Virgil

The Aeneid Book XII

Translated by A. S. Kline © 2002 All Rights Reserved

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Contents


BkXII:1-53 Turnus Demands Marriage

When Turnus saw the Latins exhausted, and weakened

by their military reverse, himself the subject of every gaze, his own

promise to them yet unfulfilled, he burned implacably,

and unprompted, and raised his courage. As a lion, in the African

bush, severely hurt by huntsmen with a wound to the chest,

only then rouses himself to battle, tosses his shaggy mane

over his neck, in joy, and, unafraid, snaps off the spear

some poacher has planted in him, roaring from blood-stained jaws:

so the violence grew in Turnus’s inflamed heart.

Then he spoke to the king, beginning turbulently like this:

‘There’s no reluctance here, in Turnus: there’s no reason

for Aeneas’s coward crew to take back their words

or renounce their pact: I go to meet him. Carry out

the holy rite, father, and draw up the marriage contract.

I’ll either send this Trojan, this Asian deserter,

to Tartarus, (let the Latins sit and watch) and

with my sword, alone, dispel the nation’s shame,

or let him possess the defeated, let Lavinia go then as his bride.’

Latinus replied to him with calm in his heart:

‘O youth of noble spirit, the more you excel

in fierce courage, the more it is right for me to take

careful thought, and weigh every event with caution.

You have your father Daunus’s kingdom, you have

the many fortresses you captured by force,

and Latinus is not short of gold and generosity:

there are other unmarried girls, not ignoble in birth,

in the fields of Latium and Laurentium. Allow me to say this,

un-gently, openly stripped of all guile, and take it to heart:

it was forbidden for me to ally my daughter to any

of her former suitors, and all gods and men decreed it.

Conquered by love for you, conquered by kinship, and the tears

of a sorrowful wife, I broke all bounds: I snatched the betrothed

girl from my son-in-law to be, and drew the impious sword.

You see, Turnus, what events, what war dogs me,

what a heavy burden you above all bear.

Defeated in two great battles we can hardly preserve

the hopes of Italy in our city: Tiber’s streams are yet warm

with our blood, the vast plains whitened by our bones.

Why did I waver so often? What madness changed my decision?

If I’d be ready to accept the Trojans as allies with Turnus

dead, why not rather end the conflict while he’s alive?

What would your Rutulian kin say, and the rest of Italy,

if I betrayed you to death (let chance deny those words!)

while seeking my daughter in marriage?

Consider the fortunes of war: pity your aged father,

whom his native Ardea keeps apart from us, sorrowing.’

Turnus’s fury was unaffected by these words:

it mounted higher, inflamed by the treatment.

As soon as he was able to speak, he began like this:

‘Most gracious one, that concern you feel for me, I beg you,

for me, set it aside, and allow me to barter death for glory.

I too can scatter spears and no lack of steel, from my hand,

father, and blood flows from the wounds I make as well.

His goddess mother will be far from him, she who covers

his flight with mist, like a woman, and hides in empty shadows.’

BkXII:54-80 He Proposes Single Combat

But the queen wept, terrified by the new terms of conflict,

and clung to her ardent son, as if she were dying:

‘Turnus, one thing I beg of you, by these tears, by any respect

for Amata that touches your heart: you are my only hope,

the peace of my sad old age, the honour and power of Latinus

is in your hands, our whole tottering house rests on you:

do not engage in combat with the Trojans.

Whatever danger awaits you in that battle awaits me too,

Turnus: I would leave this hateful light with you

and will never, as a prisoner, see Aeneas as my son-in-law.’

Lavinia listened to her mother’s words, her burning

cheeks wet with tears, while a deep blush kindled

their fire, and spread over her glowing face.

Her virgin looks showed such colour as when one

stains Indian ivory with crimson dye, or as

white lilies redden when mixed with many a rose.

Love stirred Turnus, and he fixed his gaze on the girl:

fired still more for battle, he spoke briefly to Amata:

‘O mother, I beg you not to send me off with tears,

or like ill omens, as I leave for the battles of a bitter war:

Turnus is not free to delay his hour of death.

Idmon, as a messenger, carry my unwelcome words

to the Trojan leader. When tomorrow’s Dawn, riding

her crimson chariot, reddens in the sky, do not lead

Trojans against Rutulians, let Trojan and Rutulian

weapons rest: let us resolve this war with our own blood,

on that field let Lavinia be sought as bride.’

BkXII:81-112 He Prepares For Battle

When he had spoken, and returned quickly to the palace, he called

for his horses, and delighted in seeing them, neighing before him,

horses Orithyia herself gave Pilumnus, as a glory,

surpassing the snow in whiteness, and the wind for speed.

Their charioteers stood around eagerly patting their echoing chests,

with the flat of their hands, and combing their flowing manes.

Turnus drew a breastplate, stiff with gold and pale bronze,

over his shoulders, fitted his sword and shield in position,

and the horns with their crimson crest: the god with the power

of fire had wrought the sword for his father, Daunus,

and dipped it, glowing, in the waters of the Styx.

Then Turnus gripped his strong spear firmly, that stood

leaning on a great column in the middle of the hall,

a spoil won from the Auruncan, Actor, shook it till it quivered

and shouted: ‘Now, o spear that never failed my call,

now the time has come: Actor, the mightiest, carried you,

and now the right hand of Turnus: allow me to lay low

the body of that Phrygian eunuch, tear off and shatter

his breastplate with my powerful hand, and defile his hair

with dust, that’s curled with a heated iron, and drowned in myrrh.’

He was driven by frenzy, glowing sparks shot

from his whole aspect, fire flashed from his fierce eyes,

like a bull, before a fight, that starts its formidable

bellowing and, trying its anger with its horns,

charges a tree-trunk, lashes the air with its blows,

and scatters the sand, as it practises for the battle.

Meanwhile Aeneas, no less fierce, armed with the weapons,

his mother’s gift, sharpened himself for conflict, and roused

his anger, happy the war might be settled by the means on offer.

Then he comforted his friends, and Iulus’s anxious fears,

speaking of destiny, and ordered them to take a firm reply

to King Latinus, and declare his conditions for peace.

BkXII:113-160 Juno Speaks to Juturna

The next dawn had scarcely begun to sprinkle the mountain

summits with its rays, at that time when the horses of the sun

first rise from the deep ocean, and breathe light from lifted nostrils:

the Rutulians and Trojans had measured out the field

of combat, under the massive walls of the city,

and were preparing hearths and turf altars for their mutual gods.

