Aeneid Book 9, lines 54 - 66

Turnus the wolf

by Virgil

When Turnus, the chief of the Rutuli, receives a message from his protectress, the Goddess Juno, that Aeneas is far away from his men seeking alliances, he decides to march straight away on the camp that the Trojans have built and fortified. He expects a pitched battle, but Aeneas has instructed the Trojans to stay on the defensive if attacked in his absence. When they retreat to their camp and close the gates, Turnus is beside himself.

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Clamorem excipiunt socii fremituque sequuntur
horrisono; Teucrum mirantur inertia corda,
non aequo dare se campo, non obvia ferre
arma viros, sed castra fovere. huc turbidus atque huc
lustrat equo muros aditumque per avia quaerit.
ac veluti pleno lupus insidiatus ovili
cum fremit ad caulas ventos perpessus et imbris
nocte super media; tuti sub matribus agni
balatum exercent, ille asper et improbus ira
saevit in absentis; collecta fatigat edendi
ex longo rabies et siccae sanguine fauces:
haud aliter Rutulo muros et castra tuenti
ignescunt irae, duris dolor ossibus ardet.

The allies take up the cry, and press on with a fearsome
racket, amazed at the Teucrians’ lack of pluck,
in not engaging in the open or taking up arms like men,
but keeping to the camp. Seething, Turnus scours
the defences up and down on horseback,
seeking some obscure way in. But he is like
a wolf with designs on a packed sheepfold who, beset
by winds and rain, at midnight roars at every chink;
the lambs bleat, safe under their dams, but he, agonised
and beside himself with anger, fumes at the separation,
gnawed by his chronic hunger and the lack of blood
on his maw; just so the anger kindles in the Rutulian
looking on, and anguish smoulders in his hard bones.


More Poems by Virgil

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