Aeneid

Virgil

Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. While thus in distant region moves the war,
  2. down to bold Turnus Saturn's daughter sends
  3. celestial Iris. In a sacred vale,
  4. the seat of worship at his grandsire's tomb,
  5. Pilumnus, Faunus' son, the hero mused.
  6. And thus the wonder-child of Thaumas called
  7. with lips of rose: “O Turnus, what no god
  8. dared give for reward of thy fondest vow,
  9. has come unbidden on its destined day.
  10. Behold, Aeneas, who has left behind
  11. the city with his fleet and followers,
  12. is gone to kingly Palatine, the home
  13. of good Evander. Yea, his march invades
  14. the far Etrurian towns, where now he arms
  15. the Lydian rustics. Wilt thou longer muse?
  16. Call for thy chariot and steeds! Away!
  17. Take yonder tents by terror and surprise!”
  18. She spoke; and heavenward on poising wings
  19. soared, cleaving as she fled from cloud to cloud
  20. a vast, resplendent bow. The warrior saw,
  21. and, lifting both his hands, pursued with prayer
  22. the fading glory: “Beauteous Iris, hail!
  23. Proud ornament of heaven! who sent thee here
  24. across yon cloud to earth, and unto me?
  25. Whence may this sudden brightness fall? I see
  26. the middle welkin lift, and many a star,
  27. far-wandering in the sky. Such solemn sign
  28. I shall obey, and thee, O god unknown!”
  29. So saying, he turned him to a sacred stream,
  30. took water from its brim, and offered Heaven
  31. much prayer, with many an importuning vow.
  1. Soon o'er the spreading fields in proud array
  2. the gathered legions poured; no lack was there
  3. of steeds all fire, and broidered pomp and gold.
  4. Messapus led the van; in rearguard rode
  5. the sons of Tyrrheus; kingly Turnus towered
  6. from the mid-column eminent: the host
  7. moved as great Ganges lifting silently
  8. his seven peaceful streams, or when the flood
  9. of fructifying Nile from many a field
  10. back to his channel flows. A swift-blown cloud
  11. of black, uprolling dust the Teucrians see
  12. o'ershadowing the plain; Calcus calls
  13. from lofty outpost: “O my countrymen,
  14. I see a huge, black ball of rolling smoke.
  15. Your swords and lances! Man the walls! To arms!
  16. The foe is here! What ho!” With clamors loud
  17. the Teucrians through the city-gates retire,
  18. and muster on the walls. For, wise in war,
  19. Aeneas, ere he went, had left command
  20. they should not range in battle-line, nor dare,
  21. whate'er might hap, to risk in open plain
  22. the bold sortie, but keep them safe entrenched
  23. in mounded walls. So now, though rage and shame
  24. prick to a close fight, they defensive bar
  25. each portal strong, and, patient of control,
  26. from hollow towers expect th' encircling foe.
  1. Turnus, at full speed, had outridden far
  2. his laggard host, and, leading in his train
  3. a score of chosen knights, dashed into view
  4. hard by the walls. A barb of Thracian breed
  5. dappled with white he rode; a crimson plume
  6. flamed over his golden helmet. “Who,” he cries,
  7. “Is foremost at the foe? Who follows me?
  8. Behold!” And, with the word, he hurled in air
  9. a javelin, provoking instant war:
  10. and, towering from his horse, charged o'er the field.
  11. With answering shout his men-at-arms pursue,
  12. and war-cries terrible. They laugh to scorn
  13. “the craven hearts of Troy, that cannot give
  14. fair, equal vantage, matching man to man,
  15. but cuddle into camp.” This way and that
  16. Turnus careers, and stormily surveys
  17. the frowning rampart, and where way is none
  18. some entering breach would find: so prowls a wolf
  19. nigh the full sheepfold, and through wind and rain
  20. stands howling at the postern all night long;
  21. beneath the ewes their bleating lambs lie safe;
  22. but he, with undesisting fury, more
  23. rages from far, made frantic for his prey
  24. by hunger of long hours, his foaming jaws
  25. athirst for blood: not less the envy burned
  26. of the Rutulian, as he scanned in vain
  27. the stronghold of his foe. Indignant scorn
  28. thrilled all his iron frame. But how contrive
  29. to storm the fortress or by force expel
  30. the Trojans from the rampart, and disperse
  31. along the plain? Straightway he spied the ships,
  32. in hiding near the camp, defended well
  33. by mounded river-bank and fleeting wave.
  34. On these he fell; while his exultant crew
  35. brought firebrands, and he with heart aflame
  36. grasped with a vengeful hand the blazing pine.
  37. To the wild work his followers sped; for who
  38. could prove him craven under Turnus' eye?
  39. The whole troop for the weapon of their rage
  40. seized smoking coals, of many a hearth the spoil;
  41. red glare of fuming torches burned abroad,
  42. and Vulcan starward flung a sparkling cloud.
  1. What god, O Muses, saved the Trojans then
  2. from wrathful flame? Who shielded then the fleet,
  3. I pray you tell, from bursting storm of fire?
  4. From hoary eld the tale, but its renown
  5. sings on forever. When Aeneas first
  6. on Phrygian Ida hewed the sacred wood
  7. for rib and spar, and soon would put to sea,
  8. that mighty mother of the gods, they say,
  9. the Berecynthian goddess, thus to Jove
  10. addressed her plea: “Grant, O my son, a boon,
  11. which thy dear mother asks, who aided thee
  12. to quell Olympian war. A grove I have
  13. of sacred pine, long-loved from year to year.
