(aka "The Civil War")
The Flight Near Dyrrhachium.
Scaeva's Exploits. The Witch of Thessalia.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b
Now that the chiefs with minds intent on fight Had drawn their armies near upon the hills And all the gods beheld their chosen pair, Caesar, the Grecian towns despising, scorned To reap the glory of successful war Save at his kinsman's cost. In all his prayers He seeks that moment, fatal to the world, When shall be cast the die, to win or lose, And all his fortune hang upon the throw. 10 Thrice he drew out his troops, his eagles thrice, Demanding battle; thus to increase the woe Of Latium, prompt as ever: but his foes, Proof against every art, refused to leave The rampart of their camp. Then marching swift By hidden path between the wooded fields He seeks, and hopes to seize, Dyrrhachium's (1) fort; But Magnus, speeding by the ocean marge, First camped on Petra's slopes, a rocky hill Thus by the natives named. From thence he keeps 20 Watch o'er the fortress of Corinthian birth Which by its towers alone without a guard Was safe against a siege. No hand of man In ancient days built up her lofty wall, No hammer rang upon her massive stones: Not all the works of war, nor Time himself Shall undermine her. Nature's hand has raised Her adamantine rocks and hedged her in With bulwarks girded by the foamy main: And but for one short bridge of narrow earth 30 Dyrrhachium were an island. Steep and fierce, Dreaded of sailors, are the cliffs that bear Her walls; and tempests, howling from the west, Toss up the raging main upon the roofs; And homes and temples tremble at the shock. Thirsting for battle and with hopes inflamed Here Caesar hastes, with distant rampart lines Seeking unseen to coop his foe within, Though spread in spacious camp upon the hills. With eagle eye he measures out the land 40 Meet to be compassed, nor content with turf Fit for a hasty mound, he bids his troops Tear from the quarries many a giant rock: And spoils the dwellings of the Greeks, and drags Their walls asunder for his own. Thus rose A mighty barrier which no ram could burst Nor any ponderous machine of war. Mountains are cleft, and level through the hills The work of Caesar strides: wide yawns the moat, Forts show their towers rising on the heights, 50 And in vast circle forests are enclosed And groves and spacious lands, and beasts of prey, As in a line of toils. Pompeius lacked Nor field nor forage in th' encircled span Nor room to move his camp; nay, rivers rose Within, and ran their course and reached the sea; And Caesar wearied ere he saw the whole, And daylight failed him. Let the ancient tale Attribute to the labours of the gods The walls of Ilium: let the fragile bricks 60 Which compass in great Babylon, amaze The fleeting Parthian. Here a larger space Than those great cities which Orontes swift And Tigris' stream enclose, or that which boasts In Eastern climes, the lordly palaces Fit for Assyria's kings, is closed by walls Amid the haste and tumult of a war Forced to completion. Yet this labour huge Was spent in vain. So many hands had joined Or Sestos with Abydos, or had tamed 70 With mighty mole the Hellespontine wave, Or Corinth from the realm of Pelops' king Had rent asunder, or had spared each ship Her voyage round the long Malean cape, Or had done anything most hard, to change The world's created surface. Here the war Was prisoned: blood predestinate to flow In all the parts of earth; the host foredoomed To fall in Libya or in Thessaly Was here: in such small amphitheatre 80 The tide of civil passion rose and fell. At first Pompeius knew not: so the hind Who peaceful tills the mid-Sicilian fields Hears not Pelorous (2) sounding to the storm; So billows thunder on Rutupian shores (3), Unheard by distant Caledonia's tribes. But when he saw the mighty barrier stretch O'er hill and valley, and enclose the land, He bade his columns leave their rocky hold And seize on posts of vantage in the plain; 90 Thus forcing Caesar to extend his troops On wider lines; and holding for his own Such space encompassed as divides from Rome Aricia, (4) sacred to that goddess chaste Of old Mycenae; or as Tiber holds From Rome's high ramparts to the Tuscan sea, Unless he deviate. No bugle call Commands an onset, and the darts that fly Fly though forbidden; but the arm that flings For proof the lance, at random, here and there 100 Deals impious slaughter. Weighty care compelled Each leader to withhold his troops from fight; For there the weary earth of produce failed Pressed by Pompeius' steeds, whose horny hoofs Rang in their gallop on the grassy fields And killed the succulence. They strengthless lay Upon the mown expanse, nor pile of straw, Brought from full barns in place of living grass, Relieved their craving; shook their panting flanks, And as they wheeled Death struck his victim down. 110 Then foul contagion filled the murky air Whose poisonous weight pressed on them in a cloud Pestiferous; as in Nesis' isle (5) the breath Of Styx rolls upwards from the mist-clad rocks; Or that fell vapour which the caves exhale From Typhon (6) raging in the depths below. Then died the soldiers, for the streams they drank Held yet more poison than the air: the skin Was dark and rigid, and the fiery plague Made hard their vitals, and with pitiless tooth 120 Gnawed at their wasted features, while their eyes Started from out their sockets, and the head Drooped for sheer weariness. So the disease Grew swifter in its strides till scarce was room, 'Twixt life and death, for sickness, and the pest Slew as it struck its victim, and the dead Thrust from the tents (such all their burial) lay Blent with the living. Yet their camp was pitched Hard by the breezy sea by which might come All nations' harvests, and the northern wind 130 Not seldom rolled the murky air away. Their foe, not vexed with pestilential air Nor stagnant waters, ample range enjoyed Upon the spacious uplands: yet as though In leaguer, famine seized them for its prey. Scarce were the crops half grown when Caesar saw How prone they seized upon the food of beasts, And stripped of leaves the bushes and the groves, And dragged from roots unknown the doubtful herb. Thus ate they, starving, all that teeth may bite 140 Or fire might soften, or might pass their throats Dry, parched, abraded; food unknown before Nor placed on tables: while the leaguered foe Was blessed with plenty. When Pompeius first Was pleased to break his bonds and be at large, No sudden dash he makes on sleeping foe Unarmed in shade of night; his mighty soul Scorns such a path to victory. 