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Meanwhile Aeneas, now well launched away,
steered forth with all the fleet to open sea,
on his unswerving course, and ploughed the waves,
sped by a driving gale; but when his eyes
looked back on Carthage, they beheld the glare
of hapless Dido's fire. Not yet was known
what kindled the wild flames; but that the pang
of outraged love is cruel, and what the heart
of desperate woman dares, they knew too well,
and sad foreboding shook each Trojan soul.
Soon in mid-sea, beyond all chart of shore,
when only seas and skies were round their way,
full in the zenith loomed a purple cloud,
storm-laden, dark as night, and every wave
grew black and angry; from his Iofty seat
the helmsman Palinurus cried, “Alas!
What means this host of storms encircling heaven?
What, Neptune, wilt thou now?” He, having said,
bade reef and tighten, bend to stronger stroke,
and slant sail to the wind; then spake again:
“High-souled Aeneas, not if Jove the King
gave happy omen, would I have good hope
of making Italy through yonder sky.
Athwart our course from clouded evening-star
rebellious winds run shifting, and the air
into a cloud-wrack rolls. Against such foes
too weak our strife and strain! Since now the hand
of Fortune triumphs, let us where she calls
obedient go. For near us, I believe,
lies Eryx' faithful and fraternal shore:
here are Sicilian havens, if my mind
of yon familiar stars have knowledge true.”
then good Aeneas: “For a friendly wind
long have I sued, and watched thee vainly strive.
Shift sail! What happier land for me and mine,
or for our storm-beat ships what safer shore,
than where Dardanian Acestes reigns;
the land whose faithful bosom cherishes
Anchises' ashes?” Heedful of his word,
they landward steer, while favoring zephyrs fill
the spreading sail. On currents swift and strong
the fleet is wafted, and with thankful soul
they moor on Sicily's familiar strand.
From a far hill-top having seen with joy
the entering ships, and knowing them for friends,
good King Acestes ran to bid them hail.
Garbed in rough pelt of Libyan bear was he,
and javelins he bore, in sylvan guise:
for him the river-god Crimisus sired
of Trojan wife. Remembering in his heart
his ancient blood, he greeted with glad words
the wanderers returned; bade welcome to
his rude abundance, and with friendly gifts
their weariness consoled. The morrow morn,
soon as the new beams of a golden day
had banished every star, Aeneas called
a council of his followers on the shore,
and from a fair green hillock gave this word:
“Proud sons of Dardanus, whose lofty line
none but the gods began! This day fulfils
the annual cycle of revolving time,
since the dear relics of my god-like sire
to earth we gave, and with dark offerings due
built altars sorrowful. If now I err not,
this is my day—ye gods have willed it so! —
for mourning and for praise. Should it befall
me exiled in Gaetulia's wilderness,
or sailing some Greek sea, or at the walls
of dire Mycenae, still would I renew
unfailing vows, and make solemnity
with thankful rites, and worshipful array,
at altars rich with gifts. But, lo, we come,
beyond all hope, where lie the very bones
of my great sire. Nor did it come to pass
without divine intent and heavenly power,
that on these hospitable shores we stand.
Up, then! For we will make a festal day,
imploring lucky winds! O, may his spirit
grant me to build my city, where his shrines
forever shall receive perpetual vows
made in his name! This prince of Trojan line,
Acestes, upon every ship bestows
a pair of oxen. To our offerings call
the powers that bless the altars and the fires
of our ancestral hearth; and join with these
the gods of good Acestes. Presently,
when the ninth dawn shall bring its beam benign
to mortal men, and show the radiant world,
or all my Teucrian people I ordain
a holiday of games; the flying ships
shall first contend; then swiftest runners try
a foot-race; after that the champions bold
who step forth for a cast of javelins,
or boast the soaring arrow; or fear not
the boxing-bout, with gauntlet of thick thongs.
This summons is for all; let all have hope
to earn some noble palm! And from this hour
speak but well-boding words, and bind your brows
with garlands green.” So saying, he twined a wreath
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.
Arrived the wished-for day; through cloudless sky
the coursers of the Sun's bright-beaming car
bore upward the ninth morn. The neighboring folk
thronged eager to the shore; some hoped to see
Aeneas and his warriors, others fain
would their own prowess prove in bout and game.
Conspicuous lie the rewards, ranged in sight
in the mid-circus; wreaths of laurel green,
the honored tripod, coronals of palm
for conquerors' brows, accoutrements of war,
rare robes of purple stain, and generous weight
of silver and of gold. The trumpet's call
proclaimed from lofty mound the opening games.
First, side by side, with sturdy, rival oars,
four noble galleys, pride of all the fleet,
come forward to contend. The straining crew
of Mnestheus bring his speedy Pristis on, —
Mnestheus in Italy erelong the sire
of Memmius' noble line. Brave Gyas guides
his vast Chimaera, a colossal craft,
a floating city, by a triple row
of Dardan sailors manned, whose banks of oars
in triple order rise. Sergestus, he
of whom the Sergian house shall after spring,
rides in his mighty Centaur. Next in line,
on sky-blue Scylla proud Cloanthus rides —
whence thy great stem, Cluentius of Rome!
Fronting the surf-beat shore, far out at sea
rises a rock, which under swollen waves
lies buffeted unseen, when wintry storms
mantle the stars; but when the deep is calm,
lifts silently above the sleeping wave
its level field,—a place where haunt and play
flocks of the sea-birds, Iovers of the sun.