  14. On lofty hill it grew, and thither came
  15. my worshippers with gifts, in secret gloom
  16. of pine-trees dark and shadowing maple-boughs.;
  17. these on the Dardan warrior at his need
  18. I, not unwilling, for his fleet bestowed.
  19. But I have fears. O, Iet a parent's prayer
  20. in this prevail, and bid my care begone!
  21. Let not rude voyages nor the shock of storm
  22. my ships subdue, but let their sacred birth
  23. on my charmed hills their strength and safety be!”
  24. Then spake her son, who guides the wheeling spheres:
  25. “Wouldst thou, my mother, strive to oversway
  26. the course of Fate? What means this prayer of thine?
  27. Can it be granted ships of mortal mould
  28. to wear immortal being? Wouldst thou see
  29. Aeneas pass undoubting and secure
  30. through doubtful strait and peril? On what god
  31. was e'er such power bestowed? Yet will I grant
  32. a different boon. Whatever ships shall find
  33. a safe Ausonian haven, and convey
  34. safe through the seas to yon Laurentian plain
  35. the Dardan King, from such I will remove
  36. their perishable shapes, and bid them be
  37. sea-nymphs divine, like Nereus' daughters fair,
  38. Doto and Galatea, whose white breasts
  39. divide the foaming wave.” He said, and swore
  40. by his Tartarean brother's mournful stream,
  41. the pitch-black floods and dark engulfing shore
  42. of Styx; then great Jove bowed his head, and all
  43. Olympus quaked at his consenting brow.
  1. Now was the promised day at hand (for Fate
  2. had woven the web so far) when Turnus' rage
  3. stirred the divine progenitress to save
  4. her sacred ships from fire. Then sudden shone
  5. a strange effulgence in the eastern air;
  6. and in a storm-cloud wafted o'er the sky
  7. were Corybantic choirs, whose dreadful song
  8. smote both on Teucrian and Rutulian ear:
  9. “O Teucrians, fear not for the sure defence
  10. of all the ships, nor arm your mortal hands.
  11. Yon impious Turnus shall burn up the seas
  12. before my pine-trees blest. Arise! Be free,
  13. ye goddesses of ocean, and obey
  14. your mother's mighty word.” Then instant broke
  15. the hawsers of the sterns; the beaked prows
  16. went plunging like great dolphins from the shore
  17. down to the deeps, and, wonderful to tell,
  18. the forms of virgin goddesses uprose,
  19. one for each ship, and seaward sped away.
  1. The hearts of the Rutulian host stood still
  2. in panic, and Messapus terrified
  3. his trembling horses reined; the sacred stream
  4. of Father Tiber, harshly murmuring,
  5. held back his flood and checked his seaward way.
  6. But Turnus' courage failed not; he alone
  7. his followers roused, and with reproachful words
  8. alone spoke forth: “These signs and prodigies
  9. threaten the Trojan only. Jove himself
  10. has stripped them of their wonted strength: no more
  11. can they abide our deadly sword and fire.
  12. The Trojan path to sea is shut. What hope
  13. of flight is left them now? The half their cause
  14. is fallen. The possession of this land
  15. is ours already; thousands of sharp swords
  16. Italia's nations bring. Small fear have I
  17. of Phrygia's boasted omens. What to me
  18. their oracles from heaven? The will of Fate
  19. and Venus have achieved their uttermost
  20. in casting on Ausonia's fruitful shore
  21. yon sons of Troy. I too have destinies:
  22. and mine, good match for theirs, with this true blade
  23. will spill the blood of all the baneful brood,
  24. in vengeance for my stolen wife. Such wrongs
  25. move not on Atreus' sons alone, nor rouse
  26. only Mycenae to a righteous war.
  27. Say you, ‘Troy falls but once?’ One crime, say I,
  28. should have contented them; and now their souls
  29. should little less than loathe all womankind.
  30. These are the sort of soldiers that be brave
  31. behind entrenchment, where the moated walls
  32. may stem the foe and make a little room
  33. betwixt themselves and death. Did they not see
  34. how Troy's vast bulwark built by Neptune's hand
  35. crumbled in flame? Forward, my chosen brave!
  36. Who follows me to cleave his deadly way
  37. through yonder battlement, and leap like storm
  38. upon its craven guard? I have no need
  39. of arms from Vulcan's smithy; nor of ships
  40. a thousand strong against our Teucrian foes,
  41. though all Etruria's league enlarge their power.
  42. Let them not fear dark nights, nor coward theft
  43. of Pallas' shrine, nor murdered sentinels
  44. on their acropolis. We shall not hide
  45. in blinding belly of a horse. But I
  46. in public eye and open day intend
  47. to compass their weak wall with siege and fire.
  48. I'll prove them we be no Pelasgic band,
  49. no Danaan warriors, such as Hector's arm
  50. ten years withstood. But look! this day hath spent
  51. its better part. In what remains, rejoice
  52. in noble deeds well done; let weary flesh
  53. have rest and food. My warriors, husband well
  54. your strength against to-morrow's hopeful war.”
  55. Meanwhile to block their gates with wakeful guard
  56. is made Messapus' work, and to gird round
  57. their camp with watchfires. Then a chosen band,
  58. twice seven Rutulian chieftains, man the walls
  59. with soldiery; each leads a hundred men
  60. crested with crimson, armed with glittering gold.
  61. Some post to separate sentries, and prepare
  62. alternate vigil; others, couched on grass,
  63. laugh round the wine and lift the brazen bowls.
  64. The camp-fires cheerly burn; the jovial guard
  65. spend the long, sleepless night in sport and game.
