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Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 174

About the middle of the day they came in sight of the scattered buildings of the infant town where in after times the proud city of Rome grew, whose glory reached the skies. By chance the old king, Evander, was that day celebrating annual solemnities in honor of Hercules and all the gods. Pallas, his son, and all the chiefs of the little commonwealth stood by. When they saw the tall ship gliding onward through the wood, they were alarmed at the sight, and rose from the tables. But Pallas forbade the solemnities to be interrupted, and seizing a weapon, stepped forward to the river's bank. He called aloud, demanding who they were and what was their object. AEneas, holding forth an olive- branch, replied, "We are Trojans, friends to you and enemies to the Rutulians. We seek Evander, and offer to join our arms with yours." Pallas, in amazement at the sound of so great a name, invited them to land, and when AEneas touched the shore he seized his hand and held it long in friendly grasp. Proceeding through the wood they joined the king and his party, and were most favorably received. Seats were provided for them at the tables, and the repast proceeded.

When the solemnities were ended all moved towards the city. The king, bending with age, walked between his son and AEneas, taking the arm of one or the other of them, and with much variety of pleasing talk shortening the way. AEneas looked and listened with delight, observing all the beauties of the scene, and learning much of heroes renowned in ancient times. Evander said, "These extensive groves were once inhabited by fauns and nymphs, and a rude race of men who sprang from the trees themselves, and had neither laws nor social culture. They knew not how to yoke the cattle nor raise a harvest, nor provide from present abundance for future want; but browsed like beasts upon the leafy boughs, or fed voraciously on their hunted prey. Such were they when Saturn, expelled from Olympus by his sons, came among them and drew together the fierce savages, formed them into society, and gave them laws. Such peace and plenty ensued that men ever since have called his reign the golden age; but by degrees far other times succeeded, and the thirst of gold and the thirst of blood prevailed. The land was a prey to successive tyrants, till fortune and resistless destiny brought me hither, an exile from my native land, Arcadia."

Having thus said, he showed him the Tarpeian rock, and the rude spot then overgrown with bushes where in after times the Capitol rose in all its magnificence. He next pointed to some dismantled walls, and said, "Here stood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there Saturnia, the town of Saturn." Such discourse brought them to the cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing herds roaming over the plain where now the proud and stately Forum stands. They entered, and a couch was spread for AEneas, well stuffed with leaves and covered with the skin of the Libyan bear.


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