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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book IX Chapter 12: Nisus and Euryalus caught
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But horsemen from the Latin city sent |
to join the serried legions of the plain
had come at Turnus' call, three hundred strong
all bearing shields, and under the command
of Volscens. Nigh the camp and walls they drew;
and soon they spied upon the leftward path
th' heroic pair, where in dim shades of night
the helmet of Euryalus betrayed
the heedless boy, and with a glancing beam
flashed on the foe. Nor was it seen in vain.
Loud from the line the voice of Volscens called:
Stand, gentlemen! What business brings you here?
Whose your allegiance? Whither speed so fast?
No answer gave they save to fly in haste
to cover of the forest and deep gloom
of the defensive night. The horsemen then
blocked every cross-way known, and, scattering wide,
kept sentry at the entrance. The great wood
was all of tangled brush and blinding shade
of flex-boughs. Impenetrable thorns
had thickly overgrown, and seldom showed
a pathway through the maze. Euryalus,
by the black branches and his ponderous spoil
impeded, groped along in fearful doubt,
deceived and quite astray. Nisus his friend
had quit him, and incautiously had forced
a sally through the close-encircling foe,
into that region which should after bear
the name of Alba -- a rude shelter then
for King Latinus' herds. He stayed him there
and looked, but vainly, for the comrade gone.
Euryalus, ill-fated boy! he cried,
Where have I lost thee in the pathless wild?
How find thee? How retrace the blinding maze
of yonder treacherous wood? Yet ere he said,
on his own path he turns him back, and scans
his own light footprints through the tangled thorn,
so dark and still. But suddenly he hears
the tread of horses, with confusing din
and tumult of pursuit. Nor was it long
he tarried ere upon his anguished ear
smote a great cry: and, lo! Euryalus,
trapped by the dark night, the deceptive ground,
faced the whole onset, and fell back o'erwhelmed
by a loud mob of foes, while his sole sword
tried many a thrust in vain. O, what defence
may Nisus bring? With what audacious arms
his chosen comrade save? Shall he make bare
his dying breast to all their swords, and run
to honorable death that bloody way?
he swung his spear with lifted arm, then looked
to the still moon, in heaven, and thus implored:
O goddess, aid me in my evil case.
O glory of the stars, Latona's child!
O guardian of groves, if in my name
my father Hyrtacus made offerings
on burning altars, if my own right hand,
successful in the chase, ere hung its gift
beneath thy dome or on thy sacred wall,
grant me yon troop to scatter. Guide my spear
along its path in air. He spoke, and hurled
with all his gathered strength the shaft of steel.
the swift spear clove the shades of night, and struck
full in the back of Sulmo, where it split,
but tore through to his very heart. The breast
poured forth life's glowing stream, and he, o'erthrown
lay cold in death, while his huge, heaving sides
gave lingering throes. The men about him stared
this way and that. But Nisus, fiercer still,
poised level with his ear a second shaft,
and, while the foeman paused, the whizzing spear
straight through the brows of Tagus drove, and clung
deep in the cloven brain.
Event: Sortie of Nisus and Euryalis
Interea praemissi equites ex urbe Latina,
cetera dum legio campis instructa moratur,
ibant et Turno regi responsa ferebant,
ter centum, scutati omnes, Volcente magistro.
iamque propinquabant castris murosque subibant
cum procul hos laeuo flectentis limite cernunt,
et galea Euryalum sublustri noctis in umbra
prodidit immemorem radiisque aduersa refulsit.
haud temere est uisum. conclamat ab agmine Volcens:
'state, uiri. quae causa uiae? quiue estis in armis?
quoue tenetis iter?' nihil illi tendere contra,
sed celerare fugam in siluas et fidere nocti.
obiciunt equites sese ad diuortia nota
hinc atque hinc, omnemque aditum custode coronant.
silua fuit late dumis atque ilice nigra
horrida, quam densi complerant undique sentes;
rara per occultos lucebat semita callis.
Euryalum tenebrae ramorum onerosaque praeda
impediunt, fallitque timor regione uiarum.
Nisus abit; iamque imprudens euaserat hostis
atque locos qui post Albae de nomine dicti
Albani (tum rex stabula alta Latinus habebat),
ut stetit et frustra absentem respexit amicum:
'Euryale infelix, qua te regione reliqui?
quaue sequar?' rursus perplexum iter omne reuoluens
fallacis siluae simul et uestigia retro
obseruata legit dumisque silentibus errat.
audit equos, audit strepitus et signa sequentum;
nec longum in medio tempus, cum clamor ad auris
peruenit ac uidet Euryalum, quem iam manus omnis
fraude loci et noctis, subito turbante tumultu,
oppressum rapit et conantem plurima frustra.
quid faciat? qua ui iuuenem, quibus audeat armis
eripere? an sese medios moriturus in enses
inferat et pulchram properet per uulnera mortem?
ocius adducto torquet hastile lacerto
suspiciens altam Lunam et sic uoce precatur:
'tu, dea, tu praesens nostro succurre labori,
astrorum decus et nemorum Latonia custos.
si qua tuis umquam pro me pater Hyrtacus aris
dona tulit, si qua ipse meis uenatibus auxi
suspendiue tholo aut sacra ad fastigia fixi,
hunc sine me turbare globum et rege tela per auras.'
dixerat et toto conixus corpore ferrum
conicit. hasta uolans noctis diuerberat umbras
et uenit auersi in tergum Sulmonis ibique
frangitur, ac fisso transit praecordia ligno.
uoluitur ille uomens calidum de pectore flumen
frigidus et longis singultibus ilia pulsat.
diuersi circumspiciunt. hoc acrior idem
ecce aliud summa telum librabat ab aure.
dum trepidant, it hasta Tago per tempus utrumque
stridens traiectoque haesit tepefacta cerebro.