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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book VIII Chapter 10: The tale of Hercules and Cacus
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When hunger and its eager edge were gone, |
Evander spoke: This votive holiday,
yon tables spread and altar so divine,
are not some superstition dark and vain,
that knows not the old gods, O Trojan king!
But as men saved from danger and great fear
this thankful sacrifice we pay. Behold,
yon huge rock, beetling from the mountain wall,
hung from the cliff above. How lone and bare
the hollowed mountain looks! How crag on crag
tumbled and tossed in huge confusion lie!
A cavern once it was, which ran deep down
into the darkness. There th' half-human shape
of Cacus made its hideous den, concealed
from sunlight and the day. The ground was wet
at all times with fresh gore; the portal grim
was hung about with heads of slaughtered men,
bloody and pale -- a fearsome sight to see.
Vulcan begat this monster, which spewed forth
dark-fuming flames from his infernal throat,
and vast his stature seemed. But time and tide
brought to our prayers the advent of a god
to help us at our need. For Hercules,
divine avenger, came from laying low
three-bodied Geryon, whose spoils he wore
exultant, and with hands victorious drove
the herd of monster bulls, which pastured free
along our river-valley.Cacus gazed
in a brute frenzy, and left not untried
aught of bold crime or stratagem, but stole
four fine bulls as they fed, and heifers four,
all matchless; but, lest hoof-tracks point his way,
he dragged them cave-wards by the tails, confusing
the natural trail, and hid the stolen herd
in his dark den; and not a mark or sign
could guide the herdsmen to that cavern-door.
But after, when Amphitryon's famous son,
preparing to depart, would from the meads
goad forth the full-fed herd, his lingering bulls
roared loud, and by their lamentable cry
filled grove and hills with clamor of farewell:
one heifer from the mountain-cave lowed back
in answer, so from her close-guarded stall
foiling the monster's will.
Events: Aeneas visits Evander, Heracles and Cacus, Labor 10: Heracles and the cattle of Geryon
Postquam exempta fames et amor compressus edendi,
rex Euandrus ait: 'non haec sollemnia nobis,
has ex more dapes, hanc tanti numinis aram
uana superstitio ueterumque ignara deorum
imposuit: saeuis, hospes Troiane, periclis
seruati facimus meritosque nouamus honores.
iam primum saxis suspensam hanc aspice rupem,
disiectae procul ut moles desertaque montis
stat domus et scopuli ingentem traxere ruinam.
hic spelunca fuit uasto summota recessu,
semihominis Caci facies quam dira tenebat
solis inaccessam radiis; semperque recenti
caede tepebat humus, foribusque adfixa superbis
ora uirum tristi pendebant pallida tabo.
huic monstro Volcanus erat pater: illius atros
ore uomens ignis magna se mole ferebat.
attulit et nobis aliquando optantibus aetas
auxilium aduentumque dei. nam maximus ultor
tergemini nece Geryonae spoliisque superbus
Alcides aderat taurosque hac uictor agebat
ingentis, uallemque boues amnemque tenebant.
at furis Caci mens effera, ne quid inausum
aut intractatum scelerisue doliue fuisset,
quattuor a stabulis praestanti corpore tauros
auertit, totidem forma superante iuuencas.
atque hos, ne qua forent pedibus uestigia rectis,
cauda in speluncam tractos uersisque uiarum
indiciis raptor saxo occultabat opaco;
quaerenti nulla ad speluncam signa ferebant.
interea, cum iam stabulis saturata moueret
Amphitryoniades armenta abitumque pararet,
discessu mugire boues atque omne querelis
impleri nemus et colles clamore relinqui.
reddidit una boum uocem uastoque sub antro
mugiit et Caci spem custodita fefellit.