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Meanwhile, horsemen, sent out from the city of the Latini while the rest of the army waited drawn up on the plain, were coming bearing a reply for King Turnus – three hundred of them, all shield-bearers, led by Volcens.

And now they were drawing near to the camp and going up the walls when they spotted these two turning off by a path to the left. His helmet gave the thoughtless Euryalus away in the half-lit shadows of the night as it flashed back, glinting in the moonlight. Not for nothing was it seen.

1

Volcens shouted out from the line: ‘Halt, you men! What is the reason for your journey? And who are you in your arms? Where are you making your way to?’ They offered no reply, but sped their flight into the woods and trusted in the darkness.

The horsemen took up positions at the known crossways on either side and surrounded every escape route with a guard. The forest far and wide was bristling with brambles and dusky oak, and the dense thorn bushes had choked it everywhere; the path barely glimmered through the concealed clearings.

2

The darkness under the branches and the heavy loot hindered Euryalus, and fear misled him from the direction of the paths. Nisus got away;

And now, unknowingly, he had left behind the enemy and the area which afterwards was called Alban, from the name of Alba (at that time King Latinus had his lofty stables there), when he stopped and looked back for his missing friend in vain:

3

‘Unlucky Euryalus, in which place did I leave you behind? Where should I follow?’ Going back again over his whole complicated journey through the deceptive wood, at the same time he re-traced the tracks he saw and wandered among silent brambles. He heard horses, he heard noises and the signals of people pursuing.

It was just moments after this when a shout reached his ears and he saw Euryalus, who now, overwhelmed by the treachery of the place and the night and by a sudden confusing din, was caught by the whole band of men as he struggled his utmost in vain.

4

What should Nisus do? With what force, with what weapons should he dare to snatch the young man away? Or should he hurl himself into the midst of their swords to certain death and hasten a noble death through his wounds?

In that instant, with his arm drawn back, brandishing his spear and looking up at the moon on high, he prayed with these words: ‘You, Goddess, be here and help me in my task, glory of the stars and guardian of the groves, O daughter of Latona.

5

If ever my father Hyrtacus brought gifts to your altars for me, if ever I enriched them myself through my hunting and either hung them in your dome or fixed them to your holy pediment, allow me to throw this band of men into confusion and guide my spears through the air’.

He said this and hurled the spear, straining with his whole body. The flying spear cleaved through the shadows of the night and struck the back of Sulmo who had turned away; and there it broke, and pierced his heart with its split shaft.

6

Spewing out a hot stream from his chest, he rolled over, cold, and his sides heaved with drawn-out convulsions. They looked around them in all directions. This same Nisus was all the fiercer – look! He balanced another spear at the tip of his ear.

While they stood there in agitation, the spear went straight through each of Tagus’ temples, hissing, and it stuck, warmed by the pierced brain. The fierce Volcens was in a rage but did not see the thrower of the weapon anywhere and could not see where to charge at in his fury.

7

‘You at least will pay the penalty to me for them both with your warm blood’, he said; at the same time he unsheathed his sword and approached Euryalus. Then indeed, Nisus, frantic with terror, shouted out and could hide himself no longer in the shadows nor endure such a great agony:

‘It’s me, it’s me, I’m here who did it – turn your swords on me, O Rutulians! The guilt is all mine; that man didn’t dare, he couldn’t do a thing; I call heaven and the all-seeing stars to witness this; he just loved an unlucky friend too much’.

8

Such were the words he was saying, but the sword, driven home with force, pierced his friend’s ribs and split open his white breast.

Euryalus was enfolded in death, the blood ran over his beautiful limbs and his dropping neck sank onto his shoulder: just as when a crimson flower, severed by the plough, droops in death, or as poppies hang down their heads on weary necks when they chance to be weighed down by rain.

9

But Nisus rushed into their midst, through all of them seeking only Volcens, Volcens his only concern. Then enemy, gathering in around him on either side at close quarters repelled him.

He pressed onwards none the less and whirled his flashing sword, until he plunged it full in the face of the shouting Rutulian and, dying himself, he took the life from his foe. Then, pierced through, he cast himself over his lifeless friend and there, finally, he found rest in the peace of death.