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Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
Into the stream beneath:
Herminius struck at Seius,

And clove him to the teeth:
At Picus brave Horatius

Darted one fiery thrust;
And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
Clashed in the bloody dust.


Then Ocnus of Falerii

Rushed on the Roman Three;

And Lausulus of Urgo,

The rover of the sea; And Aruns of Volsinium,

Who slew the great wild boar, The great wild boar that had his den Amidst the reeds of Cosa's fen,

And wasted fields, and slaughtered men, Along Albinia's shore.


Herminius smote down Aruns:

Lartius laid Ocnus low:

Right to the heart of Lausulus

Horatius sent a blow.

"Lie there," he cried, "fell pirate!

No more, aghast and pale,

From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark The track of thy destroying bark.

No more Campania's hinds shall fly To woods and caverns when they spy -Thy thrice accursed sail."


But now no sound of laughter
Was heard amongst the foes.
A wild and wrathful clamour
From all the vanguard rose.
Six spears' lengths from the entrance
Halted that mighty mass,
And for a space no man came forth
To win the narrow pass.


But hark! the cry is Astur:
And lo! the ranks divide;
And the great Lord of Luna

Comes with his stately stride.
Upon his ample shoulders

Clangs loud the four-fold shield, And in his hand he shakes the brand Which none but he can wield.

He smiled on those bold Romans
A smile serene and high;
He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
And scorn was in his eye.
Quoth he, "The she-wolf's litter
Stand savagely at bay:
But will ye dare to follow,

If Astur clears the way?"


Then, whirling up his broadsword
With both hands to the height,
He rushed against Horatius,

And smote with all his might.
With shield and blade Horatius

Right deftly turned the blow. The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh; It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh: The Tuscans raised a joyful cry

To see the red blood flow.


He reeled, and on Herminius

He leaned one breathing-space;
Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds,
Sprang right at Astur's face.

Through teeth, and skull, and helmet,
So fierce a thrust he sped,

The good sword stood a hand-breadth out Behind the Tuscan's head.


And the great Lord of Luna

Fell at that deadly stroke,
As falls on Mount Alvernus
A thunder-smitten oak.
Far o'er the crashing forest

The giant arms lie spread;
And the pale augurs, muttering low,
Gaze on the blasted head.


On Astur's throat Horatius

Right firmly pressed his heel, And thrice and four times tugged amain, Ere he wrenched out the steel. "And see," he cried, "the welcome, Fair guests, that waits you here! What noble Lucumo comes next To taste our Roman cheer?"


But at his haughty challenge

A sullen murmur ran,

Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,

Along that glittering van.

There lacked not men of prowess,
Nor men of lordly race;
For all Etruria's noblest

Were round the fatal place.


But all Etruria's noblest

Felt their hearts sink to see
On the earth the bloody corpses,
In the path the dauntless Three:
And, from the ghastly entrance

Where those bold Romans stood,
All shrank, like boys who unaware,
Ranging the woods to start a hare,
Come to the mouth of the dark lair
Where, growling low, a fierce old bear
Lies amidst bones and blood.


Was none who would be foremost
To lead such dire attack;
But those behind cried "Forward!"
And those before cried "Back!"
And backward now and forward

Wavers the deep array;
And on the tossing sea of steel,
To and fro the standards reel;
And the victorious trumpet-peal
Dies fitfully away.


Yet one man for one moment
Strode out before the crowd;
Well known was he to all the Three,
And they gave him greeting loud.
"Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!

Now welcome to thy home!
Why dost thou stay, and turn away?
Here lies the road to Rome."


Thrice looked he on the city;
Thrice looked he at the dead;
And thrice came on in fury,

And thrice turned back in dread:
And, white with fear and hatred,
Scowled at the narrow way
Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,
The bravest Tuscans lay.

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