Angry at the prospect of peaceful settlement for the Trojans in Italy, Juno the Queen of the Gods has called on the help of Allecto the Fury to thwart it. Under the influence of the fearsome Allecto, Latinus’s Queen has gathered a band of Latin women and girls round her and abandoned the city for a Bacchic rampage across the mountains in protest at her husband’s plan to marry their daughter to Aeneas, instead of Turnus, the chief of the neighbouring Rutuli. Now Allecto, disguised as an old woman, has gone to Turnus as he sleeps to try to rouse him to action. At first he brushes her rudely off. But then …
This will not be the last time that we see Turnus burning with the violent anger that will be his trademark, perhaps because that is his character, perhaps because the effects of the fire that the Fury kindles in him in this extract will prove to be lasting.
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Talibus Allecto dictis exarsit in iras,
at iuveni oranti subitus tremor occupat artus,
deriguere oculi: tot Erinys sibilat hydris
tantaque se facies aperit; tum flammea torquens
lumina cunctantem et quaerentem dicere plura
reppulit et geminos erexit crinibus anguis
verberaque insonuit rabidoque haec addidit ore:
‘En ego victa situ, quam veri effeta senectus
arma inter regum falsa formidine ludit.
respice ad haec: adsum dirarum ab sede sororum,
bella manu letumque gero.’
sic effata facem iuveni coniecit et atro
lumine fumantis fixit sub pectore taedas.
olli somnum ingens rumpit pavor, ossaque et artus
perfundit toto proruptus corpore sudor;
arma amens fremit, arma toro tectisque requirit;
saevit amor ferri et scelerata insania belli,
ira super: magno veluti cum flamma sonore
virgea suggeritur costis undantis aeni
exsultantque aestu latices, furit intus aquai
fumidus atque alte spumis exuberat amnis,
nec iam se capit unda, volat vapor ater ad auras.
ergo iter ad regem polluta pace Latinum
indicit primis iuvenum et iubet arma parari,
tutari Italiam, detrudere finibus hostem:
se satis ambobus Teucrisque venire Latinisque.
Hearing this, Allecto blazed into anger. Sudden
shaking took the youth’s limbs even as he spoke, his
eyes froze: so many snakes hissed round the Fury,
so titanic was her form. Rolling fiery eyes, she
hurled him back, wondering what else to say,
reared up twin serpents in her hair, cracked
her scourge and, raging, cried: “See now! Wasted,
am I? Tired old age has lost the truth and deludes me
with fears of kings at war, does it? Look well; I am here
from the home of the Furies, my dire sisters, and bring
war and death in hand!”
Then she hurled her torch at the youth and
lit a fire in his breast, smoking with dark flame.
A great terror tore away his sleep, sweat broke
out across his limbs and body and drenched
him to the bone. Wild for weapons, he seeks them
in the room, in the house; he burns with lust
for steel and the madness and crime of war,
as when with a loud crackling the firewood is set
to the boiling cauldron and the smoking brew
leaps and overflows with foam, uncontrollable,
and the dark vapour mounts into the air. He tells
his best young warriors they must march on King Latinus,
that peace has been defiled, orders them to arms,
to the defence of Italy, to drive the enemy out:
he is coming, enough for Trojans and the Latins combined.