Book seven marks the second half of the poem, showing a new revitalization of purpose in both the writing and the journey. Recognizing that they have finally reached their promised land by fulfilling a curse from the Harpy, Aeneas finds himself in Latium, where the daughter of the king is fated to marry a foreigner.
For thus Anchises prophesied of old,
And this our fatal place of rest foretold:
When, on a foreign shore, instead of meat,
By famine forc'd, your trenchers you shall eat,
Then ease your weary Trojans will attend,
And the long labors of your voyage end.
Remember on that happy coast to build,
And with a trench inclose the fruitful field.'
The king offers his daughter along with the land that Aeneas requests to found a new city, but Juno inspires a hated of the Trojans to delay the founding of their great city and begins a war between the Trojans and the Latins and the kingdom of a nearby suitor.
In book eight, preparations of war are described. Aeneas is presented with armor that depicts the future of Rome on the shield. Books nine, ten, and eleven detail the events of the war including a council held by the gods who determine that the mortals' fates are in their own hands because of the bickering caused in the heavens. Book twelve ends with Juno finally giving in to the fate that Aeneas brings, but bargains with Jupiter that the Trojans will at least adopt the Latin language. Turnus, the suitor, is slain by Aeneas in a duel, and the battle, and the epic poem, is finally ended.
This epic poem is a very powerful piece. It is full of violence and blood:
When two bulls lower heads and horns and charge
In deadly combat...
They g]ore one another, bathing necks and humps
In sheets of blood, and the whole woodland bellows.
Just so Trojan Aeneas and the hero
Son of Daunus, battering shield on shield,
Fought with a din that filled the air of heaven.
XII.972-982) but laced with pride and love:
Did you suppose, my father,
That I could tear myself away and leave you?
Unthinkable; how could a father say it?
Now if it pleases the powers about that nothing
Stand of this great city; if your heart
Is set on adding your own death and ours
To that of Troy, the door's wide open for it.
It is fascinating how the form itself is so compact, and the length is really rather short, and yet the tale covers almost two decades worth of events that lead up to centuries worth of profound history. It is also very interesting how such a story, which by all logical means should be quite antiquated, is still of profound interest and value today.
The relevance of the book to the humanities is not so much about the telling of a fabricated history, but the richness of culture that is evident in the book. The work seems to teeter between art and propaganda since it is clearly trying to steer the Roman people into a peaceful political stance. It shows how weary the Roman people were after the turmoil of the civil wars in the early stages of the first age of the Roman Empire. It serves as an example of language, both formal and colloquial, of the age, and gives us a snapshot of the art forms of the time.
The book also serves to show the modern student the strength of the Roman culture and how strongly the Roman people felt about their heritage. The power of the beliefs in the divinity of the origins of the Empire is great, and whether or not the people of Rome truly believed these origins or if they were simply a representation of a perpetuation of a great mythos, their implication is very strong. This mythic beginnings seemed to have inspired the Romans to great aspirations, and the actual history of the people reflect that, as does the literature.
Roman, remember by your strength to rule
Earth's peoples -- for your arts are to be these:
To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.
Vergil. AEneid, translated by John Dryden. Vol. XIII. The Harvard Classics. New York: