3.3 Vergil, Aeneid, Book 2, Lines 268–297

5 min readmarch 3, 2023

Mick Polito

Mick Polito

AP Latin 🏛

24 resources
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Lines 268-297

Once the Trojan horse is let into the city, the Trojans instead celebrate the end of the war. As night fell, the Greeks, “surprisingly” in the Trojan horse, slip out to start rampage on the city. Vergil highlights the actions of Aeneas in the upcoming lines.
If you'd like you can check out the full Latin text of this section here: Vergil, Aeneid, Book 2 Lines 268 to 297. We'll be covering the sections we think are most important in depth below.
Before we dive into breaking down the Latin test, so that we can more clearly comprehend it, we will answer some questions based on the designated skill categories! The skill categories for these lines are Reading and Comprehension, Translation, and Contextualization so be aware of that when you answer these questions and review these lines!

Lines 274-279

ei mihi, qualis erat, quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore qui redit exuvias indutus Achilli vel Danaum Phrygios iaculatus puppibus ignes! squalentem barbam et concretos sanguine crines vulneraque illa gerens, quae circum plurima muros accepit patrios
  1. Write out all of line 1 (ei...illo) and mark scansion.
  2. Based on knowledge of Greek and Latin texts, what Greek epic has Hector made an appearance before?
  3. Based on knowledge of Greek and Latin texts, what side of the Trojan War was Hector on? How about Achilles?
  4. Write out all of line 4 (squalentem...crines) and mark scansion.
  5. Write out all of line 5 (vulneraque...muros) and mark scansion.

Answers (Don't peek!👀)

  1. From left to right: dactyl-dactyl-spondee-spondee-dactyl-spondee
  2. Homer’s Iliad
  3. Hector: Trojans; Achilles: Greeks: Hector was a Trojan prince and famously recognized as Troy’s greatest fighter during the Trojan war, subject to “killing 31,000 Greek fighters” by some reports. In Homer’s Iliad, Hector faced off prominently with Protesilaus and Ajax but ultimately fell to his untimely death to Achilles in a duel. Vergil’s Aeneid faintly recalls Hector’s spirit warning Aeneas to flee Troy. However, Achilles was an honorable hero of the Trojan war and proclaimed the greatest Greek warrior of all time because of his actions. However, Achilles was killed by Trojan prince, Paris, under the assistance of Apollo, as he shot with a poisoned arrow in his heel, the only place he was vulnerable. The “Achilles Heel” has since come to mean weakness in a specific area that is overall strong while the Achilles tendon is also named after him based on these legends.
  4. From left to right: spondee-spondee-spondee-spondee-dactyl-spondee
  5. From left to right: dactyl-dactyl-spondee-spondee-dactyl-spondee

Lines 287-292

ille nihil, nec me quaerentem vana moratur,
sed graviter gemitus imo de pectore ducens,'
heu fuge, nate dea, teque his' ait 'eripe flammis.
hostis habet muros; ruit alto a culmine Troia.
sat patriae Priamoque datum: si Pergama dextra
defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.
Translate these lines as literally as possible.

Translation (don’t peek👀!)

He (Hector) does not answer, nor does he delay on my idle questions, but heaving deep sighs from the bottoms of his heart, he says: “Ah! Son of the goddess, soar, remove yourself from these flames. The enemy has overcome the walls: Troy cascades from her lofty location. Enough has been granted to Priam and your country: if Pergama could be rescued by any right hand, it would have been rescued from this.
Remember if you have different words than we did, that’s perfectly acceptable! Just make sure they have the same meaning attached to them.

Breakdown of Lines 268-297 🔎

  • As Troy’s last day concludes and night falls, the Greek soldiers exit the Trojan horse and begin their rampage by means of killing a few Trojan guards and opening the gate for the rest of the Greek soldiers. Aeneas is commenting that the first part of the night is enjoyable and welcoming for “weary men”, but allows the Greeks to enter unnoticed and lead to the destruction of Troy.
  • Aeneas is still sleeping, but in his dreams, Hector’s spirit, the lone savior of Troy, since he had just been killed by Achilles, appears to him gloomful. A two-horse chariot tore Hector’s body after being slain as Hector is seen covered with “dark with bloody dust” and “his swollen feet pierced with leather straps.”
  • Aeneas can’t believe how much Hector’s appearance has changed with two allusions from the Iliad. One reference from Iliad Book 17 includes Hector killing Patroclus and Hector stripping and then donning the armor of Achilles that Patroclus has previously worn, the other from Iliad Book 15 when Hector led the Trojans down to Phrygians and threatened to burn their fleet.
Achilles, after killing Hector, dragging his body with his two-horsed chariot. Image Courtesy of Pinterest
  • Hector was described as a man “carrying a disgusting beard” with his “hair matted with blood” and “with many wounds” in between King Priam’s, his father, walls. Aeneas, weeping, seems as if he is going to speak first before Hector makes his appearance vocally, but isn't sure yet because he is still in a dream.
  • Aeneas is confused by seeing “the light of Troy, surest hope of the Trojans”. Aeneas doesn’t know that Hector has already died, but only knows he is absent. Aeneas believes that Hector is just weary “after the many deaths of his people” or from the “varied labors of our people and our city.” Aeneas concludes by wondering what caused Hector to be there emotionless as he spots the distinct features of Hector’s wounds but still isn’t able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
  • Hector doesn’t reply or even think about his foolish questions, but instead “heaving deep sighs from the bottoms of his heart” begins to speak bluntly. Aeneas is reminded by Hector of his standing in relation to the gods as his mother is the goddess, Venus, which leads into Aeneas to leaning on her in times of dire or uncertain moments throughout the Aeneid.
The ghost of Hector appears to Aeneas lying on the bed and informs him to flee the city amid the Greeks ravaging Troy. Image Courtesy of University of Heidelberg
  • Aeneas is brought into the loop of what is transpiring within the city of Troy during the dream, and Hector immediately stresses for him to flee the city. “The enemy has overcome the walls: Troy cascades from her lofty spot." There’s no more time for saving the city, but it is still possible to save the Trojan citizens and his family. Hector explains that “if Pergama could be rescued by any right hand, it would have been rescued from this," meaning that Hector kept the city safe during his life, but not even Aeneas could save the city this time.
  • Hector finishes his speech by entrusting “its sacred rites and its deities to you” where Aeneas will carry the Trojan religion to Italy where these “friends of your fate” will be ingrained in the city of lofty walls of Rome. By visual, Hector shows Aeneas the rites from the Temple of Vesta in Troy: the headbands, Vesta (the goddess of the hearth), and the sacred flame--all of which will be important parts of the success and prosperity of Rome in the future.
And that's it for this section. We'll be moving on to the final section of the Unit next!
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