Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for the Trojan chiefs, and Aeneas, with a chosen band of followers and Pallas accompanying, mounted and took the way to the Etruscan city, [Footnote: The poet here inserts a famous line which is thought to imitate in its sound the galloping of horses. It may be thus translated—“Then struck the hoofs of the steeds on the ground with a four-footed trampling.”—See Proverbial Expressions.] having sent back the rest of his party in the ships. Aeneas and his band safely arrived at the Etruscan camp and were received with open arms by Tarchon and his countrymen.
In the meanwhile Turnus had collected his bands and made all necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent Iris to him with a message inciting him to take advantage of the absence of Aeneas and surprise the Trojan camp. Accordingly the attempt was made, but the Trojans were found on their guard, and having received strict orders from Aeneas not to fight in his absence, they lay still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts of the Rutulians to draw them into the field. Night coming on, the army of Turnus, in high spirits at their fancied superiority, feasted and enjoyed themselves, and finally stretched themselves on the field and slept secure.
In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. There all was watchfulness and anxiety and impatience for Aeneas’s return. Nisus stood guard at the entrance of the camp, and Euryalus, a youth distinguished above all in the army for graces of person and fine qualities, was with him. These two were friends and brothers in arms. Nisus said to his friend, “Do you perceive what confidence and carelessness the enemy display? Their lights are few and dim, and the men seem all oppressed with wine or sleep. You know how anxiously our chiefs wish to send to Aeneas, and to get intelligence from him. Now, I am strongly moved to make my way through the enemy’s camp and to go in search of our chief. If I succeed, the glory of the deed will be reward enough for me, and if they judge the service deserves anything more, let them pay it to you.”
Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, replied, “Would you, then, Nisus, refuse to share your enterprise with me? And shall I let you go into such danger alone? Not so my brave father brought me up, nor so have I planned for myself when I joined the standard of Aeneas, and resolved to hold my life cheap in comparison with honor.” Nisus replied, “I doubt it not, my friend; but you know the uncertain event of such an undertaking, and whatever may happen to me, I wish you to be safe. You are younger than I and have more of life in prospect. Nor can I be the cause of such grief to your mother, who has chosen to be here in the camp with you rather than stay and live in peace with the other matrons in Acestes’ city.” Euryalus replied,