Others wearing priest’s aprons, their foreheads wreathed

with vervain, brought spring water and fiery embers.

The Ausonian army marched out, and their ranks, armed

with spears, poured through the crowded gates. All the host

of Trojans and Tuscans streamed out on the other side, arrayed

in their various armour, equipped with steel, as if the bitter conflict

of war called out to them. And the captains too, among their many

thousands, darted about, brilliant in gold and purple,

Mnestheus of Assaracus’s line, brave Asilas,

and Messapus, tamer of horses, son of Neptune.

As soon as each had retired to their own ground, at the given signal,

they planted their spears in the earth, and leant their shields on them.

Then women, and weak old men, and the unarmed crowd,

poured out eagerly, and gathered on towers

and rooftops, or stood on the summit of the gates.

But Juno, gazed at the plain, looking from the top of a hill

(called Alban now, then without name, honour or glory)

at the twin ranks of Laurentum and Troy, and Latinus’s city.

Immediately, goddess to goddess, she spoke to Turnus’s sister,

who ruled over lakes and echoing rivers (Jupiter, the king

of high heaven, gave her that honour for stealing her virginity):

‘Nymph, glory of rivers, dearest of all to my heart,

you know how I’ve preferred you alone of all the Latin girls

who’ve mounted unwelcome to the couch of great-hearted Jove,

and I have freely granted you a place in a part of the sky:

lest you blame me, Juturna, learn of impending grief.

Whenever Fortune allowed, and the Fates permitted

the Latin state to prosper, I protected Turnus and your city.

Now I see a warrior meeting with an unequal destiny,

and a day of Fate and inimical force draws near.

I cannot look at this combat, they agreed to, with my eyes.

If you dare do anything more for your brother in person,

go on: it’s fitting. Perhaps better things will follow for the wretched.’

She had scarcely spoken, when Juturna’s eyes flowed with tears,

and her hand struck her lovely breast three or four times.

‘This is not the moment for tears,’ said Saturnian Juno:

‘Run, and, if there’s a way, snatch your brother from death:

or stir conflict and shatter the treaty they’ve made.

I teach you daring.’ Having urged her thus, she left her

uncertain and troubled, sadly hurt at heart.

BkXII:161-215 Aeneas and Latinus Sacrifice

Meanwhile the kings drove out: Latinus in a four-horsed chariot

of massive size (twelve golden rays circling his shining brow,

emblems of his ancestor, the Sun), Turnus behind a snow-white

team, brandishing two spears with broad steel blades in his hand.

On the other side, Aeneas, the leader, ancestor of the Roman race,

came from the camp, ablaze with starry shield and heavenly

armour, Ascanius with him, Rome’s second great hope,

while a priest in pure robes brought the offspring

of a bristly boar, and also an unshorn two-year sheep,

and tethered the animals next to the blazing altars.

The heroes turned their gaze towards the rising sun, sprinkled

salt meal with their hands, marked the victims’ foreheads

with a knife, and poured libations from cups onto the altars.

Then pious Aeneas, with sword drawn, prayed like this:

‘Sun, be my witness, and this country that I call on,

for which I have been able to endure such labours,

and the all-powerful Father, and you Juno, his wife,

(now goddess, now, be kinder, I pray) and you, glorious Mars,

you, father, who control all warfare with your will:

I call on founts and rivers, on all the holiness

of high heaven, and the powers in the blue ocean:

if by chance Victory falls to Turnus of Italy,

it is agreed the defeated will withdraw to Evander’s city,

Iulus will leave the land, and the people of Aeneas will never

bring renewed war in battle, or attack this realm with the sword.

But if victory agrees that our contest is mine (as I think

more likely, and may the gods by their will prove it so),

I will not command the Italians to submit to Trojans nor do I

seek a kingdom for myself: let both nations, undefeated,

put in place an eternal treaty. I will permit your gods

and their rites: Latinus my father-in-law will keep his weapons,

my father-in-law will keep his accustomed power: the Trojans

will build walls for me, and Lavinia will give her name to a city.

So Aeneas was first to speak, then Latinus followed him, thus,

raising his eyes to heaven, and stretching his right hand to the sky:

‘I also swear, Aeneas, by the same earth, sea, and sky,

by Latona’s twin offspring, and by two-faced Janus,

by the power of the gods below, and the shrines of cruel Dis:

may the Father, who ratifies treaties with his lightning, hear me.

I touch the altar: I call as witness the gods, and the flames

between us, no day shall break this peace or truce on Italy’s side,

however things may fall out: nor will any power

deflect my will, not if it plunges the earth, drowned

in flood, into the waves, and dissolves heaven in hell,

just as this sceptre (since he chanced to hold the sceptre in his hand)

hewn, once and for all, from the lowest stem in the woods,

having lost its parent trunk, and shedding its leaves and twigs

to the knife, will never, now the craftsman’s hand has sheathed it

in fine bronze, and given it to the elders of Latium

to carry, extend shoots or shade from light foliage.’

They sealed the treaty between them with these words

in full view of the leaders. Then with due rite they slaughtered

the sacrificial beasts over the flames, tore out the entrails,

while they were alive, and piled the alters with heaped dishes.

BkXII:216-265 The Rutulians Break The Treaty

But the duel had for a long time seemed unfair to the Rutulians,

and their hearts were torn by varied emotions, more so

when they saw the combatants’ unequal strength near to.

Turnus added to the unrest, in advancing with silent tread

and venerating the altar humbly, with downcast eyes,

and by his wasted cheeks and the pallor of his youthful body.

As soon as his sister, Juturna, was aware that talk was spreading

and the minds of the multitude were wavering in doubt,

she entered the heart of the army, in the guise of Camers,

whose birth was of noble ancestry, his father’s name

famous for virtue, and he himself of the bravest in arms,

she entered the heart of the army, not ignorant of her task,

sowing various rumours and speaking as follows:

‘O Rutulians, aren’t you ashamed to sacrifice one life

on behalf of so many of you ? Aren’t we their equals

in numbers and might? See, all the Trojans and Arcadians

are here, and the Etrurian band led by fate, and hostile to Turnus:

if every other man attacks, there’s barely an opponent for each of them.

