Aeneid 1.198-207: Keep yourselves safe for better times

Over the centuries since Virgil wrote these words, they must have been read by countless people who were experiencing a time of crisis. In the Spring of 2020, with people round the world confined to their homes, the words ‘sedes.. quietas’ ‘quiet homes’ take on a new meaning. For most of us it is a quiet crisis, as we keep ourselves safe. Hopefully too, many of us will indeed look back with elements of pleasure at the time spent with our families. But our thoughts are with those who are enduring worse right now.

O my comrades – since we have not been previously without experience of evils –
O you who have endured worse, God will give an end to these as well.
You have come close to Scylla’s madness and her cliffs that
Echo deep within, you have also known the Cyclops’ crags:
Call back your spirits; send away sad fear:
Perhaps one day it will be pleasant to remember even these things.
Through misfortunes of many kinds, through so many critical moments,
We keep heading for Latium; the quiet homes that the Fates
promise; there it is ordained the kingdoms of Troy will rise again.
Endure, and keep yourselves safe for better times.

” O socii—neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum—
O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.
Vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantis       200
accestis scopulos, vos et Cyclopea saxa
experti: revocate animos, maestumque timorem
mittite: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum
tendimus in Latium; sedes ubi fata quietas         205
ostendunt; illic fas regna resurgere Troiae.
Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.”

Text from Perseus

For a thought-provoking discussion of the possible translations of ‘iuvabit’ go to this post by In Media Res

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The context of this passage is as follows – Aeneas’ fleet has been travelling the seas for several years since they fled the fall of Troy. Now they have been shipwrecked on the coast of North Africa. Aeneas’ men are in despair as they have been separated from the rest of the fleet, whom they believe drowned, their ship is destroyed and they may be in hostile territory. But Aeneas’ mother Venus will come to his rescue and ensure that he is welcomed warmly by Dido, Queen of Carthage. And so his next adventure begins.

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