(aka "The Civil War")
Caesar in Spain. War in the Adriatic Sea. Death of Curio.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b
But in the distant regions of the earth Fierce Caesar warring, though in fight he dealt No baneful slaughter, hastened on the doom To swift fulfillment. There on Magnus' side Afranius and Petreius (1) held command, Who ruled alternate, and the rampart guard Obeyed the standard of each chief in turn. There with the Romans in the camp were joined Asturians (2) swift, and Vettons lightly armed, 10 And Celts who, exiled from their ancient home, Had joined "Iberus" to their former name. Where the rich soil in gentle slope ascends And forms a modest hill, Ilerda (3) stands, Founded in ancient days; beside her glides Not least of western rivers, Sicoris Of placid current, by a mighty arch Of stone o'erspanned, which not the winter floods Shall overwhelm. Upon a rock hard by Was Magnus' camp; but Caesar's on a hill, 20 Rivalling the first; and in the midst a stream. Here boundless plains are spread beyond the range Of human vision; Cinga girds them in With greedy waves; forbidden to contend With tides of ocean; for that larger flood Who names the land, Iberus, sweeps along The lesser stream commingled with his own. Guiltless of war, the first day saw the hosts In long array confronted; standard rose Opposing standard, numberless; yet none 30 Essayed attack, in shame of impious strife. One day they gave their country and her laws. But Caesar, when from heaven fell the night, Drew round a hasty trench; his foremost rank With close array concealing those who wrought. Then with the morn he bids them seize the hill Which parted from the camp Ilerda's walls, And gave them safety. But in fear and shame On rushed the foe and seized the vantage ground, First in the onset. From the height they held 40 Their hopes of conquest; but to Caesar's men Their hearts by courage stirred, and their good swords Promised the victory. Burdened up the ridge The soldier climbed, and from the opposing steep But for his comrade's shield had fallen back; None had the space to hurl the quivering lance Upon the foeman: spear and pike made sure The failing foothold, and the falchion's edge Hewed out their upward path. But Caesar saw Ruin impending, and he bade his horse 50 By circuit to the left, with shielded flank, Hold back the foe. Thus gained his troops retreat, For none pressed on them; and the victor chiefs, Forced to withdrawal, gained the day in vain. Henceforth the fitful changes of the year Governed the fates and fashioned out the war. For stubborn frost still lay upon the land, And northern winds, controlling all the sky, Prisoned the rain in clouds; the hills were nipped With snow unmelted, and the lower plains 60 By frosts that fled before the rising sun; And all the lands that stretched towards the sky Which whelms the sinking stars, 'neath wintry heavens Were parched and arid. But when Titan neared The Ram, who, backward gazing on the stars, Bore perished Helle, (4) and the hours were held In juster balance, and the day prevailed, The earliest faded moon which in the vault Hung with uncertain horn, from eastern winds Received a fiery radiance; whose blasts 70 Forced Boreas back: and breaking on the mists Within his regions, to the Occident Drave all that shroud Arabia and the land Of Ganges; all that or by Caurus (5) borne Bedim the Orient sky, or rising suns Permit to gather; pitiless flamed the day Behind them, while in front the wide expanse Was driven; nor on mid earth sank the clouds Though weighed with vapour. North and south alike Were showerless, for on Calpe's rock alone 80 All moisture gathered; here at last, forbidden To pass that sea by Zephyr's bounds contained, And by the furthest belt (6) of heaven, they pause, In masses huge convolved; the widest breadth Of murky air scarce holds them, which divides Earth from the heavens; till pressed by weight of sky In densest volume to the earth they pour Their cataracts; no lightning could endure Such storm unquenched: though oft athwart the gloom Gleamed its pale fire. Meanwhile a watery arch 90 Scarce touched with colour, in imperfect shape Embraced the sky and drank the ocean waves, So rendering to the clouds their flood outpoured. And now were thawed the Pyrenaean snows Which Titan had not conquered; all the rocks Were wet with melting ice; accustomed springs Found not discharge; and from the very banks Each stream received a torrent. Caesar's arms Are shipwrecked on the field, his tottering camp Swims on the rising flood; the trench is filled 100 With whirling waters; and the plain no more Yields corn or kine; for those who forage seek, Err from the hidden furrow. Famine knocks (First herald of o'erwhelming ills to come), Fierce at the door; and while no foe blockades The soldier hungers; fortunes buy not now The meanest measure; yet, alas! is found The fasting peasant, who, in gain of gold, Will sell his little all! And now the hills Are seen no more; and rivers whelmed in one; 110 Beasts with their homes sweep downwards; and the tide Repels the foaming torrent. Nor did night Acknowledge Phoebus' rise, for all the sky Felt her dominion and obscured its face, And darkness joined with darkness. Thus doth lie The lowest earth beneath the snowy zone And never-ending winters, where the sky Is starless ever, and no growth of herb Sprouts from the frozen earth; but standing ice Tempers (7) the stars which in the middle zone 120 Kindle their flames. Thus, Father of the world, And thou, trident-god who rul'st the sea Second in place, Neptunus, load the air With clouds continual; forbid the tide, Once risen, to return: forced by thy waves Let rivers backward run in different course, Thy shores no longer reaching; and the earth, Shaken, make way for floods. Let Rhine o'erflow