Aeneid

Virgil

Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. At Jove's command Mezentius, breathing rage,
  2. now takes the field and leads a strong assault
  3. against victorious Troy. The Tuscan ranks
  4. meet round him, and press hard on him alone,
  5. on him alone with vengeance multiplied
  6. their host of swords they draw. As some tall cliff,
  7. projecting to the sea, receives the rage
  8. of winds and waters, and untrembling bears
  9. vast, frowning enmity of seas and skies,—
  10. so he. First Dolichaon's son he slew,
  11. Hebrus; then Latagus and Palmus, though
  12. they fled amain; he smote with mighty stone
  13. torn from the mountain, full upon the face
  14. of Latagus; and Palmus he let lie
  15. hamstrung and rolling helpless; he bestowed
  16. the arms on his son Lausus for a prize,
  17. another proud crest in his helm to wear;
  18. he laid the Phrygian Euanthus Iow;
  19. and Mimas, Paris' comrade, just his age,—
  20. born of Theano's womb to Amycus
  21. his sire, that night when royal Hecuba,
  22. teeming with firebrand, gave Paris birth:
  23. one in the city of his fathers sleeps;
  24. and one, inglorious, on Laurentian strand.
  25. As when a wild boar, harried from the hills
  26. by teeth of dogs (one who for many a year
  27. was safe in pine-clad Vesulus, or roamed
  28. the meres of Tiber, feeding in the reeds)
  29. falls in the toils at last, and stands at bay,
  30. raging and bristling, and no hunter dares
  31. defy him or come near, but darts are hurled
  32. from far away, with cries unperilous:
  33. not otherwise, though righteous is their wrath
  34. against Mezentius, not a man so bold
  35. as face him with drawn sword, but at long range
  36. they throw their shafts and with loud cries assail;
  37. he, all unterrified, makes frequent stand,
  38. gnashing his teeth, and shaking off their spears.
  1. From ancient Corythus had Acron come,
  2. a Greek, who left half-sung his wedding-song,
  3. and was an exile; him Mezentius saw
  4. among long lines of foes, with flaunting plumes
  5. and purple garments from his plighted spouse.
  6. Then as a starving lion when he prowls
  7. about high pasture-lands, urged on his way
  8. by maddening hunger (if perchance he see
  9. a flying she-goat or tall-antlered stag)
  10. lifts up his shaggy mane, and gaping wide
  11. his monstrous jaws, springs at the creature's side,
  12. feeding foul-lipped, insatiable of gore:
  13. so through his gathered foes Mezentius
  14. flew at his prey. He stretched along the ground
  15. ill-fated Acron, who breathed life away,
  16. beating the dark dust with his heels, and bathed
  17. his broken weapons in his blood. Nor deigned
  18. Mezentius to strike Orodes down
  19. as he took flight, nor deal a wound unseen
  20. with far-thrown spear; but ran before his face,
  21. fronting him man to man, nor would he win
  22. by sleight or trick, but by a mightier sword.
  23. Soon on the fallen foe he set his heel,
  24. and, pushing hard, with heel and spear, cried out:
  25. “Look ye, my men, where huge Orodes lies,
  26. himself a dangerous portion of this war!”
  27. With loyal, Ioud acclaim his peers reply;
  28. but thus the dying hero: “Victor mine,
  29. whoe'er thou art, I fall not unavenged!
  30. Thou shalt but triumph for a fleeting hour.
  31. Like doom for thee is written. Speedily
  32. thou shalt this dust inhabit, even as I!”
  33. Mezentius answered him with wrathful smile:
  34. “Now die! What comes on me concerns alone
  35. the Sire of gods and Sovereign of mankind.”
  36. So saying, from the wounded breast he plucked
  37. his javelin: and on those eyes there fell
  38. inexorable rest and iron slumber,
  39. and in unending night their vision closed.
  1. Then Caedicus cut down Alcathous,
  2. Sacrator slew Hydaspes, Rapo smote
  3. Parthenius and Orses stout and strong;
  4. Messapus, good blade cut down Clonius
  5. and Ericetes, fierce Lycaon's child;
  6. the one from an unbridled war-horse thrown,
  7. the other slain dismounted. Then rode forth
  8. Agis the Lycian, but bold Valerus,
  9. true to his valiant breeding, hurled him down;
  10. having slain Thronius, Salius was slain
  11. by skilled Nealces, of illustrious name
  12. for spear well cast and far-surprising bow.
  1. Thus Mars relentless holds in equal scale
  2. slaughters reciprocal and mutual woe;
  3. the victors and the vanquished kill or fall
  4. in equal measure; neither knows the way
  5. to yield or fly. Th' Olympians Iook down
  6. out of Jove's house, and pity as they see
  7. the unavailing wrath of either foe,
  8. and burdens measureless on mortals laid.
  9. Lo! Venus here, Saturnian Juno yon,
  10. in anxious watch; while pale Tisiphone
  11. moves on infuriate through the battling lines.
