Book XI

Morn rose meantime from ocean’s bed:
Æneas, though his comrades dead
His instant care invite,
Still wildered by the bloody day,
Yet hastes his votive dues to pay
With dawn of earliest light.
An oak with branches lopped all round
He plants upon a lofty mound,
And hangs with armour bright,
Mezentius’ warrior panoply,
A glorious trophy, vowed to thee,
Great ruler of the fight.
There stands the helm, besprent with gore,
The spent snapped darts in life he bore,
The hauberk mail, whose twisted rows
Twelve ghastly apertures disclose:
The buckler on the left is hung,
And from the neck the falchion slung.
Then thus the conqueror addressed
The exulting chiefs who round him pressed:
‘A mighty deed, my friends, is done:
The future craves no fear;
These spoils are from the tyrant won;
See battle’s first-fruits here!
Behold, the great Mezentius stands,
The master- work of these my hands!
Look next to march where glory calls,
To king Latinus and the walls;
Let courage dream of deeds of might,
And dazzling hope forestall the fight;
So, when at last in prosperous hour
Heaven bids us marshal forth our power,
No ignorance shall breed delay,
No coward fears our onset stay.
Now turn we to our comrades slain,
The mighty dead that load the plain,
And pay to each the rites we owe,
The sole sad joy that spectres know.
Haste we,’ he cries, ‘consign to earth
The flesh that clothed those souls of worth,
Who gave their precious lives to win
This land of ours for us, their kin:
First send we to Evander’s town
Brave Pallas, heir of high renown,
Whose hopeful day has set too soon,
O’ercast by darkness ere its noon.’

So spake he, dropping tears like dew;
Then sought the tent again,
Where old Acœtes, liegeman true,
Was watching o’er the slain.
Acœtes, who in times of yore
Evander’s arms in battle bore,
Since called by fate less kind to tend
The royal heir, his guide and friend.
The gathered menials round him stand,
And dames of Troy, a mourning band,
Their flowing locks unbound.
Soon as Æneas meets their sight,
They shriek to heaven, their breasts they smite:
The walls return the sound.
There when he saw the pillowed head,
The bloodless features of the dead,
And on the ivory breast displayed
The wound that Turnus’ javelin made,
Once more the pitying tear he shed,
And words their utterance found:
‘Unhappy youth! and can it be
That Fortune, in her happier hour,
Has grudged you to partake with me
The spectacle of new-won power,
And homeward ride in conquering ear,
Triumphant from the field of war?
Not such the oath I swore that day
To your lorn father, old and grey,
When, ere he sped me on my way,
He clasped my hand in fond embrace,
And warned me, fierce would prove the fray,
And stern the temper of the race.
E’en now perchance by hope beguiled
He makes oblation for his child,
And calls on Heaven to save;
We sadly render to the shade
Whose every debt to Heaven is paid
The due that spectres crave.
’Tis yours, ill-fated, to behold
The son you look for dead and cold!
Is this our proud procession? these
Our triumph’s boasted pageantries,
And this the pledge I gave?
But not from field of battle chased,
By ignominious wounds disgraced,
Your darling shall return,
Nor you, his father, pray for death
To stop your scant remains of breath,
While he survives in scorn.
Mourn, sad Ausonia! mourn thy fate,
Left of thy guardian desolate,
And thou, Iulus, mourn!’

His wailing o’er, he gives command
To raise the mournful load,
And bids a thousand of his band
Attend its homeward road,
With charge to comfort and condole;
Weak cordial to the father’s soul,
Yet such as friendship owed:
While others weave without delay
Of oaken branch and arbute spray
A funeral bier, and deftly spread
Soft leaves above the pliant bed.
There high on rural couch displayed
The body of the youth is laid;
So cropped by maiden’s finger lies
A hyacinth or violet;
Its graceful mould, its glowing dyes
Undimmed, unwasted yet,
Though parent earth afford no more
The vital juice it drank before.
Next brings the chief two mantles fair
Deep dyed with dazzling red;
Phœnicia’s hapless queen whilere,
So prodigal of loving care,
Had wrought them for her hero’s wear
And pranked with golden thread.
Full soon with one the lifeless frame
In funeral guise he wound:
The tresses that must feed the flame
With one he muffled round.
Then at his word in long array
The attendants marshal forth the prey,
Memorials of Laurentum’s fray;
And weapons from the foeman ta’en
And fiery chargers swell the train.
There walk with hands fast bound behind
The victim prisoners, designed
For slaughter o’er the flames;
And mighty warriors march erect
’Neath trunks with arms of foemen decked
And marked with hostile names.
Then sad Acœtes, worn with years,
Moves on, by others led;
His breast he beats, his cheeks he tears,
And rolls on earth outspread.
There too is seen the dead man’s car,
Blood-sprinkled from Rutulian war.
Then Æthon comes, his trappings doffed,
The warrior’s gallant horse:
Big drops of pity oft and oft
Adown his visage course.
In sad procession others bring
The lance and helm: the Rutule king
Is lord of all but those:
And Teucrian, Tuscan, Aread bands,
Their spears inverted in their hands,
The mournful pageant close.
Now, as the train at length goes by,
Æneas speaks with deep-drawn sigh:
‘Fate calls us other tears to shed,
And we must needs obey:
Hail, mighty

  By PanEris using Melati.

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