Arma Virumque Cano

What's the English translation of the following: "Arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris"?

Expert Answers
readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is the first line of the aeneid. It was written by Vergil during the reign of Augustus. This is probably the most well-known epic in Latin literature. It is written in dactylic hexameter and the whole sentence is:

arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris Italiam fato profugus Laviniaque venit litora - multum ille et terris iactatus et alto vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram, multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem inferretque deos Latio; genus unde Latium Albanique patres atque altae moenia Romae.

I sing of arms and the man who first from the shores of Troy, exiled by fate, came to Lavinian shores and Italy - having been tossed much on sea and land by the violence of the gods on account of the remembering wrath of savage Juno, having also suffered much in war, until he should build a city and bring his gods to Latium; from where comes the the Latin race, the father of Alba, and the wall of lofty Rome.

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A friend of mine who is a Latin scholar happily translated this passage, which is part of a larger sentence, the words of which I include in parentheses so they make better sense:

"I sing of arms and the man, who, at first (exiled by fate) from the shores of Troy, (came to Italy and the Lavinian shores....)."

"Trene" is actually spelled "Troiae."

mclouse eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, let me correct some of the Latin:  "arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris"

Translation "I sing of arms and a man who first [came]* from the shores of Troy" 

* You really need to include the next line here to get the verb

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arma (of the arms) virumque (and the man) cano (I sing) ab (from)Troiae (Trojan) oris (shores) qui (who) primus (first)  ...

Note that you need to look at the gender, number and case of all substantives to realize that Troiae modifies oris.