AQA GCSE Verse Set Text 2005
Selections from Aeneid Book II

Lines 10 – 56; 195 - 317

Lines 10 – 56

10 But if so great is your desire to learn of our misfortunes
11 and briefly hear of the final agony of Troy,
12 although my mind shudders to recall it and shrinks back from the grief,
13 I shall begin.
Broken by war and driven back by the fates,
14 the leaders of the Greeks, with so many years now slipping by,
15 build (aedificant) with the divine skill of Minerva a horse as huge as a mountain
16 (…) and they weave the ribs with planks of silver fir;
17 they pretend it is an offering to the gods for their return; that is the story spread around.
18 Here, they enclose (includunt) warriors chosen by lot, stealthily
19 (…) in its dark flank and, deep within, the hollows
20 of its huge womb they fill with armed militia.
21 There is, within sight (of Troy), Tenedos, by reputation a very famous
22 island, rich in resources so long as the kingdom of Priam remained,
23 now, just a bay, a treacherous anchorage for ships:
24 Having sailed here they hide themselves on the deserted shore;
25 We thought they had gone and sailed for Mycenae.
26 Therefore, all Troy freed itself from its long grief;
27 The gates are thrown open, it is pleasing to go and see (videre) the Doric camp,
28 the deserted (…)places and the abandoned shore:
29 here is where the band of Dolopes were, this is where savage Achilles was encamped;
30 here is the place where the fleet was, here is where they used to fight in battle.
31 Some stand amazed at the deadly gift to the unwed Minerva
32 And marvel at the bulk of the horse; and firstly Thymoetes
33 Urges that it be brought within the walls and set up on the citadel,
34 Whether by treachery, or whether the fates of Troy were already pointing this way.
35 But Capys, and those of wiser judgement, order them (iubent)
36 either to hurl (praecipitare) into the sea the Greeks’ trap and suspect gifts
37 (…) (…) or to put flames underneath and burn it,
38 or to bore into and explore the hollow hiding-places of the womb.
39 The people are unsure and are split between opposite feelings.
40 First, in front of everybody, with a great crowd accompanying him
41 Laocoon runs down from the top of the citadel, blazing with anger,
42 and while still far off shouts “O wretched fellow citizens, what great madness is this?
43 Do you believe the enemy have gone away? Or do you think that any
44 gifts of the Greeks are lacking in trickery? Is this the Ulysses you know?
45 Either there are Greeks shut up and hidden in this wooden object
46 or this device has been constructed to bring down our walls,
47 to pry into our homes and to come down on to the city from above,
48 or some snare lies hidden in it; don’t trust the horse, Trojans,
49 for, whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they are bringing gifts.”
50 Having spoken thus, with all his mighty strength he hurled (contorsit ) a huge spear
51 into the flank, into the belly of the wild beast with its curved structure.
52 (…) It stood there, quivering, and as the belly was struck
53 the hollow recesses resounded and gave a groan.
54 And, if the fates of the gods, if their mind had not been so unfavourable,
55 he would have compelled us to violate with the sword the Greek hiding places,
56 and Troy would now still be standing and you, high citadel of Troy, would still remain.

