||But if so great is your desire to learn of our misfortunes
||and briefly hear of the final agony of Troy,
||although my mind shudders to recall it and shrinks
back from the grief,
||I shall begin.
Broken by war and driven back
by the fates,
||the leaders of the Greeks, with so many years now
with the divine skill of Minerva a horse as huge as a mountain
||(…) and they weave the ribs with planks of
||they pretend it is an offering to the gods for their
return; that is the story spread around.
||Here, they enclose (includunt)
warriors chosen by lot, stealthily
||(…) in its dark flank and, deep within, the
||of its huge womb they fill with armed militia.
||There is, within sight (of Troy), Tenedos, by reputation
a very famous
||island, rich in resources so long as the kingdom
of Priam remained,
||now, just a bay, a treacherous anchorage for ships:
||Having sailed here they hide themselves on the deserted
||We thought they had gone and sailed for Mycenae.
||Therefore, all Troy freed itself from its long grief;
||The gates are thrown open, it is pleasing to go
and see (videre) the Doric camp,
||the deserted (…)places and the abandoned shore:
||here is where the band of Dolopes were, this is
where savage Achilles was encamped;
||here is the place where the fleet was, here is where
they used to fight in battle.
||Some stand amazed at the deadly gift to the unwed
||And marvel at the bulk of the horse; and firstly
||Urges that it be brought within the walls and set
up on the citadel,
||Whether by treachery, or whether the fates of Troy
were already pointing this way.
||But Capys, and those of wiser judgement, order them
||either to hurl (praecipitare)
into the sea the Greeks’ trap and suspect gifts
||(…) (…) or to put flames underneath
and burn it,
||or to bore into and explore the hollow hiding-places
of the womb.
||The people are unsure and are split between opposite
||First, in front of everybody, with a great crowd
||Laocoon runs down from the top of the citadel, blazing
||and while still far off shouts “O wretched
fellow citizens, what great madness is this?
||Do you believe the enemy have gone away? Or do you
think that any
||gifts of the Greeks are lacking in trickery? Is
this the Ulysses you know?
||Either there are Greeks shut up and hidden in this
||or this device has been constructed to bring down
||to pry into our homes and to come down on to the
city from above,
||or some snare lies hidden in it; don’t trust
the horse, Trojans,
||for, whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when
they are bringing gifts.”
||Having spoken thus, with all his mighty strength
he hurled (contorsit ) a huge spear
||into the flank, into the belly of the wild beast
with its curved structure.
||(…) It stood there, quivering, and as the
belly was struck
||the hollow recesses resounded and gave a groan.
||And, if the fates of the gods, if their mind had
not been so unfavourable,
||he would have compelled us to violate with the sword
the Greek hiding places,
||and Troy would now still be standing and you, high
citadel of Troy, would still remain.
||Through such trickery and deceit of
||the story was believed, and we were
defeated by trickery and forced tears
||we whom neither Diomedes, nor Thessalian
||nor 10 years of war and not a thousand
ships managed to subdue.
||At this point, something else, (…)
more significant and much more fearful
||was presented to us in our wretchedness
(miseris) and agitates our un-foreseeing
||Laocoon, chosen by lot as the Priest
||Was sacrificing a huge bull at the appointed
||But see! Across the calm sea, from Tenedos,
||snakes ( I shudder to tell) with their
||breast the sea and side by side make
for the shore;
||their necks rearing up amongst the waves,
and their crests,
||blood-red, tower above the surf, while
the rest of their body (…)
||skims the sea (pontum)
behind and the huge back arches up in coils.
||There is a sound of splashing sea; and
already they were reaching the land,
||their gleaming eyes flecked with blood
||licking their hissing mouths with flickering
||We flee in all directions, pale at the
sight of them. They, in an unswerving line,
||make for Laocoon; and first grasping
( amplexus) the small bodies ( corpora)
of his two
||children, each serpent (….) (……)
||enfolds and with a bite feeds on their
||Next they seize (corripiunt)
Laocoon himself as he comes to help, bearing his weapons,
||(…) and they bind him in their
huge coils; and now
||twice embracing him round the middle,
twice encircling (circum..dati) his neck
||backs (…) they tower above him
with their head and lofty necks.
||He now struggles to tear away the knots with
||his garlands soaked with gore and black venom,
||now he raises dreadful cries up to the stars:
||like the bellowing, when a wounded bull
(taurus) has fled the altar
||(…) and has shaken off the badly-aimed
axe from its neck.
||But the two snakes glide off (lapsu….effugiunt)
to the top of the shrines
||(….) and make for the citadel
of fierce Pallas Athene,
||and hide under the goddess’ feet
and the circle of her shield.
||Then indeed for all of us into our trembling
hearts a new (….)
||fear steals, and they say (ferunt)
that Laocoon paid deservedly for his crime
||(…)(…), because he damaged
(laeserit) the sacred wood with his spear
||(…) when he hurled his impious
spear into the horse’s back.
||The image should be taken to Minerva’s
home and they should pray to the goddess’s
||divine power, they shout.
||We breach the walls and open up the
walls of the city.