  12. On strode Mezentius o'er the gory plain,
  13. and swollen with rage waved wide-his awful spear.
  14. Like tall Orion when on foot he goes
  15. trough the deep sea and lifts his shoulders high
  16. above the waves; or when he takes his path
  17. along the mountain-tops, and has for staff
  18. an aged ash-tree, as he fixes firm
  19. his feet in earth and hides his brows in cloud;—
  20. so Ioomed Mezentius with his ponderous arms.
  1. To match him now, Aeneas, Iooking down
  2. the long array of war, came forth in arms
  3. to challenge and defy. But quailing not,
  4. a mass immovable, the other stood
  5. waiting his noble foe, and with a glance
  6. measured to cast his spear the space between.
  7. “May this right hand“, he said, “and this swift spear
  8. which here I poise, be favoring gods for me!
  9. The spoils from yonder robber's carcase stripped
  10. I vow to hang on thee, my Lausus, thou
  11. shalt stand for trophy of Aeneas slain.”
  12. He said, and hurled from far the roaring spear,
  13. which from the shield glanced off, and speeding still
  14. smote famed Antores 'twixt the loin and side—
  15. antores, friend of Hercules, who came
  16. from Argos, and had joined Evander's cause,
  17. abiding in Italia. Lo, a wound
  18. meant for another pierced him, and he lay,
  19. ill-fated! Iooking upward to the light,
  20. and dreaming of dear Argos as he died.
  21. Then good Aeneas hurled his spear; it passed
  22. through hollow orb of triple bronze, and through
  23. layers of flax and triple-twisted hides;
  24. then in the lower groin it lodged, but left
  25. its work undone. Aeneas, not ill-pleased
  26. to see the Tuscan wounded, swiftly drew
  27. the falchion from his thigh, and hotly pressed
  28. his startled foe. But Lausus at the sight
  29. groaned loud, so much he loved his father dear,
  30. and tears his cheek bedewed. O storied youth!
  31. If olden worth may win believing ear,
  32. let not my song now fail of thee to sing,
  33. thy noble deeds, thy doom of death and pain!
  34. Mezentius, now encumbered and undone,
  35. fell backward, trailing from the broken shield
  36. his foeman's spear. His son leaped wildly forth
  37. to join the fray; and where Aeneas' hand
  38. lifted to strike, he faced the thrusting sword
  39. and gave the hero pause. His comrades raised
  40. applauding cries, as shielded by his son
  41. the father made retreat; their darts they hurl,
  42. and vex with flying spears the distant foe:
  43. Aeneas, wrathful, stands beneath his shield.
  44. As when the storm-clouds break in pelting hail,
  45. the swains and ploughmen from the furrows fly,
  46. and every traveller cowers in sure defence
  47. of river-bank or lofty shelving crag,
  48. while far and wide it pours; and by and by,
  49. each, when the sun returns, his task pursues:
  50. so great Aeneas, by assault o'erwhelmed,
  51. endured the cloud of battle, till its rage
  52. thundered no more; then with a warning word
  53. to Lausus with upbraiding voice he called:
  54. “Why, O death-doomed, rush on to deeds too high
  55. for strength like thine. Thou art betrayed, rash boy,
  56. by thine own loyal heart!” But none the less
  57. the youth made mad defence; while fiercer burned
  58. the Trojan's anger; and of Lausus' days
  59. the loom of Fate spun forth the last thin thread;
  60. for now Aeneas thrust his potent blade
  61. deep through the stripling's breast and out of sight;
  62. through the light shield it passed—a frail defence
  63. to threaten with!—and through the tunic fine
  64. his mother's hand had wrought with softest gold:
  65. blood filled his bosom, and on path of air
  66. down to the shades the mournful soul withdrew,
  67. its body quitting. As Anchises' son
  68. beheld the agonizing lips and brow
  69. so wondrous white in death, he groaned aloud
  70. in pity, and reached o'er him his right hand,
  71. touched to the heart such likeness to behold
  72. of his own filial love. “Unhappy boy!
  73. What reward worthy of heroic deeds
  74. can I award thee now? Wear still those arms
  75. so proudly worn! And I will send thee home
  76. (Perhaps thou carest!) to the kindred shades
  77. and ashes of thy sires. But let it be
  78. some solace in thy pitiable doom
  79. that none but great Aeneas wrought thy fall.”
  80. Then to the stripling's tardy followers
  81. he sternly called, and lifted from the earth
  82. with his own hand the fallen foe: dark blood
  83. defiled those princely tresses braided fair.
