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From Virgil’s Works, The Aeneid, Eclogues, Georgics translated by J. W. Mackail, Introduction by Charles L. Durham, Ph.D., New York: the Modern Library; 1934; pp. 238-262.

Color photograph of a statue of a Trojan Horse made out of Brass and other metal by Serena Thirkell, great granddaughter of J. W. Mackail, used with permission.

Trojan Horse
Mixed Metal Sculpture by Serena Thirkell
© Serena Thirkell
(Image used with permission).



By Publius Vergilius Maro





[1-31]WHEN Turnus sees the Latins broken and fainting in the disastrous warfare, his promise claimed for fulfilment, and men’s eyes pointed on him, his own spirit rises in unappeasable flame. As the lion in Punic fields, his breast heavily wounded by the huntsmen, at last starts into arms, and shakes out the shaggy masses from his exultant neck, and undismayed snaps the brigand’s planted weapon, roaring with blood-stained mouth; even so Turnus kindles and swells in passion. Then he thus addresses the king, and so furiously begins:

‘Turnus stops not the way; there is no excuse for the coward Aeneadae to take back their words or renounce their compact. I join battle; bring the holy things, my lord, and swear the treaty. Either this hand shall hurl to hell the Dardanian who skulks from Asia, and the Latins sit and see my single sword wipe out the nations’ reproach; or let him rule his conquest, and Lavinia pass to his espousal.’

To him Latinus calmly replied: ‘O high in youth and courage, the more thy hot valour abounds, the more intently must I counsel, and weigh fearfully what may befall. Thou hast thy father Daunus’ realm, hast many towns taken by thine hand, nor is Latinus lacking in gold and goodwill. There are other maidens unwedded in Latium and Laurentine fields, and of no mean birth. Let me unfold this hard saying in all sincerity: and do thou drink it into thy soul. I might not ally my daughter to any of her old wooers; such was the universal oracle of gods and men. Overborne by love for thee, overborne by kinship of blood and my mourning wife’s tears, I broke all fetters, I severed the maiden from her promised husband, I took up unrighteous arms. Since then, Turnus, thou seest what 238[32-70] calamities, what wars pursue me, what woes thyself before all dost suffer. Twice vanquished in pitched battle, we scarce guard within our city the hopes of Italy: the streams of Tiber yet run warm with our blood, and our bones whiten the boundless plain. Why fall I away again and again? what madness bends my purpose? If I am ready to take them into alliance after Turnus’ destruction, why do I not rather bar the strife while he lives? What will thy Rutulian kinsmen, will all Italy say, if thy death — Fortune make void the word! — comes by my betrayal, while thou suest for our daughter in marriage? Cast a glance on war’s changing fortune; pity thine aged father, who now far away sits sad in his native Ardea.’

In no wise do the words bend Turnus’ passion: he rages the more fiercely, and sickens of the cure. So soon as he found speech he thus made utterance.

‘The care thou hast for me, most gracious lord, for me lay down, I implore thee, and let me purchase honour with death. Our hand too rains weapons, our steel is strong; and our wounds too draw blood. Far from him will be his goddess mother’s presence to cover his flight, womanlike, in a cloud and an empty phantom’s hiding.’

But the queen, dismayed by the new terms of battle, wept, and clung in a death-clasp to her fiery son-in-law: ‘Turnus, by these tears, by Amata’s regard, if that touches thee at all — thou art now the one hope, the repose of mine unhappy age; in thine hand is Latinus’ honour and empire, on thee is the weight of all our sinking house — one thing I beseech thee; forbear to join battle with the Teucrians. What fate soever awaits thee in the strife thou seekest, it awaits me, Turnus, too: with thee will I leave the hateful light, nor shall my captive eyes see Aeneas my daughter’s lord.’ Lavinia tearfully heard her mother’s words with cheeks all aflame, as deep blushes set her on fire and ran hotly over her face. Even as Indian ivory, if one stain it with sanguine dye, or where white lilies are red with many a rose amid: such colour came on the maiden’s face. Love throws him into tumult, and stays his countenance 239[71-109] on the maid: he burns fiercer for arms, and briefly answers Amata:

‘Do not, I pray thee, do not weep for me, neither pursue me thus ominously as I go to the stern shock of war. Turnus is not free to put off death. Thou, Idmon, bear my message to the Phrygian monarch in this harsh wording: So soon as to-morrow’s Dawn rises in the sky blushing on her crimson wheels, let him not loose Teucrian on Rutulian: let Teucrian arms and Rutulians have rest, and our blood decide the war; on that field let Lavinia be sought in marriage.’

These words uttered, withdrawing swiftly homeward, he orders out his horses, and rejoicingly beholds them snorting before his face: those that Orithyia’s self gave Pilumnus for guerdon, to excel the snows in whiteness and the gales in speed. The busy charioteers stand round and pat their chest with clapping hollowed hands, and comb their tressed manes. Himself next he girds on his shoulders the corslet stiff with gold and pale fine bronze, and buckles on the sword and shield and scarlet-plumed helmet-spikes: that sword the divine Lord of Fire had himself forged for his father Daunus and dipped glowing in the Stygian wave. Next, where it stood amid his dwelling leaning on a massy pillar, he strongly seizes his stout spear, the spoil of Actor the Auruncan, and brandishes it quivering, and cries aloud: ‘Now, O spear that never hast failed at my call, now the time is come; thee princely Actor once, thee Turnus now wields in his grasp. Grant this strong hand to strike down the effeminate Phrygian, to rend and shatter the corslet, and defile in dust the locks curled with hot iron and wet with myrrh.’ Thus madly he runs on: sparkles leap out from all his blazing face, and his keen eyes flash fire: even as when a bull raises horrid bellowings ere the fight begin, and drives against a tree’s trunk to make trial of his angry horns, and buffets the air with blows or scatters the sand in prelude of battle.