And Rhone their banks; let torrents spread afield Unmeasured waters: melt Rhipaean snows: 130 Spread lakes upon the land, and seas profound, And snatch the groaning world from civil war. Thus for a little moment Fortune tried Her darling son; then smiling to his part Returned; and gained her pardon for the past By greater gifts to come. For now the air Had grown more clear, and Phoebus' warmer rays Coped with the flood and scattered all the clouds In fleecy masses; and the reddening east Proclaimed the coming day; the land resumed 140 Its ancient marks; no more in middle air The moisture hung, but from about the stars Sank to the depths; the forest glad upreared Its foliage; hills again emerged to view And 'neath the warmth of day the plains grew firm. When Sicoris kept his banks, the shallop light Of hoary willow bark they build, which bent On hides of oxen, bore the weight of man And swam the torrent. Thus on sluggish Po Venetians float; and on th' encircling sea (8) 150 Are borne Britannia's nations; and when Nile Fills all the land, are Memphis' thirsty reeds Shaped into fragile boats that swim his waves. The further bank thus gained, they haste to curve The fallen forest, and to form the arch By which imperious Sicoris shall be spanned. Yet fearing he might rise in wrath anew, Not on the nearest marge they placed the beams, But in mid-field. Thus the presumptuous stream They tame with chastisement, parting his flood 160 In devious channels out; and curb his pride. Petreius, when he saw that Caesar's fates Swept all before them, left Ilerda's steep, His trust no longer in the Roman world; And sought for strength amid those distant tribes, Who, loving death, rush in upon the foe, (9) And win their conquests at the point of sword. But in the dawn, when Caesar saw the camp Stand empty on the hill, "To arms!" he cried: "Seek not the bridge nor ford: plunge in the stream 170 And breast the foaming torrent." Then did hope Of coming battle find for them a way Which they had shunned in flight. Their arms regained, Their streaming limbs they cherished till the blood Coursed in their veins; until the shadows fell Short on the sward, and day was at the height. Then dashed the horsemen on, and held the foe 'Twixt flight and battle. In the plain arose Two rocky heights: from each a loftier ridge Of hills ranged onwards, sheltering in their midst 180 A hollow vale, whose deep and winding paths Were safe from warfare; which, when Caesar saw: That if Petreius held, the war must pass To lands remote by savage tribes possessed; "Speed on," he cried, "and meet their flight in front; Fierce be your frown and battle in your glance: No coward's death be theirs; but as they flee Plunge in their breasts the sword." They seize the pass And place their camp. Short was the span between Th' opposing sentinels; with eager eyes 190 Undimmed by space, they gazed on brothers, sons, Or friends and fathers; and within their souls They grasped the impious horror of the war. Yet for a little while no voice was heard, For fear restrained; by waving blade alone Or gesture, spake they; but their passion grew, And broke all discipline; and soon they leaped The hostile rampart; every hand outstretched (10) Embraced the hand of foeman, palm in palm; One calls by name his neighhour, one his host, 200 Another with his schoolmate talks again Of olden studies: he who in the camp Found not a comrade, was no son of Rome. Wet are their arms with tears, and sobs break in Upon their kisses; each, unstained by blood, Dreads what he might have done. Why beat thy breast? Why, madman, weep? The guilt is thine alone To do or to abstain. Dost fear the man Who takes his title to be feared from thee? When Caesar's trumpets sound the call to arms 210 Heed not the summons; when thou seest advance His standards, halt. The civil Fury thus Shall fold her wings; and in a private robe Caesar shall love his kinsman. Holy Peace That sway'st the world; thou whose eternal bands Sustain the order of material things, Come, gentle Concord! (11) these our times do now For good or evil destiny control The coming centuries! Ah, cruel fate! Now have the people lost their cloak for crime: 220 Their hope of pardon. They have known their kin. Woe for the respite given by the gods Making more black the hideous guilt to come! Now all was peaceful, and in either camp Sweet converse held the soldiers; on the grass They place the meal; on altars built of turf Pour out libations from the mingled cup; On mutual couch with stories of their fights, They wile the sleepless hours in talk away; "Where stood the ranks arrayed, from whose right hand 230 The quivering lance was sped:" and while they boast Or challenge, deeds of prowess in the war, Faith was renewed and trust. Thus made the fates Their doom complete, and all the crimes to be; Grew with their love. For when Petreius knew The treaties made; himself and all his camp Sold to the foe; he stirs his guard to work An impious slaughter: the defenceless foe Flings headlong forth: and parts the fond embrace By stroke of weapon and in streams of blood. 