The Thirteenth Book of the Aeneid
A fragment by Pier Candido Decembrio
translated by David Wilson-Okamura

Pier Candido Decembrio (1392-1497) was born in Milan, where he worked as a secretary, first for the tyrant Filippo Maria Visconti, and afterwards for the city's short-lived republican government. A humanist scholar of some reputation, he is perhaps most famous for his political pragmatism, and for producing a Latin version of Plato's Republic.

His earlier attempt (1419) to continue or complete Virgil's Aeneid is less well-known, in part because he abandoned the project after only after 89 lines, but mostly because it has been overshadowed by Maffeo Vegio's book-length treatment of the same material (1428). Vegio, as it happened, knew Decembrio personally, and in spite of the fact that Decembrio accused him of plagiarism, they maintained a friendly correspondence. (That Vegio's poem should bear some resemblance to Decembrio's was almost inevitable, since the two poets narrate a common event--the funeral of Turnus--and rely on a common source for much of their phrasing and imagery: namely, the Eclogues, the Georgics Decembrio's bull simile, for instance, is modeled on Geo. 3.499-500, 520-21), and especially the Aeneid.

The English rendering given below is an idiomatic translation of Decembrio's Latin original, as edited by Kern (1896) and Schneider (1985).

Selected Bibliography

Brinton, Anna Cox. Maphaeus Vegius and his Thirteenth Book of the Aeneid: A Chapter on Virgil in the Renaissance. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1930. Rpt. New York: Garland, 1978. 19.

Kern, Hans. Supplemente zur Aeneis aus dem 15 und 17 Jahrhunderdt. Nuremberg: Stich, 1896. 7-12.

Raffaele, Luigi. Maffeo Vegio: elenco delle opere, scritti inediti. Bologna, Zanichelli, 1909. 20-25.

Schneider, Bernd, ed. Das Aeneissupplement des Maffeo Vegio: Eingeleitet, nach den Handschriften herausgegeben, übersetzt und mit einem Index versehen. Acta Humaniora. Weinheim: VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, 1985. 136-38.

Citing this translation.

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Decembrio, Pier Candido. "The Thirteenth Book of the Aeneid." Tr. David Wilson-Okamura. 1996. Online. Internet. 23 July 1997 (substitute the date you accessed this text). Available HTTP:

The beginning of the thirteenth book of the Aeneid, undertaken by P. Candido in his youth.

1. High-spirited, his chest soaked with his dying blood, preternatural anger streaming from his eyes, the son of Daunus appeased the ghosts of Troy with a wound. Afterwards now old Latinus rebuilds the shattered houses of his dominion. The walls of the city, which lie in scattered heaps, he commands to be set back in place: the bronze towers are to be taken down, and the rooftop fires extinguished, with all diligence. The fields he returns to the farmers who used to till them.

9. A common impulse, though, inspires them all, and affection for their fallen homeland drives them on. Some take down the high-hanging beams, in which they thought to hide their household gods from the sword, to prop up their fatherland's wavering fate: with the timber from their own houses, they wall the city. Others toil to render offerings to the deity in the temple: weapons and matching shields-mirthless gifts. Like bees that throng the dewy pastures of greening Hybla, a sweaty troop amongst painted flowers, they work apace, and the fields are noisy with the murmuring of the swarm.

19. His heart yielding to grief, Latinus took little pleasure in the rapid construction work. A sharper pain overtook him, and in his mighty breast, Turnus-pierced through the base of the throat, his shade divided from the soil it loved-yielded no ground. Accordingly he resolved to send him to his beloved city, to the house of his father, far off to the grieving man who took shelter under Ardea's walls. He instructs the Rutulians, who wait anxiously, to gather up the beloved body and the remains of their comrades. In the court, though, Latinus stands tall, his throne empty. His words, though few, shatter the silence:

29. "This state of affairs came about at the will of Fortune and with the consent of those who rule above. But to the gods, and to the terrible destiny of the Trojans, I need hardly appeal. For you saw how, with loving heart, I cherished the mighty Turnus (alas! too mighty). Had he been the son of my blood, I would not have loved him so much. How much, now that he is lost, you both know, Dorylas and sad Enipheus. Behold, his mournful image pierces my mind: even now he brandishes his lightning blade, his chest unprotected, as he seeks to do battle with the great Trojan. I restrained him: 'What are you thinking, my son? The time is at hand: adopt the treaty now," I said. 'The fields are red with too much of our blood, too many lives have been lost.' At once, a mischievous Fury appeared and placed a helm of triumph on his head.

42. "But why do I go on? So long as time continues, one thing is sure: it is given to none of us to behold them-the bright horses of the sun: dispatched, loosed when the first light springs up in the heavens-when Fortune is hostile. No one knows the extent of her malignity while he can still see the dawn. Wherefore bestir yourselves, young men: gather with choice hands the gifts that befit death. Offer your libations to the dust, and tender him a pyre apart. Let him return to his own people. So you shall kiss a father's face, and so you, Daunus, shall enter your own city without disgrace to your forebears. He fell, having avenged his ancestors. Mourn ye Rutulians the great avenger of Italy! Shall a braver man ever rouse the troops? Alas, poor men, the captain you march under: here he is! Hail a man of spirit: one who fell headlong attacking your foes!"

56. With these words, he came down from his throne, a copious storm of tears streaming out over his cheeks. At the same moment, the crowd around him responded to what he said with numberless laments. He makes his way through the crowds past the familiar doorway, like a gleaming bullock at life's end, one that the wolf, or a rough shepherd, has dragged him away from the breast: his mother walks on; spring-waters do not distract his eyes; streams and green forests are powerless to avert his gaze.

63. On the king's orders, Enipheus leads out a swift horse, laden with the arms [of Turnus]. Without hesitation, the king bends down and chills his lips on the hard bit. With the beast come tears. Latinus commands them to bring out the train of spoils and battle trophies: shields and banners are arrayed; the regalia of slaughtered Trojans; gold-embroidered tunics; and in the lead, his chariot. Following in the rear, they bring in the fleet darts, with which he consumed his enemies; their crested helmets as a token; and the breastplates that he tore from galloping horses. Next in line comes his own charger, guided now with cautious skill by Metiscus; submission to this timid master brings a loud cry of complaint from the horse. After this, horsemen and footsoldiers are brought in along with the Rutulians, their shields reversed and picked clean of the spears that had covered them. Hoarse and teary, father Latinus mustered what voice he had and performed the last rites according to protocol. Through the brush, taking a shortcut that leads to the citadel, they go down to the plains of Pilumnus.

81. Rumor, meanwhile, is about in the heart of the city, filling the ears with its maddening clamor, raging through the royal palace, where dwells a wretched father. Rumor alights here, sped by the wings of every conceivable calamity. It is said there shall be another funeral. Anxious mothers pour out, grieving with loud lamentation, crowding the gates to look at the procession-you would think that the temple of the gods, their sons, and the images of their local deities were all being destroyed, and that every housetop was aglow with fire....

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