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Book 7 Notes from The Aeneid

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The Aeneid Book 7

Aeneas' nurse has died so they perform her burial rites and name the bay after her. They leave the harbor and sail past Circe's island, where the men she has changed into boars and wolves are howling. Neptune gives them a strong wind so that they will be able to avoid that island. Aeneas sees a forest and has his men sail into the mouth of the Tiber River.

Near where they land is an area ruled by King Latinus who is old and has only a daughter. This daughter was wooed by Turnus who is the best of the Latins. Latinus' wife Amata wants her daughter Lavinia to marry Turnus, but the king had seen an omen of bees overcoming a laurel tree which was interpreted:

"'In that direction
from which the swarm has come I see a stranger
approaching and an army nearing us;
I see them reach the palace, see them ruling
in our high citadel.'"
Book 7, lines 86-90

He also once saw his daughter's hair catch on fire--this meant that she would be famous but a pain to her people. Latinus visited an oracle and sacrificed many animals. At one oracle he was told to seek a stranger to marry his daughter. Rumor carries this prophecy to the Trojans as they pull onto the shore. They set out a meal on their wheat loaves and when they are still hungry they eat their loaves too. Ascanius jokes that now they have eaten their tables and Aeneas realizes that Celaeno's prophecy has been fulfilled. Aeneas makes a sacrifice and Jupiter thunders three times. The Trojans rejoice.

They look over the land the next day and Aeneas sends one hundred emissaries to Latinus. People are amazed by the dress of the Trojans as they enter the city. Latinus welcomes them and reminds them that Dardanus came from this region. Ilioneus answers that fate brought them to shore and he brings tidings from Aeneas asking for a small settlement and pledging loyalty. He offers him gifts from their leader and Latinus looks at the ground considering his fates. He tells them that he wants peace and relays the oracle about his daughter's foreign husband. He tells Ilioneus to take this prophecy to Aeneas and also sends 300 horses with gold bits and a chariot.

As this happens, Juno gets enraged because she is helpless to stop any of this. She remembers that other gods have had their revenge on other peoples before and she calls up Allecto, a fury, sending her off to cause war. She poisons the mind of Amata who asks her husband if her daughter must marry a Trojan and, "'What of your right hand/ you swore so often to your kinsman, Turnus?'" Book 7, lines 485-86. Latinus is not moved by her pleading and she gets more upset. She hides her daughter in the mountains and, in her frenzy, calls for the other women. Content with this, Allecto flies to the home of Turnus and becomes an old priestess. She tells him what has happened and encourages him to fight. He tells her he knows what has happened and that he meant to fight. He wakes and rallies his companions. She goes to the Trojans and encourages Ascanius to go on a hunt. She leads him to a pet stag and he kills it. This enrages the surrounding farmers and they take up arms. The forest begins to fill with soldiers. The fight begins and there is death. Allecto flies to Juno and brags about the work. Juno tells her that it is enough and she goes away.

Latinus tries to throw Turnus out of his palace, but Amata will not allow him to do this. Amata rages and the people clamor for war. Latinus calls to the gods:

"'The Fates
have crushed us, we are carried by the storm.
Unhappy men! The penalty for this
will yet be paid with your profaning blood.'"
Book 7, lines 782-85

In Latium there is a custom of opening the gates of war and the Latins throw open these gates and ask for war. Latinus will not sanction it, but Juno forces it. The Latin cities prepare for war and they list their champions going to war. The most important of these are Mezentius, Clausus, Mezentius' son Lausus and Messapus. Turnus leads this mass of men with the amazon-like Camilla accompanying him.

Topic Tracking: Women 6
Topic Tracking: Omens 7
Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 6 

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