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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book X Chapter 34: Lament of Mezentius
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Meanwhile Mezentius by the Tiber's wave |
with water staunched his wound, and propped his weight
against a tree; upon its limbs above
his brazen helmet hung, and on the sward
his ponderous arms lay resting. Round him watched
his chosen braves. He, gasping and in pain,
clutched at his neck and let his flowing beard
loose on his bosom fall; he questions oft
of Lausus, and sends many a messenger
to bid him back, and bear him the command
of his sore-grieving sire. But lo! his peers
bore the dead Lausus back upon his shield,
and wept to see so strong a hero quelled
by stroke so strong. From long way off the sire,
with soul prophetic of its woe, perceived
what meant their wail and cry. On his gray hairs
the dust he flung, and, stretching both his hands
to heaven, he cast himself the corpse along.
O son, he cried, was life to me so sweet,
that I to save myself surrendered o'er
my own begotten to a foeman's steel?
Saved by these gashes shall thy father be,
and living by thy death? O wretched me,
how foul an end have I! Now is my wound
deep! deep! t was I, dear son, have stained
thy name with infamy -- to exile driven
from sceptre and hereditary throne
by general curse. Would that myself had borne
my country's vengeance and my nation's hate!
Would my own guilty life my debt had paid --
yea, by a thousand deaths! But, see, I live!
Not yet from human kind and light of day
have I departed. But depart I will.
So saying, he raised him on his crippled thigh,
and though by reason of the grievous wound
his forces ebbed, yet with unshaken mien
he bade them lead his war-horse forth, his pride,
his solace, which from every war
victorious bore him home. The master then
to the brave beast, which seemed to know his pain,
spoke thus: My Rhoebus, we have passed our days
long time together, if long time there be
for mortal creatures. Either on this day
thou shalt his bloody spoils in triumph bear
and that Aeneas' head, -- and so shalt be
avenger of my Lausus' woe; or else,
if I be vanquished, thou shalt sink and fall
beside me. For, my bravest, thou wouldst spurn
a stranger's will, and Teucrian lords to bear.
He spoke and, mounting to his back, disposed
his limbs the wonted way and filled both hands
with pointed javelins; a helm of brass
with shaggy horse-hair crest gleamed o'er his brow.
Swift to the front he rode: a mingled flood
surged in his heart of sorrow, wrath, and shame;
and thrice with loud voice on his foe he called.
Interea genitor Tiberini ad fluminis undam
uulnera siccabat lymphis corpusque leuabat
arboris acclinis trunco. procul aerea ramis
dependet galea et prato grauia arma quiescunt.
stant lecti circum iuuenes; ipse aeger anhelans
colla fouet fusus propexam in pectore barbam;
multa super Lauso rogitat, multumque remittit
qui reuocent maestique ferant mandata parentis.
at Lausum socii exanimem super arma ferebant
flentes, ingentem atque ingenti uulnere uictum.
agnouit longe gemitum praesaga mali mens.
canitiem multo deformat puluere et ambas
ad caelum tendit palmas et corpore inhaeret.
'tantane me tenuit uiuendi, nate, uoluptas,
ut pro me hostili paterer succedere dextrae,
quem genui? tuane haec genitor per uulnera seruor
morte tua uiuens? heu, nunc misero mihi demum
exitium infelix, nunc alte uulnus adactum!
idem ego, nate, tuum maculaui crimine nomen,
pulsus ob inuidiam solio sceptrisque paternis.
debueram patriae poenas odiisque meorum:
omnis per mortis animam sontem ipse dedissem!
nunc uiuo neque adhuc homines lucemque relinquo.
sed linquam.' simul hoc dicens attollit in aegrum
se femur et, quamquam uis alto uulnere tardat,
haud deiectus equum duci iubet. hoc decus illi,
hoc solamen erat, bellis hoc uictor abibat
omnibus. adloquitur maerentem et talibus infit:
'Rhaebe, diu, res si qua diu mortalibus ulla est,
uiximus. aut hodie uictor spolia illa cruenti
et caput Aeneae referes Lausique dolorum
ultor eris mecum, aut, aperit si nulla uiam uis,
occumbes pariter; neque enim, fortissime, credo,
iussa aliena pati et dominos dignabere Teucros.'
dixit, et exceptus tergo consueta locauit
membra manusque ambas iaculis onerauit acutis,
aere caput fulgens cristaque hirsutus equina.
sic cursum in medios rapidus dedit. aestuat ingens
uno in corde pudor mixtoque insania luctu.