The opening lines of The Aeneid.
Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram;
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem, 5
inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum,
Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae.
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso,
quidve dolens, regina deum tot volvere casus
insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores 10
impulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
Urbs antiqua fuit, Tyrii tenuere coloni,
Karthago, Italiam contra Tiberinaque longe
ostia, dives opum studiisque asperrima belli;
quam Iuno fertur terris magis omnibus unam 15
posthabita coluisse Samo; hic illius arma,
hic currus fuit; hoc regnum dea gentibus esse,
si qua fata sinant, iam tum tenditque fovetque.
Progeniem sed enim Troiano a sanguine duci
audierat, Tyrias olim quae verteret arces; 20
hinc populum late regem belloque superbum
venturum excidio Libyae: sic volvere Parcas.
Id metuens, veterisque memor Saturnia belli,
prima quod ad Troiam pro caris gesserat Argis—
necdum etiam causae irarum saevique Dolores 25
exciderant animo: manet alta mente repostum
iudicium Paridis spretaeque iniuria formae,
et genus invisum, et rapti Ganymedis honores.
His accensa super, iactatos aequore toto
Troas, reliquias Danaum atque immitis Achilli, 30
arcebat longe Latio, multosque per annos
errabant, acti fatis, maria omnia circum.
Tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem!
Arms and the man I sing, who first made way,
predestined exile, from the Trojan shore
to Italy, the blest Lavinian strand.
Smitten of storms he was on land and sea
by violence of Heaven, to satisfy
stern Juno’s sleepless wrath; and much in war
he suffered, seeking at the last to found 5
the city, and bring o’er his fathers’ gods
to safe abode in Latium; whence arose
the Latin race, old Alba’s reverend lords,
and from her hills wide-walled, imperial Rome.
O Muse, the causes tell! What sacrilege,
or vengeful sorrow, moved the heavenly Queen
to thrust on dangers dark and endless toil
a man whose largest honor in men’s eyes 10
was serving Heaven? Can gods such anger feel?
In ages gone an ancient city stood—
Carthage, a Tyrian seat, which from afar
made front on Italy and on the mouths
of Tiber’s stream; its wealth and revenues
were vast, and ruthless was its quest of war.
‘T is said that Juno, of all lands she loved, 15
most cherished this,—not Samos’ self so dear.
Here were her arms, her chariot; even then
a throne of power o’er nations near and far,
if Fate opposed not, ‘t was her darling hope
to ‘stablish here; but anxiously she heard
that of the Trojan blood there was a breed
then rising, which upon the destined day
should utterly o’erwhelm her Tyrian towers, 20
a people of wide sway and conquest proud
should compass Libya’s doom;—such was the web
the Fatal Sisters spun. Such was the fear
of Saturn’s daughter, who remembered well
what long and unavailing strife she waged
for her loved Greeks at Troy. Nor did she fail
to meditate th’ occasions of her rage, 25
and cherish deep within her bosom proud
its griefs and wrongs: the choice by Paris made;
her scorned and slighted beauty; a whole race
rebellious to her godhead; and Jove’s smile
that beamed on eagle-ravished Ganymede.
With all these thoughts infuriate, her power
pursued with tempests o’er the boundless main
the Trojans, though by Grecian victor spared 30
and fierce Achilles; so she thrust them far
from Latium; and they drifted, Heaven-impelled,
year after year, o’er many an unknown sea—
O labor vast, to found the Roman line!
Chosen by Stephen Jenkin. Stephen’s recommended translation is by D. West.
The above text and translation are provided by the Perseus Digital Library.
The introductions to the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid set the scene for the poems and it is interesting to compare and contrast them, even in translation with students who are only studying Latin or neither.