king of the Tyrrhenians, noted for his cruelties and impiety. He was driven from his throne by his subjects, and fled to Turnus, King of the Rutuli. When Æneas arrived he fought with Mezentius, and slew both him and his son Lausus. Mezentius put his subjects to death by tying a living man to a dead one.
“He stretches out the arm of Mezentius, and fetters the dead to the living.” —C. Bronte: Shirley, chap. xxxi.
“This is like Mezentius in Virgil. ... Such critics are like dead coals; they may blacken, but cannot burn.” —Broom: Preface to Poems.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894