing (or, indeed, buying) support before elections.’ The Romans had laws de ambitu, designed to punish excessive use of this practice. From early on, some readers have therefore felt that Virgil’s use of the term here is meant to present his hero in an unfavourable light. Others disagree. See e. g. Austin: ‘literally, “to canvass”, a good word here, but Page is wrong in thinking that it “hints at cunning and treachery”; the sense of pleading or persuading is uppermost.’244 In turn, O’Hara reverts to Page’s view, taking it for granted that ambire ‘hints at cunning and treachery.’245 Etc. Whatever the precise semantic charge — and this is a great topic for debate! — Aeneas is thinking of ways to get Dido to see matters from his point of view, knowing full way that he is embarking upon a mission impossible.

461285–286: atque animum nunc huc celerem nunc diuidit illuc/ in partisque rapit uarias perque omnia uersat: the word order in the tricolon diuidit, rapit, uersat mimics the frantic thoughts that rush through Aeneas’ mind: nunc huc ‘separates’ animum from its attribute celerem (here used instead of the adverb) just as diuidit splits nunc and illuc. As opposed to the very specific nunc huc–nunc illuc in 285, 286 contains two more comprehensive expressions: in partis (= partes) uarias and per omnia. Note that the-que after partis links diuidit and rapit, though the in goes with partis; the-que after per links rapit and uersat.

462287: haec alternanti potior sententia uisa est: alternanti: present active participle of alternare (‘to oscillate’) in the dative, modifying an implied ei, dependent on uisa est: ‘to him, as he was oscillating [one could imagine mentally supplying an accusative object: sententias, i.e. between ‘two alternatives’], this seemed the better course of action.’ What are the two alternatives? His subsequent instructions to his men make it clear that Aeneas ponders whether he should (a) just approach Dido, come clean, and try to reason with her (cf. ambire); or (b) do this, but not before telling his men to get everything ready for an immediate departure. He opts for the latter course of action, though as it turns out he never gets the chance to break the news to Dido first: she cottons on to what is afoot and, enraged, goes for him.

463288–294: Virgil devotes 13.5 feet to the orders Aeneas gives to his men, but 20.5 feet to his ruminations of how best to break the news to Dido: preparing to be off is straightforward; telling Dido about it is not.

  • 246 Austin (1963), p. 94.

464288: Mnesthea Sergestumque uocat fortemque Serestum: Mnesthea is a Greek accusative form (Latin would be Mnestheum). Austin draws attention to the ‘internal or “leonine” rhyme’ Sergestum ~ Serestum.246 Here are some prosopographical details on the names:

    • 247 Pease (1935), p. 272.

    Mnestheus: ‘Mnestheus is the most frequently mentioned of Aeneas’s lieutenants (23 times as compared with 21 for Achates), but has the rather shadowy personality of all such satellites.’247 He was the legendary/ alleged Trojan ancestor of the gens of the Memmii.

    • 248 Ibid., p. 273.

    Sergestus: ‘a member of the deputation to Dido (1, 510), commander the regatta [in Aeneid 5] of the ship Centaurus (5, 121–122), which ran aground (5, 204; 5, 221–222).’248 At 5.121, Virgil reminds his readers that Sergestus was the legendary/ alleged Trojan ancestor of the gens Sergia (domus tenet a quo Sergia nomen): her most notorious member was none other than L. Sergius Catilina, i.e. the conspirator Catiline, but the gens also produced illustrious members. See Pliny, Natural History 7.104, on M. Sergius in particular: he was twice captured by Hannibal and was twice able to flee, lost his right hand on campaign, but kept fighting with his left hand four times until he had equipped himself with an iron-replacement, and was all in all wounded twenty-three times. (I owe the reference to John Henderson.)

    • 249 Ibid.

    Serestus: ‘thrice (9. 171 = 9, 779 = 12, 549) described as acer and coupled with Mnestheus (with whom he is also linked here and in 12, 561). He participated in the deputation to Dido (1, 611), commanded a ship (5, 487), set up a trophy (10, 541), and occasionally appeared in other connections.’249

465For the significance of this verse (and its catalogue of names) within the Aeneid as a whole see Henderson (per litteras): ‘“Mnestheus” presumably “comes to mind” when Aeneas is “mindful” of his men — given the connection with Greek mnaomai [‘to remember’]. Saying the name out loud makes him and us “recall” the flowery [a Greek word for flower is anthos] Aeneid 1.510: Anthea Sergestumque uidet fortemque Cloanthum AND its repetitious rhyme 1.611–12, ... Serestum |, ... fortemque Gyan fortemque Cloanthum. And this gets him and us back to where we were before winter off-duty “up the nile with cleo” [sc. Cleopatra, as the contemporary typological equivalent to Dido], and all those nights of talk and heat. The names here stand as a synecdochic recall of both those roll calls, as well as prequels for all their later exploits, all the way to the repeat line (-up) of 12.561: Mnesthea Sergestumque uocat fortemque Serestum (where we are called to remember back to Aeneid 4 where they came in, in readiness to wipe out another city, not Dido’s Carthage but the civilian population of an Italian town, along with even its name...).’

