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The Tenth Book of the Aeneis Part 3
>> Virgil <<
With wind in poop, the vessel plows the sea,
And measures back with speed her former way.
Meantime AEneas seeks his absent foe,
And sends his slaughter'd troops to shades below.
The guileful phantom now forsook the shroud,
And flew sublime, and vanish'd in a cloud.
Too late young Turnus the delusion found,
Far on the sea, still making from the ground.
Then, thankless for a life redeem'd by shame,
With sense of honor stung, and forfeit fame,
Fearful besides of what in fight had pass'd,
His hands and haggard eyes to heav'n he cast;
'O Jove!' he cried, 'for what offense have I
Deserv'd to bear this endless infamy?
Whence am I forc'd, and whether am I borne?
How, and with what reproach, shall I return?
Shall ever I behold the Latian plain,
Or see Laurentum's lofty tow'rs again?
What will they say of their deserting chief?
The war was mine: I fly from their relief;
I led to slaughter, and in slaughter leave;
And ev'n from hence their dying groans receive.
Here, overmatch'd in fight, in heaps they lie;
There, scatter'd o'er the fields, ignobly fly.
Gape wide, O earth, and draw me down alive!
Or, O ye pitying winds, a wretch relieve!
On sands or shelves the splitting vessel drive;
Or set me shipwrack'd on some desart shore,
Where no Rutulian eyes may see me more,
Unknown to friends, or foes, or conscious Fame,
Lest she should follow, and my flight proclaim.'
Thus Turnus rav'd, and various fates revolv'd:
The choice was doubtful, but the death resolv'd.
And now the sword, and now the sea took place,
That to revenge, and this to purge disgrace.
Sometimes he thought to swim the stormy main,
By stretch of arms the distant shore to gain.
Thrice he the sword assay'd, and thrice the flood;
But Juno, mov'd with pity, both withstood.
And thrice repress'd his rage; strong gales supplied,
And push'd the vessel o'er the swelling tide.
At length she lands him on his native shores,
And to his father's longing arms restores.
Meantime, by Jove's impulse, Mezentius arm'd,
Succeeding Turnus, with his ardor warm'd
His fainting friends, reproach'd their shameful flight,
Repell'd the victors, and renew'd the fight.
Against their king the Tuscan troops conspire;
Such is their hate, and such their fierce desire
Of wish'd revenge: on him, and him alone,
All hands employ'd, and all their darts are thrown.
He, like a solid rock by seas inclos'd,
To raging winds and roaring waves oppos'd,
From his proud summit looking down, disdains
Their empty menace, and unmov'd remains.
Beneath his feet fell haughty Hebrus dead,
Then Latagus, and Palmus as he fled.
At Latagus a weighty stone he flung:
His face was flatted, and his helmet rung.
But Palmus from behind receives his wound;
Hamstring'd he falls, and grovels on the ground:
His crest and armor, from his body torn,
Thy shoulders, Lausus, and thy head adorn.
Evas and Mimas, both of Troy, he slew.
Mimas his birth from fair Theano drew,
Born on that fatal night, when, big with fire,
The queen produc'd young Paris to his sire:
But Paris in the Phrygian fields was slain,
Unthinking Mimas on the Latian plain.
And, as a savage boar, on mountains bred,
With forest mast and fatt'ning marshes fed,
When once he sees himself in toils inclos'd,
By huntsmen and their eager hounds appos'd--
He whets his tusks, and turns, and dares the war;
Th' invaders dart their jav'lins from afar:
All keep aloof, and safely shout around;
But none presumes to give a nearer wound:
He frets and froths, erects his bristled hide,
And shakes a grove of lances from his side:
Not otherwise the troops, with hate inspir'd,
And just revenge against the tyrant fir'd,
Their darts with clamor at a distance drive,
And only keep the languish'd war alive.
From Coritus came Acron to the fight,
Who left his spouse betroth'd, and unconsummate night.
Mezentius sees him thro' the squadrons ride,
Proud of the purple favors of his bride.
Then, as a hungry lion, who beholds
A gamesome goat, who frisks about the folds,
Or beamy stag, that grazes on the plain--
He runs, he roars, he shakes his rising mane,
He grins, and opens wide his greedy jaws;
The prey lies panting underneath his paws:
He fills his famish'd maw; his mouth runs o'er
With unchew'd morsels, while he churns the gore:
So proud Mezentius rushes on his foes,
And first unhappy Acron overthrows:
Stretch'd at his length, he spurns the swarthy ground;
The lance, besmear'd with blood, lies broken in the wound.
