« НазадПродовжити »
Capitol was to rise in all its magnificence. He next pointed to some dismantled walls, and said, “Here stood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there Saturnia, the town of Saturn.” Such discourse brought them to the cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing herds roaming over the plain where soon should stand the proud and stately Forum. They entered, and a couch, well stuffed with leaves and covered with the skin of a Libyan bear, was spread for Æneas.
Next morning, awakened by the dawn and the shrill song of birds beneath the eaves of his low mansion, old Evander rose. Clad in a tunic, and a panther's skin thrown over his shoulders, with sandals on his feet, and his good sword girded to his side, he went forth to seek his guest. Two mastiffs followed him, his whole retinue and body-guard. He found the hero attended by his faithful Achates, and, Pallas soon joining them, the old king spoke thus : —
“ Illustrious Trojan, it is but little we can do in so great a cause. Our state is feeble, hemmed in on one side by the river, on the other by the Rutulians. But I propose to ally thee with a people numerous and rich, to whom fate has brought thee at the propitious moment. The Etruscans hold the country beyond the river. Mezențius was their king, a monster of cruelty, who invented unheard-of torments to gratify his vengeance. He would fasten the dead to the living, hand to hand and face to face, and leave the wretched victims to die in that dreadful embrace. At length people cast him out, him and his house. They burned his palace and slew his friends. He escaped and took refuge with Turnus, who protects him with arms. The Etruscans demand that he shall be given up to deserved punishment, and would ere now have attempted to enforce their demand; but their priests restrain them, telling them that it is the will of heaven that no native of the land shall guide them to victory, and that their destined leader must come from across the sea. They have offered the crown to me, but I am too old to undertake such great affairs, and my son is native-born, which precludes him from the choice. Thou, equally by birth and time of life, and fame in arms, pointed out by the gods, hast but to appear to be hailed at once as their leader. With thee I will join Pallas, my son, my only hope and comfort. Under thee he shall learn the art of war, and strive to emulate thy great exploits.”
Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for the Trojan chiefs, and Æneas, with a chosen band of followers and Pallas accompanying, mounted and took the way to the Etruscan city, having sent back the rest of his party in the ships. Æneas and his band safely arrived at the Etruscan camp, and were received with open arms by Tarchon and his countrymen.
Turnus attacks the Trojan Camp. - In the meanwhile Turnus had collected his bands, and made all necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent Iris to him with a message inciting him to take advantage of the absence of Æneas and surprise the Trojan camp. Accordingly the attempt was made ; but the Trojans were found on their guard, and having received strict orders from Æneas not to fight in his absence, they lay still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts of the Rutulians to draw them into the field. Night coming on, the army of Turnus, in high spirits at their fancied superiority, feasted and enjoyed themselves, and finally stretched themselves on the field and slept secure.
Nisus and Euryalus. — In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. There all was watchfulness and anxiety, and impatience for Æneas' return. Nisus stood guard at the entrance of the camp, and Euryalus, a youth distinguished above all in the army for graces of person and fine qualities, was with him. These two were friends and brothers in arms. Nisus said to his friend, “Dost thou perceive what confidence and carelessness the enemy display? Their lights are few and dim, and the men seem all oppressed with wine or sleep. Thou knowest how anxiously our chiefs wish to send to Æneas, and to get intelligence from him.
1 The poet here inserts a famous line which is thought to imitate in its sound the galloping of horses : - Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum, - Æn. 8: 596.
Now I am strongly moved to make my way through the enemy's camp and to go in search of our chief. If I succeed, the glory of the deed will be reward enough for me, and if they judge the service deserves anything more, let them pay it thee."
Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, replied, “Wouldst thou then, Nisus, refuse to share thy enterprise with me? And shall I let thee go into such danger alone? Not so my brave father brought me up, nor so have I planned for myself when I joined the standard of Æneas, and resolved to hold my life cheap in comparison with honor.” Nisus replied, “ I doubt it not, my friend; but thou knowest the uncertain event of such an undertaking, and whatever may happen to me, I wish thee to be safe. Thou art younger than I and hast more of life in prospect. Nor can I be the cause of such grief to thy mother, who has chosen to be here in the camp with thee rather than stay and live in peace with the other matrons in Acestes' city.” Euryalus replied, “Say no more. In vain dost thou seek arguments to dissuade me. I am fixed in the resolution to go with thee. Let us lose no time.” They called the guard, and committing the watch to them, sought the general's tent. They found the chief officers in consultation, deliberating how they should send notice to Æneas of their situation. The offer of the two friends was gladly accepted, themselves loaded with praises and promised the most liberal rewards in case of success. Iulus especially addressed Euryalus, assuring him of his lasting friendship. Euryalus replied, “I have but one boon to ask. My aged mother is with me in the camp. For me she left the Trojan soil, and would not stay behind with the other matrons at the city of Acestes. I go now without taking leave of her. I could not bear her tears nor set at nought her entreaties. But do thou, I beseech thee, comfort her in her distress. Promise me that and I shall go more boldly into whatever dangers may present themselves.” Iulus and the other chiefs were moved to tears, and promised to do all his request. “Thy mother shall be mine," said Iulus, “and all that I have promised thee shall be made good to her, if thou dost not return to receive it."
