Aeneid 2.469-566



Vestibulum ante ipsum primoque in limine Pyrrhus
exsultat telis et luce coruscus aena: 470
qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat,
nunc, positis novus exuviis nitidusque iuventa,
lubrica convoluit sublato pectore terga
arduus ad solem, et linguis micat ore trisulcis. 475
Una ingens Periphas et equorum agitator Achillis,
armiger Automedon, una omnis Scyria pubes
succedunt tecto et flammas ad culmina iactant.


Before the very entrance way and on the first threshold,
Pyrrhus rejoices in his weapons and is flashing in bronze light
Just like when a snake, having fed on bad grain, whom the
freezing cold covered up under the land, swollen, but now renewed, his skin having been set aside
and shining in his youth, he coils his slimy back with his breast raised up
lofty to the sun, into the light, and he darts with tripartite tongues in his mouth.
Together with him, huge Periphas, and the charioteer of Achilles,
Automedon the bearer of their arms, and also all the youth of Scyros
approach the palace and throw flames to the peak (rooftop).

Ipse inter primos correpta dura bipenni
limina perrumpit postisque a cardine uellit 480
aeratos; iamque excisa trabe firma cauauit
robora et ingentem lato dedit ore fenestram.
Apparet domus intus et atria longa patescunt;
apparent Priami et ueterum penetralia regum,
armatosque uident stantis in limine primo. 485


He himself, with the double ax having been snatched up,
breaks through the hard threshold, he tears the bronze doors
from their hinges; and already he hollowed out the solid oaks,
with timber having been torn out, and he gave a huge window with a wide mouth.
The house within appears and the long hallways are opened;
the inner chambers of Priam and of the old kings,
and they see the armed men standing in the beginning of the threshold.

At domus interior gemitu miseroque tumultu
miscetur, penitusque cauae plangoribus aedes
femineis ululant; ferit aurea sidera clamor.
Tum pauidae tectis matres ingentibus errant
amplexaeque tenent postis atque oscula figunt. 490


But the inside of the house is confused with a groan
and wretched upheaval, and deep within the hollow house
cries out with feminine wailing; and the sound strikes the golden stars.
Then the fearful mothers wander the vast halls,
and having embraced them, they hold the doors and plant kisses on them.

Instat ui patria Pyrrhus; nec claustra nec ipsi
custodes sufferre ualent; labat ariete crebro
ianua, et emoti procumbunt cardine postes.
Fit via vi; rumpunt aditus primosque trucidant
immissi Danai et late loca milite complent. 495


Pyrrhus presses on with his paternal strength; neither the fastenings
nor the sentinels themselves are able to withstand him; the gate totters
with a thick (repeated) battering ram, and the doors, moved from their hinge, fall.
A way is made by violence; they break the entrance and the Danaans, having been let in,
slaughter the first them and fill the places widely with soldiers.

Non sic, aggeribus ruptis cum spumeus amnis
exiit oppositasque euicit gurgite moles,
fertur in arua furens cumulo camposque per omnis
cum stabulis armenta trahit. Vidi ipse furentem
caede Neoptolemum geminosque in limine Atridas, 500
vidi Hecubam centumque nurus Priamumque per aras
sanguine foedantem quos ipse sacrauerat ignis.


Not thus, when the levees have been burst, when a foamy torrent
departs from its banks and overcomes the opposing masses by means of its whirlpool,
It is carried, raging into the fields by means of a swell and through all the fields
it drags the cattle along with their pens. I myself saw Neoptolemus raging in slaughter
and the twin sons of Atrius on the threshold,
I saw Hecuba and her hundred daughter-in-laws, and I saw Priam polluting with blood
the very fires which he himself had consecrated, through the altars.

Quinquaginta illi thalami, spes tanta nepotum,
barbarico postes auro spoliisque superbi
procubuere; tenent Danai qua deficit ignis. 505
Forsitan et Priami fuerint quae fata requiras.
Urbis uti captae casum conuulsaque uidit
limina tectorum et medium in penetralibus hostem,
arma diu senior desueta trementibus aeuo
circumdat nequiquam umeris et inutile ferrum 510
cingitur, ac densos fertur moriturus in hostis.


Those fifty bedrooms, such hope of grandchildren,
doorposts proud with barbarian gold and spoils, fall;
The Greeks hold wherever the fire fails (wherever there isn't fire, there's a Greek soldier).
Perhaps you might inquire what were the fates of even Priam.
As he saw the fall of the captured city and the shattered thresholds of the
buildings and the enemy in the center of the sanctuary,
for a long time elderly, he fastens the arms unused because of age
on his trembling shoulders in vain and he girds the useless iron,
and he is carried, about to die, into the thick ([of the]) enemy.

Aedibus in mediis nudoque sub aetheris axe
ingens ara fuit iuxtaque veterrima laurus
incumbens arae atque umbra complexa penatis.
Hic Hecuba et natae nequiquam altaria circum, 515
praecipites atra ceu tempestate columbae,
condensae et diuum amplexae simulacra sedebant.


In the middle of the house under the bare axis of the sky
there was a huge altar, and next to it a very ancient laurel tree
leaning over the altar and having embrace the household gods with shade.
Here Hecuba and her daughters, around the altars
just as flitting doves in a dark storm,
grouped together in vain, and having embraced the goddess' statue, they were sitting.

Ipsum autem sumptis Priamum iuuenalibus armis
ut uidit, 'quae mens tam dira, miserrime coniunx,
impulit his cingi telis? aut quo ruis?' inquit. 520
'Non tali auxilio nec defensoribus istis
tempus eget; non, si ipse meus nunc adforet Hector.


