Victor Leon
AP English
Mr. Campion

November 20, 1996

"Compare and Contrast Aneas and Turnus"

The subtlety in the differences between Aneas and Turnus, reflect the subtlety in
the differences between the Aeneid and the Iliad. Although both characters are devout and
noble, Aneas does not possess the ardent passion of Turnus. Unlike Turnus, Aneas is able
to place his beliefs in the fated establishment of Latium before his personal interests.
Although Turnus is not a bad person, the gods favor Aneas in their schemes. The roles of
Aneas and Turnus are reversed as the Aeneid progresses. The erasure of Aneas\' free will
accounts for his triumph and success.
Time and time again, Aneas\' courage, loyalty, and will are tested in the Aeneid.
Through seemingly endless journeys by sea, through love left to wither, and through war
and death, Aneas exhibits his anchored principals and his unwavering character.
"Of arms I sing and the hero, destiny\'s exile...
Who in the grip of immortal powers was pounded
By land and sea to sate the implacable hatred
of Juno; who suffered bitterly in his battles
As he strove for the site of his city, and safe harboring
For his Gods in Latium" (Virgil 7).
As a slave to the gods and their plans, Aneas assimilates his mind and sacrifices his life to
the establishment of Latium. As the greatest of all warriors, Aneas displays his superb
strength and his leadership capabilities, by guiding the Trojans to victory over the latins
and establishing Latium. The selflessness of Aneas and his devotion to the Gods, enables
him to leap over and break through any obstacles that obstruct his destiny. Patterned after
Homer\'s Hector, Virgil\'s Turnus is also a courageous and devout hero. As the most
handsome of Rutilians, Turnus\' nobility reflects his physical appearance; he is a god-
fearing, libation-bearing soldier. Turnus was greatly admired and respected by his
subjects: "by far the fairest (of Italian men) / Was Turnus, favored both in his noble
forbears / And by the queen who advanced his claims with eager devotion" (Virgil 147).
Unlike Turnus, Aneas is able to place his beliefs in Rome before his own interests;
that is the defining characteristic of Aneas\' heroism. Leaving Dido, the beautiful and
passionate Carthaginian Queen, was extremely difficult for Aneas, and he delayed leaving
her as long as possible. Aneas laments, "If the Fates / Allowed me the life I would
choose to live for myself... it is not / Of my own free will I must seek Italy" (Virgil 84).
Aneas had suffered greatly at sea and lost many men, he did not long to sail again. Aneas
did not want a war to erupt between Trojan and Latins, but he knew that nothing could
keep him from establishing Latium where the gods had prophesied. Both Aneas and
Turnus are spurred on to action by visions. In the underworld, Aneas is
goaded by the image of his father:
"\'Father, it was you--
Your grief-engendering spirit time and again
Appeared to me and constrained me to make my way
To the edge of this world\'" (Virgil 139).
Turnus\' hatred for Aneas, inspired by the goddess Allecto, was the only stimulation that
Turnus required.
"Turnus!
Will you stand by and see so much of your effort wasted?
And what is yours transferred to Trojan settlers?
The king is refusing to give you your bride, or the dowry
Won with you blood, and a stranger is being imported
To inherit the throne! Go on expose yourself
To unmerited dangers! Be mocked!" (Virgil 158).
Consequently, Turnus leads the war against the newcomers blindly and filled with rage.
Turnus fails to surrender or make an agreement even when all is on the virge of
destruction, because he was not fighting for his patria--he was fighting for his pride.
Destiny best distinguishes the outcome of the lives of Aneas and Turnus. Turnus
simply lacks the heavenly sanction that Aneas possesses. Since the battle at Troy in the
Iliad, when Aneas was rescued from death by a goddess, the divine purpose of Aneas was
being secured. Aneas is made aware and reminded of his purpose by Mercury:
"What are you doing? ...
If no ambition spurs you, nor desire
To see yourself renowned for your own deeds--
What of Ascanius, earnest of your line?
The realm of Italy the Roman inheritance
His due" (Virgil 82).
Aneas\' armor, constructed by the god of craftsman, is both exquisite and exceedingly
resistant. Turnus also had divine support form Juno, but Juno could not over step her
boundaries--namely, Zeus\' will. Juno was forced to relinquish control of Turnus\' fate,