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[506] Virg. was thinking of his own line, “Forsitan et scrobibus quae sint fastigia, quaeras,G. 2. 288. “Priami fatorum” v. 554.

[507] Casum may mean ‘fall’ (comp. 1. 623), though ‘captae’ here makes a difference, expressing as it may that in which the calamity consisted. ‘Ubi,’ the reading before Heins., seems to be found only in inferior MSS. ‘Convolsa limina:’ the breaking open of the palace doors and of the royal chambers would naturally seem to the old king the last outrage. Comp. Il. 22. 63, referred to on v. 503.

[508] For ‘medium in’ some MSS. (including Pal. and Gud., both originally) give ‘mediis in’ or ‘mediis,’ as in v. 665, just as in 1. 348 some give ‘medios’ for ‘medius.’ The variety is as old as Serv., who points out that ‘mediis in’ would be unmetrical.

[510] Arma circumdat humeris, like “circumdat loricam humeris,” 12. 88. It is probably the “lorica” that is meant here, as Forb. remarks.

[511] “‘Fertur,neque tamen iam inruit. Est ut dicunt de conatu,” Gossrau. The enemy has broken into the palace, and Priam is advancing against them, when Hecuba draws him back.

[512] The altar intended is that of Ζεὺς Ἕρκειος (see on v. 550), at which Priam apparently makes libations, Il. 24. 306, στὰς μέσῳ ἕρκεϊ. Virg. however, following as usual the details of a Roman house, removes the altar to the interior of the building, under the “impluvium.” Comp. the scene E. 8. 64 foll. ‘Sub aetheris axe,’ 8. 28.

[513] A bay-tree grows similarly in the middle of Latinus' palace, 7. 59. Priam's bay seems to have been a favourite object in exaggerating legends, which represented it as having a stem of gold, and blossoms, branches, and leaves partly of gold, partly of silver (Taubm.). Lersch (Antiqq. Verg. p. 159) cites a story from Suet. Aug. 92 to the effect that Augustus had a palm which grew before his house transplanted “in conpluvium deorum Penatium.

[515] Nequiquam, because the altar did not really protect them against the conquerors' violence.

[516] So the Danaides in Aesch. Supp. 223 are bidden ἐν ἁγνῷ δ᾽ ἐσμὸς ὡς πελειάδων Ἵζεσθε, κίρκων τῶν ὁμοπτέρων φόβῳ, a passage of which Virg. may possibly have thought, though he has slightly varied the image. ‘Praecipites,’ driven headlong from the sky.

[517] ‘Condensus’ is a Lucretian word. It occurs again 8. 497. For ‘sedebant’ others give ‘tenebant,’ which is the first reading of Med.; but this would produce an awkward construction with ‘altaria circum . . . condensae,’ not to mention the tautology with ‘amplexae.

[518] Ipsum: that Priam himself should have put on armour would make Hecuba feel keenly the miserable reversal of all former relations which the sack of a city produces. For ‘iuvenalibus,’ which is apparently read by all Ribbeck's MSS., the reading before Heins. was ‘iuvenilibus,’ which seems the commoner word, though the MSS. appear to vary in other passages of other authors, no less than in this. In the three other passages where the word occurs in Virg. (5. 475., 8. 163., 12. 221), it is supported by Med., and in one of them, the first, it now appears to be in all Ribbeck's MSS., and is acknowledged by Charisius.

[519] Mens dira is used like “mens mala,” of any monstrous or perverse thought or resolution, ‘dira’ having the force which it has in “dira cupidoG. 1. 37, &c. Serv. has a curious note, “‘dira:modo proprio: dira enim est deorum ira: ergo quae mens dira, id est, infusa ex deorum ira.”

[521] This line is commonly taken ‘the time requires far other defenders than you,’ a sense in which it has become a stock quotation. Henry however is clearly right in supposing the meaning to be ‘we have not now to look to arms, but to altars and prayers,’ as the words which follow, ‘non, si ipse meus nunc adforet Hector’ (with which comp. vv. 291, 292, above), are sufficient to show. With this interpretation he well comp. Aesch. Supp. 188: “ἄμεινόν ἐστι παντὸς οὕνεκ᾽, κόραι,
πάγον προσίζειν τῶνδ᾽ ἀγωνίων θεῶν:
κρείσσων δὲ πύργου βωμός, ἄρρηκτον σάκος:

and Shakspeare, Coriolanus, 1. 2: “For the dearth, The gods, not the patricians make it; and Your knees to them, not arms, must help.

For ‘defensoribus,’ applied to an inanimate object, he cites Caes. B. G. 4. 17, Claud. Ruf. 1. 79.

[522] “Egeret” must be supplied from ‘eget’ for ‘adforet.’ Those who support the ordinary interpretation of the preceding line suppose an ellipse of “posset defendere,” with Serv.

[523] Tandem: if you have taken the false step of arming yourself, be persuaded at last, while there is yet time.

[526-558] ‘Polites, one of Priam's sons, enters, pursued by Pyrrhus, and falls dead at his father's feet. The old man, maddened, upbraids the slayer of his son, and feebly hurls a spear at him. Pyrrhus retorts, seizes him by the hair, and stabs him before the altar. The headless trunk lies on the shore.’

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