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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book IX Chapter 28: Turnus is stopped
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At last the Teucrian chiefs had heard the tale |
of so much slaughter; and in council met
are Mnestheus and Serestus bold, who see
their comrades routed and the conquering foe
within the gates. Cries Mnestheus, Whither fly?
What open way is yonder or what wall?
Beyond these ramparts lost what stronger lie?
Shall one lone man here in your walls confined,
make havoc unavenged and feed the grave
with your best warriors? O cowards vile!
For your sad country and her ancient gods
and for renowned Aeneas, can ye feel
no pity and no shame? Enflamed to fight
by words like these, they close the line, and stand
in strong array. So Turnus for a space
out of the battle step by step withdrew
to make the river-bank his rearguard strong;
whereat the Teucrians, shouting loud, swept on
the fiercer, and in solid mass pressed round.
as when a troop of hunters with keen spears
encircle a wild lion, who in fear,
but glaring grim and furious, backward falls,
valor and rage constrain him ne'er to cease
fronting the foe; yet not for all his ire
can he against such serried steel make way:
so Turnus backward with a lingering step
unwilling drew, and wrath his heart overflowed.
for twice already had he cloven a path
into the foe's mid-press, and twice had driven
their flying lines in panic through the town.
But now the whole throng from the camp he sees
massed to the onset. Nor will Juno now
dare give him vigor to withstand, for Jove
had sent aerial Iris out of heaven
with stern commandment to his sister-queen
that Turnus from the Teucrian walls retire.
Therefore the warrior's shield avails no more,
nor his strong arm; but he is overthrown
by general assault. Around his brows
his smitten helmet rings; the ponderous mail
cracks under falling stones; the haughty plumes
are scattered from his head, nor can the boss
of his stout shield endure; the Trojans hurl
redoubled rain of spears; and with them speeds
Mnestheus like thunderbolt. The hero's flesh
dissolves in sweat; no room to breathe has he;
his limbs are spent and weary; his whole frame
shakes with his gasping breath: then bounding fort
with all his harness on, headlong he plunged
into the flowing stream; its yellow tide
embraced him as he fell, and gentle waves
restored him smiling to his friends in arms,
with all the gore and carnage washed away.
Tandem ductores audita caede suorum
conueniunt Teucri, Mnestheus acerque Serestus,
palantisque uident socios hostemque receptum.
et Mnestheus: 'quo deinde fugam, quo tenditis?' inquit.
'quos alios muros, quaeue ultra moenia habetis?
unus homo et uestris, o ciues, undique saeptus
aggeribus tantas strages impune per urbem
ediderit? iuuenum primos tot miserit Orco?
non infelicis patriae ueterumque deorum
et magni Aeneae, segnes, miseretque pudetque?'
talibus accensi firmantur et agmine denso
consistunt. Turnus paulatim excedere pugna
et fluuium petere ac partem quae cingitur unda.
acrius hoc Teucri clamore incumbere magno
et glomerare manum, ceu saeuum turba leonem
cum telis premit infensis; at territus ille,
asper, acerba tuens, retro redit et neque terga
ira dare aut uirtus patitur, nec tendere contra
ille quidem hoc cupiens potis est per tela uirosque.
haud aliter retro dubius uestigia Turnus
improperata refert et mens exaestuat ira.
quin etiam bis tum medios inuaserat hostis,
bis confusa fuga per muros agmina uertit;
sed manus e castris propere coit omnis in unum
nec contra uiris audet Saturnia Iuno
sufficere; aeriam caelo nam Iuppiter Irim
demisit germanae haud mollia iussa ferentem,
ni Turnus cedat Teucrorum moenibus altis.
ergo nec clipeo iuuenis subsistere tantum
nec dextra ualet, iniectis sic undique telis
obruitur. strepit adsiduo caua tempora circum
tinnitu galea et saxis solida aera fatiscunt
discussaeque iubae, capiti nec sufficit umbo
ictibus; ingeminant hastis et Troes et ipse
fulmineus Mnestheus. tum toto corpore sudor
liquitur et piceum (nec respirare potestas)
flumen agit, fessos quatit aeger anhelitus artus.
tum demum praeceps saltu sese omnibus armis
in fluuium dedit. ille suo cum gurgite flauo
accepit uenientem ac mollibus extulit undis
et laetum sociis abluta caede remisit.