  1. The Trojans peering from the lofty walls
  2. survey the foe, and arm for sure defence
  3. of every point exposed. They prove the gates
  4. with fearful care, bind bridge with tower, and bring
  5. good store of javelins. Serestus bold
  6. and Mnestheus to their labors promptly fly,
  7. whom Sire Aeneas bade in time of stress
  8. to have authority and free command
  9. over his warriars. Along the walls
  10. the legions, by the cast of lots, divide
  11. the pain and peril, giving each his due
  12. of alternating vigil and repose.
  1. Nisus kept sentry at the gate: a youth
  2. of eager heart for noble deeds, the son
  3. of Hyrtacus, whom in Aeneas' train
  4. Ida the huntress sent; swift could he speed
  5. the spear or light-winged arrow to its aim.
  6. Beside him was Euryalus, his friend:
  7. of all th' Aeneadae no youth more fair
  8. wore Trojan arms; upon his cheek unshorn
  9. the tender bloom of boyhood lingered still.
  10. Their loving hearts were one, and oft in war
  11. they battled side by side, as in that hour
  12. a common sentry at the gate they shared.
  13. Said Nisus: “Is it gods above that breathe
  14. this fever in my soul, Euryalus?
  15. or is the tyrant passion of each breast
  16. the god it serves? Me now my urgent mind
  17. to battles or some mighty deed impels,
  18. and will not give me rest. Look yonder, where
  19. the Rutuli in dull security
  20. the siege maintain. Yet are their lights but few.
  21. They are asleep or drunk, and in their line
  22. is many a silent space. O, hear my thought,
  23. and what my heart is pondering. To recall
  24. Aeneas is the dearest wish to-night
  25. of all, both high and low. They need true men
  26. to find him and bring tidings. If our chiefs
  27. but grant me leave to do the thing I ask
  28. (Claiming no reward save what honor gives),
  29. methinks I could search out by yonder hill
  30. a path to Pallanteum.” The amazed
  31. Euryalus, flushed warm with eager love
  32. for deeds of glory, instantly replied
  33. to his high-hearted friend: “Dost thou refuse,
  34. my Nisus, to go with me hand in hand
  35. when mighty deeds are done? Could I behold
  36. thee venturing alone on danger? Nay!
  37. Not thus my sire Opheltes, schooled in war,
  38. taught me his true child, 'mid the woes of Troy
  39. and Argive terrors reared; not thus with thee
  40. have I proved craven, since we twain were leal
  41. to great Aeneas, sharing all his doom.
  42. In this breast also is a heart which knows
  43. contempt of life, and deems such deeds, such praise,
  44. well worth a glorious death.” Nisus to him:
  45. “I have not doubted thee, nor e'er could have
  46. one thought disloyal. May almighty Jove,
  47. or whatsoe'er good power my purpose sees,
  48. bring me triumphant to thy arms once more!
  49. But if, as oft in doubtful deeds befalls,
  50. some stroke of chance, or will divine, should turn
  51. to adverse, 't is my fondest prayer that thou
  52. shouldst live the longer of us twain. Thy years
  53. suit better with more life. Oh! let there be
  54. one mourner true to carry to its grave
  55. my corpse, recaptured in the desperate fray,
  56. or ransomed for a price. Or if this boon
  57. should be—'t is Fortune's common way—refused,
  58. then pay the debt of grief and loyal woe
  59. unto my far-off dust, and garlands leave
  60. upon an empty tomb. No grief I give
  61. to any sorrowing mother; one alone,
  62. of many Trojan mothers, had the heart
  63. to follow thee, her child, and would not stay
  64. in great Acestes' land.” His friend replied:
  65. “Thou weavest but a web of empty words
  66. and reasons vain, nor dost thou shake at all
  67. my heart's resolve. Come, let us haste away!”
  68. He answered so, and summoned to the gate
  69. a neighboring watch, who, bringing prompt relief,
  70. the sentry-station took; then quitted he
  71. his post assigned; at Nisus' side he strode,
  72. and both impatient sped them to the King.
  1. Now in all lands all creatures that have breath
  2. lulled care in slumber, and each heart forgot
  3. its load of toil and pain. But they who led
  4. the Teucrian cause, with all their chosen brave,
  5. took counsel in the kingdom's hour of need
  6. what action to command or whom dispatch
  7. with tidings to Aeneas. In mid-camp
  8. on long spears leaning and with ready shield
  9. to leftward slung, th' assembled warriors stood.
  10. Thither in haste arrived the noble pair,
  11. brave Nisus with Euryalus his friend,
  12. and craved a hearing, for their suit, they said,
  13. was urgent and well-worth a patient ear.
  14. Iulus to the anxious striplings gave
  15. a friendly welcome, bidding Nisus speak.
  16. The son of Hyrtacus obeyed: “O, hear,
  17. Princes of Teucria, with impartial mind,
  18. nor judge by our unseasoned youth the worth
  19. of what we bring. Yon Rutule watch is now
  20. in drunken sleep, and all is silent there.
  21. With our own eyes we picked out a good place
  22. to steal a march, that cross-road by the gate
  23. close-fronting on the bridge. Their lines of fire
  24. are broken, and a murky, rolling smoke
  25. fills all the region. If ye grant us leave
  26. by this good luck to profit, we will find
  27. Aeneas and the walls of Palatine,
  28. and after mighty slaughter and huge spoil
  29. ye soon shall see us back. Nor need ye fear
  30. we wander from the way. Oft have we seen
  31. that city's crest loom o'er the shadowy vales,
  32. where we have hunted all day long and know
  33. each winding of yon river.” Then uprose
  34. aged Aletes, crowned with wisdom's years:
  35. “Gods of our fathers, who forevermore
  36. watch over Troy, ye surely had no mind
  37. to blot out Teucria's name, when ye bestowed
  38. such courage on young hearts, and bade them be
  39. so steadfast and so leal.” Joyful he clasped
  40. their hands in his, and on their shoulders leaned,
  41. his aged cheek and visage wet with tears.
