Et clauso ventorum carcere regnet

Aeneid 1.137-41, Neptune chastising the winds for the storm they launched – at Juno’s order – against the Trojan fleet:

Hasten your flight and say these words to your king:
Not to him were the power over the sea and the fierce trident
given by lot – but to me.  He has those huge rocks,
your home, Eurus; Let him vaunt himself in that hall
– Aeolus – and let him reign in his closed up prison of winds.

Maturate fugam, regique haec dicite vestro:
non illi imperium pelagi saevumque tridentem,
sed mihi sorte datum. Tenet ille immania saxa,
vestras, Eure, domos; illa se iactet in aula
Aeolus, et clauso ventorum carcere regnet.

Virgil can be so damning so succintly.  And with such perfect word order and verbal juxtapositions: Aeolus + clausus (enclosed) + ventus (winds) + carcer (prison) + regnere (reign).  The prison and its adjective enclose the winds.  Aeolus and his verb enclose/rule the prison.  And then the line ends leading up to regnere so perfectly draw out Neptune’s flow of irony – from his dismissive saxa (plain rocks) to mocking aula (grand hall, court, palace) to the very much cut down sense of the final verb regnere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s