Here was the goal; and here Aeneas set
a green-leaved flex-tree, to be a mark
for every captain's eye, from whence to veer
the courses of their ships in sweeping curves
and speed them home. Now places in the line
are given by lot. Upon the lofty sterns
the captains ride, in beautiful array
of Tyriao purple and far-flaming gold;
the crews are poplar-crowned, the shoulders bare
rubbed well with glittering oil; their straining arms
make long reach to the oar, as on the thwarts
they sit attentive, listening for the call
of the loud trumpet; while with pride and fear
their hot hearts throb, impassioned for renown.
Soon pealed the signal clear; from all the line
instant the galleys bounded, and the air
rang to the rowers, shouting, while their arms
pulled every inch and flung the waves in foam;
deep cut the rival strokes; the surface fair
yawned wide beneath their blades and cleaving keels.
Not swifter scour the chariots o'er the plain,
sped headlong from the line behind their teams
of mated coursers, while each driver shakes
loose, rippling reins above his plunging pairs,
and o'er the lash leans far. With loud applause
vociferous and many an urgent cheer
the woodlands rang, and all the concave shores
back from the mountains took the Trojan cry
in answering song. Forth-flying from his peers,
while all the crowd acclaims, sped Gyas' keel
along the outmost wave. Cloanthus next
pushed hard upon, with stronger stroke of oars
but heavier ship. At equal pace behind
the Pristis and the Centaur fiercely strive
for the third place. Now Pristis seems to lead,
now mightier Centaur past her flies, then both
ride on together, prow with prow, and cleave
long lines of foaming furrow with swift keels.
Soon near the rock they drew, and either ship
was making goal,—when Gyas, in the lead,
and winner of the half-course, Ioudly hailed
menoetes, the ship's pilot: “Why so far
to starboard, we? Keep her head round this way!
Hug shore! Let every oar-blade almost graze
that reef to larboard! Let the others take
the deep-sea course outside!” But while he spoke,
Menoetes, dreading unknown rocks below,
veered off to open sea. “Why steer so wide?
Round to the rock, Menoetes!” Gyas roared, —
again in vain, for looking back he saw
cloanthus hard astern, and ever nearer,
who, in a trice, betwixt the booming reef
and Gyas' galley, lightly forward thrust
the beak of Scylla to the inside course,
and, quickly taking lead, flew past the goal
to the smooth seas beyond. Then wrathful grief
flamed in the warrior's heart, nor was his cheek
unwet with tears; and, reckless utterly
of his own honor and his comrades, lives,
he hurled poor, slack Menoetes from the poop
headlong upon the waters, while himself,
pilot and master both, the helm assuming,
urged on his crew, and landward took his way.
But now, with heavy limbs that hardly won
his rescue from the deep, engulfing wave,
up the rude rock graybeard Menoetes climbed
with garment dripping wet, and there dropped down
upon the cliff's dry top. With laughter loud
the Trojan crews had watched him plunging, swimming,
and now to see his drink of bitter brine
spewed on the ground, the sailors laughed again.
But Mnestheus and Sergestus, coming last,
have joyful hope enkindled in each heart
to pass the laggard Gyas. In the lead
Sergestus' ship shoots forth; and to the rock
runs boldly nigh; but not his whole long keel
may pass his rival; the projecting beak
is followed fast by Pristis' emulous prow.
Then, striding straight amidships through his crew,
thus Mnestheus urged them on: “O Hector's friends!
Whom in the dying hours of Troy I chose
for followers! Now stand ye to your best!
Put forth the thews of valor that ye showed
in the Gaetulian Syrtes, or that sea
Ionian, or where the waves race by
the Malean promontory! Mnestheus now
hopes not to be the first, nor do I strive
for victory. O Father Neptune, give
that garland where thou wilt! But O, the shame
if we are last! Endure it not, my men!
The infamy refuse!” So, bending low,
they enter the home-stretch. Beneath their stroke
the brass-decked galley throbs, and under her
the sea-floor drops away. On, on they fly!
Parched are the panting lips, and sweat in streams
pours down their giant sides; but lucky chance
brought the proud heroes what their honor craved.
For while Sergestus furiously drove
his ship's beak toward the rock, and kept inside
the scanty passage, by his evil star
he grounded on the jutting reef; the cliffs
rang with the blow, and his entangled oars
grated along the jagged granite, while
the prow hung wrecked and helpless. With loud cry
upsprang the sailors, while the ship stood still,
and pushed off with long poles and pointed iron,
or snatched the smashed oars from the whirling tide.
Mnestheus exults; and, roused to keener strife
by happy fortune, with a quicker stroke
of each bright rank of oars, and with the breeze
his prayer implored, skims o'er the obedient wave
and sweeps the level main. Not otherwise
a startled dove, emerging o'er the fields
from secret cavern in the crannied hill
where her safe house and pretty nestlings lie,
soars from her nest, with whirring wings—but soon
through the still sky she takes her path of air
on pinions motionless. So Pristis sped
with Mnestheus, cleaving her last stretch of sea,
by her own impulse wafted. She outstripped
Sergestus first; for he upon the reef
fought with the breakers, desperately shouting
for help, for help in vain, with broken oars
contriving to move on. Then Mnestheus ran
past Gyas, in Chimaera's ponderous hulk,
of pilot now bereft; at last remains
Cloanthus his sole peer, whom he pursues
with a supreme endeavor. From the shore
burst echoing cheers that spur him to the chase,
and wild applause makes all the welkin ring.
