The Aeneid: Novel Summary: Book 10

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Book 10

Summary
Meanwhile Jupiter calls a council of the gods and asks why this war has broken out against his orders. Time enough for war when Carthage attacks Rome, but now let there be peace. Venus complains at length about the suffering the Trojans have had to undergo, blaming Juno for loosing a Fury to stir up war. If Juno won't let the Trojans have a country and empire, she begs to at least keep her grandson Ascanius safe, and let Carthage conquer Italy when the time comes, with no Rome to stop it. Juno makes her own speech, distorting everything in order to blame Aeneas and justify herself and Turnus. Anyway, it's all the fault of Paris, encouraged by Venus to steal Helen from Menelaus.
Some gods side with Juno, some with Venus, and then Jupiter speaks, and even the winds and the sea fall silent. Since Juno and Venus can't make peace, he will help neither side. Let their deeds decide the outcome; the Fates will find a way.
Meanwhile the Trojans are still holding off the Latins, and Aeneas, having gained the leadership of the Tuscan forces, is returning to the camp on shipboard, with all his forces. Virgil tells over the catalogue of the thirty ships, naming the Tuscan leaders and their cities. Night comes, but Aeneas does not sleep. The nymphs who have been changed from ships into sea goddesses come to Aeneas and dance in a circle around his ship. One of them speaks to him, telling him about the attack on the camp and urging him to hasten.
The Trojans and their new allies land with the dawn, Aeneas in his shining divine armor, but Turnus does not quail. Still, Turnus and Aeneas do not fight against each other yet-both kill many in different parts of the battlefield. Pallas is fighting at the head of the band of Arcadians he has led to battle; when they are almost defeated, he rallies them. Then Lausus, the son of the godless Mezentius, but himself beautiful and virtuous, urges his troops against Pallas. Before these two young and beautiful men, both fated to die that day, can meet each other in battle, Turnus comes to the aid of Lausus and engages Pallas in combat, boasting that he will kill him and wishing that Pallas's father Evander could be there to see it. Pallas prays to Hercules for aid, and in heaven Hercules weeps useless tears, unable to help him. Jupiter comforts his son Hercules: "'For each his appointed day stands; for all the time of life is brief and unrenewable; but to extend one's fame by deeds, that is the work of valor'" (lines 467-469). Turnus himself will die soon.
So Turnus does kill Pallas. He is willing to let the Arcadians carry the body back to Evander, but first he rips from the body a massive belt magnificently engraved, glorying in his booty. Virgil laments that human beings do not know how to preserve moderation when they seem to be victorious-soon Turnus will wish he had never taken that booty.
Aeneas flies into a rage at hearing of the death of Pallas, and ruthlessly kills several men who plead for mercy. Jupiter sarcastically observes to Juno that clearly it is only Venus who has given the Trojans success, not their own strength, and Juno begs him not to give her grief-she is upset enough by the fate hanging over Turnus. Jupiter allows her to go into action to postpone that fate, but not to change it. Hoping he'll change his mind about Turnus's ultimate fate, Juno leads Turnus away from the battle with a phantom of Aeneas and tricking him into boarding a ship, which she immediately cuts free from its mooring and sends downstream. Turnus is in despair-his men will think he has deserted them. He is close to suicide, but Juno restrains him, and he is unwillingly carried away to safety.
Mezentius now takes the lead, and slaughters many. The fight is so deadly that the gods feel pity at the pointless, vain anger on both sides. Aeneas wounds Mezentius, and is about to kill him when his son Lausus darts in and deflects the blow. Mezentius is rescued by his men, but Lausus stays to fight Aeneas. Aeneas warns him that the battle is beyond his strength, but when Lausus persists, Aeneas is filled with rage and wounds him mortally. Watching him die, and thinking of his love for his own father, Aeneas is filled with pity. He does not strip the young man of his arms, and he gives him the only consolation he can: Lausus can take comfort in the fact that he has fallen at the hand of the great Aeneas. Mezentius is overcome with remorse when he hears of his son's death, and rides back into battle to die at the hands of Aeneas.
Analysis
The pathos of Book 10 focuses on the two beautiful young men, both imbued with filial piety, the reverent and loving duty toward fathers that was one of the most admired of Roman virtues. Both must both die at the hands of those much stronger than they are, spurred on by love of glory. At the same time, this part of the story is central to our understanding of the extent to which Aeneas has been transformed, of the nature of his heroism. The death of Pallas rouses Aeneas to rage, and we see how utterly rage makes even this good man lose the sense of humanity that would ordinarily have led him to spare the defeated. Yet he is brought back to humanity as Lausus dies, seeing in Lausus's rescuing of his father an image of the love Aeneas feels for his own father, and so Aeneas takes no booty. Turnus, on the other hand, feels no pity for Pallas or for his father-in fact, he exults in the suffering this death will cause Evander-and he does take booty. Virgil makes sure that we notice Turnus's excess here, and hints at the disaster that is going to follow it. The contrast with Aeneas is most obvious here, but in fact it has been operating throughout, though perhaps obscured by the divine machinery. It is the Fury that drives Turnus to rage in the first place, but the Fury never has any effect on Aeneas. Still, Turnus is young, easily made drunk by conquest, and willing to have thousands die rather than lose the woman he loves. That contrast only becomes stronger in the books that follow.

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The effect of this contrast is different for different readers. Some see Turnus as human and understandable, and even justified and heroic in insisting on the kind of fulfillment that all human beings want-in his case, a life with the woman he loves. Aeneas, on the other hand, is driven by inhuman forces and must fight for something that will give him no human fulfillment. Some readers, C.S. Lewis among them (in his Preface to Paradise Lost), see in Aeneas an adult, whose life has a meaning greater than personal fulfillment, and in Turnus only a passionate boy.

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