||Everyone prepares himself for the task,
under the feet (…)
||They put rollers (rotarum...lapsus)
and around the neck they stretch (intendunt)
ropes of hemp
||(…); the fateful machine climbs
||teeming with arms. Boys (…) and
||sing sacred songs around (circum)
and delight to touch with their hands the rope;
||The machine approaches and glides threateningly
into the middle of the city.
||O, Fatherland, O, Ilium home of the
gods and war-famed
||walls of the sons of Dardanus! Four
times on the very threshold of the gate
||it came to a stop and four times the
arms resounded in the womb;
||nevertheless, we press on unmindful
and blind with rage
||and we set the unlucky monster on the
||Even then, Cassandra opens her mouth
(ora) to predict the fates
||(…) though she was never, by the
order of the god, to be believed by the Trojans.
||We (…)(…)wretched ones,
whose last day (dies) this (ille)
||(..),wreathe the shrines of the gods
(delubra deum) all through the city with
||Meanwhile, the heavens revolve and night
rushes up from the Ocean
||Enveloping in a great shadow the earth
and the sky
||And the trickery of the Greeks; sprawled
along the walls, the Trojans
||fell silent; sleep embraces their tired
||And now the Greek troops in their formation
of ships were approaching
||From Tenedos, in the friendly silence
of the quiet moon,
||heading for the familiar shore, when
the royal ship had hoisted (extulerat)
a fire signal
||(….), and, protected by the hostile
fates of the gods,
||Sinon is releasing (laxat)
the Greeks shut up in the womb and (…) furtively
||Undoing the bolts of pinewood (pinea).
(…) Having been opened up (…),
||the horse releases them (illos)
to the open air (ad auras) and joyfully
they get themselves out from the hollow wood:
||Thessandrus and Stheleus the chieftains,
together with harsh Ulysses,
||Slipping down the lowered rope, then
Acamas and Thoas
||together with Neoptolemus, grandson
of Peleus, and then the chieftain Machaon
||with Menelaus and Epeos himself, the builder
of the device.
||They assail a city buried in sleep and wine;
||The guards are cut down, with the gates open
||They let in all (omnes)
their companions and join forces.
||It was the time when, for poor mortals, first
||begins and, by the grace of the gods,
steals over them, most welcome .
||In my sleep, see, before my very eyes,
most sorrowful Hector
||Seemed to appear to me, and to be weeping
||as he was before, when dragged behind
a chariot, black with blood-stained
||dust and his feet swelling, pierced through
||Alas! What a sight, how changed from that
||Hector who returned wearing the spoils won
||or the one who hurled Phrygian fire at the
||His beard unkempt, his hair matted with
||and bearing those wounds, the many which
he took (accepit) around the walls
||(…) of his native city. Moreover,
I myself, weeping, seemed
||to address the man and utter these sad
||“O light of Troy, O surest hope
of the Trojans,
||what delays have kept you for so long?
From which shores, Hector,
||do you come, long awaited? How, after
the many deaths (funera) of your people
||(…), after the various toils of
men and the city,
||how gladly, exhausted as we are, we
look upon you! What unworthy cause (…)
||has disfigured your serene (serenos)
features? Why do I behold these wounds?
||He makes no reply, neither does he take
heed of my vain questions,
||But sorrowfully bringing forth a groan
from the depths of his heart he said (ait)
||“Alas, flee, son of a goddess,
and snatch yourself from these flames.
||The enemy holds your walls; Troy is
crashing down from its topmost heights.
||You have given enough for your fatherland
and Priam: if Troy (…)
||Could be defended by a right hand (dextra),
it would have been defended by this one.
||Troy entrusts to you its sacred objects
and its protecting gods;
||Take them to share in your fate; seek
for them the great (magna) city walls
||(…) which you will finally establish
after wandering the seas.”
||So he spoke and in his hands he carries
(effert) chaplets and an idol of powerful
||and from the innermost sanctum he brings
the eternal flame.
||Meanwhile, the walls are in confusion
with various sounds of grief,
||and more and more, although (…)
the house (domus) of my father
||Anchises (…)was secluded (secreta)
and set back and overshadowed by trees,
||The sounds grow clear and the horror
of war advances threateningly.
||I am roused from sleep and I climb on
to (ascensu supero) the gable on top
of the roof
||(…)(…) and stand there with
my ears pricked up:
||just as when flames fall (incidit)
on to the crops, fanned by a raging south wind
||(…) or a swift torrent in a mountain
||flattens the fields, flattens the happy
crops - the toil of oxen,
||and drags the woods headlong; bewildered,
the shepherd (pastor) is stunned (…)
||as he hears the noise from the high
(alto) top of a rock.
||Then indeed the truth was clear, the
trickery (insidiae) of the Greeks revealed.
||(…) Now the great house (domus)
of Deiphobus crashed in ruins
||as Fire overcame it (…), already
Ucalegon’s house nearby is on fire;
||(…); the wide straits of Sigeum
are aglow with fire.
||The shouts of men rise up and there’s
a blare of trumpets.
||Frantic, I take up arms; not that there
is any point in fighting,
||But my heart burns (ardent
animi) to raise a band of men for war, to storm the citadel
||with my companions (…) (…);
fury and anger drive (praecipitat) my
||and it is in my mind that it is glorious
to die in battle.
|Virgil with the Muses