Mezentius in Wikipedia

In Roman mythology, Mezentius was an Etruscan king, and father of Lausus. Sent into exile because of his cruelty, he moved to Latium. He reveled in bloodshed and was overwhelmingly savage on the battlefield, but more significantly to a Roman audience he was a contemptor divum, a "despiser of the gods." He appears in Virgil's Aeneid, primarily book ten, where he aids Turnus in a war against Aeneas and the Trojans. While in battle with Aeneas, he is critically injured by a spear blow, but his son Lausus bravely blocks Aeneas's final blow. Lausus is then killed by Aeneas, and Mezentius is able to escape death for a short while. Once he hears of Lausus' death, he feels ashamed that his son died in his place and returns to battle on his horse Rhaebus in order to avenge him. He is able to keep Aeneas on the defensive for some time by riding around Aeneas and loosing javelins. Eventually, Aeneas kills the horse with a spear and pins Mezentius underneath. He is overcome by Aeneas, but remains defiant and fearless unto his death, not begging for mercy as Turnus later does, but simply asking that he be buried with his son. In the traditional myth that predates the Aeneid, Mezentius actually outlived Aeneas, who 'disappeared' into the river which Aeneas became associated with in a hero cult. However, since his benefactor Maecenas was a native Etruscan, Virgil portrayed Mezentius as a tyrant,[1] attributing to him personally the evils which the Greek authors had previously accused the Etruscans of, such as torture and savagery, an ethnic prejudice already present in the Homeric Hymns.[citation needed] Thus he created something of a scapegoat of Mezentius and portrayed the Etruscan people as a good race who fight alongside Aeneas. - Wikipedia

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Mezentius in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

(*Mese/ntios), a mythical king of the Tyrrhenians or Etruscans, at Caere or Agylla, and father of Lausus. When he was expelled by his subjects on account of his cruelty he took refuge with Turnus, king of the Rutulians, and assisted him in his war against Aeneas and the Trojans. Aeneas wounded him, but Mezentius escaped under the protection of his son. When, however, Lausus had fallen, Mezentius returned to the battle on horseback, and was slain by Aeneas (Verg. A. 8.480, &c., 10.689, &c., 785, 800, &c.). The story about the alliance between Mezentius and the Rutulians is also mentioned by Livy and Dionysius, but they say nothing about his expulsion from Caere or Agylla. According to them Aeneas disappeared during the battle against the Rutulians and Etruscans at Lanuvium, and Ascanius was besieged by Mezentius and Lausus. In a sally at night the besieged defeated the enemy, slew Lausus, and then concluded a peace with Mezentius, who henceforth remained their ally. (Liv. 1.2, 3; Dionys. A. R. 1.64, &c.) According to Servits (ad Aen. 4.620, 6.760, 9.745) Mezentius was slain by Ascanius. During the siege of Ascanius, Mezentius, when he was asked to conclude a peace, demanded among other things, that the Latins should give up to him every year the whole produce of their vintage; and in commemoration of this, it was said, the Romans in later times celebrated the festival of the Vinalia, on the twenty-third of April, when the new wine was tasted, and a libation made in front of the temple of Venus, and a sacrifice offered to Jupiter. (Plut. Quaest. Rom. 45; Ov. Fast. 4.881, &c.; Macr. 3.5; comp. Dict. of Ant. s. v. Vinalia.) - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.

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