(aka "The Civil War")
The Oracle. The Mutiny. The Storm.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b
Thus had the smiles of Fortune and her frowns Brought either chief to Macedonian shores Still equal to his foe. From cooler skies Sank Atlas' (1) daughters down, and Haemus' slopes Were white with winter, and the day drew nigh Devoted to the god who leads the months, And marking with new names the book of Rome, When came the Fathers from their distant posts By both the Consuls to Epirus called (2) 10 Ere yet the year was dead: a foreign land Obscure received the magistrates of Rome, And heard their high debate. No warlike camp This; for the Consul's and the Praetor's axe Proclaimed the Senate-house; and Magnus sat One among many, and the state was all. When all were silent, from his lofty seat Thus Lentulus began, while stern and sad The Fathers listened: "If your hearts still beat With Latian blood, and if within your breasts 20 Still lives your fathers' vigour, look not now On this strange land that holds us, nor enquire Your distance from the captured city: yours This proud assembly, yours the high command In all that comes. Be this your first decree, Whose truth all peoples and all kings confess; Be this the Senate. Let the frozen wain Demand your presence, or the torrid zone Wherein the day and night with equal tread For ever march; still follows in your steps 30 The central power of Imperial Rome. When flamed the Capitol with fires of Gaul When Veii held Camillus, there with him Was Rome, nor ever though it changed its clime Your order lost its rights. In Caesar's hands Are sorrowing houses and deserted homes, Laws silent for a space, and forums closed In public fast. His Senate-house beholds Those Fathers only whom from Rome it drove, While Rome was full. Of that high order all 40 Not here, are exiles. (3) Ignorant of war, Its crimes and bloodshed, through long years of peace, Ye fled its outburst: now in session all Are here assembled. See ye how the gods Weigh down Italia's loss by all the world Thrown in the other scale? Illyria's wave Rolls deep upon our foes: in Libyan wastes Is fallen their Curio, the weightier part (4) Of Caesar's senate! Lift your standards, then, Spur on your fates and prove your hopes to heaven. 50 Let Fortune, smiling, give you courage now As, when ye fled, your cause. The Consuls' power Fails with the dying year: not so does yours; By your commandment for the common weal Decree Pompeius leader." With applause They heard his words, and placed their country's fates, Nor less their own, within the chieftain's hands. Then did they shower on people and on kings Honours well earned -- Rhodes, Mistress of the Seas, Was decked with gifts; Athena, old in fame, 60 Received her praise, and the rude tribes who dwell On cold Taygetus; Massilia's sons Their own Phocaea's freedom; on the chiefs Of Thracian tribes, fit honours were bestowed. They order Libya by their high decree To serve King Juba's sceptre; and, alas! On Ptolemaeus, of a faithless race The faithless sovereign, scandal to the gods, And shame to Fortune, placed the diadem Of Pella. Boy! thy sword was only sharp 70 Against thy people. Ah if that were all! The fatal gift gave, too, Pompeius' life; Bereft thy sister of her sire's bequest, (5) Half of the kingdom; Caesar of a crime. Then all to arms. While soldier thus and chief, In doubtful sort, against their hidden fate Devised their counsel, Appius (6) alone Feared for the chances of the war, and sought Through Phoebus' ancient oracle to break The silence of the gods and know the end. 80 Between the western belt and that which bounds (7) The furthest east, midway Parnassus rears His double summit: to the Bromian god And Paean consecrate, to whom conjoined The Theban band leads up the Delphic feast On each third year. This mountain, when the sea Poured o'er the earth her billows, rose alone, By one high peak scarce master of the waves, Parting the crest of waters from the stars. There, to avenge his mother, from her home 90 Chased by the angered goddess while as yet She bore him quick within her, Paean came (When Themis ruled the tripods and the spot) (8) And with unpractised darts the Python slew. But when he saw how from the yawning cave A godlike knowledge breathed, and all the air Was full of voices murmured from the depths, He took the shrine and filled the deep recess; Henceforth to prophesy. Which of the gods Has left heaven's light in this dark cave to hide? 100 What spirit that knows the secrets of the world And things to come, here condescends to dwell, Divine, omnipotent? bear the touch of man, And at his bidding deigns to lift the veil? Perchance he sings the fates, perchance his song, Once sung, is fate. Haply some part of Jove Sent here to rule the earth with mystic power, Balanced upon the void immense of air, Sounds through the caves, and in its flight returns To that high home of thunder whence it came. 110 Caught in a virgin's breast, this deity Strikes on the human spirit: then a voice Sounds from her breast, as when the lofty peak Of Etna boils, forced by compelling flames, Or as Typheus on Campania's shore Frets 'neath the pile of huge Inarime. (9) Though free to all that ask, denied to none, No human passion lurks within the voice That heralds forth the god; no whispered vow, No evil prayer prevails; none favour gain: 120 Of things unchangeable the song divine; Yet loves the just. When men have left their homes To seek another, it hath turned their steps Aright, as with the Tyrians; (10) and raised The hearts of nations to confront their foe, As prove the waves of Salamis: (11) when earth Hath been unfruitful, or polluted air Has plagued mankind, this utterance benign Hath raised their hopes and pointed to the end. No gift from heaven's high gods so great as this 130 Our centuries have lost, since Delphi's shrine Has silent stood, and kings forbade the gods (12) To speak the future, fearing for their fates. Nor does the priestess sorrow that the voice Is heard no longer; and the silent fane To her is happiness; for whatever breast Contains the deity, its shattered frame Surges with frenzy, and the soul divine Shakes the frail breath that with the god receives, As prize or punishment, untimely death. 