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The Aeneid Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Robert Fitzgerald's translation.

Quote #7

Then suddenly a rumor flew about
The little town that horsemen were departing
Quickly for the Etruscan king's domain.
Mothers in fright redoubled their prayers: fear
Brought danger nearer, and the specter of war
Grew larger in their eyes. (8.752-757)

In this brief image, Virgil brings home (literally) the human cost of war. Can you think of other passages in the Aeneid in which Virgil's female characters have different perspectives on politics and warfare than his male characters? If so, do you think that these differences of opinion were true only of Virgil's day, or do they still describe people today?

Quote #8

In tumult
Back to the camp through all the gates retiring
Trojans took position on the walls—
For so on his departure their best soldier,
Aeneas, had instructed them: if any
Emergency arose, not to do battle,
Not to entrust their fortunes to the field,
But safe within their walls to hold the camp.
Therefore, though shame and anger tempted them
To a pitched battle, even so they barred
Their gates as he commanded, and compact
In towers, armed, awaited the enemy. (9.54-65)

In this passage, Aeneas – even in his absence – shows his strength as a commander. Aeneas knows that his men won't be able to hold out against the Italian attack (that's why he's gone to make alliances with the Arcadians, and, though he doesn't know it yet, the Etruscans). So he tells them to stay put. The only risk they run now is from their own "shame and anger," which urge them to go out and fight the Italians head-on, even though that isn't the smartest move at this point.

Quote #9

"Here is the chance
You've prayed for: now to hack them up with swords!
The battle is in your hands, men. Let each soldier
Think of his wife, his home; let each recall
Heroic actions, great feats of our fathers.
Down to the surf we go, while they're in trouble,
Disembarking, losing their footing. Fortune
Favors men who dare!" (10.386-393)

Here Turnus encourages his men to attack Aeneas, who has just returned from meeting with the Arcadians and Etruscans. He uses a complex set of ideas to motivate them to fight: 1) love for their families, whom (Turnus implies) they wouldn't want to see fall into the hands of the Trojan invaders, and 2) a sense of pride, in their desire to live up to the deeds of their ancestors. Last of all, Turnus points out that the moment is now: they'll never have a better opportunity to give the Trojans hell. The last two lines, which could also be discussed in terms of the theme of Fate and Free Will basically express the idea that people make their own luck. Do you think that Turnus is right in thinking this or not?

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