Winter 2014

Dido’s Long Dying

Author
Michael Courtney Jenkins Putnam

MICHAEL C. J. PUTNAM, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1996, is the W. Duncan MacMillan II Professor of Classics and Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Brown University. His books include The Humanness of Heroes: Studies in the Conclusion of Virgil's “Aeneid” (2011) and A Companion to Virgil's “Aeneid” and its Tradition (edited with Joseph Farrell, 2010). He has recently translated Jacopo Sannazaro: The Latin Poetry (2009) and The Complete Poems of Tibullus (with Rodney G. Dennis, 2012).

. . . sic fata gradus evaserat altos,
semianimemque sinu germanam amplexa fovebat
um gemitu atque atros siccabat veste cruores.
illa gravis oculos conata attollere rursus
deficit; infixum stridit sub pectore vulnus.
ter sese attollens cubitoque adnixa levavit,
ter revoluta toro est oculisque errantibus alto
quaesivit caelo lucem ingemuitque reperta.
Tum Iuno omnipotens longum miserata dolorem
difficilisque obitus Irim demisit Olympo
quae luctantem animam nexosque resolveret artus.
nam quia nec fato merita nec morte peribat,
sed misera ante diem subitoque accensa furore,
nondum illi flavum Proserpina vertice crinem
abstulerat Stygioque caput damnaverat Orco.
ergo Iris croceis per caelum roscida pennis
mille trahens varios adverso sole colores
devolat et supra caput astitit. ‘hunc ego Diti
sacrum iussa fero teque isto corpore solvo’:
sic ait et dextra crinem secat, omnis et una
dilapsus calor atque in ventos vita recessit.

–Virgil, Aeneid, book 4: lines 685–705

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