(aka "The Civil War")
(Marcus Annaeus Lucanus) A.D. 39-A.D. 65
Originally written in Latin, approximately A.D. 61-65, by the Roman poet Lucan, and probably left unfinished upon his death in A.D. 65. Although the work has been generally known through most of history as the "Pharsalia", modern scholarship tends to agree that this was not Lucan's choice for a title.
THE CROSSING OF THE RUBICON
Wars worse than civil on Emathian (1) plains, And crime let loose we sing; how Rome's high race Plunged in her vitals her victorious sword; Armies akin embattled, with the force Of all the shaken earth bent on the fray; And burst asunder, to the common guilt, A kingdom's compact; eagle with eagle met, Standard to standard, spear opposed to spear.
Whence, citizens, this rage, this boundless lust To sate barbarians with the blood of Rome? Did not the shade of Crassus, wandering still, (2) Cry for his vengeance? Could ye not have spoiled, To deck your trophies, haughty Babylon? Why wage campaigns that send no laurels home? What lands, what oceans might have been the prize Of all the blood thus shed in civil strife! Where Titan rises, where night hides the stars, 'Neath southern noons all quivering with heat, Or where keen frost that never yields to spring In icy fetters binds the Scythian main: Long since barbarians by the Eastern sea And far Araxes' stream, and those who know (If any such there be) the birth of Nile Had felt our yoke. Then, Rome, upon thyself With all the world beneath thee, if thou must, Wage this nefarious war, but not till then.
Now view the houses with half-ruined walls Throughout Italian cities; stone from stone Has slipped and lies at length; within the home No guard is found, and in the ancient streets so Scarce seen the passer by. The fields in vain, Rugged with brambles and unploughed for years, Ask for the hand of man; for man is not. Nor savage Pyrrhus nor the Punic horde E'er caused such havoc: to no foe was given To strike thus deep; but civil strife alone Dealt the fell wound and left the death behind. Yet if the fates could find no other way (3) For Nero coming, nor the gods with ease Gain thrones in heaven; and if the Thunderer Prevailed not till the giant's war was done, Complaint is silent. For this boon supreme Welcome, ye gods, be wickedness and crime; Thronged with our dead be dire Pharsalia's fields, Be Punic ghosts avenged by Roman blood; Add to these ills the toils of Mutina; Perusia's dearth; on Munda's final field The shock of battle joined; let Leucas' Cape Shatter the routed navies; servile hands Unsheath the sword on fiery Etna's slopes: Still Rome is gainer by the civil war. Thou, Caesar, art her prize. When thou shalt choose, Thy watch relieved, to seek divine abodes, All heaven rejoicing; and shalt hold a throne, Or else elect to govern Phoebus' car And light a subject world that shall not dread To owe her brightness to a different Sun; All shall concede thy right: do what thou wilt, Select thy Godhead, and the central clime Whence thou shalt rule the world with power divine. And yet the Northern or the Southern Pole We pray thee, choose not; but in rays direct Vouchsafe thy radiance to thy city Rome. Press thou on either side, the universe Should lose its equipoise: take thou the midst, And weight the scales, and let that part of heaven Where Caesar sits, be evermore serene And smile upon us with unclouded blue. Then may all men lay down their arms, and peace Through all the nations reign, and shut the gates That close the temple of the God of War. Be thou my help, to me e'en now divine! Let Delphi's steep her own Apollo guard, And Nysa keep her Bacchus, uninvoked. Rome is my subject and my muse art thou!
First of such deeds I purpose to unfold The causes — task immense — what drove to arms A maddened nation, and from all the world Struck peace away.
By envious fate's decrees Abide not long the mightiest lords of earth; Beneath too heavy a burden great the fall. Thus Rome o'ergrew her strength. So when that hour, The last in all the centuries, shall sound The world's disruption, all things shall revert To that primaeval chaos, stars on stars Shall crash; and fiery meteors from the sky Plunge in the ocean. Earth shall then no more Front with her bulwark the encroaching sea: The moon, indignant at her path oblique, Shall drive her chariot 'gainst her brother Sun And claim the day for hers; and discord huge Shall rend the spheres asunder. On themselves Great powers are dashed: such bounds the gods have placed Upon the prosperous; nor doth Fortune lend To any nations, so that they may strike The sovereign power that rules the earth and sea, The weapons of her envy. Triple reign And baleful compact for divided power — Ne'er without peril separate before — Made Rome their victim. Oh! Ambition blind, That stirred the leaders so to join their strength In peace that ended ill, their prize the world! For while the Sea on Earth and Earth on Air Lean for support: while Titan runs his course, And night with day divides an equal sphere, No king shall brook his fellow, nor shall power Endure a rival. Search no foreign lands: These walls are proof that in their infant days A hamlet, not the world, was prize enough To cause the shedding of a brother's blood.
Concord, on discord based, brief time endured, Unwelcome to the rivals; and alone Crassus delayed the advent of the war. Like to the slender neck that separates The seas of Graecia: should it be engulfed Then would th' Ionian and Aegean mains (4) Break each on other: thus when Crassus fell, Who held apart the chiefs, in piteous death, And stained Assyria's plains with Latian blood, Defeat in Parthia loosed the war in Rome. More in that victory than ye thought was won, Ye sons of Arsaces; your conquered foes Took at your hands the rage of civil strife. The mighty realm that earth and sea contained, To which all peoples bowed, split by the sword, Could not find space for two (5). For Julia bore, Cut off by fate unpitying(6), the bond Of that ill-omened marriage, and the pledge Of blood united, to the shades below. Had'st thou but longer stayed, it had been thine To keep the husband and the sire apart, And, as the Sabine women did of old, Dash down the threatening swords and join the hands. With thee all trust was buried, and the chiefs Could give their courage vent, and rushed to war.
Lest newer glories triumphs past obscure, Late conquered Gaul the bays from pirates won, This, Magnus, was thy fear; thy roll of fame, Of glorious deeds accomplished for the state Allows no equal; nor will Caesar's pride A prior rival in his triumphs brook; Which had the right 'twere impious to enquire; Each for his cause can vouch a judge supreme; The victor, heaven: the vanquished, Cato, thee. (7) Nor were they like to like: the one in years Now verging towards decay, in times of peace Had unlearned war; but thirsting for applause Had given the people much, and proud of fame His former glory cared not to renew, But joyed in plaudits of the theatre, (8) His gift to Rome: his triumphs in the past, Himself the shadow of a mighty name. As when some oak, in fruitful field sublime, Adorned with venerable spoils, and gifts Of bygone leaders, by its weight to earth With feeble roots still clings; its naked arms And hollow trunk, though leafless, give a shade; And though condemned beneath the tempest's shock To speedy fall, amid the sturdier trees In sacred grandeur rules the forest still. No such repute had Ceesar won, nor fame; But energy was his that could not rest — The only shame he knew was not to win. Keen and unvanquished (9), where revenge or hope Might call, resistless would he strike the blow With sword unpitying: every victory won Reaped to the full; the favour of the gods Pressed to the utmost; all that stayed his course Aimed at the summit of power, was thrust aside: Triumph his joy, though ruin marked his track. As parts the clouds a bolt by winds compelled, With crack of riven air and crash of worlds, And veils the light of day, and on mankind, Blasting their vision with its flames oblique, Sheds deadly fright; then turning to its home, ' Nought but the air opposing, through its path Spreads havoc, and collects its scattered fires.
Such were the hidden motives of the chiefs; But in the public life the seeds of war Their hold had taken, such as are the doom Of potent nations: and when fortune poured Through Roman gates the booty of a world, The curse of luxury, chief bane of states, Fell on her sons. Farewell the ancient ways! Behold the pomp profuse, the houses decked With ornament; their hunger loathed the food Of former days; men wore attire for dames Scarce fitly fashioned; poverty was scorned, Fruitful of warriors; and from all the world Came that which ruins nations; while the fields Furrowed of yore by great Camillus' plough, Or by the mattock which a Curius held, Lost their once narrow bounds, and widening tracts By hinds unknown were tilled. No nation this To sheathe the sword, with tranquil peace content And with her liberties; but prone to ire; Crime holding light as though by want compelled: And great the glory in the minds of men, Ambition lawful even at point of sword, To rise above their country: might their law: Decrees are forced from Senate and from Plebs: Consul and Tribune break the laws alike: Bought are the fasces, and the people sell For gain their favour: bribery's fatal curse Corrupts the annual contests of the Field. Then covetous usury rose, and interest Was greedier ever as the seasons came; Faith tottered; thousands saw their gain in war.
Caesar has crossed the Alps, his mighty soul Great tumults pondering and the coming shock. Now on the marge of Rubicon, he saw, In face most sorrowful and ghostly guise, His trembling country's image; huge it seemed Through mists of night obscure; and hoary hair Streamed from the lofty front with turrets crowned: Torn were her locks and naked were her arms. Then thus, with broken sighs the Vision spake: "What seek ye, men of Rome? and whither hence Bear ye my standards? If by right ye come, My citizens, stay here; these are the bounds; No further dare." But Caesar's hair was stiff With horror as he gazed, and ghastly dread Restrained his footsteps on the further bank. Then spake he, "Thunderer, who from the rock Tarpeian seest the wall of mighty Rome; Gods of my race who watched o'er Troy of old; Thou Jove of Alba's height, and Vestal fires, And rites of Romulus erst rapt to heaven, And God-like Rome; be friendly to my quest. Not with offence or hostfie arms I come, Thy Caesar, conqueror by land and sea, Thy soldier here and wheresoe'er thou wilt: No other's; his, his only be the guilt Whose acts make me thy foe.' He gives the word And bids his standards cross the swollen stream. So in the wastes of Afric's burning clime The lion crouches as his foes draw near, Feeding his wrath the while, his lashing tail Provokes his fury; stiff upon his neck Bristles his mane: deep from his gaping jaws Resounds a muttered growl, and should a lance Or javelin reach him from the hunter's ring, Scorning the puny scratch he bounds afield.