Turnus will climb in glory to the gods, at whose altars

he has dedicated his life, and live borne on men’s lips:

but we will be forced to submit to proud masters,

our country lost, we who now sit inactive in the field.’

The will of the young men was roused by these words,

more and more so, and a murmur spread through the ranks:

even the Laurentines and the Latins changed their minds.

Those who had lately hoped for rest from battle, and a safe existence,

now longed for weapons, prayed for the treaty to be broken,

and pitied Turnus’s unjust fate. Juturna added another greater spur,

showing a sign in the depths of the sky, none more significant

to disturb Italian minds, and charm them by the wonder of it.

Jove’s tawny eagle, flying through reddened air,

stirred the shore-birds, with noisy confusion

in their winged ranks, when suddenly diving to the water

he seized the most outstanding swan cruelly in his curved talons.

The Italians paid attention, and (amazing to see)

all the birds wheeled, clamouring, in flight and, in a cloud,

drove their enemy through the air, darkening the sky

with their wings, until, defeated by force and the weight,

the bird gave way, and, dropping the prey

from his talons into the river, fled deep into the clouds.

Then the Rutulians truly hailed this omen with a shout

and spread wide their hands, and Tolumnius the augur was first

to cry out: ‘This, this was what my prayers have often sought.

I understand it, and recognise the gods: snatch up the sword

with me, with me at your head, o unhappy race, fragile birds,

whom a cruel foreigner terrifies with war, ravaging

your coast with violence. He will take flight and sail

far away over the deep. Close ranks, together, and defend

the king who has been snatched from you, in battle.

BkXII:266-310 Renewed Fighting

He spoke, and running forward hurled his spear

at the enemy: the hissing cornel shaft sang, and cut unerringly

through the air, At one with this, at one, was a mighty shout

the army all in uproar, and hearts hot with the turmoil.

The spear flew on, to where, by chance, nine handsome brothers

stood in its path, all of whom one faithful

Tuscan wife had borne to Arcadian Gylippus,

It struck one of them, a youth of great beauty, in shining armour,

at the waist, where a stitched belt rubbed against

his stomach, and the buckle bit into the overlapping ends,

pierced his ribs, and hurled him to the yellow sand.

But his spirited band of brothers, fired by grief,

drew their swords or snatched their iron spears,

and rushed forward blindly. The Laurentine ranks

charged them: Trojans and Agyllines and Arcadians

in decorated armour, poured in from the other side:

so all had one longing, to let the sword decide.

They stripped the altars, there was a fierce storm

of spears in the whole sky, and a steely rain fell:

wine-bowls and hearthstones were carried off:

Latinus himself fled, taking his defeated gods,

the treaty void. Others harnessed their chariots or leapt

on their horses, and waited with drawn swords.

Messapus, keen to destroy the truce, charging on his horse,

scared off Auletes, an Etruscan king with a king’s emblems:

the unfortunate man, as he backed away, entangled, fell,

head and shoulders, on to the altar behind him: and Messapus

flew at him furiously, spear in hand, and from his horse’s height

struck mightily at him with the massive weapon,

as Auletes begged piteously, and spoke like this, over him:

‘He’s done for: this nobler victim is given to the great gods.’

The Italians crowded round and stripped the warm body.

Against them, Corynaeus snatched a charred brand

from an altar, and aiming a blow at the charging Ebyso

dashed flames in his face: his great beard flared

and gave off a smell of burning. Corynaeus following through

his blow, clutched the hair of his stunned enemy in his left hand

and brought him to earth with a thrust of his bent knee:

then stabbed him in the side with his straight sword.

Podalirius, towered over the shepherd Alsus, pursuing him

with naked steel as he ran through the shower of spears

in the front rank: but Alsus swung his axe back,

and sliced through the front of his enemy’s brow and chin,

drenching his armour with widely spouting blood.

Harsh repose and iron slumber pressed on his eyes

and their light was sunk in everlasting night.

BkXII:311-382 Aeneas Wounded: Turnus Rampant

But virtuous Aeneas his head bared, unarmed, stretched out

his right hand, and called loudly to his troops:

‘Where are you running to? Why this sudden tide of discord?

O, control your anger! The agreement has already been struck,

and its terms fixed. I alone have the right to fight:

Let me do so: banish your fears. I’ll prove the treaty sound

with this right hand: these rites mean Turnus is already mine.’

Amidst these cries and words, see, a hissing arrow

winged its way towards him, launched by what hand,

sent whirling by whom, was unknown, as was the chance

or god that brought the Rutulians such honour:

the glorious pride in it was kept concealed,

and no one boasted of wounding Aeneas.

As soon as Turnus saw Aeneas leave the ranks, his captains

in confusion, he blazed with the fervour of sudden hope:

he called for weapons and horses as one, leapt proudly

into his chariot, and gripped the reins in his hands.

He gave many a brave man death in his swift passage.

Many he overturned half-alive, crushed the ranks under his chariot,

or seizing his spears showered them on those fleeing.

Just as when blood-drenched Mars is roused, and clashes

his shield, by the icy streams of Hebrus and, inciting war,

gives rein to his frenzied horses, so that they fly over the open plain

outrunning the south and west winds, and farthest Thrace groans

to the beat of their hooves, while around him the forms of black

Terror, Anger and Treachery, speed, the companions of the god:

with the same swiftness Turnus lashed his horses,

smoking with sweat, through the midst of the conflict,

trampling on enemies piteously slain, while the galloping hooves

splashed bloody dew, and trampled the gore mixed with sand.

Next he gave Sthenelus to death, Thamyrus, and Pholus, the latter

close to, the former at a distance, from a distance too

both sons of Imbrasas, Glaucus and Laudes, whom Imbrasus

himself had raised in Lycia, and equipped with matching armour,

to fight hand to hand, or outstrip the wind on horseback.

Elsewhere Eumedes rode through the midst of the battle,

famous in warfare, the son of aged Dolon,

recalling the grandfather in name, his father in courage

and skill, he who, in going as a spy that time to the Greek camp,

dared to ask for Achilles’s chariot as his reward:

but Diomedes paid him a different reward for his daring

and he no longer aspired to Achilles’s team.

