Virgil, Aeneid Books XI & X

General overview:  Book XI dramatically begins the formal battle with a seige of the Trojan camp which Turnus, himself, compares with the Greek seige of Troy in hopes of a similar outcome.  One major factor rereading reveals is the connection between XI's episodes of extraordinary heroic energy (Turnus, Nisus and Euryalus) and the Iliad's emphasis on heroic energia that drives various warriors to their moments of arete or excellence/prowess.  Too much of this quality can lead to deadly results, as when Achilles' ferocious anger motivates his withdrawal from the battle and the Trojans' nearly successful assault upon the Greek army's ships.  Turnus certainly attempts to reproduce that feat in reverse i his attack on the Trojan fleet.  Is he successful, or does his success bring with it a danger he had not anticipated?  Similarly, Nisus and Euryalus sortie from the Trojan camp to try to reach Aneeas in an attempt to win glory as much as to serve the Trojan cause, and like Odysseus, Diomedes and Dolon in Book X of the Iliad, they find that their boldness brings early victory and final tragic defeat.  This balance between heroic energy and wise restraint seems very important to Virgil in his construction of Aeneas' character, as well.  The deaths of young warriors (Helenus and Numanus) and the dangerous exposure of Ascanius/Iulus to the hazards of battle put that balance to an even more crucial test--how can a hero's son be heroic without risking all, but if his survival is crucial to the fate of his entire people, what right does he have to take such risks with all their lives:?  The authors of the Terminator movies might have had this in mind when inventing the predicament of John Connor.  Finally, Turnus, at the peak of his own arete, actually enters the Trojan camp and rages about in a battle fury so intense that he does not do the one thing which would have guaranteed the Trojans' doom--open the gates for his own army to enter.  (Troy themes are once again inverted.)  In Turnus' heroic, no other word for it, leap into the Tiber in full armor, he prefigures a famous Roman hero.  Horatius Cocles ("one-eyed") will one day hold back Lars Porcena's Etrustcan army with only two companions at the Sublician Bridge into Rome, escaping by diving into the Tiber and swimming to safety.  You saw him, all unknowing just like Aeneas, in Book VIII, ll. 875-83 (253).  They are just names until history and destiny realize their importance.

IX: Turnus attacks.

      1)  Burning the ships: they fly away as nymphs (X: 301‑2).  This may seem like a bizarre episode to readers without the background of the Trojans threatening the Greeks' ships in Iliad X-XI, or Achilles' oath never to rejoin the fight against Troy until the Trojans burn the Greeks' ships.  Think about the vulnerability of armies when their logistical lines of supply are cut.  Virgil offers his readers some serious lessons in strategic thinking that might be said to originate in BookVII when the Trojans' first act upon reaching the site of their camp is to begin erecting walls to protect themselves, or in Books I-IV where Aeneas' wonder at Carthage seems grounded in the fact that the city's walls are rising, even to the point of helping erect them himself until Mercury arrives.

    2)  Nisus & Euryalus: sortie to warn Aeneas; excess zeal for  killing; Messapus' helmet;futility of individual heroism;  poet's ancient role (276).

   3)  Deaths of inexperienced warriors: Lycus & Helenor  (Turnus); Numanus (Ascanius; Apollo orders restraint).

      4)  Turnus in the camp; Pandarus; Mnestheus‑‑"Troy II"; "Horatius at the Bridge"

 X: Pallas and Lausus; Aeneas and Mezentius.

General overview: After the gods debate the fairness of their involvement in the war, Jupiter declares that men's deeds and their individual destinies must hereafter decide who lives and dies.  As Fitzgerald puts it, "And the fates / Will find their way" (fata viam inveniate).  Book X brings to a climax the "substitute victims" theme announced by Entellus when he dropped the ox dead in place of Dares.  All the threats to young sons that were introduced in Book XI come to a head in Turnus' killing of Pallas, whose "war-father," Aeneas, had promised Evander to protect and teach him.  Mezentius' son, Lausus, dies for his father in an act that finally humanizes the old man by humbling his god-scorning pride.  His faith in his mount, Rhaebus, both touching and fatal, binds them together in doom.  Virgil seems to be illustrating with puzzles Jupiter's judgment that our efforts will become our fates, even mine and yours.

   1)  Olympus: Jupiter, Venus, Juno; Jupiter's justice  compromise (297).

   2)  Catalogue of ships; Turnus‑‑"Fortune favors men who dare."

  3)  Pallas rallies the Arcadians vs. Turnus; Lausus parallel  warrior; Turnus kills Pallas‑‑takes the sword belt.

  4)  Aeneas' vengeance vs. individuals; Turnus pursues  Aeanes' shade; Aeneas vs. Mezentius; Aeneas kills Lausus‑‑ "filial piety"; Aeneas kills Rhaebus & Mezentius.