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in panic, and Messapus terrified
his trembling horses reined; the sacred stream
of Father Tiber, harshly murmuring,
held back his flood and checked his seaward way.
But Turnus' courage failed not; he alone
his followers roused, and with reproachful words
alone spoke forth: “These signs and prodigies
threaten the Trojan only. Jove himself
has stripped them of their wonted strength: no more
can they abide our deadly sword and fire.
The Trojan path to sea is shut. What hope
of flight is left them now? The half their cause
is fallen. The possession of this land
is ours already; thousands of sharp swords
Italia's nations bring. Small fear have I
of Phrygia's boasted omens. What to me
their oracles from heaven? The will of Fate
and Venus have achieved their uttermost
in casting on Ausonia's fruitful shore
yon sons of Troy. I too have destinies:
and mine, good match for theirs, with this true blade
will spill the blood of all the baneful brood,
in vengeance for my stolen wife. Such wrongs
move not on Atreus' sons alone, nor rouse
only Mycenae to a righteous war.
Say you, ‘Troy falls but once?’ One crime, say I,
should have contented them; and now their souls
should little less than loathe all womankind.
These are the sort of soldiers that be brave
behind entrenchment, where the moated walls
may stem the foe and make a little room
betwixt themselves and death. Did they not see
how Troy's vast bulwark built by Neptune's hand
crumbled in flame? Forward, my chosen brave!
Who follows me to cleave his deadly way
through yonder battlement, and leap like storm
upon its craven guard? I have no need
of arms from Vulcan's smithy; nor of ships
a thousand strong against our Teucrian foes,
though all Etruria's league enlarge their power.
Let them not fear dark nights, nor coward theft
of Pallas' shrine, nor murdered sentinels
on their acropolis. We shall not hide
in blinding belly of a horse. But I
in public eye and open day intend
to compass their weak wall with siege and fire.
I'll prove them we be no Pelasgic band,
no Danaan warriors, such as Hector's arm
ten years withstood. But look! this day hath spent
its better part. In what remains, rejoice
in noble deeds well done; let weary flesh
have rest and food. My warriors, husband well
your strength against to-morrow's hopeful war.”
Meanwhile to block their gates with wakeful guard
is made Messapus' work, and to gird round
their camp with watchfires. Then a chosen band,
twice seven Rutulian chieftains, man the walls
with soldiery; each leads a hundred men
crested with crimson, armed with glittering gold.
Some post to separate sentries, and prepare
alternate vigil; others, couched on grass,
laugh round the wine and lift the brazen bowls.
The camp-fires cheerly burn; the jovial guard
spend the long, sleepless night in sport and game.
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