When Turnus saw Eumedes, far over the open plain, he first

sent a light javelin after him across the long space between,

then halted his paired horses, leapt from his chariot,

onto the half-dead, fallen man, and, planting his foot on his neck,

tore the sword from his hand, and bloodied the bright blade

deep in his throat, adding these words as well:

‘See the fields, that Western Land, you sought in war:

lie there and measure it: this is the prize for those

who dare to cross swords with me, thus they build their walls.’

Then with a cast of his spear he sent Asbytes to keep him company,

Chloreus and Sybaris, Dares and Thersilochus, and Thymoetes

who was flung from the neck of his rearing horse.

As when the blast of the Edonian northerly sounds

over the Aegean deep, and drives the breakers to shore,

while brooding gusts in the sky put the clouds to flight,

so, wherever Turnus cut a path, the lines gave way,

and the ranks turned and ran: his own speed carried him on,

and, as the chariot met it, the wind tossed his flowing plume.

Phegeus could not endure his attack or his spirited war-cry:

he threw himself at the chariot and with his right hand wrenched

the heads of the swift horses aside, as they foamed at the bit.

While he was dragged along, hanging from the yoke,

Turnus’s broad-headed lance reached for his exposed flank,

tore open the double-stranded mail where it entered,

and grazed the surface of the flesh in a wound.

Phegeus still turned towards his enemy, his shield raised,

and was trying to protect himself with his drawn sword,

when the wheel and the onrush of the spinning axle

sent him headlong, throwing him to the ground, and Turnus,

following through, struck off his head with a sweep of his blade

between the rim of the helmet and the chain-mail’s

upper edge, and left the body lying on the sand.

BkXII:383-467 Venus Heals Aeneas

While Turnus was victoriously dealing death over the plain,

Mnestheus and loyal Achates, with Ascanius

by their side, set Aeneas down inside the camp,

bleeding, supporting alternate steps with his long spear.

he struggled furiously to pull out the head of the broken

shaft, and called for the quickest means of assistance:

to cut open the wound with a broadsword, lay open

the arrow-tip’s buried depths, and send him back to war.

Now Iapyx, Iasus’s son, approached, dearest of all to Apollo,

to whom the god himself, struck by deep love, long ago

offered with delight his own arts, his own gifts,

his powers of prophecy, his lyre, and swift arrows.

But Iapyx, in order to delay the fate of his dying father,

chose knowledge of the virtues of herbs, and the use

of medicine, and, without fame, to practise the silent arts.

Aeneas stood leaning on his great spear, complaining bitterly,

amongst a vast crowd of soldiers, with Iulus sorrowing,

himself unmoved by the tears. The aged Iapyx, his robe rolled back

in Paeonian fashion, tried hard in vain with healing fingers

and Apollo’s powerful herbs: he worked at the arrow uselessly

with his hand, and tugged at the metal with tightened pincers.

No luck guided his course, nor did Apollo his patron help,

while cruel terror grew greater and greater over the plain,

and evil drew near. Now they saw the sky standing on

columns of dust: the horsemen neared and arrows fell

thickly in the midst of the camp. A dismal cry rose to heaven

of men fighting and falling under Mars’s harsh hand.

At this Aeneas’s mother, Venus, shaken by her son’s

cruel pain, culled a dittany plant from Cretan Ida,

with downy leaves and purple flowers: a herb

not unknown to the wild goats when winged

arrows have fixed themselves in their sides.

This Venus brought, her face veiled in dark mist,

this, with its hidden curative powers, she steeped

in river water, poured into a glittering basin, and sprinkled

there healing ambrosial juice and fragrant panacea.

Aged Iapyx bathed the wound with this liquid,

not knowing its effect, and indeed all pain fled

from Aeneas’s body, all the flow of blood ceased deep

in the wound. Now, without force, the arrowhead

slipped from the wound, following the motion of his hand,

and fresh strength returned to Aeneas, such as before.

Iapyx cried: ‘Quickly, bring our hero weapons. Why are you

standing there?’ and was first to excite their courage against

the enemy. ‘Aeneas, this cure does not come by human aid,

nor guiding art, it is not my hand that saved you: a god,

a greater one, worked this, and sends you out again to glorious deeds.’

Aeneas, eager for battle, had sheathed his legs in gold,

left and right, and scornful of delay, brandished his spear.

As soon as his shield was fixed at his side, the chain mail

to his back, he clasped Ascanius in his armed embrace,

and, kissing his lips lightly through the helmet, said:

‘My son, learn courage from me and true labour:

good fortune from others. Now my hand will protect you

in war, and lead you to great rewards. Make sure later,

when your years have reached maturity, that you remember:

let your father Aeneas, and your uncle Hector

inspire your soul, by recalling their example.’

When he spoken these words, he rushed out through the gate,

in all his strength, brandishing a great spear in his hand:

Antheus and Mnestheus with him, and their massed ranks, and all

the army streamed from the camp. Then the plain was a chaos

of blinding dust, and the quaking earth shook under the tramp of feet.

Turnus saw them advance, from the rampart opposite:

the Ausonians saw, and a cold tremor ran to the marrow

of their bones: Juturna was the first of all the Latins

to hear and recognise the sound, and she fled in fear.

Aeneas flew ahead, racing his dark ranks over the open plain,

As when the weather breaks and a storm cloud moves towards

land, over the deep ocean (ah, the hearts of wretched farmers

know if from far off, and shudder: it brings ruin to trees,

and havoc to harvests, everything far and wide is destroyed),

the gales run before it and carry their roar to the shore:

so the Trojan leader drove his ranks against the foe,

thickly they all gathered to him in dense columns.

Thymbreus struck mighty Osiris with his sword,

Mnestheus killed Arcetius: Achates killed Epulo,

Gyas killed Ufens: even Tolumnius the augur fell,

first to hurl his spear straight at the enemy.

A shout rose to heaven, and in turn the routed Rutulians

turned their backs in a cloud of dust, fleeing over the field.

Aeneas himself did not deign to send the fugitives to their death,

nor did he attack the foot-soldiers, cavalry or those hurling

missiles: he tracked only Turnus, searching through

the dense gloom, Turnus alone he summoned to combat.

BkXII:468-499 Juturna Foils Aeneas

Juturna, the warrior maiden, her mind stricken with fear,

knocked Turnus’s charioteer, Metiscus, from the reins, at this,

so that he slipped from the beam, and left him far behind:

she herself took his place, and guided the flowing reins

with her hands, assuming Meniscus’s voice, form, weapons, all.

