Virgil : The Aeneid Book IX

                                         


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Translated by A. S. Kline © 2002 All Rights Reserved

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Contents



BkIX:1-24 Iris Urges Turnus to War4

BkIX:25-76 Turnus Attacks the Trojan Fleet4

BkIX:77-106 Cybele Makes a Plea to Jove. 6

BkIX:107-122 Cybele Transforms the Ships. 7

BkIX:123-167 Turnus Lays Siege to the Camp. 7

BkIX:168-223 Nisus and Euryalus: A Mission Proposed. 8

BkIX:224-313 Nisus and Euryalus: Aletes Consents. 10

BkIX:314-366 Nisus and Euryalus: The Raid. 13

BkIX:367-459 The Death of Euryalus and Nisus. 14

BkIX:460-524 Euryalus’s Mother Laments. 17

BkIX:525-589 Turnus in Battle. 18

BkIX:590-637 Ascanius (Iulus) in Battle. 20

BkIX:638-671 Apollo Speaks to Iulus. 22

BkIX:672-716 Turnus at the Trojan Gates. 23

BkIX:717-755 The Death of Pandarus. 24

BkIX:756-787 Turnus Slaughters the Trojans. 25

BkIX:788-818 Turnus Is Driven Off26

 


 

BkIX:1-24 Iris Urges Turnus to War

 

While all these things were happening in various places,

Saturnian Juno sent Iris from heaven to brave Turnus,

who chanced to be sitting in a sacred valley, a grove to Pilumnus

his father. To him Thaumas’s daughter spoke, from her rosy lips:

‘Turnus, see, the circling days, unasked, have brought

what you wished, but what no god dared to promise.

Aeneas leaving the city, his friends and ships,

seeks the Palatine kingdom, and Evander’s house.

Unsatisfied he has reached Corythus’s furthest cities,

and, gathering men from the country, arms Lydian troops.

Why wait? Now is the time to call on horse and chariot.

End all delays: seize their camp, in its confusion.’

She spoke, and rose into the sky on level wings,

tracing a vast arc against the clouds in her flight.

The youth knew her, raised both his hands to the heavens,

and sent these words after her as she flew:

‘Iris, glory of the sky, who sent you down through

the clouds, to me, on earth? Where does this sudden

bright moment spring from? I see the sky split apart

at its zenith, and the stars that roam the pole. I follow

so mighty an omen, whoever calls me to arms.’

Saying this he went to the river and scooped water

from the surface of the stream, calling often

to the gods, and weighting the air with prayers.

 

BkIX:25-76 Turnus Attacks the Trojan Fleet

 

Now the whole army, rich in horses, rich in ornate clothes,

and gold, was engaged in moving over the open fields:

Messapus controlling the front ranks, Tyrrhus’s sons

the rear, Turnus, the leader, in the centre of the line:

like the deep Ganges, swelling in silence, through

his seven placid streams, or Nile when his rich stream

inundates the fields, soon sinking down into his course.

The Trojans suddenly see a black dust cloud

gathering there, and darkness rising over the plain.

Caicus shouted first from the forward rampart:

‘What’s that rolling mass of black fog, countrymen?

Bring your swords, quickly: hand out spears: mount the walls:

ah, the enemy is here!’ With a great clamour the Trojans

retreated through the gates, and filled the ramparts.

For Aeneas, wisest in warfare, had commanded, on leaving,

if anything chanced in the meantime, they were not to dare

to form ranks or trust themselves to the open field: they were

only to guard the camp and walls, safe behind the ramparts.

So, though anger and shame counselled the troops to fight,

still they shut the gates and followed his orders,

awaiting the enemy, armed, within their hollow turrets.

But Turnus had galloped forward ahead of his slow column,

accompanied by twenty chosen horsemen, and reached

the city unexpectedly: a piebald Thracian horse carried him,

a golden helmet with a crimson crest protected his head.

‘Men,’ he shouted, ‘is there anyone who’ll be first with me

among the enemy – ? Look,’ and twirling a javelin sent it

skyward to start the fight, and rode proudly over the field.

His friends welcomed him with a shout, and followed

with fearful battle-cries: marvelling at the Trojan’s dull souls,

not trusting themselves to a level field, nor facing men

carrying weapons, but hugging the camp. He rode to and fro

wildly round the walls, seeking a way in where there was none.

Like a wolf, lying in wait by a full sheepfold, that snarls

by the pens at midnight, enduring the wind and rain,

the lambs bleating safe beneath their mothers,

and rages against the prey out of reach, fierce and persistent

in its anger, tormented by its dry, bloodless jaws,

and the fierceness of its long-increasing hunger:

so as Turnus scanned the wall and camp, the Rutulian’s anger

was alight, and indignation burned in his harsh marrow.

How could he try and enter, and hurl the penned-up

Trojans from their rampart, and scatter them over the plain?

He attacked the ships, that lay close to a flank of the camp,

defended by earthworks, and the flowing river,

calling out to his exultant friends for fire,

and fervently grasped a blazing pine-brand in his hand.

Then they set to (urged on by Turnus’s presence)

and all the men armed themselves with dark torches.

They stripped the hearths: the smoking branches threw

a pitchy glow, and Vulcan hurled the cloud of ashes to heaven.

 

BkIX:77-106 Cybele Makes a Plea to Jove

 

O Muse, what god, turned away such fierce flames

from the Trojans? Who drove such savage fires from the ships?

Tell me: belief in the story’s ancient, its fame is eternal.

