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now stirred the purpose to make sudden way
against the city-wall, in swift advance
of all his line, confounding Latium so
with slaughter and surprise. His roving glance,
seeking for Turnus through the scattered lines
this way and that, beholds in distant view
the city yet unscathed and calmly free
from the wide-raging fight. Then on his soul
rushed the swift vision of a mightier war.
Mnestheus, Sergestus, and Serestus brave,
his chosen chiefs, he summons to his side,
and stands upon a hillock, whither throng
the Teucrian legions, each man holding fast
his shield and spear. He, towering high,
thus from the rampart to his people calls:
“Perform my bidding swiftly: Jove's own hand
sustains our power. Be ye not slack, because
the thing I do is sudden. For this day
I will pluck out th' offending root of war,—
yon city where Latinus reigns. Unless
it bear our yoke and heed a conqueror's will,
will lay low in dust its blazing towers.
Must I wait Turnus' pleasure, till he deign
to meet my stroke, and have a mind once more,
though vanquished, to show fight? My countrymen,
see yonder stronghold of their impious war!
Bring flames; avenge the broken oath with fire!”
Scarce had he said, when with consenting souls,
they speed them to the walls in dense array,
forming a wedge. Ladders now leap in air,
and sudden-blazing fires. In various war
some troops run charging at the city-gates,
and slay the guards; some fling the whirling spear
and darken heaven with arrows. In their van,
his right hand lifted to the wails and towers,
Aeneas, calling on the gods to hear,
loudly upbraids Latinus that once more
conflict is thrust upon him; that once more
Italians are his foes and violate
their second pledge of peace. So blazes forth
dissension 'twixt the frighted citizens:
some would give o'er the city and fling wide
its portals to the Trojan, or drag forth
the King himself to parley; others fly
to arms, and at the rampart make a stand.
'T is thus some shepherd from a caverned crag
stirs up the nested bees with plenteous fume
of bitter smoke; they, posting to and fro,
fly desperate round the waxen citadel,
and whet their buzzing fury; through their halls
the stench and blackness rolls; within the caves
noise and confusion ring; the fatal cloud
pours forth incessant on the vacant air.
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