As when a dark swallow flies through the great house

of some rich lord, winging her way through lofty halls

gathering tiny crumbs and scraps of food for her noisy young,

now twittering in the empty courtyards, now by the damp ponds:

so Juturna was drawn by the horses through the enemy centre

and, flying in her swift chariot, criss-crossed the whole plain,

now here, now there, she gives evidence of her triumphant brother,

not allowing him close combat, flying far away.

Nevertheless Aeneas traversed her winding course to meet him,

tracking him, calling him loudly among the ranks.

As often as he set eyes on his enemy, and tried to match

the flight of the swift horses in his course, as often

Juturna turned and wheeled the chariot.

Ah, what to do? Vainly he fluctuated on the shifting tide,

and diverse concerns called his thoughts away.

Messapus, who happened to be carrying two strong spears

tipped with steel, advanced lightly towards him,

levelled one, and hurled it with unerring aim.

Aeneas stopped, and gathered himself behind his shield

sinking on one knee: the swift spear still took off the tip

of his helmet, and knocked the plumes from the crest.

Then his anger truly surged, and incited by all this treachery,

seeing his enemy’s chariot and horses driven far off,

calling loudly on Jove, and the altars of the broken treaty,

as witness, he plunged at last into the fray,

and, aided by Mars, he awoke dreadful, savage,

indiscriminate slaughter, and gave full rein to his wrath.

BkXII:500-553 Aeneas And Turnus Amongst The Slaughter

What god can now relate for me such bitter things as these,

who can tell of such varied slaughter, the deaths of generals,

whom Turnus now, and now the Trojan hero, drove in turn

over the field? Jupiter was it your will that races who would live

together in everlasting peace should meet in so great a conflict?

Aeneas meeting Rutulian Sucro (in the first battle

that brought the Trojan attack to a halt) quickly struck him

in the side, and drove the cruel steel through the ribs

that protect the heart, where death come fastest.

Turnus threw Amycus from his horse, and Diores his brother,

attacking them on foot, striking one with the long lance

as he advanced, the other with his sword, then hanging both

their severed heads from his chariot carried them away

dripping with blood. Aeneas sent Talos and Tanais

and brave Cethegus to death, three in one attack,

and sad Onites of Theban name, whose mother was Peridia:

Turnus killed the brothers sent from Lycia, Apollo’s fields,

and Menoetes of Arcadia, who had hated war, but in vain:

his humble home and his living were round Lerna’s

fish-filled streams, never knowing the patronage

of the great, and his father farmed rented land.

Like fires set burning from opposite sides of a dry forest

into the thickets of crackling laurel, or foaming rivers

falling swiftly from the mountain heights, roaring

and racing seawards, each leaving its path of destruction,

so Aeneas and Turnus with no less fury swept through the battle:

now anger surged within: now their hearts which knew no defeat

were bursting: now with all their strength they set out to do harm.

As he boasted of his fathers, and the antiquity of his ancestors’

names, and all his race traced back through Latin kings,

Aeneas sent Murranus headlong with a stone, a great whirling rock,

and hurled him to the ground: beneath the reins and yoke,

the wheels churned him round, and the horses’ hooves,

forgetful of their master, trampled him under with many a blow.

Turnus met Hyllus as he charged, roaring with boundless pride,

and hurled a spear at his gilded forehead: piercing

the helmet the weapon lodged in his brain. Cretheus,

bravest of Greeks, your right hand did not save you

from Turnus, nor did the gods hide Cupencus when Aeneas

came: he set his chest against the weapon’s track,

and the bronze shield’s resistance profited the wretch nothing.

The Laurentine field saw you fall also, Aeolus,

on your back, sprawled wide on the ground.

You fell, whom the Greek battalions could not lay low, nor Achilles

who overturned Priam’s kingdom: here was the boundary

of death for you: your noble house was below Mount Ida,

that noble house at Lyrnesus, your grave in Laurentine soil.

All the lines turned towards battle, the whole of the Latins,

the whole of the Trojans, Mnestheus and fierce Serestus,

Messapus, tamer of horses, and brave Asilas,

the Tuscan phalanx, Evander’s Arcadian squadron,

each for himself, men straining with all their strength:

no respite and no rest: exerting themselves in one vast conflict.

BkXII:554-592 Aeneas Attacks The City

Now his loveliest of mothers set in his mind the idea

of moving against the walls, and turning his army on the city,

swiftly, to confound the Latins with sudden ruin.

While he tracked Turnus here and there through the ranks

and swept his glance this way and that, he could see

the city, free of fierce warfare and peacefully unharmed.

Suddenly an image of a more ambitious act of war inflamed him:

he called the generals Mnestheus, Sergestus and brave Serestus,

and positioned himself on a hillock, where the rest of the Trojan army

gathered round in a mass, without dropping their shields or spears.

Standing amongst them on the high mound he cried:

‘Let nothing impede my orders, Jupiter is with us, and let

no one be slower to advance because this attempt is so sudden.

Today I will overthrow that city, a cause of war, Latinus’s

capital itself, and lay its smoking roofs level with the ground,

unless they agree to accept our rule, and submit, in defeat.

Do you think I can wait until Turnus can face battle with me,

and chooses to meet with me again, though defeated before?

O citizens, this man is the fountainhead and source of this wicked war.

Quickly, bring burning brands, and re-establish the treaty, with fire.’

He spoke, and all his troops adopted wedge-formation, hearts

equal in emulation, and advanced in a dense mass towards the walls:

in a flash, scaling ladders and sudden flames appeared.

Some ran to the gates and cut down the leading defenders,

others hurled steel, and darkened the sky with missiles.

Aeneas himself, among the leaders, raised his hand, at the foot

of the wall, accused Latinus in a loud voice, and called the gods

to witness that he was being forced into battle again,

that the Italians were doubly enemies, another treaty was broken.

Dissension rose among the fearful citizens: some commanded

the city be opened, and the gates be thrown wide

to the Trojans, and they dragged the king himself to the ramparts:

others brought weapons and hurried to defend the walls,

as when a shepherd, who’s tracked a swarm to its lair

concealed in the rock, fills it with acrid smoke:

the bees inside, anxious for safety, rush round

their wax fortress, and sharpen their anger in loud buzzing:

the reeking darkness rolls through their hive, the rocks

echo within to a blind humming, and fumes reach the clear air.

