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The tale of Nisus and Euryalus is a tragic episode that is narrated in book IX of Virgil's Aeneid. It is about two friends who attempt to carry a message for help in the dead of the night across enemy lines, on behalf of their besieged comrades. They come heartbreakingly close to achieving their ideal and amassing untold treasures, but by a cruel stroke of fate they end up failing miserably in their mission and losing their lives in the process…
The ill - fated adventure of Nisus and Euryalus begins on a note of high tension. Aeneas is away and the Rutulians led by Turnus are baying for blood as they gather round the beleaguered Trojans. The situation is fraught with immense peril and the two protagonists standing guard at night are well aware of their precarious position. Nisus suggests a plan of action and from this point onwards the narrative gathers momentum and surges forward, with its crests and troughs, in a rising crescendo towards the shattering climax. Prescott's summation of the narrative is most precise, "the action moves with dramatic rise and fall; at the climax of their achievement their fortune is suddenly reversed; and from that point it rises to the close, the revenge and death of Nisus"1. The narrative style employed by Virgil in this episode is a departure from the clipped, dignified, rather detached yet passionate language he usually
employs and which he resumes in the latter half of book IX. ...
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