In the days when Aeneas first built his fleet on Phrygian Ida

and prepared to set out over the deep ocean,

they say the Mother of the gods herself, Berecyntian Cybele,

spoke so to great Jupiter: ‘My son, lord of Olympus,

grant what your dear mother asks of you in request.

There was a pine-forest a delight to me for many years

a grove on the summit of the mountain, where they brought

offerings, dark with blackened firs and maple trunks.

I gave these gladly to the Trojan youth, since he lacked

a fleet: now, troubled, anxious fear torments me.

Relieve my fears, and let your mother by her prayers ensure

they are not destroyed, shattered by voyaging or violent storm:

let their origin on our mountain be of aid to them.’

Her son, who turns the starry globe, replied:

‘O, my mother, to what do you summon fate? What do you seek

for them? Should keels made by mortal hands have eternal rights?

Should Aeneas travel in certainty through uncertain

dangers? To what god are such powers permitted?

No, one day when they’ve served their purpose,

and reached an Italian haven, I’ll take away, from those

that escape the waves, and bear the Trojan chief

to Laurentine fields, their mortal shape, and command

them to be goddesses  of the vast ocean, like Doto, Nereus’s

child, and Galatea, who part the foaming sea with their breasts.’

He spoke, and swore his assent, by his Stygian brother’s rivers,

by the banks that seethe with pitch on the black abyss,

and with his nod shook all Olympus.

 

BkIX:107-122 Cybele Transforms the Ships

 

So the day he had promised came, and the Fates fulfilled

their appointed hour, when Turnus’s injury to the sacred fleet

prompted the Mother to defend them from the flames.

At first a strange light flared to the watchers, and a huge cloud

was seen to travel across the sky from the east,

with bands of her Idaean attendants: then a terrible voice

rang through the air, echoing among the Trojan and Rutulian lines:

‘Trojans, don’t rush to defend the ships, or take up arms.

Turnus can burn the ocean, sooner than my sacred pines. Go free,

you Goddesses of the sea: your mother commands it.’ And at once

each ship tore her cable loose from the bank: they dipped their noses

like dolphins, and sought the watery deep. Then (strange wonder)

as many virgin shapes re-surfaced, and swam about the sea.

 

BkIX:123-167 Turnus Lays Siege to the Camp

 

The Rutulians were amazed in mind, Messapus himself

was awe-struck, his horses panicked: and even the noisy flow

of the river halted, as Tiber retreated from the deep.

But brave Turnus’s confidence never wavered:

and he raised their spirits as well, and chided them:

‘These marvels are aimed at the Trojans, Jupiter himself

has deprived them of their usual allies: those didn’t wait

for Rutulian missiles and fires. So the seas are impassable

for the Trojans, and they have no hope of flight: other regions

are lost to them, and this land is in our hands, so many

thousands of Italy’s peoples are in arms. I’m not afraid

of all the fateful omens from the gods these Phrygians

openly boast of: enough has been granted to Venus and the Fates,

since the Trojans have reached Ausonia’s fertile fields.

I have my own counter destiny, to root out the guilty race,

that has snatched my bride, with the sword. That’s a sorrow

that doesn’t touch Atrides alone, nor is Mycenae alone allowed

to take up arms. ‘But to die once is enough.’? To have sinned

before should be enough for these men, to whom confidence

in a dividing wall, and slight obstacles to death, defensive moats,

grant courage, to utterly detest well-nigh the whole tribe

of women. Did they not witness the work of Neptune’s

hands, the battlements of Troy, sink in flames? But you,

O chosen ones, which of you is ready to uproot the ramparts

with your steel, and invade their terrified camp with me?

I don’t need Vulcan’s arms, or a thousand ships,

against Trojans. Let all Etruria join them now in alliance.

They need not fear darkness, or cowardly theft

‘of their Palladium, killing guards on the citadel’s heights’,

we won’t hide in the dark belly of a horse:

I intend to circle their walls in broad daylight with fire.

I’ll make them concede its not Greeks, Pelasgic youth,

they’re dealing with, whom Hector held till the tenth year.

Now, since the best part of the day’s gone, men,

refresh yourselves with what’s left, pleased with work

well done, and look forward to starting the battle.

Meanwhile the order was given to Messapus to picket

the gates alertly with sentries and ring the ramparts with flames.

Fourteen Rutulians were chosen to guard the walls

with their men, each with a hundred soldiers

under them, purple-plumed and glittering with gold.

They ran about, took turns on watch, or lifted

the bronze bowls and enjoyed their wine,

stretched out on the grass. The fires shone,

while the guards spent the watchful night in games.

 

BkIX:168-223 Nisus and Euryalus: A Mission Proposed

 

The armed Trojans held the heights, looking down

on this from above, and also with anxious fears,

checked the gates, built bulwarks and bridges,

and disposed their weapons. Mnestheus and brave Serestus,

whom Aeneas their leader appointed to command the army

and state, if adversity ever required it, urged them on.

Sharing the risk, the whole company kept watch and served

in turn, at whatever point was to be guarded by each.

Nisus, bravest of warriors, son of Hyrtacus, was a guard

at the gates, he whom Ida the huntress had sent

to accompany Aeneas, agile with javelin and light darts,

and Euryalus was with him, than whom none was

more beautiful among the Aenedae, or wearing Trojan armour,

a boy, whose unshaven face, showed the first bloom of youth.

One love was theirs, and they charged side by side into battle:

now they were also guarding the gate at the same sentry-post.

Nisus said: ‘Euryalus, do the gods set this fire in our hearts,

or does each man’s fatal desire become godlike to him?

