Aeneid Book 4, Lines 331 to 361

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Briefly annotated by Tom Jenkins.

Read by Professor Wendell Clausen,

Pope Professor of the Latin Language and Literature
&
Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus

Dryden read by Professor Kathleen Coleman




Aeneid Book 4, Lines 331 to 361
Dixerat. Ille Iovis monitis immota tenebat
lumina, et obnixus curam sub corde premebat.
Tandem pauca refert: `Ego te, quae plurima fando
enumerare vales, numquam, regina, negabo
promeritam; nec me meminisse pigebit Elissae,
dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus.
Pro re pauca loquar. Neque ego hanc abscondere furto
speravi---ne finge---fugam, nec coniugis umquam
praetendi taedas, aut haec in foedera veni.
Me si fata meis paterentur ducere vitam
auspiciis et sponte mea componere curas,
urbem Troianam primum dulcisque meorum
reliquias colerem, Priami tecta alta manerent,
et recidiva manu posuissem Pergama victis.
Sed nunc Italiam magnam Gryneus Apollo,
Italiam Lyciae iussere capessere sortes:
hic amor, haec patria est. Si te Karthaginis arces,
Phoenissam, Libycaeque aspectus detinet urbis,
quae tandem, Ausonia Teucros considere terra,
invidia est? Et nos fas extera quaerere regna.
Me patris Anchisae, quotiens umentibus umbris
nox operit terras, quotiens astra ignea surgunt,
admonet in somnis et turbida terret imago;
me puer Ascanius capitisque iniuria cari,
quem regno Hesperiae fraudo et fatalibus arvis.
Nunc etiam interpres divom, Iove missus ab ipso---
testor utrumque caput---celeris mandata per auras
detulit; ipse deum manifesto in lumine vidi
intrantem muros, vocemque his auribus hausi.
Desine meque tuis incendere teque querelis:
Italiam non sponte sequor.'



Dryden's translation
Here paus'd the queen. Unmov'd he holds his eyes,
By Jove's command; nor suffer'd love to rise,
Tho' heaving in his heart; and thus at length replies:
"Fair queen, you never can enough repeat
Your boundless favors, or I own my debt;
Nor can my mind forget Eliza's name,
While vital breath inspires this mortal frame.
This only let me speak in my defense:
I never hop'd a secret flight from hence,
Much less pretended to the lawful claim
Of sacred nuptials, or a husband's name.
For, if indulgent Heav'n would leave me free,
And not submit my life to fate's decree,
My choice would lead me to the Trojan shore,
Those relics to review, their dust adore,
And Priam's ruin'd palace to restore.
But now the Delphian oracle commands,
And fate invites me to the Latian lands.
That is the promis'd place to which I steer,
And all my vows are terminated there.
If you, a Tyrian, and a stranger born,
With walls and tow'rs a Libyan town adorn,
Why may not we- like you, a foreign race-
Like you, seek shelter in a foreign place?
As often as the night obscures the skies
With humid shades, or twinkling stars arise,
Anchises' angry ghost in dreams appears,
Chides my delay, and fills my soul with fears;
And young Ascanius justly may complain
'Defrauded of his fate and destin'd reign'
Ev'n now the herald of the gods appear'd:
Waking I saw him, and his message heard.
From Jove he came commission'd, heav'nly bright
With radiant beams, and manifest to sight
(The sender and the sent I both attest)
These walls he enter'd, and those words express'd.
Fair queen, oppose not what the gods command;
Forc'd by my fate, I leave your happy land."

Summary
Aeneas' (in)famous farewell speech to Dido, an embarrassment to those who prefer an Aeneas unsullied by aspersions on his character. Some have falted the excessively rhetorical and almost analytical character of the speech; unlike the speeches of Dido, there are no ringing declamations of passion, no outbursts, no agitation. It is a cool and quiet speech, with some canny rhetorical moves. Some readers might gasp at Aeneas' assertion: "I wasn't going to flee in secret-- don't even pretend that I was" [Neque ego hanc abscondere furto speravi---ne finge---fugam]. Such protestations of innocence ring rather hollow given Aeneas' preparations for exactly such a hasty departure. He realizes that his stated motive for leaving-- a message from Hermes-- might well fall on disbelieving ears, and therefore works strenuously to persuade Dido that a supernatural being did appear in an epiphany. Even if one views the preceding lines askance, one must note the real longing and wistfulness in the [incomplete?] last line of the speech, "I do not follow Italy of my own accord", a line that neatly juxtaposes the issue of destiny-- Rome at all costs-- and the individual desires of men.