Readers who encounter the Aeneid today often face an abridgement meant to fit the demands of a college literature survey: Troy, anderings, Dido, the Underworld-the exotic Odyssean Aeneid of the first six books. The poem's second half, if read at all, might offer only scenes from book 8 (etiology and shield), Nisus and Euryalus from book 9, sometimes Camilla in book 11, Turnus's death at the end of the poem. But since the first cut in such selections usually includes most of the warfare, Vergil's subtlety (and difficulty) can be misunderstood, especially if the poem's close is to be considered. In the combat scenes, in particular a series of duels in Aeneid 10 and 12, the poet exchanges Homeric fatalism for Vergilian pathos by constructing scenes that develop the complexities of pietas.
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