My mind has long urged me to rush to battle, or high

adventure, and is not content with peace and quiet.

You see what confidence the Rutulians have in events:

their lights shine far apart, and they lie drowned in sleep

and wine, everywhere is quiet. Listen to what I’m now

thinking, and what purpose comes to mind. The army

and the council all demand Aeneas be recalled,

and men be sent to report the facts to him.

If they were to grant what I suggest to you (the glory

of doing it is enough for me) I think I could find a way,

beyond that hill, to the walls and ramparts of Pallanteum.’

Euryalus was dazzled, struck by a great desire for glory,

and replied to his ardent friend at once, like this:

‘Nisus, do you shun my joining in this great deed,

 then? Shall I send you into such danger alone?

That’s not how my father Opheltes, seasoned in war,

educated me, raising me among Greek terrors

and Troy’s ordeals, nor have I conducted myself so

with you, following noble Aeneas and the ends of fate.

This is my spirit, one scornful of the day, that thinks

the honour you aim at well bought with life itself.’

Nisus replied: ‘Indeed I had no such doubts of you,

that would be wrong: not so will great Jupiter, or whoever

looks at this action with favourable gaze, bring me back to you

in triumph: but if (as you often see in such crises)

if chance or some god sweeps me to disaster,

I want you to survive: your youth is more deserving of life.

Let there be someone to entrust me to earth, my body

rescued from conflict, or ransomed for a price,

or if Fortune denies the customary rites, to perform

them in my absence, and honour me with a stone.

And don’t let me be a cause of grief to your poor mother,

my boy, who alone among many mothers dared to follow

you, without thought of staying in great Acestes’s city.’

But the lad said: ‘You weave your excuses in vain,

my purpose won’t change or yield to yours. Let’s hurry’,

and he roused guards, who came up to take their place:

leaving his post he walked by Nisus’s side to seek the prince.

 

BkIX:224-313 Nisus and Euryalus: Aletes Consents

 

Every other creature, throughout the land, was easing

its cares with sleep, its heart forgetful of toil:

the Trojans’ chief captains, the pick of their manhood,

were holding council on the most serious affairs of state,

what to do, and who should go now as messenger to Aeneas.

They stood, between the camp and the plain, leaning

on their long spears, holding their shields. Nisus and Euryalus,

together, begged eagerly to be admitted at once:

the matter being important, and worth the delay. Iulus was first

to welcome the impatient pair, and ordered Nisus to speak.

So the son of Hyrtacus said: ‘Followers of Aeneas, listen

with fair minds, and don’t judge my words by our years.

The Rutulians are quiet, drowned in sleep and wine.

We ourselves have seen a place for a sortie: it opens

in a fork of the road by the nearest gate to the sea.

There’s a gap between the fires, and black smoke rises

to the stars. If you allow us to seize the chance,

you’ll soon see us back again burdened with spoils

after carrying out vast slaughter. The road will not

deceive us as we seek Aeneas and Pallanteum’s walls.

In our frequent hunting through the secret valleys

we’ve seen the outskirts of the city, and know the whole river.’

To this Aletes, heavy with years and wise in mind, replied:

‘Gods of our fathers, under whose power Troy lies,

you do not intend to obliterate the Trojan race as yet

since you bring us such courage in our young men and such

firm hearts.’ So saying, he took them both by the shoulder

and hand while tears flooded his cheeks and lips.

‘What possible prize could I consider worthy

to be granted you men for such a glorious action?

The gods and tradition will give you the first

and most beautiful one: then good Aeneas,  and Ascanius,

who’s untouched by the years and never unmindful

of such service, will immediately award the rest.’

Ascanius interrupted: ‘Rather I entreat you both, Nisus,

since my well-being depends on my father’s return,

by the great gods of our house, by the Lar of Assaracus,

and by grey-haired Vesta’s innermost shrine, I lay

all my fortune and my promise in your lap, call my father back,

give me a sight of him: there’s no sorrow if he’s restored.

I’ll give you a pair of wine-cups, all of silver, with figures

in relief, that my father captured when Arisba was taken,

and twin tripods, two large talents of gold,

and an antique bowl Sidonian Dido gave me.

If we truly manage to capture Italy, and take the sceptre,

and assign the spoils by lot, you have seen the horse

golden Turnus rode, and the armour he wore, I’ll separate

from this moment, from the lots, that same horse, the shield,

and the crimson plumes as your reward, Nisus.

Moreover my father will give you twelve women

of choicest person, and male captives all with their own armour,

and, beyond that, whatever land King Latinus owns himself.

But now I truly welcome you wholly to my heart, Euryalus,

a boy to be revered, whose age I come closer to in time,

and embrace you as a friend for every occasion.

I’ll never seek glory in my campaigns without you:

whether I enjoy peace or war, you’ll have my firmest trust

in word and action.’ Euryalus spoke like this in reply:

‘No day will ever find me separated from such

bold action: inasmuch as fortune proves kind

and not cruel. But I ask one gift above all from you:

I have a mother, of Priam’s ancient race, unhappy woman,

whom neither the land of Troy, nor King Acestes’s city

could keep from accompanying me. I leave her now,

ignorant of whatever risk to me there might be,

and of my farewell, since ( this night and your

right hand bear witness) I could not bear

a mother’s tears. But I beg you, comfort

her helplessness and aid her loss. Let me carry

this hope I place in you with me, I will meet all dangers

more boldly.’ Their spirits affected, the Trojans

shed tears, noble Iulus above all, and this image

of filial love touched his heart. Then he said:

‘Be sure I’ll do everything worthy of your great venture.

