The OF Blog: More notes on the Aeneid, Book I, lines 81-101

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More notes on the Aeneid, Book I, lines 81-101

Haec ubi dicta, cavum conversa cuspide montem
impulit in latus: ac venti, velut agmine facto,
qua data porta, ruunt et terras turbine perflant.
Incubuere mari, totumque a sedibus imis
una Eurusque Notusque ruunt creberque procellis
Africus, et vastos volvunt ad litora fluctus.
Insequitur clamorque virum stridorque rudentum.
Eripiunt subito nubes caelumque diemque
Teucrorum ex oculis; ponto nox incubat atra.
Intonuere poli, et crebris micat ignibus aether,
praesentemque viris intentant omnia mortem.
Extemplo Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra:
ingemit, et duplicis tendens ad sidera palmas
talia voce refert: 'O terque quaterque beati,
quis ante ora patrum Troiae sub moenibus altis
contigit oppetere! O Danaum fortissime gentis
Tydide! Mene Iliacis occumbere campis
non potuisse, tuaque animam hanc effundere dextra,
saevus ubi Aeacidae telo iacet Hector, ubi ingens
Sarpedon, ubi tot Simois correpta sub undis
scuta virum galeasque et fortia corpora volvit!' 

When he had said this, he reversed his spear and he struck the side of the hollow mountain:  and even as if the winds had made rank, where a door opened, they rushed through and they blew up a storm.  Laying upon the sea and from the bottom of the sea together, Eurus and Notus rushed over the whole sea and crowded Africus, and with frequent gusts they blew a great wave toward the shore.  It was followed by a roar from the Trojans and the ropes were creaking.  Suddenly, the sky and the day were torn away from the view of the Teucrians by the storm; the sea loomed as dark as night.  The sky thundered and frequently flashed ethereal flames; everything threatened a quick death for the men.  Immediately Aeneas relaxed his limbs due to chilly fear; he groaned and stretching both palms toward heaven said the following words:  "Oh, three and four times blessed, who before the father's eyes below the high walls of Troy met death!  Oh bravest of the Greeks!  Diomedes!  Why wasn't it possible for me to meet death by your hands on the plains of Ilium when you had wounded me at the place where stern Achilles laid out Hector, where Sarpedon is, where the river Simois snatched so many shields and helmets and dragged strong men in its waters!"

As always, this is a very rough translation draft that I'm presenting here.  But what interests me in re-reading this twenty years later is the vividness of Vergil's descriptions of wind and storm.  It is poetic, yes, but it never feels overbearing or too much.  The translation loses some of the beauty of the hexameter rhythms and certainly "O terque quaterque beati" sounds a bit flat when rendered as "Oh three and four times blessed!"  But the anguished cry of Aeneas here is perhaps one of the more direct examples of that man, marked by piety, actually showing human emotions and fears.  The connections with Homer's work is nicely done here without it feeling like straightforward fan fiction.

If I have time later in the week, I'll resume the story of the Trojans having to battle against wind and surf.  Judging by my notes, it looks like I only translated fully only about half of the next 25 lines or so, which might make for an interesting translation experience, as I am a bit out of practice when it comes to Latin.  But ever onward and forward.

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