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