Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 26

    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 26
    Previous Chapter
    Chapter XXVI
    Camilla Evander Nisus and Euryalus Mezentius Turnus

    AEneas, having parted from the Sibyl and rejoined his fleet,
    coasted along the shores of Italy and cast anchor in the mouth of
    the Tiber. The poet Virgil, having brought his hero to this
    spot, the destined termination of his wanderings, invokes his
    Muse to tell him the situation of things at that eventful moment.
    Latinus, third in descent from Saturn, ruled the country. He was
    now old and had no male descendant, but had one charming
    daughter, Lavinia, who was sought in marriage by many neighboring
    chiefs, one of whom, Turnus, king of the Rutulians, was favored
    by the wishes of her parents. But Latinus had been warned in a
    dream by his father Faunus, that the destined husband of Lavinia
    should come from a foreign land. From that union should spring a
    race destined to subdue the world.

    Our readers will remember that in the conflict with the Harpies,
    one of those half-human birds had threatened the Trojans with
    dire sufferings. In particular she predicted that before their
    wanderings ceased they should be pressed by hunger to devour
    their tables. This portent now came true; for as they took their
    scanty meal, seated on the grass, the men placed their hard
    biscuit on their laps, and put thereon whatever their gleanings
    in the woods supplied. Having dispatched the latter they
    finished by eating the crusts. Seeing which, the boy Iulus said
    playfully, "See, we are eating our tables." AEneas caught the
    words and accepted the omen. "All hail, promised land!" he
    exclaimed, "this is our home, this our country!" He then took
    measures to find out who were the present inhabitants of the
    land, and who their rulers. A hundred chosen men were sent to
    the village of Latinus, bearing presents and a request for
    friendship and alliance. They went and were favorably received.
    Latinus immediately concluded that the Trojan hero was no other
    than the promised son-in-law announced by the oracle. He
    cheerfully granted his alliance and sent back the messengers
    mounted on steeds from his stables, and loaded with gifts and
    friendly messages.

    Juno, seeing things go thus prosperously for the Trojans, felt
    her old animosity revive, summoned the Fury Alecto from Erebus,
    and sent her to stir up discord. The Fury first took possession
    of the queen, Amata, and roused her to oppose in every way the
    new alliance. Alecto then sped to the city of Turnus, and
    assuming the form of an old priestess, informed him of the
    arrival of the foreigners and of the attempts of their prince to
    rob him of his bride. Next she turned her attention to the camp
    of the Trojans. There she saw the boy Iulus and his companions
    amusing themselves with hunting. She sharpened the scent of the
    dogs, and led them to rouse up from the thicket a tame stag, the
    favorite of Silvia, the daughter of Tyrrheus, the king's
    herdsman. A javelin from the hand of Iulus wounded the animal,
    and he had only strength left to run homewards, and died at his
    mistress' feet. Her cries and tears roused her brothers and the
    herdsmen, and they, seizing whatever weapons came to hand,
    furiously assaulted the hunting party. These were protected by
    their friends, and the herdsmen were finally driven back with the
    loss of two of their number.

    These things were enough to rouse the storm of war, and the
    queen, Turnus, and the peasants, all urged the old king to drive
    the strangers from the country. He resisted as long as he could,
    but finding his opposition unavailing, finally gave way and
    retreated to his retirement.

    OPENING THE GATES OF JANUS

    It was the custom of the country, when war was to be undertaken,
    for the chief magistrate, clad in his robes of office, with
    solemn pomp to open the gates of the temple of Janus, which were
    kept shut as long as peace endured. His people now urged the old
    king to perform that solemn office, but he refused to do so.
    While they contested, Juno herself, descending from the skies,
    smote the doors with irresistible force and burst them open.
    Immediately the whole country was in a flame. The people rushed
    from every side breathing nothing but war.

    Turnus was recognized by all as leader; others joined as allies,
    chief of whom was Mezentius, a brave and able soldier, but of
    detestable cruelty. He had been the chief of one of the
    neighboring cities, but his people drove him out. With him was
    joined his son Lausus, a generous youth worthy of a better sire.

