Thursday, July 21, 2016

"But It All Was Bullsh*t!": Inanity in Vergil's Æneid

"Ok, I just wanna warn you that when I wrote this song I was listening to The Cure a lot."

It is scarcely contested that Vergil did not craft a beautiful Latin epic to rival the Greek poets. The author who at times is simply known as The Poet proved himself a master of taking what the great epicists had done before him and adapting their themes, motifs, images, and character sketches in a solidly Italian light in order to suit his own purposes. There are several thematically important and notable set-pieces in The Æneid which are remarkable in how Vergil chooses to close each scene; his use of the adjective inanis, "empty, worthless, vain" (cf. Eng. "inane"), is striking, for the placement of the word, almost always a line-ender, as well as its physical placement near the end of scene, thematically allows the poet to either turn his winged words on their head, or to deepen the tragedy and pathos of his characters by exemplifying the "disintegration, nonbeing, [and] the failure of potentiality"1. In the following essay, each instance of inanis is documented, translated, and consideration is given concerning its thematic placement in regards to the scene and the word and scene's importance to the poem as a whole. In conclusion, while the adjective inanis in Vergil's Æneid has the simple meaning of "empty" in some instances, there are other places in the poem in which the author seems to hint at dual meanings of "vain", "worthless", or even "bullshit".

Book I

The adjective inanis first appears near the latter part of the first book. After Æneas and his companion Achates, both enveloped in an invisible mist by Venus, make their way through the foundling city of Carthage and stand before the city's temple of Juno. It is here that Vergil allows himself to indulge in a beautiful Homeric passage, evocative of traditional language and themes; but then he ends the description by adding that it was somehow empty, or worthless, or foolish:

Lucus in urbe fuit media, laetissimus umbra,
           A grove in the city's center stood, most pleasant in shade,
quo primum iactati undis et turbine Poeni
           Where, first cast by the waves and eddy, the Phoenicians
effodere loco signum, quod regia Iuno
           There dug up in that place a sign which queenly Juno
monstrarat, caput acris equi; sic nam fore bello
           Had told them of: the head of a fierce horse. For thus, saieth she, in war
egregiam et facilem victu per saecula gentem. 445
           They would outstanding be, and find ease in their people's conquests for all ages.
Hic templum Iunoni ingens Sidonia Dido
           Here was the temple of Juno -- enormous was Sidonian Dido
condebat, donis opulentum et numine divae,
           Making it. Made opulent by off'rings and by the goddess' statue'd presence,
aerea cui gradibus surgebant limina, nexaeque
            From the top of its steps bronze thresholds rose, and knotted
aere trabes, foribus cardo stridebat aenis.
            With bronze were the beams, and the hinges on its copper doors creaked.
Hoc primum in luco nova res oblata timorem 450
            Here at last in this grove was a new fortune offered, which did lessen
leniit, hic primum Aeneas sperare salutem
            His dread, and here at last Æneas dared to hope for rest
ausus, et adflictis melius confidere rebus.
            And then to have better trust in his ill-begotten orlays.
Namque sub ingenti lustrat dum singula templo,
            And while up at the huge temple's details each in turn he gazes,
reginam opperiens, dum, quae fortuna sit urbi,
            While for the queen he waits, and while at what luck their city had,
artificumque manus inter se operumque laborem 455
            At what art interworking craftsmen's hands had made, and at their hard works' toil
miratur, videt Iliacas ex ordine pugnas,
            He was amazed -- then he saw the Ilian battles all in a row, 
bellaque iam fama totum volgata per orbem,
            And the wars now by story known in common through the whole globe:
Atridas, Priamumque, et saevum ambobus Achillem.
            Here Atreus' sons and Priamus, and here -- savage to both sides -- Achilles
Constitit, et lacrimans, 'Quis iam locus' inquit 'Achate,
            Stands, and so weeping, "What place is there now, Achates," Æneas spake,
quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris? 460
            "What region throughout the lands is not full of our sorrow?
En Priamus! Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi;
            Lo, here is Priamus! Even here are his accomplishments praiseworthy;
sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangent.
            Here are tears for misery; even here do mortals feel our sorrow!
Solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem.'
            Undo thy fears: our reputation here known shall bear thee some safety."
Sic ait, atque animum pictura pascit inani,
            Thus he spoke, and his heart he nourishes on the worthless painting,
multa gemens, largoque umectat flumine voltum. 465
            And, groaning much, with a great tearful flood he wettens his face.

                                                                    -Vergil, The Æneid I.441-465. trans is my own.

After the beautiful imagery of the temple of Juno and the sadness and pitiful pathos Æneas feels at seeing the images depicted on the building, Vergil tells us "atque animum pictura pascit inani" - "and his heart he nourishes on the worthless painting". Why is the "pictura" described as "inani" - "empty, worthless; bullshit"? Some commentators have explained that the pictures are described this way because they depict people and events long gone and forever lost; however, others2 have pointed out (as I do) that these depictions of the Greeks and the Trojans fighting adorn Juno's temple -- yes, Juno, that very same goddess who loathes the Trojans and wishes to destroy them and their prophesied empire. Why would a temple dedicated to Juno sport artistic representations of the Trojan War meant to elicit sympathy and sadness as Juno's Greeks lay waste to her hated enemies? These are meant to be scenes of victory, of celebration. The rational seat of Æneas' mind, his animus, is unable to perceive that these depictions which inspire such sadness in him are actually meant to commemorate a great victory over Æneas' own people. These pictures are mighty war scenes -- Æneas weeps and deduces with a bit of faulty logic that the artisans must feel the same way as he does, that the Trojans' plight is tearful and sad. He fails to understand the true meaning of the images, draws a wrong conclusion, and then feeds (pascit) his ignorance -- or his animus -- on these false assumptions.
This line itself is an imitation of another Vergilian hexameter ending a pastoral scene in his own Georgics:

collibus an plano melius sit ponere uitem,
              Be it on the hills or plain better to plant thy vine? --
quaere prius. si pinguis agros metabere campi,
              Ask this first. If rich fields thou wilt measure out on the plain
densa sere (in denso non segnior ubere Bacchus);               275
              Then plant closely -- in packed fertile soul Bacchus no more sluggish.
sin tumulis accliue solum collisque supinos,
              But if the soil is a steep mound and hath rolling hills,
indulge ordinibus; nec setius omnis in unguem
              Allow them to be in rows -- nonetheless, to a nicety
arboribus positis secto uia limite quadret:
              With planted trees let every road with drawn boundary make a square,
ut saepe ingenti bello cum longa cohortis
              As when often in mighty war, when the long muster of the cohort
explicuit legio et campo stetit agmen aperto,               280
                  Is drawn out, and the van upon the open plain doth stand,
derectaeque acies ac late fluctuat omnis
              And a-righted is battle-line, and widely swells all the earth
aere renidenti tellus, necdum horrida miscent
              With gleaming bronze, and not yet are the mingled together
proelia, sed dubius mediis Mars errat in armis.
              The horrid battles -- but doubtful Mars in the midst of arms doth wander.
omnia sint paribus numeris dimensa uiarum,
              Let be all thy paths by equal measures measured apart
non animum modo uti pascat prospectus inanem,               285
              So that not only a foolish mind doth this view feed
sed quia non aliter uiris dabit omnibus aequas
              But for this reason: in no other way will the earth grant to all
terra, neque in uacuum poterunt se extendere rami.
              The same strength, and not shall all branches reach into the free air.

                                                                   -Vergil, Georgics II.273-287. trans is my own.

The view of one's vineyard, the rows all straight like an army arrayed, is not just food for a idle, foolish mind -- there is a reason why the rows are necessary, just as there is a reason why armies are aligned so. Just so in The Aeneid: the pictures on the temple of Juno serve a purpose, just not the one Æneas thinks of.
Furthermore, Æneas is the same man whom Vergil has written of as crying, "una salus victis nullam sperare salutem, - The one salvation for the vanquished is to hope for none," during the fall of Troy; yet, it is at this moment at Juno's temple that he "here at last (Hoc primum) [...] dared to hope (sperare [...] ausus)". At the fall of Troy, Æneas' mother Venus removed the veil which clouds his vision, so that he could see the truth of Troy's fall at the hands of invisible gods; here, he is surrounded by his mother's cloud, and his vision could not be more blurry. 

Book III

The next instance of inanis appears in the third book, where Æneas makes landfall in Buthrotum and hears of Helenus and Andromache's survival and present whereabouts. Setting out to see these old friends, he finds Andromache performing funeral rites for her slain husband Hector, despite the fact that the tomb is unoccupied and Hector's ashes remain far across the sea:

Hic incredibilis rerum fama occupat auris,
               Here, an unbelievable rumor of things takes hold of our ears,
Priamiden Helenum Graias regnare per urbis                295
               That Priamus' son Helenus ruled throughout these Graian cities,
coniugio Aeacidae Pyrrhi sceptrisque potitum,
               When he the bride of Æacus' grandson Pyrrhus and his scepters he won,
et patrio Andromachen iterum cessisse marito.
               And that to a lord of her homeland had Andromache again yielded for a husband.
obstipui, miroque incensum pectus amore
               I stood dumbfounded and inflamed was my breast with wondrous love
compellare virum et casus cognoscere tantos.
               To seek out the man and of their disasters discover, such as they are.
progredior portu classis et litora linquens,                      300
               So I go forth from the harbor, my fleet and shores I leave behind;
sollemnis cum forte dapes et tristia dona 
               When then somber funeral offerings and grim gifts
ante urbem in luco falsi Simoentis ad undam
               Before the city-walls and set in a grove beside a pretended Simoïs' waves,
libabat cineri Andromache manisque vocabat
               Was Andromache pouring out for ashes and for the dead she was calling
Hectoreum ad tumulum, viridi quem caespite inanem
                At a Hectorean mound, an empty tomb she had raised with green grass,
et geminas, causam lacrimis, sacraverat aras.                305
                And twin altars for the sake of her tears she had consecrated.

                                                                     -Vergil, The Æneid III.294-305. trans is my own.

Though there exists a tradition which claims that Hector's ashes were conveyed to Thebes after Troy's downfall3, but Vergil does not seem to reference this story. Andromache's mourning and her reverence of an empty tomb is in line with ancient practice according to Vergilian commentator Juan Luis de la Cerda4, who notes that setting up a memorial tomb of some kind shows up in other works of both literature and history:

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ κατέπαυσα θεῶν χόλον αἰὲν ἐόντων,
            But when I ceased the wrath of the gods who are everlasting,
χεῦ᾽ Ἀγαμέμνονι τύμβον, ἵν᾽ ἄσβεστον κλέος εἴη.
            I heaped a mound for Agamemnon, so that unquenchable might be his glory.

                                                                        -Homer, The Odyssey IV.583-584. trans is my own.

Is Drusus [...] sepultumque est in campo Martio. Ceterum exercitus honorarium ei tumulum excitavit, circa quem deinceps stato die quotannis miles decurreret Galliarumque civitates publice supplicarent.
This Drusus [...] was buried in the Field of Mars. But the army raised an honorary mound for him, around which thereafter on a yearly appointed day each soldier might make a run, and to which the the states of the Galli might publicly make offerings and sacrifices.

                                                    -Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum: Divi Claudi I. trans. is my own.

So the ancients at times raised honorific memorials for their loved ones, often in the form of a mound of earth, just as Andromache has done. It seems quite reasonable at face value to think that inanem should here be translated as "empty", and, by extension, "vain", as this mound of earth (tumulum) is inanem, empty and honored in vain, because the ashes (cineri) are not there -- this is a fact of which Andromache is aware. But the mound is not "worthless" or "bullshit" here -- Vergil describes Andromache as a widowed survivor of Greek enslavement who set up a monument not to house her slain husband's ashes, but to be no more than an outlet for her tears ("causam lacrimis"). By comparison, it is Æneas who deludes himself by nourishing his heart "on the worthless painting", not Andromache, who knows she is finding solace at the mound despite its emptiness. The contrasts between these two episodes are worth remarking: both Æneas and Andromache are refugees who were either taken or are fleeing their ruined city, and must cope with surviving their loved ones while searching for peace in a foreign and hostile world; both weep when confronted by the ghosts of their pasts, but it is Andromache who understands the reasons for these things over which she weeps, unlike Æneas.

