The gods have envied me the sweets of life,
My much lov'd country, and my more lov'd wife:
Banish'd from both, I mourn; while in the sky,
Transform'd to birds, my lost companions fly:
Hov'ring about the coasts, they make their moan,
And cuff the cliffs with pinions not their own.
What squalid specters, in the dead of night,
Break my short sleep, and skim before my sight!
I might have promis'd to myself those harms,
Mad as I was, when I, with mortal arms,
Presum'd against immortal pow'rs to move,
And violate with wounds the Queen of Love.
Such arms this hand shall never more employ;
No hate remains with me to ruin'd Troy.
I war not with its dust; nor am I glad
To think of past events, or good or bad.
Your presents I return: whate'er you bring
To buy my friendship, send the Trojan king.
We met in fight; I know him, to my cost:
With what a whirling force his lance he toss'd!
Heav'ns! what a spring was in his arm, to throw!
How high he held his shield, and rose at ev'ry blow!
Had Troy produc'd two more his match in might,
They would have chang'd the fortune of the fight:
Th' invasion of the Greeks had been return'd,
Our empire wasted, and our cities burn'd.
The long defense the Trojan people made,
The war protracted, and the siege delay'd,
Were due to Hector's and this hero's hand:
Both brave alike, and equal in command;
AEneas, not inferior in the field,
In pious reverence to the gods excell'd.
Make peace, ye Latians, and avoid with care
Th' impending dangers of a fatal war.'
He said no more; but, with this cold excuse,
Refus'd th' alliance, and advis'd a truce.'
Thus Venulus concluded his report.
A jarring murmur fill'd the factious court:
As, when a torrent rolls with rapid force,
And dashes o'er the stones that stop the course,
The flood, constrain'd within a scanty space,
Roars horrible along th' uneasy race;
White foam in gath'ring eddies floats around;
The rocky shores rebellow to the sound.
The murmur ceas'd: then from his lofty throne
The king invok'd the gods, and thus begun:
'I wish, ye Latins, what we now debate
Had been resolv'd before it was too late.
Much better had it been for you and me,
Unforc'd by this our last necessity,
To have been earlier wise, than now to call
A council, when the foe surrounds the wall.
O citizens, we wage unequal war,
With men not only Heav'n's peculiar care,
But Heav'n's own race; unconquer'd in the field,
Or, conquer'd, yet unknowing how to yield.
What hopes you had in Diomedes, lay down:
Our hopes must center on ourselves alone.
Yet those how feeble, and, indeed, how vain,
You see too well; nor need my words explain.
Vanquish'd without resource; laid flat by fate;
Factions within, a foe without the gate!
Not but I grant that all perform'd their parts
With manly force, and with undaunted hearts:
With our united strength the war we wag'd;
With equal numbers, equal arms, engag'd.
You see th' event.--Now hear what I propose,
To save our friends, and satisfy our foes.
A tract of land the Latins have possess'd
Along the Tiber, stretching to the west,
Which now Rutulians and Auruncans till,
And their mix'd cattle graze the fruitful hill.
Those mountains fill'd with firs, that lower land,
If you consent, the Trojan shall command,
Call'd into part of what is ours; and there,
On terms agreed, the common country share.
There let 'em build and settle, if they please;
Unless they choose once more to cross the seas,
In search of seats remote from Italy,
And from unwelcome inmates set us free.
Then twice ten galleys let us build with speed,
Or twice as many more, if more they need.
Materials are at hand; a well-grown wood
Runs equal with the margin of the flood:
Let them the number and the form assign;
The care and cost of all the stores be mine.
To treat the peace, a hundred senators
Shall be commission'd hence with ample pow'rs,
With olive crown'd: the presents they shall bear,
A purple robe, a royal iv'ry chair,
And all the marks of sway that Latian monarchs wear,
And sums of gold. Among yourselves debate
This great affair, and save the sinking state.'
Then Drances took the word, who grudg'd, long since,
The rising glories of the Daunian prince.