From modest fountain blood-red Rubicon In summer's heat flows on; his pigmy tide Creeps through the valleys and with slender marge Divides the Italian peasant from the Gaul. Then winter gave him strength, and fraught with rain The third day's crescent moon; while Eastern winds Thawed from the Alpine slopes the yielding snow. The cavalry first form across the stream ' To break the torrent's force; the rest with ease Beneath their shelter gain the further bank. When Csesar crossed and trod beneath his feet The soil of Italy's forbidden fields, "Here," spake he, "peace, here broken laws be left; Farewell to treaties. Fortune, lead me on; War is our judge, and in the fates our trust." Then in the shades of night he leads the troops Swifter than Balearic sling or shaft Winged by retreating Parthian, to the walls Of threatened Rimini, while fled the stars, Save Lucifer, before the coming sun, Whose fires were veiled in clouds, by south wind driven, Or else at heaven's command: and thus drew on The first dark morning of the civil war.
Now stand the troops within the captured town, Their standards planted; and the trumpet clang Rings forth in harsh alarums, giving note Of impious strife: roused from their sleep the men Rush to the hall and snatch the ancient arms Long hanging through the years of peace; the shield With crumbling frame; dark with the tooth of rust Their swords (10); and javelins with blunted point. But when the well-known signs and eagles shone, And Caesar towering o'er the throng was seen, They shook for terror, fear possessed their limbs, And thoughts unuttered stirred within their souls. "O miserable those to whom their home Denies the peace that all men else enjoy! Placed as we are beside the Northern bounds And scarce a footstep from the restless Gaul, We fall the first; would that our lot had been Beneath the Eastern sky, or frozen North, To lead a wandering life, rather than keep The gates of Latium. Brennus sacked the town And Hannibal, and all the Teuton hosts. For when the fate of Rome is in the scale By this path war advances." Thus they moan Their fears but speak them not; no sound is heard Giving their anguish utterance: as when In depth of winter all the fields are still, The birds are voiceless and no sound is heard To break the silence of the central sea. But when the day had broken through the shades Of chilly darkness, lo! the torch of war! For by the hand of Fate is swift dispersed All Caesar's shame of battle, and his mind Scarce doubted more; and Fortune toiled to make His action just and give him cause for arms. For while Rome doubted and the tongues of men Spoke of the chiefs who won them rights of yore, The hostile Senate, in contempt of right, Drove out the Tribunes. They to Caesar's camp With Curio hasten, who of venal tongue, Bold, prompt, persuasive, had been wont to preach Of Freedom to the people, and to call Upon the chiefs to lay their weapons down (11). And when he saw how deeply Caesar mused, "While from the rostrum I had power," he said, To call the populace to aid thy cause, By this my voice against the Senate's will Was thy command prolonged. But silenced now Are laws in war: we driven from our homes; Yet is our exile willing; for thine arms Shall make us citizens of Rome again. Strike; for no strength as yet the foe hath gained. Occasion calls, delay shall mar it soon: Like risk, like labour, thou hast known before, But never such reward. Could Gallia hold Thine armies ten long years ere victory came, That little nook of earth? One paltry fight Or twain, fought out by thy resistless hand, And Rome for thee shall have subdued the world: 'Tis true no triumph now would bring thee home; No captive tribes would grace thy chariot wheels Winding in pomp around the ancient hill. Spite gnaws the factions; for thy conquests won Scarce shalt thou be unpunished. Yet 'tis fate Thou should'st subdue thy kinsman: share the world With him thou canst not; rule thou canst, alone." As when at Elis' festival a horse In stable pent gnaws at his prison bars Impatient, and should clamour from without Strike on his ear, bounds furious at restraint, So then was Caesar, eager for the fight, Stirred by the words of Curio. To the ranks He bids his soldiers; with majestic mien And hand commanding silence as they come. "Comrades," he cried, "victorious returned, Who by my side for ten long years have faced, 'Mid Alpine winters and on Arctic shores, The thousand dangers of the battle-field — Is this our country's welcome, this her prize For death and wounds and Roman blood outpoured? Rome arms her choicest sons; the sturdy oaks Are felled to make a fleet; — what could she more If from the Alps fierce Hannibal were come With all his Punic host? By land and sea Caesar shall fly! Fly? Though in adverse war Our best had fallen, and the savage Gaul Were hard upon our track, we would not fly. And now, when fortune smiles and kindly gods Beckon us on to glory! — Let him come Fresh from his years of peace, with all his crowd Of conscript burgesses, Marcellus' tongue (12) And Cato's empty name! We will not fly. Shall Eastern hordes and greedy hirelings keep Their loved Pompeius ever at the helm? Shall chariots of triumph be for him Though youth and law forbad them? Shall he seize On Rome's chief honours ne'er to be resigned? And what of harvests (13) blighted through the world And ghastly famine made to serve his ends? Who hath forgotten how Pompeius' bands Seized on the forum, and with glittering arms Made outraged justice tremble, while their swords Hemmed in the judgment-seat where Milo (14) stood? And now when worn and old and ripe for rest (15), Greedy of power, the impious sword again He draws. As tigers in Hyrcanian woods Wandering, or in the caves that saw their birth, Once having lapped the blood of slaughtered kine, Shall never cease from rage; e'en so this whelp Of cruel Sulla, nursed in civil war, Outstrips his master; and the tongue which licked That reeking weapon ever thirsts for more. Stain once the lips with blood, no other meal They shall enjoy. And shall there be no end Of these long years of power and of crime? Nay, this one lesson, e'er it be too late, Learn of thy gentle Sulla — to retire! Of old his victory o'er Cilician thieves And Pontus' weary monarch gave him fame, By poison scarce attained. His latest prize Shall I be, Caesar, I, who would not quit My conquering eagles at his proud command? Nay, if no triumph is reserved for me, Let these at least of long and toilsome war 'Neath other leaders the rewards enjoy. Where shall the weary soldier find his rest? What cottage homes their joys, what fields their fruit Shall to our veterans yield? Will Magnus say That pirates only till the fields alight? Unfurl your standards; victory gilds them yet, As through those glorious years. Deny our rights! He that denies them makes our quarrel just. Nay! use the strength that we have made our own. No booty seek we, nor imperial power. This would-be ruler of subservient Rome We force to quit his grasp; and Heaven shall smile On those who seek to drag the tyrant down."
Thus Caesar spake; but doubtful murmurs ran Throughout the listening crowd, this way and that Their wishes urging them; the thoughts of home And household gods and kindred gave them pause: But fear of Caesar and the pride of war Their doubts resolved. Then Laelius, who wore The well-earned crown for Roman life preserved, The foremost Captain of the army, spake: "O greatest leader of the Roman name, If 'tis thy wish the very truth to hear 'Tis mine to speak it; we complain of this, That gifted with such strength thou did'st refrain From using it. Had'st thou no trust in us? While the hot life-blood fills these glowing veins, While these strong arms avail to hurl the lance, Wilt thou make peace and bear the Senate's rule? Is civil conquest then so base and vile? Lead us through Scythian deserts, lead us where The inhospitable Syrtes line the shore Of Afric's burning sands, or where thou wilt: This hand, to leave a conquered world behind, Held firm the oar that tamed the Northern Sea And Rhine's swift torrent foaming to the main. To follow thee fate gives me now the power: The will was mine before. No citizen I count the man 'gainst whom thy trumpets sound. By ten campaigns of victory, I swear, By all thy world-wide triumphs, though with hand Unwilling, should'st thou now demand the life Of sire or brother or of faithful spouse, Caesar, the life were thine. To spoil the gods And sack great Juno's temple on the hill, To plant our arms o'er Tiber's yellow stream, To measure out the camp, against the wall To drive the fatal ram, and raze the town, This arm shall not refuse, though Rome the prize."
His comrades swore consent with lifted hands And vowed to follow wheresoe'er he led. And such a clamour rent the sky as when Some Thracian blast on Ossa's pine-clad rocks Falls headlong, and the loud re-echoing woods, Or bending, or rebounding from the stroke, In sounding chorus lift the roar on high.
When Csesar saw them welcome thus the war And Fortune leading on, and favouring fates, He seized the moment, called his troops from Gaul, And breaking up his camp set on for Rome.
The tents are vacant by Lake Leman's side; The camps upon the beetling crags of Vosges No longer hold the warlike Lingon down, Fierce in his painted arms; Isere is left, Who past his shallows gliding, flows at last Into the current of more famous Rhone, To reach the ocean in another name. The fair-haired people of Cevennes are free: Soft Aude rejoicing bears no Roman keel, Nor pleasant Var, since then Italia's bound; The harbour sacred to Alcides' name Where hollow crags encroach upon the sea, Is left in freedom: there nor Zephyr gains Nor Caurus access, but the Circian blast (16) Forbids the roadstead by Monaecus' hold. And others left the doubtful shore, which sea And land alternate claim, whene'er the tide Pours in amain or when the wave rolls back — Be it the wind which thus compels the deep From furthest pole, and leaves it at the flood; Or else the moon that makes the tide to swell, Or else, in search of fuel (17) for his fires, The sun draws heavenward the ocean wave; — Whate'er the cause that may control the main I leave to others; let the gods for me Lock in their breasts the secrets of the world.
Those who kept watch beside the western shore Have moved their standards home; the happy Gaul Rejoices in their absence; fair Garonne Through peaceful meads glides onward to the sea. And where the river broadens, neath the cape Her quiet harbour sleeps. No outstretched arm Except in mimic war now hurls the lance. No skilful warrior of Seine directs The scythed chariot 'gainst his country's foe. Now rest the Belgians, and the Arvernian race That boasts our kinship by descent from Troy; And those brave rebels whose undaunted hands Were dipped in Cotta's blood, and those who wear Sarmatian garb. Batavia's warriors fierce No longer listen for the bugle call, Nor those who dwell where Rhone's swift eddies sweep Saone to the ocean; nor the mountain tribes Who dwell about its source. Thou, too, oh Treves, Rejoicest that the war has left thy bounds. Ligurian tribes, now shorn, in ancient days First of the long-haired nations, on whose necks Once flowed the auburn locks in pride supreme; And those who pacify with blood accursed Savage Teutates, Hesus' horrid shrines, And Taranis' altars cruel as were those Loved by Diana (18), goddess of the north; All these now rest in peace. And you, ye Bards, Whose martial lays send down to distant times The fame of valorous deeds in battle done, Pour forth in safety more abundant song. While you, ye Druids (19), when the war was done, To mysteries strange and hateful rites returned: To you alone 'tis given the gods and stars To know or not to know; secluded groves Your dwelling-place, and forests far remote. If what ye sing be true, the shades of men Seek not the dismal homes of Erebus Or death's pale kingdoms; but the breath of life Still rules these bodies in another age — Life on this hand and that, and death between. Happy the peoples 'neath the Northern Star In this their false belief; for them no fear Of that which frights all others: they with hands And hearts undaunted rush upon the foe And scorn to spare the life that shall return. Ye too depart who kept the banks of Rhine Safe from the foe, and leave the Teuton tribes Free at their will to march upon the world.
Caesar, with strength increased and gathered troops New efforts daring, spreads his bands afar Through Italy, and fills the neighbouring towns. Then empty rumour to well-grounded fear Gave strength, and heralding the coming war In hundred voices 'midst the people spread. One cries in terror, "Swift the squadrons come Where Nar with Tiber joins: and where, in meads By oxen loved, Mevania spreads her walls, Fierce Caesar hurries his barbarian horse. Eagles and standards wave above his head, And broad the march that sweeps across the land." Nor is he pictured truly; greater far More fierce and pitiless — from conquered foes Advancing; in his rear the peoples march. Snatched from their homes between the Rhine and Alps, To pillage Rome while Roman chiefs look on. Thus each man's panic thought swells rumour's lie: They fear the phantoms they themselves create. Nor does the terror seize the crowd alone: But fled the Fathers, to the Consuls (20) first Issuing their hated order, as for war; And doubting of their safety, doubting too Where lay the peril, through the choking gates, Each where he would, rushed all the people forth. Thou would'st believe that blazing to the torch Were men's abodes, or nodding to their fall. So streamed they onwards, frenzied with affright, As though in exile only could they find Hope for their country. So, when southern blasts From Libyan whirlpools drive the boundless main, And mast and sail crash down upon a ship With ponderous weight, but still the frame is sound, Her crew and captain leap into the sea, Each making shipwreck for himself. 'Twas thus They passed the city gates and fled to war. No aged parent now could stay his son; Nor wife her spouse, nor did they pray the gods To grant the safety of their fatherland. None linger on the threshold for a look Of their loved city, though perchance the last.
Ye gods, who lavish priceless gifts on men, Nor care to guard them, see victorious Rome Teeming with life, chief city of the world, With ample walls that all mankind might hold, To coming Caesar left an easy prey. The Roman soldier, when in foreign lands Pressed by the enemy, in narrow trench And hurried mound finds guard enough to make His slumber safe; but thou, imperial Rome, Alone on rumour of advancing foes Art left a desert, and thy battlements They trust not for one night. Yet for their fear This one excuse was left; Pompeius fled. Nor found they room for hope; for nature gave Unerring portents of worse ills to come. The angry gods filled earth and air and sea With frequent prodigies; in darkest nights Strange constellations sparkled through the gloom: The pole was all afire, and torches flew Across the depths of heaven; with horrid hair A blazing comet stretched from east to west And threatened change to kingdoms. From the blue Pale lightning flashed, and in the murky air The fire took divers shapes; a lance afar Would seem to quiver or a misty torch; A noiseless thunderbolt from cloudless sky Rushed down, and drawing fire in northern parts Plunged on the summit of the Alban mount. The stars that run their courses in the night Shone in full daylight; and the orbed moon, Hid by the shade of earth, grew pale and wan. The sun himself, when poised in mid career, Shrouded his burning car in blackest gloom And plunged the world in darkness, so that men Despaired of day — like as he veiled his light From that fell banquet which Mycenae saw (21). The jaws of Etna were agape with flame That rose not heavenwards, but headlong fell In smoking stream upon the Italian flank. Then black Charybdis, from her boundless depth, Threw up a gory sea. In piteous tones Howled the wild dogs; the Vestal fire was snatched From off the altar; and the flame that crowned The Latin festival was split in twain, As on the Theban pyre (22), in ancient days; Earth tottered on its base: the mighty Alps From off their summits shook th' eternal snow (23). In huge upheaval Ocean raised his waves O'er Calpe's rock and Atlas' hoary head. The native gods shed tears, and holy sweat Dropped from the idols; gifts in temples fell: Foul birds defiled the day; beasts left the woods And made their lair among the streets of Rome. All this we hear; nay more: dumb oxen spake; Monsters were brought to birth and mothers shrieked At their own offspring; words of dire import From Cumae's prophetess were noised abroad. Bellona's priests with bleeding arms, and slaves Of Cybele's worship, with ensanguined hair, Howled chants of havoc and of woe to men. Arms clashed; and sounding in the pathless woods Were heard strange voices; spirits walked the earth: And dead men's ashes muttered from the urn. Those who live near the walls desert their homes, For lo! with hissing serpents in her hair, Waving in downward whirl a blazing pine, A fiend patrols the town, like that which erst At Thebes urged on Agave (24), or which hurled Lycurgus' bolts, or that which as he came From Hades seen, at haughty Juno's word, Brought terror to the soul of Hercules. Trumpets like those that summon armies forth Were heard re-echoing in the silent night: And from the earth arising Sulla's (25) ghost Sang gloomy oracles, and by Anio's wave All fled the homesteads, frighted by the shade Of Marius waking from his broken tomb.
In such dismay they summon, as of yore, The Tuscan sages to the nation's aid. Aruns, the eldest, leaving his abode In desolate Luca, came, well versed in all The lore of omens; knowing what may mean The flight of hovering bird, the pulse that beats In offered victims, and the levin bolt. All monsters first, by most unnatural birth Brought into being, in accursd flames He bids consume (26). Then round the walls of Rome Each trembling citizen in turn proceeds. The priests, chief guardians of the public faith, With holy sprinkling purge the open space That borders on the wall; in sacred garb Follows the lesser crowd: the Vestals come By priestess led with laurel crown bedecked, To whom alone is given the right to see Minerva's effigy that came from Troy (27). Next come the keepers of the sacred books And fate's predictions; who from Almo's brook Bring back Cybebe laved; the augur too Taught to observe sinister flight of birds; And those who serve the banquets to the gods; And Titian brethren; and the priest of Mars, Proud of the buckler that adorns his neck; By him the Flamen, on his noble head The cap of office. While they tread the path That winds around the walls, the aged seer Collects the thunderbolts that fell from heaven, And lays them deep in earth, with muttered words Naming the spot accursed. Next a steer, Picked for his swelling neck and beauteous form, He leads to the altar, and with slanting knife Spreads on his brow the meal, and pours the wine. The victim's struggles prove the gods averse; But when the servers press upon his horns
He bends the knee and yields him to the blow. No crimson torrent issued at the stroke, But from the wound a dark empoisoned stream Ebbed slowly downward. Aruns at the sight Aghast, upon the entrails of the beast Essayed to read the anger of the gods. Their very colour terrified the seer; Spotted they were and pale, with sable streaks Of lukewarm gore bespread; the liver damp With foul disease, and on the hostile part The angry veins defiant; of the lungs The fibre hid, and through the vital parts The membrane small; the heart had ceased to throb; Blood oozes through the ducts; the caul is split: And, fatal omen of impending ill, One lobe o'ergrows the other; of the twain The one lies flat and sick, the other beats And keeps the pulse in rapid strokes astir.
Disaster's near approach thus learned, he cries — "Whate'er may be the purpose of the gods, 'Tis not for me to tell; this offered beast Not Jove possesses, but the gods below. We dare not speak our fears, yet fear doth make The future worse than fact. May all the gods Prosper the tokens, and the sacrifice Be void of truth, and Tages (famous seer) Have vainly taught these mysteries." Such his words Involved, mysterious. Figulus, to whom For knowledge of the secret depths of space And laws harmonious that guide the stars, Memphis could find no peer, then spake at large: "Either," he said, "the world and countless orbs Throughout the ages wander at their will; Or, if the fates control them, ruin huge Hangs o'er this city and o'er all mankind. Shall Earth yawn open and engulph the towns? Shall scorching heat usurp the temperate air And fields refuse their timely fruit? The streams Flow mixed with poison? In what plague, ye gods, In what destruction shall ye wreak your ire? Whate'er the truth, the days in which we live Shall find a doom for many. Had the star Of baleful Saturn, frigid in the height, Kindled his lurid fires, the sky had poured Its torrents forth as in Deucalion's time, And whelmed the world in waters. Or if thou, Phoebus, beside the Nemean lion fierce Wert driving now thy chariot, flames should seize The universe and set the air ablaze. These are at peace; but, Mars, why art thou bent On kindling thus the Scorpion, his tail Portending evil and his claws aflame? Deep sunk is kindly Jupiter, and dull Sweet Venus' star, and rapid Mercury Stays on his course: Mars only holds the sky. Why does Orion's sword too brightly shine? Why planets leave their paths and through the void Thus journey on obscure? 'Tis war that comes, Fierce rabid war: the sword shall bear the rule Confounding justice; hateful crime usurp The name of virtue; and the havoc spread Through many a year. But why entreat the gods? The end Rome longs for and the final peace Comes with a despot. Draw thou out thy chain Of lengthening slaughter, and (for such thy fate) Make good thy liberty through civil war."
The frightened people heard, and as they heard His words prophetic made them fear the more. But worse remained; for as on Pindus' slopes Possessed with fury from the Theban god Speeds some Bacchante, thus in Roman streets Behold a matron run, who, in her trance, Relieves her bosom of the god within.
"Where dost thou snatch me, Paean, to what shore Through airy regions borne? I see the snows Of Thracian mountains; and Philippi's plains Lie broad beneath. But why these battle lines, No foe to vanquish — Rome on either hand? Again I wander 'neath the rosy hues That paint thine eastern skies, where regal Nile Meets with his flowing wave the rising tide. Known to mine eyes that mutilated trunk That lies upon the sand! Across the seas By changing whirlpools to the burning climes Of Libya borne, again I see the hosts From Thracia brought by fate's command. And now Thou bear'st me o'er the cloud-compelling Alps And Pyrenean summits; next to Rome. There in mid-Senate see the closing scene Of this foul war in foulest murder done. Again the factions rise; through all the world Once more I pass; but give me some new land, Some other region, Phoebus, to behold! Washed by the Pontic billows! for these eyes Already once have seen Philippi's plains!" (28)
The frenzy left her and she speechless fell.
(1) 'The great Emathian conqueror' (Milton's sonnet). Emathia was part of Macedonia, but the word is used loosely for Thessaly or Macedonia. (2) Crassus had been defeated and slain by the Parthians in B.C. 53, four years before this period. (3) Mr. Froude in his essay entitled "Divus Caesar" hints that these famous lines may have been written in mockery. Probably the five years known as the Golden Era of Nero had passed when they were written: yet the text itself does not aid such a suggestion; and the view generally taken, namely that Lucan was in earnest, appears preferable. There were many who dreamed at the time that the disasters of the Civil War were being compensated by the wealth and prosperity of the empire under Nero; and the assurance of universal peace, then almost realised, which is expressed in lines 69-81, seems inconsistent with the idea that this passage was written in irony. (See Lecky's "European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne", vol. i.p.240, who describes these latter verses as Written with all the fervour of a Christian poet. See also Merivale's "Roman Empire," chapter liv.) (4) See a similar passage in the final scene of Ben Jonson's "Catiline". The cutting of the Isthmus of Corinth was proposed in Nero's reign, and actually commenced in his presence; but abandoned because it was asserted that the level of the water in the Corinthian Gulf was higher than that in the Saronic Gulf, so that, if the canal were cut, the island of Aegina would be submerged. Merivale's "Roman Empire", chapter iv. (5) Compare: "Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere; Nor can one England brook a double reign Of Harry Percy and the Prince of Wales." — "1 Henry IV", Act v., Scene 4. (6) This had taken place in B.C.54, about five years before the action of the poem opens. (7) This famous line was quoted by Lamartine when addressing the French Assembly in 1848. He was advocating, against the interests of his own party (which in the Assembly was all- powerful), that the President of the Republic should be chosen by the nation, and not by the Assembly; and he ended by saying that if the course he advocated was disastrous to himself, 'Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.' (8) 'Plausuque sui gaudere theatri.' Quoted by Mr. Pitt, in his speech on the address in 1783, on the occasion of peace being made with France, Spain, and America; in allusion to Mr. Sheridan. The latter replied, 'If ever I again engage in the compositions he alludes to, I may be tempted to an act of presumption — to attempt an improvement on one of Ben Jonson's best characters — the character of the Angry Boy in the "Alchymist."' (9) Cicero wrote thus of Caesar: 1Have you ever read or heard of a man more vigorous in action or more moderate in the use of victory than our Caesar?' — Epp. ad Diversos,' viii. 15. (10) Marlowe has it: "...And swords With ugly teeth of black rust foully scarred." (11) In the Senate, Curio had proposed and carried a resolution that Pompeius and Caesar should lay their arms down simultaneously; but this was resisted by the Oligarchal party, who endeavoured, though unsuccessfully, to expel Curio from the Senate, and who placed Pompeius in command of the legions at Capua. This was in effect a declaration of war; and Curio, after a last attempt at resistance, left the city, and betook himself to Caesar. (See the close of Book IV.) (12) Marcus Marcellus, Consul in B.C. 51. (13) Plutarch, "Pomp.", 49. The harbours and places of trade were placed under his control in order that he might find a remedy for the scarcity of grain. But his enemies said that he had caused the scarcity in order to get the power. (14) Milo was brought to trial for the murder of Clodius in B.C.52, about three years before this. Pompeius, then sole Consul, had surrounded the tribunal with soldiers, who at one time charged the crowd. Milo was sent into exile at Massilia. (15) See Book II., 630. (16) The north-west wind. Circius was a violent wind from about the same quarter, but peculiar to the district. (17) This idea that the sun found fuel in the clouds appears again in Book VII., line 7; Book IX., line 379; and Book X., line 317. (18) This Diana was worshipped by the Tauri, a people who dwelt in the Crimea; and, according to legend, was propitiated by human sacrifices. Orestes on his return from his expiatory wanderings brought her image to Greece, and the Greeks identified her with their Artemis. (Compare Book VI., 93.) (19) The horror of the Druidical groves is again alluded to in Book III., lines 462-489. Dean Merivale remarks (chapter li.) on this passage, that in the despair of another life which pervaded Paganism at the time, the Roman was exasperated at the Druids' assertion of the transmigration of souls. But the passage seems also to betray a lingering suspicion that the doctrine may in some shape be true, however horrible were the rites and sacrifices. The reality of a future life was a part of Lucan's belief, as a state of reward for heroes. (See the passage at the beginning of Book IX.; and also Book VI., line 933). But all was vague and uncertain, and he appears to have viewed the Druidical transmigration rather with doubt and unbelief, as a possible form of future or recurring life, than with scorn as an absurdity. (20) Plutarch says the Consuls fled without making the sacrifices usual before wars. ("Pomp." 61.) (21) Compare Ben Jonson's "Catiline," I. 1: — Lecca: The day goes back, Or else my senses. Curius: As at Atreus' feast. (22) When the Theban brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, were being burned on the same pyre, the flame shot up in two separate tongues, indicating that even in death they could not be reconciled. (Mr. Haskins' note, citing Statius, "Thebiad") (23) "Shook the old snow from off their trembling laps." (Marlowe.) The Latin word is "jugis". (24) Book VI., 420. (25) Sulla was buried in the Campus Martius. (Plutarch, "Sulla,".) The corpse of Marius was dragged from his tomb by Sulla's order, and thrown into the Anio. (26) Such a ceremonial took place in A.D. 56 under Nero, after the temples of Jupiter and Minerva had been struck by lightning, and was probably witnessed by Lucan himself. (See Merivale's "History of the Roman Empire," chapter lii.) (27) See Book IX., 1178. (28) The confusion between the site of the battle of Philippi and that of the battle of Pharsalia is common among the Roman writers. (See the note to Merivale, chapter xxvi.)
THE FLIGHT OF POMPEIUS
This was made plain the anger of the gods; The universe gave signs Nature reversed In monstrous tumult fraught with prodigies Her laws, and prescient spake the coming guilt.
How seemed it just to thee, Olympus' king, That suffering mortals at thy doom should know By omens dire the massacre to come? Or did the primal parent of the world When first the flames gave way and yielding left Matter unformed to his subduing hand, And realms unbalanced, fix by stern decree' Unalterable laws to bind the whole (Himself, too, bound by law), so that for aye All Nature moves within its fated bounds? Or, is Chance sovereign over all, and we The sport of Fortune and her turning wheel? Whate'er be truth, keep thou the future veiled From mortal vision, and amid their fears May men still hope.
Thus known how great the woes The world should suffer, from the truth divine, A solemn fast was called, the courts were closed, All men in private garb; no purple hem Adorned the togas of the chiefs of Rome; No plaints were uttered, and a voiceless grief Lay deep in every bosom: as when death Knocks at some door but enters not as yet, Before the mother calls the name aloud Or bids her grieving maidens beat the breast, While still she marks the glazing eye, and soothes The stiffening limbs and gazes on the face, In nameless dread, not sorrow, and in awe Of death approaching: and with mind distraught Clings to the dying in a last embrace.
The matrons laid aside their wonted garb: Crowds filled the temples — on the unpitying stones Some dashed their bosoms; others bathed with tears The statues of the gods; some tore their hair Upon the holy threshold, and with shrieks And vows unceasing called upon the names Of those whom mortals supplicate. Nor all Lay in the Thunderer's fane: at every shrine Some prayers are offered which refused shall bring Reproach on heaven. One whose livid arms Were dark with blows, whose cheeks with tears bedewed And riven, cried, "Beat, mothers, beat the breast, Tear now the lock; while doubtful in the scales Still fortune hangs, nor yet the fight is won, You still may grieve: when either wins rejoice." Thus sorrow stirs itself.
Meanwhile the men Seeking the camp and setting forth to war, Address the cruel gods in just complaint. "Happy the youths who born in Punic days On Cannae's uplands or by Trebia's stream Fought and were slain! What wretched lot is ours! No peace we ask for: let the nations rage; Rouse fiercest cities! may the world find arms To wage a war with Rome: let Parthian hosts Rush forth from Susa; Scythian Ister curb No more the Massagete: unconquered Rhine Let loose from furthest North her fair-haired tribes: Elbe, pour thy Suevians forth! Let us be foes Of all the peoples. May the Getan press Here, and the Dacian there; Pompeius meet The Eastern archers, Caesar in the West Confront th' Iberian. Leave to Rome no hand To raise against herself in civil strife. Or, if Italia by the gods be doomed, Let all the sky, fierce Parent, be dissolved And falling on the earth in flaming bolts, Their hands still bloodless, strike both leaders down, With both their hosts! Why plunge in novel crime To settle which of them shall rule in Rome? Scarce were it worth the price of civil war To hinder either." Thus the patriot voice Still found an utterance, soon to speak no more.
Meantime, the aged fathers o'er their fates In anguish grieved, detesting life prolonged That brought with it another civil war. And thus spake one, to justify his fears: "No other deeds the fates laid up in store When Marius (1), victor over Teuton hosts, Afric's high conqueror, cast out from Rome, Lay hid in marshy ooze, at thy behest, O Fortune! by the yielding soil concealed And waving rushes; but ere long the chains Of prison wore his weak and aged frame, And lengthened squalor: thus he paid for crime His punishment beforehand; doomed to die Consul in triumph over wasted Rome. Death oft refused him; and the very foe, In act to murder, shuddered in the stroke And dropped the weapon from his nerveless hand. For through the prison gloom a flame of light He saw; the deities of crime abhorred; The Marius to come. A voice proclaimed Mysterious, 'Hold! the fates permit thee not That neck to sever. Many a death he owes To time's predestined laws ere his shall come; Cease from thy madness. If ye seek revenge For all the blood shed by your slaughtered tribes to Let this man, Cimbrians, live out all his days.' Not as their darling did the gods protect The man of blood, but for his ruthless hand Fit to prepare that sacrifice of gore Which fate demanded. By the sea's despite Borne to our foes, Jugurtha's wasted realm He saw, now conquered; there in squalid huts Awhile he lay, and trod the hostile dust Of Carthage, and his ruin matched with hers: Each from the other's fate some solace drew, And prostrate, pardoned heaven. On Libyan soil (2) Fresh fury gathering (3), next, when Fortune smiled The prisons he threw wide and freed the slaves. Forth rushed the murderous bands, their melted chains Forged into weapons for his ruffian needs. No charge he gave to mere recruits in guilt Who brought not to the camp some proof of crime. How dread that day when conquering Marius seized The city's ramparts! with what fated speed Death strode upon his victims! plebs alike And nobles perished; far and near the sword Struck at his pleasure, till the temple floors Ran wet with slaughter and the crimson stream Befouled with slippery gore the holy walls. No age found pity men of failing years, Just tottering to the grave, were hurled to death; From infants, in their being's earliest dawn (4), The growing life was severed. For what crime? Twas cause enough for death that they could die. The fury grew: soon 'twas a sluggard's part To seek the guilty: hundreds died to swell The tale of victims. Shamed by empty hands, The bloodstained conqueror snatched a reeking head From neck unknown. One way of life remained, To kiss with shuddering lips the red right hand (5). Degenerate people! Had ye hearts of men, Though ye were threatened by a thousand swords, Far rather death than centuries of life Bought at such price; much more that breathing space Till Sulla comes again (6). But time would fail In weeping for the deaths of all who fell. Encircled by innumerable bands Fell Baebius, his limbs asunder torn, His vitals dragged abroad. Antonius too, Prophet of ill, whose hoary head (7) was placed, Dripping with blood, upon the festal board. There headless fell the Crassi; mangled frames 'Neath Fimbria's falchion: and the prison cells Were wet with tribunes' blood. Hard by the fane Where dwells the goddess and the sacred fire, Fell aged Scaevola, though that gory hand (8) Had spared him, but the feeble tide of blood Still left the flame alive upon the hearth. That selfsame year the seventh time restored (9) The Consul's rods; that year to Marius brought The end of life, when he at Fortune's hands All ills had suffered; all her goods enjoyed.
"And what of those who at the Sacriport (10) And Colline gate were slain, then, when the rule Of Earth and all her nations almost left This city for another, and the chiefs Who led the Samnite hoped that Rome might bleed More than at Caudium's Forks she bled of old? Then came great Sulla to avenge the dead, And all the blood still left within her frame Drew from the city; for the surgeon knife Which shore the cancerous limbs cut in too deep, And shed the life stream from still healthy veins. True that the guilty fell, but not before All else had perished. Hatred had free course And anger reigned unbridled by the law. The victor's voice spake once; but each man struck Just as he wished or willed. The fatal steel Urged by the servant laid the master low. Sons dripped with gore of sires; and brothers fought For the foul trophy of a father slain, Or slew each other for the price of blood. Men sought the tombs and, mingling with the dead, Hoped for escape; the wild beasts' dens were full. One strangled died; another from the height Fell headlong down upon the unpitying earth, And from the encrimsoned victor snatched his death: One built his funeral pyre and oped his veins, And sealed the furnace ere his blood was gone. Borne through the trembling town the leaders' heads Were piled in middle forum: hence men knew Of murders else unpublished. Not on gates Of Diomedes (11), tyrant king of Thrace, Nor of Antaeus, Libya's giant brood, Were hung such horrors; nor in Pisa's hall Were seen and wept for when the suitors died. Decay had touched the features of the slain When round the mouldering heap, with trembling steps The grief-struck parents sought and stole their dead. I, too, the body of my brother slain Thought to remove, my victim to the peace Which Sulla made, and place his loved remains On the forbidden pyre. The head I found, But not the butchered corse.
"Why now renew The tale of Catulus's shade appeased? And those dread tortures which the living frame Of Marius (12) suffered at the tomb of him Who haply wished them not? Pierced, mangled, torn — Nor speech nor grasp was left: his every limb Maimed, hacked and riven; yet the fatal blow The murderers with savage purpose spared. 'Twere scarce believed that one poor mortal frame Such agonies could bear e'er death should come. Thus crushed beneath some ruin lie the dead; Thus shapeless from the deep are borne the drowned. Why spoil delight by mutilating thus, The head of Marius? To please Sulla's heart That mangled visage must be known to all. Fortune, high goddess of Praeneste's fane, Saw all her townsmen hurried to their deaths In one fell instant. All the hope of Rome, The flower of Latium, stained with blood the field Where once the peaceful tribes their votes declared. Famine and Sword, the raging sky and sea, And Earth upheaved, have laid such numbers low: But ne'er one man's revenge. Between the slain And living victims there was space no more, Death thus let slip, to deal the fatal blow. Hardly when struck they fell; the severed head Scarce toppled from the shoulders; but the slain Blent in a weighty pile of massacre Pressed out the life and helped the murderer's arm. Secure from stain upon his lofty throne, Unshuddering sat the author of the whole, Nor feared that at his word such thousands fell. At length the Tuscan flood received the dead The first upon his waves; the last on those That lay beneath them; vessels in their course Were stayed, and while the lower current flowed Still to the sea, the upper stood on high Dammed back by carnage. Through the streets meanwhile In headlong torrents ran a tide of blood, Which furrowing its path through town and field Forced the slow river on. But now his banks No longer held him, and the dead were thrown Back on the fields above. With labour huge At length he struggled to his goal and stretched In crimson streak across the Tuscan Sea.
"For deeds like these, shall Sulla now be styled 'Darling of Fortune', 'Saviour of the State'? For these, a tomb in middle field of Mars Record his fame? Like horrors now return For us to suffer; and the civil war Thus shall be waged again and thus shall end. Yet worse disasters may our fears suggest, For now with greater carnage of mankind The rival hosts in weightier battle meet. To exiled Marius, successful strife Was Rome regained; triumphant Sulla knew No greater joy than on his hated foes To wreak his vengeance with unsparing sword. But these more powerful rivals Fortune calls To worse ambitions; nor would either chief For such reward as Sulla's wage the war." Thus, mindful of his youth, the aged man Wept for the past, but feared the coming days.
Such terrors found in haughty Brutus' breast No home. When others sat them down to fear He did not so, but in the dewy night When the great wain was turning round the pole He sought his kinsman Cato's humble home. Him sleepless did he find, not for himself Fearing, but pondering the fates of Rome, And deep in public cares. And thus he spake: "O thou in whom that virtue, which of yore Took flight from earth, now finds its only home, Outcast to all besides, but safe with thee: Vouchsafe thy counsel to my wavering soul And make my weakness strength. While Caesar some, Pompeius others, follow in the fight, Cato is Brutus' guide. Art thou for peace, Holding thy footsteps in a tottering world Unshaken? Or wilt thou with the leaders' crimes And with the people's fury take thy part, And by thy presence purge the war of guilt? In impious battles men unsheath the sword; But each by cause impelled: the household crime; Laws feared in peace; want by the sword removed; And broken credit, that its ruin hides In general ruin. Drawn by hope of gain, And not by thirst for blood, they seek the camp. Shall Cato for war's sake make war alone? What profits it through all these wicked years That thou hast lived untainted? This were all Thy meed of virtue, that the wars which find Guilt in all else, shall make thee guilty too. Ye gods, permit not that this fatal strife Should stir those hands to action! When the clouds Of flying javelins hiss upon the air, Let not a dart be thine; nor spent in vain Such virtue! All the fury of the war Shall launch itself on thee, for who, when faint And wounded, would not rush upon thy sword, Take thence his death, and make the murder thine? Do thou live on thy peaceful life apart As on their paths the stars unshaken roll. The lower air that verges on the earth Gives flame and fury to the levin bolt; The deeps below the world engulph the winds And tracts of flaming fire. By Jove's decree Olympus rears his summit o'er the clouds: In lowlier valleys storms and winds contend, But peace eternal reigns upon the heights. What joy for Caesar, if the tidings come That such a citizen has joined the war? Glad would he see thee e'en in Magnus' tents; For Cato's conduct shall approve his own. Pompeius, with the Consul in his ranks, And half the Senate and the other chiefs, Vexes my spirit; and should Cato too Bend to a master's yoke, in all the world The one man free is Caesar. But if thou For freedom and thy country's laws alone Be pleased to raise the sword, nor Magnus then Nor Caesar shall in Brutus find a foe. Not till the fight is fought shall Brutus strike, Then strike the victor."
Brutus thus; but spake Cato from inmost breast these sacred words: "Chief in all wickedness is civil war, Yet virtue in the paths marked out by fate Treads on securely. Heaven's will be the crime To have made even Cato guilty. Who has strength To gaze unawed upon a toppling world? When stars and sky fall headlong, and when earth Slips from her base, who sits with folded hands? Shall unknown nations, touched by western strife, And monarchs born beneath another clime Brave the dividing seas to join the war? Shall Scythian tribes desert their distant north, And Getae haste to view the fall of Rome, And I look idly on? As some fond sire, Reft of his sons, compelled by grief, himself Marshals the long procession to the tomb, Thrusts his own hand within the funeral flames, Soothing his heart, and, as the lofty pyre Rises on high, applies the kindled torch: Nought, Rome, shall tear thee from me, till I hold Thy form in death embraced; and Freedom's name, Shade though it be, I'll follow to the grave. Yea! let the cruel gods exact in full Rome's expiation: of no drop of blood The war be robbed. I would that, to the gods Of heaven and hell devoted, this my life Might satisfy their vengeance. Decius fell, Crushed by the hostile ranks. When Cato falls Let Rhine's fierce barbarous hordes and both the hosts Thrust through my frame their darts! May I alone Receive in death the wounds of all the war! Thus may the people be redeemed, and thus Rome for her guilt pay the atonement due. Why should men die who wish to bear the yoke And shrink not from the tyranny to come? Strike me, and me alone, of laws and rights In vain the guardian: this vicarious life Shall give Hesperia peace and end her toils. Who then will reign shall find no need for war. You ask, 'Why follow Magnus? If he wins (13) He too will claim the Empire of the world.' Then let him, conquering with my service, learn Not for himself to conquer." Thus he spoke And stirred the blood that ran in Brutus' veins Moving the youth to action in the war.
Soon as the sun dispelled the chilly night, The sounding doors flew wide, and from the tomb Of dead Hortensius grieving Marcia came (14). First joined in wedlock to a greater man Three children did she bear to grace his home: Then Cato to Hortensius gave the dame To be a fruitful mother of his sons And join their houses in a closer tie. And now the last sad offices were done She came with hair dishevelled, beaten breast, And ashes on her brow, and features worn With grief; thus only pleasing to the man. "When youth was in me and maternal power I did thy bidding, Cato, and received A second husband: now in years grown old Ne'er to be parted I return to thee. Renew our former pledges undefiled: Give back the name of wife: upon my tomb Let 'Marcia, spouse to Cato,' be engraved. Nor let men question in the time to come, Did'st thou compel, or did I willing leave My first espousals. Not in happy times, Partner of joys, I come; but days of care And labour shall be mine to share with thee. Nor leave me here, but take me to the camp, Thy fond companion: why should Magnus' wife Be nearer, Cato, to the wars than thine?"
Although the times were warlike and the fates Called to the fray, he lent a willing ear. Yet must they plight their faith in simple form Of law; their witnesses the gods alone. No festal wreath of flowers crowned the gate Nor glittering fillet on each post entwined; No flaming torch was there, nor ivory steps, No couch with robes of broidered gold adorned; No comely matron placed upon her brow The bridal garland, or forbad the foot (15) To touch the threshold stone; no saffron veil Concealed the timid blushes of the bride; No jewelled belt confined her flowing robe (16) Nor modest circle bound her neck; no scarf Hung lightly on the snowy shoulder's edge Around the naked arm. Just as she came, Wearing the garb of sorrow, while the wool Covered the purple border of her robe, Thus was she wedded. As she greets her sons So doth she greet her husband. Festal games Graced not their nuptials, nor were friends and kin As by the Sabines bidden: silent both They joined in marriage, yet content, unseen By any save by Brutus. Sad and stern On Cato's lineaments the marks of grief Were still unsoftened, and the hoary hair Hung o'er his reverend visage; for since first Men flew to arms, his locks were left unkempt To stream upon his brow, and on his chin His beard untended grew. 'Twas his alone Who hated not, nor loved, for all mankind To mourn alike. Nor did their former couch Again receive them, for his lofty soul E'en lawful love resisted. 'Twas his rule Inflexible, to keep the middle path Marked out and bounded; to observe the laws Of natural right; and for his country's sake To risk his life, his all, as not for self Brought into being, but for all the world: Such was his creed. To him a sumptuous feast Was hunger conquered, and the lowly hut, Which scarce kept out the winter, was a home Equal to palaces: a robe of price Such hairy garments as were worn of old: The end of marriage, offspring. To the State Father alike and husband, right and law He ever followed with unswerving step: No thought of selfish pleasure turned the scale In Cato's acts, or swayed his upright soul.
Meanwhile Pompeius led his trembling host To fields Campanian, and held the walls First founded by the chief of Trojan race (17). These chose he for the central seat of war, Some troops despatching who might meet the foe Where shady Apennine lifts up the ridge Of mid Italia; nearest to the sky Upsoaring, with the seas on either hand, The upper and the lower. Pisa's sands Breaking the margin of the Tuscan deep, Here bound his mountains: there Ancona's towers Laved by Dalmatian waves. Rivers immense, In his recesses born, pass on their course, To either sea diverging. To the left Metaurus, and Crustumium's torrent, fall And Sena's streams and Aufidus who bursts On Adrian billows; and that mighty flood Which, more than all the rivers of the earth, Sweeps down the soil and tears the woods away And drains Hesperia's springs. In fabled lore His banks were first by poplar shade enclosed: (18) And when by Phaethon the waning day Was drawn in path transverse, and all the heaven Blazed with his car aflame, and from the depths Of inmost earth were rapt all other floods, Padus still rolled in pride of stream along. Nile were no larger, but that o'er the sand Of level Egypt he spreads out his waves; Nor Ister, if he sought the Scythian main Unhelped upon his journey through the world By tributary waters not his own. But on the right hand Tiber has his source, Deep-flowing Rutuba, Vulturnus swift, And Sarnus breathing vapours of the night Rise there, and Liris with Vestinian wave Still gliding through Marica's shady grove, And Siler flowing through Salernian meads: And Macra's swift unnavigable stream By Luna lost in Ocean. On the Alps Whose spurs strike plainwards, and on fields of Gaul The cloudy heights of Apennine look down In further distance: on his nearer slopes The Sabine turns the ploughshare; Umbrian kine And Marsian fatten; with his pineclad rocks He girds the tribes of Latium, nor leaves Hesperia's soil until the waves that beat On Scylla's cave compel. His southern spurs Extend to Juno's temple, and of old Stretched further than Italia, till the main O'erstepped his limits and the lands repelled. But, when the seas were joined, Pelorus claimed His latest summits for Sicilia's isle.
Caesar, in rage for war, rejoicing found Foes in Italia; no bloodless steps Nor vacant homes had pleased him (19); so his march Were wasted: now the coming war was joined Unbroken to the past; to force the gates Not find them open, fire and sword to bring Upon the harvests, not through fields unharmed To pass his legions — this was Caesar's joy; In peaceful guise to march, this was his shame. Italia's cities, doubtful in their choice, Though to the earliest onset of the war About to yield, strengthened their walls with mounds And deepest trench encircling: massive stones And bolts of war to hurl upon the foe They place upon the turrets. Magnus most The people's favour held, yet faith with fear Fought in their breasts. As when, with strident blast, A southern tempest has possessed the main And all the billows follow in its track: Then, by the Storm-king smitten, should the earth Set Eurus free upon the swollen deep, It shall not yield to him, though cloud and sky Confess his strength; but in the former wind Still find its master. But their fears prevailed, And Caesar's fortune, o'er their wavering faith. For Libo fled Etruria; Umbria lost Her freedom, driving Thermus (20) from her bounds; Great Sulla's son, unworthy of his sire, Feared at the name of Caesar: Varus sought The caves and woods, when smote the hostile horse The gates of Auximon; and Spinther driven From Asculum, the victor on his track, Fled with his standards, soldierless; and thou, Scipio, did'st leave Nuceria's citadel Deserted, though by bravest legions held Sent home by Caesar for the Parthian war (21); Whom Magnus earlier, to his kinsman gave A loan of Roman blood, to fight the Gaul.