466289-291: classem aptent taciti sociosque ad litora cogant,/ arma parent et quae rebus sit causa nouandis/ dissimulent: Aeneas’ order to his comrades includes four parts: aptent, cogant (linked by the-que attached to socios), parent (in asyndetic sequence), and dissimulent (linked to parent by et in 290). They are all in the (indirect) jussive subjunctive (matching the indirect deliberative subjunctives in 283–84), dependent on an implied verb of command. The four aspects of Aeneas’ order operate at two different levels: the first three (aptent, cogant, parent) enumerate the practical things that the men should get underway. Aeneas covers this aspect with three straightforward di-syllabic words, without particular emphasis. The fourth is different: dissimulent concerns the way in which they should go about their business and implies deceit. The verb has twice as many syllables as the other three and stands in an emphatic position in emjambement, reinforced by the choriambic shape and the caesura that follows. ‘Do this, this, and this. But, above all, be sly about it and tell no one why you are doing it!’

467289: taciti: an adjective in place of an adverb. It anticipates dissimulent.

468290: arma parent: arma has the double meaning of ‘gear’ and ‘weapons’. Aeneas refers to the former, but the latter may resonate as well.

  • 250 Horsfall (1995), p. 131.

469290: quae rebus sit causa nouandis/ dissimulent: quae introduces an indirect question (hence the subjunctive sit) dependent on dissimulent. The formulation res nouare, ‘to alter circumstances radically’ recalls the phrase res nouae, which in the conservative society of ancient Rome did not possess a positive ring. It meant ‘revolution’, i.e. the destruction of the traditional socio-political order. The radical touch is appropriate in the situation: Aeneas’ about-face could not be sharper and causes Dido’s world to collapse. As 292 (tantos rumpi non speret amores) makes clear, nothing in his behaviour towards Dido hinted at the threat of departure, much less a headlong flight; everything pointed to a permanent union. What Aeneas plans, in other words, is a 180° turnaround, out of the blue — and he knows it. The lines have given rise to different readings, more or less favourable to Aeneas. Here, for instance, is Horsfall: ‘the balance of 291 shows that this secrecy is not so much aimed at Dido as (unsuccessfully) at town gossip (cf. 296f.). Aeneas himself, since optima Dido ... has no idea of what is up, will try to find the right moment to break the news (293–94).’250 This interpretation brings out well how Aeneas presents his plans to his men. But we may wonder whether Virgil’s ethopoiea is as innocuous as all that — does use of a verb that implies dissimulation not also capture an inherent ambiguity in his actions towards Dido? Sure, he tells his men that he will approach her when the moment is right; but what would a right moment look like? And would Aeneas have found it? His plan anyway goes awry: Dido, so Fama ensures, gets wind of events, quite apart from the fact that Aeneas turns out to be stunningly naive in his assumption that Dido harbours no suspicion (see below on 296–98). Moreover, the dolos in line 296 is most naturally taken as an authorial comment on Aeneas’ plans for the departure, so irrespective of his intention of breaking the news gently at an opportune moment, he is tainted with treachery. As one would expect, Dido, in her address, begins by charging him with, precisely, dissimulation (4.305–06):

dissimulare etiam sperasti, perfide, tantum
posse nefas tacitusque mea decedere terra?

[Did you really hope to be able to cover up such an outrage, treacherous one, and depart from my land in silence?]

470to which Aeneas responds briefly, denying the charge, at 4.337–38: neque ego hanc abscondere furto/ speraui (ne finge) fugam (‘I did not hope — don’t imagine it!— to conceal this flight in stealth’). Aeneas here is disarmingly — or callously — honest, conceding that his departure is a flight (a frank assessment of the situation and his own perception of it as 281 makes clear: ardet abire fuga), but denying that he wanted to depart in secret (also true, in the light of a literal reading of 291–94). The scenario he clearly had in mind was to get everything secretly ready for an immediate departure, break the news to Dido as gently as possible, and then get out of dodge, in a peculiar mixture of strategic dissimulation (and careful planning) and genuine integrity of character. (In contemporary terms, Aeneas is not someone who would have broken up with his girlfriend by sending a text-message; he would have dropped by at an opportune moment to end the relationship in person, though with a mate waiting outside in a car, with the engine running.)

  • 251 These lines offer surprising, retrospective insight into some of the complex comings and goings at (...)