The two friends left the camp and plunged at once into the midst of the enemy. They found no watch, no sentinels posted, but, all about, the sleeping soldiers strewn on the grass and among the wagons. The laws of war at that early day did not forbid a brave man to slay a sleeping foe, and the two Trojans slew, as they passed, such of the enemy as they could without exciting alarm. In one tent Euryalus made prize of a helmet brilliant with gold and plumes. They had passed through the enemy's ranks without being discovered, but now suddenly appeared a troop directly in front of them, which, under Volscens, their leader, were approaching the camp. The glittering helmet of Euryalus caught their attention, and Volscens hailed the two, and demanded who and whence they were. They made no answer, but plunged into the wood. The horsemen scattered in all directions to intercept their flight. Nisus had eluded pursuit and was out of danger, but Euryalus being missing he turned back to seek him. He again entered the wood and soon came within sound of voices. Looking through the thicket he saw the whole band surrounding Euryalus with noisy questions. What should he do! how extricate the youth ! or would it be better to die with him?
Raising his eyes to the moon which now shone clear, he said, “Goddess, favor my effort !” and aiming his javelin at one of the leaders of the troop, struck him in the back and stretched him on the plain with a death-blow. In the midst of their amazement another weapon flew and another of the party fell dead. Volscens, the leader, ignorant whence the darts came, rushed sword in hand upon Euryalus. “Thou shalt pay the penalty of both,” he said, and would have plunged the sword into his bosom, when Nisus, who from his concealment saw the peril of his friend, rushed forward exclaiming, “ 'Twas I, 'twas I ; turn your swords against me, Rutulians; I did it; he only followed me as a friend.” While he spoke the sword fell, and pierced the comely bosom of Euryalus. His head fell over on his shoulder, like a flower cut down by the plough. Nisus rushed upon Volscens and plunged his sword into his body, and was himself slain on the instant by numberless blows. The Death of Mezentius. — Æneas, with his Etrurian allies, arrived on the scene of action in time to rescue his beleaguered camp; and now the two armies being nearly equal in strength, the war began in good earnest. We cannot find space for all the details, but must simply record the fate of the principal characters. The tyrant Mezentius, finding himself engaged against his revolted subjects, raged like a wild beast. He slew all who dared withstand him, and put the multitude to flight wherever he appeared. At last he encountered Æneas, and the armies stood still to see the issue. Mezentius threw his spear, which striking Æneas' shield glanced off and hit Antores, – a Grecian by birth who had left Argos, his native city, and followed Evander into Italy. The poet says of him with simple pathos which has made the words proverbial, “He fell, unhappy, by a wound intended for another, looked up to the skies, and, dying, remembered sweet Argos.”] Æneas now in turn hurled his lance. It pierced the shield of Mezentius, and wounded him in the thigh. Lausus, his son, could not bear the sight, but rushed forward and interposed himself, while the followers pressed round Mezentius and bore him away. Æneas held his sword suspended over Lausus and delayed to strike, but the furious youth pressed on and he was compelled to deal the fatal blow. Lausus fell, and Æneas bent over him in pity. “Hapless youth,” he said, “what can I do for thee worthy of thy praise? Keep those arms in which thou gloriest, and fear not but that thy body shall be restored to thy friends, and have due funeral honors.” So saying he called the timid followers and delivered the body into their hands.
Mezentius meanwhile had been borne to the river-side, and had. washed his wound. Soon the news reached him of I ausus' death, and rage and despair supplied the place of strength. He mounted his horse and dashed into the thickest of the fight, seeking Ærcas. Having found him, he rode round him in a circie, rowing one javelin after another, while Æneas stood fenced with his shield,
1 Sternitur infelix alieno volnere, caelumque Aspicit, et dulcis moriens reminiscitur Argos. - Æn. 10:781.