'Twas his aim, To lay the turrets low; to mark his track, By ruin spread afar; and with the sword 150 To hew a path between his slaughtered foes. Minucius' (7) turret was the chosen spot Where groves of trees and thickets gave approach Safe, unbetrayed by dust. Up from the fields Flashed all at once his eagles into sight And all his trumpets blared. But ere the sword Could win the battle, on the hostile ranks Dread panic fell; prone as in death they lay Where else upright they should withstand the foe; Nor more availed their valour, and in vain 160 The cloud of weapons flew, with none to slay. Then blazing torches rolling pitchy flame Are hurled, and shaken nod the lofty towers And threaten ruin, and the bastions groan Struck by the frequent engine, and the troops Of Magnus by triumphant eagles led Stride o'er the rampart, in their front the world. Yet now that passage which not Caesar's self Nor thousand valiant squadrons had availed To rescue from their grasp, one man in arms 170 Steadfast till death refused them; Scaeva named This hero soldier: long he served in fight Waged 'gainst the savage on the banks of Rhone; And now centurion made, through deeds of blood, He bore the staff before the marshalled line. Prone to all wickedness, he little recked How valourous deeds in civil war may be Greatest of crimes; and when he saw how turned His comrades from the war and sought in flight A refuge, (8) "Whence," he cried, "this impious fear 180 Unknown to Caesar's armies? Do ye turn Your backs on death, and are ye not ashamed Not to be found where slaughtered heroes lie? Is loyalty too weak? Yet love of fight Might bid you stand. We are the chosen few Through whom the foe would break. Unbought by blood This day shall not be theirs. 'Neath Caesar's eye, True, death would be more happy; but this boon Fortune denies: at least my fall shall be Praised by Pompeius. Break ye with your breasts 190 Their weapons; blunt the edges of their swords With throats unyielding. In the distant lines The dust is seen already, and the sound Of tumult and of ruin finds the ear Of Caesar: strike; the victory is ours: For he shall come who while his soldiers die Shall make the fortress his." His voice called forth The courage that the trumpets failed to rouse When first they rang: his comrades mustering come To watch his deeds; and, wondering at the man, 200 To test if valour thus by foes oppressed, In narrow space, could hope for aught but death. But Scaeva standing on the tottering bank Heaves from the brimming turret on the foe The corpses of the fallen; the ruined mass Furnishing weapons to his hands; with beams, And ponderous stones, nay, with his body threats His enemies; with poles and stakes he thrusts The breasts advancing; when they grasp the wall He lops the arm: rocks crush the foeman's skull 210 And rive the scalp asunder: fiery bolts Dashed at another set his hair aflame, Till rolls the greedy blaze about his eyes With hideous crackle. As the pile of slain Rose to the summit of the wall he sprang, Swift as across the nets a hunted pard, Above the swords upraised, till in mid throng Of foes he stood, hemmed in by densest ranks And ramparted by war; in front and rear, Where'er he struck, the victor. Now his sword 220 Blunted with gore congealed no more could wound, But brake the stricken limb; while every hand Flung every quivering dart at him alone; Nor missed their aim, for rang against his shield Dart after dart unerring, and his helm In broken fragments pressed upon his brow; His vital parts were safeguarded by spears That bristled in his body. Fortune saw Thus waged a novel combat, for there warred Against one man an army. Why with darts, 230 Madmen, assail him and with slender shafts, 'Gainst which his life is proof? Or ponderous stones This warrior chief shall overwhelm, or bolts Flung by the twisted thongs of mighty slings. Let steelshod ram or catapult remove This champion of the gate. No fragile wall Stands here for Caesar, blocking with its bulk Pompeius' way to freedom. Now he trusts His shield no more, lest his sinister hand, Idle, give life by shame; and on his breast 240 Bearing a forest of spears, though spent with toil And worn with onset, falls upon his foe And braves alone the wounds of all the war. Thus may an elephant in Afric wastes, Oppressed by frequent darts, break those that fall Rebounding from his horny hide, and shake Those that find lodgment, while his life within Lies safe, protected, nor doth spear avail To reach the fount of blood. Unnumbered wounds By arrow dealt, or lance, thus fail to slay 250 This single warrior. But lo! from far A Cretan archer's shaft, more sure of aim Than vows could hope for, strikes on Scaeva's brow To light within his eye: the hero tugs Intrepid, bursts the nerves, and tears the shaft Forth with the eyeball, and with dauntless heel Treads them to dust. Not otherwise a bear Pannonian, fiercer for the wound received, Maddened by dart from Libyan thong propelled, Turns circling on her wound, and still pursues 260 The weapon fleeing as she whirls around. Thus, in his rage destroyed, his shapeless face Stood foul with crimson flow. The victors' shout Glad to the sky arose; no greater joy A little blood could give them had they seen That Caesar's self was