Thus riding on his curls, he seem'd to pass
A rolling fire along, and singe the grass.
More various colors thro' his body run,
Than Iris when her bow imbibes the sun.
Betwixt the rising altars, and around,
The sacred monster shot along the ground;
With harmless play amidst the bowls he pass'd,
And with his lolling tongue assay'd the taste:
Thus fed with holy food, the wondrous guest
Within the hollow tomb retir'd to rest.
The pious prince, surpris'd at what he view'd,
The fun'ral honors with more zeal renew'd,
Doubtful if this place's genius were,
Or guardian of his father's sepulcher.
Five sheep, according to the rites, he slew;
As many swine, and steers of sable hue;
New gen'rous wine he from the goblets pour'd.
And call'd his father's ghost, from hell restor'd.
The glad attendants in long order come,
Off'ring their gifts at great Anchises' tomb:
Some add more oxen; some divide the spoil;
Some place the chargers on the grassy soil;
Some blow the fires, and offer'd entrails broil.
Now came the day desir'd. The skies were bright
With rosy luster of the rising light:
The bord'ring people, rous'd by sounding fame
Of Trojan feasts and great Acestes' name,
The crowded shore with acclamations fill,
Part to behold, and part to prove their skill.
And first the gifts in public view they place,
Green laurel wreaths, and palm, the victors' grace:
Within the circle, arms and tripods lie,
Ingots of gold and silver, heap'd on high,
And vests embroider'd, of the Tyrian dye.
The trumpet's clangor then the feast proclaims,
And all prepare for their appointed games.
Four galleys first, which equal rowers bear,
Advancing, in the wat'ry lists appear.
The speedy Dolphin, that outstrips the wind,
Bore Mnestheus, author of the Memmian kind:
Gyas the vast Chimaera's bulk commands,
Which rising, like a tow'ring city stands;
Three Trojans tug at ev'ry lab'ring oar;
Three banks in three degrees the sailors bore;
Beneath their sturdy strokes the billows roar.
Sergesthus, who began the Sergian race,
In the great Centaur took the leading place;
Cloanthus on the sea-green Scylla stood,
From whom Cluentius draws his Trojan blood.
Far in the sea, against the foaming shore,
There stands a rock: the raging billows roar
Above his head in storms; but, when 't is clear,
Uncurl their ridgy backs, and at his foot appear.
In peace below the gentle waters run;
The cormorants above lie basking in the sun.
On this the hero fix'd an oak in sight,
The mark to guide the mariners aright.
To bear with this, the seamen stretch their oars;
Then round the rock they steer, and seek the former shores.
The lots decide their place. Above the rest,
Each leader shining in his Tyrian vest;
The common crew with wreaths of poplar boughs
Their temples crown, and shade their sweaty brows:
Besmear'd with oil, their naked shoulders shine.
All take their seats, and wait the sounding sign:
They gripe their oars; and ev'ry panting breast
Is rais'd by turns with hope, by turns with fear depress'd.
The clangor of the trumpet gives the sign;
At once they start, advancing in a line:
With shouts the sailors rend the starry skies;
Lash'd with their oars, the smoky billows rise;
Sparkles the briny main, and the vex'd ocean fries.
Exact in time, with equal strokes they row:
At once the brushing oars and brazen prow
Dash up the sandy waves, and ope the depths below.
Not fiery coursers, in a chariot race,
Invade the field with half so swift a pace;
Not the fierce driver with more fury lends
The sounding lash, and, ere the stroke descends,
Low to the wheels his pliant body bends.
The partial crowd their hopes and fears divide,
And aid with eager shouts the favor'd side.
Cries, murmurs, clamors, with a mixing sound,
From woods to woods, from hills to hills rebound.
Amidst the loud applauses of the shore,
Gyas outstripp'd the rest, and sprung before:
Cloanthus, better mann'd, pursued him fast,
But his o'er-masted galley check'd his haste.
The Centaur and the Dolphin brush the brine
With equal oars, advancing in a line;
And now the mighty Centaur seems to lead,
And now the speedy Dolphin gets ahead;
Now board to board the rival vessels row,
The billows lave the skies, and ocean groans below.
