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.1
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.2 According to Servits3 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 23rd 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.
- Virgil. Aeneid viii, 480 ff.; x, 689 ff., 785, 800 ff.
- Livy. The History of Rome i, 2, 3; Dionysius, i, 64 ff.
- on Virgil's Aeneid iv, 620; vi, 760; ix, 745.
- Macrobius. Saturnalia iii, 5; comp. Dictionary of Antiquities, s.v. Vinalia.
- Ovid. Fasti iv, 881 ff.
- Plutarch. Roman Questions, 45.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.