240 And thus in words of wrath, to stir the war: "Of Rome forgetful, to your faith forsworn! And could ye not with victory gained return, Restorers of her liberty, to Rome? Lose then! but losing call not Caesar lord. While still your swords are yours, with blood to shed In doubtful battle, while the fates are hid, Will you like cravens to your master bear Doomed eagles? Will you ask upon your knees That Caesar deign to treat his slaves alike, 250 And spare, forsooth, like yours, your leaders' lives? (12) Nay! never shall our safety be the price Of base betrayal! Not for boon of life We wage a civil war. This name of peace Drags us to slavery. Ne'er from depths of earth, Fain to withdraw her wealth, should toiling men Draw store of iron; ne'er entrench a town; Ne'er should the war-horse dash into the fray Nor fleet with turret bulwarks breast the main, If freedom for dishonourable peace 260 Could thus be bought. The foe are pledged to fight By their own guilt. But you, who still might hope For pardon if defeated -- what can match Your deep dishonour? Shame upon your peace. Thou callest, Magnus, ignorant of fate, From all the world thy powers, and dost entreat Monarchs of distant realms, while haply here We in our treaties bargain for thy life!" Thus did he stir their minds and rouse anew The love of impious battle. So when beasts 270 Grown strange to forests, long confined in dens, Their fierceness lose, and learn to bear with man; Once should they taste of blood, their thirsty jaws Swell at the touch, and all the ancient rage Comes back upon them till they hardly spare Their keeper. Thus they rush on every crime: And blows which dealt at chance, and in the night Of battle, had brought hatred on the gods, Though blindly struck, their recent vows of love Made monstrous, horrid. Where they lately spread 280 The mutual couch and banquet, and embraced Some new-found friend, now falls the fatal blow Upon the self-same breast; and though at first Groaning at the fell chance, they drew the sword; Hate rises as they strike, the murderous arm Confirms the doubtful will: with monstrous joy Through the wild camp they smite their kinsmen down; And carnage raged unchecked; and each man strove, Proud of his crime, before his leader's face To prove his shamelessness of guilt. But thou, 290 Caesar, though losing of thy best, dost know The gods do favour thee. Thessalian fields Gave thee no better fortune, nor the waves That lave Massilia; nor on Pharos' main Didst thou so triumph. By this crime alone Thou from this moment of the better cause Shalt be the Captain. Since the troops were stained With foulest slaughter thus, their leaders shunned All camps with Caesar's joined, and sought again Ilerda's lofty walls; but Caesar's horse 300 Seized on the plain and forced them to the hills Reluctant. There by steepest trench shut in, He cuts them from the river, nor permits Their circling ramparts to enclose a spring. By this dread path Death trapped his captive prey. Which when they knew, fierce anger filled their souls, And took the place of fear. They slew the steeds Now useless grown, and rushed upon their fate; Hopeless of life and flight. But Caesar cried: "Hold back your weapons, soldiers, from the foe, 310 Strike not the breast advancing; let the war Cost me no blood; he falls not without price Who with his life-blood challenges the fray. Scorning their own base lives and hating light, To Caesar's loss they rush upon their death, Nor heed our blows. But let this frenzy pass, This madman onset; let the wish for death Die in their souls." Thus to its embers shrank The fire within when battle was denied, And fainter grew their rage until the night 320 Drew down her starry veil and sank the sun. Thus keener fights the gladiator whose wound Is recent, while the blood within the veins Still gives the sinews motion, ere the skin Shrinks on the bones: but as the victor stands His fatal thrust achieved, and points the blade Unfaltering, watching for the end, there creeps Torpor upon the limbs, the blood congeals About the gash, more faintly throbs the heart, And slowly fading, ebbs the life away. 330 Raving for water now they dig the plains Seeking for hidden fountains, not with spade And mattock only searching out the depths, But with the sword; they hack the stony heights, In shafts that reach the level of the plain. No further flees from light the pallid wretch Who tears the bowels of the earth for gold. Yet neither riven stones revealed a spring, Nor streamlet whispered from its hidden source; To water trickled on the gravel bed, 340 Nor dripped within the cavern. Worn at length With labour huge, they crawl to light again, After such toil to fall to thirst and heat The readier victims: this was all they won. All food they loathe; and 'gainst their deadly thirst Call famine to their aid. Damp clods of earth They squeeze upon their mouths with straining hands. Where'er on foulest mud some stagnant slime Or moisture lies, though doomed to die they lap With greedy tongues the draught their lips had loathed 350 Had life been theirs to choose. Beast-like they drain The swollen udder, and where milk was not, They sucked the life-blood forth. From herbs and boughs Dripping with dew, from tender shoots they pressed, Say, from the pith of trees, the juice within. Happy the host that onward marching finds Its savage enemy has fouled the wells With murderous venom; had'st thou, Caesar, cast The reeking filth of shambles in the stream, And henbane dire and all the poisonous herbs 360 That lurk on Cretan slopes, still had they drunk The fatal waters, rather than endure Such lingering agony. Their bowels racked With torments as of flame; the swollen tongue And jaws now parched and rigid, and the veins; Each laboured breath with anguish from the lungs Enfeebled, moistureless, was scarcely drawn, And scarce again returned; and yet agape, Their panting mouths sucked in the nightly dew; They watch for showers from heaven, and in despair 370 Gaze on the clouds, whence lately poured a flood. Nor were their tortures less that Meroe Saw not their sufferings, nor Cancer's zone, Nor where the Garamantian turns the soil; But Sicoris and Iberus at their feet, Two mighty floods, but far beyond their reach, Rolled down in measureless volume to the main. But now their leaders yield; Afranius, Vanquished, throws down his arms, and leads his troops, Now hardly living, to the hostile camp 380 Before the victor's feet, and sues for peace. Proud was his bearing, and despite of ills, His mien majestic, of his triumphs past Still mindful in disaster -- thus he stood, Though suppliant for grace, a leader yet; From fearless heart thus speaking: "Had the fates Thrown me before some base ignoble foe, Not, Caesar, thee; still had this arm fought on And snatched my death. Now if I suppliant ask, 'Tis that I value still the boon of life 390 Given by a worthy hand. No party ties Roused us to arms against thee; when the war, This civil war, broke out, it found us chiefs; And with our former cause we kept the faith, So long as brave men should. The fates' decree No longer we withstand. Unto thy will We yield the western tribes: the east is thine And all the world lies open to thy march. Be generous! blood nor sword nor wearied arm Thy conquests bought. Thou hast not to forgive 400 Aught but thy victory won. Nor ask we much. Give us repose; to lead in peace the life Thou shalt bestow; suppose these armed lines Are corpses prostrate on the field of war Ne'er were it meet that thy victorious ranks Should mix with ours, the vanquished. Destiny Has run for us its course: one boon I beg; Bid not the conquered conquer in thy train." Such were his words, and Caesar's gracious smile Granted his prayer, remitting rights that war 410 Gives to the victor. To th' unguarded stream The soldiers speed: prone on the bank they lie And lap the flood or foul the crowded waves. In many a burning throat the sudden draught Poured in too copious, filled the empty veins And choked the breath within: yet left unquenched The burning pest which though their frames were full Craved water for itself. Then, nerved once more, Their strength returned. Oh, lavish luxury, Contented never with the frugal meal! 420 Oh greed that searchest over land and sea To furnish forth the banquet! Pride that joy'st In sumptuous tables! learn what life requires, How little nature needs! No ruddy juice Pressed from the vintage in some famous year, Whose consuls are forgotten, served in cups With gold and jewels wrought restores the spark, The failing spark, of life; but water pure And simplest fruits of earth. The flood, the field Suffice for nature. Ah! the weary lot 430 Of those who war! But these, their amour laid Low at the victor's feet, with lightened breast, Secure themselves, no longer dealing death, Beset by care no more, seek out their homes. What priceless gift in peace had they secured! How grieved it now their souls to have poised the dart With arm outstretched; to have felt their raving thirst; And prayed the gods for victory in vain! Nay, hard they think the victor's lot, for whom A thousand risks and battles still remain; 440 If fortune never is to leave his side, How often must he triumph! and how oft Pour out his blood where'er great Caesar leads! Happy, thrice happy, he who, when the world Is nodding to its ruin, knows the spot Where he himself shall, though in ruin, lie! No trumpet call shall break his sleep again: But in his humble home with faithful spouse And sons unlettered Fortune leaves him free From rage of party; for if life he owes 450 To Caesar, Magnus sometime was his lord. Thus happy they alone live on apart, Nor hope nor dread the event of civil war. Not thus did Fortune upon Caesar smile In all the parts of earth; (13) but 'gainst his arms Dared somewhat, where Salona's lengthy waste Opposes Hadria, and Iadar warm Meets with his waves the breezes of the west. There brave Curectae dwell, whose island home Is girded by the main; on whom relied 460 Antonius; and beleaguered by the foe, Upon the furthest margin of the shore, (Safe from all ills but famine) placed his camp. But for his steeds the earth no forage gave, Nor golden Ceres harvest; but his troops Gnawed the dry herbage of the scanty turf Within their rampart lines. But when they knew That Baslus was on th' opposing shore With friendly force, by novel mode of flight They aim to reach him. Not the accustomed keel 470 They lay, nor build the ship, but shapeless rafts Of timbers knit together, strong to bear All ponderous weight; on empty casks beneath By tightened chains made firm, in double rows Supported; nor upon the deck were placed The oarsmen, to the hostile dart exposed, But in a hidden space, by beams concealed. And thus the eye amazed beheld the mass Move silent on its path across the sea, By neither sail nor stalwart arm propelled. 480 They watch the main until the refluent waves Ebb from the growing sands; then, on the tide Receding, launch their vessel; thus she floats With twin companions: over each uprose With quivering battlements a lofty tower. Octavius, guardian of Illyrian seas, Restrained his swifter keels, and left the rafts Free from attack, in hope of larger spoil From fresh adventures; for the peaceful sea May tempt them, and their goal in safety reached, 490 To dare a second voyage. Round the stag Thus will the cunning hunter draw a line Of tainted feathers poisoning the air; Or spread the mesh, and muzzle in his grasp The straining jaws of the Molossian hound, And leash the Spartan pack; nor is the brake Trusted to any dog but such as tracks The scent with lowered nostrils, and refrains From giving tongue the while; content to mark By shaking leash the covert of the prey. 500 Ere long they manned the rafts in eager wish To quit the island, when the latest glow Still parted day from night. But Magnus' troops, Cilician once, taught by their ancient art, In fraudulent deceit had left the sea To view unguarded; but with chains unseen Fast to Illyrian shores, and hanging loose, They blocked the outlet in the waves beneath. The leading rafts passed safely, but the third Hung in mid passage, and by ropes was hauled 510 Below o'ershadowing rocks. These hollowed out In ponderous masses overhung the main, And nodding seemed to fall: shadowed by trees Dark lay the waves beneath. Hither the tide Brings wreck and corpse, and, burying with the flow, Restores them with the ebb: and when the caves Belch forth the ocean, swirling billows fall In boisterous surges back, as boils the tide In that famed whirlpool on Sicilian shores. Here, with Venetian settlers for its load, 520 Stood motionless the raft. Octavius' ships Gathered around, while foemen on the land Filled all the shore. But well the captain knew, Volteius, how the secret fraud was planned, And tried in vain with sword and steel to burst The bands that held them; without hope he fights, Uncertain where to avoid or front the foe. Caught in this strait they strove as brave men should Against opposing hosts; nor long the fight, For fallen darkness brought a truce to arms. 530 Then to his men disheartened and in fear Of coming fate Volteius, great of soul, Thus spake in tones commanding: "Free no more, Save for this little night, consult ye now In this last moment, soldiers, how to face Your final fortunes. No man's life is short Who can take thought for death, nor is your fame Less than a conqueror's, if with breast advanced Ye meet your destined doom. None know how long The life that waits them. Summon your own fate, 540 And equal is your praise, whether the hand Quench the last flicker of departing light, Or shear the hope of years. But choice to die Is thrust not on the mind -- we cannot flee; See at our throats, e'en now, our kinsmen's swords. Then choose for death; desire what fate decrees. At least in war's blind cloud we shall not fall; Nor when the flying weapons hide the day, And slaughtered heaps of foemen load the field, And death is common, and the brave man sinks 550 Unknown, inglorious. Us within this ship, Seen of both friends and foes, the gods have placed; Both land and sea and island cliffs shall bear, From either shore, their witness to our death, In which some great and memorable fame Thou, Fortune, dost prepare. What glorious deeds Of warlike heroism, of noble faith, Time's annals show! All these shall we surpass. True, Caesar, that to fall upon our swords For thee is little; yet beleaguered thus, 560 With neither sons nor parents at our sides, Shorn of the glory that we might have earned, We give thee here the only pledge we may. Yet let these hostile thousands fear the souls That rage for battle and that welcome death, And know us for invincible, and joy That no more rafts were stayed. They'll offer terms And tempt us with a base unhonoured life. Would that, to give that death which shall be ours The greater glory, they may bid us hope 570 For pardon and for life! lest when our swords Are reeking with our hearts'-blood, they may say This was despair of living. Great must be The prowess of our end, if in the hosts That fight his battles, Caesar is to mourn This little handful lost. For me, should fate Grant us retreat, -- myself would scorn to shun The coming onset. Life I cast away, The frenzy of the death that comes apace Controls my being. Those alone whose end 580 Inspires them, know the happiness of death, Which the high gods, that men may bear to live, Keep hid from others." Thus his noble words Warmed his brave comrades' hearts; and who with fear And tearful eyes had looked upon the Wain, Turning his nightly course, now hoped for day, Such precepts deep within them. Nor delayed The sky to dip the stars below the main; For Phoebus in the Twins his chariot drave At noon near Cancer; and the hours of night (14) 590 Were shortened by the Archer. When day broke, Lo! on the rocks the Istrians; while the sea Swarmed with the galleys and their Grecian fleet All armed for fight: but first the war was stayed And terms proposed: life to the foe they thought Would seem the sweeter, by delay of death Thus granted. But the band devoted stood, Proud of their promised end, and life forsworn, And careless of the battle: no debate Could shake their high resolve. (15) In numbers few 600 'Gainst foemen numberless by land and sea, They wage the desperate fight; then satiate Turn from the foe. And first demanding death Volteius bared his throat. "What youth," he cries, "Dares strike me down, and through his captain's wounds Attest his love for death?" Then through his side Plunge blades uncounted on the moment drawn. He praises all: but him who struck the first Grateful, with dying strength, he does to death. They rush together, and without a foe 610 Work all the guilt of battle. Thus of yore, Rose up the glittering Dircaean band From seed by Cadmus sown, and fought and died, Dire omen for the brother kings of Thebes. And so in Phasis' fields the sons of earth, Born of the sleepless dragon, all inflamed By magic incantations, with their blood Deluged the monstrous furrow, while the Queen Feared at the spells she wrought. Devoted thus To death, they fall, yet in their death itself 620 Less valour show than in the fatal wounds They take and give; for e'en the dying hand Missed not a blow -- nor did the stroke alone Inflict the wound, but rushing on the sword Their throat or breast received it to the hilt; And when by fatal chance or sire with son, Or brothers met, yet with unfaltering weight Down flashed the pitiless sword: this proved their love, To give no second blow. Half living now They dragged their mangled bodies to the side, 630 Whence flowed into the sea a crimson stream Of slaughter. 