140 These tripods Appius seeks, unmoved for years These soundless caverned rocks, in quest to learn Hesperia's destinies. At his command To loose the sacred gateways and permit The prophetess to enter to the god, The keeper calls Phemonoe; (13) whose steps Round the Castalian fount and in the grove Were wandering careless; her he bids to pass The portals. But the priestess feared to tread The awful threshold, and with vain deceits 150 Sought to dissuade the chieftain from his zeal To learn the future. "What this hope," she cried, "Roman, that moves thy breast to know the fates? Long has Parnassus and its silent cleft Stifled the god; perhaps the breath divine Has left its ancient gorge and thro' the world Wanders in devious paths; or else the fane, Consumed to ashes by barbarian (14) fire, Closed up the deep recess and choked the path Of Phoebus; or the ancient Sibyl's books 160 Disclosed enough of fate, and thus the gods Decreed to close the oracle; or else Since wicked steps are banished from the fane, In this our impious age the god finds none Whom he may answer." But the maiden's guile Was known, for though she would deny the gods Her fears approved them. On her front she binds A twisted fillet, while a shining wreath Of Phocian laurels crowns the locks that flow Upon her shoulders. Hesitating yet 170 The priest compelled her, and she passed within. But horror filled her of the holiest depths From which the mystic oracle proceeds; And resting near the doors, in breast unmoved She dares invent the god in words confused, Which proved no mind possessed with fire divine; By such false chant less injuring the chief Than faith in Phoebus and the sacred fane. No burst of words with tremor in their tones, No voice re-echoing through the spacious vault 180 Proclaimed the deity, no bristling locks Shook off the laurel chaplet; but the grove Unshaken, and the summits of the shrine, Gave proof she shunned the god. The Roman knew The tripods yet were idle, and in rage, "Wretch," he exclaimed, "to us and to the gods, Whose presence thou pretendest, thou shalt pay For this thy fraud the punishment; unless Thou enter the recess, and speak no more, Of this world-war, this tumult of mankind, 190 Thine own inventions." Then by fear compelled, At length the priestess sought the furthest depths, And stayed beside the tripods; and there came Into her unaccustomed breast the god, Breathed from the living rock for centuries Untouched; nor ever with a mightier power Did Paean's inspiration seize the frame Of Delphic priestess; his pervading touch Drove out her former mind, expelled the man, And made her wholly his. In maddened trance 200 She whirls throughout the cave, her locks erect With horror, and the fillets of the god Dashed to the ground; her steps unguided turn To this side and to that; the tripods fall O'erturned; within her seethes the mighty fire Of angry Phoebus; nor with whip alone He urged her onwards, but with curb restrained; Nor was it given her by the god to speak All that she knew; for into one vast mass (15) All time was gathered, and her panting chest 210 Groaned 'neath the centuries. In order long All things lay bare: the future yet unveiled Struggled for light; each fate required a voice; The compass of the seas, Creation's birth, Creation's death, the number of the sands, All these she knew. Thus on a former day The prophetess upon the Cuman shore, (16) Disdaining that her frenzy should be slave To other nations, from the boundless threads Chose out with pride of hand the fates of Rome. 220 E'en so Phemonoe, for a time oppressed With fates unnumbered, laboured ere she found, Beneath such mighty destinies concealed, Thine, Appius, who alone had'st sought the god In land Castalian; then from foaming lips First rushed the madness forth, and murmurs loud Uttered with panting breath and blent with groans; Till through the spacious vault a voice at length Broke from the virgin conquered by the god: "From this great struggle thou, O Roman, free 230 Escap'st the threats of war: alive, in peace, Thou shalt possess the hollow in the coast Of vast Euboea." Thus she spake, no more. Ye mystic tripods, guardians of the fates And Paean, thou, from whom no day is hid By heaven's high rulers, Master of the truth, Why fear'st thou to reveal the deaths of kings, Rome's murdered princes, and the latest doom Of her great Empire tottering to its fall, And all the bloodshed of that western land? 240 Were yet the stars in doubt on Magnus' fate Not yet decreed, and did the gods yet shrink From that, the greatest crime? Or wert thou dumb That Fortune's sword for civil strife might wreak Just vengeance, and a Brutus' arm once more Strike down the tyrant? From the temple doors Rushed forth the prophetess in frenzy driven, Not all her knowledge uttered; and her eyes, Still troubled by the god who reigned within, Or filled with wild affright, or fired with rage 250 Gaze on the wide expanse: still works her face Convulsive; on her cheeks a crimson blush With ghastly pallor blent, though not of fear. Her weary heart throbs ever; and as seas Boom swollen by northern winds, she finds in sighs, All inarticulate, relief. But while She hastes from that dread light in which she saw The fates, to common day, lo! on her path The darkness fell. Then by a Stygian draught Of the forgetful river, Phoebus snatched 260 Back from her soul his secrets; and she fell Yet hardly living. Nor did Appius dread Approaching death, but by dark oracles Baffled, while yet the Empire of the world Hung in the balance, sought his promised realm In Chalcis of Euboea. Yet to escape All ills of earth, the crash of war -- what god Can give thee such a boon, but death alone? Far on the solitary shore a grave Awaits thee, where Carystos' marble crags (17) 270 Draw in the passage of the sea, and where The fane of Rhamnus rises to the gods Who hate the proud, and where the ocean strait Boils in swift whirlpools, and Euripus draws Deceitful in his tides, a bane to ships, Chalcidian vessels to bleak Aulis' shore. But Caesar carried from the conquered west His eagles to another world of war; When envying his victorious course the gods Almost turned back the prosperous tide of fate. 280 Not on the battle-field borne down by arms But in his tents, within the rampart lines, The hoped-for prize of this unholy war Seemed for a moment gone. That faithful host, His comrades trusted in a hundred fields, Or that the falchion sheathed had lost its charm; Or weary of the mournful bugle call Scarce ever silent; or replete with blood, Well nigh betrayed their general and sold For hope of gain their honour and their cause. 290 No other perilous shock gave surer proof How trembled 'neath his feet the dizzy height From which great Caesar looked. A moment since His high behest drew nations to the field: Now, maimed of all, he sees that swords once drawn Are weapons for the soldier, not the chief. From the stern ranks no doubtful murmur rose; Not silent anger as when one conspires, His comrades doubting, feared himself in turn; Alone (he thinks) indignant at the wrongs 300 Wrought by the despot. In so great a host Dread found no place. Where thousands share the guilt Crime goes unpunished. Thus from dauntless throats They hurled their menace: "Caesar, give us leave To quit thy crimes; thou seek'st by land and sea The sword to slay us; let the fields of Gaul And far Iberia, and the world proclaim How for thy victories our comrades fell. What boots it us that by an army's blood The Rhine and Rhone and all the northern lands 310 Thou hast subdued? Thou giv'st us civil war For all these battles; such the prize. When fled The Senate trembling, and when Rome was ours What homes or temples did we spoil? Our hands Reek with offence! Aye, but our poverty Proclaims our innocence! What end shall be Of arms and armies? What shall be enough If Rome suffice not? and what lies beyond? Behold these silvered locks, these nerveless hands And shrunken arms, once stalwart! In thy wars 320 Gone is the strength of life, gone all its pride! Dismiss thine aged soldiers to their deaths. How shameless is our prayer! Not on hard turf To stretch our dying limbs; nor seek in vain, When parts the soul, a hand to close our eyes; Not with the helmet strike the stony clod: (19) Rather to feel the dear one's last embrace, And gain a humble but a separate tomb. Let nature end old age. And dost thou think We only know not what degree of crime 330 Will fetch the highest price? What thou canst dare These years have proved, or nothing; law divine Nor human ordinance shall hold thine hand. Thou wert our leader on the banks of Rhine; Henceforth our equal; for the stain of crime Makes all men like to like. Add that we serve A thankless chief: as fortune's gift he takes The fruits of victory our arms have won. We are his fortunes, and his fates are ours To fashion as we will. Boast that the gods 340 Shall do thy bidding! Nay, thy soldiers' will Shall close the war." With threatening mien and speech Thus through the camp the troops demand their chief. When faith and loyalty are fled, and hope For aught but evil, thus may civil war In mutiny and discord find its end! What general had not feared at such revolt? But mighty Caesar trusting on the throw, As was his wont, his fortune, and o'erjoyed To front their anger raging at its height 350 Unflinching comes. No temples of the gods, Not Jove's high fane on the Tarpeian rock, Not Rome's high dames nor maidens had he grudged To their most savage lust: that they should ask The worst, his wish, and love the spoils of war. Nor feared he aught save order at the hands Of that unconquered host. Art thou not shamed That strife should please thee only, now condemned Even by thy minions? Shall they shrink from blood, They from the sword recoil? and thou rush on 360 Heedless of guilt, through right and through unright, Nor learn that men may lay their arms aside Yet bear to live? This civil butchery Escapes thy grasp. Stay thou thy crimes at length; Nor force thy will on those who will no more. Upon a turfy mound unmoved he stood And, since he feared not, worthy to be feared; And thus while anger stirred his soul began: "Thou that with voice and hand didst rage but now Against thine absent chief, behold me here; 370 Here strike thy sword into this naked breast, To stay the war; and flee, if such thy wish. This mutiny devoid of daring deed Betrays your coward souls, betrays the youth Who tires of victories which gild the arms Of an unconquered chief, and yearns for flight. Well, leave me then to battle and to fate! I cast you forth; for every weapon left, Fortune shall find a man, to wield it well. Shall Magnus in his flight with such a fleet 380 Draw nations in his train; and not to me as My victories bring hosts, to whom shall fall The prize of war accomplished, who shall reap Your laurels scorned, and scathless join the train That leads my chariot to the sacred hill? While you, despised in age and worn in war, Gaze on our triumph from the civic crowd. Think you your dastard flight shall give me pause? If all the rivers that now seek the sea Were to withdraw their waters, it would fail 390 By not one inch, no