Book IV 

The first two of several instances of inanis in book four are contained within the African king Iarbas' remarkably haughty prayer to his father, Jove:

Hic Hammone satus, rapta Garamantide Nympha,
             He had been got by Hammon, by a ravished Garamantian nymph,
templa Iovi centum latis immania regnis,
             A hundred enormous temples to Jove throughout his wide domains,
centum aras posuit, vigilemque sacraverat ignem,    200
             A hundred altars he built, and a sacred flame he had consecrated,
excubias divom aeternas, pecudumque cruore
             Everlasting guardians for the gods, and with the red gore of beasts,
pingue solum et variis florentia limina sertis.
             Holy he kept the fundaments fatty and the lintel flow'ry with rainbow garlands.
Isque amens animi et rumore accensus amaro
             And now, out of his mind he was by a bitter rumor inflamed,
dicitur ante aras media inter numina divom
             So it is said -- and so before the altars in the midst of the idols of the gods,
multa Iovem manibus supplex orasse supinis:      205
             Much to Jove did this suppliant beg with upturned hands:
“Iuppiter omnipotens, cui nunc Maurusia pictis
             "Jove the Father all-mighty, for whom now -- not before! -- my Maurusian country
gens epulata toris Lenaeum libat honorem,
             Doth on painted couches lie and banqueting pour Lenaeum wine -- honor for thee!
aspicis haec, an te, genitor, cum fulmina torques,
             See'st thou these things? Or father, when thou cast the lightning bolt,
nequiquam horremus, caecique in nubibus ignes
             To no avail do we shake before thee? Are blind the fires in thy clouds
terrificant animos et inania murmura miscent?      210
             Which terrify our spirits? And do they make empty rumblings?
Femina, quae nostris errans in finibus urbem
             That woman, who wandering in our bounds a city,
exiguam pretio posuit, cui litus arandum
             A meager one, she built for a price, and to her did farmable land we give,
cuique loci leges dedimus, conubia nostra
             To her this place's laws we gave, and now our marriage vow
reppulit, ac dominum Aenean in regna recepit.
             She hath spurned, and as her lord she hath Aeneas into her kingdom received!
Et nunc ille Paris cum semiviro comitatu,        215
             And now that Paris, who along with his band of gelded men
Maeonia mentum mitra crinemque madentem
             Doth under his chin and o'er his oil-wettened hair a Maeonian mitra
subnexus, rapto potitur: nos munera templis
             Tie -- he hath what he hath stolen. Meanwhile we make off'rings in thy temples --
quippe tuis ferimus, famamque fovemus inanem.”

             Of course we do! -- and we cherish thy empty renown."

                                                                  -Vergil, The Æneid IV.198-218. trans is my own.

Iarbas' diligence to worshiping Jove's majesty is impressive (a hundred temples with altars, banquets, spondees, &c.), but he has received nothing of what he wants in return from the god (Dido as his wife). The basic principle of Roman religion (let us keep in mind that Vergil would not be expected to portray the true cultural idiosyncrasies of an African king of the time) was "do ut des - I give so that thou may'st give", and Iarbas has given and has fulfilled his end of the bargain, but Jove has not; and so, the man thus brings forth his complaint. His questions are not unjust, but perhaps the manner in which he is asking them may be a little more harsh than one might take when speaking to a being one hails as "omnipotens"; however, he does manage to make his point known and pointedly so. For example: "are the rumblings of your most dread weapon mere bullshit?" asks Iarbas to his father, the king of the gods. Not too many make fun of Jove's lightning and live to do it again, for the implication is (of course) that if the lightning's booming sounds are empty and bullshit, then the fear of such a thing is also empty and bullshit. Furthermore, after comparing Aeneas to a famous wife-stealer (ille Paris) who is busy tying a bonnet (mitra) over his perfumed hair, Iarbas reminds Jove of the offerings (munera) he and his whole country routinely makes, each of the hundred Jovian altars fatty and flowered appropriately5. And, as if the words themselves were not an indication as to the character's sore feelings, Vergil has aided the reader in detecting his sarcasm by adding quippe, "of course! forsooth!": "We make offerings at your temple -- of course we do! Who would not wish to honor the 'Mighty King of the Gods'? -- and we just love your bullshit reputation (famam) for giving back to the acolytes who have brought honor to you!" I find the most remarkable part of this passage is that Jove hears the man's complaint, agrees with the complaint, and then sends Mercury on a mission to send Æneas out of Africa -- Iarbas' barbs go unpunished6.

The next two occasions of inanis appear right after each other not too far from Iarbas' heaven-directed grievances. Here, Dido has discovered Æneas' perfidy and she has resolved to die (the immediately preceding line: "ne quid inexpertum frustra moritura relinquat - lest anything she leave untried so she be not in vain about to die"):

Anna, vides toto properari litore circum:
               Anna, see'st thou that they hasten about the whole shore there,
undique convenere; vocat iam carbasus auras,
               Algates they come together? How now the linen sail doth call the breezes,
puppibus et laeti nautae imposuere coronas.
               How on the sterns those happy sailors set woven crowns?
hunc ego si potui tantum sperare dolorem,
               If to this pain I have been able to consign myself, yea this so much pain,
et perferre, soror, potero. miserae hoc tamen unum       420
               Then bear it, sister, I shall be able. Yet, for wretched me this one thing
exsequere, Anna, mihi; solam nam perfidus ille
               Do carry out, dear Anna -- for me: for thee alone yon traitor
te colere, arcanos etiam tibi credere sensus;
                Had a care for, and even his most hidden feelings to thee he entrusted.
sola viri mollis aditus et tempora noras.
                Thou alone the easiest advances to the man didst learn, and the times to act.
i, soror, atque hostem supplex adfare superbum:
                Ah, sister: and now to our foe -- as a suppliant, go address him so haughty!
non ego cum Danais Troianam exscindere gentem       425
               'Twas not I with the Danaï to wipe out the Trojan race
Aulide iuravi classemve ad Pergama misi,
                At Aulis did swear, nor did I my fleet to Pergamum sent,
nec patris Anchisae cinerem manisve revelli:
                Nor his father Anchises' ashes or shades did I insult.
cur mea dicta negat duras demittere in auris?
                Why does he my words deny and cast them upon harsh ears?
quo ruit? extremum hoc miserae det munus amanti:
                Whither doth he run? Let this be the last gift he gives a wretched lover:
exspectet facilemque fugam ventosque ferentis.           430
                Let him wait for an easy escape and gentle winds to bear him off.
non iam coniugium antiquum, quod prodidit, oro,
                No longer do I for that old marriage, which he did put forth, beg --
nec pulchro ut Latio careat regnumque relinquat:
                Nor that he lose his beautiful Latium and give up his kingdom.
tempus inane peto, requiem spatiumque furori,
                I ask for some free time, and rest and space for madness,
dum mea me victam doceat fortuna dolere.
                Until my fortune may tell me how to live defeated with this pain.
extremam hanc oro veniam (miserere sororis),          435
                This final mercy I beg of him -- Oh, have pity on thy sister, Anna! --
quam mihi cum dederit cumulatam morte remittam.'
                Which when he will to me grant, I shall pay back in kind with my death."

                                                               -Vergil, The Æneid IV.416-436. trans is my own.

Perhaps Anna does not see much out of the ordinary in Dido's request, for the winter seas are indeed dangerous; but any discerning reader should see some alarming warning signs near the end of Dido's plea. The queen makes a well-reasoned request and then asks for "tempus inane -- empty free time, time to shoot the shit", but then immediately clarifies by asking for "rest and space for madness (requiem spatiumque furori)". Furor "Rage" is the same creature whom Jove describes in Book I as bound and tamed:

                                                          "[...] dirae ferro et compagibus artis
                                                                      " [...]With iron and interlacing skill

claudentur Belli portae; Furor impius intus,
                Shall be closed the dread gates of War. Impious Rage lieth within,

saeva sedens super arma, et centum vinctus aenis           295
                Brutal she sits above arms, and bound by a hundred bronze

post tergum nodis, fremet horridus ore cruento.'
                Knots behind her back -- horrible, she shall rave from her gory mouth."

                                                                 -Vergil, The Æneid I.293-296. trans is my own.

Furor is madness or blind anger, and it is what Dido asks Æneas for as she offers a place for him to stay to delay sailing during the stormy winter months. How tantalizing is her offer now that she has clarified what the tempus inane is for, and that he should stay with her until she is able to work out all her issues about him? "Until my fortune may tell me how to live defeated with this pain (
dum mea me victam doceat fortuna dolere)," she says right before she mentions her "final mercy (extremam [...] veniam)" and her "death (morte)". All she wants is some quiet time to rage at Æneas until she can learn how to live without him, and then she will pay back Æneas' granting of her request with her death - who would not jump at such an offer?
Also noteworthy is the placement of inanis here, as it is not a usual line-ender, but instead appears before the caesura. The effect this produces is that while inanis is usually the "twist" at the end of the line or near the end of a passage, the job of shifting the passage's tone is here bestowed on furori, a word which, when placed here, should force any listener's ears to perk up. Inanis (helped by furor here) creates an alarming pivot upon which the reader sees Dido's initially reasonable request being abruptly revealed to be the murmurings of a madwoman. 

In the immediate sequel to the preceding, Anna delivers the message to Æneas, and then returns with his answer:

Talibus orabat, talisque miserrima fletus
              With such words she begged and such tears she shed most wretched,
fertque refertque soror. sed nullis ille movetur
              And bore these tidings did her sister -- and then bore them back. But he was moved
fletibus aut voces ullas tractabilis audit;
               By no tears, nor unto any voices persuadable did he harken.
fata obstant placidasque viri deus obstruit auris.         440
               The fates stand opposed and the god hath blocked the man's peaceful ears.
ac velut annoso validam cum robore quercum
               For just as a strong oak with yearly-gained strength
Alpini Boreae nunc hinc nunc flatibus illinc
               Do the Alpine Boreae now here now there with gusts
eruere inter se certant; it stridor, et altae
               Contest betwixt themselves to topple -- there is a howling and, once high up,
consternunt terram concusso stipite frondes;
               But now with the tree so beaten lie strewn about the dirt the leafy branches.
ipsa haeret scopulis et quantum vertice ad auras        445
               Yet the trunk itself clings to the rocks, and how high with its top to the airy
aetherias, tantum radice in Tartara tendit:
               Breezes it stretches, as much does it dig with its roots into Tartarus.
haud secus adsiduis hinc atque hinc vocibus heros
               No less otherwise with unyielding voices here and now again is the hero
tunditur, et magno persentit pectore curas;
               Pounded, and in his great breast he keenly feels these concerns --
mens immota manet, lacrimae volvuntur inanes.
               But his mind unchangéd stays, and let fall are vain tears.

                                                                     -Vergil, The Æneid IV.437-449. trans is my own.

Æneas' mind is made up and there is no use crying about it, for "the god hath blocked the man's peaceful ears (placidasque viri deus obstruit auris)". Peaceful though the ears may be, he cannot give in to Dido's message. Tears in Vergil tend to be "empty" or "vain" when the one weeping is unable to do anything about their reason for crying, just as Hēraklēs cries in Book X over the death of Pallas.

Book V

The single occurrence of the word in book five is a great example of Vergil's wonderful use of double meanings to heighten the pathos of a scene. Here, Juno, disguised as the old Trojan woman Beroë, convinces the other Trojan women to set the wandering fleet on fire while anchored at Sicily, and thus end their long and futile-seeming quest:

Nuntius Anchisae ad tumulum cuneosque theatri
                 A messenger to Anchises' mound and the wedge-laid seats of the theater,
incensas perfert navis Eumelus, et ipsi          665
                 Set fire have been the ships! breathlessly shouts Eumulus, and they
respiciunt atram in nimbo volitare favillam.
                 All look back at the black ashen embers in a cloud flying upward.
primus et Ascanius, cursus ut laetus equestris
                 And first there was Ascanius, once happy to lead the cavalry parade
ducebat, sic acer equo turbata petivit
                 Now so fierce did he on mount seek out the camp all in an uproar
castra, nec exanimes possunt retinere magistri.
                 Nor are his breathless teachers able to hold him back:

'quis furor iste novus? quo nunc, quo tenditis' inquit         670
                "What madness is this, what now? Where now, whither do ye go?"

