In the Aeneid, Virgil describes many human qualities, problems and characteristics. Some examples which I wish to illustrate can be found in the end of epic, in the scene of the final duel between Aeneas and Turnus. Virgil also introduces a novel idea in his work. Both sides, the Trojans and the Latins, are portrayed as noble people. Even though Aeneas is fated to win, and he is the hero of the work, the opposing force, Turnus, is not portrayed as evil, but rather like a noble person in a very hard situation. Virgil deals as much with physical and psychological problems Turnus faces, being an honest and noble man, as he does with Aeneas’s problems.
By the time the battle begins, Turnus knows that he will lose. His sister, who was given some divine powers by Jupiter earlier, helped him during the battle before the final duel, but then she is called off by Jupiter. Turnus knew even before the battle started that he will lose, because it was fated for Aeneas to receive the land and marry Lavinia. He was urged by King Latinus and Lavinia herself not to fight but as the poet says, “Words cannot check the violence of Turnus” (Book XII, 62). Who was Turnus’s “violence”, or anger against? I do not think that it was Aeneas. Turnus was angry at the fate that forced him to give up the woman he loved to some newcomer. He could not accept that. Virgil is showing that anger can drive a person to the most irrational decisions. Turnus went, knowingly, to die because he was angry at fate, which cannot be changed. Aeneas faces a similar problem when he has to leave Dido -- fate is against his desires, but Aeneas, chooses fate’s way, while Turnus chooses his desires.
This quality is not only portrayed in the ...
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...ght of Pallas’s belt upon his murderer. He decides to avenge him, and punish Turnus for his crimes. Here, justice prevails over mercy, and repentance does not achieve any results. It is difficult to see how in later times Virgil might have been referred to as a Christian before Christ. He clearly here states that Aeneas, who was a very humane hero, kills Turnus to avenge his friend despite the fact that Turnus repented his sins. At the end, justice triumphs over feelings like mercy.
Both men, Aeneas and Turnus are shown to be bound by justice. Turnus cannot accept Aeneas’s usurping of his wedding rites, and is prepared to fight and die for it. Aeneas cannot accept the slaughter of his friend, and must avenge him. And even though only one of them is the hero of the epic, both follow a similar path through the work, and both get what they were assigned to by fate.
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