more than by their flow It rises now. Have then your efforts given Strength to my cause? Not so: the heavenly gods Stoop not so low; fate has no time to judge Your lives and deaths. The fortunes of the world Follow heroic souls: for the fit few The many live; and you who terrified With me the northern and Iberian worlds, Would flee when led by Magnus. Strong in arms For Caesar's cause was Labienus; (20) now 400 That vile deserter, with his chief preferred, Wanders o'er land and sea. Nor were your faith One whit more firm to me if, neither side Espoused, you ceased from arms. Who leaves me once, Though not to fight against me with the foe, Joins not my ranks again. Surely the gods Smile on these arms who for so great a war Grant me fresh soldiers. From what heavy load Fortune relieves me! for the hands which aimed At all, to which the world did not suffice, 410 I now disarm, and for myself alone Reserve the conflict. Quit ye, then, my camp, `Quirites', (21) Caesar's soldiers now no more, And leave my standards to the grasp of men! Yet some who led this mad revolt I hold, Not as their captain now, but as their judge. Lie, traitors, prone on earth, stretch out the neck And take th' avenging blow. And thou whose strength Shall now support me, young and yet untaught, Behold the doom and learn to strike and die." 420 Such were his words of ire, and all the host Drew back and trembled at the voice of him They would depose, as though their very swords Would from their scabbards leap at his command Themselves unwilling; but he only feared Lest hand and blade to satisfy the doom Might be denied, till they submitting pledged Their lives and swords alike, beyond his hope. To strike and suffer (22) holds in surest thrall The heart inured to guilt; and Caesar kept, 430 By dreadful compact ratified in blood, Those whom he feared to lose. He bids them march Upon Brundusium, and recalls the ships From soft Calabria's inlets and the point Of Leucas, and the Salapinian marsh, Where sheltered Sipus nestles at the feet Of rich Garganus, jutting from the shore In huge escarpment that divides the waves Of Hadria; on each hand, his seaward slopes Buffeted by the winds; or Auster borne 440 From sweet Apulia, or the sterner blast Of Boreas rushing from Dalmatian strands. But Caesar entered trembling Rome unarmed, Now taught to serve him in the garb of peace. Dictator named, to grant their prayers, forsooth: Consul, in honour of the roll of Rome. Then first of all the names by which we now Lie to our masters, men found out the use: For to preserve his right to wield the sword He mixed the civil axes with his brands; 450 With eagles, fasces; with an empty word Clothing his power; and stamped upon the time A worthy designation; for what name Could better mark the dread Pharsalian year Than "Caesar, Consul"? (23) Now the famous field Pretends its ancient ceremonies: calls The tribes in order and divides the votes In vain solemnity of empty urns. Nor do they heed the portents of the sky: Deaf were the augurs to the thunder roll; 460 The owl flew on the left; yet were the birds Propitious sworn. Then was the ancient name Degraded first; and monthly Consuls, (24) Shorn of their rank, are chosen to mark the years. And Trojan Alba's (25) god (since Latium's fall Deserving not) beheld the wonted fires Blaze from his altars on the festal night. Then through Apulia's fallows, that her hinds Left all untilled, to sluggish weeds a prey Passed Caesar onward, swifter than the fire 470 Of heaven, or tigress dam: until he reached Brundusium's winding ramparts, built of old By Cretan colonists. There icy winds Constrained the billows, and his trembling fleet Feared for the winter storms nor dared the main. But Caesar's soul burned at the moments lost For speedy battle, nor could brook delay Within the port, indignant that the sea Should give safe passage to his routed foe: And thus he stirred his troops, in seas unskilled, 480 With words of courage: "When the winter wind Has seized on sky and ocean, firm its hold; But the inconstancy of cloudy spring Permits no certain breezes to prevail Upon the billows. Straight shall be our course. No winding nooks of coast, but open seas Struck by the northern wind alone we plough, And may he bend the spars, and bear us swift To Grecian cities; else Pompeius' oars, Smiting the billows from Phaeacian (26) coasts, 490 May catch our flagging sails. Cast loose the ropes From our victorious prows. Too long we waste Tempests that blow to bear us to our goal." Now sank the sun to rest; the evening star Shone on the darkening heaven, and the moon Reigned with her paler light, when all the fleet Freed from retaining cables seized the main. With slackened sheet the canvas wooed the breeze, Which rose and fell and fitful died away, Till motionless the sails, and all the waves 500 Were still as deepest pool, where never wind Ripples the surface. Thus in Scythian climes Cimmerian Bosphorus restrains the deep Bound fast in frosty fetters; Ister's streams (27) No more impel the main, and ships constrained Stand fast in ice; and while in depths below The waves still murmur, loud the charger's hoof Sounds on the surface, and the travelling wheel Furrows a track upon the frozen marsh. Cruel as tempest was the calm that lay 510 In stagnant pools upon the mournful deep: Against the course of nature lay outstretched A rigid ocean: 'twas as if the sea Forgat its ancient ways and knew no more The ceaseless tides, nor any breeze of heaven, Nor quivered at the image of the sun, Mirrored upon its wave. For while the fleet Hung in mid passage motionless, the foe Might hurry to attack, with sturdy stroke Churning the deep; or famine's deadly grip 520 Might seize the ships becalmed. For dangers new New vows they find. "May mighty winds arise And rouse the