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A Vergilian detail

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A Vergilian detail

Postby Interaxus » Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:39 am

I have a minor problem with Aeneid Bk 1, lines 494-497 (the stranded Dardan hero has been despondently viewing scenes of the Trojan War on the walls of a Carthaginian temple):

haec dum Dardanio Aeneae miranda videntur
dum stupet obtutuque haeret defixus in uno
regina ad templum forma pulcherrima Dido
incessit magna iuvenum stipante caterva.


First it took me a while to fit the dative (obviously not ablative!) ending of 'Aeneae' to videntur ('being seen to Aeneas' so to speak, rather than 'being seen by Aeneas'). Though I've yet to trace this construction in a Grammar.

But it's the 'ad' that really stumps me. 'Ad templum incessit'. Is Queen Dido both approaching AND entering the temple? Or is the meaning of ad more like 'at', implying no motion in fact? But how would that work?

Any light anyone has to shed on this will be much appreciated.

Incidentally, I just came across the Vergil Project. Neat aid. For example (just enter 1 for Book Number and 494 for Line Number):
http://vergil.classics.upenn.edu/worksp ... frame.html

Quite helpful. Even though Dull Brain still 'perplexes and retards' :cry: (while on the subject of poetry... :) ).

Cheers,
Int
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Re: A Vergilian detail

Postby Twpsyn » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:08 am

Interaxus wrote:First it took me a while to fit the dative (obviously not ablative!) ending of 'Aeneae' to videntur ('being seen to Aeneas' so to speak, rather than 'being seen by Aeneas'). Though I've yet to trace this construction in a Grammar.


The construction is dative of agent. For a reference, check Allen and Greenough, § 375 b: 'the dative of the person who sees or thinks is regularly used after videor, "seem".'

But it's the 'ad' that really stumps me. 'Ad templum incessit'. Is Queen Dido both approaching AND entering the temple? Or is the meaning of ad more like 'at', implying no motion in fact? But how would that work?


Incessit's primary meaning is not, in fact, literally 'enter'. The 'in-' prefex is more or less adornment, and the sense of motion is conveyed by the preposition ad. 'Approach' will do fine for the phrase.
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Postby Essorant » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:57 pm

Indeed, "seem" seems to work much better in those lines:

<b>haec dum Dardanio Aeneae miranda videntur</b>
"These while to Dardan Aeneus admirable seem"

The <b>in</b> of <b>incessit</b> I think may be thought of with the accusative sense "to or towards". But since <b>ad</b> already expresses that meaning, there is no need to express it again.

<b>incessit magna iuvenum stipante caterva.</b>
"Went (to/towards the temple) with a great youths' attending throng"

<pre> </pre>
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Postby Interaxus » Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:06 am

Twpsyn: Thanks for clearing that up. I start to see datives of agent everywhere. For instance, same book, lines 439-440:

Infert se saeptus nebula (mirabile dictu)
per medios, miscetque viris neque cernitur ulli
.

… and he mingles with the people nor is perceived ‘by’ (is visible to) anyone.

Essorant: In the context, I think ‘haec miranda’ is best translated ‘these wondrous/amazing things’ referring back to the sequence of scenes Aeneas has been stunned and saddened by. A better (literal) translation of ‘videntur’ thus seems to be ‘are/ were being observed/ studied/ viewed by Aeneas’ (actually his eyes are glued to a bronze pin-up of bare-breasted battling Amazon queen Penthesilea when Dido makes her entry – I wonder if this is some subtle Vergilian foreplay leading up to his Sidonian Marilyn Monroe's bursting on the scene - ‘pulcherrima Dido’? No, I don’t believe in the Monroe suicide theory).

While flitting around the text of Book One, I noticed another specimen of the verb ‘stipare’ (as seen in ‘magna iuvenum stipante caterva’ – ‘with a large retinue of youths crowding around’) used about bees in lines 1.432-433:

… cum liquentia mella
stipant et dulci distendunt nectare cellas

(… when liquid honey
they cram/stockpile and with sweet nectar pack their cells)

(hmm, ‘for summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells’…)

Also ‘haeret’ reappears in line 1.476 where we find poor Troilus dragged supine over the rough ground:

… curruque haeret resupinus inani
lora tenens tamen; HUIC CERVIXQUE COMAEQUE TRAHUNTUR
PER TERRAM.

Bumpity bumpity bump.

I don’t normally relish blood and gore but … roll over Horace, Vergil is fun!

Cheers,
Int
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Postby Twpsyn » Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:10 am

Interaxus wrote:Essorant:In the context, I think ‘haec miranda’ is best translated ‘these wondrous/amazing things’ referring back to the sequence of scenes Aeneas has been stunned and saddened by. A better (literal) translation of ‘videntur’ thus seems to be ‘are/ were being observed/ studied/ viewed by Aeneas’


I think either translation is accurate. After all, we know what the Latin means, in our Latin brains; it's only when we have to wring it into our English brains that the difficulty appears.
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Postby Interaxus » Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:15 am

Point taken.

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