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The Three stood calm and silent,
And forth three chiefs came spurring
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
To win the narrow pass:
Aunus, from green Tifernum1,
And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves
And Picus, long to Clusium
Vassal in peace and war,
Who led to fight his Umbrian powers
O'er the pale waves of Nar.
Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
And clove him to the teeth:
At Picus brave Horatius
Darted one fiery thrust;
And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
A town in Umbria, on the Tiber, now Città di Castello. * Elba, famous for its mines of copper, and subsequently of iron, with which it supplied the Romans.
Nequinum-modern Narni-an ancient Umbrian city, situated on a lofty hill, commands the valley of the Nar. It was the birthplace of the Emperor Nero and of Pope John XVIII. The ruins of the magnificent bridge, built bv Augustus, is its great object of interest.
But all Etruria's noblest
Felt their hearts sink to see
Where those bold Romans stood,
Was none who would be foremost
And on the tossing sea of steel,
But meanwhile axe and lever
And now the bridge hangs tottering
"Come back, come back, Horatius!" Loud cried the Fathers all.
Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!
Back darted Spurius Lartius
And, as they pass'd, beneath their feet
But when they turn'd their faces,
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
But with a crash like thunder
Fell every loosen'd beam,
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
Rose from the walls of Rome,
And, like a horse unbroken,
And whirling down, in fierce career,
Alone stood brave Horatius,
The waters of the Tiber, from Perugia to the sea, are muddy and yellowish, a peculiarity which is expressed by the term flavus by the Roman poets. The current, as it enters the Mediterranean, retains its colour for a considerable distance from the shore, and contrasts with the generally blue tinge of the sea-water, with which it does not mix for some miles.
"Now yield thee," cried Lars1 Porsena, "Now yield thee to our grace."
Round turn'd he, as not deigning
The white porch of his home;
"Oh, Tiber! father Tiber!
No sound of joy or sorrow
Was heard from either bank;
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
But fiercely ran the current,
And heavy with his armour,
Never, I ween, did swimmer,
Struggle through such a raging flood
"Heaven help him!" quoth Lars Porsena,
"And bring him safe to shore,
For such a gallant feat of arms
And now he feels the bottom;
They gave him of the corn land,
As much as two strong oxen
Could plough from morn till night:
And they made a molten image,
And set it up on high,
And there it stands unto this day