The leaders now with eager souls would scorn
to Iose their glory, and faint-hearted fail
to grasp a prize half-won, but fain would buy
honor with life itself; the followers too
are flushed with proud success, and feel them strong
because their strength is proven. Both ships now
with indistinguishable prows had sped
to share one prize,—but with uplifted hands
spread o'er the sea, Cloanthus, suppliant,
called on the gods to bless his votive prayer:
“Ye gods who rule the waves, whose waters be
my pathway now; for you on yonder strand
a white bull at the altar shall be slain
in grateful tribute for a granted vow;
and o'er the salt waves I will scatter far
the entrails, and outpour the flowing wine.”
He spoke; and from the caverns under sea
Phorcus and virgin Panopea heard,
and all the sea-nymphs' choir; while with strong hand
the kindly God of Havens rose and thrust
the gliding ship along, that swifter flew
than south wind, or an arrow from the string,
and soon made land in haven safe and sure.
Aeneas then, assembling all to hear,
by a far-sounding herald's voice proclaimed
Cloanthus victor, and arrayed his brows
with the green laurel-garland; to the crews
three bulls, at choice, were given, and plenteous wine
and talent-weight of silver; to the chiefs
illustrious gifts beside; the victor had
a gold-embroidered mantle with wide band
of undulant Meliboean purple rare,
where, pictured in the woof, young Ganymede
through Ida's forest chased the light-foot deer
with javelin; all flushed and panting he.
But lo! Jove's thunder-bearing eagle fell,
and his strong talons snatched from Ida far
the royal boy, whose aged servitors
reached helpless hands to heaven; his faithful hound
bayed fiercely at the air. To him whose worth
the second place had won, Aeneas gave
a smooth-linked golden corselet, triple-chained,
of which his own victorious hand despoiled
Demoleos, by the swift, embattled stream
of Simois, under Troy,—and bade it be
a glory and defence on valor's field;
scarce might the straining shoulders of two slaves,
Phegeus and Sagaris, the load endure,
yet oft Demoleos in this armor dressed
charged down full speed on routed hosts of Troy.
The third gift was two cauldrons of wrought brass,
and bowls of beaten silver, cunningly
embossed with sculpture fair. Bearing such gifts,
th' exultant victors onward moved, each brow
bound with a purple fillet. But behold!
Sergestus, from the grim rock just dragged off
by cunning toil, one halting rank of oars
left of his many lost, comes crawling in
with vanquished ship, a mockery to all.
As when a serpent, on the highway caught,
some brazen wheel has crushed, or traveller
with heavy-smiting blow left half alive
and mangled by a stone; in vain he moves
in writhing flight; a part is lifted high
with hissing throat and angry, glittering eyes;
but by the wounded part a captive still
he knots him fold on fold: with such a track
the maimed ship labored slow; but by her sails
she still made way, and with full canvas on
arrived at land. Aeneas then bestowed
a boon upon Sergestus, as was meet
for reward of the ship in safety brought
with all its men; a fair slave was the prize,
the Cretan Pholoe, well taught to weave,
and twin boy-babes upon her breast she bore.
Then good Aeneas, the ship-contest o'er,
turned to a wide green valley, circled round
with clasp of wood-clad hills, wherein was made
an amphitheatre; entering with a throng
of followers, the hero took his seat
in mid-arena on a lofty mound.
For the fleet foot-race, now, his summons flies, —
he offers gifts, and shows the rewards due.
The mingling youth of Troy and Sicily
hastened from far. Among the foremost came
the comrades Nisus and Euryalus,
Euryalus for beauty's bloom renowned,
Nisus for loyal love; close-following these
Diores strode, a prince of Priam's line;
then Salius and Patron, who were bred
in Acarnania and Arcady;
then two Sicilian warriors, Helymus
and Panopes, both sylvan bred and born,
comrades of King Acestes; after these
the multitude whom Fame forgets to tell.
Aeneas, so surrounded, thus spake forth:
“Hear what I purpose, and with joy receive!
of all your company, not one departs
with empty hand. The Cretan javelins
bright-tipped with burnished steel, and battle-axe
adorned with graven silver, these shall be
the meed of all. The three first at the goal
shall bind their foreheads with fair olive green,
and win the rewards due. The first shall lead,
victorious, yon rich-bridled steed away;
this Amazonian quiver, the next prize,
well-stocked with Thracian arrows; round it goes
a baldrick broad and golden,—in its clasp
a lustrous gem. The third man goes away
taking this helmet from the Argive spoil.”
They heard, and took their places. The loud horn
gave signal, and impetuous from the line,
swift as a bursting storm they sped away,
eyes fixed upon the goal. Far in advance
Nisus shot forward, swifter than the winds
or winged thunderbolt; the next in course,
next, but out-rivalled far, was Salius,
and after him a space, Euryalus
came third; him Helymus was hard upon;
and, look! Diores follows, heel on heel,
close at his shoulder—if the race be long
he sure must win, or claim a doubtful prize.
Now at the last stretch, spent and panting, all
pressed to the goal, when in a slime of blood
Nisus, hard fate! slipped down, where late the death
of victims slain had drenched the turf below.
Here the young victor, with his triumph flushed,
lost foothold on the yielding ground, and plunged
face forward in the pool of filth and gore;
but not of dear Euryalus was he
forgetful then, nor heedless of his friend;
but rising from the mire he hurled himself
in Salius' way; so he in equal plight
rolled in the filthy slough. Euryalus
leaped forth, the winner of the race by gift
of his true friend, and flying to the goal
stood first, by many a favoring shout acclaimed.
