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Virgils Aeneid - Book Report/Review Example

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The tale of Nisus and Euryalus is a tragic episode that is narrated in book IX of Virgil's Aeneid. It is about two friends who attempt to carry a message for help in the dead of the night across enemy lines, on behalf of their besieged comrades. They come heartbreakingly close to achieving their ideal and amassing untold treasures, but by a cruel stroke of fate they end up failing miserably in their mission and losing their lives in the process…
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Virgils Aeneid
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Download file to see previous pages The ill - fated adventure of Nisus and Euryalus begins on a note of high tension. Aeneas is away and the Rutulians led by Turnus are baying for blood as they gather round the beleaguered Trojans. The situation is fraught with immense peril and the two protagonists standing guard at night are well aware of their precarious position. Nisus suggests a plan of action and from this point onwards the narrative gathers momentum and surges forward, with its crests and troughs, in a rising crescendo towards the shattering climax. Prescott's summation of the narrative is most precise, "the action moves with dramatic rise and fall; at the climax of their achievement their fortune is suddenly reversed; and from that point it rises to the close, the revenge and death of Nisus"1. The narrative style employed by Virgil in this episode is a departure from the clipped, dignified, rather detached yet passionate language he usually
employs and which he resumes in the latter half of book IX. ...
Williams reiterates this point when he says, "The first part has been taken up with the emotional story of Nisus and Euryalus, written in a style calling for the reader's personal involvement with the fate of these two young warriors"2. He seems to have had a twofold purpose in adopting this particular style - he seeks to drive home the pathos in this sad situation while making it gripping and tense for the reader; secondly this sets the tone for the bloody retribution the Trojans are destined to exact from their tormentors. This particular episode also helps the reader identify with the characters and more importantly, react to their actions. The star - crossed warriors (lovers) evoke a whole gamut of responses ranging from admiration to distaste and finally sorrow.
Nisus and Euryalus are powerfully etched characters who create a lasting impression on the reader. Nisus is the older of the duo. He is a true warrior, as he is a man of action and great courage. The events leading up to the tragedy are instigated by Nisus, as he unfolds his plans for the daring mission, in exchange for nought but glory - "for myself the glory of the deed is enough"3. Euryalus is brave and reckless as befits his youth. He insists on accompanying Nisus on the doomed venture. Nisus, himself is unwilling to endanger his beloved companion thus, but the younger lad is keen to display his daring and reap rich rewards, with little regard for his life.
Both men are warriors to the hilt and have the potential to be heroes and both come close to becoming the men they want to be but in the end their all too natural foibles deprive them of great renown as heroes and cost them their lives. It has been opined that the two of them lack the

2. Williams, in his The Aeneid, 1982, p. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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