• Devin O'Donnell

Arma virumque cano

Updated: Jun 6

Amra virumque goes the first line of Virgil's Aeneid: "I sing of arms and the man..." In the same way that Homer's invocation and first lines state the themes of his pome, so these lines do the same in Virgil. Here's Fagles' translation:

Wars and a man I sing—an exile driven on by Fate, he was the first to flee the coast of Troy, destined to reach Lavinian shores and Italian soil, yet many blows he took on land and sea from the gods above— thanks to cruel Juno’s relentless rage—and many losses he bore in battle too, before he could found a city, bring his gods to Latium, source of the Latin race, the Alban lords and the high walls of Rome.
Tell me, Muse, how it all began. Why was Juno outraged? What could wound the Queen of the Gods with all her power?Why did she force a man, so famous for his devotion, to brave such rounds of hardship, bear such trials? Can such rage inflame the immortals’ hearts?

Here's Dryden's version:

ARMS, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate, And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate, Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore. Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore, And in the doubtful war, before he won The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town; His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine, And settled sure succession in his line, From whence the race of Alban fathers come, And the long glories of majestic Rome. O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate; What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate; For what offense the Queen of Heav’n began To persecute so brave, so just a man; Involv’d his anxious life in endless cares, Expos’d to wants, and hurried into wars! Can heav’nly minds such high resentment show, Or exercise their spite in human woe?

And now we come to the Aeneid, the epic that some have called the "Roman Old Testament." The significance of this story cannot be overstated. Below is an image from a scene in the Aeneid, an image, C. R. Wiley notes, that was "found on coins that Jesus and Paul probably held in their hands. It is the image of a man with an elderly man on his back, accompanied by the word pietas—the word that is the basis of the English word piety." We will return to this image later.

Agenda for this week:

  1. Prayer

  2. History:

  3. Read & finish Book 7 of Herodotus – The Battle of Thermopylae

  4. Literature:

  5. Begin The Aeneid

  6. Watch "Why should you read Virgil's Aeneid?" by Mark Robinson

  7. Watch "Why the Aeneid mattered to early Christians?" by Wes Callahan

  8. Aeneid Quiz Worksheet

  9. Continue working on the Great Ideas Reading Guide for this week

  10. Notes on the Final Exam

  11. Oral/Dialogic Final Exam

  12. Final Exam times & sign-ups here

  13. It will consist primarily of second semester material but will also include Catechism questions too. (Study Guide to be shared soon)


  1. Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. Pray, that you may not stumble.

  2. Complete your Great Ideas Reading Guide for this week

  3. 5 Commonplaces and 1 memorized for Friday.

  4. Remember to bring your Class Catechism


BAROCCI, Federico Fiori Aeneas' Flight from Troy 1598 Oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome

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