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Unit 5

5.1 Vergil, Aeneid, Book 4 Lines 160-218

7 min readโ€ขseptember 26, 2020

Jack Marso


Book IV: The Tragedy of Dido ๐Ÿ˜ช

Aeneas and Dido have fallen madly in love ๐Ÿ’˜, and although Dido was previously married to Sychaeus, having been deceased, Anna, Didoโ€™s sister, informs her to think about the present, not the past. As Dido shows Aeneas Carthage, Juno attempts to end the rivalry ๐Ÿคบ between herself and Venus when she announces that Dido and Aeneas will be wed after their day of hunting is concluded. Rumor of the prominent marriage will arise. Letโ€™s find out how King Iarbas reacts.

Before we dive into breaking down the Latin lines into the text we can more clearly comprehend, we will answer some questions based on the designated skill categories! The skill categories for these lines are Reading and Comprehension and Translation


Lines 160-168

Interea magno misceri murmure caelum
incipit, insequitur commixta grandine nimbus,
et Tyrii comites passim et Troiana iuventus
Dardaniusque nepos Veneris diversa per agros
tecta metu petiere; ruunt de montibus amnes.
speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem
deveniunt. prima et Tellus et pronuba Iuno
dant signum; fulsere ignes et conscius (est) aether
conubiis summoque ulularunt vertice Nymphae.
  1. Translate in context line 12 (Interea...incipit).

  2. Translate in context line 2 (insequiturโ€ฆ nimbus).

  3. Who are the Tryrians referred to by Vergil in lines 2?

  4. Who does Vergil refer to as โ€œVenusโ€™s Dardanian grandsonโ€?

  5. Why does Vergil represent โ€œJuno of the Nuptialsโ€?

Answers (Don't peek!๐Ÿ‘€)

  1. Meanwhile, the sky becomes filled with a wild uproar: To begin, interea is an adverb meaning meanwhile. Caelum is a second-declension noun in the nominative, meaning the sky. Misceri is the present passive infinitive of misceo meaning I fill. Therefore, misceri translates to filled. Incipit is a third-person singular present active indicative of incipio meaning I begin. Furthermore, incipio means becomes. Lastly, magno and mumure are used together since they are both in the ablative. Magno is an ablative singular adjective of magnus, magni in the nominative and genitive translating as wild. Murmure is a third-declension noun from murmur, murmur in the nominative and genitive translating as grumbling. Put it all together and it means wild uproar.

  2. Rain mixed with hail follow: To start, nimbus is a second-declension noun thatโ€™s in the nominative, meaning rain shower or rain simply. Insequitur is a third-person singular present active indicative of insequor meaning I follow. However, in our situation, it means follow. Lastly, commixta and grandine are both ablative singular nouns. In more depth, commixtus comes from the perfect passive participle commisceo meaning mixed. Grando is a third-declension noun from grando, grandinis in the nominative and genitive translating to with hail.

  3. The Carthaginians: Dido founded Carthage on the coast of North Africa, which started as Tyre before becoming Carthage.

  4. Iulus or Ascanius: Aeneas is the son of Venus. Therefore, Venusโ€™s grandson is Ascanius, Aeneasโ€™s son.

  5. Juno is the Roman goddess of marriage


Lines 191-197

venisse Aenean Troiano sanguine cretum,
cui se pulchra viro dignetur iungere Dido;
nunc hiemem inter se luxu, quam longa, fovere
regnorum immemores turpique cupidine captos.
haec passim dea foeda virum diffundit in ora.
protinus ad regem cursus detorquet Iarban
incenditque animum dictis atque aggerat iras.

Translate these lines as literally as possible

Translation (donโ€™t peek๐Ÿ‘€!) Remember if you have different words than I did, thatโ€™s perfectly acceptable ๐Ÿ˜€ Just make sure they have the same meaning attached to them.

Aeneas has advanced, born of Trojan descent, a man whom lovely Dido deigns to join with: now they are devoting their entire winter collectively in indulgence, unaware of their status, captured by improper passion. The shameful goddess circulated this here and there on menโ€™s lips. Immediately she swayed her course towards King Iarbas and enraged his mind with words and lit his madness.


Breakdown of Lines 160-218 ๐Ÿ”Ž

  • As Venus and Juno conspire to wed Dido and Aeneas after both Carthaginian and Trojan forces to hunt, the โ€œsky becomes filled with a wild uproarโ€ as โ€œrain mixed with hail follows" while they, including Venusโ€™s grandson, Iulus, begin to search for shelter in fear. Rain โ›ˆ๏ธ heavily falls from the hills turning this pleasant hunting day into a gloomy and miserable day, for an average individual. Dido and Aeneas are very much in the same cave for their โ€œweddingโ€ โ›ช as Juno, and the heavens celebrate their union while the โ€œNymphs howl from the mountains.โ€

  • Vergil shifts his piece into some foreshadowing from the perspective of Dido. This supposed โ€œmarriageโ€ as Vergil explains is the first source of โ€œdeath โšฐ๏ธ and misfortuneโ€ for Dido. Dido forgets about the worries of her reputation or appearances nor does she consider Aeneasโ€™s relationship as a secret affair. Dido solely recognizes it as a โ€œmarriageโ€ which is a sin in respect to her breaking chastity to her dead husband, Sychaeus.

