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Vergil


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Vergil’s Aenied Essay, Research Paper

Within the Aeneid, there are many themes contained in

the text. One of them is the death of the good and the

young in battle. This recurring theme seems to be prevalent

in Vergil’s epic because it most definitely occurs in all

battles. When there is battle, there are consequences.

Most often these consequence are the death of someone who is

seen as not yet ready to die because they are good or young.

In Book IX of the Aeneid, lines 402-545, a battle scene

and the events leading to it are depicted. Ascanius is

leading a troop of Trojan soldiers who want to pass through

a place that was unrightfully conquered by Rhamnes. One

Trojan decides to single handedly make a path through this

place. As the Trojan passes through, he kills many Romans.

The Trojan, Euryalus, kills Rhamnes and his slaves. He then

kills Remus’ armor-bearer, charioteer, and horses. Lastly,

Euryalus comes upon the lord, Remus. Vergil begins to

describe the beheading of Remus, done by none other then

Remus, “Full on his neck he drives the fatal sword: the

gasping head flies off; a purple flood flows from the

trunk.” Euryalus then kills Lamus, the bold, and Lamyrus,

the strong. Euryalus also kills the young Serranus, a

good-natured young man who may not have deserved to die.

Vergil includes this certain murder in particular because it

shows that war shows no mercy, no matter how young or how

good.

The slaughter in this scene is ended only at the hand

of Nisus, Euryalus’ lover, who proclaims there has been

enough blood lust and murder. The group leaves the battle

scene with nothing, for they leave the “precious load”

behind.

Soon we see that a young boy is left behind because he

wants to take some of the bounty that was left from the

battle. As Euryalus and Nisus have been gone for some time,

Euryalus realizes he has left the boy behind and he retraces

his path. When he returns he sees the boy surrounded by

“three hundred horse” lead by Volscens. Euryalus’ only

choice is to shoot an arrow through the boy so that he would

not have to suffer at the hands of his captors. Euryalus

believes he is rightful in his decision. This again shows

how the good and the young do die in battle. This, holding

true to the old clich?, “all is fair in love and war”.

In Book XI, lines 818-831, the tale of the turning of

fate and the death of a young maiden, Camilla, is told.

Camilla’s father, Metabus was forced from Privernum, and

took his daughter so she wouldn’t be harmed. While fleeing

through the woods, Metabus comes within sight of his

enemies. Not knowing what to do, he thinks of jumping into a

stream, but stops to think. He decides to bound his

daughter within a hollow wooden sheath, and gives his

daughter up to the goddess, Phoebe.

This story is told by Phoebe and says that once Metabus

did this, “ Then she(Camilla)had been of my celestial train,

and shunned the fate that dooms her to be slain.”

Unfortunately, an older Camilla decided to go into battle

and was eventually murdered. Phoebe vows to avenge her

murder and “bear the brethless body of my maid: Unspoiled

shall be her arms, and unprotaned her holy limbs with any

human hand.” Although Camilla was good and young, and had

her fate diverted by the intervention of Phoebe, she was

killed. This passage is truly an example of one of the

Aeneid’s many themes: the death of the good and young in

battle.

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