wounded. Down he pressed Deep in his soul the anguish, and, with mien, No longer bent on fight, submissive cried, "Spare me, ye citizens; remove the war Far hence: no weapons now can haste my death; 270 Draw from my breast the darts, but add no more. Yet raise me up to place me in the camp Of Magnus, living: this your gift to him; No brave man's death my title to renown, But Caesar's flag deserted." So he spake. Unhappy Aulus thought his words were true, Nor saw within his hand the pointed sword; And leaping forth in haste to make his own The prisoner and his arms, in middle throat Received the lightning blade. By this one death 280 Rose Scaeva's valour again; and thus he cried, Such be the punishment of all who thought Great Scaeva vanquished; if Pompeius seeks Peace from this reeking sword, low let him lay At Caesar's feet his standards. Me do ye think Such as yourselves, and slow to meet the fates? Your love for Magnus and the Senate's cause Is less than mine for death." These were his words; And dust in columns proved that Caesar came. Thus was Pompeius' glory spared the stain 290 Of flight compelled by Scaeva. He, when ceased The battle, fell, no more by rage of fight, Or sight of blood out-pouring from his wounds, Roused to the combat. Fainting there he lay Upon the shoulders of his comrades borne, Who him adoring (as though deity Dwelt in his bosom) for his matchless deeds, Plucked forth the gory shafts and took his arms To deck the gods and shield the breast of Mars. Thrice happy thou with such a name achieved, 300 Had but the fierce Iberian from thy sword, Or heavy shielded Teuton, or had fled The light Cantabrian: with no spoils shalt thou Adorn the Thunderer's temple, nor upraise The shout of triumph in the ways of Rome. For all thy prowess, all thy deeds of pride Do but prepare her lord. Nor on this hand Repulsed, Pompeius idly ceased from war, Content within his bars; but as the sea Tireless, which tempests force upon the crag 310 That breaks it, or which gnaws a mountain side Some day to fall in ruin on itself; He sought the turrets nearest to the main, On double onset bent; nor closely kept His troops in hand, but on the spacious plain Spread forth his camp. They joyful leave the tents And wander at their will. Thus Padus flows In brimming flood, and foaming at his bounds, Making whole districts quake; and should the bank Fail 'neath his swollen waters, all his stream 320 Breaks forth in swirling eddies over fields Not his before; some lands are lost, the rest Gain from his bounty. Hardly from his tower Had Caesar seen the fire or known the fight: And coming found the rampart overthrown, The dust no longer stirred, the rains cold As from a battle done. The peace that reigned There and on Magnus' side, as though men slept, Their victory won, aroused his angry soul. Quick he prepares, so that he end their joy 330 Careless of slaughter or defeat, to rush With threatening columns on Torquatus' post. But swift as sailor, by his trembling mast Warned of Circeian tempest, furls his sails, So swift Torquatus saw, and prompt to wage The war more closely, he withdrew his men Within a narrower wall. Now past the trench Were Caesar's companies, when from the hills Pompeius hurled his host upon their ranks Shut in, and hampered. Not so much o'erwhelmed 340 As Caesar's soldiers is the hind who dwells On Etna's slopes, when blows the southern wind, And all the mountain pours its cauldrons forth Upon the vale; and huge Enceladus (9) Writhing beneath his load spouts o'er the plains A blazing torrent. Blinded by the dust, Encircled, vanquished, ere the fight, they fled In cloud of terror on their rearward foe, So rushing on their fates. Thus had the war Shed its last drop of blood and peace ensued, 350 But Magnus suffered not, and held his troops. Back from the battle. Thou, oh Rome, had'st been Free, happy, mistress of thy laws and rights Were Sulla here. Now shalt thou ever grieve That in his crowning crime, to have met in fight A pious kinsman, Caesar's vantage lay. Oh tragic destiny! Nor Munda's fight Hispania had wept, nor Libya mourned Encrimsoned Utica, nor Nilus' stream, With blood unspeakable polluted, borne 360 A nobler corse than her Egyptian kings: Nor Juba (10) lain unburied on the sands, Nor Scipio with his blood outpoured appeased The ghosts of Carthage; nor the blameless life Of Cato ended: and Pharsalia's name Had then been blotted from the book of fate. But Caesar left the region where his arms Had found the deities averse, and marched His shattered columns to Thessalian lands. Then to Pompeius came (whose mind was bent 370 To follow Caesar wheresoe'er he fled) His captains, striving to persuade their chief To seek Ausonia, his native land, Now freed from foes. "Ne'er will I pass," he said, "My country's limit, nor revisit Rome Like Caesar, at the head of banded hosts. Hesperia when the war began was mine; Mine, had I chosen in our country's shrines, (11) In midmost forum of her capital, To join the battle. So that banished far 380 Be war from Rome, I'll cross the torrid zone Or those for ever frozen Scythian shores. What! shall my victory rob thee of the peace I gave thee by my flight? Rather than thou Should'st feel the evils of this impious war, Let Caesar deem thee his." Thus said, his course He turned towards the rising of the sun, And following devious paths, through forests wide, Made for Emathia, the land by fate Foredoomed to see the issue. 