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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book I Chapter 51: Death of Turnus Herdonius.
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With these censures on the Roman king he left the council. Tarquin took the matter more seriously than he appeared to do and at once began to plan Turnus' death, in order that he might inspire the Latins with the same terror through which he had crushed the spirits of his subjects at home. As he had not the power to get him openly put to death, he compassed his destruction by bringing a false charge against him. Through the agency of some of the Aricians opposed to Turnus, he bribed a slave of his to allow a large quantity of swords to be carried secretly into his quarters. This plan was executed in one night. Shortly before daybreak Tarquin summoned the Latin chiefs chiefs his presence as though something had happened to give him great alarm. He told them that his delay on the previous day had been brought about by some divine providence, for it had proved the salvation both of them and himself. He was informed that Turnus was planning his murder and that of the leading men in the different cities, in order that he might hold sole rule over the Latins. He would have attempted it the previous day in the council; but the attempt was deferred owing to the absence of the convener of the council, the chief object of attack. Hence the abuse levelled against him in his absence, because his delay had frustrated the hopes of success. If the reports which reached him were true, he had no doubt that, on the assembling of the council at daybreak, Turnus would come armed and with a strong body of conspirators. It was asserted that a vast number of swords had been conveyed to him. Whether this was an idle rumour or not could very soon be ascertained, he asked them to go with him to Turnus. The restless, ambitious character of Turnus, his speech of the previous day, and Tarquin's delay, which easily accounted for the postponement of the murder all lent colour to their suspicions. They went, inclined to accept Tarquin's statement, but quite prepared to regard the whole story as baseless, if the swords were not discovered. When they arrived, Turnus was roused from sleep and placed under guard and the slaves who from affection to their master were preparing to defend him were seized. Then, when the concealed swords were produced from every corner of his lodgings, the matter appeared only too certain and Turnus was thrown into chains. Amidst great excitement a Council of the Latins was at once summoned. The sight of the swords, placed in the midst, aroused such furious resentment that he was condemned, without being heard in his defence, to an unprecedented mode of death. He was thrown into the fountain of Ferentina and drowned by a hurdle weighted with stones being placed over him. |
Event: Death of Turnus Herdonius