They reach'd the mark. Proud Gyas and his train
In triumph rode, the victors of the main;
But, steering round, he charg'd his pilot stand
More close to shore, and skim along the sand--
'Let others bear to sea!' Menoetes heard;
But secret shelves too cautiously he fear'd,
And, fearing, sought the deep; and still aloof he steer'd.
With louder cries the captain call'd again:
'Bear to the rocky shore, and shun the main.'
He spoke, and, speaking, at his stern he saw
The bold Cloanthus near the shelvings draw.
Betwixt the mark and him the Scylla stood,
And in a closer compass plow'd the flood.
He pass'd the mark; and, wheeling, got before:
Gyas blasphem'd the gods, devoutly swore,
Cried out for anger, and his hair he tore.
Mindless of others' lives (so high was grown
His rising rage) and careless of his own,
The trembling dotard to the deck he drew;
Then hoisted up, and overboard he threw:
This done, he seiz'd the helm; his fellows cheer'd,
Turn'd short upon the shelfs, and madly steer'd.
Hardly his head the plunging pilot rears,
Clogg'd with his clothes, and cumber'd with his years:
Now dropping wet, he climbs the cliff with pain.
The crowd, that saw him fall and float again,
Shout from the distant shore; and loudly laugh'd,
To see his heaving breast disgorge the briny draught.
The following Centaur, and the Dolphin's crew,
Their vanish'd hopes of victory renew;
While Gyas lags, they kindle in the race,
To reach the mark. Sergesthus takes the place;
Mnestheus pursues; and while around they wind,
Comes up, not half his galley's length behind;
Then, on the deck, amidst his mates appear'd,
And thus their drooping courage he cheer'd:
'My friends, and Hector's followers heretofore,
Exert your vigor; tug the lab'ring oar;
Stretch to your strokes, my still unconquer'd crew,
Whom from the flaming walls of Troy I drew.
In this, our common int'rest, let me find
That strength of hand, that courage of the mind,
As when you stemm'd the strong Malean flood,
And o'er the Syrtes' broken billows row'd.
I seek not now the foremost palm to gain;
Tho' yet--but ah! that haughty wish is vain!
Let those enjoy it whom the gods ordain.
But to be last, the lags of all the race!--
Redeem yourselves and me from that disgrace.'
Now, one and all, they tug amain; they row
At the full stretch, and shake the brazen prow.
The sea beneath 'em sinks; their lab'ring sides
Are swell'd, and sweat runs gutt'ring down in tides.
Chance aids their daring with unhop'd success;
Sergesthus, eager with his beak to press
Betwixt the rival galley and the rock,
Shuts up th' unwieldly Centaur in the lock.
The vessel struck; and, with the dreadful shock,
Her oars she shiver'd, and her head she broke.
The trembling rowers from their banks arise,
And, anxious for themselves, renounce the prize.
With iron poles they heave her off the shores,
And gather from the sea their floating oars.
The crew of Mnestheus, with elated minds,
Urge their success, and call the willing winds;
Then ply their oars, and cut their liquid way
In larger compass on the roomy sea.
As, when the dove her rocky hold forsakes,
Rous'd in a fright, her sounding wings she shakes;
The cavern rings with clatt'ring; out she flies,
And leaves her callow care, and cleaves the skies:
At first she flutters; but at length she springs
To smoother flight, and shoots upon her wings:
So Mnestheus in the Dolphin cuts the sea;
And, flying with a force, that force assists his way.
Sergesthus in the Centaur soon he pass'd,
Wedg'd in the rocky shoals, and sticking fast.
In vain the victor he with cries implores,
And practices to row with shatter'd oars.
Then Mnestheus bears with Gyas, and outflies:
The ship, without a pilot, yields the prize.
Unvanquish'd Scylla now alone remains;
Her he pursues, and all his vigor strains.
Shouts from the fav'ring multitude arise;
Applauding Echo to the shouts replies;
Shouts, wishes, and applause run rattling thro' the skies.
