Aeneid Book 7, Lines 607 - 622

Juno throws open the gates of war

by Virgil

Blood has been spilt over Iulus’s misguided wounding of a pet stag, Turnus is spoiling for a fight against the Trojan newcomers, Queen Amata has taken Princess Lavinia and is raging with her in the wilderness, and the people are streaming into Latinus’s city demanding revenge for those who have already died. Latinus cannot undo the damage, but cannot bring himself to agree to declare war: he withdraws from the turmoil. Juno herself, who has caused all this mayhem with the help of the Fury Allecto, who has kindled a blazing anger in Turnus with her firebrand, steps personally into the breach. Now that war has been declared, Book 7 will end with a catalogue of the impressive forces that Turnus assembles from his own and his allies’ resources in preparation for battle.

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Mos erat Hesperio in Latio, quem protinus urbes
Albanae coluere sacrum nunc maxima rerum
Roma colit, cum prima movent in proelia Martem,
sive Getis inferre manu lacrimabile bellum
Hyrcanisve Arabisve parant seu tendere ad Indos
Auroramque sequi Parthosque reposcere signa.
sunt geminae belli portae (sic nomine dicunt)
religione sacrae et saevi formidine Martis;
centum aerei claudunt vectes aeternaque ferri
robora, nec custos absistit limine Ianus:
has, ubi certa sedet patribus sententia pugnae,
ipse Quirinali trabea cinctuque Gabino
insignis reserat stridentia limina consul,
ipse vocat pugnas; sequitur tum cetera pubes,
aereaque adsensu conspirant cornua rauco.
hoc et tum Aeneadis indicere bella Latinus
more iubebatur tristisque recludere portas.
abstinuit tactu pater aversusque refugit
foeda ministeria et caecis se condidit umbris.
tum regina deum caelo delapsa morantis
impulit ipsa manu portas, et cardine verso
belli ferratos rumpit Saturnia postes.
ardet inexcita Ausonia atque immobilis ante;
pars pedes ire parat campis, pars arduus altis
pulverulentus equis furit; omnes arma requirunt.

There was a custom in Hesperian Latium, which
the Alban towns religiously maintained, and which
Rome itself, greatest in might and wealth, now observes
when invoking Mars to open the fighting, whether to
bring mournful war against Getae, Hyrcanians and Arabs,
or head on towards the Indies and the dawn, demand
from the Parthians the return of the standards. There are
twin gates of war, so called, sanctified by reverence
and fear of fierce Mars. A hundred bronze and iron
locks hold shut the timeless oak, Janus the watchman
never leaves the threshold. These gates the consul,
resplendent in ceremonial dress, when the Senate’s vote
is final, in person opens on their screeching doorway,
and declares war; then Rome’s soldiers take up
the cry, and the brazen horns chorus in strident assent.
Just so then did the people bid Latinus to declare war
and open the dread gates. The old king would not
touch them, turned away from the grim
duty and vanished into the dark shadows. Then
the Queen of the Gods herself, Saturn’s child, swooped
from the heavens, thrust at the grinding portals
and burst open the ironclad doors, hinges swinging.
Ausonia, till now unmoving and unmoved, takes fire;
some arm to take the field on foot; some prance in dust
aloft as high horses kick; all take up their weapons.

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More Poems by Virgil

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