471291–294: sese interea, quando optima Dido/ nesciat et tantos rumpi non speret amores,/ temptaturum aditus et quae mollissima fandi/ tempora, quis rebus dexter modus: Virgil continues in indirect speech (which explains the subjunctives nesciat and speret in the quando-clause), but the implied verb switches from one of command to one of plain speech as Aeneas tells his men what he plans to do while they get the fleet ready: sese is subjective accusative and temptaturum [sc. esse] the corresponding infinitive, separated from each other by a massive hyperbaton. temptaturum takes a direct object (aditus: in the accusative plural) as well as two indirect questions, enumerated asyndetically: quae mollissima fandi tempora [sc. sint], quis rebus dexter modus [sc. sit]. The hyperbaton and the elisions arguably underscore Aeneas’ sense of unease. Ironically, his thoughts are reflected in Dido’s plea to Anna to seek out Aeneas again to see whether anything can be done to change his mind at 4.421–423: solam nam perfidus ille/ te colere, arcanos etiam tibi credere sensus;/ sola uiri mollis aditus et tempora noras (‘For that treacherous man befriended you alone, to you he confided even his secret thoughts; you alone know how to mooch up to the big guy at schmooze time’).251

472291–292: quando optima Dido/ nesciat et tantos rumpi non speret amores: as the following lines make clear, Aeneas is, of course, utterly mistaken — and hence emerges as potentially naïve, or self-deceived. To begin with, he underestimates the powers of love in general (see 296: quis fallere possit amantem?) and Dido’s sense of foreboding and suspicion in particular (see 298: omnia tuta timens). Secondly, he underestimates the talent of Fama to pick up and disseminate sensational news (see 298–299: eadem impia Fama furenti/ detulit armari classem cursumque parari). And thirdly and conversely, he vastly overestimates the ability of himself and his men to disguise their preparation for departure. What is Virgil telling us about his hero by thus emphasizing his lack of shrewdness?

473291–292: quando optima Dido/ nesciat: it is only now that Aeneas comes clean with his mates: he has not yet told Dido, their host and his lover, that he is going to ditch her. Not that they care: as 295 makes clear (cf. laeti), they are only too glad to be off.

  • 252 Austin (1963), p. 94.

474291: optima Dido: ‘Optima is heart-breaking in its context; ... It means what it says, that Dido was all the world to him; it is one of the tiny revelations of Aeneas’ true feelings, like dulcis terras, 281.’252 True, but we here also get a hint of the line he will take later on, the timeless ‘look, it’s me, not you — you are optima and all, and I love you dearly, but I got to find my own fatum, indeed am compelled to do so by the gods.’ The choice of the epithet thus focalizes not just Aeneas’ ‘true feelings’ and his genuine dilemma, but also issues of sincerity (or dishonesty). We may also wonder about Virgil’s authorial strategy: Aeneas has been strangely absent from the narrative so far: we have seen him resplendent during the hunt, obliquely active in the cave, mentioned by Fama and Iarbas, but ‘Aeneas the man’ has remained elusive. We get no insight into the mind of the hero while the affair is on; Aeneas only re-enters the narrative when, for him, the affair is over. There is, then, a narrative gap that could presumably be filled with volumes.

475292: tantos rumpi non speret amores: the design emphasizes tantos by means of the hyperbaton, but ironically underscores that the love, however great, is shattered by way of the words that keep tantos and amores apart: rumpi non speret.

  • 253 Austin (1963), p. 95.

476294–295: ocius omnes/ imperio laeti parent et iussa facessunt: everyone instantly (ocius omnes, linked by alliteration) hustles to carry out the orders. There is no retarding parere parabat (see above 238) here. On the contrary: everyone seems overjoyed that Aeneas has finally come to his senses. As Austin puts it: ‘Note how uneasy Aeneas’ men have plainly been in Carthage, and compare their simple alacrity with his worried indecision: they have no problems like his to complicate their little world.’253 The contrast between the leader and the led pervades the entire epic, and often involves a related contrast between complexity and simplicity. Virgil constantly emphasizes how difficult it is to be a leader. It involves cares and requires skills in decision-making (and decisiveness). The verses here at any rate portray reaching a decision as vastly more difficult than carrying out an order. In Virgil’s conception of leadership dissimulation also plays a role: a good leader does not share every worry he has with his troops.

296–299 (and beyond): Hell Hath no Fury Like a Woman Scorned

477Dido somehow ‘divines’ (297: praesensit) what Aeneas has in mind, loses control of her rational self (she is furens and inops animi), and rages (300: saeuit) and raves (301: bacchatur) through the city, before accosting Aeneas (from 305 onwards). What is the source of her premonition? She seems to rely on her own intuition, and Fama does the rest.

478296: At regina: the phrase introduces the middle section of the book. It echoes 4.279: At uero Aeneas, harks back to the keynote of the book (4.1: At regina) and points forward to the third occurrence of the phrase at 4.504.

479296: quis fallere possit amantem?: amantem: ‘someone in love’; possit is in the potential subjunctive.

  • 254 Pease (1935), p. 277.
  • 255 Austin (1963), p. 96.

