8.4 Book XII: The Final Battle ⚔️

7 min readseptember 23, 2020

Jack Marso

Jack Marso

AP Latin 🏛

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Book XII: The Final Battle ⚔️

The end of the Aeneid is now in sight 😇! Again, there aren’t specific lines that you are required to translate according to the syllabus, but the book is required reading in English.
As you read these lines within this book, identify references to Roman political 🏛️ and their own ideas along with effects of language usage and stylistic features in order to review Reading and Comprehension and Textual Analysis skills.
👉Read: AP Latin - Book 12 Summary

Breakdown of Book XII 🔎

  • The military ambush experienced by Turnus fueled extreme rage 😡 within him, and without thoroughly thinking it through, he plans to meet Aeneas on the battlefield.
  • King Latinus tries to calm Turnus down but states that he shouldn’t have granted Lavinia, his daughter, to Turnus, and that the war and its misfortunes 💩 were his fault. This fuels further anger in Turnus. His hot-headed nature is known, but his cockiness comes as he gloats about his impressive warfare skills. Queen Amata, Latinus’s wife, pleads 🥺 to Turnus not to fight the Trojans and grows desperate enough in saying Lavinia will not be allowed to marry Aeneas.
  • Oblivious, Turnus ignores her request and states that the war will be done by morning. Turnus prepares himself, furnished with his weaponry, and begins practicing feverishly 😤 for battle. On the other hand, Aeneas begins practicing himself and requests a response be made to King Latinus.

Turnus prepares for the duel between Aeneas as his chariot is readied and becomes armed while Aeneas answers the challenge. Image Courtesy of University of Heidelberg

  • The next day, preparations are made for the upcoming fight. The armies march down the battlefield and drop their weapons.
  • Watching from above, Juno, the wife of Jupiter, speaks to Turnus’s sister, Juturna, reminding her that she has assisted in helping the siblings before. Juno fears 😱 that Turnus is overmatched and asks Juturna to rescue him from death and provoke war once more.
  • Latinus and Turnus arrive in chariots, while Aeneas and his son, Ascanius, walk out together. Once sacrifices are prepared, Aeneas promises that the Trojans will leave Italy if Turnus is victorious, but if Aeneas becomes victorious 🌟, the Italians and Trojans will live together without disturbance and establish a new city 🏙️ named after Lavinia. Latinus asks the gods to listen to his own oath, stating that no day shall break this peace on Italy’s side. They both agree to the treaty and sacrifice their respective animals.
  • However, Juturna disguises herself as an influential Ratulian general, Camers, in order to spark some disagreement before Turnus reaches the altar. Juturna informs the Ratulians soldiers that they outnumber the Trojan and Etruscan soldiers, resulting in an easy attack and successful victory. They become easily persuaded.
  • An omen of an eagle 🦅dropping a seized swan after a flock of birds flies through it causes Toluminius, an augur, to believe it was a sign of Juturna telling the truth. Toluminus throws his spear towards the opposing side, hitting an Etruscan, breaking the pact, and revamping 💢 the war effort once more.

The omen that Toluminius saw flew over at the top of the scene while Juturnus depicted as Camers provokes fighting once again. Image Courtesy of University of Heidelberg

  • Vergil begins to describe the absolute madness 🔥 of warfare: Latinus attempting to flee the scene, Messapus violently killing an Etruscan king, Auletes, a Trojan named Cornyaeus savagely slaughtering Ebyso with a burning stick, while Podalirius being struck with an ax by Alsus.
  • Aeneas can’t believe how fast everything started and aims to end the fighting once more. However, Aeneas is wounded 🤕 by a misbehaving arrow, and Turnus becomes fueled with hope in revived aspirations of ending Aeneas once in for all.
  • Turnus becomes highlighted for his dexterity 😏 on the battlefield as he takes up the skills of Mars and begins slaughtering his enemies left and right on his chariot. Some of Aeneas’s companions are named including Eumedes, the son of Dolan, who becomes praised for his role in the war, and Phegeus, who is wounded and thrown from Turnus’s chariot, eventually dying because of it.
  • Aeneas is brought back to camp 🚑 by three of his companions, including Ascanius, his son. Iapyx, a friend amongst Apollo (the god who had instructed Aeneas to go to the land of his ancestors in Book III), comes to assist in removing the arrowhead 🏹 from Aeneas’s wound, ultimately becoming unsuccessful. Venus, Aeneas’s mother, comes to assist by bringing a herb from Crete to remove the arrowhead, becoming successful this time.

