Virgil Quotations

Some with English Translations

Virgil's
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Publius Vergilius Maro (October 15, 70 B.C. - September 21, 19 B.C.) was the leading poet of the Augustan era. His Aeneid glorified Rome and especially the ancestry of the first Roman emperor, Augustus (Octavian). The influence of Virgil (Vergil) on subsequent writers has been immense. He is responsible for sayings or the sentiments behind sayings that we still use, like "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts," from Book II of the Aeneid.

I am not including popular quotations attributed to Virgil that circulate without either Latin or book and line number. An example of the unattributed Virgil quote is: "Nunc scio quit sit amor", which is supposed to mean "Now I know what love is." The trouble is, it doesn't. Not only that, but the Latin can't be sourced via the online search engines because it's wrong*. It is even harder to find so-called Virgil quotations that contain only the English translation. So, instead of playing sleuth, I'm making a list of quotes that are properly attributed and composed of real, Vergilian Latin.

All Virgil quotations listed here include a reference to their original location, the Latin that Virgil wrote, and either an old, almost archaic translation from the public domain (mainly for the longer passages) or my own translation.

  • [Lat., Experto credite.]
    Believe in the one who knows from experience. (Trust the expert.)

    - The Aeneid (XI.283)

  • [Lat., Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco]
    Not being ignorant of bad things, I learn to help the wretched.

    - The Aeneid (I.630)

  • [Lat., Superanda omnis fortuna ferendo est.]
    Every fortune is to be conquered by bearing (it).

    - The Aeneid (V. 710)

  • [Lat., Quisque suos patimur manes.]
    We each allow our own ghosts. (We make our own destiny.)

    - The Aeneid (VI.743)

  • [Lat., Disce, puer, virtutem ex me, verumque laborem; Fortunam ex aliis.]
    Boy, learn virtue from me, and true work; luck from others.

    - The Aeneid (XII, 435)

  • [Lat., Saevit amor ferri et scelerata insania belli.]
    Love of iron (weapon) rages; also the criminal madness of war.

    - The Aeneid (VII.461)

  • [Lat., Nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futurae,
    Et servare modum, rebus sublata secundis.
    ]
    O heart of man,/ not knowing doom, nor of events to be!/ Nor, being lifted up, to keep thy bounds/ in prosperous days!

    - The Aeneid (X.501)

  • [Lat., Stat sua cuique dies; breve et irreparabile tempus
    Omnibus est vitae; set famam extendere factis
    Hoc virtutis opus.
    ]
    "To each his day is given. Beyond recall/ man's little time runs by: but to prolong/ life's glory by great deeds is virtue's power.

    - The Aeneid (X.467)

  • [Lat., Aegrescitque medendo.]
    He grows increasingly ill with the remedy. (The medicine is making him sick.)

    - The Aeneid (XII.46)

  • [Lat., O formose puer, nimium ne crede colori;]
    Oh! Beautiful boy, don't put too much faith on (your) complexion. (Perhaps, 'beauty fades'.)

    - Eclogae (II.17)

*The real version, Nunc scio, quid sit Amor, comes from Virgil's Eclogues VIII.43. Not all misquotes are so easy to untangle.