480297–298: motusque excepit prima futuros/ omnia tuta timens: prima could be taken either as an adjective instead of an adverb (‘instantly’) or as a predicative to the subject, i.e. Dido, in the sense of ‘she found out first of all.’ There is a similar ambiguity in tuta (with a short a): it could modify either omnia (neuter accusative plural) or the subject of timens, i.e. Dido (feminine nominative singular). The former would mean ‘(already) fearing everything even while it was (still) safe’, the latter ‘(already) fearing everything even while she was (still) safe.’ Pease registers that some editors have endorsed the second possibility but notes that ‘that explanation violates all the ancient understandings of the line and lacks appropriateness in the context.’254 All subsequent editors (Austin, Maclennan, O’Hara) concur. Austin suggests that ‘Virgil thus makes it clear that Dido in her inmost heart was never free from self-blame.’255 Conversely, one could argue that she (quite rightly) knew never to trust Aeneas fully. The phrase harks back to 1.583 (Achates to Aeneas, commenting on how Dido is receiving his lost comrades with warm welcome): omnia tuta uides, classem sociosque receptos. See also 4.373: nusquam tuta fides. Cf. Propertius 2.12.11–21 (about Cupid and his arrows): ante ferit quoniam tuti quam cernimus hostem/ nec quisquam ex illo uulnere sanus abit (‘he strikes when we think we are safe before we even see the enemy. And no one thus struck departs in good health’).

481298–299: eadem impia Fama furenti/ detulit armari classem cursumque parari: eadem and impia both modify Fama (i.e. ‘the self-same accursed creature who had already spread the news of the liaison’). She conveys her news with some exquisite rhetorical ornamentation as if to mock the queen: note the chiasmus (a) armari (b) classem (b) cursum (a) parari, with the two nouns linked by alliteration (classem, cursum) and the two verbs by homoioteleuton (armari, parari).


482NB: The set passage stops here. But the following lines set the tone for the rest of the book, which is assigned in English translation. I have therefore extended the commentary until 303:

  • 256 Also: Aeneid 6.78 and Appendix Virgiliana, Ciris 167: infelix uirgo tota bacchatur in urbe and 480. (...)

483300–301: saeuit inops animi totamque incensa per urbem/ bacchatur: the image of Dido in torment raging through her city collapses the boundary between wilderness and civilization: the queen exhibits the savage, out-ofcontrol, and insane demeanour of a Maenad in the city itself. Both saeuit and bacchatur (each prominently placed at the beginning of the line) are striking: saeuio evokes the savagery and rage of beasts, natural forces, or violent passion, whereas bacchatur, which corresponds metrically to praesensit in 297: three long syllables, placed in enjambment, followed by a trithemimeral caesura, suggests that Dido behaves like a Maenad in the entourage of Bacchus, in her raving rampage through her city. The fact that the narrative proper and the simile share the verb bacchatur reinforces the assimilation. Virgil uses bacchatur again at 4.666, right after Dido has thrown herself on Aeneas’s word, with Fama as subject: concussam bacchatur Fama per urbem (where concussam ... per urbem mimics 300: totamque ... per urbem).256 A Bacchant in the thrall of divine furor is everything a Roman senator is not: his stately comportment sharply contrasts with the frenzied behaviour associated with being possessed by divine madness; and his reasoning faculty are the exact opposite of a mind in the grip of ecstatic intoxication.

  • 257 Austin (1963), p. 97.

484301: qualis commotis excita sacris/ Thyias: sacris refers to ‘either the “rites” in the abstract, or, more probably, the actual “symbols” or emblems of the god, brandished in ecstasy.’257 A Thyias is a Maenad, i.e. one of the female followers of Bacchus. The designation derives from a Greek equivalent of bacchari, i.e. thuein, ‘to rush violently.’ The word seems to have been introduced into Latin by Catullus. See 64.391–92: saepe uagus Liber Parnasi uertice summo/ Thyadas effusis euantis crinibus egit (‘Often Bacchus roaming on the topmost summit of Parnassus drove his Thyiads, shouting and with their hair flowing’).

485302–303: ubi audito stimulant trieterica Baccho/ orgia nocturnusque uocat clamore Cithaeron: stimulant and uocat lack a direct object (such as eam) — a nice touch that reinforces the numinous powers of the god. The revels and the mountain do not bother to spur on or call this particular Thyiad; rather, they constitute a force field into which the Thyiad is attracted like a magnet, losing control of her ego and rational agency.

486302: audito ... Baccho: an ablative absolute.

  • 258 Ibid.

487302–303: trieterica.../ orgia: trieterica means ‘literally “held every third year”, that is, “in alternate years” by our reckoning; the ancient system of reckoning was inclusive, so that in a given group of years ABCD the festival would be held in the years A and C, the latter being the “third year” inclusive of A.’258

488303: nocturnus ... Cithaeron: nocturnus (‘at night’) is an adjective used in place of an adverb. Cithaeron is a mountain range between Boeotia and Attica and the site where Pentheus met his doom, being torn limb from limb by the women of Thebes (including his mother and aunt), after they had been turned into raging followers of Dionysus. (Virgil compares Dido to Pentheus at 4.469.) We are entering the terrain of tragedy.


20 Fans of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series may wish to compare the irony that the evil wizard Voldemort helped to turn Harry into the hero who would ultimately defeat him by acting on a prophecy that predicted this outcome.