And therewithal Aeneas, terrible in his mother’s armour, kindles for warfare and awakes into wrath, rejoicing that offer of treaty stays the war. Comforting his comrades and sorrowing 240[110-158] Iülus’ fear, he instructs them of destiny, and bids bear answer of assurance to King Latinus, and name the terms of peace.

Scarcely did the morrow shed on the mountain-tops the beams of risen day, as the horses of the sun begin to rise from the deep flood and breathe light from their lifted nostrils; Rutulian and Teucrian men measured out and made ready lists for battle under the great city’s ramparts, and amid them hearth-fires and grassy altars to the gods of both peoples, while others bore spring water and fire, draped in priestly dress and their brows bound with grass of the field. The Ausonian army issue forth, and crowd through the gates in streaming serried columns. On this side all the Trojan and Tyrrhenian host pour in diverse armament, girt with iron even as though the harsh battle-strife called them forth. Therewith amid their thousands the captains flit up and down, splendid in gold and purple, Mnestheus, seed of Assaracus, and brave Asilas, and Messapus, tamer of horses, brood of Neptune: then each on signal given retiring to his own ground, they plant their spears in the earth and lean their shields against them. Mothers in eager abandonment, and the unarmed crowd and feeble elders, beset towers and house-roofs, or stand at the lofty gates.

But Juno, on the summit that is now called the Alban — then the mountain had neither name nor fame or honour — looked forth from the hill and surveyed the plain and double lines of Laurentine and Trojan, and Latinus’ town. Straightway spoke she thus to Turnus’ sister, goddess to goddess, lady of pools and noisy rivers: such worship did Jupiter the high king of air consecrate to her for her stolen virginity.

Nymph, grace of rivers, best beloved of our soul, thou knowest how out of all the Latin women that ever rose to high-hearted Jove’s thankless bed, thee only have I preferred and gladly given part and place in heaven. Learn thy woe, that thou blame not me for it, Juturna. Where fortune seemed to allow and the Destinies granted Latinus’ estate to prosper, I shielded Turnus and thy city. Now I see him joining battle with unequal fates, and the day of doom and deadly force 241[149-188] draws nigh. Mine eyes cannot look on this battle and treaty: thou, if thou darest aught of more present help for the brother of thy blood, go on; it befits thee. Haply relief shall follow misery.’

Scarcely thus: when Juturna’s eyes overbrimmed with tears, and thrice and again she smote her hand on her gracious breast. ‘This is not time for tears,’ cries Juno, daughter of Saturn: ‘hasten and snatch thy brother, if it may be, from his death; or do thou waken war, and make the treaty abortive. I encourage thee to dare.’ With such urgence she left her, doubting and dismayed, and grievously wounded in soul.

Meanwhile the kings go forth; Latinus in mighty pomp rides in his four-horse chariot; twelve gilded rays go glittering round his brows, symbol of the Sun his ancestor; Turnus moves behind a white pair, clenching in his hand two broad-headed spears. On this side lord Aeneas, fount of the Roman race, ablaze in starlike shield and celestial arms, and close by Ascanius, second hope of mighty Rome, issue from the camp; and the priest, in spotless raiment, has brought the young of a bristly boar and an unshorn sheep of two years old, and set his beasts by the blazing altars. They, turning their eyes towards the sunrising, scatter salted corn from their hands and clip the beasts with steel over the temples, and pour cups on the altars. Then Aeneas the good, with sword drawn, thus makes invocation:

‘Be the Sun now witness, and this Earth to my call, for whose sake I have borne to suffer so sore travail, and the Lord omnipotent, and thou his wife, at last, divine daughter of Saturn, at last I pray more favourable; and thou, mighty Mavors, who wieldest all warfare in lordship beneath thy sway; and on the Springs and Rivers I call, and the Dread of high heaven, and the divinities of the blue seas: if haply victory fall to Turnus the Ausonian, the vanquished make covenant to withdraw to Evander’s city; Iülus shall quit the land; nor ever hereafter shall the Aeneadae return in arms to renew warfare, or attack this realm with the sword. But if Victory grant battle to us and ours (as I think the rather, and so the 242[189-227] rather may the gods confirm it by their will), I will not bid Italy obey my Teucrians, nor do I claim the realm for mine; let both nations, unconquered, join treaty for ever under equal law. Gods and worship shall be of my giving: my father Latinus shall bear the sword, and have a father’s prescribed command. For me my Teucrians shall establish a city, and Lavinia give the town her name.’

Thus Aeneas first: thereon Latinus thus follows, looking up skyward and stretching his hand to heaven:

‘By these same I swear, O Aeneas, by Earth, Sea, Sky, and the twin brood of Latona and Janus the double-facing, and the might of nether gods and grim Pluto’s shrine; this let our Father hear, who seals treaties with his thunderbolt. I touch the altars, I take to witness the fires and the gods between us; no time shall break this peace and truce in Italy, howsoever fortune fall; nor shall any force turn my will aside, not if it dissolve land into water in turmoil of deluge, or melt heaven in hell: so surely as this sceptre’ (for haply he bore a sceptre in his hand) ‘shall never burgeon into thin leafage and shady shoot, since once in the forest cut down to the stock it lost its mother, and the steel lopped away its tressed arms: a tree of old: now the craftsman’s hand has bound it in adornment of brass and given it to our Latin fathers’ bearing.’

With such words they sealed mutual treaty midway in sight of the princes. Then they duly slay the consecrated beasts over the flames, and tear out their living entrails, and pile the altars with laden chargers.

But long ere this the Rutulians deemed the battle unequal, and their hearts are stirred in changeful motion; and now the more, as they discern nigher . . . heightened by Turnus, as advancing with noiseless pace he humbly worships at the altar with downcast eye, by his wasted cheeks and the pallor on his youthful frame. Soon as Juturna his sister saw this talk spread, and the people’s mind waver in uncertainty, into the mid ranks, in feigned form of Camers — his family was high in long ancestry, and his father’s name for valour renowned, and himself most valiant in arms — into the mid ranks she glides, not ignorant 243[228-267] of her task, and scatters diverse rumours, saying thus: ‘Shame, O Rutulians! shall we set one life in the breach for so many such as these? are we unequal in numbers or bravery? See, Troy and Arcadia is all they bring, and those fated forces that Etruria hurls on Turnus. Scarce is there an enemy to meet every other man of ours. He indeed will ascend to the gods for whose altars he devotes himself, and move living in the lip of men: we, our country lost, shall bow to the haughty rigour of our lords, if we now sit slackly on the field.’

