The Aeneid Warfare Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Robert Fitzgerald's translation.
"You can arm
For combat brothers of one soul between them,
Twist homes with hatred, bring your whips inside
Or firebrands of death. A thousand names
Belong to you, a thousand ways of wounding.
Shake out the folded stratagems within you,
Break up this peace-pact, scatter acts of war,
All in a flash let men desire, demands,
And take up arms." (7.458-466)
These words are spoken by Juno to Allecto, one of the Furies, when she is about to send her down to incite Amata and Turnus to hatred against the Trojans. The Furies – known in Latin as the Furiae or the Dirae and in Greek as either the Erinyes or the Eumenides – were three goddesses who mainly took care of vengeance. (You can read more about them here.) In Virgil, the Furies generally act as more all-purpose stirrers-up of hatred and strife. Thus, even if these lines aren't about war specifically, they do give a vivid portrayal of the animosity that is the cause of many wars.
Then driven wild, shouting for arms, for arms
He ransacked house and chamber. Lust of steel
Raged in him, brute insanity of war,
And wrath above all, as when fiery sticks
Are piled with a loud crackling by the side
Of a caldron boiling, and the water heaves
And seethes inside the vessel, steaming up
With foam, and bubbling higher, till the surface
Holds no more, and vapor mounts to heaven. (7.633-641)
These lines describe the reaction of Turnus, immediately after the Fury Allecto has convinced him to make war against the Trojans. In the lines that immediately follow these, we are told of how Turnus gives orders for defending the Latins' territory, in violation of the peace between them and the Trojans. Why do you think Virgil chose the image of a boiling cauldron to represent Turnus's emotions and how they give rise to conflict? What might this image say about war in general?
There was a custom then in Latium,
Held sacred later in Alban towns, as now
In the world-power of Rome when citizens
First urge the wargod on […].
There are two gates, twin gates
Of war, as they are called, by long observance
Looked on in awe, for fear of savage Mars.
One hundred brazen bolts keep these gates closed
And the unending strength of steel; then too
Their guardian, Janus, never leaves the portal.
Now when the Fathers' judgment holds for war,
The Consul in Quirinal robe and Gabine
Cincture goes to unlock the grating doors
And lifts a call for battle. Fighting men
Then add their voices, and the brazen trumpets
Blown together blare their harsh assent. (7.827-830, 834-845)
In these lines, Virgil connects a Roman custom that survived in his own day with the super ancient history depicted in his epic poem. Basically, the custom was as described: whenever war began, priests would open the gates of the temple of Janus in the Forum – which would itself have been nothing more than a ceremonial gateway, like this temple of Janus that still survives in Rome today (if you look at the picture closely, you can see that it is a 4-way arch). Actually, this is a little misleading. The Romans were at war so often, that it is better to say that the gates of Janus were closed during times of complete peace. This happened once in 235 B.C., and three times under the emperor Augustus in the 1st century B.C. (in other words, not very often). Virgil refers to this fact in a passage in Book 1 – which we used as the first quotation for this theme, above.