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Book 5 Notes from The Aeneid

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The Aeneid Book 5

Aeneas sails into the distance and sees the smoke of the pyre, not guessing what has transpired in Carthage. Another storm hits when they come to the open water and Palinurus yells to Aeneas saying that they cannot hold out against the storm but should try to make landfall in Italy. Aeneas agrees and Acestes welcomes them back gladly. The next day Aeneas calls his men together and addresses them:

"'The circling year
completes its months since we entombed in earth
the bones and remnants of my godlike father.
Unless I err, that anniversary
is here, the day that I shall always keep
in grief and honor...'"
Book 5, lines 62-7

He tells them that they should feast for nine days and then have games in honor of his father. He pours libations at his father's tomb and a seven spiraled serpent slithers from the mound. Aeneas thinks that the snake might have the spirit of his father. He sacrifices sheep and his men offer gifts.

On the ninth day, Aeneas displays the prizes for the competition: tripods, garlands, gold, silver, armor. The first event is a galley race entered by Mnestheus, Sergestus, Cloanthus and Gyas. They pull into the sea and row with the trumpet blast. Gyas is in the lead, but near a rock, Cloanthus is willing to go closer than Gyas' helmsman will push his ship. Cloanthus takes the lead and Gyas throws his helmsman overboard. Mnestheus pulls into second and Cloanthus wins. He wins a gold embroidered cape, Mnestheus wins a shield and corselet. Cloanthus gets a cauldron and silver bowl and Sergestus receives a female slave. The footrace comes next and Aeneas promises a gift to everyone who finishes the race. Nisus and Euryalus enter together. Nisus is in the lead but he slips on blood and falls. He trips the person in second place so his friend Euryalus can win. "At this, the loud outcries of Salius/ reach everyone within that vast arena:" Book 5, lines 447-8. The other racer also protests to Aeneas. Aeneas gives an extra prize to Salius and then to Nisus because he slipped.

Next is the boxing match, but no one will stand to face Dares. Aeneas asks Entellus to stand and fight him. Entellus tells him that he is old, but stands to fight anyway binding on the massive gloves he got from Hercules. He offers to take off the gloves because they intimidate Dares. Aeneas has equal gloves brought out for the two fighters. As they fight, Dares is faster but Entellus is stronger. Entellus puts all of his strength into a punch that Dares dodges and he ends up falling down. He rises enraged and pummels Dares mercilessly. Aeneas stops the fight and gives the prize to Entellus as Dares' friends take him away. Entellus offers the prize to the gods, saying he will never box again.

Next, Aeneas calls the archery contest: a bird is tethered to the top of a mast. The first contestant hits the mast. Mnestheus hits the cord and the third contestant kills the flying bird. Acestes, the fourth contestant, shoots his arrow and it bursts into flame in the air. Aeneas believes this to be a good omen so he awards Acestes first place. Next the boys come out on horses, led by Ascanius, to display their riding abilities and battle technique. There are several bands and the Trojans cheer them on as they fight. While this goes on, Juno sends Iris down to the women who are mourning. She takes the form of a Trojan woman and stirs the rest of them up, alleging:

"'In my sleep
the image of the prophetess Cassandra
appeared and offered blazing brands. "Look here
for Troy; here is your home!" she cried. The time
to act is now; such signs do not allow
delay. Here are four altars raised to Neptune;
the god himself gives us the will, the torches.'"
Book 5, lines 838-44

One of them recognizes the woman as a goddess. Although they hesitate at first, they rush off to burn the ships. Ascanius sees this first and yells out to them. Aeneas runs and the women scatter but the ships are already on fire. Aeneas prays to Jupiter who sends rain. Only four ships are lost. Aeneas is upset and doesn't know what to do next. Someone advises him to leave the unwilling women and old men with Acestes to make up for the loss of the ships. Aeneas cannot make a decision, but Anchises comes to him in a dream and tells him he must take this advice and then come see him in the underworld once he reaches Italy. Aeneas calls his companions together and they select those to remain. He draws out a colony for them and then comforts the sadness of the people who are staying. He pours a libation and they pull out into the sea.

Venus asks Neptune to stop the storms of Juno and give them an easy passage to Italy. Neptune tells her that he has often watched out for Aeneas and he will continue to do so. He goes to Aeneas in his chariot with whales following. Palinurus takes the helm of the lead ship through the night. Neptune talks to him and Palinurus tells him that he is confident that nothing will go wrong through the night. Because of his arrogance, Neptune has him fall from the ship. The rest of the fleet moves safely and Aeneas mourns his missing friend.  

Topic Tracking: Women 5
Topic Tracking: Omens 5
Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 5

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