390 Thessalia on that side where Titan first Raises the wintry day, by Ossa's rocks Is prisoned in: but in th' advancing year When higher in the vault his chariot rides 'Tis Pelion that meets the morning rays. And when beside the Lion's flames he drives The middle course, Othrys with woody top Screens his chief ardour. On the hither side Pindus receives the breezes of the west And as the evening falls brings darkness in. 400 There too Olympus, at whose foot who dwells Nor fears the north nor sees the shining bear. Between these mountains hemmed, in ancient time The fields were marsh, for Tempe's pass not yet Was cleft, to give an exit to the streams That filled the plain: but when Alcides' hand Smote Ossa from Olympus at a blow, (12) And Nereus wondered at the sudden flood Of waters to the main, then on the shore (Would it had slept for ever 'neath the deep) 410 Seaborn Achilles' home Pharsalus rose; And Phylace (13) whence sailed that ship of old Whose keel first touched upon the beach of Troy; And Dorion mournful for the Muses' ire On Thamyris (14) vanquished: Trachis; Melibe Strong in the shafts (15) of Hercules, the price Of that most awful torch; Larissa's hold Potent of yore; and Argos, (16) famous erst, O'er which men pass the ploughshare: and the spot Fabled as Echionian Thebes, (17) where once 420 Agave bore in exile to the pyre (Grieving 'twas all she had) the head and neck Of Pentheus massacred. The lake set free Flowed forth in many rivers: to the west Aeas, (18) a gentle stream; nor stronger flows The sire of Isis ravished from his arms; And Achelous, rival for the hand Of Oeneus' daughter, rolls his earthy flood (19) To silt the shore beside the neighbouring isles. Evenus (20) purpled by the Centaur's blood 430 Wanders through Calydon: in the Malian Gulf Thy rapids fall, Spercheius: pure the wave With which Amphrysos (21) irrigates the meads Where once Apollo served: Anaurus (22) flows Breathing no vapour forth; no humid air Ripples his face: and whatever stream, Nameless itself, to Ocean gives its waves Through thee, Peneus: (23) whirled in eddies foams Apidanus; Enipeus lingers on Swift only when fresh streams his volume swell: 440 And thus Asopus takes his ordered course, Phoenix and Melas; but Eurotas keeps His stream aloof from that with which he flows, Peneus, gliding on his top as though Upon the channel. Fable says that, sprung From darkest pools of Styx, with common floods He scorns to mingle, mindful of his source, So that the gods above may fear him still. Soon as were sped the rivers, Boebian ploughs Dark with its riches broke the virgin soil; 450 Then came Lelegians to press the share, And Dolopes and sons of Oeolus By whom the glebe was furrowed. Steed-renowned Magnetians dwelt there, and the Minyan race Who smote the sounding billows with the oar. There in the cavern from the pregnant cloud Ixion's sons found birth, the Centaur brood Half beast, half human: Monychus who broke The stubborn rocks of Pholoe, Rhoetus fierce Hurling from Oeta's top gigantic elms 460 Which northern storms could hardly overturn; Pholus, Alcides' host: Nessus who bore The Queen across Evenus' (24) waves, to feel The deadly arrow for his shameful deed; And aged Chiron (25) who with wintry star Against the huger Scorpion draws his bow. Here sparkled on the land the warrior seed; (26) Here leaped the charger from Thessalian rocks (27) Struck by the trident of the Ocean King, Omen of dreadful war; here first he learned, 470 Champing the bit and foaming at the curb, Yet to obey his lord. From yonder shore The keel of pine first floated, (28) and bore men To dare the perilous chance of seas unknown: And here Ionus ruler of the land First from the furnace molten masses drew Of iron and brass; here first the hammer fell To weld them, shapeless; here in glowing stream Ran silver forth and gold, soon to receive The minting stamp. 'Twas thus that money came 480 Whereby men count their riches, cause accursed Of warfare. Hence came down that Python huge On Cirrha: hence the laurel wreath which crowns The Pythian victor: here Aloeus' sons Gigantic rose against the gods, what time Pelion had almost touched the stars supreme, And Ossa's loftier peak amid the sky Opposing, barred the constellations' way. When in this fated land the chiefs had placed Their several camps, foreboding of the end 490 Now fast approaching, all men's thoughts were turned Upon the final issue of the war. And as the hour drew near, the coward minds Trembling beneath the shadow of the fate Now hanging o'er them, deemed disaster near: While some took heart; yet doubted what might fall, In hope and fear alternate. 'Mid the throng Sextus, unworthy son of worthy sire Who soon upon the waves that Scylla guards, (29) Sicilian pirate, exile from his home, 500 Stained by his deeds of shame the fights he won, Could bear delay no more; his feeble soul, Sick of uncertain fate, by fear compelled, Forecast the future: yet consulted not The shrine of Delos nor the Pythian caves; Nor was he satisfied to learn the sound Of Jove's brass cauldron, 'mid Dodona's oaks, By her primaeval fruits the nurse of men: Nor sought he sages who by flight of birds, Or watching with Assyrian care the stars 510 And fires of heaven, or by victims slain, May know the fates to come; nor any source Lawful though secret. For to him was known That which excites the hate of gods above; Magicians' lore, the savage creed of Dis And all the shades; and sad with gloomy rites Mysterious altars. For his frenzied soul Heaven knew too little. And the spot itself Kindled his madness, for hard by there dwelt The brood of Haemon (30) whom no storied witch 520 Of fiction e'er transcended; all their art In things most strange and most incredible; There were Thessalian rocks with deadly herbs Thick planted, sensible to magic chants, Funereal, secret: and the land was full Of violence to the gods: the Queenly guest (31) From Colchis gathered here the fatal roots That were not in her store: hence vain to heaven Rise impious incantations, all unheard; For deaf the ears divine: save for one voice 530 Which penetrates the furthest depths of airs Compelling e'en th' unwilling deities To hearken to its accents. Not the care Of the revolving sky or starry pole Can call them from it ever. Once the sound Of those dread tones unspeakable has reached The constellations, then nor Babylon Nor secret Memphis, though they open wide The shrines