Laocoon and the snakes

Pantheon Poets continues to offer you a direct taste of spoken Latin poetry. You can follow the poems in the original whether you know Latin or not – you might for example be interested in later European writers and curious about what Latin influences meant to them. Today’s post is the final part of the story of Laocoon from Book 2 of Virgil’s Aeneid. He has warned the Trojans not to trust the wooden horse that the Greeks have left – he fears Greeks even when they bring gifts. Now, as fate and the Gods bring the fall of Troy ever closer, Laocoon pays a terrible price for his warning.

This selection introduces us to beasts and monsters, starting gently with the wolf that Horace met one day. He was clearly frightened, but with the benefit of nature documentaries we know that the wolf was probably more afraid of him.

Horace’s wolf

A wise Trojan priest pays a terrible price for warning the Trojans about the Trojan horse.

Laocoon

Troy is doomed to fall at the fateful moment when the horse enters the city.

The Trojan Horse

On their wanderings, Aeneas and his band encounter a flock of foul flying creatures.

The Harpies

On his journey to the underworld Aeneas sees Tisiphone, tormenter of the damned in Tartarus.

Tisiphone

The underworld again: this time the poet is Horace, and the visitor the God Bacchus. Fortunatey he is good with dogs, as he must pass the kennel of the fearsome three-headed guardian, Cerberus.

Cerberus

In the illustration, the sea-nymph Thetis is using her shape-changing gift to try to escape the hero Peleus: they became the parents of Achilles.

See the index to Latin selections on PantheonPoets.com here.

spoken latin poems

The next step on Pantheon poets in bringing spoken Latin poems by such greats as Virgil, Horace, Catullus and Ovid to Latin and non-Latin speakers alike, and throwing light on Latin influence on great European writers, will be one of the best bits of the Aeneid, as monstrous snakes lay Laocoon, the wise Trojan priest, low. Does this herald the fall of Troy? Will the Trojan Horse enter the city? Hear it recited in Latin, follow the Latin poetry in English translation. Watch this space as Aeneas continues to tell his tale to Queen Dido …