ocean, and this sluggish plain Cast off stagnation and be sea once more." Thus did they pray, but cloudless shone the sky, Unrippled slept the surface of the main; Until in misty clouds the moon arose And stirred the depths, and moved the fleet along Towards the Ceraunian headland; and the waves And favouring breezes followed on the ships, 530 Now speeding faster, till (their goal attained) They cast their anchors on Palaeste's (28) shore. This land first saw the chiefs in neighbouring camps Confronted, which the streams of Apsus bound And swifter Genusus; a lengthy course Is run by neither, but on Apsus' waves Scarce flowing from a marsh, the frequent boat Finds room to swim; while on the foamy bed Of Genusus by sun or shower compelled The melted snows pour seawards. Here were met 540 (So Fortune ordered it) the mighty pair; And in its woes the world yet vainly hoped That brought to nearer touch their crime itself Might bleed abhorrence: for from either camp Voices were clearly heard and features seen. Nor e'er, Pompeius, since that distant day When Caesar's daughter and thy spouse was reft By pitiless fate away, nor left a pledge, Did thy loved kinsman (save on sands of Nile) So nearly look upon thy face again. 550 But Caesar's mind though frenzied for the fight Was forced to pause until Antonius brought The rearward troops; Antonius even now Rehearsing Leucas' fight. With prayers and threats Caesar exhorts him. "Why delay the fates, Thou cause of evil to the suffering world? My speed hath won the major part: from thee Fortune demands the final stroke alone. Do Libyan whirlpools with deceitful tides Uncertain separate us? Is the deep 560 Untried to which I call? To unknown risks Art thou commanded? Caesar bids thee come, Thou sluggard, not to leave him. Long ago I ran my ships midway through sands and shoals To harbours held by foes; and dost thou fear My friendly camp? I mourn the waste of days Which fate allotted us. Upon the waves And winds I call unceasing: hold not back Thy willing troops, but let them dare the sea; Here gladly shall they come to join my camp, 570 Though risking shipwreck. Not in equal shares The world has fallen between us: thou alone Dost hold Italia, but Epirus I And all the lords of Rome." Twice called and thrice Antonius lingered still: but Caesar thought To reap in full the favour of the gods, Not sit supine; and knowing danger yields To whom heaven favours, he upon the waves Feared by Antonius' fleets, in shallow boat Embarked, and daring sought the further shore. 580 Now gentle night had brought repose from arms; And sleep, blest guardian of the poor man's couch, Restored the weary; and the camp was still. The hour was come that called the second watch When mighty Caesar, in the silence vast With cautious tread advanced to such a deed (29) As slaves should dare not. Fortune for his guide, Alone he passes on, and o'er the guard Stretched in repose he leaps, in secret wrath At such a sleep. Pacing the winding beach, 590 Fast to a sea-worn rock he finds a boat On ocean's marge afloat. Hard by on shore Its master dwelt within his humble home. No solid front it reared, for sterile rush And marshy reed enwoven formed the walls, Propped by a shallop with its bending sides Turned upwards. Caesar's hand upon the door Knocks twice and thrice until the fabric shook. Amyclas from his couch of soft seaweed Arising, calls: "What shipwrecked sailor seeks 600 My humble home? Who hopes for aid from me, By fates adverse compelled?" He stirs the heap Upon the hearth, until a tiny spark Glows in the darkness, and throws wide the door. Careless of war, he knew that civil strife Stoops not to cottages. Oh! happy life That poverty affords! great gift of heaven Too little understood! what mansion wall, What temple of the gods, would feel no fear When Caesar called for entrance? Then the chief: 610 "Enlarge thine hopes and look for better things. Do but my bidding, and on yonder shore Place me, and thou shalt cease from one poor boat To earn thy living; and in years to come Look for a rich old age: and trust thy fates To those high gods whose wont it is to bless The poor with sudden plenty." So he spake E'en at such time in accents of command, For how could Caesar else? Amyclas said, "'Twere dangerous to brave the deep to-night. 620 The sun descended not in ruddy clouds Or peaceful rays to rest; part of his beams Presaged a southern gale, the rest proclaimed A northern tempest; and his middle orb, Shorn of its strength, permitted human eyes To gaze upon his grandeur; and the moon Rose not with silver horns upon the night Nor pure in middle space; her slender points Not drawn aright, but blushing with the track Of raging tempests, till her lurid light 630 Was sadly veiled within the clouds. Again The forest sounds; the surf upon the shore; The dolphin's mood, uncertain where to play; The sea-mew on the land; the heron used To wade among the shallows, borne aloft And soaring on his wings -- all these alarm; The raven, too, who plunged his head in spray, As if to anticipate the coming rain, And trod the margin with unsteady gait. But if the cause demands, behold me thine. 640 Either we reach the bidden shore, or else Storm and the deep forbid -- we can no more." Thus said he loosed the boat and raised the sail. No sooner done than stars were seen to fall In flaming furrows from the sky: nay, more; The pole star trembled in its place on high: Black horror marked the surging of the sea; The main was boiling in long tracts of foam, Uncertain of the wind, yet seized with storm. Then spake the captain of the trembling bark: 650 "See what remorseless ocean has in store! Whether from east or west the storm may come Is still uncertain, for as yet confused The billows tumble. Judged by clouds and sky A western tempest: by the murmuring deep A wild south-eastern gale shall sweep the sea. Nor bark nor man shall reach Hesperia's shore In this wild rage of waters. To return Back on our course forbidden by the gods, Is our one refuge, and with labouring boat 660 To reach the shore ere yet the nearest land Way be too distant." But great Caesar's trust Was in himself, to make all dangers yield. And thus he answered: "Scorn the threatening sea, Spread out thy canvas to the raging wind; If for thy pilot thou refusest heaven, Me in its stead receive. Alone in thee One cause of terror just -- thou dost not know Thy comrade, ne'er deserted by the gods, Whom fortune blesses e'en without a prayer. 