This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
have joyful hope enkindled in each heart
to pass the laggard Gyas. In the lead
Sergestus' ship shoots forth; and to the rock
runs boldly nigh; but not his whole long keel
may pass his rival; the projecting beak
is followed fast by Pristis' emulous prow.
Then, striding straight amidships through his crew,
thus Mnestheus urged them on: “O Hector's friends!
Whom in the dying hours of Troy I chose
for followers! Now stand ye to your best!
Put forth the thews of valor that ye showed
in the Gaetulian Syrtes, or that sea
Ionian, or where the waves race by
the Malean promontory! Mnestheus now
hopes not to be the first, nor do I strive
for victory. O Father Neptune, give
that garland where thou wilt! But O, the shame
if we are last! Endure it not, my men!
The infamy refuse!” So, bending low,
they enter the home-stretch. Beneath their stroke
the brass-decked galley throbs, and under her
the sea-floor drops away. On, on they fly!
Parched are the panting lips, and sweat in streams
pours down their giant sides; but lucky chance
brought the proud heroes what their honor craved.
For while Sergestus furiously drove
his ship's beak toward the rock, and kept inside
the scanty passage, by his evil star
he grounded on the jutting reef; the cliffs
rang with the blow, and his entangled oars
grated along the jagged granite, while
the prow hung wrecked and helpless. With loud cry
upsprang the sailors, while the ship stood still,
and pushed off with long poles and pointed iron,
or snatched the smashed oars from the whirling tide.
Mnestheus exults; and, roused to keener strife
by happy fortune, with a quicker stroke
of each bright rank of oars, and with the breeze
his prayer implored, skims o'er the obedient wave
and sweeps the level main. Not otherwise
a startled dove, emerging o'er the fields
from secret cavern in the crannied hill
where her safe house and pretty nestlings lie,
soars from her nest, with whirring wings—but soon
through the still sky she takes her path of air
on pinions motionless. So Pristis sped
with Mnestheus, cleaving her last stretch of sea,
by her own impulse wafted. She outstripped
Sergestus first; for he upon the reef
fought with the breakers, desperately shouting
for help, for help in vain, with broken oars
contriving to move on. Then Mnestheus ran
past Gyas, in Chimaera's ponderous hulk,
of pilot now bereft;
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.