Virgil’s Aeneid contains twelve books. This article treats the final one.
After the fall of Troy, Aeneas led surviving Trojans to Italy. King Latinus welcomed them, and a marriage was arranged between Aeneas and Lavinia, the daughter of King Latinus.
Turnus, the king of the Rutulians, wanted to marry Lavinia, and Amata, the mother of Lavinia, favored him. In addition, the goddess Juno hated the Trojans, so she was eager to stir up trouble.
As a result, the Trojans had to fight the Latins, the Rutulians, and other Italian tribes. In the ensuing war, the Trojans decimated their enemies, in spite of the bravery of Turnus. As the twelfth book of the Aeneid began, the Trojan armies were threatening the capital city of King Latinus.
To prevent further bloodshed, a truce was declared, and the warring parties made the following agreement. Turnus and Aeneas would fight one another. If Aeneas won, he would marry Lavinia, and the Trojans would build a city in Latium. The daughter of King Latinus would give her name to the city..
On the other hand, if Turnus won, the Trojans would withdraw from the territory of King Latinus, and Turnus would marry Lavinia.
Juno knew that Aeneas would kill Turnus. She summoned Juturna, a sister of Turnus who had become an immortal nymph. She urged Juturna to save her brother if she could. She also suggested that it would be a good idea to induce the Italians to break their treaty with the Trojans.
At the break of day, the warring parties began to perform solemn rites designed to give a sacred character to their treaty. All the soldiers came to observe the ceremony: the Trojans, their Etruscan and Greek allies, and their Italian enemies.
Assuming the form of a soldier named Camers, Juturna joined the Italian soldiers. In this disguise, she persuaded them to break the treaty. An Italian augur named Tolumnius threw a spear, killing an enemy soldier. The brothers of the slain man retaliated, and an impromptu battle began to take place.
While Aeneas was vainly attempting to avert hostilities, someone wounded him with an arrow. When he left the battlefield, Turnus took advantage of his absence. He charged the Trojan ranks and slaughtered many soldiers. A brave warrior named Phegeus withstood him, but most ran away.
In the meantime, Achates, Mnestheus, and Ascanius brought Aeneas back to the Trojan camp. The physician Iapyx attempted to heal his wound, but he was not able to remove the head of the arrow, and the herbs that he applied to the wound did not work.
When the goddess Venus saw the predicament of her son, she fetched some dittany from Mount Ida in Crete and prepared an infusion. Then she secretly tricked Iapyx into applying it to the wound. She also helped Iapyx pull out the arrow, so that Aeneas immediately felt better. Though no one had seen Venus, the wise old Iapyx knew that some deity had intervened.
By now, the enemy was beginning to attack the camp. Aeneas rushed out to rectify the situation, accompanied by Mnestheus and others. With his Trojan followers, he charged the enemy, and many were killed, including Tolumnius, the augur who had broken the treaty.
When Juturna saw Aeneas, she took steps to save Turnus. She disguised herself to look like Metiscus, the charioteer of Turnus. Then she stealthily removed Metiscus from the chariot and took his place as driver. By skillful driving, she avoided Aeneas and kept Turnus busy fighting less formidable opponents.
After vainly trying to meet Turnus in battle, Aeneas turned his attention elsewhere and began to decimate the enemy ranks.
Then Aeneas had a brilliant idea. Since the enemy soldiers were occupied on the battlefield, the city was defenseless. He decided to attack.
In the city, Queen Amata saw Aeneas approaching with a band of soldiers. She figured that Turnus must have been killed, so she hanged herself.
In the distance, Turnus heard the anguished cries caused by Aeneas’ sudden assault on the city. He hastened to the city, in spite of the objections of his charioteer, of whose true identity he was aware.
When the two heroes met, the other soldiers stopped fighting. Turnus and Aeneas began their encounter by hurling their spears without success. Then they charged one another and began to fight. Turnus took his sword and directed a mighty blow at Aeneas, but the sword broke when it struck the tough armor of Aeneas. This was because he was using the sword of his charioteer Metiscus, which was weaker than the sword that he normally used.
Since Turnus had no weapon, he fled. Though hampered by his wound, Aeneas chased him around the battlefield. Since he could not catch his adversary, he tried to retrieve the spear that he had unsuccessfully thrown at Turnus, but this proved to be difficult. The spear was stuck in the roots of a tree sacred to the god Faunus. Since Faunus favored Turnus, he prevented Aeneas from extricating his spear.
A pair of goddesses intervened. Still disguised as Metiscus, Juturna gave Turnus the sword that he normally used. When Venus saw this, she pulled the spear from the tree root. The two heroes then faced one another once more.
In the meantime, Jupiter and Juno were discussing the matter. Juno realized that she could not save Turnus or prevent the Trojans from building their city. She also realized that Aeneas would marry Lavinia and the Trojans and the Latins would become one people. However, she asked Jupiter not to turn the Latins into Trojans.
Jupiter assured her that the natives would keep their name, their language, and their customs. The Trojans would merge with them.
To prevent Juturna from further interfering with the decrees of Fate, he sent one of the Furies to chase her from the battlefield. As this dread monster approached the battlefield, she turned into an ominous bird. She flew up to Turnus and beat against his shield with her wings. Juturna saw the omen and sadly left the scene.
The presence of the Fury seemed to paralyze Turnus. In spite of this, he grabbed a huge stone and threw it at Aeneas. However, the missile did not reach its mark. Then Aeneas wounded Turnus with his spear and approached with his sword to finish the job.
Turnus asked Aeneas to spare his life. At first, the heart of Aeneas inclined to mercy; but then he saw the belt that Turnus had taken from his friend Pallas after killing him. Angry at the death of his friend, he gave Turnus a coup de grace.
With the death of Turnus, the Aeneid comes to an end.
This summary is based on the original Latin text presented online by the Classical Library. I also consulted an offline English translation by Allen Mandelbaum.