    CAMILLA

    Camilla, the favorite of Diana, a huntress and warrior, after the
    fashion of the Amazons, came with her band of mounted followers,
    including a select number of her own sex, and ranged herself on
    the side of Turnus. This maiden had never accustomed her fingers
    to the distaff or the loom, but had learned to endure the toils
    of war, and in speed to outstrip the wind. It seemed as if she
    might run over the standing corn without crushing it, or over the
    surface of the water without dipping her feet. Camilla's history
    had been singular from the beginning. Her father, Metabus,
    driven from his city by civil discord, carried with him in his
    flight his infant daughter. As he fled through the woods, his
    enemies in hot pursuit, he reached the bank of the river
    Amazenus, which, swelled by rains, seemed to debar a passage. He
    paused for a moment, then decided what to do. He tied the infant
    to his lance with wrappers of bark, and, poising the weapon in
    his upraised hand, thus addressed Diana: "Goddess of the woods!
    I consecrate this maid to you;" then hurled the weapon with its
    burden to the opposite bank. The spear flew across the roaring
    water. His pursuers were already upon him, but he plunged into
    the river and swam across, and found the spear with the infant
    safe on the other side. Thenceforth he lived among the
    shepherds, and brought up his daughter in woodland arts. While a
    child she was taught to use the bow and throw the javelin. With
    her sling she could bring down the crane or the wild swan. Her
    dress was a tiger's skin. Many mothers sought her for a
    daughter-in-law, but she continued faithful to Diana, and
    repelled the thought of marriage.

    There is an allusion to Camilla in those well-known lines of
    Pope, in which, illustrating the rule that "the sound should be
    an echo to the sense," he says,

    "When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
    The line too labors and the words move slow.
    Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
    Flies o'er th'unbendng corn or skims along the main."
    Essay on Criticism

    EVANDER

    Such were the formidable allies that ranged themselves against
    AEneas. It was night, and he lay stretched in sleep on the bank
    of the river, under the open heavens. The god of the stream,
    Father Tiber, seemed to raise his head above the willows, and to
    say, "O goddess-born, destined possessor of the Latin realms,
    this is the promised land, here is to be your home, here shall
    terminate the hostility of the heavenly powers, if only you
    faithfully persevere. There are friends not far distant.
    Prepare your boats and row up my stream; I will lead you to
    Evander the Arcadian chief. He has long been at strife with
    Turnus and the Rutulians, and is prepared to become an ally of
    yours. Rise! Offer your vows to Juno, and deprecate her anger.
    When you have achieved your victory then think of me." AEneas
    woke and paid immediate obedience to the friendly vision. He
    sacrificed to Juno, and invoked the god of the river and all its
    tributary fountains to lend their aid. Then, for the first time,
    a vessel filled with armed warriors floated on the stream of the
    Tiber. The river smoothed its waves and bade its current flow
    gently, while, impelled by the vigorous strokes of the rowers,
    the vessel shot rapidly up the stream.

    About the middle of the day they came in sight of the scattered
    buildings of the infant town where in after times the proud city
    of Rome grew, whose glory reached the skies. By chance the old
    king, Evander, was that day celebrating annual solemnities in
    honor of Hercules and all the gods. Pallas, his son, and all the
    chiefs of the little commonwealth stood by. When they saw the
    tall ship gliding onward through the wood, they were alarmed at
    the sight, and rose from the tables. But Pallas forbade the
    solemnities to be interrupted, and seizing a weapon, stepped
    forward to the river's bank. He called aloud, demanding who they
    were and what was their object. AEneas, holding forth an olive-
    branch, replied, "We are Trojans, friends to you and enemies to
    the Rutulians. We seek Evander, and offer to join our arms with
    yours." Pallas, in amazement at the sound of so great a name,
    invited them to land, and when AEneas touched the shore he seized
    his hand and held it long in friendly grasp. Proceeding through
    the wood they joined the king and his party, and were most
    favorably received. Seats were provided for them at the tables,
    and the repast proceeded.

    When the solemnities were ended all moved towards the city. The
    king, bending with age, walked between his son and AEneas, taking
    the arm of one or the other of them, and with much variety of
    pleasing talk shortening the way. AEneas looked and listened
    with delight, observing all the beauties of the scene, and
    learning much of heroes renowned in ancient times. Evander said,
    "These extensive groves were once inhabited by fauns and nymphs,
    and a rude race of men who sprang from the trees themselves, and
    had neither laws nor social culture. They knew not how to yoke
    the cattle nor raise a harvest, nor provide from present
    abundance for future want; but browsed like beasts upon the leafy
    boughs, or fed voraciously on their hunted prey. Such were they
    when Saturn, expelled from Olympus by his sons, came among them
    and drew together the fierce savages, formed them into society,
    and gave them laws. Such peace and plenty ensued that men ever
    since have called his reign the golden age; but by degrees far
    other times succeeded, and the thirst of gold and the thirst of
    blood prevailed. The land was a prey to successive tyrants, till
    fortune and resistless destiny brought me hither, an exile from
    my native land, Arcadia."

