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What else the Sibyl said. Straightway they find
A cave profound, of entrance gaping wide,
O'erhung with rock, in gloom of sheltering grove,
Near the dark waters of a lake, whereby
No bird might ever pass with scathless wing,
So dire an exhalation is breathed out
From that dark deep of death to upper air :—
Hence, in the Grecian tongue, Aornos called.
Here first four youthful bulls of swarthy hide
Were led for sacrifice; on each broad brow
The priestess sprinkled wine; 'twixt the two horns
Outplucked the lifted hair, and cast it forth
Upon the holy flames, beginning so
Her offerings; then loudly sued the power
of Hecate, a Queen in heaven and hell.
Some struck with knives, and caught in shallow bowls
The smoking blood. Aeneas' lifted hand
Smote with a sword a sable-fleeced ewe
To Night, the mother of th' Eumenides,
And Earth, her sister dread; next unto thee,
O Proserpine, a curst and barren cow;
Then unto Pluto, Stygian King, he built
An altar dark, and piled upon the flames
The ponderous entrails of the bulls, and poured
Free o'er the burning flesh the goodly oil.
Then lo! at dawn's dim, earliest beam began
Beneath their feet a groaning of the ground :
The wooded hill-tops shook, and, as it seemed,
She-hounds of hell howled viewless through the shade ,
To hail their Queen. “Away, 0 souls profane!
Stand far away!” the priestess shrieked, “nor dare
Unto this grove come near! Aeneas, on!
Begin thy journey! Draw thy sheathed blade!
Now, all thy courage! now, th' unshaken soul!”
She spoke, and burst into the yawning cave
With frenzied step; he follows where she leads,
And strides with feet unfaltering at her side.
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