of ancient magic and entreat The gods, could draw them from the fires that smoke 540 Upon the altars of far Thessaly. To hearts of flint those incantations bring Love, strange, unnatural; the old man's breast Burns with illicit fire. Nor lies the power In harmful cup nor in the juicy pledge Of love maternal from the forehead drawn; (32) Charmed forth by spells alone the mind decays, By poisonous drugs unharmed. With woven threads Crossed in mysterious fashion do they bind Those whom no passion born of beauteous form 550 Or loving couch unites. All things on earth Change at their bidding; night usurps the day; The heavens disobey their wonted laws; At that dread hymn the Universe stands still; And Jove while urging the revolving wheels Wonders they move not. Torrents are outpoured Beneath a burning sun; and thunder roars Uncaused by Jupiter. From their flowing locks Vapours immense shall issue at their call; When falls the tempest seas shall rise and foam (33) 560 Moved by their spell; though powerless the breeze To raise the billows. Ships against the wind With bellying sails move onward. From the rock Hangs motionless the torrent: rivers run Uphill; the summer heat no longer swells Nile in his course; Maeander's stream is straight; Slow Rhone is quickened by the rush of Saone; Hills dip their heads and topple to the plain; Olympus sees his clouds drift overhead; And sunless Scythia's sempiternal snows 570 Melt in mid-winter; the inflowing tides Driven onward by the moon, at that dread chant Ebb from their course; earth's axes, else unmoved, Have trembled, and the force centripetal Has tottered, and the earth's compacted frame Struck by their voice has gaped, (34) till through the void Men saw the moving sky. All beasts most fierce And savage fear them, yet with deadly aid Furnish the witches' arts. Tigers athirst For blood, and noble lions on them fawn 580 With bland caresses: serpents at their word Uncoil their circles, and extended glide Along the surface of the frosty field; The viper's severed body joins anew; And dies the snake by human venom slain. Whence comes this labour on the gods, compelled To hearken to the magic chant and spells, Nor daring to despise them? Doth some bond Control the deities? Is their pleasure so, Or must they listen? and have silent threats 590 Prevailed, or piety unseen received So great a guerdon? Against all the gods Is this their influence, or on one alone Who to his will constrains the universe, Himself constrained? Stars most in yonder clime Shoot headlong from the zenith; and the moon Gliding serene upon her nightly course Is shorn of lustre by their poisonous chant, Dimmed by dark earthly fires, as though our orb Shadowed her brother's radiance and barred 600 The light bestowed by heaven; nor freshly shines Until descending nearer to the earth She sheds her baneful drops upon the mead. These sinful rites and these her sister's songs Abhorred Erichtho, fiercest of the race, Spurned for their piety, and yet viler art Practised in novel form. To her no home Beneath a sheltering roof her direful head Thus to lay down were crime: deserted tombs Her dwelling-place, from which, darling of hell, 610 She dragged the dead. Nor life nor gods forbad But that she knew the secret homes of Styx And learned to hear the whispered voice of ghosts At dread mysterious meetings. (35) Never sun Shed his pure light upon that haggard cheek Pale with the pallor of the shades, nor looked Upon those locks unkempt that crowned her brow. In starless nights of tempest crept the hag Out from her tomb to seize the levin bolt; Treading the harvest with accursed foot 620 She burned the fruitful growth, and with her breath Poisoned the air else pure. No prayer she breathed Nor supplication to the gods for help Nor knew the pulse of entrails as do men Who worship. Funeral pyres she loves to light And snatch the incense from the flaming tomb. The gods at her first utterance grant her prayer For things unlawful, lest they hear again Its fearful accents: men whose limbs were quick With vital power she thrust within the grave 630 Despite the fates who owed them years to come: The funeral reversed brought from the tomb Those who were dead no longer; and the pyre Yields to her shameless clutch still smoking dust And bones enkindled, and the torch which held Some grieving sire but now, with fragments mixed In sable smoke and ceremental cloths Singed with the redolent fire that burned the dead. But those who lie within a stony cell Untouched by fire, whose dried and mummied frames 640 No longer know corruption, limb by limb Venting her rage she tears, the bloodless eyes Drags from their cavities, and mauls the nail Upon the withered hand: she gnaws the noose By which some wretch has died, and from the tree Drags down a pendent corpse, its members torn Asunder to the winds: forth from the palms Wrenches the iron, and from the unbending bond Hangs by her teeth, and with her hands collects The slimy gore which drips upon the limbs. 650 Where lay a corpse upon the naked earth On ravening birds and beasts of prey the hag Kept watch, nor marred by knife or hand her spoil, Till on his victim seized some nightly wolf; (36) Then dragged the morsel from his thirsty fangs; Nor fears she murder, if her rites demand Blood from the living, or some banquet fell Requires the panting entrail. Pregnant wombs Yield to her knife the infant to be placed On flaming altars: and whene'er she needs 660 Some fierce undaunted ghost, he fails not her Who has all deaths in use. Her hand has chased From smiling cheeks the rosy bloom of life; And with sinister hand from dying youth Has shorn the fatal lock: and holding oft In foul embraces some departed friend Severed the head, and through the ghastly lips, Held by her own apart, some impious tale Dark with mysterious horror hath conveyed Down to the Stygian shades. When rumour brought 670 Her name to Sextus, in the depth of