Aeneid for Boys and Girls - Alfred J. Church

The Death of Turnus

Now that Æneas had gone away, Turnus raged more furiously than ever. He drove his chariot right through the host of Trojans, and slew chiefs on either side as he went. One of them was the son of Dolon, who went to spy out what the Greeks were doing in their camp before Troy, and asked—foolish man that he was—for the horses of Achilles as his pay. Turnus struck him to the ground with a javelin, and put his foot upon him and said: "And did you too ask for pay? Take, then, so much of the land of Italy as you lie upon." The Trojans and Tuscans fled before him. Only one man dared to stand up before him—Phegeus was his name. He caught at the bridles of the horses, trying to stop the chariot. But the horses dragged him along, and Turnus thrust his spear through his coat of mail. But Phegeus was not afraid. He loosed the bridles, and, putting his shield before him, made at Turnus with his sword, but Turnus dealt him a great blow where the coat of mail joined on to the helmet, and cut off his head.

Meanwhile Achates and Ascanius led Æneas to the camp. Very slowly did he walk, leaning heavily on his spear. And first he tried to draw out the arrow with his own hand, but could not. Then he sent for Iāpis the physician, and said: "Cut deep; only take out the arrow, and send me back to the battle." Now Iāpis was dear to Apollo; and when the god was ready to give him all his arts, music, and the use of the bow, and to know what was going to happen, he chose rather to have the gift of healing. For his father was an old man and about to die, and Iāpis wished to give him a longer life. And now he did all that he could for Æneas, trying to draw out the arrow from the wound with his pincers, and could not. All the while the battle came nearer and nearer, and the noise grew louder, and the sky was dark with clouds of dust, and the javelins fell thick into the camp. Then Venus, seeing the trouble which had come upon her son, brought him help. It was a healing herb which she knew; the wild goats when they have been wounded by the hunter's arrows seek it out. This she brought, and dipped into the water which Iāpis was using, but no one saw her when she came or when she went. And Iāpis, not knowing what had been done, used the water, in which the herb had been dipped. Immediately the pain ceased, and the blood was stanched, and the arrow came of its own accord out of the wound. Then he said to Æneas: "It is no skill of mine, my son, that has done this. The gods call you to your work." And now Æneas felt that all his strength was restored to him, and he armed himself, and, having kissed Ascanius, went back to the battle. And when his people saw him, they took courage again, and shouted, and charged the Latins and drove them back to the city. Many of their chiefs were slain, among them the man who had broken the treaty; but Æneas would not turn his hand against any. He looked for Turnus, and cared nothing about the others. When the sister of Turnus saw this, she was much afraid; so, running up to her brother's chariot, she pushed the driver from his place, and took the reins herself; but the man did not know what had happened, only he found himself left behind, nor did Turnus know anything about it. She drove the chariot, first to one part of the field, then to another, just as a bird flies about in some room of the house. Æneas saw him, and followed, calling out: "Stop, coward, and fight;" but the nymph turned the horses about and fled away. And once Æneas came near to being killed, for he did not notice how King Messāpus stood ready to throw a spear at him. Just in time he saw it, and dropped on his knee, holding his shield before him. Yet the spear struck the top of his helmet, and cut off the crest. This made him angry, and he ceased to pursue Turnus, and, rushing into the army of Latins, made a great slaughter. After a while it came into his mind to attack the city, for he said to himself: "If I attack the city, surely Turnus will come to help, and we shall meet." So he called to the chiefs, saying: "Come, we will go against the city. I will lay it even with the ground, and its people within it, if they do not keep their promise. As for this Turnus, why should I pursue him?"

Then the whole army made for the walls of the city. Some carried burning torches in their hands, and some scaling-ladders. Some made at the men who kept the gates, and others threw javelins at those who stood on the walls. There was a great strife in the city. Some said: "Let us open the gates, and ask these Trojans to have mercy on us, before it is too late." Others said: "Not so! we will fight for our own city to the last."

The queen stood on the roof of the palace, watching the battle. When she saw how the Trojans were attacking the city, and that her own people were not there to help it, she said to herself: "Turnus is dead, or surely he would be here: it is I who have brought him to his death." And she made a noose out of the purple garment which she wore, and hanged herself from a beam in the roof. When the people knew this, there was great lamentation in the city, and King Latinus rent his clothes and threw dust upon his white hair.