By such words the soldiers’ counsel was kindled yet higher and higher, and a murmur crept through their columns; the very Laurentians, the very Latins are changed; and they who but now hoped for rest from battle and rescue of fortune now desire arms and pray that the treaty were undone, and pity Turnus’ cruel lot. To this Juturna adds a yet stronger impulse, and high in heaven shews a sign more potent than any to confuse Italian souls with delusive augury. For on the crimsoned sky Jove’s tawny bird flew chasing, in a screaming crowd, fowl of the shore that winged their column; then suddenly stooping to the water, pounces greedily on a noble swan with crooked talons. The startled Italians watch, while all the birds together clamorously wheel round from flight, wonderful to see, and dim the sky with their pinions, and in thickening cloud urge their foe through air, till, conquered by their attack and his heavy prey, he yielded and dropped it from his talons into the river, and winged his way deep into the clouds. Then indeed the Rutulians clamorously greet the omen, and their hands flash out. And Tolumnius the augur cries before them all: ‘This it was, this, that my vows often have sought; I welcome and know a deity; follow me, follow, snatch up the sword, O hapless people whom the greedy alien frightens with his arms like silly birds, and with strong hand ravages your shores. He too will take to flight, and spread his sails afar over ocean. Do you with one heart close up your squadrons, and defend in battle your lost king.’ He spoke, and darting forward, hurled a weapon full on the enemy; the whistling cornel-shaft sings, and unerringly cleaves the air. At 244[268-308] once and with it a vast shout goes up, and all their rows are amazed and their hearts hotly stirred. The spear flies on; where haply stood opposite in ninefold brotherhood all the beautiful sons of one faithful Tyrrhene wife; born of her to Gylippus the Arcadian, one of these, midway where the sewn belt rubs on the flank, and the clasp bites the fastenings of the side, one of these, excellent in beauty and glittering in arms, it pierces clean through the ribs and stretches on the yellow sand. But of his banded brethren, their courage fired by grief, some grasp and draw their swords, some snatch lances to hurl, and rush blindly forward. The Laurentine columns charge forth against them; again from the other side Trojans and Agyllines and Arcadians in painted armour flood thickly in: so has one passion seized all to make decision by the sword. They strip the altars; through all the air goes a thick storm of weapons, and faster falls the iron rain. Bowls and hearth-fires are carried off; Latinus himself retreats, bearing the outraged gods of the broken treaty. Others harness their chariots, or vault upon their horses and come up with swords drawn. Messapus, eager to shatter the treaty, rides menacingly down on Aulestes the Tyrrhenian, a king in a king’s array. Retreating hastily, and tripped on the altars that meet him behind, the hapless man goes down on his head and shoulders. But Messapus flies up with wrathful spear, and strikes him, as he pleads sore, a deep downward blow from horseback with his beam-like spear, saying thus: ’That for him: the high gods are given this better victim.’ The Italians crowd in and strip his warm limbs. Corynteus seizes a charred brand from the altar, and meeting Ebysus as he advances to strike, darts the flame in his face; his heavy beard flamed up, and gave out a scorched smell. Following up his enemy’s confusion, the other seizes him with his left hand by the hair, and bears him to earth with a thrust of his planted knee, and there drives the unyielding sword into his side. Podalirius pursues and overhangs with naked sword the shepherd Alsus as he rushes amid the foremost line of weapons; Alsus swings back his axe, and severs brow and chin full in front, wetting his armour all over with 245[309-349] spattered blood. Grim rest and iron slumber seal his eyes; his lids close on everlasting night.

But good Aeneas, his head bared, kept stretching his unarmed hand and calling loudly to his men: ‘Whither run you? What is this strife that so spreads and swells? Ah, restrain your wrath! truce is already stricken, and all its laws ordained; mine alone is the right of battle. Leave me alone, and fear not; my hand shall confirm the treaty; these rites already make Turnus mine.’ Amid these accents, amid words like these, lo! a whistling arrow winged its way to him, sped from what hand or how tempest-driven, none knows, or what chance or deity brought such honour to the Rutulians; the renown of the high deed was buried, nor did any boast to have dealt Aeneas’ wound. Turnus, when he saw Aeneas retreating from the ranks and the captains in dismay, burns hot with sudden hope. At once he calls for his horses and armour, and with a bound leaps proudly into his chariot and handles the reins. He darts on, dealing many brave men’s bodies to death; many an one he rolls half-slain, or crushes whole files under his chariot, or seizes and showers spears on the fugitives. As when by the streams of icy Hebrus Mavors kindles to bloodshed and clashes on his shield, and stirs war and speeds his furious coursers; they outwing south winds and west on the open plain; utmost Thrace groans under their hoof-beats; and around in the god’s train rush the faces of dark Terror, and Wraths and Ambushes; even so amid the battle Turnus briskly lashes on his reeking horses, trampling on the foes that lie piteously slain; the galloping hoof scatters bloody dew, and spurns mingled gore and sand. And now has he dealt Sthenelus to death, and Thamyrus and Pholus, him and him at close quarters, the other from afar; from afar both the sons of Imbrasus, Glaucus and Lades, whom Imbrasus himself had nurtured in Lycia and equipped in equal arms, whether to meet hand to hand or to outstrip the winds on horseback. Elsewhere Eumedes advances amid the fray, ancient Dolon’s offspring, illustrious in war, renewing his grandfather’s name, his father’s courage and strength of hand, who of old dared to 246[350-388] claim Pelides’ chariot as his price if he went to spy out the Grecian camp; to him the son of Tydeus told out another price for his venture, and he dreams no more of Achille’s horses. Him Turnus descried far on the open plain, and first following him with light javelin through long space of air, stops his double-harnessed horses and leaps from the chariot, and descends on his fallen half-lifeless foe, and, planting his foot on his neck, wrests the blade out of his hand and dyes its glitter deep in his throat, adding these words withal: ‘Behold, thou liest, Trojan, meting out those Hesperian fields thou didst seek in war. Such guerdon is theirs who dare to tempt my sword; thus do they found their city.’ Then with a spear-cast he sends Asbutes to follow him, and Chloreus and Sybaris, Dares and Thersilochus, and Thymoetes fallen flung over his horse’s neck. And as when the Edonian north wind’s wrath roars on the deep Aegean, and the wave follows it shoreward; where the blast comes down, the clouds race over the sky; so, wheresoever Turnus cleaves his way, columns retreat and lines turn and run; his own speed bears him on, and his flying plume tosses as his chariot meets the breeze. Phegeus disdained his furious onset; he faced the chariot, and caught and twisted away in his right hand the mouths of his horses, spurred into speed and foaming on the bit. Dragged along and hanging by the yoke he is left uncovered; the broad lance-head reaches him, pins and pierces the corslet of double-twined mail, and lightly wounds the surface of his body. Yet turning, he advanced on the enemy behind his shield, and sought succour in the naked point; when the wheel running forward on its swift axle struck him headlong and flung him to ground, and Turnus’ sword following it smote off his head between the helmet-rim and the upper border of the breastplate, and left the body on the sand.