Lines 195 – 317

195 Through such trickery and deceit of lying Sinon,
196 the story was believed, and we were defeated by trickery and forced tears
197 we whom neither Diomedes, nor Thessalian Achilles
198 nor 10 years of war and not a thousand ships managed to subdue.
199 At this point, something else, (…) more significant and much more fearful
200 was presented to us in our wretchedness (miseris) and agitates our un-foreseeing hearts.
201 Laocoon, chosen by lot as the Priest of Neptune,
202 Was sacrificing a huge bull at the appointed altars.
203 But see! Across the calm sea, from Tenedos, two
204 snakes ( I shudder to tell) with their huge coils
205 breast the sea and side by side make for the shore;
206 their necks rearing up amongst the waves, and their crests,
207 blood-red, tower above the surf, while the rest of their body (…)
208 skims the sea (pontum) behind and the huge back arches up in coils.
209 There is a sound of splashing sea; and already they were reaching the land,
210 their gleaming eyes flecked with blood and fire,
211 licking their hissing mouths with flickering tongues.
212 We flee in all directions, pale at the sight of them. They, in an unswerving line,
213 make for Laocoon; and first grasping ( amplexus) the small bodies ( corpora) of his two
214 children, each serpent (….) (……)
215 enfolds and with a bite feeds on their wretched limbs.
216 Next they seize (corripiunt) Laocoon himself as he comes to help, bearing his weapons,
217 (…) and they bind him in their huge coils; and now
218 twice embracing him round the middle, twice encircling (circum..dati) his neck with scaly
219 backs (…) they tower above him with their head and lofty necks.
220 He now struggles to tear away the knots with his hands,
221 his garlands soaked with gore and black venom,
222 now he raises dreadful cries up to the stars:
223 like the bellowing, when a wounded bull (taurus) has fled the altar
224 (…) and has shaken off the badly-aimed axe from its neck.
225 But the two snakes glide off (lapsu….effugiunt) to the top of the shrines
226 (….) and make for the citadel of fierce Pallas Athene,
227 and hide under the goddess’ feet and the circle of her shield.
228 Then indeed for all of us into our trembling hearts a new (….)
229 fear steals, and they say (ferunt) that Laocoon paid deservedly for his crime
230 (…)(…), because he damaged (laeserit) the sacred wood with his spear point
231 (…) when he hurled his impious spear into the horse’s back.
232 The image should be taken to Minerva’s home and they should pray to the goddess’s
233 divine power, they shout.
234 We breach the walls and open up the walls of the city.
235 Everyone prepares himself for the task, under the feet (…)
236 They put rollers (rotarum...lapsus) and around the neck they stretch (intendunt) ropes of hemp
237 (…); the fateful machine climbs the walls
238 teeming with arms. Boys (…) and unwed girls
239 sing sacred songs around (circum) and delight to touch with their hands the rope;
240 The machine approaches and glides threateningly into the middle of the city.
241 O, Fatherland, O, Ilium home of the gods and war-famed
242 walls of the sons of Dardanus! Four times on the very threshold of the gate
243 it came to a stop and four times the arms resounded in the womb;
244 nevertheless, we press on unmindful and blind with rage
245 and we set the unlucky monster on the hallowed citadel.
246 Even then, Cassandra opens her mouth (ora) to predict the fates
247 (…) though she was never, by the order of the god, to be believed by the Trojans.
248 We (…)(…)wretched ones, whose last day (dies) this (ille) was
249 (..),wreathe the shrines of the gods (delubra deum) all through the city with festive garlands.
250 Meanwhile, the heavens revolve and night rushes up from the Ocean
251 Enveloping in a great shadow the earth and the sky
252 And the trickery of the Greeks; sprawled along the walls, the Trojans
253 fell silent; sleep embraces their tired limbs.
254 And now the Greek troops in their formation of ships were approaching
255 From Tenedos, in the friendly silence of the quiet moon,
256 heading for the familiar shore, when the royal ship had hoisted (extulerat) a fire signal
257 (….), and, protected by the hostile fates of the gods,
258 Sinon is releasing (laxat) the Greeks shut up in the womb and (…) furtively
259 Undoing the bolts of pinewood (pinea). (…) Having been opened up (…),
260 the horse releases them (illos) to the open air (ad auras) and joyfully they get themselves out from the hollow wood:
261 Thessandrus and Stheleus the chieftains, together with harsh Ulysses,
262 Slipping down the lowered rope, then Acamas and Thoas
263 together with Neoptolemus, grandson of Peleus, and then the chieftain Machaon
264 with Menelaus and Epeos himself, the builder of the device.
265 They assail a city buried in sleep and wine;
266 The guards are cut down, with the gates open (…)
267 They let in all (omnes) their companions and join forces.
268 It was the time when, for poor mortals, first rest
269 begins and, by the grace of the gods, steals over them, most welcome .
270 In my sleep, see, before my very eyes, most sorrowful Hector
271 Seemed to appear to me, and to be weeping copious tears,
272 as he was before, when dragged behind a chariot, black with blood-stained
273 dust and his feet swelling, pierced through with thongs.
274 Alas! What a sight, how changed from that
275 Hector who returned wearing the spoils won from Achilles
276 or the one who hurled Phrygian fire at the Greek ships!
277 His beard unkempt, his hair matted with blood,
278 and bearing those wounds, the many which he took (accepit) around the walls
279 (…) of his native city. Moreover, I myself, weeping, seemed
280 to address the man and utter these sad words:
281 “O light of Troy, O surest hope of the Trojans,
282 what delays have kept you for so long? From which shores, Hector,
283 do you come, long awaited? How, after the many deaths (funera) of your people
284 (…), after the various toils of men and the city,
285 how gladly, exhausted as we are, we look upon you! What unworthy cause (…)
286 has disfigured your serene (serenos) features? Why do I behold these wounds?
287 He makes no reply, neither does he take heed of my vain questions,
288 But sorrowfully bringing forth a groan from the depths of his heart he said (ait)
289 “Alas, flee, son of a goddess, and snatch yourself from these flames.
290 The enemy holds your walls; Troy is crashing down from its topmost heights.
291 You have given enough for your fatherland and Priam: if Troy (…)
292 Could be defended by a right hand (dextra), it would have been defended by this one.
293 Troy entrusts to you its sacred objects and its protecting gods;
294 Take them to share in your fate; seek for them the great (magna) city walls
295 (…) which you will finally establish after wandering the seas.”
296 So he spoke and in his hands he carries (effert) chaplets and an idol of powerful Vesta
297 and from the innermost sanctum he brings the eternal flame.
298 Meanwhile, the walls are in confusion with various sounds of grief,
299 and more and more, although (…) the house (domus) of my father
300 Anchises (…)was secluded (secreta) and set back and overshadowed by trees,
301 The sounds grow clear and the horror of war advances threateningly.
302 I am roused from sleep and I climb on to (ascensu supero) the gable on top of the roof
303 (…)(…) and stand there with my ears pricked up:
304 just as when flames fall (incidit) on to the crops, fanned by a raging south wind
305 (…) or a swift torrent in a mountain river
306 flattens the fields, flattens the happy crops - the toil of oxen,
307 and drags the woods headlong; bewildered, the shepherd (pastor) is stunned (…)
308 as he hears the noise from the high (alto) top of a rock.
309 Then indeed the truth was clear, the trickery (insidiae) of the Greeks revealed.
310 (…) Now the great house (domus) of Deiphobus crashed in ruins
311 as Fire overcame it (…), already Ucalegon’s house nearby is on fire;
312 (…); the wide straits of Sigeum are aglow with fire.
313 The shouts of men rise up and there’s a blare of trumpets.
314 Frantic, I take up arms; not that there is any point in fighting,
315 But my heart burns (ardent animi) to raise a band of men for war, to storm the citadel
316 with my companions (…) (…); fury and anger drive (praecipitat) my purpose
317 and it is in my mind that it is glorious to die in battle.
Virgil with the Muses D. Swift