Compare and Contrast: Aneas and Turnus


Victor Leon
Mr. Campion


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, and it was then when Aneas was able to murder Turnus
in battle.

"I (Juno) am sick