night, While Titan's chariot beneath our earth Wheeled on his middle course, he took his way Through fields deserted; while a faithful band, His wonted ministers in deeds of guilt, Seeking the hag 'mid broken sepulchres, Beheld her seated on the crags afar Where Haemus falls towards Pharsalia's plain. (37) There was she proving for her gods and priests Words still unknown, and framing numbered chants 680 Of dire and novel purpose: for she feared Lest Mars might stray into another world, And spare Thessalian soil the blood ere long To flow in torrents; and she thus forbade Philippi's field, polluted with her song, Thick with her poisonous distilments sown, To let the war pass by. Such deaths, she hopes, Soon shall be hers! the blood of all the world Shed for her use! to her it shall be given To sever from their trunks the heads of kings, 690 Plunder the ashes of the noble dead, Italia's bravest, and in triumph add The mightiest warriors to her host of shades. And now what spoils from Magnus' tombless corse Her hand may snatch, on which of Caesar's limbs She soon may pounce, she makes her foul forecast And eager gloats. To whom the coward son Of Magnus thus: "Thou greatest ornament Of Haemon's daughters, in whose power it lies Or to reveal the fates, or from its course 700 To turn the future, be it mine to know By thy sure utterance to what final end Fortune now guides the issue. Not the least Of all the Roman host on yonder plain Am I, but Magnus' most illustrious son, Lord of the world or heir to death and doom. The unknown affrights me: I can firmly face The certain terror. Bid my destiny Yield to thy power the dark and hidden end, And let me fall foreknowing. From the gods 710 Extort the truth, or, if thou spare the gods, Force it from hell itself. Fling back the gates That bar th' Elysian fields; let Death confess Whom from our ranks he seeks. No humble task I bring, but worthy of Erichtho's skill Of such a struggle fought for such a prize To search and tell the issue." Then the witch Pleased that her impious fame was noised abroad Thus made her answer: "If some lesser fates Thy wish had been to change, against their wish 720 It had been easy to compel the gods To its accomplishment. My art has power When of one man the constellations press The speedy death, to compass a delay; And mine it is, though every star decrees A ripe old age, by mystic herbs to shear The life midway. But should some purpose set From the beginning of the universe, And all the labouring fortunes of mankind, Be brought in question, then Thessalian art 730 Bows to the power supreme. But if thou be Content to know the issue pre-ordained, That shall be swiftly thine; for earth and air And sea and space and Rhodopaean crags Shall speak the future. Yet it easiest seems Where death in these Thessalian fields abounds To raise a single corpse. From dead men's lips Scarce cold, in fuller accents falls the voice; Not from some mummied flame in accents shrill Uncertain to the ear." Thus spake the hag 740 And through redoubled night, a squalid veil Swathing her pallid features, stole among Unburied carcases. Fast fled the wolves, The carrion birds with maw unsatisfied Relaxed their talons, as with creeping step She sought her prophet. Firm must be the flesh As yet, though cold in death, and firm the lungs Untouched by wound. Now in the balance hung The fates of slain unnumbered; had she striven Armies to raise and order back to life 750 Whole ranks of warriors, the laws had failed Of Erebus; and, summoned up from Styx, Its ghostly tenants had obeyed her call, And rising fought once more. At length the witch Picks out her victim with pierced throat agape Fit for her purpose. Gripped by pitiless hook O'er rocks she drags him to the mountain cave Accursed by her fell rites, that shall restore The dead man's life. Close to the hidden brink The land that girds the precipice of hell 760 Sinks towards the depths: with ever falling leaves A wood o'ershadows, and a spreading yew Casts shade impenetrable. Foul decay Fills all the space, and in the deep recess Darkness unbroken, save by chanted spells, Reigns ever. Not where gape the misty jaws Of caverned Taenarus, the gloomy bound Of either world, through which the nether kings Permit the passage of the dead to earth, So poisonous, mephitic, hangs the air. 770 Nay, though the witch had power to call the shades Forth from the depths, 'twas doubtful if the cave Were not a part of hell. Discordant hues Flamed on her garb as by a fury worn; Bare was her visage, and upon her brow Dread vipers hissed, beneath her streaming locks In sable coils entwined. But when she saw The youth's companions trembling, and himself With eyes cast down, with visage as of death, Thus spake the witch: "Forbid your craven souls 780 These fears to cherish: soon returning life This frame shall quicken, and in tones which reach Even the timorous ear shall speak the man. If I have power the Stygian lakes to show, The bank that sounds with fire, the fury band, And giants lettered, and the hound that shakes Bristling with heads of snakes his triple head, What fear is this that cringes at the sight Of timid shivering shades?" Then to her prayer. First through his gaping bosom blood she pours 790 Still fervent, washing from his wounds the gore. Then copious poisons from the moon distils Mixed with all monstrous things which Nature's pangs Bring to untimely birth; the froth from dogs Stricken with madness, foaming at the stream; A lynx's entrails: and the knot that grows Upon the fell hyaena; flesh of stags Fed upon serpents; and the sucking fish Which holds the vessel back (38) though eastern winds Make bend the canvas; dragon's eyes; and stones 800 That sound beneath the brooding eagle's wings. Nor Araby's viper, nor the ocean snake Who in the Red Sea waters guards the shell, Are wanting; nor the slough on Libyan sands By horned reptile cast; nor ashes fail Snatched from an altar