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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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BOOK VII

After Aeneas returns from the underworld, he and his men sail a little way up the coast of Italy until they get to the mouth of the Tiber (the river that Rome is built along). The banks of the river are grassy and cool, and they settle down to eat a frugal meal of wild fruit, which they put on "tables" of hardtack-unleavened bread, made in large wafers. They are so hungry they break the hardtack and eat it too, and Aeneas realizes that this must be the place they were destined to stay. (Remember that the Harpy predicted they would eat their tables in Book III?)

The place where they've landed is Latium, and its king is an old man named Latinus. (The native people are called Latins.) Aeneas sends his best men to bring gifts to Latinus and to make offerings of peace. They explain that they are Trojans and their leader is Aeneas, and they tell how fate has brought them to Latium. All they ask is a little land and freedom to breathe the air and drink the water.

Now old Latinus had an only daughter, Lavinia. Long before the Trojans arrived, the king had been receiving omens that his daughter was destined to marry a foreigner and that she, together with the foreigner, would start a new race that was destined to rule the world. Meanwhile, however, a young warrior, Turnus, had fallen in love with Lavinia and wanted to marry her. Latinus' wife, Amata, particularly liked this young man, but Latinus kept putting off the wedding because of the omens that Lavinia was supposed to marry a stranger.


When the Trojans arrive and tell about their leader Aeneas, a light bulb goes on in Latinus' head. He suspects that Aeneas is the man his daughter is destined to marry. So, he welcomes the Trojans heartily and offers them land and gifts. To the Trojans' amazement he even gives them a message for Aeneas: Aeneas can marry his daughter. Quite a welcome!

NOTE:

A marriage between a Trojan man and a woman of a different country has caused a lot of trouble before. Remember how Paris started the Trojan War by taking Helen away from her Greek husband? Here Aeneas may take Lavinia away from her Latin fiance, Turnus. This is one of the ways in which the war in Italy will repeat the Trojan War. But there is a crucial difference between the two situations. Paris seduced a married woman, but so far Aeneas hasn't done anything wrong. In fact, he hasn't even met her!

But nothing ever goes smoothly for the Trojans. Juno, cruising through the clouds, spots the Trojans in Latium. The fact that her plot to keep them in Carthage completely fell through only makes her more incensed at Aeneas. She realizes that she cannot change fate, but she can delay it with more trouble.

If I cannot Bend Heaven, I can raise Hell... Lavinia, Latium, Will come to him in time. It is permitted To keep that time far off. It is permitted To strike their people down. It will cost them something.


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