And while Turnus thus victoriously deals death over the plains, Mnestheus meantime and faithful Achates, and Ascanius by their side, set down Aeneas in the camp, dabbled with blood and leaning at every other step on his long spear. He storms, and tries hard to pull out the dart where the reed 247[389-429] had broken, and calls for the nearest way of remedy, to cut open the wound with broad blade, and tear apart the weapon’s lurking-place, and so send him back to battle. And now Iapix son of Iasus came, beloved beyond others of Phoebus, to whom once of old, smitten with sharp desire, Apollo gladly offered his own arts and gifts, augury and the lyre and swift arrows: he, to lengthen out the destiny of a parent given over to die, chose rather to know the potency of herbs and the practice of healing, and deal in a silent art unrenowned. Aeneas stood chafing bitterly, propped on his vast spear, encircled by mourning Iülus and a great crowd of men, unstirred by their tears. The aged man, with garment drawn back and girt about him in Paeonian fashion, makes many a hurried effort with healing hand and the potent herbs of Phoebus, all in vain; in vain his hand solicits the arrow-head, and his pincers’ grasp pulls at the steel. Fortune leads him forward in no wise; Apollo aids not with counsel; and more and more the fierce clash swells over the plains, and the havoc draws nigher on. Already they see the sky a mass of dust, the cavalry approaching, and shafts falling thickly amid the camp; the dismal cry uprises of warriors fighting and falling under the War-god’s heavy hand. At this, stirred deep by her son’s cruel pain, Venus his mother plucked from Cretan Ida a stalk of dittamy with downy leaves and bright-tressed flowers, the plant not unknown to wild goats when winged arrows are fast in their body. This Venus bore down, her face shrouded in a dim halo; this she steeps with secret healing in the river-water poured out and sparkling abrim, and sprinkles life-giving juice of ambrosia and scented balm. With that water aged Iapix washed the wound, unwitting; and suddenly, lo! all the pain left his body, all the blood in the deep wound was stanched. And now following his hand the arrow fell out unforced, and strength returned afresh as of old. ‘Hasten! arms for him quickly! why stand you still?’ cries Iapix aloud, and at once kindles their courage against the enemy; ‘this comes not by human resource or schooling of art, nor does my hand save thee, Aeneas: a higher god is at work, and sends thee back to higher deeds.’ 248[430-469] He, eager for battle, had already clasped on the greaves of gold right and left, and scorning delay, brandishes his spear. When the shield is adjusted by his side and the corslet on his back, he clasps Ascanius in his armed embrace, and lightly kissing him through the helmet, cries: ‘Learn of me, O boy, valour and toil in deed, fortune of others. Now mine hand shall give thee defence in war, and lead thee to great reward: do thou, when hereafter thine age ripens to fulness, keep this in remembrance, and as thou recallest the pattern of thy kindred, let thy father Aeneas, thine uncle Hector arouse thy courage.’