She’ll be as my mother to me, only lacking her name Creusa:

no small gratitude’s due to her for bearing such a son.

Whatever the outcome of your action, I swear by this life,

by which my father used once to swear: what I promised

to you when you return, your campaign successful,

that same will accrue to your mother and your house.’

So he spoke, in tears: and at the same time stripped the gilded

sword from his shoulder, that Lycaon of Cnossos had made

with marvellous art, and equipped for use with an ivory sheath.

Mnestheus gave Nisus a pelt, taken from a shaggy lion,

loyal Aletes exchanged helmets. They armed, and left

immediately: and the whole band of leaders, young and old,

escorted them to the gate as they went, with prayers.

And noble Iulus too, with mature mind and duties

beyond his years, gave them many commissions

to carry to his father: but the winds were to scatter

them all, and blow them vainly to the clouds.

 

BkIX:314-366 Nisus and Euryalus: The Raid

 

Leaving, they crossed the ditches, seeking the enemy camp

in the shadow of night, destined yet to first bring many deaths.

They saw bodies in drunken sleep, stretched here and there

on the grass, chariots tilted upwards on the shore, men, among

wheels and harness, and weapons and wine-cups lying about.

Nisus, Hyrtacus’s son, spoke first, saying:

‘Euryalus, now the occasion truly calls for a daring

right hand. This is our road. You must see that no arm’s

raised against us at our back, and keep watch carefully:

I’ll deal destruction here, and cut you a wide path.’

So he spoke, and checked his speech, and at once

drove his sword at proud Rhamnes, who chanced to be

breathing deeply in sleep, piled with thick coverlets,

He was King Turnus’s best-beloved augur, and a king

himself, but he could not avert destruction with augury.

Nisus killed three of his servants nearby, lying careless

among their weapons, and Remus’s armour bearer, and his charioteer,

found at the horses’ feet: he severed lolling necks with his sword.

Then he struck off the head of their lord himself, and left

the trunk spurting blood, the ground and the bed drenched

with dark warm blood. And Lamyrus too, and Lamum,

and young Serranus, noted for his beauty, who had sported

much that night, and lay there limbs drowned by much wine –

happy if he’d carried on his game all night till dawn:

So a starving lion churning through a full sheepfold, (driven

by its raging hunger) gnaws and tears at the feeble flock

mute with fear, and roars from its bloodstained mouth.

Nor was Euryalus’s slaughter any less: he too raged, ablaze,

and among the nameless crowd he attacked Fadus,

and Herbesus, and Abaris, while they were unconscious:

and Rhoetus, but Rhoetus was awake and saw it all,

but crouched in fear behind a huge wine-bowl. As he rose,

in close encounter, Euryalus plunged his whole blade

into Rhoetus’s chest, and withdrew it red with death. Rhoetus

choked out his life in dark blood, and, dying, brought up wine

mixed with gore: the other pressed on fervently and stealthily.

Now he approached Messapus’s followers: there he saw

the outermost fires flickering, and the horses, duly tethered,

cropping the grass: Nisus (seeing him carried away

by slaughter and love of the sword’s power) said briefly:

‘Let’s go, since unhelpful dawn is near. Enough: vengeance

has been satisfied: a path has been made through the enemy.’

They left behind many of the men’s weapons

fashioned from solid silver, and wine-bowls and splendid hangings.

Euryalus snatched Rhamnes’s trappings, and gold-studded

sword-belt, gifts that wealthy Caedicus had once sent to Remulus

of Tibur, expressing friendship in absence: he when dying

gave them to his grandson as his own, and after his death in turn

the Rutulians captured them during the war in battle: now

Euryalus fitted them over his brave shoulders, though in vain.

Then he put on Messapus’s excellent helmet with its handsome

plumes. The left the camp and headed for safety.

 

BkIX:367-459 The Death of Euryalus and Nisus

 

Meanwhile riders arrived, sent out from the Latin city,

while the rest of the army waited in readiness,

on the plain, bringing a reply for King Turnus:

three hundred, carrying shields, led by Volcens.

They were already near the camp, and below the walls,

when they saw the two men turning down a path on the left:

his helmet, gleaming in the shadow of night, betrayed

the unthinking Euryalus, and reflected back the rays.

It was not seen in vain. Volcens shouted from his column:

‘You men, halt, what’s the reason for your journey? Who are you,

 you’re armed? Where are you off to?’ They offered no response,

but hastened their flight to the woods, trusting to the dark.

The riders closed off the known junctions, on every side,

and surrounded each exit route with guards.

The forest spread out widely, thick with brambles

and holm-oaks, the dense thorns filling it on every side:

there the path glinted through the secret glades.

Euryalus was hampered by shadowy branches, and the weight

of his plunder, and his fear confused the path’s direction.

Nisus was clear: and already unaware had escaped the enemy,

and was at the place later called Alba from Alba Longa

(at that time King Latinus had his noble stalls there)

when he stopped, and looked back vainly for his missing friend.

‘Euryalus, unhappy boy, where did I separate from you?

Which way shall I go?’ he said, considering all the tangled tracks

of the deceptive wood, and at the same time scanning

the backward traces he could see, criss-crossing the silent thickets.

He heard horses, heard the cries and signals of pursuit:

and it was no great time before a shout reached his ears

and he saw Euryalus, betrayed by the ground and the night,

confused by the sudden tumult, whom the whole troop

were dragging away, overpowered, struggling violently in vain.

What can he do? With what force, or weapons, can he dare

to rescue the youth? Should he hurl himself to his death among

the swords, and by his wounds hasten to a glorious end?