670 Break through the middle storm and trust in me. The burden of this fight fails not on us But on the sky and ocean; and our bark Shall swim the billows safe in him it bears. Nor shall the wind rage long: the boat itself Shall calm the waters. Flee the nearest shore, Steer for the ocean with unswerving hand: Then in the deep, when to our ship and us No other port is given, believe thou hast Calabria's harbours. And dost thou not know 680 The purpose of such havoc? Fortune seeks In all this tumult of the sea and sky A boon for Caesar." Then a hurricane Swooped on the boat and tore away the sheet: The fluttering sail fell on the fragile mast: And groaned the joints. From all the universe Commingled perils rush. In Atlas' seas First Corus (30) lifts his head, and stirs the depths To fury, and had forced upon the rocks Whole seas and oceans; but the chilly north 690 Drove back the deep that doubted which was lord. But Scythian Aquilo prevailed, whose blast Tossed up the main and showed as shallow pools Each deep abyss; and yet was not the sea Heaped on the crags, for Corus' billows met The waves of Boreas: such seas had clashed Even were the winds withdrawn; Eurus enraged Burst from the cave, and Notus black with rain, And all the winds from every part of heaven Strove for their own; and thus the ocean stayed 700 Within his boundaries. No petty seas Rapt in the storm are whirled. The Tuscan deep Invades th' Aegean; in Ionian gulfs Sounds wandering Hadria. How long the crags Which that day fell, the Ocean's blows had braved! What lofty peaks did vanquished earth resign! And yet on yonder coast such mighty waves Took not their rise; from distant regions came Those monster billows, driven on their course By that great current which surrounds the world. (31) 710 Thus did the King of Heaven, when length of years Wore out the forces of his thunder, call His brother's trident to his help, what time The earth and sea one second kingdom formed And ocean knew no limit but the sky. Now, too, the sea had risen to the stars In mighty mass, had not Olympus' chief Pressed down its waves with clouds: came not from heaven That night, as others; but the murky air Was dim with pallor of the realms below; (32) 720 The sky lay on the deep; within the clouds The waves received the rain: the lightning flash Clove through the parted air a path obscured By mist and darkness: and the heavenly vaults Re-echoed to the tumult, and the frame That holds the sky was shaken. Nature feared Chaos returned, as though the elements Had burst their bonds, and night had come to mix Th' infernal shades with heaven. In such turmoil Not to have perished was their only hope. 730 Far as from Leucas point the placid main Spreads to the horizon, from the billow's crest They viewed the dashing of th' infuriate sea; Thence sinking to the middle trough, their mast Scarce topped the watery height on either hand, Their sails in clouds, their keel upon the ground. For all the sea was piled into the waves, And drawn from depths between laid bare the sand. The master of the boat forgot his art, For fear o'ercame; he knew not where to yield 740 Or where to meet the wave: but safety came From ocean's self at war: one billow forced The vessel under, but a huger wave Repelled it upwards, and she rode the storm Through every blast triumphant. Not the shore Of humble Sason (33), nor Thessalia's coast Indented, not Ambracia's scanty ports Dismay the sailors, but the giddy tops Of high Ceraunia's cliffs. But Caesar now, Thinking the peril worthy of his fates: 750 "Are such the labours of the gods?" exclaimed, "Bent on my downfall have they sought me thus, Here in this puny skiff in such a sea? If to the deep the glory of my fall Is due, and not to war, intrepid still Whatever death they send shall strike me down. Let fate cut short the deeds that I would do And hasten on the end: the past is mine. The northern nations fell beneath my sword; My dreaded name compels the foe to flee. 760 Pompeius yields me place; the people's voice Gave at my order what the wars denied. And all the titles which denote the powers Known to the Roman state my name shall bear. Let none know this but thou who hear'st my prayers, Fortune, that Caesar summoned to the shades, Dictator, Consul, full of honours, died Ere his last prize was won. I ask no pomp Of pyre or funeral; let my body lie Mangled beneath the waves: I leave a name 770 That men shall dread in ages yet to come And all the earth shall honour." Thus he spake, When lo! a tenth gigantic billow raised The feeble keel, and where between the rocks A cleft gave safety, placed it on the shore. Thus in a moment fortune, kingdoms, lands, Once more were Caesar's. But on his return When daylight came, he entered not the camp Silent as when he parted; for his friends Soon pressed around him, and with weeping eyes 780 In accents welcome to his ears began: "Whither in reckless daring hast thou gone, Unpitying Caesar? Were these humble lives Left here unguarded while thy limbs were given, Unsought for, to be scattered by the storm? When on thy breath so many nations hang For life and safety, and so great a world Calls thee its master, to have courted death Proves want of heart. Was none of all thy friends Deserving held to join his fate with thine? 