Then with disdain the haughty victor view'd
Orodes flying, nor the wretch pursued,
Nor thought the dastard's back deserv'd a wound,
But, running, gain'd th' advantage of the ground:
Then turning short, he met him face to face,
To give his victory the better grace.
Orodes falls, in equal fight oppress'd:
Mezentius fix'd his foot upon his breast,
And rested lance; and thus aloud he cries:
'Lo! here the champion of my rebels lies!'
The fields around with Io Paean! ring;
And peals of shouts applaud the conqu'ring king.
At this the vanquish'd, with his dying breath,
Thus faintly spoke, and prophesied in death:
'Nor thou, proud man, unpunish'd shalt remain:
Like death attends thee on this fatal plain.'
Then, sourly smiling, thus the king replied:
'For what belongs to me, let Jove provide;
But die thou first, whatever chance ensue.'
He said, and from the wound the weapon drew.
A hov'ring mist came swimming o'er his sight,
And seal'd his eyes in everlasting night.
By Caedicus, Alcathous was slain;
Sacrator laid Hydaspes on the plain;
Orses the strong to greater strength must yield;
He, with Parthenius, were by Rapo kill'd.
Then brave Messapus Ericetes slew,
Who from Lycaon's blood his lineage drew.
But from his headstrong horse his fate he found,
Who threw his master, as he made a bound:
The chief, alighting, stuck him to the ground;
Then Clonius, hand to hand, on foot assails:
The Trojan sinks, and Neptune's son prevails.
Agis the Lycian, stepping forth with pride,
To single fight the boldest foe defied;
Whom Tuscan Valerus by force o'ercame,
And not belied his mighty father's fame.
Salius to death the great Antronius sent:
But the same fate the victor underwent,
Slain by Nealces' hand, well-skill'd to throw
The flying dart, and draw the far-deceiving bow.
Thus equal deaths are dealt with equal chance;
By turns they quit their ground, by turns advance:
Victors and vanquish'd, in the various field,
Nor wholly overcome, nor wholly yield.
The gods from heav'n survey the fatal strife,
And mourn the miseries of human life.
Above the rest, two goddesses appear
Concern'd for each: here Venus, Juno there.
Amidst the crowd, infernal Ate shakes
Her scourge aloft, and crest of hissing snakes.
Once more the proud Mezentius, with disdain,
Brandish'd his spear, and rush'd into the plain,
Where tow'ring in the midmost rank she stood,
Like tall Orion stalking o'er the flood.
(When with his brawny breast he cuts the waves,
His shoulders scarce the topmost billow laves),
Or like a mountain ash, whose roots are spread,
Deep fix'd in earth; in clouds he hides his head.
The Trojan prince beheld him from afar,
And dauntless undertook the doubtful war.
Collected in his strength, and like a rock,
Pois'd on his base, Mezentius stood the shock.
He stood, and, measuring first with careful eyes
The space his spear could reach, aloud he cries:
'My strong right hand, and sword, assist my stroke!
(Those only gods Mezentius will invoke.)
His armor, from the Trojan pirate torn,
By my triumphant Lausus shall be worn.'
He said; and with his utmost force he threw
The massy spear, which, hissing as it flew,
Reach'd the celestial shield, that stopp'd the course;
But, glancing thence, the yet unbroken force
Took a new bent obliquely, and betwixt
The side and bowels fam'd Anthores fix'd.
Anthores had from Argos travel'd far,
Alcides' friend, and brother of the war;
Till, tir'd with toils, fair Italy he chose,
And in Evander's palace sought repose.
Now, falling by another's wound, his eyes
He cast to heav'n, on Argos thinks, and dies.
The pious Trojan then his jav'lin sent;
The shield gave way; thro' treble plates it went
Of solid brass, of linen trebly roll'd,
And three bull hides which round the buckler fold.
All these it pass'd, resistless in the course,
Transpierc'd his thigh, and spent its dying force.
The gaping wound gush'd out a crimson flood.
