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Virgil’s Death of Laocoön

Ancient Greek

Virgil’s Death of Laocoön

“Laocoön and His Sons”, Vatican Museum, Vatican City

 

By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB

Today we’ll be looking at the events that took place a few days before the fall of Troy. When the Trojans found the wooden horse, they were not sure whether they should keep it or burn it. That is when a wise priest of Apollo named Laocoön tried to warn them about the danger of keeping the Greek “gift”. The Olympian gods, however, had already decided that Troy had to be destroyed, and they would not hesitate to kill any mortal who would dare warn the Trojans about the Greek trap.

According to Apollodorus, the gods had previously determined that Laocoön was going to die. They were only waiting for the right moment, as the priest had committed a sacrilege by having intercourse with his wife next to a statue of Apollo. Then, when the According to Apollodorus, the gods had previously determined that Laocoön was going to die. They were only waiting for the right moment, as the priest had committed a sacrilege by having intercourse with his wife next to a statue of Apollo. Then, when the enraged priest realized the Trojans were not going to believe him, he threw his spear at the horse. They immediately sent two giant sea serpents to kill him and his two sons.

This excerpt is from the second book of Vergil’s Aeneid. The translation is by the well-known English poet John Dryden.

Ille simul manibus tendit divellere nodos
perfusus sanie vittas atroque veneno,
clamores simul horrendos ad sidera tollit:
qualis mugitus, fugit cum saucius aram
taurus et incertam excussit cervice securim

“With both his hands he labors at the knots;
His holy fillets the blue venom blots;
His roaring fills the flitting air around.
Thus, when an ox receives a glancing wound,
He breaks his bands, the fatal altar flies,
And with loud bellowings breaks the yielding skies.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Bastos Gurgel
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, and German and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. He has also worked as a tutor and teacher in a number of languages. Mr. Gurgel has been instrumental in expanding the Carmenta Online Latin School’s presence in a variety of social media.

Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.

 

 

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