790 When thou wast tossed upon the raging deep We lay in slumber! Shame upon such sleep! And why thyself didst seek Italia's shores? 'Twere cruel (such thy thought) to speak the word That bade another dare the furious sea. All men must bear what chance or fate may bring, The sudden peril and the stroke of death; But shall the ruler of the world attempt The raging ocean? With incessant prayers Why weary heaven? is it indeed enough 800 To crown the war, that Fortune and the deep Have cast thee on our shores? And would'st thou use The grace of favouring deities, to gain Not lordship, not the empire of the world, But lucky shipwreck!" Night dispersed, and soon The sun beamed on them, and the wearied deep, The winds permitting, lulled its waves to rest. And when Antonius saw a breeze arise Fresh from a cloudless heaven, to break the sea, He loosed his ships which, by the pilots' hands 810 And by the wind in equal order held, Swept as a marching host across the main. But night unfriendly from the seamen snatched All governance of sail, parting the ships In divers paths asunder. Like as cranes Deserting frozen Strymon for the streams Of Nile, when winter falls, in casual lines Of wedge-like figures (34) first ascend the sky; But when in loftier heaven the southern breeze Strikes on their pinions tense, in loose array 820 Dispersed at large, in flight irregular, They wing their journey onwards. Stronger winds With day returning blew the navy on, Past Lissus' shelter which they vainly sought, Till bare to northern blasts, Nymphaeum's port, But safe in southern, gave the fleet repose, For favouring winds came on. When Magnus knew That Caesar's troops were gathered in their strength And that the war for quick decision called Before his camp, Cornelia he resolved 830 To send to Lesbos' shore, from rage of fight Safe and apart: so lifting from his soul The weight that burdened it. Thus, lawful Love. Thus art thou tyrant o'er the mightiest mind! His spouse was the one cause why Magnus stayed Nor met his fortunes, though he staked the world And all the destinies of Rome. The word He speaks not though resolved; so sweet it seemed, When on the future pondering, to gain A pause from Fate! But at the close of night, 840 When drowsy sleep had fled, Cornelia sought To soothe the anxious bosom of her lord And win his kisses. Then amazed she saw His cheek was tearful, and with boding soul She shrank instinctive from the hidden wound, Nor dared to rouse him weeping. But he spake: "Dearer to me than life itself, when life Is happy (not at moments such as these); The day of sorrow comes, too long delayed, Nor long enough! With Caesar at our gates 850 With all his forces, a secure retreat Shall Lesbos give thee. Try me not with prayers. This fatal boon I have denied myself. Thou wilt not long be absent from thy lord. Disasters hasten, and things highest fall With speediest ruin. 'Tis enough for thee To hear of Magnus' peril; and thy love (35) Deceives thee with the thought that thou canst gaze Unmoved on civil strife. It shames my soul On the eve of war to slumber at thy side, 860 And rise from thy dear breast when trumpets call A woeful world to misery and arms. I fear in civil war to feel no loss To Magnus. Meantime safer than a king Lie hid, nor let the fortune of thy lord Whelm thee with all its weight. If unkind heaven Our armies rout, still let my choicest part Survive in thee; if fated is my flight, Still leave me that whereto I fain would flee." Hardly at first her senses grasped the words 870 In their full misery; then her mind amazed Could scarce find utterance for the grief that pressed. "Nought, Magnus, now is left wherewith to upbraid The gods and fates of marriage; 'tis not death That parts our love, nor yet the funeral pyre, Nor that dread torch which marks the end of all. I share the ignoble lot of vulgar lives: My spouse rejects me. Yes, the foe is come! Break we our bonds and Julia's sire appease! -- Is this thy consort, Magnus, this thy faith 880 In her fond loving heart? Can danger fright Her and not thee? Long since our mutual fates Hang by one chain; and dost thou bid me now The thunder-bolts of ruin to withstand Without thee? Is it well that I should die Even while you pray for fortune? And suppose I flee from evil and with death self-sought Follow thy footsteps to the realms below -- Am I to live till to that distant isle Some tardy rumour of thy fall may come? 890 Add that thou fain by use would'st give me strength To bear such sorrow and my doom. Forgive Thy wife confessing that she fears the power. And if my prayers shall bring the victory, The joyful tale shall come to me the last In that lone isle of rocks. When all are glad, My heart shall throb with anguish, and the sail Which brings the message I shall see with fear, Not safe e'en then: for Caesar in his flight Might seize me there, abandoned and alone 900 To be his hostage. If thou place me there, The spouse of Magnus, shall not all the world Well know the secret Mitylene holds? This my last prayer: if all is lost but flight, And thou shalt seek the ocean, to my shores Turn not thy keel, ill-fated one: for there, There will they seek thee." Thus she spoke distraught, Leaped from the couch and rushed upon her fate; No stop nor stay: she clung not to his neck Nor threw her arms about him; both forego 910 The last caress, the last fond pledge of love, And grief rushed in unchecked upon their souls; Still gazing as they part no final words Could either utter, and the sweet Farewell Remained unspoken. This the saddest day Of all their lives: for other woes that came More gently struck on hearts inured to grief. Borne to the shore with failing limbs