He swiftly drew back his spear arm and gazing upwards

at the moon above, prayed, with these words:

‘O you, goddess, O you, Latona’s daughter, glory of the stars,

and keeper of the woods, be here and help us in our trouble.

If ever my father, Hyrtacus, brought offerings on my behalf

to your altars, if ever I added to them from my own hunting,

hung them beneath your dome, or fixed them to the sacred eaves,

let me throw their troop into confusion, guide my spear through the air.’

He spoke and flung the steel, straining with his whole body.

The flying javelin divided the shadows, struck Sulmo’s back,

as he turned, and snapped, the broken shaft piercing the heart.

He rolled over, a hot stream pouring from his chest,

and deep gasps shook his sides, as he grew cold.

They gazed round them, in every direction. See, Nisus,

all the more eager, levelled another spear against his ear.

While they hesitated, the javelin hissed through both

of Tagus’s temples, and fixed itself still warm in the pierced

brain. Fierce Volcens raged, but could not spy out the author

of the act, nor any place that he could vent his fire.

He rushed at Euryalus with his naked sword, as he

cried out: ‘In the mean time you’ll pay in hot blood

and give me revenge for both your crimes.’

Then, truly maddened with fear, Nisus shouted aloud, unable

to hide himself in the dark any longer, or endure such agony:

On me, Rutulians, turn your steel on me, me who did the deed!

The guilt is all mine, he neither dared nor had the power:

the sky and the all-knowing stars be witnesses:

he only loved his unfortunate friend too much.’

He was still speaking, but the sword, powerfully driven,

passed through the ribs and tore the white breast.

Euryalus rolled over in death, and the blood flowed

down his lovely limbs, and his neck, drooping,

sank on his shoulder, like a bright flower scythed

by the plough, bowing as it dies, or a poppy weighed

down by a chance shower, bending its weary head.

But Nisus rushed at them, seeking Volcens

above all, intent on Volcens alone.

The enemy gathered round him, to drive him off,

in hand to hand conflict. He attacked none the less, whirling

his sword like lightning, until he buried it full in the face

of the shrieking Rutulian, and, dying, robbed his enemy of life.

Then, pierced through, he threw himself on the lifeless body

of his friend, and found peace at last in the calm of death.

Happy pair! If my poetry has the power,

while the House of Aeneas lives beside the Capitol’s

immobile stone, and a Roman leader rules the Empire,

no day will raze you from time’s memory.

The victorious Rutulians, gaining new plunder, and the spoils,

weeping carried the lifeless Volcens to the camp.

Nor was there less grief in that camp when Rhamnes

was discovered, drained of blood, and so many other leaders,

killed in a single slaughter, with Serranus and Numa. A huge

crowd rushed towards the corpses and the dying, and the place

fresh with hot killing, and foaming streams full of blood.

Between them they identified the spoils, Messapus’s

gleaming helmet, and his trappings re-won with such sweat.

 

BkIX:460-524 Euryalus’s Mother Laments

 

And now Aurora, early, leaving Tithonus’s saffron bed,

sprinkled her fresh rays onto the earth. And now

as the sun streamed down, now as day revealed all things,

Turnus armed himself, and roused his heroes to arms:

they gathered their bronze-clad troops for the battle,

each his own, and whetted their anger with various tales.

They even fixed the heads of Euryalus and Nisus

on raised spears (wretched sight), and followed

behind them, making a great clamour.

The tough sons of Aeneas had fixed their opposing lines

on the left side of the ramparts (the right bordered on the river)

and they held the wide ditches and stood grieving

on the high turrets: moved as one, made wretched by seeing the heads

of men they know only too well transfixed and streaming dark blood.

Meanwhile winged Rumour, flying through the anxious town,

sped the news, and stole to the ears of Euryalus’s mother.

And suddenly all warmth left her helpless bones,

the shuttle was hurled from her hands, the thread unwound.

The wretched woman rushed out and sought the ramparts

and the front line, shrieking madly, her hair dishevelled:

she ignored the soldiers, the danger, the weapons,

then she filled the heavens with her lament:’

‘Is it you I see, Euryalus? You who brought peace

at last to my old age, how could you bring yourself

to leave me alone, cruel child? Why did you not give

your poor mother the chance for a final goodbye

when you were being sent into so much danger?

Ah, you lie here in a strange land, given as prey to the carrion

birds and dogs of Latium! I, your mother, did not escort you

in funeral procession, or close your eyes, or bathe your wounds,

or shroud you with the robes I laboured at night and day

for you, soothing the cares of old age at the loom.

Where shall I go? What earth now holds your body,

your torn limbs, your mangled corpse? My son,

is this what you bring home to me? Is this why I followed you

by land and sea? O Rutulians, if you have feelings, pierce me:

hurl all your spears at me: destroy me above all with your steel:

or you, great father of the gods, pity me, and with

your lightning bolt, hurl this hated being down to Tartarus,

since I can shatter this cruel life no other way.’

This wailing shook their hearts, and a groan of sorrow swept

them all: their strength for battle was numbed and weakened.

She was igniting grief and Idaeus and Actor,

at Ilioneus’s order, with Iulus weeping bitterly,

caught her up, and carried her inside in their arms.

But the war-trumpet, with its bronze singing, rang out

its terrible sound, a clamour followed, that the sky re-echoed.

The Volscians, raising their shields in line, ran forward,

ready to fill in the ditches, and tear down the ramparts:

Some tried for an entrance, and to scale the wall with ladders,

where the ranks were thin, and a less dense cordon of men

allowed the light through. The Trojans accustomed to defending

their walls by endless warfare, hurled missiles at them

of every sort, and fended them off with sturdy poles.