  42. “What reward worthy of such actions fair,
  43. dear heroes, could be given? Your brightest prize
  44. will come from Heaven and your own hearts. The rest
  45. Aeneas will right soon bestow; nor will
  46. Ascanius, now in youth's unblemished prime,
  47. ever forget your praise.” Forthwith replied
  48. Aeneas' son, “By all our household gods,
  49. by great Assaracus, and every shrine
  50. of venerable Vesta, I confide
  51. my hopes, my fortunes, and all future weal
  52. to your heroic hearts. O, bring me back
  53. my father! Set him in these eyes once more!
  54. That day will tears be dry; and I will give
  55. two silver wine-cups graven and o'erlaid
  56. with clear-cut figures, which my father chose
  57. out of despoiled Arisbe; also two
  58. full talents of pure gold, and tripods twain,
  59. and ancient wine-bowl, Tyrian Dido's token.
  60. But if indeed our destiny shall be
  61. to vanquish Italy in prosperous war,
  62. to seize the sceptre and divide the spoil, —
  63. saw you that steed of Turnus and the arms
  64. in which he rode, all golden? That same steed,
  65. that glittering shield and haughty crimson crest
  66. I will reserve thee, e'er the lots are cast,
  67. and, Nisus, they are thine. Hereto my sire
  68. will add twelve captive maids of beauty rare,
  69. and slaves in armor; last, thou hast the fields
  70. which now Latinus holds. But as for thee,
  71. to whom my youth but binds me closer still,
  72. thee, kingly boy, my whole heart makes my own,
  73. and through all changeful fortune we shall be
  74. inseparable peers: nor will I seek
  75. renown and glory, or in peace or war,
  76. forgetting thee: but trust thee from this day
  77. in deed and word.” To him in answer spoke
  78. euryalus, “O, may no future show
  79. this heart unworthy thy heroic call!
  80. And may our fortune ever prosperous prove,
  81. not adverse. But I now implore of thee
  82. a single boon worth all beside. I have
  83. a mother, from the venerated line
  84. of Priam sprung, whom not the Trojan shore
  85. nor King Acestes' city could detain,
  86. alas! from following me. I leave her now
  87. without farewell; nor is her love aware
  88. of my supposed peril. For I swear
  89. by darkness of this night and thy right hand,
  90. that all my courage fails me if I see
  91. a mother's tears. O, therefore, I implore,
  92. be thou her sorrow's comfort and sustain
  93. her solitary day. Such grace from thee
  94. equip me for my war, and I shall face
  95. with braver heart whatever fortune brings.”
  96. With sudden sorrow thrilled, the veteran lords
  97. of Teucria showed their tears. But most of all
  98. such likeness of his own heart's filial love
  99. on fair Iulus moved, and thus he spoke:
  100. “Promise thyself what fits thy generous deeds.
  101. Thy mother shall be mine, Creusa's name
  102. alone not hers; nor is the womb unblest
  103. that bore a child like thee. Whate'er success
  104. may follow, I make oath immutable
  105. by my own head, on which my father swore,
  106. that all I promise thee of gift or praise
  107. if home thou comest triumphing, shall be
  108. the glory of thy mother and thy kin.”
  109. Weeping he spoke, and from his shoulder drew
  110. the golden sword, well-wrought and wonderful,
  111. which once in Crete Lycaon's cunning made
  112. and sheathed in ivory. On Nisus then
  113. Mnestheus bestowed a shaggy mantle torn
  114. from a slain lion; good Aletes gave
  115. exchange of crested helms. In such array
  116. they hastened forth; and all the princely throng,
  117. young men and old, ran with them to the gates,
  118. praying all gods to bless. Iulus then,
  119. a fair youth, but of grave, heroic soul
  120. beyond his years, gave them in solemn charge
  121. full many a message for his sire, but these
  122. the hazard of wild winds soon scattered far,
  123. and flung them fruitless on the darkening storm.
  1. Forth through the moat they climb, and steal away
  2. through midnight shades, to where their foemen lie
  3. encamped in arms; of whom, before these fall,
  4. a host shall die. Along the turf were seen,
  5. laid low in heavy slumber and much wine,
  6. a prostrate troop; the horseless chariots
  7. stood tilted on the shore, 'twixt rein and wheel
  8. the drivers dozed, wine-cups and idle swords
  9. strewn round them without heed. The first to speak
  10. was Nisus. “Look, Euryalus,” he cried,
  11. “Now boldly strike. The hour to do the deed
  12. is here, the path this way. Keep wide-eyed watch
  13. that no man smite behind us. I myself
  14. will mow the mighty fieid, and lead thee on
  15. in a wide swath of slaughter.” With this word
  16. he shut his lips; and hurled him with his sword
  17. on haughty Rhamnes, who lay propped at ease
  18. on pillows huge, and from his heaving breast
  19. poured slumber loud: of royal stem was he
  20. and honored of King Turnus for his skill
  21. in augury; yet could no augur's charm
  22. that bloody stroke forefend. And Nisus slew
  23. three slaves near by, that lay in reckless sleep
  24. upon their spears; then him that bore the shield
  25. of Remus, then the driver of his car
  26. close to the horses caught; his sword cut through
  27. their prostrate necks; then their great master's head
  28. he lifted high, and left decapitate
  29. the huge corpse spilling forth its crimson gore
  30. o'er couch and ground. Like stroke on Lamus fell
  31. and Lamyrus, with young Serranus, who
  32. had gamed the midnight through and sleeping lay,
  33. his fair young body to the wine-god given;
  34. but happier now had that long-revelling night
  35. been merry till the dawn! Thus round full folds
  36. of sheep a famished lion fiercely prowls;
  37. mad hunger moves him; he devours and rends
  38. with bloody, roaring mouth, the feeble flock
  39. that trembles and is dumb. Nor was the sword
  40. of fair Euryalus less fatal found;
  41. but fiercely raging on his path of death,
  42. he pressed on through a base and nameless throng,
  43. Rhoetus, Herbesus, Fadus, Abaris;
  44. surprising all save Rhoetus, who awake
  45. saw every stroke, and crouched in craven fear
  46. behind a mighty wine-bowl; but not less
  47. clean through his bare breast as he started forth
  48. the youth thrust home his sword, then drew it back
  49. death-dripping, while the bursting purple stream
  50. of life outflowed, with mingling blood and wine.
