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Alecto on her Stygian pinions sped
to where the Teucrians lay. She scanned the ground
with eager guile, where by the river's marge
fair-browed Iulus with his nets and snares
rode fiercely to the chase. Then o'er his hounds
that hell-born virgin breathed a sudden rage,
and filled each cunning nostril with the scent
of stags, till forth in wild pursuit they flew.
Here all the woe began, and here awoke
in rustic souls the swift-enkindling war.
For a fair stag, tall-antlered, stolen away
even from its mother's milk, had long been kept
by Tyrrhus and his sons—the shepherd he
of all the royal flocks, and forester
of a wide region round. With fondest care
their sister Silvia entwined its horns
with soft, fresh garlands, tamed it to run close,
and combed the creature, or would bring to bathe
at a clear, crystal spring. It knew the hands
of all its gentle masters, and would feed
from their own dish; or wandering through the wood,
come back unguided to their friendly door,
though deep the evening shade. Iulus' dogs
now roused this wanderer in their ravening chase,
as, drifted down-stream far from home it lay,
on a green bank a-cooling. From bent bow
Ascanius, eager for a hunter's praise,
let go his shaft; nor did Alecto fail
his aim to guide: but, whistling through the air,
the light-winged reed pierced deep in flank and side.
Swift to its cover fled the wounded thing,
and crept loud-moaning to its wonted stall,
where, like a blood-stained suppliant, it seemed
to fill that shepherd's house with plaintive prayer.
Then Silvia the sister, smiting oft
on breast and arm, made cry for help, and called
the sturdy rustics forth in gathering throng.
These now (for in the silent forest couched
the cruel Fury) swift to battle flew.
One brandished a charred stake, another swung
a knotted cudgel, as rude anger shapes
its weapon of whate'er the searching eye
first haps to fall on. Tyrrhus roused his clans,
just when by chance he split with blows of wedge
an oak in four; and, panting giant breath,
shouldered his woodman's axe.
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