Factious and rich, bold at the council board,
But cautious in the field, he shunn'd the sword;
A close caballer, and tongue-valiant lord.
Noble his mother was, and near the throne;
But, what his father's parentage, unknown.
He rose, and took th' advantage of the times,
To load young Turnus with invidious crimes.
'Such truths, O king,' said he, 'your words contain,
As strike the sense, and all replies are vain;
Nor are your loyal subjects now to seek
What common needs require, but fear to speak.
Let him give leave of speech, that haughty man,
Whose pride this unauspicious war began;
For whose ambition (let me dare to say,
Fear set apart, tho' death is in my way)
The plains of Latium run with blood around.
So many valiant heroes bite the ground;
Dejected grief in ev'ry face appears;
A town in mourning, and a land in tears;
While he, th' undoubted author of our harms,
The man who menaces the gods with arms,
Yet, after all his boasts, forsook the fight,
And sought his safety in ignoble flight.
Now, best of kings, since you propose to send
Such bounteous presents to your Trojan friend;
Add yet a greater at our joint request,
One which he values more than all the rest:
Give him the fair Lavinia for his bride;
With that alliance let the league be tied,
And for the bleeding land a lasting peace provide.
Let insolence no longer awe the throne;
But, with a father's right, bestow your own.
For this maligner of the general good,
If still we fear his force, he must be woo'd;
His haughty godhead we with pray'rs implore,
Your scepter to release, and our just rights restore.
O cursed cause of all our ills, must we
Wage wars unjust, and fall in fight, for thee!
What right hast thou to rule the Latian state,
And send us out to meet our certain fate?
'T is a destructive war: from Turnus' hand
Our peace and public safety we demand.
Let the fair bride to the brave chief remain;
If not, the peace, without the pledge, is vain.
Turnus, I know you think me not your friend,
Nor will I much with your belief contend:
I beg your greatness not to give the law
In others' realms, but, beaten, to withdraw.
Pity your own, or pity our estate;
Nor twist our fortunes with your sinking fate.
Your interest is, the war should never cease;
But we have felt enough to wish the peace:
A land exhausted to the last remains,
Depopulated towns, and driven plains.
Yet, if desire of fame, and thirst of pow'r,
A beauteous princess, with a crown in dow'r,
So fire your mind, in arms assert your right,
And meet your foe, who dares you to the fight.
Mankind, it seems, is made for you alone;
We, but the slaves who mount you to the throne:
A base ignoble crowd, without a name,
Unwept, unworthy, of the fun'ral flame,
By duty bound to forfeit each his life,
That Turnus may possess a royal wife.
Permit not, mighty man, so mean a crew
Should share such triumphs, and detain from you
The post of honor, your undoubted due.
Rather alone your matchless force employ,
To merit what alone you must enjoy.'
These words, so full of malice mix'd with art,
Inflam'd with rage the youthful hero's heart.
Then, groaning from the bottom of his breast,
He heav'd for wind, and thus his wrath express'd:
'You, Drances, never want a stream of words,
Then, when the public need requires our swords.
First in the council hall to steer the state,
And ever foremost in a tongue-debate,
While our strong walls secure us from the foe,
Ere yet with blood our ditches overflow:
But let the potent orator declaim,
And with the brand of coward blot my name;
Free leave is giv'n him, when his fatal hand
Has cover'd with more corps the sanguine strand,
And high as mine his tow'ring trophies stand.
If any doubt remains, who dares the most,
Let us decide it at the Trojan's cost,
And issue both abreast, where honor calls--
Foes are not far to seek without the walls--
Unless his noisy tongue can only fight,
And feet were giv'n him but to speed his flight.
I beaten from the field? I forc'd away?
Who, but so known a dastard, dares to say?
Had he but ev'n beheld the fight, his eyes
Had witness'd for me what his tongue denies:
What heaps of Trojans by this hand were slain,
And how the bloody Tiber swell'd the main.
All saw, but he, th' Arcadian troops retire
In scatter'd squadrons, and their prince expire.