  51. Then, flushed with stealthy slaughter, he crept near
  52. the followers of Messapus, where he saw
  53. their camp-fire dying down, and tethered steeds
  54. upon the meadow feeding. Nisus then
  55. knew the hot lust of slaughter had swept on
  56. too far, and cried, “Hold off! For, lo,
  57. the monitory dawn is nigh. Revenge
  58. has fed us to the full. We have achieved
  59. clean passage through the foe.” Full many a prize
  60. was left untaken: princely suits of mail
  61. enwrought with silver pure, huge drinking-bowls,
  62. and broideries fair. Yet grasped Euryalus
  63. the blazonry at Rhamnes' corselet hung,
  64. and belt adorned with gold: which were a gift
  65. to Remulus of Tibur from the store
  66. of opulent Caedicus, who sued from far
  67. to be a friend; and these in death he gave
  68. to his son's son, who slain in battle fell,
  69. and proud Rutulians seized them with the spoil.
  70. Euryalus about his shoulder strong
  71. this booty slung—unprofitable gain! —
  72. and fitted on a gorgeous, crested helm
  73. which once Messapus wore. So from the camp,
  74. escaping danger, the two champions ran.
  1. But horsemen from the Latin city sent
  2. to join the serried legions of the plain
  3. had come at Turnus' call, three hundred strong
  4. all bearing shields, and under the command
  5. of Volscens. Nigh the camp and walls they drew;
  6. and soon they spied upon the leftward path
  7. th' heroic pair, where in dim shades of night
  8. the helmet of Euryalus betrayed
  9. the heedless boy, and with a glancing beam
  10. flashed on the foe. Nor was it seen in vain.
  11. Loud from the line the voice of Volscens called:
  12. “Stand, gentlemen! What business brings you here?
  13. Whose your allegiance? Whither speed so fast?”
  14. No answer gave they save to fly in haste
  15. to cover of the forest and deep gloom
  16. of the defensive night. The horsemen then
  17. blocked every crossway known, and, scattering wide,
  18. kept sentry at the entrance. The great wood
  19. was all of tangled brush and blinding shade
  20. of flex-boughs. Impenetrable thorns
  21. had thickly overgrown, and seldom showed
  22. a pathway through the maze. Euryalus,
  23. by the black branches and his ponderous spoil
  24. impeded, groped along in fearful doubt,
  25. deceived and quite astray. Nisus his friend
  26. had quit him, and incautiously had forced
  27. a sally through the close-encircling foe,
  28. into that region which should after bear
  29. the name of Alba—a rude shelter then
  30. for King Latinus' herds. He stayed him there
  31. and looked, but vainly, for the comrade gone.
  32. “Euryalus, ill-fated boy!” he cried,
  33. “Where have I lost thee in the pathless wild?
  34. How find thee? How retrace the blinding maze
  35. of yonder treacherous wood?” Yet ere he said,
  36. on his own path he turns him back, and scans
  37. his own light footprints through the tangled thorn,
  38. so dark and still. But suddenly he hears
  39. the tread of horses, with confusing din
  40. and tumult of pursuit. Nor was it long
  41. he tarried ere upon his anguished ear
  42. smote a great cry: and, lo! Euryalus,
  43. trapped by the dark night, the deceptive ground,
  44. faced the whole onset, and fell back o'erwhelmed
  45. by a loud mob of foes, while his sole sword
  46. tried many a thrust in vain. O, what defence
  47. may Nisus bring? With what audacious arms
  48. his chosen comrade save? Shall he make bare
  49. his dying breast to all their swords, and run
  50. to honorable death that bloody way?
  51. he swung his spear with lifted arm, then looked
  52. to the still moon, in heaven, and thus implored:
  53. “O goddess, aid me in my evil case.
  54. O glory of the stars, Latona's child!
  55. O guardian of groves, if in my name
  56. my father Hyrtacus made offerings
  57. on burning altars, if my own right hand,
  58. successful in the chase, ere hung its gift
  59. beneath thy dome or on thy sacred wall,
  60. grant me yon troop to scatter. Guide my spear
  61. along its path in air.” He spoke, and hurled
  62. with all his gathered strength the shaft of steel.
  63. the swift spear clove the shades of night, and struck
  64. full in the back of Sulmo, where it split,
  65. but tore through to his very heart. The breast
  66. poured forth life's glowing stream, and he, o'erthrown
  67. lay cold in death, while his huge, heaving sides
  68. gave lingering throes. The men about him stared
  69. this way and that. But Nisus, fiercer still,
  70. poised level with his ear a second shaft,
  71. and, while the foeman paused, the whizzing spear
  72. straight through the brows of Tagus drove, and clung
  73. deep in the cloven brain. In frenzy rose
  74. Volscens, but nowhere could espy what hand
  75. the shaft had hurled, nor whither his wild rage
  76. could make reply. “But thou,” he cried, “shalt feed
  77. with thy hot blood my honor and revenge
  78. for both the slain.” Then with a sword unsheathed
  79. upon Euryalus he fell. Loud shrieked
  80. Nisus, of reason reft, who could not bear
  81. such horror, nor in sheltering gloom of night
  82. longer abide: “'T is I, 't is I!” he said.
