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Acestes to Entellus at his side
addressed upbraiding words, where they reclined
on grassy bank and couch of pleasant green:
“O my Entellus, in the olden days
bravest among the mighty, but in vain!
Endurest thou to see yon reward won
without a blow? Where, prithee, is that god
who taught thee? Are thy tales of Eryx vain?
Does all Sicilia praise thee? Is thy roof
with trophies hung?” The other in reply:
“My jealous honor and good name yield not
to fear. But age, so cold and slow to move,
makes my blood laggard, and my ebbing powers
in all my body are but slack and chill.
O, if I had what yonder ruffian boasts—
my own proud youth once more! I would not ask
the fair bull for a prize, nor to the lists
in search of gifts come forth.” So saying, he threw
into the mid-arena a vast pair
of ponderous gauntlets, which in former days
fierce Eryx for his fights was wont to bind
on hand and arm, with the stiff raw-hide thong.
All marvelled; for a weight of seven bulls' hides
was pieced with lead and iron. Dares stared
astonished, and step after step recoiled;
high-souled Anchises' son, this way and that,
turned o'er the enormous coil of knots and thongs;
then with a deep-drawn breath the veteran spoke:
“O, that thy wondering eyes had seen the arms
of Hercules, and what his gauntlets were!
Would thou hadst seen the conflict terrible
upon this self-same shore! These arms were borne
by Eryx. Look; thy brother's!—spattered yet
with blood, with dashed-out brains! In these he stood
when he matched Hercules. I wore them oft
when in my pride and prime, ere envious age
shed frost upon my brows. But if these arms
be of our Trojan Dares disapproved,
if good Aeneas rules it so, and King
Acestes wills it, let us offer fight
on even terms. Let Eryx' bull's-hide go.
Tremble no more! But strip those gauntlets off —
fetched here from Troy.”
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