where the Phoenix died. And viler poisons many, which herself Has made, she adds, whereto no name is given: Pestiferous leaves pregnant with magic chants And blades of grass which in their primal growth 810 Her cursed mouth had slimed. Last came her voice More potent than all herbs to charm the gods Who rule in Lethe. Dissonant murmurs first And sounds discordant from the tongues of men She utters, scarce articulate: the bay Of wolves, and barking as of dogs, were mixed With that fell chant; the screech of nightly owl Raising her hoarse complaint; the howl of beast And sibilant hiss of snake -- all these were there; And more -- the waft of waters on the rock, 820 The sound of forests and the thunder peal. Such was her voice; but soon in clearer tones Reaching to Tartarus, she raised her song: "Ye awful goddesses, avenging power Of Hell upon the damned, and Chaos huge Who striv'st to mix innumerable worlds, And Pluto, king of earth, whose weary soul Grieves at his godhead; Styx; and plains of bliss We may not enter: and thou, Proserpine, Hating thy mother and the skies above, 830 My patron goddess, last and lowest form (39) Of Hecate through whom the shades and I Hold silent converse; warder of the gate Who castest human offal to the dog: Ye sisters who shall spin the threads again; (40) And thou, O boatman of the burning wave, Now wearied of the shades from hell to me Returning, hear me if with voice I cry Abhorred, polluted; if the flesh of man Hath ne'er been absent from my proffered song, 840 Flesh washed with brains still quivering; if the child Whose severed head I placed upon the dish But for this hand had lived -- a listening ear Lend to my supplication! From the caves Hid in the innermost recess of hell I claim no soul long banished from the light. For one but now departed, lingering still Upon the brink of Orcus, is my prayer. Grant (for ye may) that listening to the spell Once more he seek his dust; and let the shade 850 Of this our soldier perished (if the war Well at your hands has merited), proclaim The destiny of Magnus to his son." Such prayers she uttered; then, her foaming lips And head uplifting, present saw the ghost. Hard by he stood, beside the hated corpse His ancient prison, and loathed to enter in. There was the yawning chest where fell the blow That was his death; and yet the gift supreme Of death, his right, (Ah, wretch!) was reft away. 860 Angered at Death the witch, and at the pause Conceded by the fates, with living snake Scourges the moveless corse; and on the dead She barks through fissures gaping to her song, Breaking the silence of their gloomy home: "Tisiphone, Megaera, heed ye not? Flies not this wretched soul before your whips The void of Erebus? By your very names, She-dogs of hell, I'll call you to the day, Not to return; through sepulchres and death 870 Your gaoler: from funereal urns and tombs I'll chase you forth. And thou, too, Hecate, Who to the gods in comely shape and mien, Not that of Erebus, appearst, henceforth Wasted and pallid as thou art in hell At my command shalt come. I'll noise abroad The banquet that beneath the solid earth Holds thee, thou maid of Enna; by what bond Thou lov'st night's King, by what mysterious stain Infected, so that Ceres fears from hell 880 To call her daughter. And for thee, base king, Titan shall pierce thy caverns with his rays And sudden day shall smite thee. Do ye hear? Or shall I summon to mine aid that god At whose dread name earth trembles; who can look Unflinching on the Gorgon's head, and drive The Furies with his scourge, who holds the depths Ye cannot fathom, and above whose haunts Ye dwell supernal; who by waves of Styx Forswears himself unpunished?" Then the blood 890 Grew warm and liquid, and with softening touch Cherished the stiffened wounds and filled the veins, Till throbbed once more the slow returning pulse And every fibre trembled, as with death Life was commingled. Then, not limb by limb, With toil and strain, but rising at a bound Leaped from the earth erect the living man. Fierce glared his eyes uncovered, and the life Was dim, and still upon his face remained The pallid hues of hardly parted death. 900 Amazement seized upon him, to the earth Brought back again: but from his lips tight drawn No murmur issued; he had power alone When questioned to reply. "Speak," quoth the hag, "As I shall bid thee; great shall be thy gain If but thou answerest truly, freed for aye From all Haemonian art. Such burial place Shall now be thine, and on thy funeral pyre Such fatal woods shall burn, such chant shall sound, That to thy ghost no more or magic song 910 Or spell shall reach, and thy Lethaean sleep Shall never more be broken in a death From me received anew: for such reward Think not this second life enforced in vain. Obscure may be the answers of the gods By priestess spoken at the holy shrine; But whose braves the oracles of death In search of truth, should gain a sure response. Then speak, I pray thee. Let the hidden fates Tell through thy voice the mysteries to come." 920 Thus spake she, and her words by mystic force Gave him his answer; but with gloomy mien, And tears swift flowing, thus he made reply: "Called from the margin of the silent stream I saw no fateful sisters spin the threads. Yet know I this, that 'mid the Roman shades Reigns fiercest discord; and this impious war Destroys the peace that ruled the fields of death. Elysian meads and deeps of Tartarus In paths diverse the Roman chieftains leave 930 And thus disclose the fates. The blissful ghosts Bear visages of sorrow. Sire and son The Decii, who gave themselves to death In expiation of their country's doom, And great Camillus, wept; and Sulla's shade Complained of fortune. Scipio bewailed The scion of his race about to fall In sands of Libya: Cato, greatest foe To Carthage, grieves for that indignant soul Which shall disdain to serve. Brutus alone 940 In all the happy ranks I smiling saw, First