21 Compare Odysseus’ account of his travels at the court of Phaeacia at Odyssey 9–12 before his onward travel to Ithaca.

22 For Aeneas as spin doctor in Aeneid 2 see Powell (2011).

23 See especially 4.617–18: ... uideatque indigna suorum/ funera (‘let him see the wretched deaths of his friends’). Dido’s garments are part of a tragic economy of gift exchange. See Quint (1993) 65: ‘Dido in Book 1 receives the veil of Helen and the scepter of Ilione (647–55), Latinus in Book 7, a libation bowl of Anchises and the scepter and robes of Priam (244–48). These Trojan spoils carry with them a kind of curse, and their new possessors are condemned to play out the tragic roles for which the costumes fit them. Their cities now become new versions of the fallen Troy: Carthage’s walls seem to be on fire with the flames of Dido’s pyre (5.3–4); Laurentium’s walls are literally burnt down (12.574f.).’

24 Schiesaro (2008), pp. 206–07.

25 Quinn (1968), p. 135.

26 The most striking use of at as a keynote has to be the opening of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass: it is the first word of the novel, casting it as an already begun ‘conversation’ with the reader.

27 facto hic fine arguably refers both to the action in the poem (the deictic hic in a temporal sense: at this moment) and to this particular point of the poem, i. e. the end of Book 3 (hic in a spatial sense: at this point in the scroll).

28 Austin (1963), p. 25.

29 I owe this Extra Information section to John Henderson, who recommended its inclusion ‘to emphasise just how wide a range of registers the Aeneid spans — from pedantic aetiological-etymological scholasticism to searing hot erotics in a turn of the page/ switch of a scroll — and how sheer the juxtapositions can be — a big part of Virgil’s “sheer” audacity’(per litteras).

30 Homer was considered the fountainhead of every conceivable type of discourse, including political theory, and his epics certainly portray key issues in politics in a proto-philosophical spirit. A good place to start from to explore this topic further is Murray (1965).

31 A good starting point for exploring Virgil’s representation of Aeneas and Dido as king and queen against ancient discourses on kingship is Cairns (1989), esp. Ch. 1, ‘Divine and Human Kingship’ and Ch. 2, ‘Kingship and the Love Affair of Aeneas and Dido.’

32 For further discussion and other possible intertexts see Essay 5.3: Allusion.

33 See Lyne (1987), p. 120, n. 31, with reference to Otis (1964), pp. 70–72 and others.

34 See Polybius 38.21–2 and Appian, Roman History 8.19.132.

35 Otis (1964), p. 72.

36 See esp. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 2.43: appellata est enim ex uiro uirtus (‘for the word for excellence [uirtus] is derived from the word for man [uir]’).

37 For a recent monograph on the term, see McDonnell (2006), though reviewers have argued that he unduly simplifies the evidence: see e. g. R. A. Kaster in Bryn Mawr Classical Review (02.08.2007).

38 For a splendid and exhaustive treatment of this difficult subject matter see Smith (2006).

39 Jupiter, in his magisterial unscrolling of destiny in Book 1, comments on this nomenclature as follows: at puer Ascanius, cui nunc cognomen Iulo/ additur (Ilus erat, dum res stetit Ilia regno)... (‘But the boy Ascanius, now surnamed Iulus (Ilus he was, while the Ilian state stood firm in its kingdom)...’).

40 Hence the difficulties ‘new men’ (homines noui) such as Marcus Tullius Cicero faced, who hailed from the gens Tullia: they were called ‘new’ since they belonged to gentes that had no prior consulship to their credit.

41 See further Gildenhard (2007), esp. pp. 92–98.

42 The passage is important also to illustrate that Aeneas, from the beginning, considered his stay in Libya nothing more than an unforeseen, temporary sojourn — his ultimate goal is Italy, and he will travel on. He is, however, noticeably more reticent about his final destination here than he was at 1.380, when talking to his (disguised) mother Venus: Italiam quaero patriam et genus ab Ioue summo (‘I seek Italy, my fatherland, and a race sprung from Jupiter most high’).

43 For a word of caution on the possible etymological connection between Venus and uenenum, see O’Hara (1996), p. 106: ‘Due [another scholar] has suggested that the metaphor is underscored by a presumed connection between the words Venus and venenum, but this suggestion must remain tentative, since ancient awareness of the perhaps genuine connection beween Venus and venenum is not clearly attested, and wordplay in Vergil here is not certain.’

44 Virgil hints at the mythic background later in the book. See 4.584–85: Et iam prima nouo spargebat lumine terras/ Tithoni croceum linquens Aurora cubile (‘And now early Dawn, leaving the saffron bed of Tithonus, was sprinkling the earth with fresh light’).

45 Maclennan (2007), p. 74.

46 Virgil here develops an idiom pioneered by Cicero, de Republica 6.17, where Sol is described as of such magnitude ut cuncta sua luce lustret et compleat (‘that he illuminates and fills all things with his light’) and Lucretius 5.693, where the sun is described as ‘illuminating lands and sky with oblique light’(obliquo terras et caelum lumine lustrans).

