Laocoön, ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos,
Laocoon, priest to Neptune having been chosen by lot,
sollemnis taurum ingentem mactabat ad aras.
Was sacrificing a huge bull at the altar(s).
Ecce autem gemini a Tenedo tranquilla per alta—
Look, however, twin (snakes) from Tenedos through/across the calm deeps—
horresco referens—immensis orbibus angues
I shudder relating it—(twin snakes) with huge coils
incumbunt pelago, pariterque ad litora tendunt;
brood over the sea, and side by side they stretch/head to the shores
pectora quorum inter fluctus arrecta iubaeque
The breasts of which raised high among the waves and crests
sanguineae superant undas; pars cetera pontum
Blood-red surmount the waves; the other part (i.e. their bodies) skims
pone legit, sinuatque immensa volumine terga.
the sea behind, and twists their huge backs in a coil.
Fit sonitus spumante salo; iamque arva tenebant,
The salt foaming, a noise arises; and now they were holding (taking hold of)
the fields,
ardentisque oculos suffecti sanguine et igni,
and suffused in respect to their flaming eyes with blood and fire (i.e. their
flaming eyes are suffused with blood and fire. NOTE: occulos ardentis are
accusatives of respect)
sibila lambebant linguis vibrantibus ora.
They were licking their hissing mouths with vibrating tongues.
Diffugimus visu exsangues: illi agmine certo
Pale, we fled at the sight: those on a sure course/fixed line
Laocoönta petunt; et primum parva duorum
Seek Laocoon; and first each serpent having embraced the small bodies
corpora natorum serpens amplexus uterque
Of his two children
implicat, et miseros morsu depascitur artus;
Squeezes (them), and feeds on their wretched limbs with a bite;
This is a great example of enjambement. Enj. is when an idea intrudes into the
next line of poetry, rather than finishing at the end of a line. Vergil is using it
here to build emotion in the reader.
post ipsum auxilio subeuntem ac tela ferentem
Afterwards, (him) approaching as help and bringing weapons
corripiunt, spirisque ligant ingentibus; et iam
They seize, and bring (him) with large coils; and now
bis medium amplexi, bis collo squamea circum
Having embraced twice in the middle, twice having placed around his neck
terga dati, superant capite et cervicibus altis.
Their scaly backs, they rose above (him) with their heads and their high necks.
Ille simul manibus tendit divellere nodos,
That man at the same time tries to pull apart the knots with his hands,
perfusus sanie vittas atroque veneno,
his headbands soaked (literally “soaked in respect to his headbands”) with gore
and black poison,
clamores simul horrendos ad sidera tollit:
At the same time he lifts horrifying shouts to the stars:
quales mugitus, fugit cum saucius aram
Of such a sort (is) the mooing, when (a bull) wounded flees the altar
taurus, et incertam excussit cervice securim.
and has shaken from its neck the unsure axe.
At gemini lapsu delubra ad summa dracones
But/And the twin snakes with a glide to the highest shrines
effugiunt saevaeque petunt Tritonidis arcem,
Escape and, seek the citadel of cruel Athena,
sub pedibusque deae clipeique sub orbe teguntur.
and under the feet of the goddess and under the circle of her shield they are hidden.
Tum vero tremefacta novus per pectora cunctis
Then indeed a new (fear) through their made-to-tremble breasts in all (of us)
insinuat pavor, et scelus expendisse merentem
creeps, and that Laocoon, deserving, paid for a crime
Laocoönta ferunt, sacrum qui cuspide robur
they relate/say, (Laocoon) who wounded the oak with a spear
laeserit, et tergo sceleratam intorserit hastam.
and hurled a wicked spear in its back.
Ducendum ad sedes simulacrum orandaque divae
That the image must be led to the seats and that the godhead/powers/divinity
of the goddess must be entreated
numina conclamant.
they shout together.
Dividimus muros et moenia pandimus urbis.
We split the walls/ramparts and we spread open the walls of the city.
Accingunt omnes operi, pedibusque rotarum
All equip (themselves) for the work, and put a gliding of wheels under their feet
subiciunt lapsus, et stuppea vincula collo
and hemp cables/chains to/from its neck
intendunt: scandit fatalis machina muros,
they extend: the deadly device scales the walls,
feta armis. Pueri circum innuptaeque puellae
pregnant with weapons. Boys and unmarried girls around (it)
sacra canunt, funemque manu contingere gaudent.
Sing sacred (songs), and rejoice to touch the rope with their hand.
Illa subit, mediaeque minans inlabitur urbi.
That (device) approaches, and glides threatening/towering over the middle of
the city.
NOTE: the deponent verb minor, minari takes the dative case.
O patria, O divom domus Ilium, et incluta bello
O fatherland, o home of (our) gods—Ilium, and (home of) the famed in war
moenia Dardanidum, quater ipso in limine portae
Walls of Troy, Four times on the gate’s threshold itself
substitit, atque utero sonitum quater arma dedere:
it resisted, and so four times the weapons gave a sound from the belly:
instamus tamen inmemores caecique furore,
However/nevertheless we press on unmindful and blind by madness,
et monstrum infelix sacrata sistimus arce.
and we set the unlucky omen in our hallowed citadel.
Tunc etiam fatis aperit Cassandra futuris
Even then Cassandra discloses by means of fates to come
ora, dei iussu non umquam credita Teucris.
Mouths (i.e. words), by the order of a god not ever believed by Trojans.
Nos delubra deum miseri, quibus ultimus esset
We unfortunates, for whom that day was to be the last,
ille dies, festa velamus fronde per urbem.
deck the shrines of the gods with festive foliage through the city.