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Quisquis in arma vocas: Turnus and Jupiter in the Aeneid

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2015


C.J. Mackie
Affiliation:
The University of Melbourne

Extract

Book 12 of the Aeneid is in many ways Turnus’ book: it begins with his name (Turnus ut…, 12.1) and ends with his life passing to the shades below (vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras, 12.952). His death completes the remorseless victory of Aeneas: the latter’s barbed final comment, ‘Pallas…Pallas’ (12.948) echoes the boast of Turnus, ‘PallantaPallas’ (10.442). The death of Pallas in Book 10 changes the whole pattern of the action in the poem: Aeneas is thereafter at his most ruthless (e.g. 10.510-605; 11.81-2) and Turnus is at his most vulnerable (e.g. 10.668-88). It is Jupiter who makes it clear (to Juno, 10.607-32) that the balance has shifted, and it is Jupiter who increasingly takes a personal and threatening interest in what happens to Turnus. The realisation by Turnus (12.894-5) that Jupiter is an active hostis is uttered with bitterness, resignation and terror. It is the utterance of a man who genuinely expected events to go his way, the utterance of a deluded man. Turnus is forced by his imminent defeat to believe what previously seemed unbelievable — that Jupiter, far from being a patron god, is actively hostile to him.


Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Australasian Society for Classical Studies 1990

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References

1 Cf. Servius, ad 8.110: ‘ “audaccm” (i.e. Pallanta) autem dicit ubique Vergibus, quotiens vult ostendere vinutem sine fortuna: unde etiam Tumum audacem vocat [TX,3].’ There has been a tendency in recent times, however, to see Vergil’s use of audax (to describe Tumus) as revealing a dormant yet significant propensity to violence which Allecto and Iris merely need to touch off (see e.g. Schenk, P., Die Gestalt des Turnus in Vergils Aeneis (Königstein/Ts., 1984], 27Google Scholar ff.). Such a view takes account neither of the conflict in the Allecto episode (7.445 ff.), nor of Tumus’ faith in the Iris episode (9.16 ff.). Servius, who is somewhat less keen than many modem scholars to blacken Tumus, is nearer to the mark in associating audax with youthful, misplaced courage (cf. miserande puer, 6.882; 10.825; 11.42).

2 Tumus’ piety can be seen too in the Allecto episode in Book 7 (413 ff.). He prefers to place his faith in Juno (7.438 ff.) rather than march off blindly to war on the advice of old Calybe (7.440 ff.). His faith is an obstacle to Allecto, who must therefore smite him with snakes (7.450) and a flaming torch (7.456 f.).

3 This view goes back as far as Servius (see e.g. ad 9.134). Brooks Otis, a modem supporter of this view, argues that ‘the meaning of Tumus’ fiducia here is shown in the ensuing speech by which he tries to minimize the purport of this fearful event. He is not, he declares, terrified by the fates (133)’ (Virgil, A Study in Civilized Poetry [Oxford 1963] 347Google Scholar). Conington’s note to 9.137 gives amuch clearer idea: ‘In this sense Tumus might assert his belief in his own destiny, though it might not have been expressly revealed to him…‘

4 In a recent book The Characterisation of Aeneas (Edinburgh 1988) 211Google Scholar ff., I have argued that Aeneas’ pietas at the end of the poem rests largely on the fact that his actions are in alignment with Jupiter’s will and fate’s course. The intervention of Venus (2.589ff.), and those of Mercury (4.265 ff. and 560 ff.), are designed to ensure that Aeneas reverts to the proper course. Tumus does not have the same good fortune.

5 Cf. David West’s new translation (Penguin 1990) 238Google Scholar: ‘This sword is wielded by a different arm, and gives a deeper wound. ‘

6 In all, Jupiterutters 10 speeches, totalling 125 lines (Highet, G.. The Speeches in Vergil’ s Aeneid [Princeton 1972] 334).Google Scholar

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