'Twas their pleasure yet to see The light they scorned; with haughty looks to scan The faces of their victors, and to feel The death approaching. But the raft was now Piled up with dead; which, when the foemen saw, Wondering at such a chief and such a deed, They gave them burial. Never through the world Of any brave achievement was the fame More widely blazed. Yet meaner men, untaught 640 By such examples, see not that the hand Which frees from slavery needs no valiant mind To guide the stroke. But tyranny is feared As dealing death; and Freedom's self is galled By ruthless arms; and knows not that the sword Was given for this, that none need live a slave. Ah Death! would'st thou but let the coward live And grant the brave alone the prize to die! Nor less were Libyan fields ablaze with war. For Curio rash from Lilybaean (16) coast 650 Sailed with his fleet, and borne by gentle winds Betwixt half-ruined Carthage, mighty once, And Clupea's cliff, upon the well-known shore His anchors dropped. First from the hoary sea Remote, where Bagra slowly ploughs the sand, He placed his camp: then sought the further hills And mazy passages of cavernous rocks, Antaeus' kingdom called. From ancient days This name was given; and thus a swain retold The story handed down from sire to son: 660 "Not yet exhausted by the giant brood, Earth still another monster brought to birth, In Libya's caverns: huger far was he, More justly far her pride, than Briareus With all his hundred hands, or Typhon fierce, Or Tityos: 'twas in mercy to the gods That not in Phlegra's (17) fields Antaeus grew, But here in Libya; to her offspring's strength, Unmeasured, vast, she added yet this boon, That when in weariness and labour spent 670 He touched his parent, fresh from her embrace Renewed in rigour he should rise again. In yonder cave he dwelt, 'neath yonder rock He made his feast on lions slain in chase: There slept he; not on skins of beasts, or leaves, But fed his strength upon the naked earth. Perished the Libyan hinds and those who came, Brought here in ships, until he scorned at length The earth that gave him strength, and on his feet Invincible and with unaided might 680 Made all his victims. Last to Afric shores, Drawn by the rumour of such carnage, came Magnanimous Alcides, he who freed Both land and sea of monsters. Down on earth He threw his mantle of the lion's skin Slain in Cleone; nor Antaeus less Cast down the hide he wore. With shining oil, As one who wrestles at Olympia's feast, The hero rubs his limbs: the giant feared Lest standing only on his parent earth 690 His strength might fail; and cast o'er all his bulk Hot sand in handfuls. Thus with arms entwined And grappling hands each seizes on his foe; With hardened muscles straining at the neck Long time in vain; for firm the sinewy throat Stood column-like, nor yielded; so that each Wondered to find his peer. Nor at the first Divine Alcides put forth all his strength, By lengthy struggle wearing out his foe, Till chilly drops stood on Antaeas' limbs, 700 And toppled to its fall the stately throat, And smitten by the hero's blows, the legs Began to totter. Breast to breast they strive To gain the vantage, till the victor's arms Gird in the giant's yielding back and sides, And squeeze his middle part: next 'twixt the thighs He puts his feet, and forcing them apart, Lays low the mighty monster limb by limb. The dry earth drank his sweat, while in his veins Warm ran the life-blood, and with strength refreshed, 710 The muscle swelled and all the joints grew firm, And with his might restored, he breaks his bonds And rives the arms of Hercules away. Amazed the hero stood at such a strength. Not thus he feared, though then unused to war, That hydra fierce, which smitten in the marsh Of Inachus, renewed its severed heads. Again they join in fight, one with the powers Which earth bestowed, the other with his own: Nor did the hatred of his step-dame (18) find 720 In all his conflicts greater room for hope. She sees bedewed in sweat the neck and limbs Which once had borne the mountain of the gods Nor knew the toil: and when Antaeus felt His foeman's arms close round him once again, He flung his wearying limbs upon the sand To rise with strength renewed; all that the earth, Though labouring sore, could breathe into her son She gave his frame. But Hercules at last Saw how his parent gave the giant strength. 730 `Stand thou,' he cried; `no more upon the ground Thou liest at thy will -- here must thou stay Within mine arms constrained; against this breast, Antaeus, shalt thou fall.' He lifted up And held by middle girth the giant form, Still struggling for the earth: but she no more Could give her offspring rigour. Slowly came The chill of death upon him, and 'twas long Before the hero, of his victory sure, Trusted the earth and laid the giant down. 740 Hence hoar antiquity that loves to prate And wonders at herself (19), this region called Antaeus' kingdom. But a greater name It gained from Scipio, when he recalled From Roman citadels the Punic chief. Here was his camp; here can'st thou see the trace Of that most famous rampart (20) whence at length Issued the Eagles of triumphant Rome." But Curio rejoiced, as though for him The fortunes of the spot must hold in store 750 The fates of former chiefs: and on the place Of happy augury placed his tents ill-starred, Took from the hills their omens; and with force Unequal, challenged his barbarian foe. All Africa that bore the Roman yoke Then lay 'neath Varus. He, though placing first Trust in his Latian troops, from every side And furthest regions, summons to his aid The nations who confessed King Juba's rule. Not any monarch over wider tracts 760 Held the dominion. From the western belt (21) Near Gades, Atlas parts their furthest bounds; But from the southern, Hammon girds them in Hard by the whirlpools; and their burning plains Stretch forth unending 'neath the torrid zone, In breadth its equal, till they reach at length The shore of ocean upon either hand. From all these regions tribes unnumbered flock To Juba's standard: Moors of swarthy hue As though from Ind; Numidian nomads there 770 And Nasamon's needy hordes; and those whose darts Equal the flying arrows of the Mede: Dark Garamantians leave their fervid home; And