  1. Meanwhile Mezentius by the Tiber's wave
  2. with water staunched his wound, and propped his weight
  3. against a tree; upon its limbs above
  4. his brazen helmet hung, and on the sward
  5. his ponderous arms lay resting. Round him watched
  6. his chosen braves. He, gasping and in pain,
  7. clutched at his neck and let his flowing beard
  8. loose on his bosom fall; he questions oft
  9. of Lausus, and sends many a messenger
  10. to bid him back, and bear him the command
  11. of his sore-grieving sire. But lo! his peers
  12. bore the dead Lausus back upon his shield,
  13. and wept to see so strong a hero quelled
  14. by stroke so strong. From long way off the sire,
  15. with soul prophetic of its woe, perceived
  16. what meant their wail and cry. On his gray hairs
  17. the dust he flung, and, stretching both his hands
  18. to heaven, he cast himself the corpse along.
  19. “O son,” he cried, “was life to me so sweet,
  20. that I to save myself surrendered o'er
  21. my own begotten to a foeman's steel?
  22. Saved by these gashes shall thy father be,
  23. and living by thy death? O wretched me,
  24. how foul an end have I! Now is my wound
  25. deep! deep! 't was I, dear son, have stained
  26. thy name with infamy—to exile driven
  27. from sceptre and hereditary throne
  28. by general curse. Would that myself had borne
  29. my country's vengeance and my nation's hate!
  30. Would my own guilty life my debt had paid—
  31. yea, by a thousand deaths! But, see, I live!
  32. Not yet from human kind and light of day
  33. have I departed. But depart I will.”
  34. So saying, he raised him on his crippled thigh,
  35. and though by reason of the grievous wound
  36. his forces ebbed, yet with unshaken mien
  37. he bade them lead his war-horse forth, his pride,
  38. his solace, which from every war
  39. victorious bore him home. The master then
  40. to the brave beast, which seemed to know his pain,
  41. spoke thus: “My Rhoebus, we have passed our days
  42. long time together, if long time there be
  43. for mortal creatures. Either on this day
  44. thou shalt his bloody spoils in triumph bear
  45. and that Aeneas' head,—and so shalt be
  46. avenger of my Lausus' woe; or else,
  47. if I be vanquished, thou shalt sink and fall
  48. beside me. For, my bravest, thou wouldst spurn
  49. a stranger's will, and Teucrian lords to bear.”
  50. He spoke and, mounting to his back, disposed
  51. his limbs the wonted way and filled both hands
  52. with pointed javelins; a helm of brass
  53. with shaggy horse-hair crest gleamed o'er his brow.
  54. Swift to the front he rode: a mingled flood
  55. surged in his heart of sorrow, wrath, and shame;
  56. and thrice with loud voice on his foe he called.
  1. Aeneas heard and made exulting vow:
  2. “Now may the Father of the gods on high,
  3. and great Apollo hear! Begin the fray!”
  4. He said, and moved forth with a threatening spear.
  5. The other cried: “Hast robbed me of my son,
  6. and now, implacable, wouldst fright me more?
  7. That way, that only, was it in thy power
  8. to cast me down. No fear of death I feel.
  9. Nor from thy gods themselves would I refrain.
  10. Give o'er! For fated and resolved to die
  11. I come thy way: but; bring thee as I pass
  12. these offerings.” With this he whirled a spear
  13. against his foe, and after it drove deep
  14. another and another, riding swift
  15. in wide gyration round him. But the shield,
  16. the golden boss, broke not. Three times he rode
  17. in leftward circles, hurling spear on spear
  18. against th' unmoved Aeneas: and three times
  19. the Trojan hero in his brazen shield
  20. the sheaf of spears upbore. But such slow fight,
  21. such plucking of spent shafts from out his shield,
  22. the Trojan liked not, vexed and sorely tried
  23. in duel so ill-matched. With wrathful soul
  24. at length he strode forth, and between the brows
  25. of the wild war-horse planted his Iong spear.
  26. Up reared the creature, beating at the air
  27. with quivering feet, then o'er his fallen lord
  28. entangling dropped, and prone above him lay,
  29. pinning with ponderous shoulder to the ground.
  30. The Trojans and the Latins rouse the skies
  31. with clamor Ioud. Aeneas hastening forth
  32. unsheathes his sword, and looming o'er him cries:
  33. “Where now is fierce Mezentius, and his soul's
  34. wild pulse of rage?” The Tuscan in reply
  35. with eyes uprolled, and gasping as he gave
  36. long looks at heaven, recalled his fading mind:
  37. “Why frown at me and fume, O bitterest foe?
  38. Why threaten death? To slay me is no sin.
  39. Not to take quarter came I to this war,
  40. not truce with thee did my lost Lausus crave,
  41. yet this one boon I pray,—if mercy be
  42. for fallen foes: O, suffer me when dead
  43. in covering earth to hide! Full well I know
  44. what curses of my people ring me round.
  45. Defend me from that rage! I pray to be
  46. my son's companion in our common tomb.”
  47. He spoke: then offered with unshrinking eye
  48. his veined throat to the sword. O'er the bright mail
  49. his vital breath gushed forth in streaming gore.