The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 980 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

These things were enough to rouse the storm of war, and the queen, Turnus, and the peasants all urged the old king to drive the strangers from the country.  He resisted as long as he could, but, finding his opposition unavailing, finally gave way and retreated to his retirement.

OPENING THE GATES OF JANUS

It was the custom of the country, when war was to be undertaken, for the chief magistrate, clad in his robes of office, with solemn pomp to open the gates of the temple of Janus, which were kept shut as long as peace endured.  His people now urged the old king to perform that solemn office, but he refused to do so.  While they contested, Juno herself, descending from the skies, smote the doors with irresistible force, and burst them open.  Immediately the whole country was in a flame.  The people rushed from every side breathing nothing but war.

Turnus was recognized by all as leader; others joined as allies, chief of whom was Mezentius, a brave and able soldier, but of detestable cruelty.  He had been the chief of one of the neighboring cities, but his people drove him out.  With him was joined his son Lausus, a generous youth, worthy of a better sire.

CAMILLA

Camilla, the favorite of Diana, a huntress and warrior, after the fashion of the Amazons, came with her band of mounted followers, including a select number of her own sex, and ranged herself on the side of Turnus.  This maiden had never accustomed her fingers to the distaff or the loom, but had learned to endure the toils of war, and in speed to outstrip the wind.  It seemed as if she might run over the standing corn without crushing it, or over the surface of the water without dipping her feet.  Camilla’s history had been singular from the beginning.  Her father, Metabus, driven from his city by civil discord, carried with him in his flight his infant daughter.  As he fled through the woods, his enemies in hot pursuit, he reached the bank of the river Amazenus, which, swelled by rains, seemed to debar a passage.  He paused for a moment, then decided what to do.  He tied the infant to his lance with wrappers of bark, and poising the weapon in his upraised hand thus addressed Diana:  “Goddess of the woods!  I consecrate this maid to you;” then hurled the weapon with its burden to the opposite bank.  The spear flew across the roaring water.  His pursuers were already upon him, but he plunged into the river and swam across, and found the spear, with the infant safe on the other side.  Thenceforth he lived among the shepherds and brought up his daughter in woodland arts.  While a child she was taught to use the bow and throw the javelin.  With her sling she could bring down the crane or the wild swan.  Her dress was a tiger’s skin.  Many mothers sought her for a daughter-in-law, but she continued faithful to Diana and repelled the thought of marriage.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.