These words uttered, he issued towering from the gates, brandishing his mighty spear: with him in serried column rush Antheus and Mnestheus, and all the throng streams forth of the camp. The field drifts with blinding dust, and the startled earth trembles under the tramp of feet. From his earthworks opposite Turnus saw and the Ausonians saw them come, and an icy shudder ran deep through their frame; first and before all the Latins Juturna heard and knew the sound, and in terror fled away. He flies on, and hurries his dark column over the open plain. As when in fierce weather a storm-cloud moves over mid sea to land, with presaging heart, alas! the hapless husbandmen shudder from afar; it will deal havoc to their trees and destruction to their crops, and make a broad path of ruin; the winds fly before it, and bear its roar to the beach; so the Rhoeteian captain drives his army full on the foe; one and all they close up in serried wedges, and mass their ranks. Thymbraeus smites massive Osiris with the sword, Mnestheus slays Arcetius, Achates Epulo, Gyas Ufens: Tolumnius the augur himself goes down, he who had hurled the first weapon against the foe. Their cry rises to heaven, and in turn the routed Rutulians give back, flying in a cloud of dust across the fields. Himself he deigns not to cut down the fugitives, nor pursue such as meet him fair on foot of approach in arms: Turnus alone he tracks and searches in the thick haze, him alone calls to conflict. Then panic-stricken the warrior maiden Juturna flings Metiscus, Turnus’ charioteer, out over his reins, 249[470-508] and leaving him far where he slips from the chariot-pole, herself succeeds and manages the wavy reins, her voice and body and armour all those that Metiscus wore. As when a black swallow flits through some rich lord’s spacious house, and circles in flight the lofty halls, gathering her tiny food for sustenance to her twittering nestlings, and now swoops down the spacious colonnades, now round the wet ponds; in like wise dart Juturna’s horses amid the enemy, and her fleet chariot passes flying over all the field. And now here and now here she displays her triumphant brother, nor yet allows him to close, but flies far and away. None the less does Aeneas thread the circling maze to meet him, and tracks his man, and with loud cries on him through the scattered ranks. Often as he cast eyes on his enemy and essayed to outrun the speed of the flying-footed horses, so often Juturna wheeled her chariot away. Alas, what can he do? Vainly he tosses on the ebb and flow, and in his spirit diverse cares make conflicting call; when Messapus, who haply bore in his left hand two tough spear-shafts topped with steel, runs lightly up and aims and hurls one of them upon him with unerring stroke, Aeneas stood still, and gathered himself behind his armour, sinking on bended knee; yet the rushing spear bore off his helmet-spike, and dashed the helmet-plume from the crest. Then indeed his wrath swells; and forced to it by their treachery, while he sees chariot and horses disappear, he calls Jove and the altars of the violated treaty again and again to witness, and now at last plunges amid their lines. Sweeping terrible down the tide of battle he wakens fierce indiscriminate carnage, and flings loose all the reins of wrath.

What god may now unfold for me in verse so many woes, so many diverse slaughters and death of captains whom now Turnus, now again the Trojan hero, drives over all the field? Was it thy will, O god, that nations destined to everlasting peace should clash in so vast a shock? Sucro the Rutulian delayed not Aeneas long, though that combat stayed the first rush of the Teucrians; he catches him on the side, and, where fate comes quickest, drives the harsh sword clean through the 250[509-561] ribs where they fence the breast. Turnus unhorsing Amycus meets him on foot, him and his brother Diores: one he strikes with his long spear as he comes, one with his sword-point, and hangs both severed heads on his chariot and carries them off dripping with blood. The one sends to death Talos and Tanaïs and brave Cethegus, three at one meeting, and woeful Onites, of Echionian name, and Peridia the mother that bore him; the other those brethren sent from Lycia and Apollo’s fields, and Menoetes the Arcadian, him who loathed warfare in vain; who once had his art and humble home about the river-fisheries of Lerna, and knew not the courts of the great, but his father was tenant of the land he tilled. And as fires kindled dispersedly in a dry forest and rustling laurel thickets, or foaming rivers where they leap swift and loud from high hills, and speed to sea each in his own path of havoc; as fiercely the two, Aeneas and Turnus, dash amid the battle; now, now wrath surges within them, and hearts break rather than know defeat; now in all their might they rush upon wounds. The one dashes Murranus down and stretches him on the soil with a vast whirling mass of rock, as he cries the names of his fathers and forefathers of old, a whole line drawn through Latin kings; under traces and yoke the wheels spurned him, and the fast-beating hoofs of his rushing horses trample down their forgotten lord. The other meets Hyllus rushing on in gigantic pride, and hurls his weapon at his gold-bound temples; the spear pierced through the helmet and stood fast in the brain. Neither did thy right hand save thee from Turnus, O Cretheus, bravest of the Greeks; nor did his gods shield Cupencus when Aeneas came; he gave his beast full to the steel, nor, alas! was the brazen shield’s delay aught of avail. Thee likewise, Aeolus, the Laurentine plains saw sink backward and cover a wide space of earth; thou fallest, whom Argive battalions could not lay low, nor Achilles the destroyer of Priam’s realm. Here was thy goal of death; thine high house was under Ida, at Lyrnesus thine high house, on Laurentine soil thy tomb. The whole battle-lines gather up, all Latium and all Dardania, Mnestheus and valiant Serestus, 251[562-588] with Messapus, tamer of horses, and brave Asilas, the Tuscan battle-line and Evander’s Arcadian squadrons; man by man they struggle with all their might; no rest nor pause in the vast strain of conflict.

At this Aeneas’ mother most beautiful inspired him to advance on the walls, directing his columns on the town and dismaying the Latins with sudden and swift disaster. As in search for Turnus he bent his glance this way and that round the separate ranks, he descries the city free from all this warfare, unpunished and unstirred. Straightway he kindles at the view of a greater battle; he summons Mnestheus and Sergestus and brave Serestus his captains, and mounts a hillock; there the rest of the Teucrian army gathers thickly, still grasping shield and spear. Standing on the high mound amid them, he speaks: ‘Be there no delay to my words; Jupiter is with us; neither let any be slower to move that the design is sudden. This city to-day, the source of war, the royal seat of Latinus, unless they yield them to receive our yoke and obey their conquerors, will I raze to ground, and lay her smoking roofs level with the dust. Must I wait forsooth till Turnus pleasest to stoop to combat, and chose again to face his conqueror? This, O citizens, is the head and sum of the accursed war. Bring firebrands speedily, and reclaim the treaty in flame.’ He ended; all with spirit alike emulous form a wedge and advance in serried mass to the walls. Ladders are run up, and fire leaps sudden to sight. Some rush to the several gates, and cut down the guards of the entry, others hurl their steel and darken the sky with weapons. Aeneas himself among the foremost, upstretching his hand to the city walls, loudly reproaches Latinus, and takes the gods to witness that he is again forced into battle, that twice now do the Italians choose warfare and break a second treaty. Discord rises among the shaken citizens: some bid unbar the town and fling wide their gates to the Dardanians, and pull the king himself towards the ramparts; others bring arms and hasten to defend the walls: as when a shepherd tracks bees to their retreat in a sheltering rock, and fills it with stinging smoke, they within run uneasily up and 252[589-631] down their waxen fortress, and hum louder in rising wrath; the black pungent cloud rolls through their dwelling, and a blind murmur echoes within the rocks as the smoke issues to the empty air.

