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of his own mother's myrtle-tree, to shade
his sacred brow; the hero Helymus,
and King Acestes for his tresses gray,
like coronals took on; Ascanius
and all the warrior youth like emblems wore.
Then in th' attendant throng conspicuous,
with thousands at his side, the hero moved
from place of council to his father's tomb.
There on the ground he poured libation due,
two beakers of good wine, of sweet milk two,
two of the victim's blood—and scattered flowers
of saddest purple stain, while thus he prayed:
“Hail, hallowed sire! And hail, ye ashes dear
of him I vainly saved! O soul and shade
of my blest father! Heaven to us denied
to find together that predestined land
of Italy, or our Ausonian stream
of Tiber—ah! but where?” He scarce had said,
when from the central shrine a gliding snake,
coiled seven-fold in seven spirals wide,
twined round the tomb and trailed innocuous o'er
the very altars; his smooth back was flecked
with green and azure, and his changeful scales
gleamed golden, as the cloud-born rainbow flings
its thousand colors from th' opposing sun.
Aeneas breathless watched the serpent wind
among the bowls and cups of polished rim,
tasting the sacred feast; where, having fed,
back to the tomb all harmless it withdrew.
Then with new zeal his sacrifice he brings
in honor of his sire; for he must deem
that serpent the kind genius of the place,
or of his very father's present shade
some creature ministrant. Two lambs he slew,
the wonted way, two swine, and, sable-hued,
the yoke of bulls; from shallow bowl he poured
libation of the grape, and called aloud
on great Anchises' spirit, and his shade,
from Acheron set free. Then all the throng,
each from his separate store, heap up the shrines
with victims slain; some range in order fair
the brazen cauldrons; or along the grass,
scattered at ease, hold o'er the embers bright
the spitted flesh and roast it in the flames.
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