The Aeneid

On Such a Night as This: Analysis of Vergil's Aeneid, II.248-259

This passage from Vergil's Aeneid comes from Aeneas' tale to Dido, as the Trojan leader describes his city and comrades on the night when Sinon released the Greeks from the Trojan Horse and opened the gate for the Greek armies on the beach. Aeneas did not observe most of the scene he describes, and eschews details that he could not know in favor of obtaining aid from the Carthaginians and enthralling his audience, eliciting sympathy for the doomed Trojans. The passage contrasts the Trojans' ignorance and trust in the gods with imminent, unrevealed danger and the cruelty of fate, helping the Greeks in every way possible.

The first event in the passage is the Trojans' celebration of the Horse. Sinon, a captured Greek, has told them that the creature is a gift from the Greeks, an offering to placate Pallas Athena. He also tells them that the Greeks have sailed home, where, for some reason, they can better pray to Athena. The Trojans, good servants of the gods, wheel the device into the temple of Minerva and deck the "delubra" with "festa...fronde," symbols of life that provide an ironic contrast to the Horse's load of death and impiety. The first instance of "delubra" in the Aeneid...

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