They rolled down stones too, deadly weights,

in the hope of breaking through the well-protected ranks,

which under their solid shields, however, rejoiced

in enduring every danger. But soon even they were inadequate

since the Trojans rolled a vast rock to where a large formation

threatened, and hurled it down, felling the Rutulians

far and wide, and breaking their armoured shell.

The brave Rutulians no longer cared to fight blindly,

but tried to clear the ramparts with missiles.

Elsewhere, Mezentius, deadly to behold, brandished

Tuscan pine, and hurled smoking firebrands:

while Messapus, tamer of horses, scion of Neptune,

tore at the rampart, and called for scaling ladders.

 

BkIX:525-589 Turnus in Battle

 

I pray to you, O Calliope, Muses, inspire my singing

of the slaughter, the deaths Turnus dealt with his sword

that day, and who each warrior was, that he sent down to Orcus,

and open the lips of mighty war with me,

since, goddesses, you remember, and have the power to tell:

There was a turret, tall to look at, with high access-ways,

and a good position, that all the Italians tried with utmost power

to storm, and to dislodge with the utmost power of their efforts:

the Trojans in turn defended themselves with stones

and hurled showers of missiles through the open loopholes.

Turnus was first to throw a blazing torch and root the flames

in its flank, that, fanned by a strong wind, seized

the planking, and clung to the entrances they devoured.

The anxious men inside were afraid, and tried in vain

to escape disaster. While they clung together and retreated

to the side free from damage, the turret suddenly

collapsed, and the whole sky echoed to the crash.

Half-dead they fell to earth, the huge mass following,

pierced by their own weapons, and their chests impaled

on the harsh wood. Only Helenor and Lycus managed

to escape: Helenor being in the prime of youth, one

whom a Licymnian slave had secretly borne to the Maeonian king,

and sent to Troy, with weapons he’d been forbidden,

lightly armed with naked blade, and anonymous white shield.

When he found himself in the midst of Turnus’s thousands,

Latin ranks standing to right and left of him,

as a wild creature, hedged in by a close circle of hunters,

rages against theirs weapons, and hurls itself, consciously,

to death, and is carried by its leap on to the hunting spears,

so the youth rushed to his death among the enemy,

and headed for where the weapons appeared thickest.

But Lycus, quicker of foot, darting among the enemy

and their arms reached the wall, and tried to grasp

the high parapet with his hands, to reach his comrades’ grasp.

Turnus following him closely on foot, with his spear,

taunted in triumph: ‘Madman, did you hope to escape

my reach?’ He seized him, there and then, as he hung,

and pulled him down, with a large piece of the wall,

like an eagle, carrier of Jove’s lightning bolt, soaring high,

lifting a hare or the snow-white body of a swan in its talons,

or a wolf, Mars’s creature, snatching a lamb from the fold,

that its mother searches for endlessly bleating. A shout rose

on all sides: the Rutulians drove forwards, some filling

the ditches with mounds of earth, others throwing burning brands

onto the roofs. Ilioneus felled Lucetius with a rock, a vast fragment

of the hillside, as he neared the gate, carrying fire, Liger

killed Emathion, Asilas killed Corynaeus, the first skilled

with the javelin, the other with deceptive long-range arrows:

Caenus felled Ortygius, Turnus victorious Caeneus, and Itys

and Clonius, Dioxippus and Promolus, and Sagaris, and Idas

as he stood on the highest tower, and Capys killed Privernus.

Themillas had grazed him slightly first with his spear, foolishly

he threw his shield down, and placed his hand on the wound:

so the arrow winged silently, fixed itself deep in his left side,

and, burying itself within, tore the breathing passages

with a lethal wound. Arcens son stood there too in glorious

armour, his cloak embroidered with scenes, bright with Spanish blue,

a youth of noble features, whom his father Arcens had sent,

reared in Mars’s grove by Symaethus’s streams,

where the rich and gracious altars of Palicus stand:

Mezentius, dropping his spears, whirled a whistling sling

on its tight thong, three times round his head, and split

his adversary’s forehead open in the middle, with

the now-molten lead, stretching him full length in the deep sand.

 

BkIX:590-637 Ascanius (Iulus) in Battle

 

Then they say Ascanius first aimed his swift arrows

in war, used till now to terrify wild creatures in flight,

and with his hand he felled brave Numanus,

who was surnamed Remulus, and had

lately won Turnus’s sister as his wife.

Numanus marched ahead of the front rank,

shouting words that were fitting and unfitting

to repeat, his heart swollen with new-won royalty

and boasting loudly of his greatness:

‘Twice conquered Trojans aren’t you ashamed to be besieged

and shut behind ramparts again, fending off death with walls?

Behold, these are the men who’d demand our brides through war!

What god, what madness has driven you to Italy?

Here are no Atrides, no Ulysses, maker of fictions:

a race from hardy stock, we first bring our newborn sons

to the river, and toughen them with the water’s fierce chill:

as children they keep watch in the chase, and weary the forest,

their play is to wheel their horses and shoot arrows from the bow:

but patient at work, and used to little, our young men

tame the earth with the hoe, or shake cities in battle.

All our life we’re abraded by iron: we goad our bullocks’

flanks with a reversed spear, and slow age

doesn’t weaken our strength of spirit, or alter our vigour:

we set a helmet on our white hairs, and delight

in collecting fresh spoils, and living on plunder.

