Oh Camilla we love you get up

Book XI of the Aeneid features what was, for me, a surprise guest appearance by a warrior woman named Camilla. When she was an infant, her father tied her to a spear and threw her across the river to safety, to prevent her falling into the hands of his pursuers. Craziest.


Eunaeus, Clytius’s son,
Came first: he faced her with unarmored breast,
And with her shaft of pine she ran him through.
He tumbled, coughing streams of blood, took bites
Of bloody earth, and dying writhed on his wound.

Then running as Orsilochus gave chase
In a wide circuit, tricking him, she closed
A narrowing ring till she became pursuer;
Then to her full height risen drove her axe
Repeatedly through helmet and through bone
As the man begged and begged her to show mercy.
Warm brains from his head-wound wetted his face.

in a sprint with lightning pace
She came abreast and passed the running horse,
Then whirled and yanked the reins and met the shock
of the Ligurian’s onset, making him pay
Her penalty in hated blood. So easily
A falcon, sacred bird, from his rock tower
Will strike a soaring dove high in a cloud
And grip her as he tears her viscera
With crooked talons; blood and plucked-out feathers
fall from the sky.


As translated by Roger Fitzgerald. Random House, New York, New York: 1981.