Tandem pauca refert: "Ego te, quae plurima fando
enumerare vales, numquam, regina, negabo
promeritam, nec me meminisse pigebit Elissae
dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus. (4:333–336)

I have come up with two translations for this passage, but I'm not sure which is better/more accurate. They are both a little rough in terms of overall flow.

Version 1: Finally he carries back such things: "I, queen, never will refuse you having deserved many things which you are strong to recount, nor will it displease Dido to remember me when I am mindful of me, when my spirit directs these bodies.

Version 2: At last he brings back a few words: "I will not deny, never, that you have deserved the many things which you are able to enumerate by speaking, nor will it displease me to remember Elissa while I myself and mindful of myself, while my spirit rules these limbs.

I would greatly appreciate any insight on these translations, or a more correct version if anyone knows a better one!

2 Answers 2


Your second translation is pretty close to the mark. Let's go through the translation step by step.

Let us first recall to mind the context: Dido has just finished a long harangue (4:305-330) excoriating Aeneas for attempting to leave her in secret. Aeneas is grieved and silent, and then...

Tandem pauca refert

At last he spoke these few words

Although you are right that refero literally means "bring back", it has a poetic meaning in this context: "to say in return, to rejoin, answer, reply (syn. respondeo)." In fact, this is one of the example passages for this meaning quoted in the L&S entry!

Ego te, quae plurima fando enumerare vales, numquam, regina, negabo promeritam

I will never deny that you, o queen, are deserving of those things which you are able to detail in your long speech.

This is tricky: promeritam means to "deserve, be worthy" and, as seen in the entry for mereo, can take the accusative. It is likely an echo of a previous line from Dido's speech:

si bene quid de te merui... (4:317)

What is she worthy of? The answer is in a relative clause: [omnia] quae enumerate vales ("everything which you are able to enumerate") plurima fando (lit. "by saying many things" = "in your long speech").

nec me meminisse pigebit Elissae dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus.

nor will I ever tire of remembering Elissa as long as I am mindful of my own self, as long as my spirit governs these limbs.

piget is used as an impersonal verb: "it will not burden/trouble me..." Elissae is in the genitive, since it is the object of memini, and poetically refers to Dido in the third person.

The dum clauses are poetic ways of saying dum vivo, "as long as I live." The point is that Aeneas will sooner forget himself or die rather than forget her.

  • Just to clarify, where would "regina" (queen) go in the translation?
    – Sapphira
    Dec 13, 2016 at 18:02
  • @Sapphira Added: it's vocative, addressed to Dido. It's interesting how he changes from 2nd to 3rd person in the middle of his "short" speech!
    – brianpck
    Dec 13, 2016 at 18:05

You might enjoy Dryden's famous — but magnificently erratic — translation, completed in 1697 :

. . . and thus at length replies, / "Fair Queen, you never can enough repeat / Your boundless favours, or I own my debt, / Nor can my mind forget Eliza's (!) name, / While vital breath inspires this mortal frame. / . . .

The whole translation tends to be eccentric, but it's splendid as poetry in its own right — never mind Virgil! [My edition was published by Pennsylvania State University in 1989, ISBN 0-271-00651-X].

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