BkXII:593-613 Queen Amata’s Suicide

Now further misfortune befell the weary Latins,

and shook the whole city to its foundations with grief.

When Queen Amata, from the palace, saw the enemy

approaching, the walls assaulted, flames mounting to the roofs,

but no opposing Rutulian lines, nor Turnus’s army,

the unhappy queen thought Turnus had been killed

in combat, and, her mind distraught, in sudden anguish,

she cried out that she was the cause, the guilty one, the source

of evil, and uttering many wild words in the frenzy

of grief, wanting to die, she tore her purple robes,

and fastened a hideous noose of death to a high beam.

As soon as the wretched Latin women knew of the disaster,

first her daughter Lavinia fell into a frenzy, tearing at her golden

tresses and rosy cheeks with her hands, then all the crowd

around her: the wide halls echoed to their lamentations.

From there the unhappy rumour spread throughout the city:

Spirits sank: Latinus went about with rent clothing,

stunned by his wife’s fate and his city’s ruin,

fouling his white hair with clouds of vile dust,

reproaching himself again and again for not having freely

received Trojan Aeneas, and adopted him as his son-in-law.

BkXII:614-696 Turnus Hears Of Amata’s Death

Meanwhile Turnus, fighting at the edge of the plain,

was pursuing the stragglers now, more slowly,

and rejoicing less and less in his horses’ advance.

The breeze bore a clamour to him mingled

with an unknown dread, and the cheerless sounds

of a city in chaos met his straining ears.

‘Ah, what is this great grief that shakes the walls?

What is this clamour that rises from the distant city?’

So he spoke, anxiously grasping the reins and halting.

At this his sister, controlling chariot, horses and reins

disguised in the shape of his charioteer, Metiscus,

countered with these words: ‘Turnus, this way, let us chase

the sons of Troy, where victory forges the way ahead:

there are others with hands to defend our homes.

Aeneas is attacking the Italians, and stirring conflict:

let our hands too deal cruel death to the Trojans.

You will not leave the field inferior in battle honours

or the number you have killed’ Turnus replied to this:

‘O sister, I recognised you long ago, when you first

wrecked the truce with your guile, and dedicated yourself to warfare,

and now too you hide your divinity in vain. But who desired

you to be sent down from Olympus to suffer such labours?

Was it so you might see your unlucky brother’s death?

What can I do? What chance can offer me life?

I saw Murranus fall, before my very eyes, calling out

to me, loudly, no one more dear to me than him remains,

a mighty man, and overwhelmed by a mighty wound.

Unfortunate Ufens fell, so he might not witness our shame:

the Trojans captured his body and his armour.

Shall I endure the razing of our homes (the one thing left)

and not deny Drances’s words with my sword?

Shall I turn my back, and this country see Turnus run?

Is it indeed so terrible to die? Oh be good to me, you Shades

below, since the gods above have turned their faces from me.

I will descend to you, a virtuous soul, innocent

of blame, never unworthy of my great ancestors.’

He had barely spoken when Saces sped by, carried on a foaming

horse through the thick of the enemy, wounded full in the face

by an arrow, and calling to Turnus by name as he rushed on:

‘Turnus, in you our last hope lies, pity your people.

Aeneas is explosive in arms, and threatens to throw down

Italy’s highest citadel and deliver it to destruction, even now

burning brands fly towards the roofs. The Latins turn their faces

to you, their eyes are on you: King Latinus mutters to himself,

wavering as to whom to call his sons, towards what alliance to lean.

Moreover the queen, most loyal to you, has fallen

by her own hand, and fled, in horror of the light.

Messapus and brave Atinas, alone in front of the gates

sustain our lines. Around them dense squadrons stand

on every side, a harvest of steel that bristles with naked swords,

while you drive your chariot over the empty turf.’

Stunned and amazed by this vision of multiple disaster,

Turnus stood silently gazing: fierce shame surged

in that solitary heart, and madness mingled with grief,

love stung to frenzy, consciousness of virtue.

As soon as the shadows dispersed, and light returned to his mind,

he turned his gaze, with blazing eyes, towards the walls,

and looked back on the mighty city from his chariot.

See, now, a spiralling crest of flame fastened

on a tower, and rolled skyward through the stories,

a tower he had built himself with jointed beams,

set on wheels, and equipped with high walkways.

He spoke: ‘Now, sister, now fate triumphs: no more delays:

where god and cruel fortune calls, let me follow.

I’m determined on meeting Aeneas, determined to suffer

death, however bitter: you’ll no longer see me ashamed, sister.

I beg you let me rage before I am maddened.’

And, leaping swiftly from his chariot to the ground,

he ran through enemy spears, deserting his grieving sister,

and burst, in his quick passage, through the ranks.

As when a rock torn from the mountaintop by a storm

hurtles downward, washed free by a tempest of rain

or loosened in time by the passage of the years,

and the wilful mass plunges down the slope in a mighty rush

and leaps over the ground, rolling trees, herds and men

with it: so Turnus ran to the city walls through the broken ranks,

where the soil was most drenched with blood, and the air

shrill with spears, signalled with his hand and began shouting aloud:

‘Rutulians stop now, and you Latins hold back your spears.

Whatever fate is here, is mine: it is better that I alone

make reparation for the truce and decide it with the sword.’

All drew back, and left a space in their midst.

BkXII:697-765 The Final Duel Begins

Now Aeneas the leader hearing the name of Turnus

left the walls, and left the high fortress,

cast aside all delay, broke off from every task,

and exultant with delight clashed his weapons fiercely:

vast as Mount Athos, or Mount Eryx, or vast as old Apennine

himself when he roars through the glittering holm-oaks

and joys in lifting his snowy summit to heaven.

Now all truly turned their eyes, stripping the armour

from their shoulders, Rutulians, Trojans and Italians,

those who held the high ramparts and those whose ram

battered at the walls beneath. Latinus himself was amazed

at these mighty men, born at opposite ends of the world,

meeting and deciding the outcome with their swords.

As soon as the field was clear on the open plain,

they both dashed quickly forward, hurling their spears first

from a distance, rushing, with shield and ringing bronze,

to battle. The earth groaned: they redoubled their intense

sword-strokes, chance and skill mingled together.

