Posted by Eric » 3 Comments »
In Aeneid 1.387-9 Venus begins her third address to Aeneas with instruction for him to betake himself to the palace of Dido. In 389, she says:
Perge modo atque hinc te reginae ad limina perfer.
The use of elision is very effective here to evoke the movement necessitated by her command. First, the connection of modo, atque, and hinc, and then that between reginae and ad. Four out of the line’s first seven words are elided, finally bringing the reader to the threshold (limina) of Dido’s palace.
The pressing character of the command is furthered by Vergil’s bracketing of the line with two disyllabic imperatives, both beginning with “p” (perge, perfer) and sharing the same prefix (per-). There is perhaps an etymological play, as well. Pergo is a compound of per and rego, the latter of which is picked up later in the line by reginae: “direct your way to the house of the regal one.” Ok, that’s pretty bad, but perhaps that gets something of the effect across.