Other essays and articles in the Literature Archives related to this topic include : The Themes of Rage, Furor, and Flames in The Aeneid by Virgil and Character and Divine Influence in The Aeneid and Iliad
In The Aeneid by Virgil, the death of Turnus benefits Aeneas far more than it hurts him because it shows once again that the divine will of the gods in The Aeneid cannot be halted—only momentarily hindered. Throughout The Aeneid the reader is given numerous examples of Aeneas’ protected status and can feel certain of his eventual fulfillment of destiny, no matter what obstacles temporarily stand in his way. Certainly, his prolonged encounter with Turnus might make one question the outcome, it becomes clear that since Turnus is not protected by the same fate (and in fact fate works against him) he is not going to succeed.
Throughout The Aeneid by Virgil, Aeneas remains convinced that divine support and fate will see him through to the end and the final death of Turnus at his hand only confirms more that he is on the path to manifesting his ultimate destiny. The side issues relating to Turnus’ death and their temporary impact on Aeneas in The Aeneid are of little importance given the overall meaning of fate and Aeneas’ character. In the end of The Aeneid, the death of Turnus only serves to solidify the primary importance of fate and the will of the gods, especially when the gods are angry and vengeful and thus does not damage Aeneas’ necessary view that his glorious fate is determined and permanent.
Even with the continuous support from the vengeful goddess, Juno, on his side, Turnus nonetheless does not have the divine upper-hand Aeneas possesses. Despite Juno’s attempts to cause problems for her enemy, Aeneas is constantly learning that fate decides that he will win whatever he wishes. For instance, Latinus, after seeking consultation with seers (who presumably are in touch with the wishes of the gods) heeds their advice that Lavinia must not marry Turnus. Juno sends her furies to incite anger and the queen and Juno’s minions inspire great but impotent anger.
For instance, at this point in the plot of The Aeneid by Virgil, Amata becomes incensed and the narrator tells us in one of the important quotes from The Aeneid by Virgil, “Latinus’ queen pressed for their union, / Desiring him [Turnus] with passion for a son, / But heavenly portents, odd things full of dread / stood in the way” (VII.75-78). This sense of foreboding that allows even the reader (aside from Aeneas) to see Turnus’ divine disadvantage is echoed in later statements by Latinus, such as when he states,“Punishment, Turnus, will come home to you, / But it will be too late to pray to the gods” (VII.820-821). Although Aeneas was not present to witness these words, the support he receives from the King as well as an eventually ever-growing mass of supporters only makes Turnus’ eventual death a massive boost to his idea that he is blessed.
Eventually Aeneas learns about this problem with Turnus’ marriage to Lavinia and must realize that it is the work of fate—that he is destined to marry Lavinia, at least for the sake of politics. Unfortunately for Turnus, he is, for the first of many times, being spurned by the gods and the impenetrable fate of Aeneas. Even if Aeneas feels he has something to fear from Turnus, this is yet another reminder that his fate is more powerful that any physical or military might Turnus might posses. While this happens far before the death of Turnus, it is an important example that highlights the theory that Turnus’ death (and preceding bad “luck”) are signs to Aeneas that he will be victorious because of his all-powerful fate. At all points, despite a few minor leads against the Trojans, Turnus is blocked by the will of Gods in The Aeneid and his support from Juno is paltry compared the more powerful force of fate itself. This can be seen again when Turnus burns the Trojan ships, only to find they have been magically protected and transform into sea nymphs. Aeneas would have been further boosted when he saw these nymphs recognize “their king, and, like a dancing chorus, / Veered around his ship” (X.301). At no point does the power of Aeneas’ fate seem weakened in the face of Juno’s actions on the part of Turnus.
By the end of the text, one at first expects Aeneas to spare Turnus’ life since he has often been able to show compassion. When Aeneas sees the belt of Pallas, however, he has no regrets and is able to kill Turnus without a second thought. As this essay has insisted, this eventually killing of Turnus benefits Aeneas because it is the culmination of his fate and proof positive that nothing can hinder his destiny. He makes the conscious choice whether or not to slay his enemy and in noble retaliation, he does the deed. This killing is justified and even though Turnus begs for mercy, Aeneas has the support of all and thus remains even more convinced of his right to rule and fulfill the destiny that has been prophesized.