Ausonius' Imminutio




Postquam congressi sola sub nocte per umbram
et mentem Venus ipsa dedit, nova proelia temptant.
Tollit se arrectum: conantem plurima frustra
occupat os faciemque, pedem pede fervidus urget,
perfidus alta petens: ramum, qui veste latebat,
sanguineis ebuli bacis minioque rubentem
nudato capite et pedibus per mutua nexis,
monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum
eripit a femine et trepidanti fervidus instat.
Est in secessu, tenuis quo semita ducit,
ignea rima micans: exhalat opaca mephitim.
Nulli fas casto sceleratum insistere limen.
Hic specus horrendum: talis sese halitus atris
faucibus effundens nares contingit odore.
Huc iuvenis nota fertur regione viarum
et super incumbens nodis et cortice crudo
intorquet summis adnixus viribus hastam.
Haesit virgineumque alte bibit acta cruorem.
Insonuere cavae gemitumque dedere cavernae.
Illa manu moriens telum trahit, ossa sed inter
altius ad vivum persedit vulnere mucro.
Ter sese attollens cubitoque innixa levavit,
ter revoluta toro est. Manet imperterritus ille;
nec mora nec requies: clavumque affixus et haerens
nusquam amittebat oculosque sub astra tenebat.
Itque reditque viam totiens uteroque recusso
transadigit costas et pectine pulsat eburno.
Iamque fere spatio extremo fessique sub ipsam
finem adventabant: tum creber anhelitus artus
aridaque ora quatit, sudor fluit undique rivis,
labitur exsanguis, destillat ab inguine virus.

 Afterward, clashing together beneath the lonely night  amid the gloom, Venus herself moved their minds, and they tried new wars ("strange combat" where the phrase represents Aeneas' men attacking the Harpies). He reared up (the action of a horse

in  Aeneid X.893) and smites the mouth and face (Mezentius striking Latagus), struggling much but in vain (Euryalus being dragged away while Nisus watches), warmly urged  her foot with his foot (Aeneas pursuing Turnus), craftily seeking the deep (Amata, inflamed by Allecto imagining Aeneas' abandoning her daughter Lavinia). He snatched from his thigh a branch which he had hidden in his garment (to describe what the Sybil does for Aeneas when they are challenged by Chiron) red with berries of the bloody Dane-wort (a description of Pan, Eclogue X.27), its head bare (describing Aeneas restraining his men in the midst of a truce), with feet intertwined (describing bees Aeneid VII.66), a horrible creature, misshapen, huge, deprived of sight, and urgently pressed it upon the trembling girl. There was a secluded place, a fiery shining crevice,  to which a slight path led. It exhaled from its darkness mephitis ("a deadly vapor", Fairclough translates from the description of the cave of Faunus, Aeneid  VII.84). No chaste person was permitted to trespass here. It was a frightening cave (the Fury's hiding-place, Aeneid VII.568). Such a vapor, pouring from those black jaws, touches the nostrils with its odor. To this region the young man was carried (Turnus) and leaning above (Palinurus about to fall asleep), with its knots and unpeeled bark, he drove  the spear in with all his might. It stuck, and moved deeply, drank the virgin blood. The caves resounded and gave forth a groan. Dying, she held the weapon with her hand, but more deeply among the bones the point remained in the wound. Three times she rose, struggling with her elbow, three times she was thrown upon her back. Undaunted he remained firm. Without delay and without rest he held the nail and firmly refused to turn away, and he held his eyes under the stars. He returned along the same path several times, again striking the womb, piercing the sides, and striking with an ivory comb (in Juvenal, pubic hair). Now, after a long time, weary, they approached the same end; then, panting, his limbs and dried-out face shook, sweat flowed everywhere in streams, he slipped, exhausted, and slimy liquid trickled from his loins.