These clamors with disdain the Scylla heard,
Much grudg'd the praise, but more the robb'd reward:
Resolv'd to hold their own, they mend their pace,
All obstinate to die, or gain the race.
Rais'd with success, the Dolphin swiftly ran;
For they can conquer, who believe they can.
Both urge their oars, and fortune both supplies,
And both perhaps had shar'd an equal prize;
When to the seas Cloanthus holds his hands,
And succor from the wat'ry pow'rs demands:
'Gods of the liquid realms, on which I row!
If, giv'n by you, the laurel bind my brow,
Assist to make me guilty of my vow!
A snow-white bull shall on your shore be slain;
His offer'd entrails cast into the main,
And ruddy wine, from golden goblets thrown,
Your grateful gift and my return shall own.'
The choir of nymphs, and Phorcus, from below,
With virgin Panopea, heard his vow;
And old Portunus, with his breadth of hand,
Push'd on, and sped the galley to the land.
Swift as a shaft, or winged wind, she flies,
And, darting to the port, obtains the prize.
The herald summons all, and then proclaims
Cloanthus conqu'ror of the naval games.
The prince with laurel crowns the victor's head,
And three fat steers are to his vessel led,
The ship's reward; with gen'rous wine beside,
And sums of silver, which the crew divide.
The leaders are distinguish'd from the rest;
The victor honor'd with a nobler vest,
Where gold and purple strive in equal rows,
And needlework its happy cost bestows.
There Ganymede is wrought with living art,
Chasing thro' Ida's groves the trembling hart:
Breathless he seems, yet eager to pursue;
When from aloft descends, in open view,
The bird of Jove, and, sousing on his prey,
With crooked talons bears the boy away.
In vain, with lifted hands and gazing eyes,
His guards behold him soaring thro' the skies,
And dogs pursue his flight with imitated cries.
Mnestheus the second victor was declar'd;
And, summon'd there, the second prize he shar'd.
A coat of mail, which brave Demoleus bore,
More brave AEneas from his shoulders tore,
In single combat on the Trojan shore:
This was ordain'd for Mnestheus to possess;
In war for his defense, for ornament in peace.
Rich was the gift, and glorious to behold,
But yet so pond'rous with its plates of gold,
That scarce two servants could the weight sustain;
Yet, loaded thus, Demoleus o'er the plain
Pursued and lightly seiz'd the Trojan train.
The third, succeeding to the last reward,
Two goodly bowls of massy silver shar'd,
With figures prominent, and richly wrought,
And two brass caldrons from Dodona brought.
Thus all, rewarded by the hero's hands,
Their conqu'ring temples bound with purple bands;
And now Sergesthus, clearing from the rock,
Brought back his galley shatter'd with the shock.
Forlorn she look'd, without an aiding oar,
And, houted by the vulgar, made to shore.
As when a snake, surpris'd upon the road,
Is crush'd athwart her body by the load
Of heavy wheels; or with a mortal wound
Her belly bruis'd, and trodden to the ground:
In vain, with loosen'd curls, she crawls along;
Yet, fierce above, she brandishes her tongue;
Glares with her eyes, and bristles with her scales;
But, groveling in the dust, her parts unsound she trails:
So slowly to the port the Centaur tends,
But, what she wants in oars, with sails amends.
Yet, for his galley sav'd, the grateful prince
Is pleas'd th' unhappy chief to recompense.
Pholoe, the Cretan slave, rewards his care,
Beauteous herself, with lovely twins as fair.
From thence his way the Trojan hero bent
Into the neighb'ring plain, with mountains pent,
Whose sides were shaded with surrounding wood.
Full in the midst of this fair valley stood
A native theater, which, rising slow
By just degrees, o'erlook'd the ground below.
High on a sylvan throne the leader sate;
A num'rous train attend in solemn state.
Here those that in the rapid course delight,
Desire of honor and the prize invite.
The rival runners without order stand;
The Trojans mix'd with the Sicilian band.
First Nisus, with Euryalus, appears;
Euryalus a boy of blooming years,
With sprightly grace and equal beauty crown'd;
Nisus, for friendship to the youth renown'd.