  83. look on the man who slew them! Draw on me
  84. your swords, Rutulians! The whole stratagem
  85. was mine, mine only, and the lad ye slay
  86. dared not, and could not. O, by Heaven above
  87. and by the all-beholding stars I swear,
  88. he did but love his hapless friend too well.”
  89. But while he spoke, the furious-thrusting sword
  90. had pierced the tender body, and run through
  91. the bosom white as snow. Euryalus
  92. sank prone in death; upon his goodly limbs
  93. the life-blood ran unstopped, and low inclined
  94. the drooping head; as when some purpled flower,
  95. cut by the ploughshare, dies, or poppies proud
  96. with stem forlorn their ruined beauty bow
  97. before the pelting storm. Then Nisus flew
  98. straight at his foes; but in their throng would find
  99. Volscens alone, for none but Volscens stayed:
  100. they gathered thickly round and grappled him
  101. in shock of steel with steel. But on he plunged,
  102. swinging in ceaseless circles round his head
  103. his lightning-sword, and thrust it through the face
  104. of shrieking Volscens, with his own last breath
  105. striking his foeman down; then cast himself
  106. upon his fallen comrade's breast; and there,
  107. stabbed through, found tranquil death and sure repose.
  1. Heroic pair and blest! If aught I sing
  2. have lasting music, no remotest age
  3. shall blot your names from honor's storied scroll:
  4. not while the altars of Aeneas' line
  5. shall crown the Capitol's unshaken hill,
  6. nor while the Roman Father's hand sustains
  7. its empire o'er the world.
  1. The Rutules seized the spoils of victory,
  2. and slowly to their camp, with wail and cry,
  3. bore Volscens' corse; and in the eamp they made
  4. like wailing over Rhamnes lifeless found,
  5. o'er Numa and Serranus, and a throng
  6. of princes dead. The gazing people pressed
  7. around the slain, the dying, where the earth
  8. ran red with slaughter and full many a stream
  9. of trickling gore; nor did they fail to know
  10. Messapus' glittering helm, his baldric fair,
  11. recaptured now with lavish sweat and pain.
  1. Now, from Tithonus' saffron couch set free,
  2. Aurora over many a land outpoured
  3. the rising morn; the sun's advancing beam
  4. unveiled the world; and Turnus to his host
  5. gave signal to stand forth, while he arrayed
  6. himself in glorious arms. Then every chief
  7. awoke his mail-clad company, and stirred
  8. their slumbering wrath with tidings from the foe.
  9. Tumultuously shouting, they impaled
  10. on lifted spears—O pitiable sight! —
  11. the heads of Nisus and Euryalus.
  12. Th' undaunted Trojans stood in battle-line
  13. along the wall to leftward (for the right
  14. the river-front defended) keeping guard
  15. on the broad moat; upon the ramparts high
  16. sad-eyed they stood, and shuddered as they saw
  17. the hero-faces thrust aloft; too well
  18. their loyal grief the blood-stained features knew.
  1. On restless pinions to the trembling town
  2. had voiceful Rumor hied, and to the ears
  3. of that lone mother of Euryalus
  4. relentless flown. Through all her feeble frame
  5. the chilling sorrow sped. From both her hands
  6. dropped web and shuttle; she flew shrieking forth,
  7. ill-fated mother! and with tresses torn,
  8. to the wide ramparts and the battle-line
  9. ran frantic, heeding naught of men-at-arms,
  10. nor peril nor the rain of falling spears;
  11. and thus with loud and lamentable cry
  12. filled all the air: “Is it in yonder guise,
  13. Euryalus, thou comest? Art thou he,
  14. last comfort of my life? O cruel one!
  15. Couldst thou desert me? When they thrust thee forth
  16. to death and danger, did they dare refuse
  17. a wretched mother's last embrace? But now —
  18. O woe is me!—upon this alien shore
  19. thou liest for a feast to Latin dogs
  20. and carrion birds. Nor did thy mother lead
  21. the mourners to thy grave, nor shut those eyes,
  22. nor wash the dreadful wounds, nor cover thee
  23. with the fair shroud, which many a night and day
  24. I swiftly wove, and at my web and loom
  25. forgot my years and sorrows. Whither now
  26. to seek and follow thee? What spot of earth
  27. holds the torn body and the mangled limbs?
  28. Is all the gift thou bringest home, dear child,
  29. this? O, was this the prize for which I came
  30. o'er land and sea? O, stab me very deep,
  31. if ye have any pity; hurl on me
  32. your every spear, Rutulians; make of me
  33. your swords' first work. Or, Father of the gods!
  34. Show mercy, thou! and with thy lightning touch
  35. this head accurst, and let it fall by thee
  36. down to the dark. For else what power is mine
  37. my tortured life to end?” Her agony
  38. smote on their listening souls; a wail of woe
  39. along the concourse ran. Stern men-at-arms
  40. felt valor for a moment sleep, and all
  41. their rage of battle fail. But while she stirred
  42. the passion of her grief, Ilioneus
  43. and young Iulus, weeping filial tears,
  44. bade Actor and Idaeus, lifting her
  45. in both their reverent arms, to bear her home.