                                                                                                                                   He cries,
'heu miserae cives? non hostem inimicaque castra
                "Alas, O wretched wives! 'Tis not an enemy and the deadly camp
Argiuum, vestras spes uritis. en, ego vester
                Of the Argives ye burn, but your hope! Lo, I am your
Ascanius!'—galeam ante pedes proiecit inanem,
                 Ascanius!" -- his helm before his feet he cast, now empty,
qua ludo indutus belli simulacra ciebat.
                 Which in playtime he donned while pretend games of war he was raising.
accelerat simul Aeneas, simul agmina Teucrum.        675
                  Hastens now Æneas, at the same time the battle train of the Teucri.
ast illae diversa metu per litora passim
                  But yon women in fear throughout the scattered shores ran far and wide
diffugiunt, silvasque et sicubi concava furtim
                  In flight, and the forests and whatever hollowed rocks they in secret
saxa petunt; piget incepti lucisque, suosque
                  Now seek out -- for all are ashamed of the deed and of their lives, now that their kin
mutatae agnoscunt excussaque pectore Iuno est.
                  They -- now changed! -- recognize, and shaken from each breast was Juno.

                                                                      -Vergil, The Æneid V.671-679. trans is my own.

The placement of inanis here is great: it is almost as if Ascanius wrenches the helmet off his head, throws it down before his feet, and it spins a few times before resting on its side, its bowl visible and empty -- inanem.
So, Ascanius' helm is, of course, empty simply because he removed it from his head and cast it to the ground; however, Vergil then elaborates that this is not really an actual war-helm: "Which in playtime he donned while pretend games of war he was raising (qua ludo indutus belli simulacra ciebat)". This is not a warrior throwing his helmet to the ground in the midst of a mighty war of nations -- this is a young man (called "puer", he is perhaps eleven years old by some rough reckoning) pleading with insane women to recognize him after he throws off the cute little bullshit child's helmet he wore in the preceding scene in which he played soldier with the other boys in a military parade described as such:

                [...] Teucrum nati vestigia cursu
                [...] the Teucrians' boys their footfalls in their charging
impediunt texuntque fugas et proelia ludo,
                   Entangle and weave tight their retreats and battles in the game,
delphinum similes qui per maria umida nando
                   Just as dolphins who in their swimming through the wet seas
Carpathium Libycumque secant luduntque per undas.               595
                   -- Seas like Carpathium and Libycum -- they cut and play amidst the waves.

                                                                                     -Vergil, The Æneid V.592-595. trans is my own.

Vergil emphasizes the "game" (ludo) and "play" (luduntque) aspect of this scene, as well as the youthful age of the boys, but then immediately thrusts the child into a serious situation involving real danger and reminds his audience that Ascanius is no more than a child and his helmet is not suited for actual combat or peril
7. Once again, Vergil shifts the tone and here deepens the gravitas of the scene by utilizing double-edged meanings of the word inanis.

Book VI

In Book VI we find a few instances of  inanis which are quite interesting and may offer some insight into Vergil's views of the afterlife. The first of these usages appears in Æneas and the Sibyl's initial descent into the Underworld:

Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram
                  They went along, hidden under the vault of night and through the shade,
perque domos Ditis vacuas et inania regna:
                  And through the homes of Dis and the empty kingdoms there.
quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna              270
                  It is as if through a wavering moon and under her ill-cast light
est iter in silvis, ubi caelum condidit umbra
                  They were journeying amidst the woods, where the heavens with shade did
Iuppiter, et rebus nox abstulit atra colorem.
                   Jove the Father hide, and black night stole from everything their color.
vestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus Orci
                   Before the entrance itself and at the very opening of the jaws of Orcus,
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae,
                   Mourning and the avenging Worries set up their beds,
pallentesque habitant Morbi tristisque Senectus,       275
                   And the white wan Sicknesses live there, and sad Old Age,
et Metus et malesuada Fames ac turpis Egestas,
                   And Fear, and foul temptress Hunger, and disgusting Want --
terribiles visu formae, Letumque Labosque;
                   Horrifying shapes to behold! And Death and Toil!
tum consanguineus Leti Sopor et mala mentis
                   Then he the brother of Death, lo Sleep! And the Guilty Joys of the mind,
Gaudia, mortiferumque adverso in limine Bellum,
                   And there is death-bearing War sitting before the threshold,
ferreique Eumenidum thalami et Discordia demens         280
                   And behold the iron-made rooms of the Kindly Ones and mad Disharmony,
vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.
                   Who in her vipers' hair hath interwoven bloody ribbons.
in medio ramos annosaque bracchia pandit
                    In the middle doth branches and limbs stretch out
ulmus opaca, ingens, quam sedem Somnia vulgo
                    A shadowy elm, enormous, which as a perch do Dreams -- as the commons
vana tenere ferunt, foliisque sub omnibus haerent.
                    Say -- alight on empty wings, and under all the leaves they cling.
multaque praeterea variarum monstra ferarum,             285
                    And especially besides are many horrifying forms of manifold beasts:
Centauri in foribus stabulant Scyllaeque biformes
                    Centaurs indoors are here stabled, and two-bodied Scyllae,
et centumgeminus Briareus ac belua Lernae
                    And hundred-armed Briareus and the monster of Lerna --
horrendum stridens, flammisque armata Chimaera,
                    Oh, what shuddering as it hisses! -- and with flames there is armed the Chimaera,
Gorgones Harpyiaeque et forma tricorporis umbrae.
                    And Gorgones and Harpyiae and that triple-bodied shadow!
corripit hic subita trepidus formidine ferrum               290
                    Alarmed by this sudden dread, snatcheth he his blade
Aeneas strictamque aciem venientibus offert,
                    Æneas, and his drawn point to any on-comers he bears,
et ni docta comes tenuis sine corpore vitas
                    For, if not his learned companion did of their meager lives apart from bodies
admoneat volitare cava sub imagine formae,
                    Warn him, that they fly about under the hollowed likeness of a form,
inruat et frustra ferro diverberet umbras.
                    He would have rushed at them, and in vain with iron cleaved their shadows.

                                                                    -Vergil, The Æneid VI.268-294. trans is my own.

What is remarkable about this book is the frequency of not only inanis, but synonyms which convey the same idea, such as vana and frustra, as well as several images of darkness, shade, and shadows, which are constantly emphasized as being empty or formless and cannot be harmed by mortal weapons; by contrast, Homer's shades in The Odyssey (one of the models of Vergil's episode) fear Odysseus' drawn sword and only draw near enough to the still-living hero when he sheathes the bronze blade (XI.95-96). Dreams and dream-like imagery feature prominently in this book, and each time they are mentioned, the dreams are empty, nothing, or fallacious: the Dreams alighting on the tree are empty ( and Æneas famously exits the land of the dead via the Gate of Ivory, that is of False Dreams. Though the realms of the lower world have structures (bedrooms and thresholds are described) and are inhabited and populated by creatures of horror beyond telling or seeing (their descriptions and tally take up this entire passage), the kingdoms of the dead are empty (inania regna) because these creatures -- and the lands which they inhabit -- do not exist. They are nothing but umbrae "shadows", flapping on empty wings; they are shapes which cannot be cleaved by physical iron. Vergil, who certainly read Lucretius (he is fond of Lucretianisms), may have also adopted the philosopher-poet's Epicurian leanings as well, which taught that the stories and myths of gods involving themselves in human affairs or natural phenomena, reincarnation, and the afterlife are, frankly, bullshit. If that is true, then why include an Underworld episode at all? The easy answer is that it would not do for his hero to avoid journeying through the Underworld, as it is a popular epic motif, a staple of the genre, and this particular episode is thematically the turning point of his story. Vergil repeatedly suggests that the terrifying tales of the afterlife are silly and unsubstantial, for the kingdoms of the dead, the abodes of the ills which haunt us, the dark places under our feet where monsters are stabled are not real  -- they are all bullshit.

After seeing the souls of the wicked damned punished in the pit of Tartarus, Æneas is reunited with his father (or more correctly, the ghost of his father) in Elysium, the abode of the good or blessed dead. Like Odysseus, Æneas receives knowledge from the dead, as Anchises shows his son the future of Rome's greatness as the shades of great Romans who are yet to be born pass before Aeneas' eyes. After Romulus, Caesar and Pompey, Augustus Caesar, the Roman kings, the Decii and the Drusi, and Fabius Maximus et al. have been pointed out and described, Æneas sees Marcus Claudius Marcellus (here referred to only as Marcellus, who was a famous general of the Second Punic War) and questions his father concerning the sad appearance of the man's descendant, the young Marcus Claudius Marcellus (son of Augustus' sister Octavia):

atque hic Aeneas (una namque ire videbat             860
                    And then here saieth Æneas -- for together he did see going with the man
egregium forma iuvenem et fulgentibus armis,
                    A youth outstanding in beauty and in blazing arms,
sed frons laeta parum et deiecto lumina vultu)
                    But his brow too little happy and with eyes downcast from his face:
'quis, pater, ille, virum qui sic comitatur euntem?
                    "Who is, father, yon lad, who accompanied that man now walking?
filius, anne aliquis magna de stirpe nepotum?
                    Be he his son? Or some other from the great offspring of our grandsons?
qui strepitus circa comitum! quantum instar in ipso!          865
                    What murmur of friends all-round encircles him, what an appearance he hath!
sed nox atra caput tristi circumvolat umbra.'
                    But dark night hangs about his head, casting a grim pall."

tum pater Anchises lacrimis ingressus obortis:
                    Then father Anchises stepped forth and with tears arisen spake:

'o gnate, ingentem luctum ne quaere tuorum;
                    "O son, such great mourning of thine own kin seek not.

ostendent terris hunc tantum fata nec ultra
                    Let the fates to all the lands show such a man as he, and then no further living

esse sinent. nimium vobis Romana propago            870
                    May they allow him to be -- to ye hath Roman progeny

visa potens, superi, propria haec si dona fuissent.
                    Seemed too powerful, O gods above, if these be your gifts?

quantos ille virum magnam Mauortis ad urbem
                    So many groans of men shall yon field at Mavors' city

campus aget gemitus! vel quae, Tiberine, videbis
                    Raise upward! What funerary rites shalt thou see, Tiburinus,

funera, cum tumulum praeterlabere recentem!
                    As you past the new made tomb glide slowly by!

nec puer Iliaca quisquam de gente Latinos            875
                    And not shall a boy, any boy of Ilian race his Latin

in tantum spe tollet avos, nec Romula quondam
                    Grandsires exalt with so much hope, nor ever will Romulus'

ullo se tantum tellus iactabit alumno.
                    Land boast in any of her children as much as he.

heu pietas, heu prisca fides invictaque bello
                    Alas, what piety! Alas, what old faith within him, and unvanquished in war

dextera! non illi se quisquam impune tulisset
                    Was his right hand! Not any one to him could have compared himself

obvius armato, seu cum pedes iret in hostem           880
                    When meeting him enarmored, or when on foot he went against his foe,

seu spumantis equi foderet calcaribus armos.
                    Or as he digs at his foaming mount's shoulders with his spurs!

heu, miserande puer, si qua fata aspera rumpas,
                    Alas, o wretched boy, if any harsh fate thou couldst avert,

tu Marcellus eris. manibus date lilia plenis
                    Then thou shalt be Marcellus. Give me lilies in thy full hands,

purpureos spargam flores animamque nepotis
                    Purple flowers I shall scatter, and for the soul of my grandson

his saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani        885
                    I should at least heap honor with these gifts, and busy myself in worthless

munere.' [...]
                    Funeral rites." [...]

                                                                  -Vergil, The Æneid VI.860-886. trans is my own.

Firstly, the word is found, once again, at the end of the line and at the end of a passage (Anchises' speech). Now, perhaps the munera, the funeral offerings, are inani because Anchises is an Elysian shade and his performing of funerary rites for a yet-to-be-born child would be backwards and bizarre; or perhaps Vergil is hinting at his own real feelings about Augustus' love for his nephew. Anchises' eulogy here is bullshit -- whatever did Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the youth in question, do? What deeds of which Anchises here boasts are actually true? The young man's res gestae as described by Vergil are at the very least hyperbolic, at the most downright lies. That the young man was groomed for high office ahead of his time and loved by his mother and uncle is undisputed: public buildings were constructed, a theater and a library, bearing his name at the behest of either of them; the body was placed in his uncle's mausoleum and the emperor himself gave the eulogy. At the Ludi Romani, a golden imago of the young man wearing a golden crown was brought in on a curule chair and there this image presided over the games with the judges; meanwhile, Anchises is in the Underworld performing his empty, vain, bullshit funeral rites (inani / munere) for an unproven and untested youth whom he has exalted so. Regardless, what Vergil wrote was effective and pleased his patron Augustus: we are told that the boy's mother, Augustus' sister Octavia, swooned at hearing her dead son recounted so heroically by The Poet and gave him a monetary gift for his trouble.

