Personal introductionI think that this is one of the most moving passages in The Aeneid. It focuses on Aeneas trying to save his family which is not only something very poignant but also quite surprising given that it comes in a story in part focused on battles and war where you don’t necessarily get to see the family and endearing side of men. Aeneas is depicted as carrying his elderly father on his shoulders and holding his young son’s hand as he tries to escape the city which is burning around them. Virgil enables the reader to picture this emotive moment clearly thanks to his vivid description and language. I also think that the fact that Aeneas is seen fleeing with his father, son and the Penates reflects the things that Romans considered to be important.


Details of author and passage

Aeneas’ flight from Troy

Aeneid, Virgil: Book 2, lines 708-740

“Ergo age, care pater, cervici imponere nostrae;

ipse subibo umeris, nec me labor iste gravabit:

quo res cumque cadent, unum et commune periclum,

una salus ambobus erit. Mihi parvus Iulus

sit comes, et longe servet vestigia coniunx:

vos, famuli, quae dicam, animis advertite vestris.

Est urbe egressis tumulus templumque vetustum

desertae Cereris, iuxtaque antiqua cupressus

religione patrum multos servata per annos.

Hanc ex diverso sedem veniemus in unam.

Tu, genitor, cape sacra manu patriosque Penatis;

me, bello e tanto digressum et caede recenti,

attrectare nefas, donec me flumine vivo


Haec fatus, latos umeros subiectaque colla

veste super fulvique insternor pelle leonis,

succedoque oneri; dextrae se parvus Iulus

implicuit sequiturque patrem non passibus aequis;

pone subit coniunx: ferimur per opaca locorum;

et me, quem dudum non ulla iniecta movebant

tela neque adverso glomerati ex agmine Grai,

nunc omnes terrent aurae, sonus excitat omnis

suspensum et pariter comitique onerique timentem.

Iamque propinquabam portis, omnemque videbar

evasisse viam, subito cum creber ad auris

visus adesse pedum sonitus, genitorque per umbram

prospiciens; “Nate” exclamat, “fuge nate, propinquant.

Ardentis clipeos atque aera micantia cerno!”—

Hic mihi nescio quod trepido male numen amicum

confusam eripuit mentem. Namque avia cursu

dum sequor, et nota excedo regione viarum,

heu, misero coniunx fatone erepta Creüsa

substitit, erravitne via, seu lassa resedit,

incertum; nec post oculis est reddita nostris.


Translation (



Therefore come, dear father, put yourself on my neck;

I will support you with my shoulders, nor will this effort weigh me down

However things fall out, a single and shared danger,

A single safety there will be for us both. Young Iulus will be

My companion, and my wife will watch over our footsteps from behind.

You, slaves, turn your attention to what I shall say.

When leaving the city there is a hill and the old temple

Of abandoned Ceres, and next to it an old cypress tree

Watched over by the devotion of our fathers for many years.

We will come to this one place from different ways.

You, father, grasp the sacred things and the ancestral gods of home with your hand;

It is a crime for me to hold them, having departed from such a war

And recent slaughter, until I wash myself in flowing water.’

Having spoken this, I spread over my bowed neck and wide shoulders

as a robe the tawny pelt of a lion,

And I bent down under my burden; little Iulus clasped my right hand

And followed his father with his unequal steps;

My wife came behind us: we are carried through dark places;

And as for me, whom a short while ago no hurled spears

were terrifying, nor massed Greeks coming out of their hostile battle-line,

Now all winds are frightening me, every sound startles me

As in suspense I fear equally for my comrade and my burden.

And now I was drawing near to the gates, and I seemed

to have escaped detection along the whole journey, when suddenly to our ears repeatedly came the sound of feet, and my father, looking through

The shadows shouted ‘Son, flee, son, they are approaching.

I see flaming shields and flashing bronze!’

Then I know not what unfriendly god, while I was hesitating,

Disordered and tore away judgement from me. For while in my flight I followed

unknown paths, and went out from the familiar region of the streets

Alas, whether my wife Creusa, snatched by cruel fate,

Stopped, or wandered from the street or wearily sat down,

It is uncertain; nor after was she returned to our sight.


Translation by Carly Jennings


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