The Trojan, glad with sight of hostile blood,
His faunchion drew, to closer fight address'd,
And with new force his fainting foe oppress'd.
His father's peril Lausus view'd with grief;
He sigh'd, he wept, he ran to his relief.
And here, heroic youth, 't is here I must
To thy immortal memory be just,
And sing an act so noble and so new,
Posterity will scarce believe 't is true.
Pain'd with his wound, and useless for the fight,
The father sought to save himself by flight:
Incumber'd, slow he dragg'd the spear along,
Which pierc'd his thigh, and in his buckler hung.
The pious youth, resolv'd on death, below
The lifted sword springs forth to face the foe;
Protects his parent, and prevents the blow.
Shouts of applause ran ringing thro' the field,
To see the son the vanquish'd father shield.
All, fir'd with gen'rous indignation, strive,
And with a storm of darts to distance drive
The Trojan chief, who, held at bay from far,
On his Vulcanian orb sustain'd the war.
As, when thick hail comes rattling in the wind,
The plowman, passenger, and lab'ring hind
For shelter to the neighb'ring covert fly,
Or hous'd, or safe in hollow caverns lie;
But, that o'erblown, when heav'n above 'em smiles,
Return to travel, and renew their toils:
AEneas thus, o'erwhelmed on ev'ry side,
The storm of darts, undaunted, did abide;
And thus to Lausus loud with friendly threat'ning cried:
'Why wilt thou rush to certain death, and rage
In rash attempts, beyond thy tender age,
Betray'd by pious love?' Nor, thus forborne,
The youth desists, but with insulting scorn
Provokes the ling'ring prince, whose patience, tir'd,
Gave place; and all his breast with fury fir'd.
For now the Fates prepar'd their sharpen'd shears;
And lifted high the flaming sword appears,
Which, full descending with a frightful sway,
Thro' shield and corslet forc'd th' impetuous way,
And buried deep in his fair bosom lay.
The purple streams thro' the thin armor strove,
And drench'd th' imbroider'd coat his mother wove;
And life at length forsook his heaving heart,
Loth from so sweet a mansion to depart.
But when, with blood and paleness all o'erspread,
The pious prince beheld young Lausus dead,
He griev'd; he wept; the sight an image brought
Of his own filial love, a sadly pleasing thought:
Then stretch'd his hand to hold him up, and said:
'Poor hapless youth! what praises can be paid
To love so great, to such transcendent store
Of early worth, and sure presage of more?
Accept whate'er AEneas can afford;
Untouch'd thy arms, untaken be thy sword;
And all that pleas'd thee living, still remain
Inviolate, and sacred to the slain.
Thy body on thy parents I bestow,
To rest thy soul, at least, if shadows know,
Or have a sense of human things below.
There to thy fellow ghosts with glory tell:
'T was by the great AEneas' hand I fell.'
With this, his distant friends he beckons near,
Provokes their duty, and prevents their fear:
Himself assists to lift him from the ground,
With clotted locks, and blood that well'd from out the wound.
Meantime, his father, now no father, stood,
And wash'd his wounds by Tiber's yellow flood:
Oppress'd with anguish, panting, and o'erspent,
His fainting limbs against an oak he leant.
A bough his brazen helmet did sustain;
His heavier arms lay scatter'd on the plain:
A chosen train of youth around him stand;
His drooping head was rested on his hand:
His grisly beard his pensive bosom sought;
And all on Lausus ran his restless thought.
Careful, concern'd his danger to prevent,
He much enquir'd, and many a message sent
To warn him from the field--alas! in vain!
Behold, his mournful followers bear him slain!
O'er his broad shield still gush'd the yawning wound,
And drew a bloody trail along the ground.
Far off he heard their cries, far off divin'd
The dire event, with a foreboding mind.
With dust he sprinkled first his hoary head;
Then both his lifted hands to heav'n he spread;
Last, the dear corpse embracing, thus he said:
'What joys, alas! could this frail being give,
That I have been so covetous to live?
To see my son, and such a son, resign
His life, a ransom for preserving mine!
And am I then preserv'd, and art thou lost?
How much too dear has that redemption cost!
'T is now my bitter banishment I feel:
This is a wound too deep for time to heal.
My guilt thy growing virtues did defame;
My blackness blotted thy unblemish'd name.