Book VII

Nec minus interea extremam Saturnia bello
                    No less in the meantime did Saturn's daughter upon that war
imponit regina manum. ruit omnis in urbem
                    Set thereon her queen's final touch: rusheth as one into the city
pastorum ex acie numerus, caesosque reportant
                    A number of shepherds from the frontline, saying that slain have been their friends,
Almonem puerum foedatique ora Galaesi,              575
                    Telling of the boy Almo and the face of blood-befouled Galaesus,
implorantque deos obtestanturque Latinum.
                     And they beseech the gods and swear as witnesses before Latinus.
Turnus adest medioque in crimine caedis et igni
                     Turnus is present, and in the midst of the crime doth he the fear
terrorem ingeminat: Teucros in regna vocari,
                     Of slaughter and fire double: should the Teucri should be called into their kingdom?
stirpem admisceri Phrygiam, se limine pelli.
                     Should they with Phrygian youth be mingled? He himself from their threshold thrown?
tum quorum attonitae Baccho nemora avia matres          580
                     Then cry the men whose thunderstruck wives have in pathless groves
insultant thiasis (neque enim leve nomen Amatae)
                     Reveled in Bacchic dance -- and not does lightly the name of Amata weigh --
undique collecti coeunt Martemque fatigant.
                     Algates as one together the men gather, and for Mars they cry.
ilicet infandum cuncti contra omina bellum,
                     And yea, all the rest despite the godsent signs do for unspeakable war clamor,
contra fata deum perverso numine poscunt.
                     Despite the fates -- the will of the gods o'erturned.
certatim regis circumstant tecta Latini;             585
                     In contest they stand about in the court of King Latinus,
ille velut pelago rupes immota resistit,
                     While he sits as if a rock on the sea, immovable it stays firm,
ut pelagi rupes magno veniente fragore,
                      As a rock of the sea against a great oncoming crash
quae sese multis circum latrantibus undis
                      Doth hold fast amidst so many barking waves,
mole tenet; scopuli nequiquam et spumea circum
                      All heaped together. In vain the jagged points around the foamy
saxa fremunt laterique inlisa refunditur alga.          590
                      Rocks roar and against their sides the beaten seaweed is thrown back.
verum ubi nulla datur caecum exsuperare potestas
                      But when no power -- none -- is found to snuff out this blind
consilium, et saevae nutu Iunonis eunt res,
                      Design, and at Juno's nod such savage plans continue,
multa deos aurasque pater testatus inanis
                      Much did he his gods and air the father invoke -- both empty:

'frangimur heu fatis' inquit 'ferimurque procella!
                      Broken! Alas we are broken by our orlays!" saieth he. "And we are borne on this whirlwind!
ipsi has sacrilego pendetis sanguine poenas,           595
                      Ye yourselves shall with blasphemous blood hang o'er your heads these punishments,
o miseri. te, Turne, nefas, te triste manebit
                      O ye wretches! For thee, O Turnus, for thee shall wait a sorrowful
supplicium, votisque deos venerabere seris.
                      Suffering, and the gods thou shalt honor with an off'ring given -- but given too late.
nam mihi parta quies, omnisque in limine portus
                      For I have secured a peace, and entirely shall I stay at the threshold of my haven.
funere felici spolior.' nec plura locutus
                      Of a happy death I am ruined." No more words spoke he.
saepsit se tectis rerumque reliquit habenas.          600
                      He hedged himself within his halls and gave up the reins of state.

                                                                       -Vergil, The Æneid VII.572-600. trans is my own.

Firstly, I scanned inanis as a spondee so that it modified both auras,"winds", and deos "gods"8 -- why are the gods put on equal footing with winds in Latinus' oath, and why modify them with inanis (a particular striking line-ender in this selection)? Are the gods like the winds, the empty winds? Are we to take Latinus' vow as empty and vain because it is directed to empty gods? In his following speech, Latinus describes himself as being swept off by a "whirlwind" (procella), or, we could say, the winds and whims of fate, of the gods. Appealing to the empty winds, Latinus knows, is bullshit, as is appealing to the empty, unheeding gods. Latinus knows that war will be the decision of this council despite his words; he, like Andromache in Book V weeping at the tumulum inanem of Hector, knows the futility and vain worthlessness of his actions. Yet, despite this accurate acknowledgement of their situation, both characters press onward. Compare with Æneas, whose inaccurate assessments of situations give him hope and promise (as it does in Book I) which lead to his prolonged misery and sorrow.

Book IX

The famous Nisus and Euryalus scene in Book IX of course contains the book's only use of inanis. This episode is built off of the ninth book of The Iliad, in which Odysseus and Diomedes engage in a night attack on the allies of the Trojans as they sleep unguarded in their camp. Nisus and Euryalus (first introduced in Book V) represent Vergil's ideal heroic couple, the older warrior and his younger protégé who die for each other, both felled in glorious combat à la Akhilleus and Patroklos, and thereby spurning shameful old age. The scene opens with the two companions keeping their post of sentinel at the gates and musing on the nature of the divine and the longevity of glory. It is worth pointing out at the outset that Nisus' musings, while simplistic and pointed, are very evocative of Epicurean philosophy: the man questions the workings of the gods in his own life and decides that he has no fear of death:

Nisus erat portae custos, acerrimus armis,
                      Nisus was then the gatekeeper, he most keen in arms,
Hyrtacides, comitem Aeneae quem miserat Ida
                      The son of Hyrtacus, a companion of Æneas whom Ida had sent,
venatrix iaculo celerem levibusque sagittis,
                      That huntress did sent this youth so swift in darts and light arrows;
et iuxta comes Euryalus, quo pulchrior alter
                      And together with him his dear friend Euryalus, than whom more beautiful
non fuit Aeneadum Troiana neque induit arma,                 180
                      There was none among the children of Æneas, nor any having donned Trojan                  arms,
ora puer prima signans intonsa iuventa.
                      A boy who yet wore an unshaven face of his earliest youth.
his amor unus erat pariterque in bella ruebant;
                      Their love was one, and in equal measure they did into war rush.
tum quoque communi portam statione tenebant.
                      At that time in station together were they by the gate standing guard.
Nisus ait: 'dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,
                      Nisus spake: "Do the gods add this passion to our reasons,
Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?                  185
                      Euryalus, or doth some god cause each to be longing for their own hardships?
aut pugnam aut aliquid iamdudum invadere magnum
                      Either to a battle, or to set on something great hath long since
mens agitat mihi, nec placida contenta quiete est.
                      My mind driven me onward, and not is it quiet in calm repose.
cernis quae Rutulos habeat fiducia rerum:
                       Canst thou make out what silly faith holds the Rutuli in check?
lumina rara micant, somno vinoque soluti
                       Lo! Few lights gleam, and by both sleep and wine the men are undone
procubuere, silent late loca. percipe porro                    190
                       And lie about. And a hush widely lies about the place. Observe from another view
quid dubitem et quae nunc animo sententia surgat.
                       What I am uncertain of, and what thought now in mind doth rise:
Aenean acciri omnes, populusque patresque,
                       That Æneas should be called back, they all do say, both people and elders
exposcunt, mittique viros qui certa reportent.
                       Demand it out loud, and men are sent to bear a report back.
si tibi quae posco promittunt (nam mihi facti
                       If what I put forth to thee they shall allow -- for the fame of my deeds
fama sat est), tumulo videor reperire sub illo                   195
                       Shall be enough for me -- at the foot of yon hill I may find
posse viam ad muros et moenia Pallantea.'
                       If there be a way to the palisades and wall of Pallanteum."

obstipuit magno laudum percussus amore
                       The other stood amazed, and struck by a great love of glories
Euryalus, simul his ardentem adfatur amicum:
                       Was he, Euryalus; and then with these words he addressed his impassioned                        friend:

'mene igitur socium summis adiungere rebus,
                        So, dost thou forbear me, thy companion, from joining in these greatest deeds?
Nise, fugis? solum te in tanta pericula mittam?              200
                        My Nisus, dost thou flee from me? Thee alone shall I send into such dangers?
non ita me genitor, bellis adsuetus Opheltes,
                        Not so did me my father, he accustomed in wars Opheltes,
Argolicum terrorem inter Troiaeque labores
                        Amongst Argolic horror and amidst the ordeals of Troy
sublatum erudiit, nec tecum talia gessi
                        Did he bring me up and train me! Not so with thee have I such deeds done,
magnanimum Aenean et fata extrema secutus:
                        Having followed great-hearted Æneas and the furthest ends of fate.
est hic, est animus lucis contemptor et istum                 205
                        Here is, yea, here is my spirit, a despiser of the morn! And thy honor
qui vita bene credat emi, quo tendis, honorem.'
                        Which is well bought with a life, I have payed for, the honor which thou offer'st."

Nisus ad haec: 'equidem de te nil tale verebar,
                        Nisus to him said these things:
                                                                            "Truly concerning thee I feared nothing,
nec fas; non ita me referat tibi magnus ovantem
                        Gods forbid! Not so shall the great god himself bear me exulting back,
Iuppiter aut quicumque oculis haec aspicit aequis.
                        Not great Jove the Father or any other gaze on these deeds with eyes fair.
sed si quis (quae multa vides discrimine tali)               210
                        But if anyone -- for so many things thou dost see in a disaster such as this --
si quis in adversum rapiat casusve deusve,
                        If any enemy take me on and take me, some downfall or some god,
te superesse velim, tua vita dignior aetas.
                        Thee I would wish survive, as thine age is more worthy of thy life.
sit qui me raptum pugna pretiove redemptum
                        Let there be one who me my corpse -- stolen from battle or at a price redeemed --
mandet humo, solita aut si qua id Fortuna vetabit,
                        Entrust to the ground, or if Fortune shall forbid the accustomed rites,
absenti ferat inferias decoretque sepulcro.                 215
                        Then in my absence let him carry out my funeral rites and adorn my tomb.
neu matri miserae tanti sim causa doloris,
                        Nor should I be for thy mother the cause of such a pain,
quae te sola, puer, multis e matribus ausa
                        She who alone, my boy, out of many mothers dared,
persequitur, magni nec moenia curat Acestae.'
                        She followed thee, nor did she care to stay at the walls of great Acestes' city."

ille autem: 'causas nequiquam nectis inanis
                        The other replied:

                                                        "Thy reasons -- in vain thou weave them together, so foolish.
nec mea iam mutata loco sententia cedit.                 220
                        Nor shall my current thought change, nor from its place yield.
acceleremus' ait, vigiles simul excitat. illi
                        Let us hurry on," he spoke, and then the watchmen he awoke. The men
succedunt servantque vices; statione relicta
                        Came up and kept eye o'er their post. His station left behind,
ipse comes Niso graditur regemque requirunt.
                        The youthful companion himself with Nisus goes and their ruler they seek.

                                                                     -Vergil, The Æneid IX.176-223. trans is my own.

Manly, martial verse features this sentiment and action movies in the same vein possess this sort of banter which passes at times as light-hearted comic relief or heart-stirring oratory. The tough hero wishes to go out alone and face the enemy, but his equally tough companion will not let him make his sortie alone and insists on accompanying him. The hero tells his friend that the mission is too dangerous, and his friend answers "Bullshit", and he goes along with him anyway, come Hell or high water. How many times have we seen this scene played out in movies? Given the loving care the Poet gives the end of the scene with the praise and apotheosis of the two heroic lovers, we are meant to both smile and have our emotions stirred, for we know (because this is Vergil) that they are both doomed, and this inflames the romantic in each of us. This episode should be well noted as one which Vergil did not inflict many changes or alterations when he transplanted Homeric ideas of heroic chivalry and princely heroism to his own epic -- he merely copies and pastes.