This fortune likewise befell the despairing Latins, this woe shook the whole city to her base. The queen espies from her roof the enemy’s approach, the walls scaled and firebrands flying on the houses; and nowhere Rutulian ranks, none of Turnus’ columns to meet them; alas! she deems him destroyed in the shock of battle, and, distracted by sudden anguish, shrieks that she is the source of guilt, the spring of ill, and with many a mad utterance of frenzied grief rends her purple attire with dying hand, and ties from a lofty beam the ghastly noose of death. And when the unhappy Latin women knew this calamity, first her daughter Lavinia tears her flower-like tresses and roseate cheeks, and the frenzy spreads from her to the whole train around; the wide palace echoes to their wailing, and from it the sorrowful rumour spreads abroad throughout the town. All hearts sink; Latinus goes with torn raiment, in dismay at his wife’s doom and his city’s downfall, defiling his hoary hair with soilure of sprinkled dust.

Meanwhile on the skirts of the field Turnus chases scattered stragglers, ever slacker to battle, ever less and less exultant in his courser’s victorious speed. The confused cry came to him borne in blind terror down the breeze, and his startled ears caught the echoing tumult and disastrous murmur of the town. ‘Ah me! what agony shakes the ramparts? or what is this cry that fleets so loud from the distant town?’ So speaks he, and distractedly checks the reins. And to him his sister, as changed into his charioteer Metiscus’ likeness she swayed horses and chariot-reins, thus rejoined: ‘This way, Turnus, let us pursue the brood of Troy, where victory opens her nearest way; there are others whose hands can protect their dwellings. Aeneas falls fiercer on the Italians, and closes in conflict; let our hand too deal pitiless death on his Teucrians. Neither in tale of dead nor in glory of battle shalt thou retire outdone.’ Thereat Turnus: . .


‘Ah my sister, long ere now I knew thee, when first thine arts shattered the treaty, and thou didst mingle in the strife; and now thy godhead conceals itself in vain. But who has bidden thee descend from heaven to bear this sore travail? was it that thou mightest see thy hapless brother cruelly slain? for what am I doing, or what fortune yet gives promise of safety? Before my very eyes, calling aloud to me, I saw Murranus, than whom none other is left me more dear, sink huge to earth, borne down by as huge a wound. Hapless Ufens is fallen, not to see our shame; corpse and armour are in Teucrian hands. The destruction of their households, this was the one thing yet lacking; shall I suffer it? Shall my hand not refute Drance’s jeers? shall I turn my back, and this land see Turnus a fugitive? Is Death all so bitter? Do you, O Shades, be gracious to me, since the will of heaven is estranged; to you shall I go down, a pure spirit and ignorant of your blame, never once unworthy of my mighty forefathers of old.’

Scarce had he spoken thus; lo! Saces, borne flying on his foaming horse through the thickest of the foe, an arrow-wound right in his face, darts, beseeching Turnus by his name. ‘Turnus, in thee is our last safety; pity thy people. Aeneas thunders in arms, and threatens to overthrow and hurl to destruction the high Italian fortress; and already firebrands are flying on our roofs. On thee, on thee the Latins turn their gazing eyes; King Latinus himself mutters in doubt, whom he is to call his sons, to whom he shall incline in union. Moreover the queen, thy surest stay, has fallen by her own hand and in dismay fled the light. Alone in front of the gates Messapus and valiant Atinas sustain the battle-line. Round about them to right and left the armies stand locked and the iron field shivers with naked points; thou wheelest thy chariot on the sward alone.’

As the scene shifted before him Turnus froze in horror and stood in dumb gaze; together in his heart sweep the vast mingling tides of shame and maddened grief, and love stung to frenzy and resolved valour. So soon as the darkness cleared 254[670-710] and light returned to his soul, he fiercely turned his blazing eyeballs towards the ramparts, and gazed back from his wheels on the great city. And lo! a spire of flame wreathing through the floors wavered up skyward and held a turret fast, a turret that he himself had reared of mortised planks and set on rollers and laid with gangways. ‘Now, O my sister, now fate prevails: cease to hinder; let us follow where deity and stern fortune call. I am resolved to face Aeneas, resolved to bear what bitterness there is in death; nor shalt thou longer see me shamed, sister of mine. Let me be mad, I pray thee, with this madness before the end.’ He spoke, and leapt swiftly from his chariot to the field, and darting through weapons and through enemies, leaves his sorrowing sister, and bursts in rapid course amid their columns. And as when a rock rushes headlong from some mountain peak, torn away by the blast, or if the rushing rain washes it away, or the stealing years loosen its ancient hold; the reckless mountain mass goes sheer and impetuous, and leaps along the ground, hurling with it forests and herds and men; thus through the scattering columns Turnus rushes to the city walls, where the earth is wettest with bloodshed and the air sings with spears; and beckons with his hand, and thus begins aloud: ‘Forebear now, O Rutulians, and you, Latins, stay your weapons. Whatsoever fortune is left is mine: I singly must expiate the treaty for you all, and make decision with the sword.’ All drew aside and left him room.