    Having thus said, he showed him the Tarpeian rock, and the rude
    spot then overgrown with bushes where in after times the Capitol
    rose in all its magnificence. He next pointed to some dismantled
    walls, and said, "Here stood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there
    Saturnia, the town of Saturn." Such discourse brought them to
    the cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing herds
    roaming over the plain where now the proud and stately Forum
    stands. They entered, and a couch was spread for AEneas, well
    stuffed with leaves and covered with the skin of the Libyan bear.

    Next morning, awakened by the dawn and the shrill song of birds
    beneath the eaves of his low mansion, old Evander rose. Clad in
    a tunic, and a panther's skin thrown over his shoulders, with
    sandals on his feet, and his good sword girded to his side, he
    went forth to seek his guest. Two mastiffs followed him, his
    whole retinue and body-guard. He round the hero attended by his
    faithful Achates, and, Pallas soon joining them, the old king
    spoke thus:

    "Illustrious Trojan, it is but little we can do in so great a
    cause. Our state is feeble, hemmed in on one side by the river,
    on the other by the Rutulians. But I propose to ally you with a
    people numerous and rich, to whom fate has brought you at the
    propitious moment. The Etruscans hold the country beyond the
    river. Mezentius was their king, a monster of cruelty, who
    invented unheard-of torments to gratify his vengeance. He would
    fasten the dead to the living, hand to hand and face to face, and
    leave the wretched victims to die in that dreadful embrace. At
    length the people cast him out, him and his house. They burned
    his palace and slew his friends. He escaped and took refuge with
    Turnus, who protects him with arms. The Etruscans' demand that
    he shall be given up to deserved punishment, and would ere now
    have attempted to enforce their demand; but their priests
    restrain then, telling them that it is the will of heaven that no
    native of the land shall guide them to victory, and that their
    destined leader must come from across the sea. They have offered
    the crown to me, but I am too old to undertake such great
    affairs, and my son is native-born, which precludes him from the
    choice. You, equally by birth and time of life, and fame in
    arms, pointed out by the gods, have but to appear to be hailed as
    their leader. With you I will join Pallas, my son, my only hope
    and comfort. Under you he shall learn the art of war, and strive
    to emulate your great exploits."

    Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for the Trojan
    chiefs, and AEneas, with a chosen band of followers and Pallas
    accompanying, mounted and took the way to the Etruscan city,
    having sent back the rest of his party in the ships. AEneas and
    his band safely arrived at the Etruscan camp and were received
    with open arms by Tarchon, the Etruscan leader, and his
    countrymen.

    NISUS AND EURYALUS

    In the meanwhile Turnus had collected his bands and made all
    necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent Iris to him with a
    message inciting him to take advantage of the absence of AEneas
    and surprise the Trojan camp. Accordingly the attempt was made,
    but the Trojans were found on their guard, and having received
    strict orders from AEneas not to fight in his absence, they lay
    still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts of the
    Rutulians to draw them in to the field. Night coming on, the
    army of Turnus in high spirits at their fancied superiority,
    feasted and enjoyed themselves, and finally stretched themselves
    on the field and slept secure.

    In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. There all
    was watchfulness and anxiety, and impatience for AEneas's return.
    Nisus stood guard at the entrance of the camp, and Euryalus, a
    youth distinguished above all in the army for graces of person
    and fine qualities, was with him. These two were friends and
    brothers in arms. Nisus said to his friend, "Do you perceive
    what confidence and carelessness the enemy display? Their lights
    are few and dim, and the men seem all oppressed with wine or
    sleep. You know how anxiously our chiefs wish to send to AEneas,
    and to get intelligence from him. Now I am strongly moved to
    make my way through the enemy's camp and to go in search of our
    chief. If I succeed, the glory of the deed will be enough reward
    for me, and if they judge the service deserves anything more, let
    them pay it to you."

    Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, replied, "Would
    you then, Nisus, refuse to share your enterprise with me? And
    shall I let you go into such danger alone? Not so my brave
    father brought me up, nor so have I planned for myself when I
    joined the standard of AEneas, and resolved to hold my life cheap
    in comparison with honor." Nisus replied, "I doubt it not, my
    friend; but you know the uncertain event of such an undertaking,
    and whatever may happen to me, I wish you to be safe. You are
    younger than I and have more of life in prospect. Nor can I be
    the cause of such grief to your mother, who has chosen to be here
    in the camp with you rather than stay and live in peace with the
    other matrons in Acestes' city." Euryalus replied, "Say no more.
    In vain you seek arguments to dissuade me. I am fixed in the
    resolution to go with you. Let us lose no time." They called
    the guard, and committing the watch to them, sought the general's
    tent. They found the chief officers in consultation,
    deliberating how they should send notice to AEneas of their
    situation. The offer of the two friends was gladly accepted,
    they themselves were loaded with praises and promised the most
    liberal rewards in case of success. Iulus especially addressed
    Euryalus, assuring him of his lasting friendship. Euryalus
    replied, "I have but one boon to ask. My aged mother is with me
    in the camp. For me she left the Trojan soil, and would not
    stay behind with the other matrons at the city of Acestes. I go
    now without taking leave of her. I could not bear her tears nor
    set at nought he entreaties. But do thou, I beseech thee,
    comfort her in her distress. Promise me that, and I shall go
    more boldly into whatever dangers may present themselves." Iulus
    and the other chiefs were moved to tears, and promised to do all
    his request. "Your mother shall be mine," said Iulus, "and all
    that I have promised to you shall be made good to her, if you do
    not return to receive it."

    The two friends left the camp and plunged at once into the midst
    of the enemy. They found no watch, no sentinels posted, but all
    about, the sleeping soldiers strewn on the grass and among the
    wagons. The laws of war at that early day did not forbid a brave
    man to slay a sleeping foe, and the two Trojans slew, as they
    passed, such of the enemy as they could without exciting alarm.
    In one tent Euryalus made prize of a helmet brilliant with gold
    and plumes. They had passed through the enemy's ranks without
    being discovered, but now suddenly appeared a troop directly in
    front of them, which, under Volscens, their leader, were
    approaching the camp. The glittering helmet of Euryalus caught
    their attention, and Volscens hailed the two, and demanded who
    and whence they were. They made no answer, but plunged into the
    wood. The horsemen scattered in all directions to intercept
    their flight. Nisus had eluded pursuit and was out of danger,
    but Euryalus being missing he turned back to seek him. He again
    entered the wood and soon came within sound of voices. Looking
    through the thicket he saw the whole band surrounding Euryalus
    with noisy questions. What should he do? How extricate the
    youth? Or would it be better to die with him?

    Raising his eyes to the moon which now shone clear, he said,
    "Goddess! Favor my effort!" And aiming his javelin at one of
    the leaders of the troop, struck him in the back and stretched
    him on the plain with a death-blow. In the midst of their
    amazement another weapon flew, and another of the party fell
    dead. Volscens, the leader, ignorant whence the darts came,
    rushed sword in hand upon Euryalus. "You shall pay the penalty
    of both," he said, and would have plunged the sword into his
    bosom, when Nisus, who from his concealment saw the peril of his
    friend, rushed forward, exclaiming, "'Twas I, 'twas I; turn your
    swords against me, Rutulians; I did it; he only followed me as a
    friend." While he spoke the sword fell, and pierced the comely
    bosom of Euryalus. His head fell over on his shoulder, like a
    flower cut down by the plough. Nisus rushed upon Volscens and
    plunged his sword into his body, and was himself slain on the
    instant by numberless blows.

    MEZENTIUS

    AEneas, with his Etrurian allies, arrived on the scene of action
    in time to rescue his beleaguered camp; and now the two armies
    being nearly equal in strength, the war began in good earnest.
    We cannot find space for all the details, but must simply record
    the fate of the principal characters whom we have introduced to
    our readers. The tyrant Mezentius, finding himself engaged
    against his revolted subjects, raged like a wild beast. He slew
    all who dared to withstand him, and put the multitude to flight
    wherever he appeared. At last he encountered AEneas, and the
    armies stood still to see the issue. Mezentius threw his spear,
    which striking AEneas's shield glanced off and hit Anthor. He
    was a Grecian by birth, who had left Argos, his native city, and
    followed Evander into Italy. The poet says of him, with simple
    pathos which has made the words proverbial, "He fell, unhappy, by
    a wound intended for another, looked up to the skies, and dying
    remembered sweet Argos." AEneas now in turn hurled his lance.
    It pierced the shield of Mezentius, and wounded him in the thigh.
    Lausus, his son, could not bear the sight, but rushed forward and
    interposed himself, while the followers pressed round Mezentius
    and bore him away. AEneas held his sword suspended over Lausus
    and delayed to strike, but the furious youth pressed on and he
    was compelled to deal the fatal blow. Lausus fell, and AEneas
    bent over him in pity. "Hapless youth," he said, "what can I do
    for you worthy of your praise? Keep those arms in which you
    glory, and fear not but that your body shall be restored to your
    friends, and have due funeral honors." So saying, he called the
    timid followers, and delivered the body into their hands.