Book X

Book X, where the raging war of the Trojans and Italians nears fever-pitch, has many uses of inanis, as characters are mocked and ridiculed, and hopes are pointed out to be worthless and are dashed to pieces. The book opens with an Odyssean council of the gods, where in few other places in the poem is Jove's obedience to Fate more explicitly stated at the conclusion of the debate, for the king of gods and men swears upon the Styx that Fate/Fortune reign supreme over the outcome of the war:

quae cuique est fortuna hodie, quam quisque secat spem,
                        Whatever fortune each man has today, whatever hope each one man cuts out,
Tros Rutulusne fuat, nullo discrimine habebo,
                        Be he Trojan or Rutulian, with no discrimination shall I treat them.
seu fatis Italum castra obsidione tenentur
                        Let it be if either because of Italians' favorable fates that their foes' camp is kept              under siege,                  
sive errore malo Troiae monitisque sinistris.               110
                        Or if be by some ill mistake on Troy's part or by means of some wicked                              warnings. 
nec Rutulos solvo. sua cuique exorsa laborem
                        Nor the Rutili do I exempt, for to each man shall his own beginnings
fortunamque ferent. rex Iuppiter omnibus idem.
                        Bear both toil and luck. I, Jove the Father am king o'er all the same.
fata viam invenient.' Stygii per flumina fratris,
                        The Fates shall a way find."
                                                                         Upon the rivers of his Stygian brother,
per pice torrentis atraque voragine ripas
                        Upon the waters flaming with pitch and the banks of the black gulf 

adnuit et totum nutu tremefecit Olympum.               115
                        He nodded, and at his nod trembled the whole of Olympus.

                                                                       -Vergil, The Æneid X.107-115. trans is my own.

If the Fates have decreed that the Trojans will survive this onslaught (for they will face the Carthaginians in some time-to-be), then why is such violence and warfare necessary? This is the crux of Venus' sad and emotional argument at the outset of the scene, and, coincidentally, the reason for the Trojans' sufferings answers Venus' plea:

                                                                             [...] Tum regia Iuno
                                                                             Then queenly Iuno,
acta furore gravi: 'quid me alta silentia cogis
                        Goaded by a grave rage spake:

                                                                              "Why has thou driven me to my deep silence
rumpere et obductum verbis vulgare dolorem?
                        Break, and to demean my long-hidden pain with spoken words?
Aenean hominum quisquam divumque subegit              65
                        In regards to Æneas -- did any of men and gods compel him
bella sequi aut hostem regi se inferre Latino?
                        To undertake wars or to declare himself an enemy to the king, to Latinus?
Italiam petiit fatis auctoribus (esto)
                        Italy he sought out because of the fates were the authors of that prophecy -- yea,                   let it be so --
Cassandrae impulsus furiis: num linquere castra
                        That driven on was he by Cassandra's ravings. Or to leave his camp
hortati sumus aut vitam committere ventis?
                        Did we convince him, or to entrust his life to the winds?
num puero summam belli, num credere muros,              70
                        Are we to blame that to a boy he left the outcome of war, his walls to him                               entrusted?
Tyrrhenamque fidem aut gentis agitare quietas?
                        And did we force him to break Tyrrhenian treaties and stir up quiet peoples?
quis deus in fraudem, quae dura potentia nostra
                        Which god drove him to deceit, what hard power of ours hath done it?
egit? ubi hic Iuno demissave nubibus Iris?
                        Where in this is Iuno? When hath been sent down Iris?
indignum est Italos Troiam circumdare flammis
                        Is it unworthy that the Italians have surrounded this Troy with flames,
nascentem et patria Turnum consistere terra,               75
                        This newborn Troy, and that Turnus settles on the land of his fathers,
cui Pilumnus avus, cui diva Venilia mater:
                        Which once belonged to Pilumnus his grandfather, of whom the goddess Venilia                   was mother?
quid face Troianos atra vim ferre Latinis,
                        Why with soot-black torch did the Trojans show violence upon the Latini,
arva aliena iugo premere atque avertere praedas?
                        That upon another's land they press on their yoke and scatter all the natives'                         plunder?
quid soceros legere et gremiis abducere pactas,
                        What of them taking their pick of fathers-in-law and taking from bridegrooms                     their betrothed,
pacem orare manu, praefigere puppibus arma?            80
                        To ask for peace with outstretched hand, yet to fasten to their sterns their                               weapons?
tu potes Aenean manibus subducere Graium
                        Thou were able with thine own hands to carry off Æneas from the Greeks,
proque viro nebulam et ventos obtendere inanis,
                        And to place about the man a cloud, and the winds thou plied, thine empty winds!
et potes in totidem classem convertere nymphas:
                        And thou were able to their full fleet transform into nymphs!
nos aliquid Rutulos contra iuvisse nefandum est?
                        But for us to have in turn to offered aid to the Rutuli -- this is unlawful?
"Aeneas ignarus abest": ignarus et absit.                 85
                        Thou saiest, "Æneas is unknowing, he is away!" Let him be unknowing -- and                       away.
est Paphus Idaliumque tibi, sunt alta Cythera:
                        Paphus and Idalium belong to thee? As do the high peaks of Cythera?
quid gravidam bellis urbem et corda aspera temptas?
                        Why dost thou try a city weighed down by wars and rouse their harsh hearts?
nosne tibi fluxas Phrygiae res vertere fundo
                        Doth it seem to thee that we do try to o'erturn the fading power of Phrygia
conamur? nos? an miseros qui Troas Achivis
                        Root and stem? We? Who was it who threw the wretched Trojans before the                         Achivi?
obiecit? quae causa fuit consurgere in arma              90
                        What was the cause that there was a mustering of arms,
Europamque Asiamque et foedera solvere furto?
                        Betwixt Europe and Asia? Did they dissolve their treaties in secret?
me duce Dardanius Spartam expugnavit adulter,
                        Yea, with me as his leader, did that one Dardanian adulterer besiege Sparta?
aut ego tela dedi fovive Cupidine bella?
                        Or did I give him weapons, or perhaps fostered I some of Cupid's lust in them for                 wars?
tum decuit metuisse tuis: nunc sera querelis
                        At that time was it fitting that thou fear'st for thine own, for now, too late for thy                 complaints --
haud iustis adsurgis et inrita iurgia iactas.'             95
                        Hardly justifiable -- dost thou rise from thy throne and make worthless                                 arguments?"

                                                                         -Vergil, The Æneid X.62-95. trans is my own. 

Juno's speech is a direct reply to Venus', where each of the Goddess of Love's complaints, which are emotionally and sardonically delivered, are then countered with equally Juno's emotional and sarcastic language. Venus plea to Jove that "Æneas is unknowing, he is away! (Aeneas ignarus abest)" from the fighting is turned around and thrown back at her by Juno in a mocking tone using her exact same words. Both goddesses refer to Troy as "young, new-born" (nascentis and nascentem) to emphasis the Trojans' current position as tenuous and weak -- Venus points this out as evidence of her fear that the young and recently conquered nation is in dire straits again, while Juno seems to delight in making the same assessment of the Trojans' weakness to fuel her outrage and satisfaction that the Trojans' are stealing the Italians' lands from them and are receiving their due in their defeat. It is here that Juno (reminiscent of a scene from the fifth book of The Iliad in which Athēnē takes cheap shots at Aphroditē [420-425]) mocks Venus powers, particularly poking fun at her favored trick of creating mists9Of course Juno would characterize such a trick as using mist and clouds (nouns which are usually described as "empty" anyway) as bullshit or cheap, but she mis-attributes Venus' hand in saving the Trojans' fleet in the very next line: "And thou were able to their full fleet transform into nymphs!" Juno accuses Venus. It was actually Cybele (oddly enough) who pulled off this feat in Book IX (77-106), yet Juno is uninformed of this. Besides the sarcastic and mocking tone Juno adopts in her retort (of which ventos inanis plays a part), the very content of her angry words betrays how frazzled Vergil has written her -- she is unable to even understand at whom she should be angry and why.

As the war continues to be waged, Turnus meets young Pallas on the battlefield:

Interea soror alma monet succedere Lauso

                        In the meantime doth Turnus' caring sister warn him to succour Lausus,
Turnum, qui volucri curru medium secat agmen.               440
                        And so in his swift-flying car he cut in twain the battle line.
ut vidit socios: 'tempus desistere pugnae;
                        When saw he his allies, he cried, 
                                                                                "It is time to leave off from this fight!
solus ego in Pallanta feror, soli mihi Pallas
                        Alone shall I bear down upon Pallas, to me alone is Pallas
debetur; cuperem ipse parens spectator adesset.'
                        Owed! How I wish the lad's father himself -- an on-looker! -- might be here!"

haec ait, et socii cesserunt aequore iusso.

                        These things he said, and his comrades withdrew from the plain in obeisance.
at Rutulum abscessu iuvenis tum iussa superba               445
                        So the Rutulians' departed, while then the youth at the haughty orders
miratus stupet in Turno corpusque per ingens
                        Looked on in wonder and stared dumbfounded at Turnus, and o'er his enormous                 body
lumina voluit obitque truci procul omnia visu,
                        His eyes roved and he met it all before him afar with his fierce stare.
talibus et dictis it contra dicta tyranni:
                        And with such these words he spoke in reply to the utterances of the prince:

'aut spoliis ego iam raptis laudabor opimis

                       "Either I shall by thy spoils now taken be praised -- yea, by thy rich spoils,
aut leto insigni: sorti pater aequus utrique est.               450
                       Or lauded be I by a remarkable doom! To each their lot the Father is equal -- to                     each.
tolle minas.' fatus medium procedit in aequor;
                       Begone with thy threats!" 

                                                                    Having spoken, into the middle of the plain he rushed.

frigidus Arcadibus coit in praecordia sanguis.
                       Chill cold gathers all the blood in beating Arcadian hearts
desiluit Turnus biiugis, pedes apparat ire
                       Leapt Turnus from his two-teamed car, and readies his feet to go
comminus; utque leo, specula cum vidit ab alta
                       To close quarters -- just as a lion when from his rock up on high he hath seen
stare procul campis meditantem in proelia taurum,               455
                       That standing afar in the plains is a bull thinking on battles,
advolat, haud alia est Turni venientis imago.
                       And so flieth the lion at him -- no differently is this the sight of Turnus charging.
hunc ubi contiguum missae fore credidit hastae,
                       When he believed that Turnus was close enough for a casting of his spear,
ire prior Pallas, si qua fors adiuvet ausum
                       First did Pallas charge -- if any chance should aid him to risk the dare
viribus imparibus, magnumque ita ad aethera fatur:
                       With his unmatched strength, and so to the air doth he loudly shout:

'per patris hospitium et mensas, quas advena adisti,               460

                       By my father's hospitality and table at which thou hast taken a seat
te precor, Alcide, coeptis ingentibus adsis.
                       I beg thee, grandson of Alceus, be thou present at these great undertakings:
cernat semineci sibi me rapere arma cruenta
                       Let him half-dead see me taking from him his bloody arms,
victoremque ferant morientia lumina Turni.'
                       And me as a victor let the dying light in the eyes of Turnus behold."

audiit Alcides iuvenem magnumque sub imo

                       Harken did Hercules unto the youth, and from the great bottom of his
corde premit gemitum lacrimasque effundit inanis.               465
                       Heart he held back a groan and tears he poured forth -- empty tears.
tum genitor natum dictis adfatur amicis:
                       Then his father did to his son speak with friendly words:

'stat sua cuique dies, breve et inreparabile tempus

                       Decided for each man is his own day, short and unrecallable is the time
omnibus est vitae; sed famam extendere factis,
                       Of life for all; but to draw out fame by means of deeds --
hoc virtutis opus. Troiae sub moenibus altis
                       This is the need for valor. Under Troy's high city-walls
tot gnati cecidere deum, quin occidit una               470
                       So many fell, the children of the gods. Yea, fell with them
Sarpedon, mea progenies; etiam sua Turnum
                       Sarpedon, mine own offspring. Even for Turnus
fata vocant metasque dati pervenit ad aevi.'
                       Do the Fates call, and to the measure of his granted time he hath come."

sic ait, atque oculos Rutulorum reicit arvis.

                       Thus saieth he, and his eyes back upon the Rutulians' fields he turned.

                                                               -Vergil, The Æneid X.439-473. trans is my own.