But lord Aeneas, hearing Turnus’ name, abandons the walls, abandons the fortress height, and in exultant joy flings aside all hindrance, breaks off all work, and clashes his armour terribly, vast as Athos, or as Eryx, or as the lord of Apennine when he roars with his tossing ilex woods and rears his snowy crest rejoicing into air. Now indeed Rutulians and Trojans and all Italy burned in emulous gaze, both they who held the high city, and they whose ram was battering the wall below, and took off the armour from their shoulders. Latinus himself stands in amaze at the mighty men, born in distant quarters of the world, met and making decision with the sword. And 255[711-747] they, in the empty level field that cleared for them, darting swiftly forward, and hurling their spears from far, close in battle shock with clangour of brazen shields. Earth utters a moan; the sword-strokes fall thick and fast, chance and valour joining in one. And as in broad Sila or high on Taburnus, when two bulls rush to deadly battle forehead to forehead, the herdsmen retire in terror, all the cattle stand dumb in dismay, and the heifers murmur in doubt which shall be lord in the woodland, which the whole herd must follow; they violently deal many a mutual wound, and gore with their stubborn horns, bathing their necks and shoulders in abundant blood; all the woodland echoes back their bellowing with a moan: even thus Aeneas of Troy and the Daunian hero rush together shield to shield; the mighty crash fills the sky. Jupiter himself holds up the two scales in even balance, and lays in them the different fates of both, trying which shall pay forfeit of the strife, whose weight shall sink in death. Turnus darts out, thinking it secure, and rises with his whole reach of body on his uplifted sword; then strikes; Trojans and Latins cry out in alarm, and both armies strain their gaze. But the treacherous sword shivers, and in mid stroke deserts its eager lord. If flight aid him not now! He flies swifter than the wind, when once he descries a strange hilt in his weaponless hand. Rumour is that in his headlong haste, when mounting behind his yoked horses to begin the battle, he left his father’s sword behind and caught up his charioteer Metiscus’ weapon; and that served him long, while Teucrian stragglers turned their backs; when it met the divine Vulcanian armour, the mortal blade like brittle ice snapped in the stroke; the shards lie glittering upon the yellow sand. So in distracted flight Turnus darts afar over the plain, and now this way and now that crosses in wavering circles; for on all hands the Teucrians locked him in crowded ring, and the waste marsh on this side, on this the steep city ramparts hem him in.

Therewith Aeneas pursues, though ever and anon his knees, disabled by the arrow, hinder him and refuse to run; and foot hard on foot presses hotly on his hurrying enemy: as when 256[748-788] a hunter courses with a fleet barking hound some stag caught in a river-loop or girt by the crimson-feathered toils, and he, in terror of the snares and the high river-bank darts forward and back in a thousand ways; but the keen Umbrian clings agape, and just catches at him, and as though he caught him snaps his jaws while the baffled teeth close on vacancy. Then indeed a cry goes up, and banks and pools answer round about, and all the sky echoes the din. He, even as he flies, chides all his Rutulians, calling each by name, and shrieks for the sword he knows. But Aeneas denounces death and instant doom if one of them draw nigh, and doubles their terror with threats of their city’s destruction, and though wounded presses on. Five circles they cover at full speed and unwind as many, this way and that; for not light nor slight is the prize they seek, but Turnus’ very lifeblood is at issue. Here there haply had stood a bitter-leaved wild olive, sacred to Faunus, a tree worshipped by mariners of old; on it, when rescued from the waves, they were wont to fix their gifts to the god of Laurentum and hang their votive raiment; but the Teucrians, unregarding, had cleared away the sacred stem, that they might meet on unimpeded lists. Here was lodged Aeneas’ spear; hither borne by its own speed it was held fast stuck in the tough root. The Dardanian stooped over it, and would wrench away the steel, to follow with the weapon him whom he could not catch in running. Then indeed Turnus cries in frantic terror: ‘Faunus, have pity, I beseech thee! and thou, most gracious Earth, keep thy hold on the steel, if I alway have kept your worship, and the Aeneadae contrariwise have profaned it in war.’ He spoke, and called the god to aid in vows that fell not fruitless. For all Aeneas’ strength, his long struggling and delay over the tough stem availed not to unclose the hard grip of the wood. While he strains and pulls hard, the Daunian goddess, changing once more into the charioteer Metiscus’ likeness, runs forward and passes her brother his sword. But Venus, indignant that the Nymph might be so bold, drew nigh and wrenched away the spear where it stuck deep in the root. Erect in fresh courage and 257[789-827] arms, he with his faithful sword, he towering fierce over his spear, they face one another panting in the battle shock.

Meanwhile the King of Heaven’s omnipotence accosts Juno as she gazes on the battle from a sunlit cloud. ‘What yet shall be the end, O wife? what remains at the last? Aeneas is claimed by Heaven as his country’s god, thou thyself knowest and avowest to know, and is lifted by fate to the stars. With what device or in what hope hangest thou chill in cloudland? Was it well that a deity should be sullied by a mortal’s wound? or that the lost sword — for what without thee could Juturna avail? — should be restored to Turnus and swell the force of the vanquished? Forbear now, I pray, and bend to our entreaties; let not all this pain devour thee in silence, and distress so often flood back on me from thy sweet lips. The end is come. Thou has had power to hunt the Trojans on land or wave, to kindle accursed war, to put the house in mourning, and plunge the bridal in grief: further attempt I forbid thee.’ Thus Jupiter began: thus the goddess, daughter of Saturn, returned with humbled aspect:

‘Even because this thy will, great Jupiter, is known to me for thine, have I left, though loth, Turnus and earth; nor else wouldst thou see me now, alone on this skyey seat, enduring even past endurance; but girt in flame I were standing by their very lines, and dragging the Teucrians into the deadly battle. I counselled Juturna, I confess it, to succour her hapless brother, and for his life’s sake favoured a greater daring; yet not the arrow-shot, not the bending of the bow, I swear by the merciless well-head of the Stygian spring, the single ordained dread of the gods in heaven. And now I retire, and leave the battle in loathing. This thing I beseech thee, that is bound by no fatal law, for Latium and for the majesty of thy kindred. When now they shall plight peace with prosperous marriages (be it so!), when now they shall join in laws and treaties, bid thou not the native Latins change their name of old, nor become Trojans and take the Teucrian name, or change their language, or alter their attire: let Latium be, let Alban kings endure through ages, let Italian valour be potent in the race of 258[828-868] Rome. Troy is fallen; let her and her name lie where they fell.’