47 For metrical devices underscoring Dido’s mental disposition see Austin (1963), p. 28: ‘the elision at the end of the second foot, and the absence of a third-foot caesura, give a metrical picture of urgency.’(Note, however, that the elision occurs at the beginning of the third foot, though there is an elision at the end of the second foot in the previous line: umentemque Aurora.)

48 For the dialogue with Catullus and Callimachus that is arguably built into Virgil’s use of the adjective unanima, see Essay 3: Allusion.

49 Lyne (1987), p. 195.

50 See in particular 4.450–51, the moment when Dido embraces death: tum uero infelix fatis exterrita Dido/ mortem orat (‘Then, indeed, shocked and awed by her doom, luckless Dido prays for death’).

51 I cite the translation of William H. Race in the Loeb Classical Library edition (Cambridge, MA, and London, 2008).

52 Goold in the Loeb edition (‘Who is this stranger guest…?) and Mclennan in his commentary (‘What a strange visitor…’) translate nouus with ‘strange’, but that does not seem quite right: Aeneas is no stranger to Dido; indeed, she is quite familiar with his background and story — but he arrived out of the blue.

53 According to Homer, Odysseus, despite sharing the bed with various immortals during his voyage (Circe, Calypso), does not sire any offspring; in an alternative tradition, however, he had a son by Circe, called Telegonos.

54 Gutting (2006), p. 268.

55 I owe the complications to John Henderson, per litteras.

56 The term occurs one other time in the Aeneid (at 2.549, with reference to Neoptolemus) and, unsurprisingly, becomes a favourite of Lucan, who uses it 13 times in his Bellum Civile.

57 See further Essay 4: Religion.

58 Morwood (1999), p. 116.

59 Gutting (2006), p. 269.

60 Maclennan (2007), p. 76.

61 See Morwood (1999), p. 10.

62 I owe this point to John Henderson.

63 Lyne (1989), pp. 31–32.

64 Hersch (2010), pp. 166–67.

65 Maclennan (2007), p. 77.

66 Austin (1963), p. 30.

67 Austin (1963), p. 31. Others, including Conington (1884), argue that labantem should be taken with impulit and construe the sense to be animum impulit ut labaret. Which reading do you find more compelling?

68 Schiesaro (2008), p. 107.

69 See further Langlands (2006), esp. Ch. 1: ‘Sexual virtue on display I: the cults of pudicitia and honours for women.’

70 Collard (1975), p. 145.

71 Kaster (1997), p. 5, and, in more detail, Kaster (2005), Ch. 2: ‘Fifty Ways to Feel Your Pudor.’

72 Kaster (1997), pp. 9–10.

73 O’Hara (2011), p. 23. See Pease (1935), p. 110 for further details.

74 See Essay 2: Historiographical Dido, for the full story.

75 O’Hara (2011), p. 24.

76 Maclennan (2007), p. 78.

77 Pease (1935), p. 113.

78 I owe appreciation of this contrast to John Henderson.

79 O’Hara (2011), p. 24.

80 O’Hara (2011), p. 24.

81 Maclennan (2007), p. 79.

82 For a recent discussion, see Beard (2007).

83 Austin (1963), p. 38.

84 O’Hara (1993), pp. 105–06.

85 Pease (1935), p. 128.

86 Austin (1963), p. 39.

87 Austin (1963), p. 40.

88 Ibid.

89 Expressed in Latin the principle is the snappy do ut des, i.e. ‘I give [something] so that you may give [something in return]’— though this precise phrase is not attested in our sources.

90 Pease (1935), pp. 134–37.

91 Somewhat ironically, the only parallel passage routinely cited that mentions all three divinities comes from the Pervigilium Veneris (‘The Night-watch of Venus’): Nec Ceres, nec Bacchus absunt, nec poetarum deus (43). But this poem dates to the second or third century AD, and the author may well have fashioned this line with Aeneid 4.58 in mind, which would render the argument circular.

92 Terence, at Eun. 732, famously claimed sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus, i.e. without food and drink, love goes frigid, but one wonders what Ceres and Liber here do sine Venere.

93 Pease (1935), p. 135.

94 Maclennan (2007), p. 83.

95 See also his note ad Aen. 6.244. Both are quoted by Pease (1935), p. 138.

96 Pease (1935), p. 139.

97 Maclennan (2007), p. 83.

98 The cultural logic behind this practice is fascinating and tells us a lot about how the Romans construed their supernatural sphere. An instauratio (‘repetition of a ritual’) could be proactive as well as reactive. If a ritual was clearly disrupted, it could simply be repeated to pre-empt the displeasure of the divinities involved. (A good example is the festival of the Bona Dea in 62, which Clodius allegedly gate-crashed to spy on Caesar’s wife: the priests ordered a repetition.) But it could also be reactive, to deal with cases in which the flaw had gone unnoticed and disaster had struck. instauratio thus enabled the Romans to explain failures and disasters without giving up on their belief in benevolent and supportive divinities. The (retrospective) argument after, say, a military disaster could always be that the rituals performed before the battle had been in some respect flawed (given the complicated rules, slips are easy to posit), meaning that the gods had no reason to lend their support in this particular instance. And a careful repetition of the ritual would ensure a restitution of the pax deorum.