  1. But now the brazen trumpet's fearsome song
  2. blares loud, and startled shouts of soldiery
  3. spread through the roaring sky. The Volscian band
  4. press to the siege, and, locking shield with shield,
  5. fill the great trenches, tear the palisades,
  6. or seek approach by ladders up the walls,
  7. where'er the line of the defenders thins, and light
  8. through their black circle shines. The Trojans pour
  9. promiscuous missiles down, and push out hard
  10. with heavy poles—so well have they been schooled
  11. to fight against long sieges. They fling down
  12. a crushing weight of rocks, in hope to break
  13. th' assailing line, where roofed in serried shields
  14. the foe each charge repels. But not for long
  15. the siegers stand; along their dense array
  16. the crafty Teucrians down the rampart roll
  17. a boulder like a hill-top, laying low
  18. the Rutule troop and crashing through their shields.
  19. Nor may the bold Rutulian longer hope
  20. to keep in cover, but essays to storm
  21. only with far-flung shafts the bastion strong.
  22. Here grim Mezentius, terrible to see,
  23. waved an Etrurian pine, and made his war
  24. with smoking firebrands; there, in equal rage,
  25. Messapus, the steed-tamer, Neptune's son,
  26. ripped down the palisade, and at the breach
  27. strung a steep path of ladders up the wall.
  1. Aid, O Calliope, the martial song!
  2. Tell me what carnage and how many deaths
  3. the sword of Turnus wrought: what peer in arms
  4. each hero to the world of ghosts sent down.
  5. Unroll the war's great book before these eyes.
  1. A tower was there, well-placed and looming large,
  2. with many a lofty bridge, which desperately
  3. th' Italians strove to storm, and strangely plied
  4. besieging enginery to cast it down:
  5. the Trojans hurled back stones, or, standing close,
  6. flung through the loopholes a swift shower of spears.
  7. But Turnus launched a firebrand, and pierced
  8. the wooden wall with flame, which in the wind
  9. leaped larger, and devoured from floor to floor,
  10. burning each beam away. The trembling guards
  11. sought flight in vain; and while they crowded close
  12. into the side unkindled yet, the tower
  13. bowed its whole weight and fell, with sudden crash
  14. that thundered through the sky. Along the ground
  15. half dead the warriors fell (the crushing mass
  16. piled over them) by their own pointed spears
  17. pierced to the heart, or wounded mortally
  18. by cruel splinters of the wreck. Two men,
  19. Helenor one, and Lyeus at his side,
  20. alone get free. Helenor of the twain
  21. was a mere youth; the slave Lycymnia
  22. bore him in secret to the Lydian King,
  23. and, arming him by stealth, had sent away
  24. to serve the Trojan cause. One naked sword
  25. for arms had he, and on his virgin shield
  26. no blazon of renown; but when he saw
  27. the hosts of Turnus front him, and the lines
  28. this way and that of Latins closing round, —
  29. as a fierce, forest-creature, brought to bay
  30. in circling pack of huntsmen, shows its teeth
  31. against the naked spears, and scorning death
  32. leaps upward on the javelins,—even so,
  33. not loth to die, the youthful soldier flew
  34. straight at the centre of his foes, and where
  35. the shining swords looked thickest, there he sprung.
  36. But Lyeus, swifter-footed, forced his way
  37. past the opposing spears and made escape
  38. far as the ciity-wall, where he would fain
  39. clutch at the coping and climb up to clasp
  40. some friend above: but Turnus, spear in hand,
  41. had hotly followed, and exulting loud
  42. thus taunted him, “Hadst thou the hope, rash fool,
  43. beyond this grasp to fly?” So, as he clung,
  44. he tore him down; and with him broke and fell
  45. a huge piece of the wall: not otherwise
  46. a frail hare, or a swan of snow-white wing,
  47. is clutched in eagle-talons, when the bird
  48. of Jove soars skyward with his prey; or tender lamb
  49. from bleating mother and the broken fold
  50. is stolen by the wolf of Mars. Wild shouts
  51. on every side resound. In closer siege
  52. the foe press on, and heap the trenches full,
  53. or hurl hot-flaming torches at the towers.
  54. Ilioneus with mountain-mass of stone
  55. struck down Lucetius, as he crept with fire
  56. too near the city-gate. Emathion fell
  57. by Liger's hand, and Corynteus' death
  58. Asilas dealt: one threw the javelin well;
  59. th' insidious arrow was Asilas' skill.
  60. Ortygius was slain by Caeneus, then
  61. victorious Geneus fell by Turnus' ire.
  62. Then smote he Dioxippus, and laid low
  63. Itys and Promolus and Sagaris
  64. and Clonius, and from the lofty tower
  65. shot Idas down. The shaft of Capys pierced
  66. Privernus, whom Themilla's javelin
  67. but now had lightly grazed, and he, too bold,
  68. casting his shield far from him, had outspread
  69. his left hand on the wound: then sudden flew
  70. the feathered arrow, and the hand lay pinned
  71. against his left side, while the fatal barb
  72. was buried in his breathing life. The son
  73. of Arcens now stood forth in glittering arms.
  74. His broidered cloak was red Iberian stain,
  75. and beautiful was he. Arcens his sire
  76. had sent him to the war; but he was bred
  77. in a Sicilian forest by a stream
  78. to his nymph-mother dear, where rose the shrine
  79. of merciful Palicus, blest and fair.
  80. But, lo! Mezentius his spear laid by,
  81. and whirled three times about his head the thong
  82. of his loud sling: the leaden bullet clove
  83. the youth's mid-forehead, and his towering form
  84. fell prostrate its full length along the ground.