You wear embroidered saffron and gleaming purple,

idleness pleases you, you delight in the enjoyment of dance,

and your tunics have sleeves, and your hats have ribbons.

O truly you Phrygian women, as you’re not Phrygian men,

run over the heights of Dindymus, where a double-reed

makes music for accustomed ears. The timbrels call to you,

and the Berecynthian boxwood flute of the Mother of Ida:

leave weapons to men and abandon the sword.’
Ascanius did not tolerate such boastful words and dire warnings,

but facing him, fitted an arrow to the horsehair string, and,

straining his arms apart, paused, and first prayed humbly to Jove

making these vows: ‘All-powerful Jupiter, assent to my bold attempt.

I myself will bring gifts each year to your temple,

and I’ll place before your altar a snow-white bullock

with gilded forehead, carrying his head as high as his mother,

already butting with his horns, and scattering sand with his hooves.’

The Father heard, and thundered on the left

from a clear sky, as one the fatal bow twanged.

The taut arrow sped onwards with a dreadful hiss,

and passed through Remulus’s brow, and split the hollow

temples with its steel. ‘Go on, mock at virtue with proud words!

This is the reply the twice-conquered Phrygians send the Rutulians’:

Ascanius said nothing more. The Trojans followed this

with cheers, shouted for joy, and raised their spirits to the skies.

 

BkIX:638-671 Apollo Speaks to Iulus

 

Now, by chance, long-haired Apollo, seated in the cloudy

skies, looked down on the Italian ranks and the town,

and spoke to the victorious Iulus as follows:

‘Blessings on your fresh courage, boy, scion of gods

and ancestor of gods yet to be, so it is man rises

to the stars. All the wars that destiny might bring

will rightly cease under the rule of Assaracus’s house,

Troy does not limit you.’ With this he launched himself

from high heaven, parted the living air, and found

Ascanius: then changed the form of his features

to old Butes. He was once armour-bearer to Trojan

Anchises, and faithful guardian of the threshold:

then Ascanius’s father made him the boy’s companion.

As he walked Apollo was like the old man in every way,

in voice and colouring, white hair, and clanging of harsh

weapons, and he spoke these words to the ardent Iulus:

‘Enough, son of Aeneas, that Numanus has fallen to your bow

and is un-avenged. Mighty Apollo grants you this first glory,

and does not begrudge you your like weapons:

but avoid the rest of the battle, boy.’ So Apollo

spoke and in mid-speech left mortal sight

and vanished far from men’s eyes into clear air.

The Trojan princes recognised the god and his celestial

weapons, and heard his quiver rattling as he flew.

So, given the god’s words and his divine will, they stopped

Ascanius, eager for the fight, while themselves returning

to the battle, and openly putting their lives at risk.

The clamour rang through the towers along the whole wall,

they bent their bows quickly and whirled their slings.

The whole earth was strewn with spears: shields and hollow

helmets clanged as they clashed together, the battle grew fierce:

vast as a rainstorm from the west, lashing the ground

beneath watery Auriga, and dense as the hail the clouds hurl

into the waves, when Jupiter, bristling with southerlies,

twirls the watery tempest, and bursts the sky’s cavernous vapours.

 

BkIX:672-716 Turnus at the Trojan Gates

 

Pandarus and Bitias, sons of Alcanor from Ida, whom Iaera

the wood-nymph bore in Jupiter’s grove, youths tall

as the pine-trees on their native hills, threw open the gate

entrusted to them by their leader’s command, and, relying on

their weapons, drew the Rutulian enemy within the walls.

They themselves stood in the gate, in front of the towers to right

and left, steel armoured, with plumes waving on their noble heads:

just as twin oaks rise up into the air, by flowing rivers,

on the banks of the Po, or by delightful Athesis, lifting

their shaggy heads to the sky, and nodding their tall crowns.

When they saw the entrance clear the Rutulians rushed through.

At once Quercens and Aquicolus, handsome in his armour,

Tmarus, impulsive at heart, and Haemon, a son of Mars,

were routed with all their Rutulian ranks, and took to their heels,

or laid down their lives on the very threshold of the gate.

Then the anger grew fiercer in their fighting spirits,

and soon the Trojans gathering massed in the same place,

and dared to fight hand to hand, and advance further outside.

The news reached Turnus, the Rutulian leader, as he raged

and troubled the lines in a distant part of the field, that the enemy,

hot with fresh slaughter, were laying their doors wide open.

He left what he had begun, and, roused to savage fury,

he ran towards the Trojan gate, and the proud brothers.

And first he brought Antiphates down with a spear throw,

(since he was first to advance), bastard son of noble Sarpedon

by a Theban mother: the Italian cornel-wood shaft flew through

the clear air and, fixing in his belly, ran deep up into his chest:

the hollow of the dark wound released a foaming flow,

and the metal became warm in the pierced lung.

Then he overthrew Meropes and Erymas with his hand,

and then Aphidnus, then Bitias, fire in his eyes, clamour

in his heart, not to a spear (he would never have lost his life

to a spear) but a javelin arrived with a great hiss, hurled

and driven like a thunderbolt, that neither two bulls’ hides

nor the faithful breastplate with double scales of gold

could resist: the mighty limbs collapsed and fell,

earth groaned and the huge shield clanged above him.

So a rock pile sometimes falls on Baiae’s Euboic shore,

first constructed of huge blocks, then toppled into the sea:

as it falls it trails havoc behind, tumbles into the shallows

and settles in the depths: the sea swirls in confusion,

and the dark sand rises upwards, then Procida’s

lofty island trembles at the sound and Ischia’s isle’s

harsh floor, laid down over Typhoeus, at Jove’s command.

