Book 10 - Pallas and Mezentius

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Aeneas returns at the head of the Etruscn armies. Turnus kills Pallas and tears the belt off his dead body. As Aeneas slaughters the Latins in an **** of revenge, Juno saves Turnus from his fury by spiriting him from the battlefield. Mezentius takes his place, and in battle with Aeneas his life is saved by the intervention of his young son Lausus. Aeneas kills Lausus, and the wounded Mezentius challenges him and dies in single combate.

The Council of the Gods

Jupiter opens the debate of the council of the gods by asking why Italians are at war with the Trojans against his express will. Strange. After all he is omniscient - he knows the answer to all questions, and he is omnipotent - his will is the unalterable decree of fate. That is the theology, but in epic theology does not alway apply. Sometimes Jupiter is not the all-powerful lord of the universe, but the father of a rowdy family where there is constant trouble between jealous wife and unruly daughter. The gods in the epic sweep the action to the heights, as at the beginning and end of his episode. They also pull it down to the level of domestic comedy, as when Venus and Juno wrangle in council like a pair of rhetorically trained fishwives.

Venus complains that after all these years her son is still homeless and his people are under siege again, this time on Italian soil; Juno says that if they are suffering, it is by their own choice. Venus pretend to believe that the destiny of empire pronounced by Jupiter at the beginning of the epic is being altered; Juno's reply is that the Trojans are not fulfilling their destiny, but obeying the prophecies of a madwoman, Praim's daughter Cassandra. Venus objects to the storm Juno raised against Aeneas in Book 1; Juno wilfully misunderstands and says that Aeneas' voyage back from Etruria is none of her doing. In Venus' view Turnus is swollen with his success in war; for Juno he is taking his stand in defence of his native land. Venus grumbles because she is at risk from the violence of mere mortals; Juno's reply skecthes Turnus' descent from the gods of Italy. Venus tries to rouse pity for the Trojans because of the absence of Aeneas; Juno advises him to stay away. It is an established device of ancient oratory to appeal for clemency by bringing in the children of the defendent at the end of the speech. Venus brings in Ascanius, and begs to be allowed, if all else is lost, to take him to safety in one of her beautiful sanctuaries in Amathus, Paphos, Cythera or Idalium; Juno taunts her by telling her to be content with Paphos, Idalium and Cythera and to keep away from these rough Italians. Point by point Juno has stripped down Venus' arguements, offering two lies for every one…


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