Silvia, surrounded by wailing women, hugs her wounded tame deer, as the first Latin men arm themselves with clubs.
Silvia, umgeben von klagenden Frauen, umarmt ihren zahmen verwundeten Hirsch, die ersten latinischen Männer bewaffnen sich mit Knütteln. (Suerbaum)
Engraving from a German children’s picture-book version of the Aeneid by G. J. Lang and G. C. Eimmart, “A tapestry of Roman virtues as seen in Vergil’s Aeneas and his brave deeds, rendered in sparkling engravings, as illustrations of the remarkable deeds of antiquity, for the common benefit of noble youth,” (Peplus virtutum Romanarum in Aenea Virgiliano eiusque rebus fortiter gestis, ad maiorem antiquitatis et rerum lucem, communi iuventutis sacratae bono, aere renitens) (Nuremburg: J.L. Buggel, 1688), pl. 32.
Iulus’ hunting of Silvia’s stag starts the action of the war between the Italians and Trojans; at VII. 481-482 Virgil says “quae prima loborum/ causa fuit belloque animus accent agrestis.” Iulus may not have been expected to recognize the deer as a pet (although we learn at 488 that Silvia often twined flowers and garlands in his antlers, which might have been a clue…), but his actions lead to the first confrontation between the Latin farmers, who respond to Silvia’s cries for aid at 504 and the Trojan soldiers who accompany Iulus. The stag falls into Silvia’s lap in the center of the engraving, an arrow sticking from his flank, a detail taken from line 499. The Latins are clearly farmers; the setting is a farmyard and the only two weapons in sight are two wooden staves. In the background is shown an earlier moment, when Iulus’ hounds first flushed the stag out of the woods. (Lucy McInerney)