she fell And grasped the sands, embracing, till at last Her maidens placed her senseless in the ship. 920 Not in such grief she left her country's shores When Caesar's host drew near; for now she leaves, Though faithful to her lord, his side in flight And flees her spouse. All that next night she waked; Then first what means a widowed couch she knew, Its cold, its solitude. When slumber found Her eyelids, and forgetfulness her soul, Seeking with outstretched arms the form beloved, She grasps but air. Though tossed by restless love, She leaves a place beside her as for him 930 Returning. Yet she feared Pompeius lost To her for ever. But the gods ordained Worse than her fears, and in the hour of woe Gave her to look upon his face again. ENDNOTES: (1) The Pleiades, said to be daughters of Atlas. (2) These were the Consuls for the expiring year, B.C. 49 -- Caius Marcellus and L. Lentulus Crus. (3) That is to say, Caesar's Senate at Rome could boast of those Senators only whom it had, before Pompeius' flight, declared public enemies. But they were to be regarded as exiles, having lost their rights, rather than the Senators in Epirus, who were in full possession of theirs. (4) Dean Merivale says that probably Caesar's Senate was not less numerous than his rival's. Duruy says there were senators in Pompeius' camp, out of a total of between 500 and 600. Mommsen says, "they were veritably emigrants. This Roman Coblentz presented a pitiful spectacle of the high pretensions and paltry performances of the grandees of Rome." (Vol. iv., p. 397.) Almost all the Consulars were with Pompeius. (5) By the will of Ptolemy Auletes, Cleopatra had been appointed joint sovereign of Egypt with her young brother. Lucan means that Caesar would have killed Pompeius if young Ptolemy had not done so. She lost her hare of the kingdom, and Caesar was clear of the crime. (6) Appius was Proconsul, and in command of Achaia, for the Senate. (7) See Book IV., 82. (8) Themis, the goddess of law, was in possession of the Delphic oracle, previous to Apollo. (Aesch., "Eumenides", line 2.) (9) The modern isle of Ischia, off the Bay of Naples. (10) The Tyrians consulted the oracle in consequence of the earthquakes which vexed their country (Book III., line 225), and were told to found colonies. (11) See Herodotus, Book VII., 140-143. The reference is to the answer given by the oracle to the Athenians that their wooden walls would keep them safe; which Themistocles interpreted as meaning their fleet. (12) Cicero, on the contrary, suggests that the reason why the oracles ceased was this, that men became less credulous. ("De Div.", ii., 57) Lecky, "History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne", vol. i., p. 368. (13) This name is one of those given to the Cumaean Sibyl mentioned at line 210. She was said to have been the daughter of Apollo. (14) Probably by the Gauls under Brennus, B.C. 279. (15) These lines form the Latin motto prefixed to Shelley's poem, "The Demon of the World". (16) Referring to the visit of Aeneas to the Sibyl. (Virgil, "Aeneid", vi., 70, &c.) (17) Appius was seized with fever as soon as he reached the spot; and there he died and was buried, thus fulfilling the oracle. (18) That is, Nemesis. (19) Reading "galeam", with Francken; not "glebam". (20) Labienus left Caesar's ranks after the Rubicon was crossed, and joined his rival. In his mouth Lucan puts the speech made at the oracle of Hammon in Book IX. He was slain at Munda, B.C. 45. (21) That is, civilians; no longer soldiers. This one contemptuous expression is said to have shocked and abashed the army. (Tacitus, "Annals", I., 42.) (22) Reading "tenet", with Hosius and Francken; not "timet", as Haskins. The prospect of inflicting punishment attracted, while the suffering of it subdued, the mutineers. (23) Caesar was named Dictator while at Massilia. Entering Rome, he held the office for eleven days only, but was elected Consul for the incoming year, B.C. 48, along with Servilius Isauricus. (Caesar, "De Bello Civili", iii., 1; Merivale, chapter xvi.) (24) In the time of the Empire, the degraded Consulship, preserved only as a name, was frequently transferred monthly, or even shorter, intervals from one favourite to another. (25) Caesar performed the solemn rites of the great Latin festival on the Alban Mount during his Dictatorship. (Compare Book VII., line 471.) (26) Dyrrhachium was founded by the Corcyreams, with whom the Homeric Phaeacians have been identified. (27) Apparently making the Danube discharge into the Sea of Azov. See Mr. Heitland's Introduction, p. 53. (28) At the foot of the Acroceraunian range. (29) Caesar himself says nothing of this adventure. But it is mentioned by Dion, Appian and Plutarch ("Caesar", 38). Dean Merivale thinks the story may have been invented to introduce the apophthegm used by Caesar to the sailor, "Fear nothing: you carry Caesar and his fortunes" (lines 662-665). Mommsen accepts the story, as of an attempt which was only abandoned because no mariner could be induced to undertake it. Lucan colours it with his wildest and most exaggerated hyperbole. (30) See Book I., 463. (31) The ocean current, which, according to Hecataeus, surrounded the world. But Herodotus of this theory says, "For my part I know of no river called Ocean, and I think that Homer or one of the earlier poets invented the name and introduced it into his poetry." (Book II., 23, and Book IV., 36.) In "Oceanus" Aeschylus seems to have intended to personify the great surrounding stream. ("Prom. Vinc.", lines 291, 308.) (32) Comp. VI., 615. (33) Sason is a small island just off the Ceraunian rocks, the point of which is now called Cape Linguetta, and is nearly opposite to Brindisi. (34) Compare "Paradise Lost", VII., 425. (35) Reading "Teque tuus decepit amor", as preferred by Hosius.