Next Helymus ran in; and, for the third, last prize,
Diores. But the multitude now heard
the hollowed hill-side ringing with wild wrath
from Salius, clamoring where the chieftains sate
for restitution of his stolen prize,
lost by a cheat. But general favor smiles
upon Euryalus, whose beauteous tears
commend him much, and nobler seems the worth
of valor clothed in youthful shape so fair.
Diores, too, assists the victor's claim,
with loud appeal—he too has won a prize,
and vainly holds his last place, if the first
to Salius fall. Aeneas then replied:
“Your gifts, my gallant youths, remain secure.
None can re-judge the prize. But to console
the misadventure of a blameless friend,
is in my power.” Therewith to Salius
an Afric lion's monstrous pelt he gave,
with ponderous mane, the claws o'erlaid with gold.
But Nisus cried: “If such a gift be found
for less than victory, and men who fall
are worthy so much sorrow, pray, what prize
shall Nisus have? For surely I had won
the proudest of the garlands, if one stroke
of inauspicious fortune had not fallen
on Salius and me.” So saying, he showed
his smeared face and his sorry limbs befouled
with mire and slime. Then laughed the gracious sire,
and bade a shield be brought, the cunning work
of Didymaon, which the Greeks tore down
from Neptune's temple; with this noble gift
he sent the high-born youth upon his way.
The foot-race over and the gifts disbursed,
“Come forth!” he cries, “if any in his heart
have strength and valor, let him now pull on
the gauntlets and uplift his thong-bound arms
in challenge.” For the reward of this fight
a two-fold gift he showed: the victor's meed,
a bullock decked and gilded; but a sword
and glittering helmet to console the fallen.
Straightway, in all his pride of giant strength,
Dares Ioomed up, and wondering murmurs ran
along the gazing crowd; for he alone
was wont to match with Paris, he it was
met Butes, the huge-bodied champion
boasting the name and race of Amycus,
Bythinian-born; him felled he at a blow,
and stretched him dying on the tawny sand.
Such Dares was, who now held high his head,
fierce for the fray, bared both his shoulders broad,
lunged out with left and right, and beat the air.
Who shall his rival be? Of all the throng
not one puts on the gauntlets, or would face
the hero's challenge. Therefore, striding forth,
believing none now dare but yield the palm,
he stood before Aeneas, and straightway
seized with his left hand the bull's golden horn,
and cried, “O goddess-born, if no man dares
to risk him in this fight, how Iong delay?
how Iong beseems it I should stand and wait?
Bid me bear off my prize.” The Trojans all
murmured assent, and bade the due award
of promised gift. But with a brow severe
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.” So saying, he dropped down
the double-folded mantle from his shoulders,
stripped bare the huge joints, the huge arms and thews,
and towered gigantic in the midmost ring.
Anchises' son then gave two equal pairs
of gauntlets, and accoutred with like arms
both champions. Each lifted him full height
on tiptoe; each with mien unterrified
held both fists high in air, and drew his head
far back from blows assailing. Then they joined
in struggle hand to hand, and made the fray
each moment fiercer. One was light of foot
and on his youth relied; the other strong
in bulk of every limb, but tottering
on sluggish knees, while all his body shook
with labor of his breath. Without avail
they rained their blows, and on each hollow side,
each sounding chest, the swift, reverberate strokes
fell without pause; around their ears and brows
came blow on blow, and with relentless shocks
the smitten jaws cracked loud. Entellus stands
unshaken, and, the self-same posture keeping,
only by body-movement or quick eye
parries attack. Dares (like one in siege
against a mountain-citadel, who now will drive
with ram and engine at the craggy wall,
now wait in full-armed watch beneath its towers)
tries manifold approach, most craftily
invests each point of vantage, and renews
his unsuccessful, ever various war.
Then, rising to the stroke, Entellus poised
aloft his ponderous right; but, quick of eye,
the other the descending wrath foresaw
and nimbly slipped away; Entellus so
wasted his stroke on air, and, self-o'erthrown,
dropped prone to earth his monstrous length along,
as when on Erymanth or Ida falls
a hollowed pine from giant roots uptorn.
Alike the Teucrian and Trinacrian throng
shout wildly; while Acestes, pitying, hastes
to lift his gray companion. But, unchecked,
undaunted by his fall, the champion brave
rushed fiercer to the fight, his strength now roused
by rage, while shame and courage confident
kindle his soul; impetuous he drives
Dares full speed all round the ring, with blows
redoubled right and left. No stop or stay
gives he, but like a storm of rattling hail
upon a house-top, so from each huge hand
the champion's strokes on dizzy Dares fall.
Then Sire Aeneas willed to make a stay
to so much rage, nor let Entellus' soul
flame beyond bound, but bade the battle pause,
and, rescuing weary Dares, thus he spoke
in soothing words: “Ill-starred! What mad attempt
is in thy mind? Will not thy heart confess
thy strength surpassed, and auspices averse?
Submit, for Heaven decrees!” With such wise words
he sundered the fell strife. But trusty friends
bore Dares off: his spent limbs helpless trailed,
his head he could not lift, and from his lips
came blood and broken teeth. So to the ship
they bore him, taking, at Aeneas' word,
the helmet and the sword—but left behind
Entellus' prize of victory, the bull.