And now the cry of the people in the city was so loud that it came to the ears of Turnus, where he fought in the farthest part of the plain. He caught the reins, saying: "What means this cry from the city? Surely there is trouble. I will go to their help!" But the false driver said: "Nay, my lord, fight here where the gods are giving you the victory. There are enough to defend the city." But Turnus said: "Nay, my sister, for I know who you are, it must not be so. Why did you come down from heaven? Was it to see your brother die? My friends have been slain: shall I see the city destroyed? Shall the Latins see Turnus fly from his enemy? The gods of the living have left me. Receive me, O gods of the dead, for indeed, I have sought to do the thing that is right." While he was speaking, a chief came riding up, his horse covered with foam, and with the wound of an arrow in his face. "O Turnus," he cried, "you are our last hope. Æneas is about to destroy the city, and his men are throwing lighted torches on to the roofs. Only Messāpus and a few chiefs keep up the fight, while you are driving your chariot about these empty fields."

Then Turnus leapt from his chariot, and ran as fast as he could to the city. Where the blood ran deepest on the earth and the arrows were flying thickest in the air, he ran. He beckoned to his men, and cried: "Stay your arrows; stand still; I am come to fight for you all." When Æneas saw it, he left attacking the city, and came to meet his enemy. Both the armies stood and looked, for, indeed, they were two mighty chiefs.

First they cast their spears at each other; then they ran together, and their shields struck together with a great crash. First Turnus rose to his height, and struck a great blow with his sword, and all the Trojans and all the Latins cried out when they saw him strike—these with hope and those with fear. But the treacherous sword was broken in the blow. And when Turnus saw the empty hilt in his hand, he turned to fly. They say that when he mounted his chariot that day to go to the battle he left his father's sword behind him, not thinking what he was doing, and took in its place the sword of his charioteer. This served him well enough while he was fighting with others, but when he came to the shield which the Fire-god had made, it broke like ice. So Turnus fled, and Æneas, though he was yet somewhat hindered by his wound, pursued him. And Turnus cried out: "Give me a sword." But Æneas cried: "If any one helps him I will burn the city to the ground." Five times round the space between the two armies they ran, and Turnus could not escape, nor could Æneas take hold of his enemy. Now there stood in the plain the stump of a wild olive tree, and it was sacred to the god Faunus. In this the spear of Æneas had fixed itself when he cast it at Turnus but had not hit him. Now he tried to pull it forth. But Turnus cried to the god: "O Faunus, if I have kept sacred the things which the Trojans have profaned, hold fast this spear." And so it was, for Æneas could not draw it forth. And while he struggled with it, the nymph, the sister of Turnus, taking the form of the charioteer, ran up, and put his own sword into his hand. When Venus saw this, she, too, came down, and drew the spear from the stump.

Then said Jupiter to Juno, as they sat watching the battle: "How long wilt thou fight against fate—What wilt thou? Was it well that the nymph should give back to Turnus his sword? Thou hast driven the Trojans over land and sea, and filled Italy with death, and turned the marriage song into mourning. Further thou must not go."

And Juno answered humbly: "This is thy will, father of gods and men, and I yield. But grant me this: do not let the Latins be called by the name of Troy, or change their dress, or their speech. Let Rome rule the world, but let Troy perish forever."

And Jupiter answered: "It shall be so; all that thou askest I will give. The Italians shall not change name, or dress, or speech. The men of Troy shall become Latins, and by none wilt thou be more honoured than by them."

And now Æneas came on shaking his great spear. "Why do you draw back, O Turnus?" he said. "If you can, fly through the air, or hide yourself in the earth; but if not, meet me face to face." Turnus answered: "It is not you I fear; it is the gods who are turned against me." Then he turned to fight. His sword he did not use, but he saw a great stone that lay close by, the landmark of a field. Very great it was, so that twelve men—such as men are nowadays—could scarcely lift it from the ground. This he caught from the earth, and, running forward, cast it at Æneas. But he scarcely knew what he was doing, for his knees tottered beneath him, and his blood was cold with fear. He was like to a man in a dream, who tries to run and cannot. The stone fell short, and then Turnus looked about him. He saw the city, but his chariot he could not see, nor his sister. He could not fight, and he could not flee, and the dreadful spear was pointed at him. For a while Æneas stood shaking it in his hand, waiting till his aim should be sure. Then he threw it with all his might. It came like a whirlwind, and pierced the seven folds of his shield, and made a deep wound in his thigh. And Turnus dropped with his knee on the ground, and all the Latins groaned aloud to see it. Then he said: "I have deserved my fate: take what you have won. And yet have mercy on me. Pity the old man, my father. You had such a one for your own father. Give me back to my own people. They have seen me beaten; they see me beg my life from you: Lavinia is yours. Therefore spare my life."

And Æneas stood in doubt. He might have spared him, but that his eye fell on the belt of Pallas. Then he cried with a dreadful voice: "Shall I spare you when you wear the spoils of my friend? Not so; take this; it is Pallas slays you." And he drove his spear into his breast. So the spirit of Turnus passed into the darkness.