The wounded Aeneas by a spear is being healed by Venus and Iapyx after the goddess provided the herb Dictamnum after Iapyx's failed attempt. Image Courtesy of Munich Digitization Center

  • As Aeneas begins to rearm himself, he informs Ascanius 💕 that his deeds will never be forgotten. Aeneas then rushes back to the Trojan front and is immediately noticed by the opposition.
  • His influence in the battle is distinguishable, as from there his adroitness and swiftness prove effective in killing many Italians. In turn, the Rutulians are defeated 😵, but Aeneas is locked onto Turnus.
  • Yet Juturna is not finished with assisting Juno, and impersonates Turnus’s charioteer, Metiscus, in order to drive Turnus away from Aeneas. Still, Aeneas comes after the charioteer but becomes intervened by Messapus, ultimately dodging his spear, but allowing Turnus to get away for now.
  • This fuels anger within Aeneas, and with the military skills aided by Mars, he plunges all of his efforts into the battle Turnus and Aeneas exchange kills back and forth, as Aeneas kills Rutulian Sucro, while Turnus kills Amycus and Diores, two of Aeneas’s companions, both fighting like “forest fires or rivers.” Nobody can escape the attractiveness of fighting.
  • In an attempt to drive Turnus off guard, Aeneas orders his men to besiege Latinus’s city, Laurentum. The city is fearful and citizens attempt to arm themselves to try and protect it as Aeneas grumbles about a new treaty reinstated with fire. Queen Amata overlooks the approaching Romans and in anguish hangs herself. Latinus again blames himself, but this time for the cause of her wife's death, as the Latins come to terms with her death and mourn.

In the back of this portrayal, Queen Amata is the victim of hanging herself as the Trojan army begins besieging Laurentum. Image Courtesy of The Frick Collection

  • Juturna’s presence in the battle doesn’t stop as she disguises herself as a charioteer and informs Turnus to continue fighting on the battlefield instead of being tied to the situation in the city. Turnus doesn’t understand 🤫 why Juturna is helping him and argues that he should risk everything in order to protect his people and the city.
  • Once he finds out that Queen Amata has committed suicide, Turnus recognizes the danger 🆘 the Italians have put themselves in. Turnus still wants to meet up with Aeneas in battle and leaves his sister in order to reach the city and instruct the troops of his intentions. Aeneas leaves behind his rampaging siege in order to find Turnus as well.
  • The battle of Aeneas and Turnus has finally arrived as they “rush forward, hurl their spears and fight with their swords” for a chance to become victorious in honor.
  • Jupiter’s influence enters the scene and balances the fates of both combatants. Turnus’s sword suddenly breaks and Aeneas charges after him, as Turnus begs from a new sword, even from his allying Ratulians. Aeneas is the charging dog 🐕 and Turnus is the terrified deer 🦌 as Turnus attempts to pray to Faunus by an olive tree where Aeneas’s spear is stuck. As Juturna provides Turnus with a new sword, Venus helps Aeneas with his spear, allowing both sides to become evenly matched again.

In what would have been more of a battlefield, Turnus begs for a new sword from the Rutulians as Aeneas sees the opportunity and attempts to take advantage of it. Image Courtesy of University of Heidelberg

  • Jupiter asks Juno what her role is in the battle of Aeneas and Turnus, eventually forbidding her in stirring up more chaos 💣 among the Trojans. Juno admits to helping Juturna and says that she will leave the battle, but asks for modifications for the Trojans in leaving the battle unfairly. Jupiter accepts this compromise and drops the Trojan namesake for they will now become known as Latins 🏛️ Juturnus understands that she can’t aid Turnus anymore, and retreats to the river in mourning.
  • Aeneas waves his spear and taunts 🤣 Turnus, but before Turnus becomes frightened, he hurls a big rock at Aeneas, ultimately causing him to lose strength in his body. Turnus is completely helpless and Aeneas takes complete advantage by throwing his spear at Turnus and wounding him.
  • In one last hope for survival, Turnus begs 😩 for Aeneas to spare him, surrendering and giving up Lavinia. The sword belt of Pallas, a war token Turnus gained when he killed him back in Book X, is spotted by Aeneas, and any thought of saving Turnus was gone. Turnus is killed 💀and his body is sent down to the Underworld.

Aeneas stands before the two armies while Turnus being killed wearing the sword-belt of Pallas. Image Courtesy of Munich Digitization Center

The End 😊

Well, that’s all you need to know for unit 8. Congratulations 🥳, you are officially done with AP Latin (oh, whoops . . . forgot about the exam😒)
We now shift our focus: Preparing YOU solely for the AP Latin exam in May. Your hard work is going to pay off, so let’s not stop working hard now!
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🔥Unit 3 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 2
🏇Unit 4 – Caesar, Gallic War, Book 4
👑Unit 5 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 4
☠️Unit 8 – Vergil, Aeneid, Books 6, 8, & 12
✍️Exam Skills - FRQ/MCQ
⚔️Unit 1 – Vergil, Aeneid, Book 1
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