Pallas' death mirrors Patroklos' in The Iliad, so no meager attention must be granted to his passage, given its importance in the grand scheme of the work. The scene in which Hēraklēs weeps "vain tears" on its surface is reminiscent of Zeus weeping bloody rain at the death of Sarpēdōn, whose mention in this same scene is most likely not coincidental: while Zeus ponders how the save Sarpēdōn, a sneering Hēra reminds the king of the gods of how unfair it would be if he were delay Fate and save his beloved child, while the other gods have had to watch their own killed in bloody combat with no recourse:

τοὺς δὲ ἰδὼν ἐλέησε Κρόνου πάϊς ἀγκυλομήτεω,
                       And at them he looked and pitied them, he the son of Kronos the crooked-minded,
Ἥρην δὲ προσέειπε κασιγνήτην ἄλοχόν τε:
                       And Hērē he addressed, she who was both his sister and wife:

‘ὤ μοι ἐγών, ὅ τέ μοι Σαρπηδόνα φίλτατον ἀνδρῶν
                       "Oh, woe is me, that my Sarpēdōn, most dear of men
μοῖρ᾽ ὑπὸ Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο δαμῆναι.
                       Is allotted to under Patroklos, Menoitios' son be overcome.
διχθὰ δέ μοι κραδίη μέμονε φρεσὶν ὁρμαίνοντι,            435
                       In twain be the heart in me as I turn this over in my thought:
ἤ μιν ζωὸν ἐόντα μάχης ἄπο δακρυοέσσης
                       Either him yet alive far off from tearful battle
θείω ἀναρπάξας Λυκίης ἐν πίονι δήμῳ,
                       Shall snatch up and set down in the fat land of Lykia,
ἦ ἤδη ὑπὸ χερσὶ Μενοιτιάδαο δαμάσσω.
                       Or yea at the hands of Menoitios' son shall I overpower him."

τὸν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα βοῶπις πότνια Ἥρη:
                       And him she then addressed, ox-eyed queenly Hērē:

‘αἰνότατε Κρονίδη ποῖον τὸν μῦθον ἔειπες.           440
                      "Most dread son of Kronos, what a thing thou saiest!
‘ἄνδρα θνητὸν ἐόντα πάλαι πεπρωμένον αἴσῃ
                      For a mortal man who hath been long since doomed by fate
ἂψ ἐθέλεις θανάτοιο δυσηχέος ἐξαναλῦσαι;
                      Wouldst thou wish to set quite free from ill-sounding death?
ἔρδ᾽: ἀτὰρ οὔ τοι πάντες ἐπαινέομεν θεοὶ ἄλλοι.
                      Do so -- but not, thou know'st, shall the other gods applaud thee.
ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω, σὺ δ᾽ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ βάλλεο σῇσιν:
                      But something else I shall say to thee, and lay it thou within thy thought:
αἴ κε ζὼν πέμψῃς Σαρπηδόνα ὃν δὲ δόμον δέ,          445
                      If living thou shalt send Sarpēdōn back to his home,
φράζεο μή τις ἔπειτα θεῶν ἐθέλῃσι καὶ ἄλλος
                      See to it that then none of the gods wisheth, no one else
πέμπειν ὃν φίλον υἱὸν ἀπὸ κρατερῆς ὑσμίνης:
                      To send their own dear sons from fierce combat.
πολλοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἄστυ μέγα Πριάμοιο μάχονται
                      For many about the great city of Priamos are fighting,
υἱέες ἀθανάτων, τοῖσιν κότον αἰνὸν ἐνήσεις.
                      Many sons of the deathless, and in them shalt thou inspire grim rancor.
ἀλλ᾽ εἴ τοι φίλος ἐστί, τεὸν δ᾽ ὀλοφύρεται ἦτορ,          450
                      But if dear he be to thee, and thy heart in thee be aggrieved,
ἤτοι μέν μιν ἔασον ἐνὶ κρατερῇ ὑσμίνῃ
                      Then allow him among fierce combat
χέρσ᾽ ὕπο Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο δαμῆναι:
                      To under the hands of Patroklos, Menoitios' son be overcome.
αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν δὴ τόν γε λίπῃ ψυχή τε καὶ αἰών,
                      But when him both his soul and allotted lifetime leave,
πέμπειν μιν θάνατόν τε φέρειν καὶ νήδυμον ὕπνον
                      Send thou to him both Death and sweet Sleep to bear him
εἰς ὅ κε δὴ Λυκίης εὐρείης δῆμον ἵκωνται,              455
                      Until to the land of wide Lykia they arrive,
ἔνθά ἑ ταρχύσουσι κασίγνητοί τε ἔται τε
                      And there they shall bury him, yea his brothers and kin
τύμβῳ τε στήλῃ τε: τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἐστὶ θανόντων.
                      With both mound and marker. For this is the gift for the dead."

ὣς ἔφατ᾽, οὐδ᾽ ἀπίθησε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε:
                      Thus saieth she, nor did he disobey, the father of men and gods,
αἱματοέσσας δὲ ψιάδας κατέχευεν ἔραζε
                      And bloody rain he poured Earth-wards,
παῖδα φίλον τιμῶν, τόν οἱ Πάτροκλος ἔμελλε              460
                      Honoring his dear child, whom Patroklos was ready
φθίσειν ἐν Τροίῃ ἐριβώλακι τηλόθι πάτρης.
                      To slay in large-clodded Troy, far off from his fatherland.

                                                                -Homer, The Iliad XVI.431-461. trans is my own.

Though it is implied here (and shown outright elsewhere) that Fate can be altered by the gods10, it is clearly not preferred (at least in Vergil's world), as it causes misery and sorrow. At this point in the epic, Jove has sworn on the Styx that he will not longer interfere one way or another and that "[t]he Fates a way will find (fata viam invenient)".  Hēraklēs' tears are "vain" because he cannot change Pallas' fate -- despite having a gods' power, he is powerless to stop Fate, and his tears are just as symbolic as Zeus' bloody rain in The Iliad for Sarpēdōn. Perhaps all of this is another Vergilian nod towards Lucretius and Epicurianism: the gods are (supposed to be) distant and unassuming in human affairs -- a higher power guides the universe (this is similar to Nisus' musings in Book IX); so if this is so, then Hēraklēs' tears are vain because he cannot offer any help to the young man who has prayed to him. In Vergil, prayer, sacrifice, and the power of the divine are often cast as meaningless: think of Iarbas' vain sacrifices and his mocking of the Jove's power in Book IV; of Latinus' vain oath in Book VII; the vain tears of a god unable to answer the prayer of a faithful adherent -- when the reader closes The Æneid, what impressions does that reader have concerning Vergil's belief in the divine, especially considering that when divinities do exert their influence in some way to alter Fate, it usually ends badly for the persons involved?

As if all of this was not already enough, Vergil treats his readers to a further dialogue between Jove and Juno, in which the king of gods and men tells his sister-wife in no uncertain terms where her and his own power lie:

Iunonem interea compellat Iuppiter ultro:
                       Meanwhile to Juno doth address Jove the Father further:

'o germana mihi atque eadem gratissima coniunx,
                       "O sister mine, and also mine own most welcome wife,
ut rebare, Venus (nec te sententia fallit)
                       It is as thou were thinking: for Venus -- yea, not did thee her plan deceive --
Troianas sustentat opes, non vivida bello
                       Is supporting the Trojan might, for not mighty in warfare
dextra viris animusque ferox patiensque pericli.'               610
                       Are the hands of their men, nor are their spirits fierce, nor enduring of danger."

cui Iuno summissa: 'quid, o pulcherrime coniunx,

                       To him doth Juno submissive reply:

                                                                                     "Why, O loveliest husband,
sollicitas aegram et tua tristia dicta timentem?
                       Art thou worried for me, ill as I am, and of thy grim utterances afraid?
si mihi, quae quondam fuerat quamque esse decebat,
                       If in me were the power which I once had, and which I yet ought to have
vis in amore foret, non hoc mihi namque negares,
                       In thy love, not wouldst thou me this thing deny,
omnipotens, quin et pugnae subducere Turnum            615
                       O all-powerful god -- but yea, I would be able to from the battle draw away                         Turnus,
et Dauno possem incolumem servare parenti.
                       And to Daunus would I return him unharmed -- to his own father!
nunc pereat Teucrisque pio det sanguine poenas.
                       But now let him die, and let him to the Teucri pay with his pious blood the                            penalty.
ille tamen nostra deducit origine nomen
                       Nevertheless he doth take his name from our own line:
Pilumnusque illi quartus pater, et tua larga
                       Pilumnus was his four-times father, who with a lavish hand,
saepe manu multisque oneravit limina donis.'             620
                       And many gifts did often weigh down thy threshold."

cui rex aetherii breviter sic fatur Olympi:
                       To her he briefly said thus, the king of airy Olympus:

'si mora praesentis leti tempusque caduco
                       "If a delay of the looming doom and some time for this fallen youth
oratur iuveni meque hoc ita ponere sentis,
                       Is something for which thou art begging, then thou know'st that I ordain it so:
tolle fuga Turnum atque instantibus eripe fatis:
                       So snatch Turnus away in flight and take him from his imminent fate --
hactenus indulsisse vacat. sin altior istis              625
                       At least for this there is time enough to indulge. But if deeper under those
sub precibus venia ulla latet totumque moveri
                       Prayers of thine be some favor hiding, and thus the whole war thou think'st
mutarive putas bellum, spes pascis inanis.'
                       Be either moved or changed, then thou dost feast on vain hopes."

                                                                             -Vergil, The Æneid X.606-627. trans is my own.

To rail against Fate is not only vain, but foolish, and the hope that one's actions will outright change destiny is a bullshit hope (like most of the hope in The Æneid). The language here is reminiscent of Æneas in Book I, feeding his heart with the "bullshit painting" (animum pictura pascit inani) in Juno's temple in Carthage. Here Jove warns Juno that what she wants is impossible, and she is nourishing herself on a bullshit hope -- yet feeding on bullshit is what caused Æneas to finally hope again after so much hopelessness.

Immediately following this selection are the next two instances (!) of inanis, in which Juno takes Jove up on his offer of delaying Turnus' doom by creating a doppelgänger of Æneas out of shadow in order to lead Turnus out of the danger of battle:

et Iuno adlacrimans: 'quid si, quae voce gravaris,
                       And Juno to him weeping spake, 

                                                                                "What if what thou in tongue begrudge,
mente dares atque haec Turno rata vita maneret?
                       Thou wouldst grant in thy intent, and this life for Turnus measured might linger?
nunc manet insontem gravis exitus, aut ego veri               630
                       And now for a blameless man remains a grave death -- or I am carried off
vana feror. quod ut o potius formidine falsa
                       By foolish ideas about the truth. Oh! Rather may I be by a false fear
ludar, et in melius tua, qui potes, orsa reflectas!'
                       Played, and so for the better may'st thou -- for thou art able -- thy decisions                       alter!"

Haec ubi dicta dedit, caelo se protinus alto
                       When these utterances she made, from the high heavens forthwith
misit agens hiemem nimbo succincta per auras,
                       She came down, and, while girded by a cloud, drove she a storm through the air,
Iliacamque aciem et Laurentia castra petivit.               635
                       And the Ilian battle line and Laurentian camp she sought out.
tum dea nube cava tenuem sine viribus umbram
                       Then the goddess makes using a hollow cloud a slight shadow without strength
in faciem Aeneae (visu mirabile monstrum)
                       In the appearance of Æneas -- a terrible thing, wondrous to tell! --
Dardaniis ornat telis, clipeumque iubasque
                       And with Dardanian arms she decks him out -- the shield and horsehair crest
divini adsimulat capitis, dat inania verba,
                       On the godlike head she copies, gives the thing bullshit speech,
dat sine mente sonum gressusque effingit euntis,           640
                       Gives it sound without reasoning, and fixes on it the gait of the man.
morte obita qualis fama est volitare figuras
                       It is just like in tales told round that, when once death is met, ghosts do flit                         about,
aut quae sopitos deludunt somnia sensus.
                       Or like unto dreams which play games with the sleepy senses.
at primas laeta ante acies exsultat imago
                       So before the front of the battle-line boasted the smug specter,
inritatque virum telis et voce lacessit.
                       And he harried the man with weapons and with insult taunted.
instat cui Turnus stridentemque eminus hastam              645
                       Stand firm against him did Turnus, and once within spear-cast his whistling                       spear
conicit; illa dato vertit vestigia tergo.
                       He hurls. The specter's back turned, it shifted its footfalls away.
tum vero Aenean aversum ut cedere Turnus
                       But then, as Turnus believed Æneas, his foe, to have withdrawn,
credidit atque animo spem turbidus hausit inanem:
                       The wild man then spake and in his heart drew in a bullshit hope:

'quo fugis, Aenea? thalamos ne desere pactos;
                       "Whither flee'st thou, Æneas? Leave not thy promised marriage chamber!
hac dabitur dextra tellus quaesita per undas.'               650
                       By this hand shall be given the land thou hast sought throughout the waves!"

talia vociferans sequitur strictumque coruscat
                       Such things he shouts and follows, and after drawn does he brandish
mucronem, nec ferre videt sua gaudia ventos.
                       His blade, nor doth he see that the winds are carrying off his happiness.

