previous next

[526] Polites is mentioned several times in Hom. as one of Priam's sons, being celebrated Il. 2. 791 for his swiftness of foot. Dictys 2. 43 speaks of him as slain in battle during the siege; Q. Smyrnaeus 13. 214 agrees with Virg. We shall find a son of Polites introduced A. 5. 564. ‘Elapsus Pyrrhi de caede:’ he had escaped being killed on the spot, though he carried with him a mortal wound. ‘Pyrrhi caede,’ like “volnere Ulixi,” v. 436.

[527] Per tela, per hostis v. 358 Wagn. rightly connects these words with ‘elapsus,’ not with what follows.

[528] Polites runs through different parts of the house, now winding through the cloisters, now traversing the ‘atrium,’ round which the cloisters ran: comp. 12. 474 foll. ‘Vacua’ seems intended to indicate space rather than solitude, as, though the Trojans had probably fled, the Greeks from v. 495 &c. appear to have been there. ‘Lustrare’ of traversing, E. 10. 55.

[529] Infesto volnere, with a blow aimed at him. Pyrrhus is always meaning to strike, but never has the opportunity.

[530] “Iam iamque tenet, similisque tenenti Increpuit malis” 12. 754. ‘Premit’ is rightly taken by Henry in its ordinary sense, “is close upon him with the spear,” so that ‘volnere insequitur’ is parallel to ‘premit hasta.’ He also remarks that ‘iam iamque’ has nothing to do with ‘premit,’ but is confined to ‘tenet.

[531] Evasit v. 458 note.

[533] ‘Though death was all about him.’

[534] Voci iraeque pepercit: see on G. 2. 339.

[535] At is the regular particle in imprecations, ejaculations, &c. “At vobis male sit,” Catull. 3. 13.

[536] “Si quis est qui curet deus” Cic. Att. 4. 10. ‘Pietas,’ commonly used of the dutiful feeling of men to the gods or others who have a claim on them, is here and 5. 688 used of the reciprocal feeling of the gods to men. So 4. 382, “si quid pia numina possunt.

[537] ‘Grates’ and ‘praemia’ are of course ironical.

[538] “‘Facio’ with an accusative with the infinitive in the signification ‘to cause’ is poetical.” Madv. § 372. 6, obs. 5, quoting this passage. Forb. however cites from Varro R. R. 3. 5, “desiderium macrescere facit volucres;” and Taubm. from Cic. Lucull. 22, “Erant qui illum gloriae caussa facerent sperare,” though the reading there is doubted.

[539] For ‘fecisti’ and ‘foedasti’ we should probably have had subjunctives in prose. ‘Foedasti funere voltus’ has nothing to do with sprinkling blood, but simply denotes the contamination which a father must necessarily receive from the very sight of his son's murder.

[540] The legitimacy of Neoptolemus seems never to have been questioned in any way, so that Priam means no more than that his nature belies his lineage, as Dido 4. 365 (comp. by Serv.) says, “Nec tibi diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor.” So Pyrrhus understands it, “Degenerem Neoptolemum” v. 549.

[541] ‘In hoste:’ see note on E. 8. 83, Madv. § 230, obs. 1. Ovid talks of “lenis in hoste” (5 Trist. 2. 36), “saevus in hoste” (1 Amor. 7. 34), Propertius of “aequus in hoste” (4. 19. 28). ‘Fidem supplicis’ seems to include the confidence reposed by a suppliant and the return which it claims.

[542] Erubuit, ᾐδεῖτο, ᾐσχύνετο.

[543] Corpus Hectoreum like Ἑκτόρεια χείρ Eur. (?), Rhes. 762. So Hom.'s βίη Ἡρακληείη. The addition of a second epithet to a substantive is not common in Virg., except where the two are co-ordinate, like “horrendum, informe:” but the awkwardness is to some extent removed by the order. ‘Reddidit’ combines the notions of giving back to the father (11. 103), and giving the body to the grave that claimed it (comp. 6. 152). ‘In mea regna,’ to Troy, as if the territory which the Greeks occupied were no longer Priam's own. ‘Remisit:’ Achilles did not actually convey Priam back, but allowed him to depart in safety.

[544] Sine ictu with ‘coniecit:’ threw it so as not to wound. Donatus remarks on the situation, “est desiderium manifestum mortis, quod post contumeliam etiam armis iuvenem senex provocet.

[545] “‘Rauco,’ the ordinary adjunct (comp. “raucosque repulsus Umbonum” Claud. Bell. Gild. 433), expresses in this case rather the weakness than the strength of the stroke, as if Virg. had said, made the shield ring, but was unable to penetrate.” Henry. ‘Repulsum:’ for the use of participles for finite verbs even in relative sentences Wagn. comp. 3. 673, G. 1. 234, though with Heyne he would prefer ‘e summo’ in the next line, the reading of one MS.

