Book 12 - Truce and Duel

HideShow resource information

Turnus now demands to meet Aeneas in battle, and Aeneas and Latinus strke a treaty agreeing that the victor will receive Lavinia in mariage, and that if Aeneas is defeated, the Trojans will withdraw and settle with Evander in Pallanteum. But Juno suborns Turnus' divine sister Juturna to egineer a violation of the treaty. In the melee which follows Aeneas is wounded by an arrow shot by an unknown assailant, He is healed by intervention of Venus and reurns to battle. Once again Turnus is rescued from the wrath of Aeneas - this time by Juturna - but when Aeneas attacks the city of Latinus, Turnus realises his responsibilities and returns to the field. Jupiter and Juno are reconciled, and Juno gives up her opposition to the destiny of Rome. Aeneas wounds Turnus and kills him as he begs for mercy.

The Death of Turnus

'I sing of arms and of the man' is how Virgil began his epic, and nowhere does he sing more intensely of Aeneas than in the last book. It opens with bold words from Turnus as he steels himself for battle, taunting Aeneas and issuing a ringing challenge; 'Let the Trojan and Rutulian armies be at peace. His blood, or mine, shall decide the war'. While he dons his splendid armour, and girds on his sword (the wrong which, as shall emerge), roaring like a bull and lashing himself into a fury, Aeneas, too, is rousing himself into anger, but is also reassuring his allies, conforting his son, accepting the challenge and laying down the terms of the peace that will follow.

The steadiness and maturity of Aeneas are thus shown by means of a contrast with the wildness of Turnus. This technique meet to ratify the treaty. Day has dawned with the most glorious epic sunrise, and the firstwitness Aeneas then calls upon is the Sun, a courteous compliment to Latinus since the Sun is his grandfather, but that address is followed immediately by an invocation of the great Olympians, Jupiter, Juno and Mars: Jupiter, since the golden rule is always to begin with him; Juno, because Aeneas is remembering the instructions he received from the god Tiber at the beginning of Book 8; and Mars, as god of battle and later to be the father of Romulus. This is theologically correct, and a striking contrast to the ragbag divinities addressed by Latinus, ending, contrary to the golden rule, with Jupiter. The contrast demonstrates Aeneas' piety towards the gods.

The next display of character by tacit contrast comes after the Rutulians, egged on by Juturna, have violated the treaty in the very moment of its ratification. In the battle which follows, Aeneas, unhelmeted, tries to control his allies, insisting that a treaty has been made and that by its terms no one is allowed to fight except Turnus and himself. But when the arrow comes whirring from an unknown hand and Aeneas is led wounded from the field, Turnus siezes his opportunity. Clapping on…


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »See all The Aeneid by Virgil resources »