    Mezentius meanwhile had been borne to the river-side, and washed
    his wound. Soon the news reached him of Lausus's death, and rage
    and despair supplied the place of strength. He mounted his horse
    and dashed into the thickest of the fight, seeking AEneas.
    Having found him, he rode round him in a circle, throwing one
    javelin after another, while Aeneas stood fenced with his shield,
    turning every way to meet them. At last, after Mezentius had
    three times made the circuit, AEneas threw his lance directly at
    the horse's head. It pierced his temples and he fell, while a
    shout from both armies rent the skies. Mezentius asked no mercy,
    but only that his body might be spared the insults of his
    revolted subjects, and be buried in the same grave with his son.
    He received the fatal stroke not unprepared, and poured out his
    life and his blood together.

    While these things were doing in one part of the field, in
    another Turnus encountered the youthful Pallas. The contest
    between champions so unequally matched could not be doubtful.
    Pallas bore himself bravely, but fell by the lance of Turnus.
    The victor almost relented when he saw the brave youth lying dead
    at his feet, and spared to use the privilege of a conqueror in
    despoiling him of his arms. The belt only, adorned with studs
    and carvings of gold, he took and clasped round his own body.
    The rest he remitted to the friends of the slain.

    After the battle there was a cessation of arms for some days to
    allow both armies to bury their dead. In this interval AEneas
    challenged Turnus to decide the contest by single combat, but
    Turnus evaded the challenge. Another battle ensued, in which
    Camilla, the virgin warrior, was chiefly conspicuous. Her deeds
    of valor surpassed those of the bravest warriors, and many
    Trojans and Etruscans fell pierced with her darts or struck down
    by her battle-axe. At last an Etruscan named Aruns, who had
    watched her long, seeking for some advantage, observed her
    pursuing a flying enemy whose splendid armor offered a tempting
    prize. Intent on the chase she observed not her danger, and the
    javelin of Aruns struck her and inflicted a fatal wound. She
    fell and breathed her last in the arms of her attendant maidens.
    But Diana, who beheld her fate, suffered not her slaughter to be
    unavenged. Aruns, as he stole away, glad but frightened, was
    struck by a secret arrow, launched by one of the nymphs of
    Diana's train, and died ignobly and unknown.

    At length the final conflict took place between AEneas and
    Turnus. Turnus had avoided the contest as long as he could, but
    at last impelled by the ill success of his arms, and by the
    murmurs of his followers, he braced himself to the conflict. It
    could not be doubtful. On the side of AEneas were the expressed
    decree of destiny, the aid of his goddess-mother at every
    emergency, and impenetrable armor fabricated by Vulcan, at Venus'
    request, for her son. Turnus, on the other hand, was deserted by
    his celestial allies, Juno having been expressly forbidden by
    Jupiter to assist him any longer. Turnus threw his lance, but it
    recoiled harmless from the shield of AEneas. The Trojan hero
    then threw his, which penetrated the shield of Turnus, and
    pierced his thigh. Then Turnus' fortitude forsook him and he
    begged for mercy; and AEneas would have given him his life, but
    at the instant his eye fell on the belt of Pallas, which Turnus
    had taken from the slaughtered youth. Instantly his rage
    revived, and exclaiming, "Pallas immolates thee with this blow,"
    he thrust him through with his sword.

    Here the AEneid closes, but the story goes that AEneas, having
    triumphed over his foes, obtained Lavinia as his bride. His son
    Iulus founded the city of Alba Longa. He, and his descendants
    after him, reigned over the town for many years. At length
    Numitor and Amulius, two brothers, quarrelled about the kingdom.
    Amulius seized the crown by force, cast out Numitor, and made his
    daughter, Rhea Silvia, a Vestal Virgin. The Vestal Virgins, the
    priestesses of the goddess Vesta, were sworn to celibacy. But
    Rhea Silvia broke her vow, and gave birth, by the god Mars, to
    the twins, Romulus and Remus. For this offence she was buried
    alive, the usual punishment accorded to unfaithful Vestals, while
    the children were exposed on the river Tiber. Romulus and Remus,
    however, were rescued by a herdsman, and were educated among the
    shepherds in ignorance of their parentage. But chance revealed
    it to them. They collected a band of friends, and took revenge
    on their granduncle for the murder of their mother. Afterwards
    they founded, by the side of the river Tiber, where they had been
    exposed in infancy, the city of Rome.

    Next Chapter
    Chapter 26
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Thomas Bulfinch essay and need some advice, post your Thomas Bulfinch essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?