Study Guide

The Aeneid Book 11

By Virgil

Book 11

  • Although he's disturbed by the death of Pallas, Aeneas makes offerings to the gods as a sign of thanks for his victory.
  • Then he addresses his soldiers. He tells them that the lion's share of their work is over. Then he instructs them to bury the dead. He also orders that Pallas's body be sent back to his father Evander.
  • He goes to the shelter where Pallas's body is laid out, and weeps at his death. He is especially sad for having failed in his promise to Evander to keep Pallas safe.
  • Virgil now describes Pallas's funeral procession heading off. It includes the four prisoners Aeneas intends to have sacrificed over Pallas's pyre.
  • When Aeneas gets back to camp, he finds that emissaries from the Latins have come; they ask for a day of truce to bury their dead.
  • Aeneas says, "Fine. But you guys should know that you're a bunch of real jerks. Why did you let Turnus turn you guys against us? If he likes fighting so much, he should have stayed on the battle and let me kill him."
  • Then Drances, a Latin elder, speaks up. He tells Aeneas that they will get rid of Turnus as an ally and make peace again with the Trojans.
  • The Trojans and Latins decide on a twelve-day truce.
  • Pallas's funeral procession reaches the city of the Arcadians. King Evander is overcome with grief and throws himself on his son's body.
  • He gives vent to a lengthy lamentation. In it, he says he wishes he had died instead of his son; he also says that he doesn't blame Aeneas for Pallas's death.
  • The next morning, the Trojans burn their dead.
  • When the third day of the truce comes round, the Trojans bury the ashes and bones.
  • That same day, in the city of the Latins, mothers lament the loss of their sons. Some of them say that they should sever their alliance with Turnus. Drances supports this, but Queen Amata – who still wants Turnus, not Aeneas, as a son-in-law – nixes it.
  • At just this moment, the emissaries who were sent to the Greek King Diomedes come back. (They set out at the beginning of Book 8 to get him to join them in war against the Trojans; check your translation or our summary of that book if this doesn't ring a bell.)
  • The emissaries say that Diomedes won't join them.
  • King Latinus wants to hear the full story, so he calls an assembly and orders the emissaries to address it.
  • They report what Diomedes told them: that he's suffered enough fighting against the Trojans at Troy. He says the Trojans are some mean dudes; the Trojans should take the gifts they were offering him and present them to Aeneas instead.
  • After hearing the emissaries out, King Latinus addresses the assembly and reveals what he heard from the oracle in Book 7 – that the Trojans are destined to rule in Italy. He says that there is no point in fighting them; the Latins should either join them as a single people, or, if the Trojans choose to leave, they should help them build a fleet.
  • Then Drances speaks up. He says that Latinus should go a step further and promise his daughter Lavinia in marriage to Aeneas. Then he addresses Turnus, who apparently is present at the meeting. He tells Turnus to renounce his claim to Lavinia's hand. If he still has his heart set on her, then he should man up and face Aeneas in combat.
  • In reply to him, Turnus says, "You talk big, but I don't see you fighting. As for myself, I killed tons of those Trojans, even when I faced them alone inside their own fort. You think we can't take them in war?"
  • Then he turns to address Latinus. He tells him that they still have enough allies to fight the Trojans. On the other hand, if it's him alone Aeneas wants to face, he'll be ready.
  • In the meantime, Aeneas and his army have marched into the plain. A messenger enters the Latin city and alerts the people, who arm for battle.
  • In the assembly, Turnus takes this as proof that peace is useless. He orders his captains to prepare for war.
  • The city is quickly fortified. At the same time, Amata, Lavinia, and the town's other prominent women head to the shrine of Minerva; they pray to her to keep their city safe.
  • Turnus arms for battle. When he emerges, he runs into Camilla, the Volscian warrior queen, riding up with her battalions.
  • Turnus is glad to see her. He tells her to engage Aeneas head-on, while he and his men will set an ambush for him in a wooded mountain pass. He tells her that she will have the forces of another guy called Messapus to back her up in the plain.
  • Up in heaven, Diana, goddess of the hunt, is talking to Opis, one of her serving maidens (and a goddess herself). Diana explains how Camilla's father, Metabus, was an exiled king who raised his daughter in the woods, taking on Diana as his child's patron goddess.
  • Diana gives Opis and arrow and says, "Whoever kills Camilla, you kill him with this."
  • By this point the Trojans are approaching the town. Camilla and Messapus are in the plain waiting to meet them. Battle is soon joined.
  • Camilla kills lots of men.
  • At a certain point in the battle, she ends up chasing a guy called Arruns, who is sporting some really fancy duds. Virgil tells us that Camilla has fallen prey (as Fitzgerald translates) to "a girl's love of finery."
  • Finally, Arruns turns to face her. He makes a prayer before throwing his spear – basically saying, "I don't expect any glory when I get home from killing a woman, I just need to stop her from killing all our guys."
  • Apollo grants the killing Camilla part, but not the coming home part.
  • Arruns throws his spear and strikes Camilla in her one exposed breast. 
  • Then Arruns runs away. Camilla gets her friend Acca to help her as she slips from the saddle. In a short time she is dead.
  • Then, as promised, Diana's servant Opis draws an arrow, takes aim, and shoots, killing Arruns.
  • After the death of Camilla, the Italians are driven into the city. As the crowds of fleeing Italians bottleneck at the city gates, the Trojans press in behind them. Many are killed in the furious slaughter. Eventually, the Italians seal up their city.
  • When news reaches Turnus, where he is still waiting to ambush Aeneas in the mountain pass, he is dismayed. He leads his soldiers away from their ambush and heads toward the town.
  • Then Aeneas and his own contingent – who haven't yet arrived at the scene of the battle – march through the undefended pass and also head for the town.
  • The two armies see each other. Turnus's men would battle Aeneas if the day weren't ending.
  • The night finds Turnus and his men in the city.

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