  1. 'T was then Ascanius first shot forth in war
  2. the arrow swift from which all creatures wild
  3. were wont to fly in fear: and he struck down
  4. with artful aim Numanus, sturdy foe,
  5. called Remulus, who lately was espoused
  6. to Turnus' younger sister. He had stalked
  7. before the van, and made vociferous noise
  8. of truths and falsehoods foul and base, his heart
  9. puffed up with new-found greatness. Up and down
  10. he strode, and swelled his folly with loud words:
  11. “No shame have ye this second time to stay
  12. cooped close within a rampart's craven siege,
  13. O Phrygians twice-vanquished? Is a wall
  14. your sole defence from death? Are such the men
  15. who ask our maids in marriage? Say what god,
  16. what doting madness, rather, drove ye here
  17. to Italy? This way ye will not find
  18. the sons of Atreus nor the trickster tongue
  19. of voluble Ulysses. Sturdy stock
  20. are we; our softest new-born babes we dip
  21. in chilling rivers, till they bear right well
  22. the current's bitter cold. Our slender lads
  23. hunt night and day and rove the woods at large,
  24. or for their merriment break stubborn steeds,
  25. or bend the horn-tipped bow. Our manly prime
  26. in willing labor lives, and is inured
  27. to poverty and scantness; we subdue
  28. our lands with rake and mattock, or in war
  29. bid strong-walled cities tremble. Our whole life
  30. is spent in use of iron; and we goad
  31. the flanks of bullocks with a javelin's end.
  32. Nor doth old age, arriving late, impair
  33. our brawny vigor, nor corrupt the soul
  34. to frail decay. But over silvered brows
  35. we bind the helmet. Our unfailing joy
  36. is rapine, and to pile the plunder high.
  37. But ye! your gowns-are saffron needlework
  38. or Tyrian purple; ye love shameful ease,
  39. or dancing revelry. Your tunics fiow
  40. long-sleeved, and ye have soft caps ribbon-bound.
  41. Aye, Phrygian girls are ye, not Phrygian men!
  42. Hence to your hill of Dindymus! Go hear
  43. the twy-mouthed piping ye have loved so long.
  44. The timbrel, hark! the Berecynthian flute
  45. calls you away, and Ida's goddess calls.
  46. Leave arms to men, true men! and quit the sword!”
  1. Of such loud insolence and words of shame
  2. Ascanius brooked no more, but laid a shaft
  3. athwart his bowstring, and with arms stretched wide
  4. took aim, first offering suppliant vow to Jove:
  5. “Almighty Jupiter, thy favor show
  6. to my bold deed! So to thy shrine I bear
  7. gifts year by year, and to thine altars lead
  8. a bull with gilded brows, snow-white, and tall
  9. as his own dam, what time his youth begins
  10. to lower his horns and fling the sand in air.”
  11. The Father heard, and from a cloudless sky
  12. thundered to leftward, while the deadly bow
  13. resounded and the arrow's fearful song
  14. hissed from the string; it struck unswervingly
  15. the head of Remulus and clove its way
  16. deep in the hollows of his brow. “Begone!
  17. Proud mocker at the brave! Lo, this reply
  18. twice-vanquished Phrygians to Rutulia send.”
  19. Ascanius said no more. The Teucrians
  20. with deep-voiced shout of joy applaud, and lift
  21. their exultation starward. Then from heaven
  22. the flowing-haired Apollo bent his gaze
  23. upon Ausonia's host, and cloud-enthroned
  24. looked downward o'er the city, speaking thus
  25. to fair Iulus in his victory:
  26. “Hail to thy maiden prowess, boy! This way
  27. the starward path to dwelling-place divine.
  28. O sired of gods and sire of gods to come,
  29. all future storms of war by Fate ordained
  30. shall into peace and lawful calm subside
  31. beneath the offspring of Assaracus.
  32. No Trojan destinies thy glory bound.”
  33. So saying, from his far, ethereal seat
  34. he hied him down, and, cleaving the quick winds
  35. drew near Ascanius. He wore the guise
  36. of aged Butes, who erewhile had borne
  37. Anchises, armor and kept trusty guard
  38. before his threshold, but attended now
  39. Ascanius, by commandment of his sire.
  40. Clad in this graybeard's every aspect, moved
  41. apollo forth,—his very voice and hue,
  42. his hoary locks and grimly sounding shield, —
  43. and to the flushed Iulus spoke this word:
  44. “Child of Aeneas, be content that now
  45. Numanus unavenged thine arrows feels.
  46. Such dawn of glory great Apollo's will
  47. concedes, nor envies thee the fatal shaft
  48. so like his own. But, tender youth, refrain
  49. hereafter from this war!” So said divine
  50. Apollo, who, while yet he spoke, put by
  51. his mortal aspect, and before their eyes
  52. melted to viewless air. The Teucrians knew
  53. the vocal god with armament divine
  54. of arrows; for his rattling quiver smote
  55. their senses as he fled. Obedient
  56. to Phoebus' voice they held back from the fray
  57. Iulus' fury, and their eager souls
  58. faced the fresh fight and danger's darkest frown.
  59. From tower to tower along the bastioned wall
  60. their war-cry flew: they bend with busy hand
  61. the cruel bow, or swing the whirling thong
  62. of javelins. The earth on every side
  63. is strewn with spent shafts, the reverberant shield
  64. and hollow helmet ring with blows; the fight
  65. more fiercely swells; not less the bursting storm
  66. from watery Kid-stars in the western sky
  67. lashes the plain, or multitudinous hail
  68. beats upon shallow seas, when angry Jove
  69. flings forth tempestuous and-boundless rain,
  70. and splits the bellied clouds in darkened air.