Diores next, of Priam's royal race,
Then Salius joined with Patron, took their place;
(But Patron in Arcadia had his birth,
And Salius his from Arcananian earth;)
Then two Sicilian youths--the names of these,
Swift Helymus, and lovely Panopes:
Both jolly huntsmen, both in forest bred,
And owning old Acestes for their head;
With sev'ral others of ignobler name,
Whom time has not deliver'd o'er to fame.
To these the hero thus his thoughts explain'd,
In words which gen'ral approbation gain'd:
'One common largess is for all design'd,
(The vanquish'd and the victor shall be join'd,)
Two darts of polish'd steel and Gnosian wood,
A silver-studded ax, alike bestow'd.
The foremost three have olive wreaths decreed:
The first of these obtains a stately steed,
Adorn'd with trappings; and the next in fame,
The quiver of an Amazonian dame,
With feather'd Thracian arrows well supplied:
A golden belt shall gird his manly side,
Which with a sparkling diamond shall be tied.
The third this Grecian helmet shall content.'
He said. To their appointed base they went;
With beating hearts th' expected sign receive,
And, starting all at once, the barrier leave.
Spread out, as on the winged winds, they flew,
And seiz'd the distant goal with greedy view.
Shot from the crowd, swift Nisus all o'erpass'd;
Nor storms, nor thunder, equal half his haste.
The next, but tho' the next, yet far disjoin'd,
Came Salius, and Euryalus behind;
Then Helymus, whom young Diores plied,
Step after step, and almost side by side,
His shoulders pressing; and, in longer space,
Had won, or left at least a dubious race.
Now, spent, the goal they almost reach at last,
When eager Nisus, hapless in his haste,
Slipp'd first, and, slipping, fell upon the plain,
Soak'd with the blood of oxen newly slain.
The careless victor had not mark'd his way;
But, treading where the treach'rous puddle lay,
His heels flew up; and on the grassy floor
He fell, besmear'd with filth and holy gore.
Not mindless then, Euryalus, of thee,
Nor of the sacred bonds of amity,
He strove th' immediate rival's hope to cross,
And caught the foot of Salius as he rose.
So Salius lay extended on the plain;
Euryalus springs out, the prize to gain,
And leaves the crowd: applauding peals attend
The victor to the goal, who vanquish'd by his friend.
Next Helymus; and then Diores came,
By two misfortunes made the third in fame.
But Salius enters, and, exclaiming loud
For justice, deafens and disturbs the crowd;
Urges his cause may in the court be heard;
And pleads the prize is wrongfully conferr'd.
But favor for Euryalus appears;
His blooming beauty, with his tender tears,
Had brib'd the judges for the promis'd prize.
Besides, Diores fills the court with cries,
Who vainly reaches at the last reward,
If the first palm on Salius be conferr'd.
Then thus the prince: 'Let no disputes arise:
Where fortune plac'd it, I award the prize.
But fortune's errors give me leave to mend,
At least to pity my deserving friend.'
He said, and, from among the spoils, he draws
(Pond'rous with shaggy mane and golden paws)
A lion's hide: to Salius this he gives.
Nisus with envy sees the gift, and grieves.
'If such rewards to vanquish'd men are due.'
He said, 'and falling is to rise by you,
What prize may Nisus from your bounty claim,
Who merited the first rewards and fame?
In falling, both an equal fortune tried;
Would fortune for my fall so well provide!'
With this he pointed to his face, and show'd
His hand and all his habit smear'd with blood.
Th' indulgent father of the people smil'd,
And caus'd to be produc'd an ample shield,
Of wondrous art, by Didymaon wrought,
Long since from Neptune's bars in triumph brought.
This giv'n to Nisus, he divides the rest,
And equal Justice in his gifts express'd.
The race thus ended, and rewards bestow'd,
Once more the prince bespeaks th' attentive crowd:
'If there be here whose dauntless courage dare
In gauntlet-fight, with limbs and body bare,
His opposite sustain in open view,
Stand forth the champion, and the games renew.