And as when two bulls charge head to head in mortal battle,

on mighty Sila or on Taburnus’s heights, and in terror

their keepers retreat, the whole herd stand silent with fear,

and the heifers wait, mute, to see who will be

lord of the forest, whom all the herds will follow,

as they deal wounds to each other with immense force,

gore with butting horns, and bathe neck and shoulders

in streaming blood, while all the wood echoes to their bellowing:

so Trojan Aeneas and the Daunian hero, Turnus,

clashed their shields, and the mighty crash filled the sky.

Jupiter himself held up two evenly balanced scales

before him, and placed in them the diverse fates of the two,

to see whom the effort doomed, with whose weight death sank down.

Turnus leapt forward thinking himself safe, rose to the full height

of his body with uplifted sword, and struck: the Trojans

and the anxious Latins cried out, both armies were roused.

But the treacherous blade snapped, and would have left the eager

warrior defenceless in mid-stroke, if immediate flight

had not saved him. He ran swifter than the east wind,

when he saw that strange hilt in his exposed right hand.

The tale is that in headlong haste, when he first mounted

behind his yoked team for battle, he left his father’s sword

behind, and snatched up the blade of his charioteer, Metiscus:

and that served him for a long while as the straggling Trojans

turned their backs, but the mortal blade flew apart

like brittle ice at the stroke, on meeting Vulcan’s

divine armour: and the fragments gleamed on the yellow sand.

So Turnus ran madly this way and that over the plain, winding

aimless circles here and there: on all sides the Trojans

imprisoned him in their crowded ring, and a vast marsh

penned him on one side, on the other the steep ramparts.

Aenaeas, no less, though his knees, slowed at times

by the arrow wound, failed him and denied him speed,

pursued and pressed his anxious enemy hotly, foot to foot:

as when a hound in the hunt presses on a stag, chasing

and barking, one found trapped by the river or hedged in

by fear of the crimson feathers: the stag, terrified

by the snares and the high banks, flies backwards and forwards

a thousand ways, but the eager Umbrian clings close

with gaping mouth, almost has him, and snaps his jaws

as though he holds him, baffled and biting empty air:

Then a clamour breaks out indeed, the pools and banks

around echo, and the whole sky rings with the tumult.

As he fled Turnus chided the Rutulians, calling on each

by name and calling out for his own familiar sword.

Aeneas in turn threatened death and immediate destruction

if any one approached, and terrified his trembling enemies

threatening to raze the city, and pressing on though wounded.

They completed five circuits, and unwound as many,

this way and that: since they sought for no paltry prize

at the games, but vied for Turnus’s life blood.

BkXII:766-790 The Goddesses Intervene

By chance this was the place where a bitter-leaved

wild olive, sacred to Faunus, had stood, a tree revered

by sailors of old, where, when saved from the sea, they used

to hang their gifts to the Laurentine god, and the votive garments:

but the Trojans had removed the sacred trunk, allowing

of no exceptions, in order to fight on open ground.

Here stood Aeneas’s spear, its impetus had carried it there,

fixed and held fast by the tough roots. The Trojan halted,

intending to pluck out the steel with his hand,

and pursue the man he couldn’t catch by running,

with his javelin. Then Turnus mad with anxiety indeed cried:

‘Faunus, pity me, I pray, and you, most gracious Earth

if I have every honoured your rites that the sons of Aeneas

have instead defiled by war, retain the steel.’

He spoke, and did not invoke the power of heaven in vain,

since Aeneas could not prise open the wood’s grip,

by any show of strength, though he wrestled long and lingered

over the strong stump. While he tugged and strained fiercely, Juturna,

the Daunian goddess, changing again to the shape of Metiscus,

the charioteer, ran forward and restored his sword to her brother.

But Venus, enraged that this was allowed the audacious nymph,

approached, and plucked the javelin from the deep root.

Refreshed with weapons and courage, one relying on his sword,

the other towering fiercely with his spear, both breathing hard,

they stood, tall, face to face, in martial conflict.

BkXII:791-842 Jupiter And Juno Decide The Future

The king of almighty Olympus meanwhile was speaking

to Juno, as she gazed at the fighting from a golden cloud:

‘Wife, what will the end be now? What will be left in the end?

You know yourself, and confess you know, that Aeneas,

is destined for heaven as the nation’s god: the Fates raise him to the stars.

What are you planning? What hope do you cling to in the cold clouds?

Was it right that this god be defiled by a mortal’s wound?

Or that the lost sword (for what could Juturna achieve without you?)

be restored to Turnus, the defeated gaining new strength?

Now cease, at last, and give way to my entreaties,

lest such sadness consume you in silence, and your bitter

woes stream back to me often from your sweet lips.

It has reached its end. You have had the power to drive

the Trojans over land and sea, to stir up evil war,

to mar a house, and mix marriage with grief:

I forbid you to attempt more.’ So Jupiter spoke:

so, with humble look, the Saturnian goddess replied:

‘Great Jupiter, truly, it was because I knew it was your wish

that I parted reluctantly from Turnus and the Earth:

or you would not see me alone now, on my celestial perch,

enduring the just and the unjust, but I’d be standing, wreathed in flame,

in the battle line itself, and drawing the Trojans into deadly combat.

I counselled Juturna (I confess) to help her unfortunate brother

and approved greater acts of daring for the sake of his life,

yet not for her to contend with the arrow or the bow:

I swear it by the implacable fountainhead of Styx,

that alone is held in awe by the gods above.

And now I yield, yes, and leave the fighting I loathe.

Yet I beg this of you, for Latium’s sake, for the majesty

of your own kin: since it is not prohibited by any law of fate:

when they soon make peace with happy nuptials (so be it)

when they join together soon in laws and treaties,

don’t order the native Latins to change their ancient name,

to become Trojans or be called Teucrians,

or change their language, or alter their clothing.

Let Latium still exist, let there be Alban kings through the ages,

let there be Roman offspring strong in Italian virtue:

Troy has fallen, let her stay fallen, along with her name.’

Smiling at her, the creator of men and things replied:

‘You are a true sister of Jove, another child of Saturn,

such waves of anger surge within your heart.

Come, truly, calm this passion that was needlessly roused:

I grant what you wish, and I relent, willingly defeated.

Ausonia’s sons will keep their father’s speech and manners,

as their name is, so it will be: the Trojans shall sink, merged

into the mass, only. I will add sacred laws and rites,

and make them all Latins of one tongue.

