As the battle between Italians and Trojans reaches a climax in Aeneid 12, a messenger informs Turnus of the desperation of the situation: Latinus is wavering ineffectually about the treaty and the war, Amata has rather more decisively committed suicide, and now all look to Turnus as the city's last hope (suprema salus, 653). The report has a shattering effect on Turnus:
Turnus et obtutu tacito stetit; aestuat ingens
obstipuit uaria confusus imagine rerum 665
uno in corde pudor mixtoque insania luctu1
et furiis agitatus amor et conscia uirtus.
ut primum discussae umbrae et lux reddita menti,
turbidus eque rotis magnarn respexit ad urbem.
ardentis oculorum orbis ad moenia torsit 670
Turnus was stunned, confused. by the shifting images of things; he stood there silent, staring. In his one heart swelled mighty shame, and insanity mixed with sorrow, and love driven by fury, and virtue aware of itself. As soon as the shadows were scattered and light returned to his mind, he twisted the burning globes of his eyes to the walls, disturbed, and looked back at the great city from his chariot. (12. 665-71)
Turnus' reaction is marked by antithesis. His body's initial motionless demeanour2 contrasts sharply with the violent emo____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Madness of Epic:Reading Insanity from Homer to Statius. Contributors: Debra Hershkowitz - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 68.
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