Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK Virgil, The Aeneid, Robert Fitzgerald, ed., John Dryden, trans. (New York, [1965]), 43; here There are three places where different translators give the phrase ‘first sleep’. The first in Book One recounting the killing of Rhesus. However there is doubt about the meaning of the actual phrase as it is not clear from Homer Iliad book 10 or from the play Rhesus by Euripides what time the killing of Rhesus actually took place, as Frieze 1866  here writes “Primso prodita somne. Translate literally: betrayed by the first sleep, i. e. by the sleep of the first night, or during the hours of sleep on the first night after his arrival. This is the obvious meaning, though many take primno somno in the sense of the first part, or the earliest, and so deepest, part of slumber. But the passage of the Iliad in the 10th Book, which Virgil here had in mind, by no means justifies the idea that Rhesus was slain in the early hours of the night, or of sleep.”  (for further information on this matter see also here & here) This confusion aside, translators over the years have rendered the phrase in very different ways:- 1513 ‘Betraifit war apon the first sleip’ (Scottish) Douglas here 1558 ‘fast a sleepe’ Phaer  here 1582 ‘In sleepe, whom napping’ Stanyhurst  here 1632 ‘Which soon i'th' night betraid by hard event’  Vicars  here 1687 ‘scarce yet encamp’d, His first night’s sleep he took’ L’Estrange  here  1687 ‘sails betray'd to nightly view’ Dryden here 1692 ‘Which while first sleep the weary Thracians held’ Fletcher  here 1742 ‘betrayed in that first fatal Night’ Davidson  here  1753 ‘Betray'd in their first Sleep’ Strahan  here 1755 ‘In the first Repose by Night betrayed’ Trapp  here 1778 ‘while he slept’ Pitt  here 1803 ‘betrayed in that first fatal Night’ Campbell  here 1821 ‘betrayed in that first fatal night’ Valpy  here 1827 ‘betrayed in first sleep’ Locke  here 1829 ‘betrayed in first sleep’ Hamilton  here 1861 ‘in first sleep betray'd’ Kennedy  here 1871 ‘at dead of night’ Rickards  here 1871 ‘ which in maiden sleep betrayed’ Singleton  here 1872 ‘these were made defenceless by their first sleep’ Lonsdale and Lee  here 1876 ‘they of old in first of sleep betrayed’, Morris  here 1882 ‘Betrayed in the first night’ Hart  here 1883 ‘he on whom fell, In his first sleep, Tydides’ Wilstach  here 1883 ‘Which on the first night’ Richardson  here 1885 ‘betrayed in their first sleep’ MacKail  here 1886 ‘Surprised in sleep — that first sad sleep in Troy’ Thornhill  here 1886 ‘betrayed in their first sleep’  Conington  here 1886 ‘betrayed By the first sleep’ Cranch  here 1888 ‘betrayed in the earliest slumber’ Chase  here 1889 ‘in the night’s first slumber’ Bowen here 1890 ‘no sooner sleeps than sleep betrays’ Long here. 1896 ‘betrayed by the first sleep’  Davidson  here 1906 ‘Which, in first sleep betrayed’ Billson  here 1907 ‘Broke in at midnight’ Fairfax Taylor  here 1907 ‘in the first sleep betrayed’ Rhoades  here 1908 ‘In night's first watch’ Williams  here 1918 ‘His heart to strike in their first sleep’ O’Malley  here 1951 ‘betrayed In their first sleep’ Humphries  here 1962 ‘while still in their first sleep’ Mandelbaum here 1981 ‘in first sleep’ Fitzgerald here 2006 ‘in their first slumber’ Fagles  here 2008 ‘betrayed in their first night’s sleep near the city’ Ahl  here  The second occurrence is in Book 2 line 360 where some translators also uses the phrase “first sleep” e.g. Fitzgerald who gives  “That time of night it was when the first sleep, Gift of the gods, begins for ill mankind” (‘Erat tempus quo prima quies incipit ægris mortalibus et serpit gratissima dono (or munere) Divûm’). However translations of this phrase have again proved equally variable over the years. 1513  Thys was that tyme quhen the fyrst quyete Of naturale fleip (Scottish) Douglas here 1558 ‘That time it was wha slomber first and dead sleepe deepe opprest’ Phaer  here 1582 ‘Then was yt a season, when slumber sweetlye betaketh Eech mortal person by woont and natural order’ Stanyhurst  here 1632 ‘Just now were men in their first dead sleep cast’, Vicars  here 1687 ‘‘T was in the dead of night, when sleep repairs Our bodies worn with toils, our minds with cares’ Dryden 1742 ‘It was the Time when the first Sleep invades languid Mortals’ Davidson  here  1753 ‘It was the time when first repose of sleep, Steals grateful on tir’ed mortals’ Strahan  here 1755 ‘twas now the season, when the first repose” Trapp  here 1778 'Twas now the time when first kind Heav'n bestows On wretched man the blessings of repose’ Pitt  here 1803 ‘It was the time when the'first sleep invades languid mortal and steals upon them by the Indulgence of Heaven in sweetest Slumbers’ Campbell  here 1821 ‘It was the time when the'first sleep invades languid mortal and steals upon them by the Indulgence of Heaven in sweetest Slumbers ’ Valpy here 1829 ‘It was the time, in which first rest begins’ Hamilton  here 1861 ‘Twas the first hour of rest, when gentle sleep Over the weariness of mortal men’ Kennedy  here 1871 ‘Twas the early watches of the night when heaven-sent slumbers lightens human cares’ Rickards  here 1871 ‘The hour it was, wherein their maiden rest begins’ Singleton  here 1872 ‘Twas the hour whem the first slumber of suffering men begins’ Lonsdale and Lee  here 1876 ‘it was the time when that first peace of sick mean has begun’ Morris  here 1882 ‘ it was the time in which the first rest begins to weary mortals’ Hart  here 1883 ‘That time of night when first the first rest, Most grateful gift of heaven for wearied man creeps o’er the limbs’Wilstach  here 1883 ‘Twas when o’er weary mortals first doth creep Heaven’s most delightful blessing, balmy sleep’ Richardson  here 1885 'It was the time when by the gift of God rest comes stealing first and sweetest on unhappy men. In slumber, lo! MacKail  here 1886 ‘Twas the hour most sweet to toil-worn men when slumber first, as heavens best boon, o’rsteals’ Thornhill  here 1886 it was the hour when heaven gives rest, to weary men the first and best’ Conington  here 1886 ‘it was the hour when first their sleep begins’ Cranch  here 1888 ‘it was the time, when on languishing mortals the earliest quiet seizes’ Chase  here 1889 ‘twas when the earliest sleep upon humanity’s eyes’ Bowen here  1890 ‘it was the hour when first slumber falls’ Long here. 1896 ‘it was the time when the first sleep invades languid mortals’ Davidson  here 1906 ‘it was the hour when first o’er suffering men Slumber, the boon of heaven, sweetly steals’ Billson  here 1907 ‘Twas now the time, when on tired mortals crept First slumber’ Fairfax Taylor  here 1907 ‘it was the time when first slumber falls’ Rhoades  here 1908 ‘That hour it was when heaven’s first gift of sleep’ Williams  here 1951 ‘It was the time when the first sleep begins’ Humphries  here 1962 ‘It was the hour when for troubled mortals rest-sweetest gift of gods that glide to men-has just begun’ Mandelbaum here 1981 “That time of night it was when the first sleep, Gift of the gods, begins for ill mankind” Fitzgerald here 2006 ‘This was the hour when rest, gift of the gods most heaven-sent, first comes to beleaguered mortals’ Fagles  here 2008 ‘this was the time when sleep’s first wave sweeps over our mortal frailty’ Ahl  here  The final instance is in Book 8  8.407 (for a commentary see here) where Dryden gives Now when the Night her middle race had rode, And his first slumber had refresh'd the god Again there have been different interpretations of this phrase e. g. ”Soon as first rest has casued sleep to take flight, in the middle course of the now far-spent night  Virgil's Aeneid, books VII and VIII; Brown, W. Dawson 1870 here  “Night's course half run, soon as the first repose had banished sleep” Williams 1910; here  “Then, when in the mid-course of passing night the first rest had driven out sleep”  Irwin 1900 here   “Then, soon as rest, first indulged, had driven sleep away” Conington 1917 here and in his Commentary 1876 here  he explains it thus ““Inde ubi prima fides” Rest is said to drive out sleep, the meaning being that the first sleep has come to an end, and the sleeper wakes, indisposed to sleep again”. (note the explicit denial of the need for more or a ‘second’ sleep) 
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018