those whose coursers unrestrained by bit Or saddle, yet obey the rider's hand Which wields the guiding switch: the hunter, too, Who wanders forth, his home a fragile hut, And blinds with flowing robe (if spear should fail) The angry lion, monarch of the steppe. Not eagerness alone to save the state 780 Stirred Juba's spirit: private hatred too Roused him to war. For in the former year, When Curio all things human and the gods Polluted, he by tribune law essayed To ravish Libya from the tyrant's sway, And drive the monarch from his father's throne, While giving Rome a king. To Juba thus, Still smarting at the insult, came the war, A welcome harvest for his crown retained. These rumours Curio feared: nor had his troops 790 (Ta'en in Corfinium's hold) (23) in waves of Rhine Been tested, nor to Caesar in the wars Had learned devotion: wavering in their faith, Their second chief they doubt, their first betrayed. Yet when the general saw the spirit of fear Creep through his camp, and discipline to fail, And sentinels desert their guard at night, Thus in his fear he spake: "By daring much Fear is disguised; let me be first in arms, And bid my soldiers to the plain descend, 800 While still my soldiers. Idle days breed doubt. By fight forestall the plot (24). Soon as the thirst Of bloodshed fills the mind, and eager hands Grip firm the sword, and pressed upon the brow The helm brings valour to the failing heart -- Who cares to measure leaders' merits then? Who weighs the cause? With whom the soldier stands, For him he fights; as at the fatal show No ancient grudge the gladiator's arm Nerves for the combat, yet as he shall strike 810 He hates his rival." Thinking thus he leads His troops in battle order to the plain. Then victory on his arms deceptive shone Hiding the ills to come: for from the field Driving the hostile host with sword and spear, He smote them till their camp opposed his way. But after Varus' rout, unseen till then, All eager for the glory to be his, By stealth came Juba: silent was his march; His only fear lest rumour should forestall 820 His coming victory. In pretended war He sends Sabura forth with scanty force To tempt the enemy, while in hollow vale He holds the armies of his realm unseen. Thus doth the sly ichneumon (25) with his tail Waving, allure the serpent of the Nile Drawn to the moving shadow: he, with head Turned sideways, watches till the victim glides Within his reach, then seizes by the throat Behind the deadly fangs: forth from its seat 830 Balked of its purpose, through the brimming jaws Gushes a tide of poison. Fortune smiled On Juba's stratagem; for Curio (The hidden forces of the foe unknown) Sent forth his horse by night without the camp To scour more distant regions. He himself At earliest peep of dawn bids carry forth His standards; heeding not his captains' prayer Urged on his ears: "Beware of Punic fraud, The craft that taints a Carthaginian war." 840 Hung over him the doom of coming death And gave the youth to fate; and civil strife Dragged down its author. On the lofty tops Where broke the hills abruptly to their fall He ranks his troops and sees the foe afar: Who still deceiving, simulated flight, Till from the height in loose unordered lines The Roman forces streamed upon the plain, In thought that Juba fled. Then first was known The treacherous fraud: for swift Numidian horse 850 On every side surround them: leader, men -- All see their fate in one dread moment come. No coward flees, no warrior bravely strides To meet the battle: nay, the trumpet call Stirs not the charger with resounding hoof To spurn the rock, nor galling bit compels To champ in eagerness; nor toss his mane And prick the ear, nor prancing with his feet To claim his share of combat. Tired, the neck Droops downwards: smoking sweat bedews the limbs: 860 Dry from the squalid mouth protrudes the tongue, Hoarse, raucous panting issues from their chests; Their flanks distend: and every curb is dry With bloody foam; the ruthless sword alone Could move them onward, powerless even then To charge; but giving to the hostile dart A nearer victim. But when the Afric horse First made their onset, loud beneath their hoofs Rang the wide plain, and rose the dust in air As by some Thracian whirlwind stirred; and veiled 870 The heavens in darkness. When on Curio's host The tempest burst, each footman in the rank Stood there to meet his fate -- no doubtful end Hung in the balance: destiny proclaimed Death to them all. No conflict hand to hand Was granted them, by lances thrown from far And sidelong sword-thrusts slain: nor wounds alone, But clouds of weapons falling from the air By weight of iron o'erwhelmed them. Still drew in The straightening circle, for the first pressed back 880 On those behind; did any shun the foe, Seeking the inner safety of the ring, He needs must perish by his comrades' swords. And as the front rank fell, still narrower grew The close crushed phalanx, till to raise their swords Space was denied. Still close and closer forced The armed breasts against each other driven Pressed out the life. Thus not upon a scene Such as their fortune promised, gazed the foe. No tide of blood was there to glut their eyes, 890 No members lopped asunder, though the earth so Was piled with corpses; for each Roman stood In death upright against his comrade dead. Let cruel Carthage rouse her hated ghosts By this fell offering; let the Punic shades, And bloody Hannibal, from this defeat Receive atonement: yet 'twas shame, ye gods, That Libya gained not for herself the day; And that our Romans on that field should die To save Pompeius and the Senate's cause. 