Thursday, March 24th, 2011...10:01 amChris Francese

On translating Vergil (Aeneid 1.305-309, 6.26-27)

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Translating Vergil

Aeneid 1.305-309

At pius Aeneas, per noctem plurima volvens,

ut primum lux alma data est, exire locosque

explorare novos, quas vento accesserit oras,

qui teneant, nam inculta videt, hominesne feraene,

quaerere constituit, sociisque exacta referre.


But the dedicated man,

Aeneas, thoughtful through the restless night,

Made up his mind, as kindly daylight came,

To go out and explore the strange new places,

To learn what coast the wind had brought him to

And who were living there, men or wild creatures—

For wilderness was all he saw—and bring

Report back to his company.


But, nightlong, many cares have held the pious

Aeneas. And as soon as gracious daylight

is given to him, this is his decision:

to go out and explore the foreign country,

to learn what shores the wind has brought him to,

who lives upon this land—it is untilled—

are they wild beasts or men—and then to tell

his comrades what he has found.


But all that night dutiful Aeneas was turning many things over in his mind. As soon as life-giving morning came, he decided to go out and explore this new land and bring back to his men a true account of the shores to which the winds had driven him, and the beasts and men who lived there, if there were any men, for he saw no signs of cultivation.

Aeneid 6.26-27:

Minotaurus inest, Veneris monimenta nefandae,

hic labor ille domus et inextricabilis error.


… the Minotaur, get of unholy lust.

Here too, that puzzle of the house of Minos,

The maze none could untangle…


the Minotaur,

a monument to her polluted passion

and here the inextricable labyrinth,

the house of toil, was carved …


Here too is . . .the Minotaur . . . the memorial to a perverted love, and here is its home, built with such great labor, the inextricable labyrinth



  • Hi. I just finished the Fagles translation of The Aeneid and I noticed two things that seem to be errors. Not knowing Latin (discounting attempts at pasting the original text into Google translate!), I wonder if you would mind commenting?

    The first question refers to the final lines of Book XI (line 896 in Latin):

    Sic ambo ad muros rapidi totoque feruntur
    agmine nec longis inter se passibus absunt;
    ac simul Aeneas fumantis pulvere campos
    prospexit longe Laurentiaque agmina vidit,
    et saevum Aenean adgnovit Turnus in armis
    adventumque pedum flatusque audivit equorum.
    Continuoque ineant pugnas et proelia temptent,
    ni roseus fessos iam gurgite Phoebus Hibero
    tinguat equos noctemque die labente reducat:
    considunt castris ante urbem et moenia vallant.

    In Fagles, we have this:

    “Now both armies come to a halt before the city, building dikes to fortify their camps.”

    which seems to state that both groups (Turnus and Aeneas) remain outside the city.

    Whereas, in the Fitzgerald translation we have:

    “One army strengthened walls,
    The other encamped in quiet before the town.”

    i.e., Turnus, et al, enters the city, while Team Trojan camps outside the walls–which is correct since Book XII begins with Turnus talking to Latinus inside.

    A minor point, but it bothered me enough to seek advice from an expert in such matters.

    Here’s the second question:

    Fagles, XI, line 668

    “But now as enemy fighters harry Messapus even more,
    he flings himself in the stream and, flushed with triumph,
    pries from the turf his spear and baby girl as one…”

    Aren’t we talking about Metabus here??

    Fitzgerald, XI, line 770

    “…Well aware
    Of troops in force approaching from behind,
    Metabus took to the river. Spear and child
    In triumph he recovered from the turf.”

    The original Latin (I think) confirms this too:

    Dixit et adducto contortum hastile lacerto
    immittit: sonuere undae, rapidum super amnem
    infelix fugit in iaculo stridente Camilla.
    At Metabus, magna propius iam urgente caterva,
    dat sese fluvio atque hastam cum virgine victor
    gramineo donum Triviae de caespite vellit.

    Thanks for indulging. Love the blog!

  • “Both parties encamp outside the city and form temporary works,” says Conington:

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