The book is world renowned and also is said by many to be one of thebest works ever. The last chapter of the Aeneid has caused some problems forreaders. The first problem that is evident is the manner in which Aeneas dealswith Turnus. In book XII Turnus states that the fight should be between the twomen as apposed to both armies fighting any further. Turnus had every right todislike Aeneas who came unannounced, tried to take his fianc, Aeneas’ sonkilled their sacred deer, and he took his land.
They have a great dual andAeneas disarmed Turnus by striking him in the leg. With his sword to his chestTurnus makes a last request for his body to be returned to his family, as Aeneasis considering the request he notices that Turnus is wearing the sword belt ofPallas and the stoic ways of Aeneas leave him as rage, fury, and anger runthrough his body. He kills Turnus in anger and dedicates his death to Pallas. This loss of control and act of violence is the opposite of stoicism and the wayAeneas had been portrayed the rest of the epic.
Turnus has to die for the founding of Rome to occur but he should nothave been killed in such a way. The killing was payback for the dishonorableway that Pallas was killed. The sword belt had images that reflect AugustinianRome as did the shield in book eight. The theft of the belt from Pallas can becompared to the stolen helmet and the youth slain when his guard was down andgreed had taken over. All if this represents the theme of greed and eachincident resulted in death of the thief. Another problem that the last book of the Aeneid provided for thereaders was how the last scene was written in relation to the rest of the epic.
At the end of the novel Aeneas kills Turnus for many reasons, most them weredishonorable. Aeneas had gone through many barriers in the epic. At thebeginning of the epic Aeneas knew his duty to the people very well, this wasshown in many instances such as returning for his wife during his flight fromtroy. But throughout the epic this theme becomes less and less vivid and thefact that he starts to understands the Gods becomes more and more evident.
Dueto the fact that Aeneas is half devine shows that he can be in either side ofthe line that divides the two. Usually a being in this state is either moredevine or more human. At the beginning of the epic Aeneas is portrayed as avery human person who understands human needs. As the epic progresses thisfades, his divinity states to show.
At the end of the novel he is very much theopposite is of when it started and his will to understand human behavior is gone. Due to the fact that the piety that he had throughout the epic was no longerwithin him. Aeneas has no need for piatos because in a very short time he willbecome a god and he must prepare for this instead of gaining piety. The lastscene changes our view of Aeneas that has been built up throughout the epic.
Hebecomes enraged and clearly not the Aeneas that started out during the fall ofTroy. This is not necessary a bad thing because the he has ahead of him needs astrong man and the occurrences throughout the book actually made him the manthat the founding of Rome required him to be. The third problem that appears in the final act of Aeneas is that hisactions are really not like him at all and is not consistent with the characterwhich is shown in the rest of the epic. I feel that for the founding of Rome tooccur Turnus had to die but Turnus did not have to die the way he did.
IfTurnus did live he would have been a constant nuisance and a trouble maker. Hewould have also posed a constant threat to the life of Aeneas. The fact that hestole the sword belt of Pallas and killed him with such dishonor does somewhatjustify the act of Aeneas but it goes back to the question of who is the betterman out of the two. Aeneas let his emotions overcome him and this in turnsshows weakness. On the other hand Turnus showed strength in accepting hisdefeat and making a last request.
Aeneas’ character throughout the epic was ever learning. He wentthrough much to get to the point where he is at during the battle. He foughtthe walls that Juno put up throughout his journey and became a stronger man atthe end. Aeneas deals with Turnus in a bad way but this should not totallydishonor him. He did make it to his destination and sacrificed much to getthere. Although Aeneas did make it to found Rome.
Juno also is a victor in theepic. The root of Juno’s anger was that the prophecies proclaimed that Aeneaswould take over Carthage and he is Trojan. But now that Aeneas is no longerTrojan but Roman and Rome will love Juno more than Carthage ever did. If Aeneas had stuck to stoicism in the story could he have accomplishedhis mission without resorting to such violence? Obviously the Stoic way wouldhave been much better and much quicker.
If he had not let his emotions get thebetter of him he would not have spent seven years with Dido and her death wouldnot have happened. Also if he would have gone straight to Italy he would havearrived long before Turnus was engaged to the princess and there would have beenno war. Although there is a strong argument that the events throughout the bookbuilt the character Aeneas needed to be the founder of Rome and become a God. Another point is that the prophecies stated that Aeneas would have to fight manybattles to found Rome the fact remains that if he had gotten there sooner therewould still have been some sort of war awaiting his arrival. On the other handin the last book Jupiter did make a statement that suggested that it waspossible for him to interfere with fate if he wished and change the prophecies. There is no telling what he could have done had he made different choicesthroughout his journey and many people ponder the same questions about lifeitself and the choices made in their lives.
The fact is there is no way ofknowing. In my opinion the last scene insinuates that Rome was founded inviolence. This in not necessary bad, roman people were very proud of theirheritage and the way that the city was founded. The Romans fell in love withVirgil’s Aeneid and so did Augustus. The book was praised by Romans as itshowed Rome as strong and powerful. The character of Aeneas was modeled after Augustus and the book agreedthat Augustus was a strong leader.
The book actually helped his image and thelove for him grew threw Rome after the publication of the book. For thatsociety in that time the epic was written perfectly to suit the need of thereader.