When she saw Priam himself, the youthful arms (weapons) having been taken up,
she says, "What so wretched a notion has driven you, most pitiable husband,
to be girt with these weapons? Or where are you rushing?
This time doesn't call for such help, nor for these defenders;
not even if my Hector now were present.

Huc tandem concede; haec ara tuebitur omnis,
aut moriere simul.' Sic ore effata recepit
ad sese et sacra longaeuum in sede locauit. 525


Stay here now; this altar will protect all,
or you will die together." Thus having spoken with her voice
she took the old man to herself and she placed him in his sacred seat.

Ecce autem elapsus Pyrrhi de caede Polites,
unus natorum Priami, per tela, per hostis
porticibus longis fugit et uacua atria lustrat
saucius. Illum ardens infesto vulnere Pyrrhus
insequitur, iam iamque manu tenet et premit hasta. 530


Behold, having escaped from the slaughter of Pyrrhus, Polites,
one of the sons of Priam, through javelins, through enemies,
flees along the long corridors and, wounded, he traverses the empty halls.
Pyrrhus follows him, burning with a hostile wound, and he almost has him
in his hand and he presses on him with a spear.

Ut tandem ante oculos euasit et ora parentum,
concidit ac multo uitam cum sanguine fudit.
Hic Priamus, quamquam in media iam morte tenetur,
non tamen abstinuit nec uoci iraeque pepercit:
'At tibi pro scelere,' exclamat, 'pro talibus ausis 535
di, si qua est caelo pietas quae talia curet,
persoluant grates dignas et praemia reddant
debita, qui nati coram me cernere letum
fecisti et patrios foedasti funere vultus.


When he finally came through before the eyes and faces of his parents,
he falls, and pours out his life with much blood.
Here Priam, although already being held in the middle of death,
did not abstain however, nor did he spare his voice and his anger:
He exclaims, "But in exchange for your crime and for such daring things,
may the gods exact worthy thanks and may they return the rewards owed to you,
if there is any piety in the sky which would care for such things,
you who made me see the death of my son face to face
and you who have defiled the face of a father with slaughter.

NOTE: "... may the gods... owed to you," meaning "Karma will get you for this."

At non ille, satum quo te mentiris, Achilles 540
talis in hoste fuit Priamo; sed iura fidemque
supplicis erubuit corpusque exsangue sepulcro
reddidit Hectoreum meque in mea regna remisit.'


But Achilles, from whom you lie that you were begotten,
was not such a one (person) towards his enemy, Priam;
but rather, he blushed at the odes and the trust of the suppliant and
he returned the bloodless Hectorian body to the tomb and
he sent me back into my kingdom."


NOTE: "... towards his enemy, Priam," meaning "towards me, his enemy."

Ic fatus senior telumque imbelle sine ictu
coniecit, rauco quod protinus aere repulsum, 545
et summo clipei nequiquam umbone pependit.
cui Pyrrhus: "Referes ergo haec et nuntius ibis
Pelidae genitori. illi mea tristia facta
degeneremque Neoptolemum narrare memento.


Thus having spoken, the old man hurled the harmless weapon without thrust,
which immediately was repulsed by the noisy bronze (shield),
and hung in vain on the highest knob of the shield.
To whom Pyrrhus (says): "Therefore, you will carry back these things and
you will go as a messenger to the my father, the son of Peleus.
Remember to tell my sad deeds to him and that Neoptolemus is a failure.


Nunc morere." Hoc dicens altaria ad ipsa trementem 550
traxit et in multo lapsantem sanguine nati,
implicuitque comam laeua, dextraque coruscum
extulit ac lateri capulo tenus abdidit ensem.
Haec finis Priami fatorum, hic exitus illum
sorte tulit Troiam incensam et prolapsa uidentem 555
Pergama, tot quondam populis terrisque superbum
regnatorem Asiae. Iacet ingens litore truncus,
auulsumque umeris caput et sine nomine corpus.


Now die." Saying this he dragged him trembling, and stumbling
to the altars themselves, slipping in much blood of his son;
and he tied up his hair with his left hand, and with the right hand takes out
his flashing sword an hid it as far as the hilt in his (Priam's) side.
This is the end of the fates of Priam, and this end carried him
by lot as one who was seeing Troy burning and one who was seeing Pergamum
fallen, once a proud ruler of Asia with so many
peoples and lands. There lies a huge body on the seashore,
a head torn from the shoulders, and a body without a name.

NOTE: "hid it.... " meaning "stabbed him so deep..."

At me tum primum saeuus circumstetit horror.
obstipui; subiit cari genitoris imago, 560
ut regem aequaeuum crudeli uulnere uidi
uitam exhalantem, subiit deserta Creusa
et direpta domus et parui casus Iuli.
respicio et quae sit me circum copia lustro.
deseruere omnes defessi, et corpora saltu 565
ad terram misere aut ignibus aegra dedere.


Then for the first time a savage horror stood around me.
I became dazed, and the image of the beloved father arose,
as I saw a king of equal age (with my father Anchises) breathing out his life
by means of his bloody wound, and the deserted Creusa arises
and the sacked house, and the misfortune of small Iulus.
I look back and survey what resources are surrounding me,
all exhausted have deserted me, and they sent their bodies
to the earth with a leap, or gave their weak bodies to the flames.


NOTE: Remember that Iulus is Ascanius, Aeneas' son.