From them a race will rise, merged with Ausonian blood,

that you will see surpass men and gods in virtue,

no nation will celebrate your rites with as much devotion.’

Juno agreed it, and joyfully altered her purpose:

then left her cloud, and departed from the sky.

BkXII:843-886 Jupiter Sends Juturna A Sign

This done the Father turns something else over in his mind

and prepares to take Juturna from her brother’s side.

Men speak of twin plagues, named the Dread Ones,

whom Night bore untimely, in one birth with Tartarean Megaera,

wreathing them equally in snaky coils, and adding wings swift

as the wind. They wait by Jove’s throne on the fierce king’s

threshold, and sharpen the fears of weak mortals

whenever the king of the gods sends plagues

and death’s horrors, or terrifies guilty cities with war.

Jupiter sent one of them quickly down from heaven’s heights

and ordered her to meet with Juturna as a sign:

she flew, and darted to earth in a swift whirlwind.

Like an arrow loosed from the string, through the clouds,

that a Parthian, a Parthian or a Cydonian, fired,

hissing, and leaping unseen through the swift shadows,

a shaft beyond all cure, armed with cruel poison’s venom:

so sped the daughter of Night, seeking the earth.

As soon as she saw the Trojan ranks and Turnus’s troops,

she changed her shape, suddenly shrinking to the form of that

small bird that perching at night on tombs or deserted rooftops,

often sings her troubling song so late among the shadows –

and the fiend flew screeching to and fro in front

of Turnus’s face, and beat at his shield with her wings.

A strange numbness loosed his limbs in dread,

his hair stood up in terror, and his voice clung to his throat.

But when his wretched sister Juturna recognised the Dread One’s

whirring wings in the distance, she tore at her loosened hair, marring

her face with her nails, and her breasts with her clenched hands:

‘What help can your sister give you now, Turnus?

What is left for me who have suffered so? With what art

can I prolong your life? Can I stand against such a portent?

Now at last I leave the ranks. Bird of ill-omen, do not you

terrify me who already am afraid: I know your wing-beats

and their fatal sound, and I do not mistake the proud command

of great-hearted Jupiter. Is this his reward for my virginity?

Why did he grant me eternal life? Why is the mortal condition

taken from me? Then, at least, I could end such pain

and go through the shadows at my poor brother’s side!

An immortal, I? Can anything be sweet to me without you

my brother? Oh what earth can gape deep enough for me,

to send a goddess down to the deepest Shades?’

So saying she veiled her head in a grey mantle, and the goddess,

with many a cry of grief, plunged into the river’s depths.

BkXII:887-952 The Death Of Turnus

The Fight between Aeneas and King Turnus, Giacomo del Po

‘The Fight between Aeneas and King Turnus’ - Giacomo del Po (Italy, 1652-1726), LACMA Collections

Aeneas pressed on, brandishing his great spear like a tree,

and, angered at heart, he cried out in this way:

‘Why now yet more delay? Why do you still retreat, Turnus?

We must compete hand to hand with fierce weapons, not by running.

Change into every form: summon up all your powers

of mind and art, wing your way if you wish

to the high stars, or hide in earth’s hollow prison.’

Turnus shook his head: ‘Fierce man, your fiery words

don’t frighten me: the gods terrify me and Jupiter’s enmity.’

Saying no more he looked round seeing a great rock,

a vast ancient stone, that happened to lie there in the plain,

set up as a boundary marker, to distinguish fields in dispute.

Twelve picked men, men of such form as Earth

now produces, could scarcely have lifted it on their shoulders,

but the hero, grasping it quickly, rising to his full height

and as swiftly as he could, hurled it at his enemy.

But he did not know himself, running or moving

raising the great rock in his hands, or throwing:

his knees gave way, his blood was frozen cold.

The stone itself, whirled by the warrior through the empty air,

failed to travel the whole distance, or drive home with force.

As in dreams when languid sleep weighs down our eyes at night,

we seem to try in vain to follow our eager path,

and collapse helpless in the midst of our efforts,

the tongue won’t work, the usual strength is lacking

from our limbs, and neither word nor voice will come:

so the dread goddess denied Turnus success,

however courageously he sought to find a way.

Then shifting visions whirled through his brain:

he gazed at the Rutulians, and at the city, faltered

in fear, and shuddered at the death that neared,

he saw no way to escape, no power to attack his enemy,

nor sign of his chariot, nor his sister, his charioteer.

As he wavered, Aeneas shook his fateful spear,

seeing a favourable chance, and hurled it from the distance

with all his might. Stone shot from a siege engine

never roared so loud, such mighty thunder never burst

from a lightning bolt. Like a black hurricane the spear flew on

bearing dire destruction, and pierced the outer circle

of the seven-fold shield, the breastplate’s lower rim,

and, hissing, passed through the centre of the thigh.

Great Turnus sank, his knee bent beneath him, under the blow.

The Rutulians rose up, and groaned, and all the hills around

re-echoed, and, far and wide, the woods returned the sound.

He lowered his eyes in submission and stretched out his right hand:

‘I have earned this, I ask no mercy’ he said,

‘seize your chance. If any concern for a parent’s grief

can touch you (you too had such a father, in Anchises)

I beg you to pity Daunus’s old age and return me,

or if you prefer it my body robbed of life, to my people.

You are the victor, and the Ausonians have seen me

stretch out my hands in defeat: Lavinia is your wife,

don’t extend your hatred further.’ Aeneas stood, fierce

in his armour, his eyes flickered, and he held back his hand:

and even now, as he paused, the words began to move him

more deeply, when high on Turnus’s shoulder young Pallas’s

luckless sword-belt met his gaze, the strap glinting with its familiar

decorations, he whom Turnus, now wearing his enemy’s emblems

on his shoulder, had wounded and thrown, defeated, to the earth.

As soon as his eyes took in the trophy, a memory of cruel grief,

Aeneas, blazing with fury, and terrible in his anger, cried:

‘Shall you be snatched from my grasp, wearing the spoils

of one who was my own? Pallas it is, Pallas, who sacrifices you

with this stroke, and exacts retribution from your guilty blood.’

So saying, burning with rage, he buried his sword deep

in Turnus’s breast: and then Turnus’s limbs grew slack

with death, and his life fled, with a moan, angrily, to the Shades.


The End of the Aeneid