He, then, elate and glorying, spoke forth:
“See, goddess-born, and all ye Teucrians, see,
what strength was mine in youth, and from what death
ye have clelivered Dares.” Saying so,
he turned him full front to the bull, who stood
for reward of the fight, and, drawing back
his right hand, poising the dread gauntlet high,
swung sheer between the horns and crushed the skull;
a trembling, lifeless creature, to the ground
the bull dropped forward dead. Above the fallen
Entellus cried aloud, “This victim due
I give thee, Eryx, more acceptable
than Dares' death to thy benignant shade.
For this last victory and joyful day,
my gauntlets and my art I leave with thee.”
Forthwith Aeneas summons all who will
to contest of swift arrows, and displays
reward and prize. With mighty hand he rears
a mast within th' arena, from the ship
of good Sergestus taken; and thereto
a fluttering dove by winding cord is bound
for target of their shafts. Soon to the match
the rival bowmen came and cast the lots
into a brazen helmet. First came forth
Hippocoon's number, son of Hyrtacus,
by cheers applauded; Mnestheus was the next,
late victor in the ship-race, Mnestheus crowned
with olive-garland; next Eurytion,
brother of thee, O bowman most renowned,
Pandarus, breaker of the truce, who hurled
his shaft upon the Achaeans, at the word
the goddess gave. Acestes' Iot and name
came from the helmet last, whose royal hand
the deeds of youth dared even yet to try.
Each then with strong arm bends his pliant bow,
each from the quiver plucks a chosen shaft.
First, with loud arrow whizzing from the string,
the young Hippocoon with skyward aim
cuts through the yielding air; and lo! his barb
pierces the very wood, and makes the mast
tremble; while with a fluttering, frighted wing
the bird tugs hard,—and plaudits fill the sky.
Boldly rose Mnestheus, and with bow full-drawn
aimed both his eye and shaft aloft; but he
failing, unhappy man, to bring his barb
up to the dove herself, just cut the cord
and broke the hempen bond, whereby her feet
were captive to the tree: she, taking flight,
clove through the shadowing clouds her path of air.
But swiftly—for upon his waiting bow
he held a shaft in rest—Eurytion
invoked his brother's shade, and, marking well
the dove, whose happy pinions fluttered free
in vacant sky, pierced her, hard by a cloud;
lifeless she fell, and left in light of heaven
her spark of life, as, floating down, she bore
the arrow back to earth. Acestes now
remained, last rival, though the victor's palm
to him was Iost; yet did the aged sire,
to show his prowess and resounding bow,
hurl forth one shaft in air; then suddenly
all eyes beheld such wonder as portends
events to be (but when fulfilment came,
too late the fearful seers its warning sung):
for, soaring through the stream of cloud, his shaft
took fire, tracing its bright path in flame,
then vanished on the wind,—as oft a star
will fall unfastened from the firmament,
while far behind its blazing tresses flow.
Awe-struck both Trojan and Trinacrian stood,
calling upon the gods. Nor came the sign
in vain to great Aeneas. But his arms
folded the blest Acestes to his heart,
and, Ioading him with noble gifts, he cried:
“Receive them, sire! The great Olympian King
some peerless honor to thy name decrees
by such an omen given. I offer thee
this bowl with figures graven, which my sire,
good gray Anchises, for proud gift received
of Thracian Cisseus, for their friendship's pledge
and memory evermore.” Thereon he crowned
his brows with garland of the laurel green,
and named Acestes victor over all.
Nor could Eurytion, noble youth, think ill
of honor which his own surpassed, though he,
he only, pierced the bird in upper air.
Next gift was his whose arrow cut the cord;
last, his whose light shaft clove the lofty pine.
Father Aeneas now, not making end
of game and contest, summoned to his side
Epytides, the mentor and true friend
of young Iulus, and this bidding gave
to his obedient ear: “Arise and go
where my Ascanius has lined his troop
of youthful cavalry, and trained the steeds
to tread in ranks of war. Bid him lead forth
the squadron in our sire Anchises' name,
and wear a hero's arms!” So saying, he bade
the course be cleared, and from the whole wide field
th' insurging, curious multitude withdrew.
In rode the boys, to meet their parents' eyes,
in even lines, a glittering cavalry;
while all Trinacria and the host from Troy
made loud applause. On each bright brow
a well-trimmed wreath the flowing tresses bound;
two javelins of corner tipped with steel
each bore for arms; some from the shoulder slung
a polished quiver; to each bosom fell
a pliant necklace of fine, twisted gold.
Three bands of horsemen ride, three captains proud
prance here and there, assiduous in command,
each of his twelve, who shine in parted lines
which lesser captains lead. One cohort proud
follows a little Priam's royal name —
one day, Polites, thy illustrious race
through him prolonged, shall greater glory bring
to Italy. A dappled Thracian steed
with snow-white spots and fore-feet white as snow
bears him along, its white face lifted high.
Next Atys rode, young Atys, sire to be
of th' Atian house in Rome, a boy most dear
unto the boy Iulus; last in line,
and fairest of the throng, Iulus came,
astride a steed from Sidon, the fond gift
of beauteous Dido and her pledge of love.
Close followed him the youthful chivalry
of King Acestes on Trinacrian steeds.
The Trojans, with exultant, Ioud acclaim,
receive the shy-faced boys, and joyfully
trace in the features of the sons their sires.
