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Was celebrating high, in solemn feast,
Alcides and his tutelary gods.
Pallas , his son, was there, and there the chief
Of all his youth; with these, a worthy tribe,
His poor but venerable senate, burnt
Sweet incense, and their altars smoked with blood.
Soon as they saw the towering masts approach
Sliding between the trees, while the crew rest
Upon their silent oars, amazed they rose,
Not without fear, and all forsook the feast.
But Pallas undismayed, his javelin seized,
Rushed to the bank, and from the rising ground
Forbade them to disturb the sacred rites,
"Ye stranger youth! what prompts you to explore
This untried way? and whither do ye steer?
Whence, and who are ye? Bring ye peace or war?"
./Eneas from his lofty deck holds forth
The peaceful olive branch, and thus replies:
"Trojans and enemies to the Latian state,
Whom they with unprovoked hostilities
Have driven away, thou seest. We seek Evander;
Say this,—and say beside, the Trojan chiefs
Are come, and seek his friendship and his aid."
Pallas with wonder heard that awful name,
And "who'os'cr thou art," he cried, "come forth;
Bear thine own tidings to my father's ear,
And be a welcome guest beneath our roof."
He said, and pressed the stranger to his breast,
Then led him from the river to the grove,
Where, courteous, thus ./Eneas greets the king:
"Best of the Grecian race, to whom I bow
(So wills my fortune) suppliant, and stretch forth
In sign of amity this peaceful branch,
I feared thee not, although I knew thee well,
A Grecian leader, born in Arcady,
And kinsman of the Atridae. Me my virtue,
That means no wrong to thee,—The Oracles,
Our kindred families allied of old,
And thy renown diffused through every land,
Have all conspired to bind in friendship to thee,
And send me not unwilling to thy shores.
Dardanus, author of the Trojan state,
(So say the Greeks,) was fair Electra's son;
Electra boasted Atlas for her sire,
Whose shoulders high sustain the ethereal orbs.
Your sire is Mercury, whom Maia bcre,
Sweet Maia, on Cyllene's hoary top.
Her, if we credit aught tradition old,
Atlas of yore, the selfsame Atlas, claimed
His daughter. Thus united close in blood,
Thy race and ours one common sire confess.
With these credentials fraught, I would not send
Ambassadors with artful phrase to sound
Thus spoke ./Eneas. lie with fixed regard
He said, and bade replace the feast removed;
Hunger appeased, and tables all dispatched,
Thus spake Evander: "Superstition here,
In this old solemn feasting, has no part.
No, Trojan friend, from utmost danger saved,
In gratitude this worship we renew.
Behold that rock which nods above the vale,
Those hulks of broken stone dispersed around;
How desolate the shattered cave appears,
And what a ruin spreads the encumbered plain.
Within this pile, but far within, was once
The den of Cacus; dire his hateful form
That shunned the day, half monster and half man.
Blood newly shed streamed ever on the ground
Smoking, and many a visage pale and wan
Nailed at his gate, hung hideous to the sight.
Vulcan begot the brute : vast was his size,
And from his throat he belched his father's fires.
ISut the day came that brought us what we wished,
The assistance and the presence of a God.
Flushed with his victory and the spoils he won
From triple-formed Geryon lately slain,
The great avenger, Hercules, appeared.
Hither he drove his stately bulls, and poured
His herds along the vale. But the sly thief
Cacus, that nothing might escape his hand
Of villany or fraud, drove from the stalls
Four of the lordliest of his brutes, and four,
The fairest of his heifers ; by the tail
He dragged them to his den, that, there concealed,
No footsteps might betray the dark abode.
And now his herd with provender sufficed,
Alcides would be gone: they as they went
Still bellowing loud, made the deep echoing woods
And distant hills resound: when hark! one ox,
Imprisoned close within the vast recess,
Lows in return, and frustrates all his hope.
Then fury seized Alcides, and his breast
With indignation heaved: grasping his club
Of knotted oak, swift to the mountain top
He ran, he flew. Then first was Cacus seen
To tremble, and his eyes bespoke his fears.
Swift as an eastern blast he sought his den,
And dread, increasing, winged him as he went.
Drawn up in iron slings above the gate,
A rock was hung enormous. Such his haste,
He burst the chains, and dropped it at the door,
Then grappled it with iron work within
Of bolts and bars by Vulcan's art contrived.
Scarce was he fast, when panting for revenge
Came Hercules; he gnashed his teeth with rage,
And quick as lightning glanced his eyes around
In quest of entrance. Fiery red and stung
With indignation, thrice he wheeled his course
About the mountain, thrice, but thrice in vain, He strove to force the quarry at the gate, And thrice sat down o'erwearied in the vale. There stood a pointed rock, abrupt and rude, That high o'erlooked the rest, close at the back Of the fell monster's den, where birds obscene Of ominous note resorted, choughs and daws. This, as it leaned obliquely to the left, Threatening the stream below, he from the right Pushed with his utmost strength, and to and fro He shook the mass, loosening its lowest base, Then shoved it from its seat; down fell the pile; Sky thundered at the fall; the banks give way, The affrighted stream flows upward to his source. Behold the kennel of the brute exposed, The gloomy vault laid open. So, if chance Earth yawning to the centre should disclose The mansions, the pale mansions of the dead, Loathed by the gods, such would the gulf appear, And the ghosts tremble at the sight of day. The monster braying with unusual din Within his hollow lair, and sore amazed To see such sudden inroads of the light, Alcides pressed him close with what at hand Lay readiest, stumps of trees, and fragments huge Of millstone size. He, (for escape was none,) Wondrous to tell! forth from his gorge discharged A smoky cloud that darkened all the den; Wreath after wreath he vomited amain, The smothering vapour mixed with fiery sparks; No sight could penetrate the veil obscure. The hero, more provoked, endured not this, But with a headlong leap he rushed to where The thickest cloud enveloped his abode; There grasped he Cacus, spite of all his fires, Till crushed within his arms, the monster shows His bloodless throat, now dry with panting hard, And his pressed eyeballs start. Soon he tears down The barricade of rock, the dark abyss Lies open; and the imprisoned bulls, the theft He had with oaths denied, are brought to light; By the heels the miscreant carcase is dragged forth, His face, his eyes, all terrible, his breast Beset with bristles, and his sooty jaws Are viewed with wonder never to be cloyed. Hence the celebrity thou seest, and hence This festal day. Potitius first enjoined Posterity these solemn rites, he first With those who bear the great Pinarian name To Hercules devoted, in the grove This altar built, deemed sacred in the highest By us, and sacred ever to be deemed. 2-L.
Come, then, my friends, and bind your youthful brows