Chas'd from a throne, abandon'd, and exil'd
For foul misdeeds, were punishments too mild:
I ow'd my people these, and, from their hate,
With less resentment could have borne my fate.
And yet I live, and yet sustain the sight
Of hated men, and of more hated light:
But will not long.' With that he rais'd from ground
His fainting limbs, that stagger'd with his wound;
Yet, with a mind resolv'd, and unappall'd
With pains or perils, for his courser call'd;
Well-mouth'd, well-manag'd, whom himself did dress
With daily care, and mounted with success;
His aid in arms, his ornament in peace.
Soothing his courage with a gentle stroke,
The steed seem'd sensible, while thus he spoke:
'O Rhoebus, we have liv'd too long for me--
If life and long were terms that could agree!
This day thou either shalt bring back the head
And bloody trophies of the Trojan dead;
This day thou either shalt revenge my woe,
For murther'd Lausus, on his cruel foe;
Or, if inexorable fate deny
Our conquest, with thy conquer'd master die:
For, after such a lord, I rest secure,
Thou wilt no foreign reins, or Trojan load endure.'
He said; and straight th' officious courser kneels,
To take his wonted weight. His hands he fills
With pointed jav'lins; on his head he lac'd
His glitt'ring helm, which terribly was grac'd
With waving horsehair, nodding from afar;
Then spurr'd his thund'ring steed amidst the war.
Love, anguish, wrath, and grief, to madness wrought,
Despair, and secret shame, and conscious thought
Of inborn worth, his lab'ring soul oppress'd,
Roll'd in his eyes, and rag'd within his breast.
Then loud he call'd AEneas thrice by name:
The loud repeated voice to glad AEneas came.
'Great Jove,' he said, 'and the far-shooting god,
Inspire thy mind to make thy challenge good!'
He spoke no more; but hasten'd, void of fear,
And threaten'd with his long protended spear.
To whom Mezentius thus: 'Thy vaunts are vain.
My Lausus lies extended on the plain:
He's lost! thy conquest is already won;
The wretched sire is murther'd in the son.
Nor fate I fear, but all the gods defy.
Forbear thy threats: my bus'ness is to die;
But first receive this parting legacy.'
He said; and straight a whirling dart he sent;
Another after, and another went.
Round in a spacious ring he rides the field,
And vainly plies th' impenetrable shield.
Thrice rode he round; and thrice AEneas wheel'd,
Turn'd as he turn'd: the golden orb withstood
The strokes, and bore about an iron wood.
Impatient of delay, and weary grown,
Still to defend, and to defend alone,
To wrench the darts which in his buckler light,
Urg'd and o'er-labor'd in unequal fight;
At length resolv'd, he throws with all his force
Full at the temples of the warrior horse.
Just where the stroke was aim'd, th' unerring spear
Made way, and stood transfix'd thro' either ear.
Seiz'd with unwonted pain, surpris'd with fright,
The wounded steed curvets, and, rais'd upright,
Lights on his feet before; his hoofs behind
Spring up in air aloft, and lash the wind.
Down comes the rider headlong from his height:
His horse came after with unwieldy weight,
And, flound'ring forward, pitching on his head,
His lord's incumber'd shoulder overlaid.
From either host, the mingled shouts and cries
Of Trojans and Rutulians rend the skies.
AEneas, hast'ning, wav'd his fatal sword
High o'er his head, with this reproachful word:
'Now; where are now thy vaunts, the fierce disdain
Of proud Mezentius, and the lofty strain?'
Struggling, and wildly staring on the skies,
With scarce recover'd sight he thus replies:
'Why these insulting words, this waste of breath,
To souls undaunted, and secure of death?
'T is no dishonor for the brave to die,
Nor came I here with hope of victory;
Nor ask I life, nor fought with that design:
As I had us'd my fortune, use thou thine.
My dying son contracted no such band;
The gift is hateful from his murd'rer's hand.
For this, this only favor let me sue,
If pity can to conquer'd foes be due:
Refuse it not; but let my body have
The last retreat of humankind, a grave.
Too well I know th' insulting people's hate;
Protect me from their vengeance after fate:
This refuge for my poor remains provide,
And lay my much-lov'd Lausus by my side.'
He said, and to the sword his throat applied.
The crimson stream distain'd his arms around,
And the disdainful soul came rushing thro' the wound.