After, with smiling eyes, the horsemen proud
have greeted each his kin in all the throng,
Epytides th' appointed signal calls,
and cracks his lash; in even lines they move,
then, Ioosely sundering in triple band,
wheel at a word and thrust their lances forth
in hostile ranks; or on the ample field
retreat or charge, in figure intricate
of circling troop with troop, and swift parade
of simulated war; now from the field
they flee with backs defenceless to the foe;
then rally, lance in rest—or, mingling all,
make common front, one legion strong and fair.
As once in Crete, the lofty mountain-isle,
that-fabled labyrinthine gallery
wound on through lightless walls, with thousand paths
which baffled every clue, and led astray
in unreturning mazes dark and blind:
so did the sons of Troy their courses weave
in mimic flights and battles fought for play,
like dolphins tumbling in the liquid waves,
along the Afric or Carpathian seas.
This game and mode of march Ascanius,
when Alba Longa's bastions proudly rose,
taught to the Latin people of the prime;
and as the princely Trojan and his train
were wont to do, so Alba to her sons
the custom gave; so glorious Rome at last
the heritage accepted and revered;
and still we know them for the “Trojan Band,”
and call the lads a “Troy.” Such was the end
of game and contest at Anchises' grave.
Then fortune veered and different aspect wore.
For 'ere the sacred funeral games are done,
Saturnian Juno from high heaven sent down
the light-winged Iris to the ships of Troy,
giving her flight good wind—still full of schemes
and hungering to avenge her ancient wrong.
Unseen of mortal eye, the virgin took
her pathway on the thousand-colored bow,
and o'er its gliding passage earthward flew.
She scanned the vast assemblage; then her gaze
turned shoreward, where along the idle bay
the Trojan galleys quite unpeopled rode.
But far removed, upon a lonely shore,
a throng of Trojan dames bewailed aloud
their lost Anchises, and with tears surveyed
the mighty deep. “O weary waste of seas!
What vast, untravelled floods beyond us roll!”
So cried they with one voice, and prayed the gods
for an abiding city; every heart
loathed utterly the long, laborious sea.
Then in their midst alighted, not unskilled
in working woe, the goddess; though she wore
nor garb nor form divine, but made herself
one Beroe, Doryclus' aged wife,
who in her happier days had lineage fair
and sons of noble name; in such disguise
she called the Trojan dames:“O ye ill-starred,
that were not seized and slain by Grecian foes
under your native walls! O tribe accursed,
what death is Fate preparing? Since Troy fell
the seventh summer flies, while still we rove
o'er cruel rocks and seas, from star to star,
from alien land to land, as evermore
we chase, storm-tossed, that fleeting Italy
across the waters wide. Behold this land
of Eryx, of Acestes, friend and kin;
what hinders them to raise a rampart here
and build a town? O city of our sires!
O venerated gods from haughty foes
rescued in vain! Will nevermore a wall
rise in the name of Troy? Shall I not see
a Xanthus or a Simois, the streams
to Hector dear? Come now! I lead the way.
Let us go touch their baneful ships with fire!
I saw Cassandra in a dream. Her shade,
prophetic ever, gave me firebrands,
and cried, ‘Find Ilium so! The home for thee
is where thou art.’ Behold, the hour is ripe
for our great act! No longer now delay
to heed the heavenly omen. Yonder stand
four altars unto Neptune. 'T is the god,
the god himself, gives courage for the deed,
and swift-enkindling fire.” So having said,
she seized a dreadful brand; then, lifting high,
waved it all flaming, and with furious arm
hurled it from far. The Ilian matrons gazed,
bewildered and appalled. But one, of all
the eldest, Pyrgo, venerated nurse
of Priam's numerous sons, exclaimed, “Nay, nay!
This is no Beroe, my noble dames.
Doryclus knew her not. Behold and see
her heavenly beauty and her radiant eyes!
What voice of music and majestic mien,
what movement like a god! Myself am come
from Beroe sick, and left her grieving sore
that she, she only, had no gift to bring
of mournful honor to Anchises' shade.”
She spoke. The women with ill-boding eyes
looked on the ships. Their doubting hearts were torn
'twixt tearful passion for the beauteous isle
their feet then trod, and that prophetic call
of Fate to lands unknown. Then on wide wings
soared Iris into heaven, and through the clouds
clove a vast arch of light. With wonder dazed,
the women in a shrieking frenzy rose,
took embers from the hearth-stones, stole the fires
upon the altars—faggots, branches, brands —
and rained them on the ships. The god of fire,
through thwarts and oars and bows of painted fir,
ran in unbridled flame. Swift to the tomb
of Sire Anchises, to the circus-seats,
the messenger Eumelus flew, to bring
news of the ships on fire; soon every eye
the clouds of smoke and hovering flame could see.
Ascanius, who had led with smiling brow
his troops of horse, accoutred as he was,
rode hot-haste to the turmoil of the camp,
nor could his guards restrain . “What madness now?
What is it ye would do?” he cried. “Alas!
Ill-fated women! Not our enemies,
nor the dread bulwarks of the Greek ye burn,
but all ye have to hope for. Look at me,
your own Ascanius!” His helmet then
into their midst he flung, which he had worn
for pageantry of war. Aeneas, too,
with Trojan bands sped thither. But far off,
the women, panic-scattered on the shore,
fled many ways, and deep in caverned crags
or shadowed forests hid them, for they Ioathed
their deed and life itself; their thoughts were changed;
they knew their kin and husbands, and their hearts
from Juno were set free. But none the less
the burning and indomitable flames
raged without stay; beneath the ships' smeared sides
the hempen fuel puffed a lingering smoke,
as, through the whole bulk creeping, the slow fire
devoured its way; and little it availed
that strong men fought the fire with stream on stream.
