Chapter Six – Juturna

Juturna, being both Turnus' sister and also of the Divine, is ideal for study at this point. Here we have someone who is of the elevated and separate world of the gods, but who is also close enough to Turnus to be affected personally by his fate.

When we first meet Juturna, she is with Juno. We learn that Juturna had been deified by the Queen of Heaven after being raped by Jupiter – a rather surprising revelation, since Juno is famous for her vengeful pursuits against her husband's objects of adultery, not her acts of kindness towards them. Still, Juno uses this to her advantage. She speaks soft words to her: "dearest to our heart", "how I have favoured you above all the other woman of Italy who have mounted the ungrateful bed of magnanimous Jupiter", "I have gladly set you in your place in the skies" (XII ll. 143-6). She weaves these compliments in with the encouragement to delay Turnus' death. "If you dare to stand close and help your brother, go," she says. "It is right and proper." (XII ll. 152-3). It seems like Juno really is being compassionate here, but as we might suspect, her ulterior motive is hot on the heels of her sympathy.

"'Go quickly and if you can find a way, snatch your brother from death or else stir up war and dash from their hands this treaty they have drawn up. You dare. I sanction.' With these words she urged the nymph on, then left her in doubt and confusion and wounded to the heart." (XII ll. 157-61)

Here we see repeated the 'wound' motif, used in conjunction with many of the sympathetic and restless chaotic characters in the poem. The reason for Juno's counsel with Juturna is also now plain – she is simply throwing another of her pawns into the mix to prolong the havoc and bloodshed. Delaying Turnus' death or submission will delay the end of the war, and cause more death and destruction to add to the toll of Lavinia's dowry (VII ll. 317-19). Juturna, spurred on by anxiety for her brother and the sanction of Juno, now takes on Allecto's role among the Rutulian troops. At the moment when Aeneas and Turnus were to fight alone and end the war without further violence, she stirs the men to a final spontaneous battle. Again, the use of "inflamed" echoes the possession of the other Obstacle characters.

When it is clear her ministrations have come to nothing and that her brother is doomed, Juturna, like the Obstacles before her, longs to die. Like Amata, who cannot bear to see the "hated light of day" (VII ll. 61-2) without Turnus, Juturna asks "will anything of mine be sweet to me without you, brother?" (XII ll.882-3) But unlike Dido and Amata, she is unable to follow through with her desire. She is immortal, and must bear her suffering. Cursing Jupiter for her godhood she withdraws, disappearing to oblivion, if not death, in the waters of the stream. Juturna's sorrow for her brother mirrors the lamentation of Anna for her sister Dido, as she wishes she could have joined her and shared their fate together.

Juturna is another character who displays the feminine chaos which causes her to cling to origins, beginnings, and the past. A future without Turnus is a bleak one to her, and she chooses to withdraw rather than face her life to come, as did Amata and Dido. It is interesting to note that according to mythology, Juturna was married to Janus, who is himself the Roman god of beginnings, endings and doorways. In a way, this is one of the central themes that pervade the poem – the war is an end to chaos, to feminine passion and primitivism, but it is also a doorway and a beginning to the masculine order which will follow under the guidance of Jupiter and the reign of Aeneas.