900 Now was the dust laid low by streams of blood, And Curio, knowing that his host was slain. Chose not to live; and, as a brave man should. He rushed upon the heap, and fighting fell. In vain with turbid speech hast thou profaned The pulpit of the forum: waved in vain From that proud (26) citadel the tribune flag: And armed the people, and the Senate's rights Betraying, hast compelled this impious war Betwixt the rival kinsmen. Low thou liest 910 Before Pharsalus' fight, and from thine eyes Is hid the war. 'Tis thus to suffering Rome, For arms seditious and for civil strife Ye mighty make atonement with your blood. Happy were Rome and all her sons indeed, Did but the gods as rigidly protect As they avenge, her violated laws! There Curio lies; untombed his noble corpse, Torn by the vultures of the Libyan wastes. Yet shall we, since such merit, though unsung, 920 Lives by its own imperishable fame, Give thee thy meed of praise. Rome never bore Another son, who, had he right pursued, Had so adorned her laws; but soon the times, Their luxury, corruption, and the curse Of too abundant wealth, in transverse stream Swept o'er his wavering mind: and Curio changed, Turned with his change the scale of human things. True, mighty Sulla, cruel Marius, And bloody Cinna, and the long descent 930 Of Caesar and of Caesar's house became Lords of our lives. But who had power like him? All others bought the state: he sold alone. (27) ENDNOTES: (1) Both of these generals were able and distinguished officers. Afranius was slain by Caesar's soldiers after the battle of Thapsus. Petreius, after the same battle, escaped along with Juba; and failing to find a refuge, they challenged each other to fight. Petreius was killed, and Juba, the survivor, put an end to himself. (2) These are the names of Spanish tribes. The Celtiberi dwelt on the Ebro. (3) Lerida, on the river Segre, above its junction with the Ebro. Cinga is the modern Cinca, which falls into the Segre (Sicoris). (4) Phrixus and Helle, the children of Nephele, were to be sacrificed to Zeus: but Nephele rescued them, and they rode away through the air on the Ram with the golden fleece. But Helle fell into the sea, which from her was named the Hellespont. (See Book IX., 1126.) The sun enters Aries about March 20. The Ram is pictured among the constellations with his head averse. (5) See Book I., 463. (6) See Mr. Heitland's introduction, upon the meaning of the word "cardo". The word "belt" seems fairly to answer to the two great circles or four meridians which he describes. The word occurs again at line 760; Book V., 80; Book VII., 452. (7) The idea is that the cold of the poles tempers the heat of the equator. (8) Fuso: either spacious, outspread; or, poured into the land (referring to the estuaries) as Mr. Haskins prefers; or, poured round the island. Portable leathern skiffs seem to have been in common use in Caesar's time in the English Channel. These were the rowing boats of the Gauls. (Mommsen, vol. iv., 219.) (9) Compare Book I., 519. (10) Compare the passage in Tacitus, "Histories", ii., 45, in which the historian describes how the troops of Otho and Vitellius wept over each other after the battle and deplored the miseries of a civil war. "Victi victoresque in lacrumas effusi, sortem civilium armorum misera laetitia detestantes." (11) "Saecula nostra" may refer either to Lucan's own time or to the moment arrived at in the poem; or it may, as Francken suggests, have a more general meaning. (12) "Petenda est"? -- "is it fit that you should beg for the lives of your leaders?" Mr. Haskins says, "shall you have to beg for them?" But it means that to do so is the height of disgrace. (13) The scene is the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic. Here was Diocletian's palace. (Described in the 13th chapter of Gibbon.) (14) That is, night was at its shortest. (15) On the following passage see Dean Merivale's remarks, "History of the Roman Empire", chapter xvi. (16) That is, Sicilian. (17) For Phlegra, the scene of the battle between the giants and the gods, see Book VII., 170, and Book IX., 774. Ben Jonson ("Sejanus", Act v., scene 10) says of Sejanus: -- "Phlegra, the field where all the sons of earth Mustered against the gods, did ne'er acknowledge So proud and huge a monster." (18) Juno. (19) That is, extols ancient deeds. (20) Referring to the battle of Zama. (21) See line 82. (22) Curio was tribune in B.C. 50. His earlier years are stated to have been stained with vice. (23) See Book II., 537. (24) Preferring the reading "praeripe", with Francken. (25) Bewick ("Quadrupeds," p. 238) tells the following anecdote of a tame ichneumon which had never seen a serpent, and to which he brought a small one. "Its first emotion seemed to be astonishment mixed with anger; its hair became erect; in an instant it slipped behind the reptile, and with remarkable swiftness and agility leaped upon its head, seized it and crushed it with its teeth." (26) Reading "arce", not "arte". The word "signifer" seems to favour the reading I have preferred; and Dean Merivale and Hosius adopted it. (27) For the character and career of Curio, see Merivale's "History of the Roman Empire", chapter xvi. He was of profligate character, but a friend and pupil of Cicero; at first a rabid partisan of the oligarchy, he had, about the period of his tribuneship (B.C. 50-49), become a supporter of Caesar. How far Gaulish gold was the cause of this conversion we cannot tell. It is in allusion to this change that he was termed the prime mover of the civil war. His arrival in Caesar's camp is described in Book I., line 303. He became Caesar's chief lieutenant in place of the deserter Labienus; and, as described in Book III., was sent to Sardinia and Sicily, whence he expelled the senatorial forces. His final expedition to Africa, defeat and death, form the subject of the latter part of this book. Mommsen describes him as a man of talent, and finds a resemblance between him and Caesar. (Vol. iv., p. 393.)