Then good Aeneas from his shoulder rent
his garment, and with lifted hands implored
the help of Heaven. “O Jove omnipotent!
If thou not yet thy wrath implacable
on every Trojan pourest, if thou still
hast pity, as of old, for what men bear,
O, grant my fleet deliverance from this flame!
From uttermost destruction, Father, save
our desperate Trojan cause! Or even now —
last cruelty! thy fatal thunders throw.
If this be my just meed, let thy dread arm
confound us all.” But scarce the prayer is said,
when with a bursting deluge a dark storm
falls, marvellous to see; while hills and plains
with thunder shake, and to each rim of heaven
spreads swollen cloud-rack, black with copious rain
and multitudinous gales. The full flood pours
on every ship, and all the smouldering beams
are drenched, until the smoke and flames expire
and (though four ships be lost) the burning fleet
rides rescued from its doom. But smitten sore
by this mischance, Aeneas doubtfully
weighs in his heart its mighty load of cares,
and ponders if indeed he may abide
in Sicily, not heeding prophet-songs,
or seek Italian shores. Thereon uprose
Nautes, an aged sire, to whom alone
Tritonian Pallas of her wisdom gave
and made his skill renowned; he had the power
to show celestial anger's warning signs,
or tell Fate's fixed decree. The gifted man
thus to Aeneas comfortably spoke:
“O goddess-born, we follow here or there,
as Fate compels or stays. But come what may,
he triumphs over Fortune, who can bear
whate'er she brings. Behold, Acestes draws
from Dardanus his origin divine!
Make him thy willing friend, to share with thee
thy purpose and thy counsel. Leave with him
the crews of the lost ships, and all whose hearts
repine at thy high task and great emprise:
the spent old men, the women ocean-weary,
whate'er is feeble found, or faint of heart
in danger's hour,—set that apart, and give
such weary ones within this friendly isle
a city called Acesta,—if he will.”
Much moved Aeneas was by this wise word
of his gray friend, though still his anxious soul
was vexed by doubt and care. But when dark night
had brought her chariot to the middle sky,
the sacred shade of Sire Anchises seemed,
from heaven descending, thus to speak aloud:
“My son, than life more dear, when life was mine!
O son, upon whose heart the Trojan doom
has weighed so Iong! Beside thy couch I stand,
at pleasure of great Jove, whose hand dispelled
the mad fire from thy ships; and now he looks
from heaven with pitying brow. I bid thee heed
the noble counsels aged Nautes gave.
Only with warriors of dauntless breast
to Italy repair; of hardy breed,
of wild, rough life, thy Latin foes will be.
But first the shores of Pluto and the Shades
thy feet must tread, and through the deep abyss
of dark Avernus come to me, thy sire:
for I inhabit not the guilty gloom
of Tartarus, but bright Elysian day,
where all the just their sweet assemblies hold.
Hither the virgin Sibyl, if thou give
full offerings of the blood of sable kine,
shall lead thee down; and visions I will show
of cities proud and nations sprung from thee.
Farewell, for dewy Night has wheeled her way
far past her middle course; the panting steeds
of orient Morn breathe pitiless upon me.”
He spoke, and passed, like fleeting clouds of smoke,
to empty air. “O, whither haste away?”
Aeneas cried. “Whom dost thou fly? What god
from my fond yearning and embrace removes?”
Then on the altar of the gods of Troy
he woke the smouldering embers, at the shrine
of venerable Vesta, worshipping
with hallowed bread and incense burning free.
Straightway he calls assembly of his friends, —
Acestes first in honor,—and makes known
Jove's will, the counsel of his cherished sire,
and his own fresh resolve. With prompt assent
they hear his word, nor does Acestes fail
the task to share. They people the new town
with women; and leave every wight behind
who wills it—souls not thirsting for high praise.
Themselves re-bench their ships, rebuild, and fit
with rope and oar the flame-swept galleys all;
a band not large, but warriors bold and true.
Aeneas, guiding with his hand a plough,
marks out the city's ground, gives separate lands
by lot, and bids within this space appear
a second Troy. Trojan Acestes takes
the kingly power, and with benignant joy
appoints a forum, and decrees just laws
before a gathered senate. Then they raise
on that star-circled Erycinian hill,
the temple to Idalian Venus dear;
and at Anchises' sepulchre ordain
a priesthood and wide groves of hallowed shade.
Now the nine days of funeral pomp are done,
and every altar has had honors due
from all the folk. Now tranquil-breathing winds
have levelled the great deep, while brisk and free,
a favoring Auster bids them launch away.
But sound of many a wailing voice is heard
along the winding shore; for ere they go,
in fond embraces for a night and day
they linger still. The women—aye, and men! —
who hated yesterday the ocean's face
and loathed its name, now clamor to set sail
and bear all want and woe to exiles known.
But good Aeneas with benignant words
their sorrow soothes, and, not without a tear,
consigns them to Acestes' kindred care.
Then bids he sacrifice to Eryx' shade
three bulls, and to the wind-gods and the storm
a lamb, then loose the ships in order due.