To her smilingly the designer of men and things:

‘Jove’s own sister thou art, and second offspring of Saturn, such surge of wrath tosses within thy breast! But come, allay this madness so vainly stirred. I give thee thy will, and yield the ungrudged victory. Ausonia shall keep her native speech and usage, and as her name is, it shall be. The Trojans shalt sink incorporate with them; I will add their sacred law and ritual, and make all Latins and of a single speech. Hence shall spring a race of tempered Ausonian blood, whom thou shalt see outdo men and gods in duty; nor shall any nation so observe thy worship.’ To this Juno assented, and in gladness withdrew her purpose; meanwhile she quit her cloud, and retires out of the sky.

This done, the Father revolves inly another counsel, and prepares to separate Juturna from her brother’s arms. Twin monsters there are called the Awful Ones by name, whom with infernal Megaera the dead of night bore at one single birth, and wreathed them in like serpent coils, and clothed them in windy wings. They appear at Jove’s throne and in the courts of the grim king, and quicken the terrors of wretched men whensoever the lord of heaven deals sicknesses and dreadful death, or sends terror of war upon guilty cities. One of these Jupiter sent swiftly down from the height of heaven, and bade her meet Juturna for an omen. She wings her way, and darts in a whirlwind to earth. Even as an arrow through a cloud darting from the string, which Parthian has poisoned with bitter gall, Parthian or Cydonian, and sped the immedicable shaft, leaps through the swift shadow whistling and unknown; so sprang and swept to earth the daughter of Night. When she espies the Ilian ranks and Turnus’ columns, suddenly shrinking to the shape of small bird that often sits late by night on tombs or ruinous roofs, and vexes the darkness with her cry, in such change of likeness the monster shrilly passes and repasses before Turnus’ face, and her wings beat restlessly on his shield. A strange numbing terror unnerves his limbs, his hair thrills up, and the voice in his throat was 259[869-907] choked. But when Juturna his hapless sister knew afar the whistling wings of the Fury, she unbinds and tears her tresses, with rent face and smitten bosom. ‘How, O Turnus, can thine own sister help thee now? or what more is there if I break not under this? By what device may I lengthen out thy day? can I contend with this ominous thing? Now, now I quite the field. Dismay me not with your terrors, disastrous birds; I know these beating wings, and the sound of death, nor do I miss high-hearted Jove’s haughty ordinance. In this his repayment for my maidenhood? to what end was his gift of life for ever? why did I forfeit a mortal’s lot? Could I but end all this pain now for good, and go with my unhappy brother side by side into the dark! Alas mine immortality! will aught of mine be sweet to me without thee, my brother? Ah, how may Earth yawn deep enough for me, and plunge my godhead deep in the world below!’

So spoke she, and wrapping her head in her grey vesture, the goddess moaning sore sank in the river depth.

But Aeneas presses on, brandishing his vast tree-like spear, and fiercely speaks thus: ‘What more delay is there now? or why, Turnus, dost thou yet shrink away? Not in speed of foot, in grim arms, hand to hand, must be the conflict. Transform thyself as thou wilt, and collect what strength of courage or skill is thine; pray that thou mayest wing thy flight to the stars on high, or that sheltering earth may shut thee in.’ The other, shaking his head: ‘Thy fierce words dismay me not, insolent! the gods dismay me, and Jupiter’s enmity.’ And no more said, his eyes light on a vast stone, a stone ancient and vast that haply lay upon the plain, set for a landmark to divide contested fields: scarcely might twelve chosen men lift it on their shoulders, of such frame as now earth breeds mankind: then the hero caught it up with shaking hand whirled it at the enemy, rising higher and quickening his speed. But he knows not his own self running nor giving nor lifting his hands or moving the mighty stone; his knees totter, his blood freezes cold; the very stone he hurls, spinning through the empty void, neither wholly reached its distance nor carried 260[908-947] its blow home. And as in sleep, when rest at night weighs down our tired eyes, we seem vainly to will to run eagerly on, and sink faint amidst our struggles; the tongue is powerless, the familiar strength fails the body, nor do words or utterance follow: so the awful goddess brings to naught all the valour of Turnus where he seeks a way. Shifting thoughts pass through his breast; he gazes on his Rutulians and on the city, and falters in terror, and shudders at the imminent death; neither sees he whither he may escape nor what force is his to meet the foe, and nowhere his chariot, nowhere his sister at the reins. As he wavers Aeneas poises the deadly weapon, and, marking his chance, hurls it in from afar with all his strength of body. Never with such a roar are stones hurled from some engine on ramparts, nor does the thunder burst in so loud a peal. Carrying grim death with it, the spear flies in fashion of some dark whirlwind, and opens the rim of corslet and the utmost circles of the sevenfold shield. Right through the thigh it passes hurtling on; under the blow Turnus falls huge to earth with his leg doubled under him. The Rutulians start up with a groan, and all the hill echoes round about, and the width of high woodland returns their cry. Lifting up beseechingly his humbled eyes and suppliant hand: ‘I have deserved it,’ he says, ‘nor do I ask for mercy; use thy fortune. If an unhappy parent’s distress may at all touch thee, this I pray; even such a father was Anchises to thee; pity Daunus’ old age, and restore to my kindred which thou wilt, me or my body bereft of day. Thou art conqueror, and the Ausonians have seen me stretch conquered hands. Lavinia is thine in marriage, press not hatred farther.’

Aeneas stood wrathful in arms, with rolling eyes, and lowered his hand; and now and now yet more the speech began to bend him to waver: when high on his shoulder appeared the sword-belt with the shining bosses that he knew, the luckless belt of the boy Pallas, whom Turnus had struck down with mastering wound, and wore on his shoulders the fatal ornament. The other, as his eyes rank in the plundered record of his fierce grief, kindles to fury, and cries terrible in anger: 261[948-952] ‘Mayest thou, clad in the spoils of my dearest, be snatched from me now? Pallas it is, Pallas who strikes the deathblow, and exacts vengeance in thy guilty blood.’ So saying, he fiercely plunges the steel full in his breast. But his limbs grow slack and chill, and the life with a moan flies indignant into the dark.

[The End of the online text of
The Aeneid, translated by J. W. Mackail.]


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