Two prizes I propose, and thus divide:
A bull with gilded horns, and fillets tied,
Shall be the portion of the conqu'ring chief;
A sword and helm shall cheer the loser's grief.'
Then haughty Dares in the lists appears;
Stalking he strides, his head erected bears:
His nervous arms the weighty gauntlet wield,
And loud applauses echo thro' the field.
Dares alone in combat us'd to stand
The match of mighty Paris, hand to hand;
The same, at Hector's fun'rals, undertook
Gigantic Butes, of th' Amycian stock,
And, by the stroke of his resistless hand,
Stretch'd the vast bulk upon the yellow sand.
Such Dares was; and such he strode along,
And drew the wonder of the gazing throng.
His brawny back and ample breast he shows,
His lifted arms around his head he throws,
And deals in whistling air his empty blows.
His match is sought; but, thro' the trembling band,
Not one dares answer to the proud demand.
Presuming of his force, with sparkling eyes
Already he devours the promis'd prize.
He claims the bull with awless insolence,
And having seiz'd his horns, accosts the prince:
'If none my matchless valor dares oppose,
How long shall Dares wait his dastard foes?
Permit me, chief, permit without delay,
To lead this uncontended gift away.'
The crowd assents, and with redoubled cries
For the proud challenger demands the prize.
Acestes, fir'd with just disdain, to see
The palm usurp'd without a victory,
Reproach'd Entellus thus, who sate beside,
And heard and saw, unmov'd, the Trojan's pride:
'Once, but in vain, a champion of renown,
So tamely can you bear the ravish'd crown,
A prize in triumph borne before your sight,
And shun, for fear, the danger of the fight?
Where is our Eryx now, the boasted name,
The god who taught your thund'ring arm the game?
Where now your baffled honor? Where the spoil
That fill'd your house, and fame that fill'd our isle?'
Entellus, thus: 'My soul is still the same,
Unmov'd with fear, and mov'd with martial fame;
But my chill blood is curdled in my veins,
And scarce the shadow of a man remains.
O could I turn to that fair prime again,
That prime of which this boaster is so vain,
The brave, who this decrepid age defies,
Should feel my force, without the promis'd prize.'
He said; and, rising at the word, he threw
Two pond'rous gauntlets down in open view;
Gauntlets which Eryx wont in fight to wield,
And sheathe his hands with in the listed field.
With fear and wonder seiz'd, the crowd beholds
The gloves of death, with sev'n distinguish'd folds
Of tough bull hides; the space within is spread
With iron, or with loads of heavy lead:
Dares himself was daunted at the sight,
Renounc'd his challenge, and refus'd to fight.
Astonish'd at their weight, the hero stands,
And pois'd the pond'rous engines in his hands.
'What had your wonder,' said Entellus, 'been,
Had you the gauntlets of Alcides seen,
Or view'd the stern debate on this unhappy green!
These which I bear your brother Eryx bore,
Still mark'd with batter'd brains and mingled gore.
With these he long sustain'd th' Herculean arm;
And these I wielded while my blood was warm,
This languish'd frame while better spirits fed,
Ere age unstrung my nerves, or time o'ersnow'd my head.
But if the challenger these arms refuse,
And cannot wield their weight, or dare not use;
If great AEneas and Acestes join
In his request, these gauntlets I resign;
Let us with equal arms perform the fight,
And let him leave to fear, since I resign my right.'
This said, Entellus for the strife prepares;
Stripp'd of his quilted coat, his body bares;
Compos'd of mighty bones and brawn he stands,
A goodly tow'ring object on the sands.
Then just AEneas equal arms supplied,
Which round their shoulders to their wrists they tied.
Both on the tiptoe stand, at full extent,
Their arms aloft, their bodies inly bent;
Their heads from aiming blows they bear afar;
With clashing gauntlets then provoke the war.
One on his youth and pliant limbs relies;
One on his sinews and his giant size.
The last is stiff with age, his motion slow;
He heaves for breath, he staggers to and fro,
And clouds of issuing smoke his nostrils loudly blow.