NaPoTraMo 8: Juno’s Wrath
Day eight and I’ve run out of ideas. So I’ve gone to one of the classics, one of the pieces that every Latinist and their dog has probably translated at some point, but I guess I might as well add my paltry contribution to the pile: the opening of the Aeneid.
I don’t think Virgil’s masterpiece particularly needs introduction, given that it introduces itself – here is my protagonist, here is my setting, here is a potted summary of the next twelve books. I also think it goes without saying that this one, this one especially, is for my own amusement and Latin practice, and nothing else. If you want to read the Aeneid in English – look elsewhere. A thousand people have rendered this poem better than I will ever be capable of doing, and you should read them instead.
I sing of arms, and of a man, who first
went forth from Troy to land in Italy
a poor doomed exile to Lavinia’s shores;
shaken by storms on land and sea alike,
the heavens’ force remembering Juno’s wrath,
and much withstood in war; founded a city,
let in his Gods; thence came the Latin race,
fathers of Alba, and the high walls of Rome.
Tell me the causes, Muse: what injury
or grief was it, for heaven’s Queen to throw
toils and calamities on such a man,
a pious man? What anger rules the gods?
Translates ll.1-11 of P. Vergilius Maro’s Aeneid; Latin text available here.
Rhiannon (who is doing real NaPoWriMo, with original poems and everything) did a surreal, but still fun and thought-provoking take on the first stanza a little while back: “The Tragic Death of John the Trojan.” It’s fascinating how the simple phonetic music of a language sparks random associations, which then contrast weirdly with what the potential Latin/translation-reading reader knows the content to be.