[546] Nequiquam, because it did not pierce the brass, but only the leather which covered the shield.

[547] Referes and ‘ibis’ seem to have a half-imperative sense. There is a similar sarcasm 9. 742 (quoted by Cerda), “Hic etiam inventum Priamo narrabis Achillem.” For ‘ergo’ with fut. in this sense Weidner comp. Plaut. Mil. 477,ergo, si sapis, Mussitabis: plus oportet scire servum quam loqui.

[548] Illi: see on G. 1. 54.

[549] Degenerem Neoptolemum narrare like “reduces socios nuntio” 1. 390, comp. by Gossrau. ‘Memento’ of course points the sarcasm.

[550] Nunc morere 9. 743. For ‘hoc’ inferior MSS. give ‘haec.’ ‘Altaria ad ipsa:’ the common story made the death of Priam take place at the altar of Ζεὺς Ἕρκειος, in his own palace. So Eur. Tro. 481 foll., Hec. 23. Lesches represented him as torn from the altar and slain at the palace door (a story from which Virg. may have borrowed the fact of his being seized by the hair: see above on v. 403): others, alluded to by Serv., said that he was dragged to the tomb of Achilles and killed there. Dictys 5. 12 makes him slain at the altar, which he clings to with both hands.

[552] Henry's remark that ‘coruscum’ belongs to ‘extulit’ alone, not to ‘abdidit,’ seems true; but such discrimination is apt to run into mere refinement, as we might say ‘abdidit coruscum,’ meaning that it flashed till the very moment when it was actually plunged into the body. ‘Extulit’ apparently includes both unsheathing and brandishing in the air.

[554] Hic finis is found in two or three MSS.: but ‘haec’ is supported by Gell. 13. 21, where Probus is quoted, as well as by the great majority of copies. ‘The fates of Priam,’ ΙΙριαμικαὶ τύχαι, are mentioned by Aristot. Eth. N. 1, as if the expression were proverbial. Comp. also the well-known “Fortunam Priami cantabo et nobile bellum.” Priam's fortune is dwelt on in Homer, by himself Il. 24. 255 foll., 493 foll., by Achilles ib. 543 foll., a passage which contrasts his prosperity and his adversity much as Virg. does here. This disproves Peerlkamp's pointing, which connects ‘fatorum’ with what follows. “Priami fata” occurs in a more restricted sense v. 506 above.

[555] Sorte tulit, ἔλαχε. ‘Tulit’ of fate E. 5. 34. ‘Videntem:’ the pres. part. has a force, as the destruction was still going on before Priam's eyes at the time of his death. The language is from Il. 22. 61, αἴσῃ ἐν ἀργαλέῃ φθίσει κακὰ πόλλ᾽ ἐπιδόντα κ.τ.λ.

[556] The choice lies between making ‘populis’ dat. with ‘regnatorem,’ i. q. “qui regnator fuerat populis” (comp. 1. 654, and see Madv. § 241, obs. 4), connecting it with the same word as abl., i. q. “qui regnaverat populis,” and constructing it as abl. with ‘superbum,’ which view, originally proposed by Wakef., is accepted by the later editors. There is some harshness in all three: but perhaps the last is best.

[557] Here, as elsewhere (3. 1., 11. 268), the extent of Priam's dominion is exaggerated. Cic. Div. 1. 40 however calls him “rex Asiae.” ‘Iacet:’ the body was exposed unburied, and so Aeneas speaks of it as if it were still lying there (comp. 6. 149 note). ‘Litore:’ from Serv.'s note here and on v. 506 it appears that according to one version of the story, followed by Pacuvius in an unnamed tragedy, Priam was captured by Pyrrhus in his palace, but slain at the tomb of Achilles, having been dragged to the Sigean promontory, and that his head was carried about on a pole by Pyrrhus. Serv. remarks that Virg. alludes to (“praelibat”) this version, while really adopting a different one. Donatus wished to give “litus” the special sense of a place before the altar, vainly attempting to support his notion by supposed etymologies from “lito” or “lituus.” ‘Ingens’ agrees with Hom.'s epithet Πρίαμος μέγας Il. 24. 477.

[558] The parts of the decapitated body are put in apposition, the severed head and the body, headless, and therefore nameless and unrecognized. It may be doubted however whether the head is actually lying on the shore, or whether the words mean no more than ‘avolso humeris capite.’ Some have imagined that in writing these lines Virg. may have been thinking of the fate of Pompey.

[559-566] ‘Horror seized me to see the old king so foully murdered. I thought of my father, of my wife and son. I looked round to see if any one would rally about me, but all were dead or fled.’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Troy (Turkey) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: