(aka "The Civil War")
The Flight of Pompeius
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b
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 10 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 20 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 30 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 40 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 50 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 60 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, 70 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: 80 "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. 90 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 100 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: 110 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 120 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. 130 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 140 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 150 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 160 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 170 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. 180 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, 190 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 200 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; 210 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, 220 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, 230 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 240 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. 250 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." 260 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: 270 "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, 280 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 290 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? 300 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 310 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 320 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 330 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, 340 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, 350 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 360 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 370 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. 380 "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, 390 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 400 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 410 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 420 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 430 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 440 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 450 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 460 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. 470 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, 480 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 490 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 500 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 510 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, 520 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 530 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, 540 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 550 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 560 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, 570 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 580 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! 590 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. 600 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. 610 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 620 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 630 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 640 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 650 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 660 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 -- 670 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 680 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) 690 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 700 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 710 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 720 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; 730 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; 740 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: 750 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 760 (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, 770 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 780 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 790 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. 800 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 810 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 820 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, 830 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. ENDNOTES: (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".