Master Builders or The Wooden Horse Part 3 of 12 / by Anthony Gibbins

The Wooden Horse. Part 3. As we await the October 1 arrival of Legonium pars tertia, here is some complete nonsense in 12 parts.

From the translation of The Aeneid, Book II by John Dryden

And by Minerva's aid a fabric rear'd,

Which like a steed of monstrous height appear'd:

The sides were plank'd with pine; they feign'd it made

For their return, and this the vow they paid.


deinde : deinde is an adverb, so no messing about with case, number, gender, tense or any of that nonsense. deinde can refer to time, ‘then, thereafter, afterwards’ or to space, ‘from that place’. Here it is referring to time.

equum : equus, as we have seen, is a masculine noun that means ‘horse’. Here it is in its accusative form (equum not equus) to indicate that it is the object of the verb.

ligneum : ligneus, as we have also seen, is an adjective meaning ‘made of wood’. Here it is in its masculine, singular, accusative form so that it can ‘agree with’ equum, which is the noun it is describing.

ingentis : ingens is an adjective meaning ‘monstrous’, ‘vast’, ‘enormous’. It is in its feminine, singular, genitive form so that it can ‘agree with’ magnitudinis, the noun that it is describing.

magnitudo : magnitudinis is a feminine noun meaning ‘size’ or ‘magnitude’. It is written here in the genitive case. The prime job of the genitive case is to indicate possession, a bit like an 's in English. Here, however, the genitive is doing one of its ‘lesser’ jobs; together with the adjective ingentis it is making a ‘genitive of quality or description’. Together they describe the horse and mean ‘of vast size’.

faciunt : facere is a very common verb that means ‘to make’ or ‘to do’. Here it is in the present tense, indicating that the action is happening right now. We know this isn't true, but we also know that sometimes Latin authors do this to make an action seem more immediate and exciting. This verb does not have a stated subject, but that is okay because the third person, plural ending tells us that that the subject is ‘they’, the same ‘they’ as the previous sentence. We have already seen that the object is equum.

Translation: Then they (the Greeks) made a wooden horse of vast size.