  • Fama, the Roman goddess of exposing scandalous ๐Ÿ˜ˆrumors, races to inform people of their โ€œmarriageโ€ as โ€œswiftโ€ as she can be. Fama โ€œflourishes by speedโ€ and picks up strength and drops fear (as many rumors start small and end up big) towering into the sky. Famaโ€™s face is hidden in the clouds, but the rumors spread throughout the sky and ground for all to know.

  • Fama, a โ€œmonster, awful and vastโ€ was created to anger ๐Ÿ˜ก the gods as her multiple tongues, ears, eyes, and feathers are invested in casting rumors. Fama โ€œflies, screechingโ€ as she never sleeps so she can learn all sorts of information ๐Ÿ“œ to spread within the shadows, but during the day, Fama โ€œthreatens the great citiesโ€ of Libya that she passes through sitting upon high locations. Simply, Fama is โ€œa common messenger of perversion and falsehoodโ€ but also a โ€œmessenger of truthโ€ since all rumors have bits and pieces of validity and invalidity.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-X9epuPskuSrI.png?alt=media&token=47c1db04-0699-4088-892e-37100736ad57

Depiction of Fama, the vile goddess that spreads rumor, both in fact and fiction. Image Courtesy of Brunswyk

  • Fama begins to spread the continued gossip, both โ€œfact and fictionโ€, to the nations surrounding Libya. She details that Dido has deemed herself worthy to become wedded to Aeneas. She ends that Dido and Aeneas will embrace ๐Ÿค— one another throughout the winter, forgetting about their stance to Carthage and Italy respectively through the confinement of undisguised love ๐Ÿ’•. However, Famaโ€™s report is nearly factual, may be exaggerated, but because Aeneas is doing Didoโ€™s work in Carthage, Aeneas hasnโ€™t completely forgotten about his royalty, although both have forgotten about their homeland.

  • These words spread to King Iarbas, who was rejected ๐Ÿšซ as Didoโ€™s suitor in Africa, becoming provoked by her words. Iarbas, son of Jupiter Ammon, an African god, and a Garmantian nymph has created โ€œ a hundred vast temples, a hundred altarsโ€ to his father in his luxurious kingdom. โ€œEver-living fires ๐Ÿ”ฅโ€ were hallowed, casting a reference to Vesta, while the floors of the temples were โ€œdrenched with sacrificial bloodโ€ and โ€œbloomed with mingled garlands.โ€

  • Although it isnโ€™t known exactly what happens next, Iarbas ๐Ÿ‘‘, out of his mind, besought his father among the gods โ€œmaddened in spiritโ€ about the recent rumor. Iarbas wonders if Jupiter, the equivalent of Romeโ€™s Jupiter, sees Moorish people banquet on embroidered couches while pouring a Lenaean offering in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine ๐Ÿท.

  • Iarbas is clearly annoyed ๐Ÿ˜ฌ because either Jupiter sees and understands whatโ€™s going on or heโ€™s not really supreme as how gods should be. Simply, Jupiterโ€™s divinity is subject to debate. Iarbas wonders if his people fear him for no reason as his fires and lightning bolts โšก in the clouds are questioned to be aimless and inferior.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-OrTexldFtDVA.png?alt=media&token=6f47e444-7146-4002-9e83-8351081995f5

Depiction of Jupiter Ammon, shown with the horns of the rams. Image Courtesy of Livius

  • Iarbas now gets to the point after his assault ๐ŸฅŠ on his father. Dido means wanderer, as Iarbas describes her as โ€œwandering within my bordersโ€ has created a city within the weak coastal region that he granted her, which we know is Carthage still in the building โš’๏ธ stages. Even with his generosity, Dido refused to marry him, and instead married Aeneas and took him into her country.

  • Iarbas ridicules Aeneas by calling him โ€œthat Parisโ€ who abducted Helen to begin the Trojan War, but the reader is subject to question โ‰๏ธ whether both Helen and Dido went willingly and just didnโ€™t choose Iarbas as her suitor. Aeneas is a โ€œhalf-manโ€ and shamed as feminine โ™€๏ธ and not manly wearing a turban that covers his hair drenched in oil. According to Iarbas, Dido is merely the treasure of Aeneasโ€™s conquest, plundered rather than happily chosen to spend eternity with.

  • Iarbasโ€™s detonation ๐Ÿงจ ends as he pushes Jupiter to act on the situation by marveling why his people even โ€œbring offerings to your templesโ€ and โ€œcelebrate your empty reputation.โ€

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