                                                                           -Vergil, The Æneid X.628-652. trans is my own.

The imagery which filled the Underworld selections has returned with re-occurrences of words like nube cava, umbra, inania and inanem, figuras, sopitos, somnia, and imago, all words which conjure images of empty and non-existent things which inhabit the realm of unsubstantial dreams. The speech of the Æneas shadow is not real, but a mere mimicry of the real Aeneas' speech patterns -- the shadow's voice is bullshit because it is not real, just a clever copy. In fact, the imago's appearance is so effective that it causes Turnus to "in his heart [draw] in a bullshit hope"! This line, just as Jove's words to Juno in the preceding passage, is also similar to the description of Aeneas and the painting in Book I: atque animo spem turbidus hausit inanem. Here in Book X it is Turnus who is deceived by a bullshit image just as Æneas was deceived by a bullshit image in Carthage; only this image which tricks Turnus, this imago, is of Æneas himself. 
Finally, Vergil hints at Turnus' unhappy end by telling the reader that the man is unable to see that "the winds are carrying off his happiness" (ferre...ventos); the winds in The Aeneid are often described as empty, but here they are substantial enough to metaphorically carry off Turnus' happiness.

Iam gravis aequabat luctus et mutua Mavors              755
                       And then lamentations and deaths in turn did grave Mavors
funera; caedebant pariter pariterque ruebant
                       Deal in equal parts. Equally they were falling and equally were they rushing,
victores victique, neque his fuga nota neque illis.
                       Both conquerors and conquered, and not to one side was flight known, nor to the          other.
di Iovis in tectis iram miserantur inanem
                       The gods under Jove's roof were bemoaning the worthless anger
amborum et tantos mortalibus esse labores;
                       Of both sides, and the so many toils which belonged to the mortals.
hinc Venus, hinc contra spectat Saturnia Iuno.             760
                       On one side Venus, and on the other, siding against, Saturnian Juno looks on,
pallida Tisiphone media inter milia saevit.
                       While pale Tisiphone in the middle of thousands thrashed.

                                                                          -Vergil, The Æneid X.755-761. trans is my own.

This passage is uniquely placed at this point of the poem to be answer to Venus' overarching question in her complaint at the beginning of the same book: what is the good of all this suffering, this "worthless anger (iram...inanem)"? Who drove the two sides to this madness? Homer famously asked this same question in the beginning of The Iliad, and the answer (as usual) is a god: here, Venus and Saturnian Juno, of course, are to blame, the two divinities who meddled in the workings of Fate in order to change destiny, a fool's errand which Jove himself warned Juno is like "feast[ing] on vain hopes (spes pascis inanes - X. 627)".

Book XI

Book XI's sole usage of inanis takes place as Aeneas speaks over the body of slain Pallas in his royal tent:

Sic ait inlacrimans, recipitque ad limina gressum
                        Thus he spoke weeping, and drew back his step to the tent-flap,
corpus ubi exanimi positum Pallantis Acoetes               30
                        Where o'er the corpse of lifeless Pallas placed therein was Acoetes
servabat senior, qui Parrhasio Evandro
                        Keeping watch, an elder who had for Parrhasian Evander
armiger ante fuit, sed non felicibus aeque
                        Once been shield-bearer; but not under as happy
tum comes auspiciis caro datus ibat alumno.
                        Tidings as when given to his dear ward as a master doth he now return home.
circum omnis famulumque manus Troianaque turba
                        Around the body all stand: a handful of house-slaves, a crowd of Trojan women,
et maestum Iliades crinem de more solutae.               35
                        Who for their sorrow, these children of Ilium their tresses unloose -- as was                    custom.
ut vero Aeneas foribus sese intulit altis
                        And as Æneas from the high tent-posts betook himself,
ingentem gemitum tunsis ad sidera tollunt
                        An enormous groan from their stricken breasts to the heavens
pectoribus, maestoque immugit regia luctu.
                        They raise, and the royal tent echoed moaning of sorrowful lamentation.
ipse caput nivei fultum Pallantis et ora
                        And as Æneas himself upon the propped up head and face of snow-white Pallas
ut vidit levique patens in pectore vulnus               40
                        Did look, and then upon the open wound in the smooth breast
cuspidis Ausoniae, lacrimis ita fatur obortis:
                        Caused by the spearhead of Ausonia, with tears arisen saieth he thus:

'tene,' inquit 'miserande puer, cum laeta veniret,
                        O pitiable boy, when happy did Fortune come to thee,
invidit Fortuna mihi, ne regna videres
                        Did she begrudge me that thou wouldst n'er see our kingdoms,
nostra neque ad sedes victor veherere paternas?
                        Nor to the throne of thy fathers art thou borne back as a conqueror?
non haec Evandro de te promissa parenti               45
                        Not such things to Evander, thy father, did I make vows
discedens dederam, cum me complexus euntem
                        As I took leave of him, after me whom he had embraced he did send off to go
mitteret in magnum imperium metuensque moneret
                        Into my great empire -- and fearing so, he warned me
acris esse viros, cum dura proelia gente.
                        That harsh are these men and hard would be the battling with this people.
et nunc ille quidem spe multum captus inani
                        And now yea, yon king, utterly taken by a vain hope --
fors et vota facit cumulatque altaria donis,               50
                        On such a chance he makes offerings and heaps tall his altars with gifts.
nos iuvenem exanimum et nil iam caelestibus ullis
                        And we now for this fallen youth, who nothing for any gods
debentem vano maesti comitamur honore.
                        Now owes, we lamenting attend him with empty honor.
infelix, nati funus crudele videbis!
                        O ill-starred king, thy child's unkind death thou shalt see!
hi nostri reditus exspectatique triumphi?
                        Are these the promises of our return and awaited triumph?
haec mea magna fides? at non, Evandre, pudendis               55
                        This is my great oath? But, Evander, upon no son in flight
vulneribus pulsum aspicies, nec sospite dirum
                        Who received shameful wounds shalt thou lay eyes, nor because of a craven son
optabis nato funus pater. ei mihi quantum
                        Shalt thou wish for an ill-omened death, O father! Ay me! What
praesidium, Ausonia, et quantum tu perdis, Iule!'
                        A safeguard is lost in thee, Ausonia, and what a loss for thee, O Iulus!"

                                                                                -Vergil, The Æneid XI.29-58. trans is my own.

Æneas extols the virtues of a youth untried in battle much like his dead father Anchises did for Marcellus11, and Vergil has the hero call to mind enough similarities between this scene and Priam's outrage at his son Polites' murder in Book II (506-546that the reader is able to imagine how Evander would have reacted to Pallas' death. The hope of the king that his son would return home safely, symbolized by altars stacked high with gifts and sacrifices, much like the hundred altars of Jove which Iarbas kept in Book IV, are all bullshit, for the boy was slain anyway. Like Iarbas, the praying supplication of Evander remains unfulfilled. It is here we must ask what prayers and hopes are fulfilled in The Æneid? The Trojans' hope and prayer that they will reach a new home is only possible because it is decreed by Fate, and the gods are quite often happy to make the journey as arduous as they can; besides, the reader is not even treated to the fulfillment of the Trojans' journey -- of course we know what will happen, as Jove in Book I (254-296and Anchises in Book VI (756-892made very clear. But the final scene of The Æneid, the act which is the lasting memory of the epic, is the slaying of Turnus and the fleeing of his "indignant life" (vitaque...indignata - XII.952) to the Underworld11. If Vergil is someone to go by, one would think that offering gifts to unheeding gods is an empty gesture, vain perhaps, or even bullshit.

Book XII

The final book of The Aeneid has three occurrences of inanis; however, two of those instances employ inanis as a noun12 (taking a cue from Lucretius), and the only adjectival use of inanis appears here:

Nec minus Aeneas, quamquam tardata sagitta

                      And no less Æneas, although because of the slowing arrow

interdum genua impediunt cursumque recusant,

                      Oft-times do his knees give way and their gait they spurn,

insequitur trepidique pedem pede fervidus urget:

                      He follows, and the frightened man's step he with his own step doth hotly pursue --

inclusum veluti si quando flumine nactus

                      Just as whenever a stag, shut off by a river hath been lighted upon,

cervum aut puniceae saeptum formidine pennae               750

                      Or hemmed in by a scarecrow of purple-red feathers,

venator cursu canis et latratibus instat;

                      And him doth the hunting dog lay on in chase and barking;

ille autem insidiis et ripa territus alta

                      And by these traps and the high riverbank is he affrighted,

mille fugit refugitque vias, at vividus Umber

                      So a thousand times he feints one way, then back again! But the keen Umbrian

haeret hians, iam iamque tenet similisque tenenti

                      Hound stays at his heels, jaws gaping, and now -- no, now he has him! -- or almost           does,

increpuit malis morsuque elusus inani est;               755

                      And snap go his teeth, and by each vain bite is he mocked.

                                                                           -Vergil, The Æneid XII.746-755. trans is my own.

We should now ask ourselves, what does this all mean? Indeed, it cannot be held in a negative light that an exhaustive listing of all the uses of the adjective inanis in The Æneid exists -- but does it mean anything in our understanding of the greater scope of the poem? I think that yes, there is something here; for Vergil's placement of the adjective may be due mostly to scansion (the primum movens, as it were, of poets, the pliable yet omnipresent master to whom they must bend the knee), it so very often appears in such a place in the text which throws a negative, tragic, or unhappy light on the accompanying passage, and, once the entire scope of the word's appearances and uses is comprehended, on the tone of the entire poem as a whole. 
So, why does so much tragedy run throughout the course of The Æneid? What happiness is found here? Characters in the poem have hope for their futures, yet the reader is almost constantly told by the omniscient narrator that the hope is vain, foolish, or bullshit. Oaths to the gods are made -- but the oaths (and perhaps at times the gods themselves) are not real and are able to offer no aid -- everything hangs on the whims of some distant and oft-invoked Fate, a fearful power which never makes an appearance nor adequately explains itself. The pivotal moment in the epic's narrative, the hero's brave quest to the Land of the Dead, is in order to see the greatness of his children-to-be while they enact a mock-funeral for him, a living man -- all of it an airy, bullshit dream. By the reckoning of the gods themselves, the most tragic moments of the poem should not have ever occurred, and only happened because of the angry vengeance or the meddling anxiety of two feuding goddesses who refuse to accept that Fate cannot be outright changed. Troy's fall, Dido's madness and death, Turnus' life as a sacrifice for Rome's rise (the ultimate "twist" in the epic, a scene which closes the whole of the poem just as inanis often closes a line) -- the poem's sorrows, just as much as the poem's hopes, are ultimately cast in such a light as to make them worthless or bullshit. 
The word "inanis" itself displays a duality of meaning: though it signifies "emptiness" and "void", the adjective may also by extrapolation indicate an emptiness of thought or awareness, much like our own English "inane" (whence the word comes), or even "vain" or "bullshit"; and Vergil often masterfully employs both shades of meaning at the same time to either abruptly or subtly alter and shift the tone of the passage to take on a more sorrowful and tragic light.

1. Johnson, W. R. Darkness Visible, Berkeley 1976
2Hexter (1992), Horsfall (1973-1974), and Leach (1988) share this view, with Hexter going further by asking why a temple to Juno would feature so prominently in Carthage (instead of, say, a temple or monument devoted to Tanit), and why would the scenes depicted therein be of the Trojan War and not something more pertaining to Carthage's own history. The answer, he rightly points out, is the insular Romano-Italian view Vergil's epic possesses towards the whole of Mediterranean history.