99 For those of you who want to learn more about Rome’s civic religion (and Roman religion more generally) Beard, North, and Price (1998) offer a superb account of the material.

100 Austin (1963), pp. 43–44.

101 See the excellent website by Eleanor Robson, ‘Sacrificial divination: confirmation by extispicy’, Knowledge and Power, Higher Education Academy (2010), which discusses the practice in ancient Assyria and includes some good illustrative material (including the sketch of a liver).

102 O’Hara (2011), p. 27. See also O’Hara (1993), p. 110 and O’Hara (1997), p. 251.

103 Maclennan (2007), p. 84.

104 O’Hara (2011), p. 28.

105 See e.g. the fabulations of Austin (1963), p. 44: ‘Virgil means that nothing could really help Dido, for her offerings were no more than lip-service to the gods, and her soothsayers (uates) were powerless to diagnose and heal her mental disorder (furentem). We are not told what the omens were; presumably the vates were satisfied, or perhaps they deliberately produced the favourable signs that Dido so plainly desired; but at least she had formally expiated her fault..., and that was the main thing.’ Are Dido’s offerings really no more than ‘lip-service’? Where are we told of uates trying to diagnose and heal Dido’s mental disorder — or that they interpreted omens, or, indeed, lied about what they saw? And one wonders how and where Dido formally expiated her ‘fault’ (whatever that may be in this context).

106 One haruspex appears in the Aeneid, the venerable Etruscan Tarchon, who backs Aeneas against Turnus. See 8.498 and 11.739. He is a figure quite different from (if genealogically related to) the specialist entrail-inspectors (haruspices) of historical times. For one, Virgil assimilates him to a uates (seer-prophet) by having another figure of privileged insight into the workings of the divine (Euander) note that he sings of fate (8.499: fata canens).

107 The strong line taken here should not obscure that distinguished scholars have argued the opposite case, with reference to further evidence. See e.g. Conington (1884), p. 256, who concedes the force of the parallels at 4.464 and 8.627, before continuing: ‘But the ordinary interpretation, “vatum mentes”, is clearly right, confirmed as it is by Apuleius, Met. 10. 2, “Heu medicorum ignarae mentes”, where the reference is to the powerlessness of physic in the case of love, and by Sil [ius Italicus] 8. 100, “Heu sacri vatum errores”, also an imitation of this passage.’ But are these parallels from other authors really more conclusive than evidence from the Aeneid itself, especially since imitation does not necessarily require slavish imitation? (One should at least entertain the possibility that Apuleius and Silius could have — deliberately or unintentionally — misread Virgil.)

108 For this complication see O’Hara (1990), a book best read in conjunction with the review by Alessandro Schiesaro in Classical Philology 88 (1993), pp. 258–65.

109 See 1.294–96: Furor impius intus/ saeua sedens super arma et centum uinctus aënis/ post tergum nodis fremet horridus ore cruento; ‘within, impious Rage, sitting on savage arms, his hands fast bound behind with a hundred brazen knots, shall roar in the ghastliness of bloodstained lips.’The reference to the temple of Janus blurs the distinction between external and internal warfare in ways that readers with traditional-republican allegiances would not have appreciated.

110 Does Virgil thereby imply that his hero is flawed and the killing unjust and unjustified? Or does he want to suggest that at times the maintenance of order and the restitution of justice may require ‘furious’actions?

111 The standard treatment is Hershkowitz (1998).

112 See Gildenhard (2011), pp. 324–26, 328–30.

113 You may enjoy reading W. H. Auden’s poem ‘Secondary Epic’(1959), which mocks the pretension of Virgil’s uates-persona since it turns him into a retrospective prophet at the service of Augustus and his regime: ‘No, Virgil, no:/ Not even the first of the Romans can learn/ His Roman history in the future tense,/ Not even to serve your political turn;/ Hindsight as foresight makes no sense.’

114 infelix is of course Dido’s standard epithet: apart from here, Virgil also uses it at 1.712, 749; 4.450, 529, 596; and 6.456.

115 In his first simile at 1.148–56, Virgil inverts the conventional dynamics of comparison by using a simile drawn from the socio-political sphere (a mob at the brink of violence calmed down by a senior authority figure) to illustrate events in nature (the winds whipping up a storm being called to order by Neptune).

116 Pöschl (1962), p. 81.

117 Anderson (1968), p. 9.

118 Lyne (1987), p. 196.

119 Austin (1963), p. 47.

120 Horsfall (1995), p. 124, n. 13.

121 Morgan (1994), pp. 67–68 with reference to Cicero, de Natura Deorum 2.126: auditum est... capras autem in Creta feras cum essent confixae uenenatis sagittis, herbam quaerere quae dictamnus uocaretur, quam cum gustauissent sagittas excidere dicunt e corpore (‘it has been reported... that wild goats in Crete, when pierced with poisoned arrows, seek a herb called dittany; when they have eaten of it, so people say, the arrows drop out of their bodies’) and Pliny, Natural History, 8.97 and 26.142.

