Aeneid Book 12, lines 311 - 340

Aeneas is wounded

by Virgil

A long-delayed duel between Aeneas and Turnus to settle the conflict without further bloodshed is about to begin, and Aeneas and his opposite number, King Latinus, have both sworn to respect the outcome. But Aeneas’s enemy, the Goddess Juno, is at work again. Turnus has a sister, Juturna, who has been granted immortality by Jupiter as thanks for her favours. In disguise, just as the Latin warriors fear that Turnus looks no match for the mighty Aeneas, she goads them into breaking the truce, and yet another bloody general conflict breaks out, in which, to make matters worse, Aeneas is hit by a stray arrow while trying to stop the fighting.

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At pius Aeneas dextram tendebat inermem
nudato capite atque suos clamore vocabat:
‘quo ruitis? quaeve ista repens discordia surgit?
o cohibete iras! ictum iam foedus et omnes
compositae leges. mihi ius concurrere soli;
me sinite atque auferte metus. ego foedera faxo
firma manu; Turnum debent haec iam mihi sacra.’
has inter voces, media inter talia verba
ecce viro stridens alis adlapsa sagitta est,
incertum qua pulsa manu, quo turbine adacta,
quis tantam Rutulis laudem, casusne deusne,
attulerit; pressa est insignis gloria facti,
nec sese Aeneae iactavit vulnere quisquam.
Turnus ut Aenean cedentem ex agmine vidit
turbatosque duces, subita spe fervidus ardet;
poscit equos atque arma simul, saltuque superbus
emicat in currum et manibus molitur habenas.
multa virum volitans dat fortia corpora leto.
seminecis volvit multos: aut agmina curru
proterit aut raptas fugientibus ingerit hastas.
qualis apud gelidi cum flumina concitus Hebri
sanguineus Mavors clipeo increpat atque furentis
bella movens immittit equos, illi aequore aperto
ante Notos Zephyrumque volant, gemit ultima pulsu
Thraca pedum circumque atrae Formidinis ora
Iraeque Insidiaeque, dei comitatus, aguntur:
talis equos alacer media inter proelia Turnus
fumantis sudore quatit, miserabile caesis
hostibus insultans; spargit rapida ungula rores
sanguineos mixtaque cruor calcatur harena.

Pious Aeneas bared his head, held out an unarmed
hand and shouted to his men: “where
are you running? Why this sudden discord?
Control your anger! The pact is struck and all
the rules settled. Only I can fight – leave all
to me, and have no fear. I will enforce the treaty
with a firm hand: by these rites, Turnus is mine!”
Even as these words were uttered, an arrow, flights hissing, struck Aeneas, who knows shot by whom, propelled by what wind, and whether chance or a god had brought the Rutuli such glory; the kudos of the deed
high, but hidden, and none boasted of Aeneas’s wound.
Turnus, seeing Aeneas leave his army, its leaders
perturbed, burned hotly with sudden hope, called for
his horses and armour, and with a bound leapt proud
and splendid onto his chariot and shook the reins.
As he went, he gave many strong men’s bodies to
death, sorely wounded many, crushed the ranks
with his chariot, grabbed spears to use on the fleeing.
As bloody Mars, roused to clash his shield in frenzy
by the rivers of icy Hebrus, looses war and gives their
head to his raging team, that flies over the open sea
before the north and west winds; farthest Thrace groans
with the shock of their hooves, while around the God are
borne the faces of black fear, wrath and ambush,
his retinue; just so swift Turnus whips his horses,
smoking with sweat, into the midst of battle,
riding his sadly slaughtered enemies down;
his horses’ swift hooves scatter the bloody dew
and kicks up gore blended with the sand.


More Poems by Virgil

  1. Laocoon and the snakes
  2. Vulcan’s forge
  3. Signs of bad weather
  4. Aeneas joins the fray
  5. Aeneas finds Dido among the shades
  6. Turnus at bay
  7. The Trojans reach Carthage
  8. The death of Dido.
  9. Dido falls in love
  10. Fire strikes Aeneas’s fleet
  11. Aeneas sees Marcellus, Augustus’s tragic heir
  12. Omens for Princess Lavinia
  13. Aeneas prepares to tell Dido his story
  14. The death of Pallas
  15. Aeneas comes to the Hell of Tartarus
  16. The death of Priam
  17. Laocoon warns against the Trojan horse
  18. Dido’s release
  19. Juno is reconciled
  20. Turnus the wolf
  21. Aeneas learns the way to the underworld
  22. A Fury rouses Turnus to war
  23. The journey to Hades begins
  24. Anchises’s ghost invites Aeneas to visit the underworld
  25. Help for Father Aeneas from Father Tiber
  26. The Harpy’s prophecy
  27. Juno throws open the gates of war
  28. Aeneas’s oath
  29. Dido and Aeneas: Hell hath no fury …
  30. Dido and Aeneas: royal hunt and royal affair
  31. The Trojan Horse enters the city
  32. Turnus is lured away from battle
  33. Virgil predicts a forthcoming birth and a new golden age
  34. Aeneas rescues his Father Anchises
  35. King Latinus grants the Trojans’ request
  36. The portals of sleep
  37. In King Latinus’s hall
  38. Aeneas’s ships are transformed
  39. Storm at sea!
  40. King Mezentius meets his match
  41. The Aeneid begins
  42. Aeneas’s vision of Augustus
  43. Virgil’s poetic temple to Caesar
  44. Aeneas saves his son and father, but at a cost
  45. New allies for Aeneas
  46. Mercury’s journey to Carthage
  47. The farmer’s happy lot
  48. Hector visits Aeneas in a dream
  49. Mourning for Pallas
  50. The death of Euryalus and Nisus
  51. The farmer’s starry calendar
  52. Aristaeus’s bees
  53. Aeneas reaches the Elysian Fields
  54. Souls awaiting punishment in Tartarus, and the crimes that brought them there.
  55. The Trojans prepare to set sail from Carthage
  56. Rites for the allies’ dead
  57. Charon, the ferryman
  58. Aeneas tours the site of Rome
  59. Jupiter’s prophecy
  60. The Syrian hostess
  61. Sea-nymphs
  62. Virgil begins the Georgics
  63. The natural history of bees
  64. Palinurus the helmsman is lost
  65. Virgil’s perils on the sea
  66. Rumour
  67. More from Virgil’s farming Utopia
  68. Love is the same for all
  69. Catastrophe for Rome?
  70. The infant Camilla
  71. The Fury Allecto blows the alarm
  72. How Aeneas will know the site of his city
  73. Aeneas arrives in Italy