 

BkIX:717-755 The Death of Pandarus

 

At this Mars, powerful in war, gave the Latins strength

and courage, and twisted his sharp goad in their hearts,

and sent Rout and dark Fear against the Trojans.

Given the chance for action, the Latins came together

from every side, and the god of battle possessed their souls.

Pandarus, seeing his brother’s fallen corpse, and which side

fortune was on, and what fate was driving events,

pushed with a mighty heave of his broad shoulders

and swung the gate on its hinges, leaving many a comrade

locked outside the wall in the cruel conflict: but the rest

he greeted as they rushed in and shut in there, with himself,

foolishly, not seeing the Rutulian king bursting through

among the mass, freely closing him inside the town,

like a huge tiger among a helpless herd.

At once fresh fire flashed from Turnus’s eyes

his weapons clashed fearfully, the blood-red plumes

on his helmet quivered, and lightning glittered from his shield.

In sudden turmoil the sons of Aeneas recognised that hated form

and those huge limbs. Then great Pandarus sprang forward,

blazing with anger at his brother’s death, shouting:

This is not Queen Amata’s palace, given in dowry, or the heart

of Ardea, surrounding Turnus with his native walls.

You see an enemy camp: you can’t escape from here.’

Turnus, smiling, his thoughts calm, replied to him:

‘Come then, if there’s courage in your heart, close with me:

 you can go tell Priam that, here too, you found an Achilles.’

He spoke. Pandarus, straining with all his force, hurled

his spear rough with knots and un-stripped bark:

the wind took it, Saturnian Juno deflected

the imminent blow, and the spear stuck fast in the gate.

Turnus cried: ‘But you’ll not escape this weapon

my right arm wields with power, the source of this weapon

and wound is not such as you.’: and he towered up, his sword

lifted, and, with the blade, cleft the forehead in two between

the temples, down to the beardless jaw, in an evil wound.

There was a crash: the ground shook under the vast weight.

Pandarus, dying, lowered his failing limbs and brain-spattered

weapons to the ground, and his skull split in half

hung down on either side over both his shoulders.

 

BkIX:756-787 Turnus Slaughters the Trojans

 

The Trojans turned and fled in sudden terror,

and if Turnus had thought at once to burst the bolts

by force, and let in his comrades through the gates,

that would have been the end of the war and the nation.

But rage and insane desire for slaughter drove him,

passionate, against the enemy. First he caught Phaleris

and Gyges whom he hamstrung, then flung their spears,

which he seized, at the backs of the fleeing crowd.

Juno aided him in strength and spirit. He sent

Halys and Phegeus, his shield pierced, to join them,

then Alcander and Halius, Noemon and Prytanis

unawares, as they roused those on the walls to battle.

As Lynceus calling to his comrades moved towards him,

he anticipated him with a stroke of his glittering sword

from the right-hand rampart, Lynceus’s head, severed

by the single blow at close quarters, fell to the ground

with the helmet some distance away. Then Amycus,

that threat to wild creatures, than whom none was better

at coating spears and arming steel with poison,

and Clytius, son of Aeolus, and Cretheus, friend to the Muses,

Cretheus the Muses’ follower, to whom song and lyre

and striking measures on the strings were always a delight,

always he sang of horses, of soldiers’ weapons and battles.

At last the Trojan leaders, Mnestheus and brave Serestus,

hearing of this slaughter of their men, arrived to see

their troops scattered and the enemy within.

Mnestheus shouted: ‘Where are you running to, off where?

What other walls or battlements do you have, but these?

O citizens, shall one man, hemmed in on all sides by ramparts,

cause such carnage through this our city, and go unpunished?

Shall he send so many of our noblest youths to Orcus?

Cowards, have you no pity, no shame, for your wretched

country, for your ancient gods, for great Aeneas?’

 

BkIX:788-818 Turnus Is Driven Off

 

Inflamed by such words they were strengthened, and they halted,

densely packed. Turnus little by little retreated from the fight,

heading for the river, and a place embraced by the waves.

The Trojans pressed towards him more fiercely, with a great clamour,

and massed together, as a crowd of hunters with levelled spears

close in on a savage lion: that, fearful but fierce, glaring in anger,

gives ground, though fury and courage won’t let it turn its back,

nor will men and spears allow it to attack, despite its wish.

So Turnus wavering retraced his steps

cautiously, his mind seething with rage.

Even then he charged amongst the enemy twice,

and twice sent them flying a confused rabble along the walls:

but the whole army quickly gathered en masse from the camp,

and Saturnian Juno didn’t dare empower him against them,

since Jupiter sent Iris down through the air from heaven,

carrying no gentle commands for his sister, if Turnus did not leave

the high Trojan ramparts. Therefore the warrior, overwhelmed

by so many missiles hurled from every side, couldn’t so much as

hold his own with shield and sword-arm. The helmet protecting

his hollow temples rang with endless noise, the solid bronze gaped

from the hail of stones, his crest was torn off, and his shield-boss

couldn’t withstand the blows: the Trojans, with deadly Mnestheus

himself, redoubled their rain of javelins. Then the sweat ran all over

Turnus’s body, and flowed in a dark stream (he’d no time to breathe)

and an agonised panting shook his exhausted body.

Then, finally, leaping headlong, he plunged down into the river

in full armour. The Tiber welcomed him to its yellow flood

as he fell, lifted him on its gentle waves, and, washing away

the blood, returned him, overjoyed, to his friends.

 

End of Book IX


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