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Book 9 Notes from The Aeneid

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The Aeneid Book 9

As Aeneas speaks with the Tuscans, Juno sends Iris to Turnus. She tells him that Aeneas is gathering allies and he should attack the Trojan camp before he returns. Turnus prays as she leaves and thanks whatever god sent her. The Rutulian armies enter the plain with their allies. When the Trojans see this, they cluster around their walls as Aeneas advised. Turnus races ahead with an elite force and calls for them to storm the ramparts. He wheels around like a wolf in a sheep pen. Enraged by the thick defense, he calls for fire. When Aeneas first built his fleet, Jupiter's mother asked that it never be destroyed because it was made from sacred trees. As Turnus tries to light the exposed ships on fire, a nymph choir fills the air and the ships turn into dolphin-like immortal creatures. The Rutulians panic but Turnus assails them and alleges that this sign is a bad omen for the Trojans. He argues that they must be attacked because this is the second time the Trojans have taken someone's wife away. He encourages them to fight but then decides to rest for the day. They camp around the Trojan settlement and the Trojans watch them from their walls. Nisus speaks to Euryalus at the gate:

"'Hear what I have in mind. The people,
the elders- everyone now urges that
Aeneas be called back, that messengers
be sent to bring him the tidings he can trust.
If they agree to give to you instead
the prize that I can claim for such a deed-
since for myself the glory is enough-
then close by that mound there I may have found
a path to reach the walls of Pallanteum.'"
Book 9, lines 252-60

Euryalus wants to join him in the endeavor, and Nisus allows him even though he wishes him to stay and save his youth. They go off together to ask the council. They tell them that the Rutulians are sleeping without very many sentries and they think there is a way through the camp. One of the chiefs tells them they will be rewarded handsomely by Aeneas and Ascanius offers them prizes from his own treasure. Euryalus asks Ascanius to comfort his own mother. Everyone weeps as Ascanius swears on his head that his mother will be cared for.

They cross the trenches and go into the shadows. Nisus kills sleeping men as he moves like a lion through a sheepfold. Euryalus joins him and one wakes but Nisus takes care of him. They abandon many attractive prizes as they move into the distance. As they leave the camp, a group of horsemen approaches. The leader of the horsemen, Volcens calls for them to halt but they rush on with the riders following. Euryalus gets stuck in some branches as Nisus breaks into an open run. When he comes to a field, Nisus turns around to look for his friend. He cries, "'Where have I left you poor Euryalus?'" Book 9, line 520. He sees Euryalus surrounded and draws his spear back and prays to the gods. He pierces one of them through the middle. He hefts another and pierces another one in the head. Volcens cannot see him so he goes after Euryalus. Nisus begs him not to kill him but he does anyway. Nisus is surrounded himself and kills Volcens before he dies.

The Latins carry the bodies back and see the carnage done by the night raiders. Dawn comes and they put the heads of the Trojans on pikes. Rumor infiltrates the camp and Euryalus' mother cries out in anguish at the death of her son. Ascanius comforts her. The Rutulians blow a horn and begin to assault the walls of the camp. They lock their shields and withstand the barrage of the Trojan missiles. The carnage increases as a tower built by the Trojans is lit on fire by Turnus. Many die in the collapse and those left are surrounded by Turnus' hordes. One gets to the walls and is helped by his companions' hands. Turnus yells mockingly as he tears him down to kill him just as an eagle clutches a lamb. Ilioneus hurls rocks into the mass. Turnus and Mezentius continue to kill many Trojans. Mezentius mocks them and calls them Trojan women. Ascanius aims and kills someone but his companions pull him away from the wall. Apollo pulls him aside and speaks:

"'Grow
in your new courage, child; o son of gods
and ancestor of gods, this is the way
to scale the stars. All fated, future wars
shall end in peace...'"
Book 9, lines 856-60

He takes the shape of a friend of Anchises and encourages the boy not to fight any more. The Trojans recognize the god as he leaves and they restrain Ascanius. The battle runs around the walls like a wind or a flood. The gates are smashed and some of the Rutulians break in. The Trojans rally and push them out rushing into the field themselves. Turnus rages through the battle causing confusion wherever he goes. He knocks down one of the mighty defenders and inspires the attackers. They rally and the Trojans flee back into the gates. They close the gates before they see that Turnus has also entered. Inside the camp Turnus kills many but is surrounded and must leave. He washes his wounds in the Tiber.

Topic Tracking: Omens 9
Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 8

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