But brave Domitius held firm his post (22) Behind Corfinium's ramparts; his the troops Who newly levied kept the judgment hall At Milo's trial (23). When from far the plain Rolled up a dusty cloud, beneath whose veil The sheen of armour glistening in the sun, Revealed a marching host. "Dash down," he cried, Swift; as ye can, the bridge that spans the stream; And thou, O river, from thy mountain source With all thy torrents rushing, planks and beams Ruined and broken on thy foaming breast Bear onward to the sea. The war shall stop Here, to our triumph; for this headlong chief Here first at our firm bidding shall be stayed." He bade his squadrons, speeding from the walls, Charge on the bridge: in vain: for Caesar saw They sought to free the river from his chains (24) And bar his march; and roused to ire, he cried: "Were not the walls sufficient to protect Your coward souls? Seek ye by barricades And streams to keep me back? What though the flood Of swollen Ganges were across my path? Now Rubicon is passed, no stream on earth Shall hinder Caesar! Forward, horse and foot, And ere it totters rush upon the bridge." Urged in their swiftest gallop to the front Dashed the light horse across the sounding plain; And suddenly, as storm in summer, flew A cloud of javelins forth, by sinewy arms Hurled at the foe; the guard is put to flight, And conquering Caesar, seizing on the bridge, Compels the enemy to keep the walls. Now do the mighty engines, soon to hurl Gigantic stones, press forward, and the ram Creeps 'neath the ramparts; when the gates fly back, And lo! the traitor troops, foul crime in war, Yield up their leader. Him they place before
His proud compatriot; yet with upright form, And scornful features and with noble mien, He asks his death. But Caesar knew his wish Was punishment, and pardon was his fear: "Live though thou would'st not," so the chieftain spake, "And by my gift, unwilling, see the day: Be to my conquered foes the cause of hope, Proof of my clemency — or if thou wilt Take arms again — and should'st thou conquer, count This pardon nothing." Thus he spake, and bade Let loose the bands and set the captive free. Ah! better had he died, and fortune spared The Roman's last dishonour, whose worse doom It is, that he who joined his country's camp And fought with Magnus for the Senate's cause Should gain for this — a pardon! Yet he curbed His anger, thinking, "Wilt thou then to Rome And peaceful scenes, degenerate? Rather war, The furious battle and the certain end! Break with life's ties: be Caesar's gift in vain."
Pompeius, ignorant that his captain thus Was taken, armed his levies newly raised To give his legions strength; and as he thought To sound his trumpets with the coming dawn, To test his soldiers ere he moved his camp Thus in majestic tones their ranks addressed: "Soldiers of Rome! Avengers of her laws! To whom the Senate gives no private arms, Ask by your voices for the battle sign. Fierce falls the pillage on Hesperian fields, And Gallia's fury o'er the snowy Alps (25) Is poured upon us. Caesar's swords at last Are red with Roman blood. But with the wound We gain the better cause; the crime is theirs. No war is this, but for offended Rome We wreak the vengeance; as when Catiline Lifted against her roofs the flaming brand And, partner in his fury, Lentulus, And mad Cethegus (26) with his naked arm. Is such thy madness, Caesar? when the Fates With great Camillus' and Metellus' names Might place thine own, dost thou prefer to rank With Marius and Cinna? Swift shall be Thy fall: as Lepidus before the sword Of Catulus; or who my axes felt, Carbo (27), now buried in Sicanian tomb; Or who, in exile, roused Iberia's hordes, Sertorius — yet, witness Heaven, with these I hate to rank thee; hate the task that Rome Has laid upon me, to oppose thy rage. Would that in safety from the Parthian war And Scythian steppes had conquering Crassus come! Then haply had'st thou fallen by the hand That smote vile Spartacus the robber foe. But if among my triumphs fate has said Thy conquest shall be written, know this heart Still sends the life blood coursing: and this arm (28) Still vigorously flings the dart afield. He deems me slothful. Caesar, thou shalt learn We brook not peace because we lag in war. Old, does he call me? Fear not ye mine age. Let me be elder, if his soldiers are. The highest point a citizen can reach And leave his people free, is mine: a throne Alone were higher; whoso would surpass Pompeius, aims at that. Both Consuls stand Here; here for battle stand your lawful chiefs: And shall this Caesar drag the Senate down? Not with such blindness, not so lost to shame Does Fortune rule. Does he take heart from Gaul: For years on years rebellious, and a life Spent there in labour? or because he fled Rhine's icy torrent and the shifting pools He calls an ocean? or unchallenged sought Britannia's cliffs; then turned his back in flight? Or does he boast because his citizens Were driven in arms to leave their hearths and homes? Ah, vain delusion! not from thee they fled: My steps they follow — mine, whose conquering signs Swept all the ocean (29), and who, ere the moon Twice filled her orb and waned, compelled to flight The pirate, shrinking from the open sea, And humbly begging for a narrow home In some poor nook on shore. 'Twas I again Who, happier far than Sulla, drave to death (30) That king who, exiled to the deep recess Of Scythian Pontus, held the fates of Rome Still in the balances. Where is the land That hath not seen my trophies? Icy waves Of northern Phasis, hot Egyptian shores, And where Syene 'neath its noontide sun Knows shade on neither hand (31): all these have learned To fear Pompeius: and far Baetis' (32) stream, Last of all floods to join the refluent sea. Arabia and the warlike hordes that dwell Beside the Euxine wave: the famous land That lost the golden fleece; Cilician wastes, And Cappadocian, and the Jews who pray Before an unknown God; Sophene soft — All felt my yoke. What conquests now remain, What wars not civil can my kinsman wage?"
No loud acclaim received his words, nor shout Asked for the promised battle: and the chief Drew back the standards, for the soldier's fears Were in his soul alike; nor dared he trust An army, vanquished by the fame alone Of Caesar's powers, to fight for such a prize. And as some bull, his early combat lost, Forth driven from the herd, in exile roams Through lonely plains or secret forest depths, Whets on opposing trunks his growing horn, And proves himself for battle, till his neck Is ribbed afresh with muscle: then returns, Defiant of the hind, and victor now Leads wheresoe'er he will his lowing bands: Thus Magnus, yielding to a stronger foe, Gave up Italia, and sought in flight Brundusium's sheltering battlements.
Here of old Fled Cretan settlers when the dusky sail (33) Spread the false message of the hero dead; Here, where Hesperia, curving as a bow, Draws back her coast, a little tongue of land Shuts in with bending horns the sounding main. Yet insecure the spot, unsafe in storm, Were it not sheltered by an isle on which The Adriatic billows dash and fall, And tempests lose their strength: on either hand A craggy cliff opposing breaks the gale That beats upon them, while the ships within Held by their trembling cables ride secure. Hence to the mariner the boundless deep Lies open, whether for Corcyra's port He shapes his sails, or for Illyria's shore, And Epidamnus facing to the main Ionian. Here, when raging in his might Fierce Adria whelms in foam Calabria's coast, When clouds tempestuous veil Ceraunus' height, The sailor finds a haven.
When the chief Could find no hope in battle on the soil He now was quitting, and the lofty Alps Forbad Iberia, to his son he spake, The eldest scion of that noble stock: "Search out the far recesses of the earth, Nile and Euphrates, wheresoe'er the fame Of Magnus lives, where, through thy father's deeds, The people tremble at the name of Rome. Lead to the sea again the pirate bands; Rouse Egypt's kings; Tigranes, wholly mine, And Pharnaces and all the vagrant tribes Of both Armenias; and the Pontic hordes, Warlike and fierce; the dwellers on the hills Rhipaean, and by that dead northern marsh Whose frozen surface bears the loaded wain. Why further stay thee? Let the eastern world Sound with the war, all cities of the earth Conquered by me, as vassals, to my camp Send all their levied hosts. And you whose names Within the Latian book recorded stand, Strike for Epirus with the northern wind; And thence in Greece and Macedonian tracts, (While winter gives us peace) new strength acquire For coming conflicts." They obey his words And loose their ships and launch upon the main.
But Caesar's might, intolerant of peace Or lengthy armistice, lest now perchance The fates might change their edicts, swift pursued The footsteps of his foe. To other men, So many cities taken at a blow, So many strongholds captured, might suffice; And Rome herself, the mistress of the world, Lay at his feet, the greatest prize of all. Not so with Caesar: instant on the goal He fiercely presses; thinking nothing done While aught remained to do. Now in his grasp Lay all Italia; — but while Magnus stayed Upon the utmost shore, his grieving soul Deemed all was shared with him. Yet he essayed Escape to hinder, and with labour vain Piled in the greedy main gigantic rocks: Mountains of earth down to the sandy depths Were swallowed by the vortex of the sea; Just as if Eryx and its lofty top Were cast into the deep, yet not a speck Should mark the watery plain; or Gaurus huge Split from his summit to his base, were plunged In fathomless Avernus' stagnant pool. The billows thus unstemmed, 'twas Caesar's will To hew the stately forests and with trees Enchained to form a rampart. Thus of old (If fame be true) the boastful Persian king Prepared a way across the rapid strait 'Twixt Sestos and Abydos, and made one The European and the Trojan shores; And marched upon the waters, wind and storm Counting as nought, but trusting his emprise To one frail bridge, so that his ships might pass Through middle Athos. Thus a mighty mole Of fallen forests grew upon the waves, Free until then, and lofty turrets rose, And land usurped the entrance to the main.
This when Pompeius saw, with anxious care His soul was filled; yet hoping to regain The exit lost, and win a wider world Wherein to wage the war, on chosen ships He hoists the sails; these, driven by the wind And drawn by cables fastened to their prows, Scattered the beams asunder; and at night Not seldom engines, worked by stalwart arms, Flung flaming torches forth. But when the time For secret flight was come, no sailor shout Rang on the shore, no trumpet marked the hour, No bugle called the armament to sea. Already shone the Virgin in the sky Leading the Scorpion in her course, whose claws Foretell the rising Sun, when noiseless all They cast the vessels loose; no song was heard To greet the anchor wrenched from stubborn sand; No captain's order, when the lofty mast Was raised, or yards were bent; a silent crew Drew down the sails which hung upon the ropes, Nor shook the mighty cables, lest the wind Should sound upon them. But the chief, in prayer, Thus spake to Fortune: "Thou whose high decree Has made us exiles from Italia's shores, Grant us at least to leave them." Yet the fates Hardly permitted, for a murmur vast Came from the ocean, as the countless keels Furrowed the waters, and with ceaseless splash The parted billows rose again and fell. Then were the gates thrown wide; for with the fates The city turned to Caesar: and the foe, Seizing the town, rushed onward by the pier That circled in the harbour; then they knew With shame and sorrow that the fleet was gone And held the open: and Pompeius' flight Gave a poor triumph.
Yet was narrower far The channel which gave access to the sea Than that Euboean strait (34) whose waters lave The shore by Chalcis. Here two ships stuck fast Alone, of all the fleet; the fatal hook Grappled their decks and drew them to the land, And the first bloodshed of the civil war Here left a blush upon the ocean wave. As when the famous ship (36) sought Phasis' stream The rocky gates closed in and hardly gripped Her flying stern; then from the empty sea The cliffs rebounding to their ancient seat Were fixed to move no more. But now the steps Of morn approaching tinged the eastern sky With roseate hues: the Pleiades were dim, The wagon of the Charioteer grew pale, The planets faded, and the silvery star Which ushers in the day, was lost in light.
Then Magnus, hold'st the deep; yet not the same Now are thy fates, as when from every sea Thy fleet triumphant swept the pirate pest. Tired of thy conquests, Fortune now no more Shall smile upon thee. With thy spouse and sons, Thy household gods, and peoples in thy train, Still great in exile, in a distant land Thou seek'st thy fated fall; not that the gods, Wishing to rob thee of a Roman grave, Decreed the strands of Egypt for thy tomb: 'Twas Italy they spared, that far away Fortune on shores remote might hide her crime, And Roman soil be pure of Magnus' blood.
(1) When dragged from his hiding place in the marsh, Marius was sent by the magistrates of Minturnae to the house of a woman named Fannia, and there locked up in a dark apartment. It does not appear that he was there long. A Gallic soldier was sent to kill him; "and the eyes of Marius appeared to him to dart a strong flame, and a loud voice issued from the gloom, 'Man, do you dare to kill Caius Marius?'" He rushed out exclaiming, "I cannot kill Caius Marius." (Plutarch, "Marius", 38.) (2) The Governor of Libya sent an officer to Marius, who had landed in the neighbourhood of Carthage. The officer delivered his message, and Marius replied, "Tell the Governor you have seen Caius Marius, a fugitive sitting on the ruins of Carthage," a reply in which he not inaptly compared the fate of that city and his own changed fortune. (Plutarch, "Marius", 40.) (3) In the "gathering of fresh fury on Libyan soil", there appears to be an allusion to the story of Antruns, in Book IV. (4) See Ben Jonson's "Catiline", Act i., scene 1, speaking of the Sullan massacre. Cethegus: Not infants in the porch of life were free. .... Catiline: 'Twas crime enough that they had lives: to strike but only those that could do hurt was dull and poor: some fell to make the number as some the prey. (5) Whenever he did not salute a man, or return his salute, this was a signal for massacre. (Plutarch, "Marius", 49.) (6) The Marian massacre was in B.C. 87-86; the Sullan in 82-81. (7) The head of Antonius was struck off and brought to Marius at supper. He was the grandfather of the triumvir. (8) Scaevola, it would appear, was put to death after Marius the elder died, by the younger Marius. He was Pontifex Maximus, and slain by the altar of Vesta. (9) B.C. 86, Marius and Cinna were Consuls. Marius died seventeen days afterwards, in the seventieth year of his age. (10) The Battle of Sacriportus was fought between Marius the younger and the Sullan army in B.C. 82. Marius was defeated with great loss, and fled to Praeneste, a town which afterwards submitted to Sulla, who put all the inhabitants to death (line 216). At the Colline gate was fought the decisive battle between Sulla and the Saranires, who, after a furious contest, were defeated. (11) Diomedes was said to feed his horses on human flesh. (For Antaeus see Book IV., 660.) Enomaus was king of Pisa in Elis. Those who came to sue for his daughter's hand had to compete with him in a chariot race, and if defeated were put to death. (12) The brother of the Consul. (13) So Cicero: "Our Cnaeus is wonderfully anxious for such a royalty as Sulla's. I who tell you know it." ("Ep. ad Att.", ix. 7.) (14) Marcia was first married to Cato, and bore him three sons; he then yielded her to Hortensius. On his death she returned to Cato. (Plutarch, "Cato", 25, 52.) It was in reference to this that Caesar charged him with making a traffic of his marriage; but Plutarch says "to accuse Cato of filthy lucre is like upbraiding Hercules with cowardice." After the marriage Marcia remained at Rome while Cato hurried after Pompeius. (15) The bride was carried over the threshold of her new home, for to stumble on it would be of evil omen. Plutarch ("Romulus") refers this custom to the rape of the Sabine women, who were "so lift up and carried away by force." (North, volume i., p. 88, Edition by Windham.) I have read "vetuit" in this passage, though "vitat" appears to be a better variation according to the manuscripts. (16) The bride was dressed in a long white robe, bound round the waist with a girdle. She had a veil of bright yellow colour. ("Dict. Antiq.") (17) Capua, supposed to be founded by Capys, the Trojan hero. (Virgil, "Aeneid", x., 145.) (18) Phaethon's sisters, who yoked the horses of the Sun to the chariot for their brother, were turned into poplars. Phaethon was flung by Jupiter into the river Po. (19) See the note to Book I., 164. In reality Caesar found little resistance, and did not ravage the country. (20) Thermus. to whom Iguvium had been entrusted by the Senate, was compelled to quit it owing to the disaffection of the inhabitants. (Merivale, chapter xiv.) Auximon in a similar way rose against Varus. (21) After Caesar's campaign with the Nervii, Pompeius had lent him a legion. When the Parthian war broke out and the Senate required each of the two leaders to supply a legion for it, Pompeius demanded the return of the legion which he had sent to Gaul; and Caesar returned it, together with one of his own. They were, however, retained in Italy. (22) See Book VII., 695. (23) See Book I., 368. (24) That is to say, by the breaking of the bridge, the river would become a serious obstacle to Caesar. (25) See line 497. (26) This family is also alluded to by Horace ("Ars Poetica,") as having worn a garment of ancient fashion leaving their arms bare. (See also Book VI., 945.) (27) In B.C. 77, after the death of Sulla, Carbo had been defeated by Pompeius in 81 B.C., in which occasion Pompeius had, at the early age of twenty-five, demanded and obtained his first triumph. The war with Sertorius lasted till 71 B.C., when Pompeius and Metellus triumphed in respect of his overthrow. (28) See Book I., line 369. (29) In B.C. 67, Pompeius swept the pirates off the seas. The whole campaign did not last three months. (30) From B.C. 66 to B.C. 63, Pompeius conquered Mithridates, Syria and the East, except Parthia. (31) Being (as was supposed) exactly under the Equator. Syene (the modern Assouan) is the town mentioned by the priest of Sais, who told Herodotus that "between Syene and Elephantine are two hills with conical tops. The name of one of them is Crophi, and of the other, Mophi. Midway between them are the fountains of the Nile." (Herod., II., chapter 28.) And see "Paradise Regained," IV., 70: — "Syene, and where the shadow both way falls, "Meroe, Nilotick isle;..." (32) Baetis is the Guadalquivir. (33) Theseus, on returning from his successful exploit in Crete, hoisted by mistake black sails instead of white, thus spreading false intelligence of disaster. (34) It seems that the Euripus was bridged over. (Mr. Haskins' note.) (35) The "Argo".
With canvas yielding to the western wind The navy sailed the deep, and every eye Gazed on Ionian billows. But the chief Turned not his vision from his native shore Now left for ever, while the morning mists Drew down upon the mountains, and the cliffs Faded in distance till his aching sight No longer knew them. Then his wearied frame Sank in the arms of sleep. But Julia's shape, In mournful guise, dread horror on her brow, Rose through the gaping earth, and from her tomb Erect (1), in form as of a Fury spake: "Driven from Elysian fields and from the plains The blest inhabit, when the war began, I dwell in Stygian darkness where abide The souls of all the guilty. There I saw Th' Eumenides with torches in their hands Prepared against thy battles; and the fleets (2) Which by the ferryman of the flaming stream Were made to bear thy dead: while Hell itself Relaxed its punishments; the sisters three With busy fingers all their needful task Could scarce accomplish, and the threads of fate Dropped from their weary hands. With me thy wife, Thou, Magnus, leddest happy triumphs home: New wedlock brings new luck. Thy concubine, Whose star brings all her mighty husbands ill, Cornelia, weds in thee a breathing tomb. (3) Through wars and oceans let her cling to thee So long as I may break thy nightly rest: No moment left thee for her love, but all By night to me, by day to Caesar given. Me not the oblivious banks of Lethe's stream Have made forgetful; and the kings of death Have suffered me to join thee; in mid fight I will be with thee, and my haunting ghost Remind thee Caesar's daughter was thy spouse. Thy sword kills not our pledges; civil war Shall make thee wholly mine." She spake and fled. But he, though heaven and hell thus bode defeat, More bent on war, with mind assured of ill, "Why dread vain phantoms of a dreaming brain? Or nought of sense and feeling to the soul Is left by death; or death itself is nought."