122 Armstrong (2002), pp. 330–31. For what Cretan women get up to in Latin poetry, see Armstrong (2006). I owe these references to John Henderson.

123 Henderson, per litteras. He refers us to A. D’Angour, The Greeks and the New: Novelty in Ancient Greek Imagination and Experience (Cambridge, 2011), Ch. 1.

124 See further Austin (1963), p. 47: ‘Note the varied vowels, the repeated s sounds, the gentle assonance of “suadentque cadentia”,... The rhythm of 81 itself suggests sleep..., with no strong caesura, and the regular diminishing of the three final words.’

125 See Austin (1963), p. 48: ‘This use of double-que is a mannerism of high epic style, very common in Virgil, Lucan, and Statius; it is never found in classical prose. It goes back to Ennius, who took it over from Homer’s use of τε... τε.’ Within the assigned passage, double-que also occurs at 94 (tuque puerque tuus) and 146 (Cretesque Dryopesque).

126 The second-century BC historiographer Polybius (a Greek hostage in Rome) gives an account of the ritual at 6.53–54. See further Flower (1996).

127 Maclennan (2007), p. 87.

128 O’Hara (2011), p. 30.

129 The other passage to bear in mind here is 4.296: quis fallere possit amantem?

130 The wording also recalls Laocoon’s assessment of the wooden horse at 2.46: haec in nostros fabricata est machina muros (‘this has been built as a war-machine against our walls’).

131 For discussion of this relationship see Nelis (2001), p. 147 and Hall (2011), pp. 624–27. Hall argues for the presence of a hitherto underappreciated allusion to Sappho in the passage. More generally, Feeney (1991) is indispensable for any scene in the Aeneid that involves the gods.

132 Hall (2011), p. 625.

133 Conington (1884), p. 148.

134 Austin (1963), p. 51.

135 Pease (1935), p. 167.

136 Austin (1963), pp. 53–54.

137 I owe this point to John Henderson, per litteras.

138 Quint (1993), p. 93.

139 O’Hara (2011), p. 32.

140 Pease (1935), p. 171.

141 Ibid.

142 The irony becomes even more marked if we factor in the ‘Deception of Zeus’ in Iliad 14, where Hera requests the loan of Aphrodite’s girdle to seduce and befuddle her husband — though the last word of the line (precando), perhaps deliberately, puts the emphasis on rhetoric rather than sex as a means of persuasion.

143 Pease (1935), p. 173.

144 Maclennan (2007), p. 91.

145 Austin (1963), p. 57.

146 She follows this up with two lines in which she promises Aeolus that the marriage will be ever-lasting (he gains a consort for life) and produce beautiful offspring: omnis ut tecum meritis pro talibus annos/ exigat et pulchra faciat te prole parentem (1.74–75). These aspects are — perhaps ominously?— absent from Juno’s plan here.

147 On Venus’ smile see further Konstan (1986).

148 In 1945 a mosaic illustrating the hunt was discovered at Low Ham in Somerset. For a picture, see R. P. Wright, ‘Roman Britain in 1945: I. Sites Explored; II. Inscriptions’, Journal of Roman Studies, 36 (1946), p. 148, Plate 11. For discussion see Anderson (2006).

149 Caldwell (2008), passim, with the quotation from p. 426.

150 See Catullus 61.76–100, which also features a reference to the pudor of the bride (83).

151 The sentence reads like Virgil’s response to Juno’s pronouncement: ille picks up hic; the perfect fuit contrasts with the future erit; and the emphasis on letum and mala underscores that Juno’s perverse idea of a marriage will lead to tragedy and death.

152 Syed (2005), p. 101.

153 Austin (1963), pp. 61–62.

154 Horace makes fun of this feature at Ars Poetica 139: Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus (‘The mountains will give birth, there will be born a ludicrous mouse’).

155 See Pease (1935), pp. 182–83.

156 For the topos, in Catullus and elsewhere, see Hersch (2010), pp. 144–48.

157 Austin (1963), p. 62.

158 Caldwell (2008), p. 428 points out that the sinister connotations of the term increase significantly if we bear in mind what this loanword from the Greek means in Greek: ‘Moreover, thalamus is doubly resonant, in that it also assumes the meaning “tomb”, especially in Greek; the conflation of the elements of nuptial and funereal ritual is especially prevalent in Greek tragedy, often involving the girl who fails to make the transition to marriage.’

159 ‘Supposedly’ since the reluctance of the bride, at least according to Catullus, may well be faked.

160 Segal (2000), p. 94.

161 It is worth citing the passage in Athenaeus that preserves this tidbit from Theopompus since it brings out the negative political ideology of the colour purple as a sign of luxury, debauchery, and moral decay that leads to tyranny and civil war. See The Learned Banqueters 12.526c: ‘According to Phylarchus, the Colophonians originally practiced harsh social discipline, but after they ran aground on the reef of luxury and became friends and allies of the Lydians, they went out with their hair elaborately decorated with gold jewelr