The giant brothers, in their camp, have found,
I was not forc'd with ease to quit my ground.
Not such the Trojans tried me, when, inclos'd,
I singly their united arms oppos'd:
First forc'd an entrance thro' their thick array;
Then, glutted with their slaughter, freed my way.
'T is a destructive war? So let it be,
But to the Phrygian pirate, and to thee!
Meantime proceed to fill the people's ears
With false reports, their minds with panic fears:
Extol the strength of a twice-conquer'd race;
Our foes encourage, and our friends debase.
Believe thy fables, and the Trojan town
Triumphant stands; the Grecians are o'erthrown;
Suppliant at Hector's feet Achilles lies,
And Diomede from fierce AEneas flies.
Say rapid Aufidus with awful dread
Runs backward from the sea, and hides his head,
When the great Trojan on his bank appears;
For that's as true as thy dissembled fears
Of my revenge. Dismiss that vanity:
Thou, Drances, art below a death from me.
Let that vile soul in that vile body rest;
The lodging is well worthy of the guest.
'Now, royal father, to the present state
Of our affairs, and of this high debate:
If in your arms thus early you diffide,
And think your fortune is already tried;
If one defeat has brought us down so low,
As never more in fields to meet the foe;
Then I conclude for peace: 't is time to treat,
And lie like vassals at the victor's feet.
But, O! if any ancient blood remains,
One drop of all our fathers', in our veins,
That man would I prefer before the rest,
Who dar'd his death with an undaunted breast;
Who comely fell, by no dishonest wound,
To shun that sight, and, dying, gnaw'd the ground.
But, if we still have fresh recruits in store,
If our confederates can afford us more;
If the contended field we bravely fought,
And not a bloodless victory was bought;
Their losses equal'd ours; and, for their slain,
With equal fires they fill'd the shining plain;
Why thus, unforc'd, should we so tamely yield,
And, ere the trumpet sounds, resign the field?
Good unexpected, evils unforeseen,
Appear by turns, as fortune shifts the scene:
Some, rais'd aloft, come tumbling down amain;
Then fall so hard, they bound and rise again.
If Diomede refuse his aid to lend,
The great Messapus yet remains our friend:
Tolumnius, who foretells events, is ours;
Th' Italian chiefs and princes join their pow'rs:
Nor least in number, nor in name the last,
Your own brave subjects have your cause embrac'd
Above the rest, the Volscian Amazon
Contains an army in herself alone,
And heads a squadron, terrible to sight,
With glitt'ring shields, in brazen armor bright.
Yet, if the foe a single fight demand,
And I alone the public peace withstand;
If you consent, he shall not be refus'd,
Nor find a hand to victory unus'd.
This new Achilles, let him take the field,
With fated armor, and Vulcanian shield!
For you, my royal father, and my fame,
I, Turnus, not the least of all my name,
Devote my soul. He calls me hand to hand,
And I alone will answer his demand.
Drances shall rest secure, and neither share
The danger, nor divide the prize of war.'
While they debate, nor these nor those will yield,
AEneas draws his forces to the field,
And moves his camp. The scouts with flying speed
Return, and thro' the frighted city spread
Th' unpleasing news, the Trojans are descried,
In battle marching by the river side,
And bending to the town. They take th' alarm:
Some tremble, some are bold; all in confusion arm.
Th' impetuous youth press forward to the field;
They clash the sword, and clatter on the shield:
The fearful matrons raise a screaming cry;
Old feeble men with fainter groans reply;
A jarring sound results, and mingles in the sky,
Like that of swans remurm'ring to the floods,
Or birds of diff'ring kinds in hollow woods.
Turnus th' occasion takes, and cries aloud:
'Talk on, ye quaint haranguers of the crowd:
Declaim in praise of peace, when danger calls,
And the fierce foes in arms approach the walls.'
He said, and, turning short, with speedy pace,
Casts back a scornful glance, and quits the place:
'Thou, Volusus, the Volscian troops command
To mount; and lead thyself our Ardean band.