He, with a garland of shorn olive, stood
holding aloft the sacrificial bowl
from his own vessel's prow, and scattered far
the sacred entrails o'er the bitter wave,
with gift of flowing wine. Swift at the stern
a fair wind rose and thrust them; while the crews
with rival strokes swept o'er the spreading sea.
Venus, the while, disturbed with grief and care,
to Neptune thus her sorrowing heart outpoured:
“Stern Juno's wrath and breast implacable
compel me, Neptune, to abase my pride
in lowly supplication. Lapse of days,
nor prayers, nor virtues her hard heart subdue,
nor Jove's command; nor will she rest or yield
at Fate's decree. Her execrable grudge
is still unfed, although she did consume
the Trojan city, Phrygia's midmost throne,
and though she has accomplished stroke on stroke
of retribution. But she now pursues
the remnant—aye! the ashes and bare bones
of perished Ilium; though the cause and spring
of wrath so great none but herself can tell.
Wert thou not witness on the Libyan wave
what storm she stirred, immingling sea and sky,
and with Aeolian whirlwinds made her war, —
in vain and insolent invasion, sire,
of thine own realm and power? Behold, but now,
goading to evil deeds the Trojan dames,
she basely burned his ships; he in strange lands
must leave the crews of his Iost fleet behind.
O, I entreat thee, let the remnant sail
in safety o'er thy sea, and end their way
in Tiber's holy stream;—if this my prayer
be lawful, and that city's rampart proud
be still what Fate intends.”Then Saturn's son,
the ruler of the seas profound, replied:
“Queen of Cythera, it is meet for thee
to trust my waves from which thyself art sprung.
Have I not proved a friend, and oft restrained
the anger and wild wrath of seas and skies?
On land, let Simois and Xanthus tell
if I have loved Aeneas! On that day
Achilles drove the shuddering hosts of Troy
in panic to the walls, and hurled to death
innumerable foes, until the streams
were choked with dead, and Xanthus scarce could find
his wonted path to sea; that self-same day,
aeneas, spent, and with no help of Heaven,
met Peleus' dreadful son:—who else but I
in cloudy mantle bore him safe afar?
Though 't was my will to cast down utterly
the walls of perjured Troy, which my own hands
had built beside the sea. And even to-day
my favor changes not. Dispel thy fear!
Safe, even as thou prayest, he shall ride
to Cumae's haven, where Avernus lies.
One only sinks beneath th' engulfing seas, —
one life in lieu of many.”

    Having soothed
and cheered her heart divine, the worshipped sire
flung o'er his mated steeds a yoke of gold,
bridled the wild, white mouths, and with strong hand
shook out long, Ioosened reins. His azure car
skimmed light and free along the crested waves;
before his path the rolling billows all
were calm and still, and each o'er-swollen flood
sank 'neath his sounding wheel; while from the skies
the storm-clouds fled away. Behind him trailed
a various company; vast bulk of whales,
the hoary band of Glaucus, Ino's son,
Palaemon and the nimble Tritons all,
the troop of Phorcus; and to leftward ranged
Thalia, Thetis, and fair Alelite,
with virgin Panopea, and the nymphs
Nesaea, Spio and Cymodoce.
Now in Aeneas' ever-burdened breast
the voice of hope revived. He bade make haste
to raise the masts, spread canvas on the spars;
all hands hauled at the sheets, and left or right
shook out the loosened sails, or twirled in place
the horn-tipped yards. Before a favoring wind
the fleet sped on. The line in close array
was led by Palinurus, in whose course
all ships were bid to follow. Soon the car
of dewy Night drew near the turning-point
of her celestial round. The oarsmen all
yielded their limbs to rest, and prone had fallen
on the hard thwarts, in deep, unpillowed slumber.
Then from the high stars on light-moving wings,
the God of Sleep found passage through the dark
and clove the gloom,—to bring upon thy head,
O Palinurus, an ill-boding sleep,
though blameless thou. Upon thy ship the god
in guise of Phorbas stood, thus whispering:
“Look, Palinurus, how the flowing tides
lift on thy fleet unsteered, and changeless winds
behind thee breathe! 'T is now a happy hour
take thy rest. Lay down the weary head.
Steal tired eyes from toiling. I will do
thine office for thee, just a little space.”
But Palinurus, lifting scarce his eyes,
thus answered him: “Have I not known the face
of yonder placid seas and tranquil waves?
Put faith in such a monster? Could I trust —
I, oft by ocean's treacherous calm betrayed —
my lord Aeneas to false winds and skies?”
So saying, he grasped his rudder tight, and clung
more firmly, fixing on the stars his eyes.
Then waved the god above his brows a branch
wet with the dews of Lethe and imbued
with power of Stygian dark, until his eyes
wavered and slowly sank. The slumberous snare
had scarce unbound his limbs, when, leaning o'er,
the god upon the waters flung him forth,
hands clutching still the helm and ship-rail torn,
and calling on his comrades, but in vain.
Then soared th' immortal into viewless air;
and in swift course across the level sea
the fleet sped safe, protected from all fear
by Neptune's vow. Yet were they drawing nigh
the sirens' island-steep, where oft are seen
white, bleaching bones, and to the distant ear
the rocks roar harshly in perpetual foam.
Then of his drifting fleet and pilot gone
Aeneas was aware, and, taking helm,
steered through the midnight waves, with many a sigh;
and, by his comrade's pitiable death
sore-smitten, cried, “O, thou didst trust too far
fair skies and seas, and liest without a grave,
my Palinurus, in a land unknown!”

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