3ἔστι δὲ καὶ Ἕκτορος Θηβαίοις τάφος τοῦ Πριάμου πρὸς Οἰδιποδίᾳ καλουμένῃ κρήνῃ, κομίσαι δὲ αὐτοῦ τὰ ὀστᾶ ἐξ Ἰλίου φασὶν ἐπὶ τοιῷδε μαντεύματι:

“Θηβαῖοι Κάδμοιο πόλιν καταναιετάοντες,

αἴ κ᾽ ἐθέλητε πάτραν οἰκεῖν σὺν ἀμύμονι πλούτῳ,

Ἕκτορος ὀστέα Πριαμίδου κομίσαντες ἐς οἴκους

ἐξ Ἀσίης Διὸς ἐννεσίῃσ᾽ ἥρωα σέβεσθαι.

"And also there is the Theban tomb of Hektor, son of Priamos, near the spring called The Font of Oidipous, and the Thebans say moved his bones from Ilion to this place because of the following oracle:
'Ye Thebans in the Kadmos' city dwelling,

If ever ye wish to live in your father's land with blameless wealth,
Hektor's bones, yea Priamos' son, take ye to your homes
From Asia and at Zeus' urging, to honor him as a hero.'"

-Pausanias, Descriptions of Greece IX.18.5. trans. is my own.


4. Solebant veteres, iis, quos amabant, pluribus in locis, imaginarium quendam tumulum excitare, quem his Poeta inanem vocat. -Juan Luis de la Cerda
The ancients were accustomed to raise a certain honorific mound for those whom they loved, and the Poet calls this mound "empty". Trans. is my own.
5. The more unclean an altar was, the more used it was, and thus the altar's deity was more honored. Augustus once joked about how an altar dedicated to him was mysteriously so clean (and therefore, lacked attention and honor): Et Augustus, nuntiantibus Terraconensibus palmam in ara eius enatam, "apparet" inquit "quam saepe accendatis - And Augustus to the reports from the Terraconians that a palm tree had sprung from his altar saieth, 'It is clear how often you light a fire on it.'" -Quintilian, Instituta Oratoria VI.3.77. Trans. is my own.
6. In contrast, Vergil describes Salmoneus in Tartarus in Book VI. This king of Elis mocked Jove's thunderbolt and found himself on the receiving end of the destructive weapon. Iarbas appears to be spared this fate.

Vidi et crudeles dantem Salmonea poenas,        585
               And I saw him receiving cruel torments, yea Salmoneus,
dum flammas Iovis et sonitus imitatur Olympi.
               Who the fire of Jove and the thunderbolt of Olympus did counterfeit.
Quattuor hic invectus equis et lampada quassans
               Carried was he by four steeds, and torches he brandished,
per Graium populos mediaeque per Elidis urbem
               For throughout the peoples of Greece, and through the midst of the city Elis
ibat ovans, divomque sibi poscebat honorem,—
               He went in triumph, and for himself he demanded a god's honor --
demens, qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen        590
               O madman! For the stormclouds and the fire which is unable to be tamed by men
aere et cornipedum pulsu simularet equorum.
               He did pretend to wield with brazen wheel and thunder of hoof-sounding horses.
At pater omnipotens densa inter nubila telum
               But the Father Almighty from betwixt the thick clouds he his weapon
contorsit, non ille faces nec fumea taedis
               Hurled -- no torch that, nor smoky light given off by mere burning pine --
lumina, praecipitemque immani turbine adegit.
               And the pretender headfirst into an enormous whirlwind of fire the god drove.

                                                                                                      -Vergil, The Æneid VI.585-594. Trans. is my own.
7. It may be worth mentioning here that Vergil does not describe the boys as wearing helmets, but instead tonsae coronae, "crowns, wreathes, garlands, chaplets, diadems, laurels" which are "shorn" or "trimmed" (tonsa). The line reads: 

"omnibus in morem tonsa coma pressa corona 
On all of them -- as is custom -- the hair was weighed down by a shorn wreath."
                                                                                                                        -V. 556. 

Nothing about a corona suggests combat-ready headgear (like the galea Ascanius takes off in V. 673), but instead refers to military dress for parades which adorned the Romans since time immemorial (hence Vergil's addition of "in morem").
It is also worth noting that Vergil does not describe Ascanius in particular among these garlanded boys, so, as their leader, he may be appropriately helmeted without it being mentioned.

8. If we were to scan the word's ultima as short and settle on a Nominative singular masculine form to agree with pater, then that would not only mean that Latinus is described as empty, vain, or bullshit, but we would have to account for the addition of auras, "airs, winds", as objects of his vow. Further, given deos and auras are linked by the conjunction -que, they are placed on equal footing in enumeration: "gods and winds" -- an adjective which applies to one can at the very least effect the other. I feel the inescapable pull towards the adjective inanis modifying auras (calling the winds "empty" is so common it is cliché), and by extension, deos, given not only that grammar and scansion are in concurrence, but especially because the Vergilian tone up till now not only admits such a pairing, but seems to welcome it.
9. Aphroditē/Venus' most famous use of mist is found in Book III of The Iliad:

                                [...] τὸν δ᾽ ἐξήρπαξ᾽ Ἀφροδίτη
                             [...] And him [Alexandros] Aphroditē snatched away
ῥεῖα μάλ᾽ ὥς τε θεός, ἐκάλυψε δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἠέρι πολλῇ,
As easily as a goddess does, and she hid him in much mist
κὰδ δ᾽ εἷσ᾽ ἐν θαλάμῳ εὐώδεϊ κηώεντι.
And set him in his own sweet-smelling chamber.

                                                                    -Homer, The Iliad Γ.380-382

Otherwise, Aphroditē saves Aineias from Diomedes by hiding the former within her cloak (E.314-317). Additionally, it is actually Apollōn (E.344-346) and later Poseidōn (Y.293-308) who uses mists and clouds to save Aineias in The Iliad
10Homer's Zeus is rather explicit in his assessment that he could delay Sarpēdōn's fate by whisking him away to Lykia, but Hēra stops him. Her argument is not that Zeus is unable to do this, but that he should not do so, as the optics look bad -- Zeus does not lack the ability or capacity to do what he proposes, nor in fact do any of the the other gods. The Vergilian Jove claims to have the same power (underlined for emphasis):

'si mora praesentis leti tempusque caduco
                       "If a delay of the looming doom and some time for this fallen youth
oratur iuveni meque hoc ita ponere sentis,
                       Is something for which thou art begging, then thou know'st that I ordain it so:
tolle fuga Turnum atque instantibus eripe fatis:
                       So snatch Turnus away in flight and take him from his imminent fate --
hactenus indulsisse vacat. sin altior istis              625
                       At least for this there is time enough to indulge. But if deeper under those
sub precibus venia ulla latet totumque moveri
                       Prayers of thine be some favor hiding, and thus the whole war thou think'st
mutarive putas bellum, spes pascis inanis.'
                       Be either moved or changed, then thou dost feast on vain hopes."

                                                                                          -Vergil, The Æneid X.622-627. trans is my own.

Additionally, much time is spent in The Æneid concerning the sorrows caused by the meddling interference of both Venus and Juno, who cannot accept the inevitability of Fate. Divine interference in matters of Fate causes problems for mortals and gods alike.
11. Further linking the empty praise of Marcellus and Pallas (both young men marked for greatness, much beloved, cut down before able to prove themselves, yet extolled as great warriors and leaders) is the description of this funeral for Pallas as "empty" (vano...honore), much like how Anchises described his funeral offerings for Marcellus' as "vain" ("munere / inani" VI. 885-886).
12. In keeping with the theme of this essay (that Vergil is fond of a "twist" or "theme-changer" at the end of his lines and passages in order to recast the preceding scene in a new, more serious, unexpected, or tragic light), it should be noted that the killing of Turnus, who acts as a sacrificial offering which completes Æneas' toils and allows Rome to eventually rise, is the epic's final "twist", and forces the reader to re-assess the work as a whole. Was Turnus' death necessary or obligatory? Scholars have debated this since the poem's publication, but what is beyond dispute is that the reason why Æneas kills Turnus is to exact vengeance for Pallas' death. Turnus' death has been foreshadowed since his first entry into the poem and Æneas' murder of the Rutulian is not terribly unexpected (Anchises foretells that the Romans will "parcere subiectis et debellare superbos. [spare the downcast and to make war upon the haughty - VI. 853], and Turnus' slaying of Pallas could be described as "haughty"), but is Æneas' decision to kill Turnus justified?
13. Two Vergilian usages of inanis in Book XII use the noun form inane, inanis n. to refer to "the empty air" or "the still air". The scope of this essay concerns only the adjectival usages of the word, as it is most effective as a "theme-changer" when modifying a noun and turning the passage on its head by turning that noun into something "worthless, vain, empty, bullshit" (e.g. "a bullshit painting", "an empty tomb", "bullshit reasons" &c.). As a noun itself, the word offers no modifying description and acts merely as a thing, as here in Book XII when it means "empty air". These passages featuring a noun-usage of the word are here included for purposes of being as exhaustive as possible:

Parte alia media Eumedes in proelia fertur,
                     In another part is Eumedēs into battle borne,
antiqui proles bello praeclara Dolonis,
                     Afore-timed Dolōn's son, who, outstanding in war,
nomine avum referens, animo manibusque parentem,
                     Recalled his grandfather in name, yet in mind and hands was like unto his father,
qui quondam, castra ut Danaum speculator adiret,
                     And did once as a spy the camp of the Danaï approach,
ausus Pelidae pretium sibi poscere currus;               350
                     For he did dare to demand the reward of Peleus' son's chariot for himself --
illum Tydides alio pro talibus ausis
                     Him did the son of Tydeus in exchange for such daring
adfecit pretio nec equis aspirat Achilli.
                     Deal another reward, and he no longer for the horses of Achillēs strove.
hunc procul ut campo Turnus prospexit aperto,
                     So at Eumedēs from afar did Turnus gaze forth upon the open plain,
ante levi iaculo longum per inane secutus
                      And cast first -- with his light dart he aimed through the long and empty air,
sistit equos biiugis et curru desilit atque               355
                      Halted his twin-yoked team, quickly from his chariot leapt, and then
semianimi lapsoque supervenit, et pede collo
                      O'er the fallen form of the half-alive man stood. His foot on the neck
impresso dextrae mucronem extorquet et alto
                      Turnus pressed, and out of man's hand the sword he wrenched, and deep
fulgentem tingit iugulo atque haec insuper addit:
                      In the throat he bid the bright blade drink, and standing over him these words he added:

'en agros et, quam bello, Troiane, petisti,
                      Lo! Here are the farmlands and the shore which in war, Trojan, thou hast sought!
Hesperiam metire iacens: haec praemia, qui me           360
                      Measure our Hesperia by thee lying there! These are the rewards for those who have
ferro ausi temptare, ferunt, sic moenia condunt.'
                      Dared to test me with iron -- in such this way let them build city-walls."

                                                                                                -Vergil, The Æneid XII.346-361. trans is my own.

And here:

sed neque currentem se nec cognoscit euntem
                      But neither himself running doth he feel, nor himself going at all,
tollentemve manu saxumve immane moventem;
                      Or lifting with his hand the stone, or moving its monstrous weight --
genua labant, gelidus concrevit frigore sanguis.           905
                      His knees slip, and icy mingles his blood with cold.
tum lapis ipse viri vacuum per inane volutus
                      Then the man's stone, that very stone, through the empty air rolled,
nec spatium evasit totum neque pertulit ictum.
                      Nor did it reach its intended length, nor strike its blow.

                                                                                                - -Vergil, The Æneid XII.903-907. trans is my own.

Lucretius uses the noun to refer to "emptiness" or "the void" -- a cursory search of the word in Book I of De Rerum Natura turns up this passage in which the noun is used in this way: 

Nec tamen undique corporea stipata tenentur
                      And yet not are all solid bodies hemmed in by a crowded
omnia natura; namque est in rebus inane.               330
                      Nature -- for there exists emptiness in all sorts of stuff,
quod tibi cognosse in multis erit utile rebus
                      Which for thee to know will be useful in many ways,
nec sinet errantem dubitare et quaerere semper
                      Nor will it leave thee to wander about in doubt and to ever search out
de summa rerum et nostris diffidere dictis.
                      About the truth of the universe and mistrusting our words.
qua propter locus est intactus inane vacansque.
                      Wherefore there is a place untouchable, both void and empty.

                                                                                                   -Lucretius, De Rerum Natura I.329-334. trans is my own.

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