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“Now may the Father of the gods on high,
and great Apollo hear! Begin the fray!”
He said, and moved forth with a threatening spear.
The other cried: “Hast robbed me of my son,
and now, implacable, wouldst fright me more?
That way, that only, was it in thy power
to cast me down. No fear of death I feel.
Nor from thy gods themselves would I refrain.
Give o'er! For fated and resolved to die
I come thy way: but; bring thee as I pass
these offerings.” With this he whirled a spear
against his foe, and after it drove deep
another and another, riding swift
in wide gyration round him. But the shield,
the golden boss, broke not. Three times he rode
in leftward circles, hurling spear on spear
against th' unmoved Aeneas: and three times
the Trojan hero in his brazen shield
the sheaf of spears upbore. But such slow fight,
such plucking of spent shafts from out his shield,
the Trojan liked not, vexed and sorely tried
in duel so ill-matched. With wrathful soul
at length he strode forth, and between the brows
of the wild war-horse planted his Iong spear.
Up reared the creature, beating at the air
with quivering feet, then o'er his fallen lord
entangling dropped, and prone above him lay,
pinning with ponderous shoulder to the ground.
The Trojans and the Latins rouse the skies
with clamor Ioud. Aeneas hastening forth
unsheathes his sword, and looming o'er him cries:
“Where now is fierce Mezentius, and his soul's
wild pulse of rage?” The Tuscan in reply
with eyes uprolled, and gasping as he gave
long looks at heaven, recalled his fading mind:
“Why frown at me and fume, O bitterest foe?
Why threaten death? To slay me is no sin.
Not to take quarter came I to this war,
not truce with thee did my lost Lausus crave,
yet this one boon I pray,—if mercy be
for fallen foes: O, suffer me when dead
in covering earth to hide! Full well I know
what curses of my people ring me round.
Defend me from that rage! I pray to be
my son's companion in our common tomb.”
He spoke: then offered with unshrinking eye
his veined throat to the sword. O'er the bright mail
his vital breath gushed forth in streaming gore.
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