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NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX.. Robert Browning.
A LAY MADE ABOUT THE YEAR OF THE CITY CCCLX.1
LARS PORSENA 2 of Clusium
By the Nine Gods 3 he swore
And named a trysting 5 day,
1 About three hundred and sixty years after the founding of Rome, or 393 B.C. The scene of the lay is chiefly in Etruria and in Rome.
2 Lars Porsena (Por-sē'na or Por'se-na): Lars was an Etruscan title of honor and office corresponding to chief or lord. The Etruscans were an ancient people occupying Etruria, a territory in Italy north and west of Rome, the river Tiber being the eastern and southern boundary. Lars Porsena was the most powerful chief or king of the twelve Etruscan tribes. His capital was Clu'si-um, about ninety miles northwest of Rome.
8 Nine Gods: little is known respecting the Etruscan deities. The Romans supposed them to have nine chief gods, who, like Jupiter, had the power of hurling thunderbolts.
4 Tarquin Tarquin the Proud was the last king of Rome, 505 B.C. He robbed the people of their liberty, and his son, Sextus, committed an outrage which caused a revolution by which the monarchy was overthrown and Tarquin banished. Tarquin applied to Lars Porsena for aid, and that chief raised an army to compel the Romans to reinstate the exiled despot.
5 Trysting day (trýst'ing): an appointed day of meeting; here, a day agreed on for the meeting of troops.
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and west and south and north
And tower and town and cottage
Have heard the trumpet's blast.
The horsemen and the footmen
From many a stately market-place;
From many a lonely hamlet,
Which, hid by beech and pine,
Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest
From lordly Volaterræ,4
Where scowls the far-famed hold
1 Array: the whole body of fighting-men bound to follow a chief.
2 Etruscan: an inhabitant of Etruria.
3 Amain: at full speed.
4 Volaterræ: a famous city of Etruria, standing on a commanding height. Its citadel, or "hold," was built, like its walls, of massive unce mented stones.