consul when the kings were thrust from Rome. The chains were fallen from boastful Catiline. Him too I saw rejoicing, and the pair Of Marii, and Cethegus' naked arm. (41) The Drusi, heroes of the people, joyed, In laws immoderate; and the famous pair (42) Of greatly daring brothers: guilty bands By bars eternal shut within the doors That close the prison of hell, applaud the fates, 950 Claiming the plains Elysian: and the King Throws wide his pallid halls, makes hard the points Of craggy rocks, and forges iron chains, The victor's punishment. But take with thee This comfort, youth, that there a calm abode, And peaceful, waits thy father and his house. Nor let the glory of a little span Disturb thy boding heart: the hour shall come When all the chiefs shall meet. Shrink not from death, But glowing in the greatness of your souls, 960 E'en from your humble sepulchres descend, And tread beneath your feet, in pride of place, The wandering phantoms of the gods of Rome. (43) Which of the chiefs by Tiber's yellow stream, And which by Nile shall rest (the leaders' fate) This fight decides, no more. Nor seek to know From me thy fortunes: for the fates in time Shall give thee all thy due; and thy great sire, (44) A surer prophet, in Sicilian fields Shall speak thy future -- doubting even he 970 What regions of the world thou should'st avoid And what should'st seek. O miserable race! Europe and Asia and Libya's plains, (45) Which saw your conquests, now shall hold alike Your burial-place -- nor has the earth for you A happier land than this." His task performed, He stands in mournful guise, with silent look Asking for death again; yet could not die Till mystic herb and magic chant prevailed. For nature's law, once used, had power no more 980 To slay the corpse and set the spirit free. With plenteous wood she builds the funeral pyre To which the dead man comes: then as the flames Seized on his form outstretched, the youth and witch Together sought the camp; and as the dawn Now streaked the heavens, by the hag's command The day was stayed till Sextus reached his tent, And mist and darkness veiled his safe return. ENDNOTES: (1) Dyrrhachium (or Epidamnus) was a Corcyraean colony, but its founder was of Corinth, the metropolis of Corcyra. It stood some sixty miles north of the Ceraunian promontory (Book V., 747). About the year 1100 it was stormed and taken by Robert the Guiscard, after furious battles with the troops of the Emperor Alexius. Its modern name is Durazzo. It may be observed that, according to Caesar's account, he succeeded in getting between Pompey and Dyrrhachium, B.C. 3, 41, 42. (2) C. del Faro, the N.E. point of Sicily. (3) The shores of Kent. (4) Aricia was situated on the Via Appia, about sixteen miles from Rome. There was a temple of Diana close to it, among some woods on a small lake. Aricia was Horace's first halting place on his journey to Brundisium ("Satires", i. 5). As to Diana, see Book I., line 501. (5) An island in the Bay of Puteoli. (6) Typhon, the hundred-headed giant, was buried under Mount Etna. (7) This was Scaeva's name. (8) The vinewood staff was the badge of the centurion's office. (9) This giant, like Typhon, was buried under Mount Etna. (10) Juba and Petreius killed each other after the battle of Thepsus to avoid falling into Caesar's hands. See Book IV., line 5. (11) So Cicero: "Shall I, who have been called saviour of the city and father of my country, bring into it an army of Getae Armenians and Colchians?" ("Ep. ad Atticum," ix., 10.) (12) See Book VIII., line 3. (13) Protesilaus, from this place, first landed at Troy. (14) Thamyris challenged the Muses to a musical contest, and being vanquished, was by them deprived of sight. (15) The arrows given to Philoctetes by Hercules as a reward for kindling his funeral pyre. (16) This is the Pelasgic, not the historical, Argos. (17) Book I., line 632; Book VII., line 904. Agave was a daughter of Cadmus, and mother of Pentheus, king of the Boeotian Thebes. He was opposed to the mysterious worship of Dionysus, which his mother celebrated, and which he had watched from a tree. She tore him to pieces, being urged into a frenzy and mistaking him for a wild beast. She then retired to another Thebes, in Phthiotis, in triumph, with his head and shoulders. By another legend she did not leave the Boeotian Thebes. (See Grote, vol. i., p. 220. Edit. 1862.) (18) Aeas was a river flowing from the boundary of Thessaly through Epirus to the Ionian Sea. The sire of Isis, or Io, was Inachus; but the river of that name is usually placed in the Argive territory. (19) A river rising in Mount Pindus and flowing into the Ionian Sea nearly opposite to Ithaca. At its mouth the sea has been largely silted up. (20) The god of this river fought with Hercules for the hand of Deianira. After Hercules had been married to Deianira, and when they were on a journey, they came to the River Evenus. Here Nessus, a Centaur, acted as ferryman, and Hercules bade him carry Deianira across. In doing so he insulted her, and Hercules shot him with an arrow. (21) Admetus was King of Pherae in Thessaly, and sued for Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, who promised her to him if he should come in a chariot drawn by lions and boars. With the assistance of Apollo, Admetus performed this. Apollo, for the slaughter of the Cyclops, was condemned to serve a mortal, and accordingly he tended the flocks of Admetus for nine years. The River Amphrysos is marked as flowing into the Pagasaean Gulf at a short distance below Pherae. (22) Anaurus was a small river passing into the Pagasaean Gulf past Iolcos. In this river Jason is said to have lost one of his slippers. (23) The River Peneus flowed into the sea through the pass of Tempe, cloven by Hercules between Olympus and Ossa (see line 406); and carried with it Asopus, Phoenix, Melas, Enipeus, Apidanus, and Titaresus (or Eurotas). The Styx is generally placed in Arcadia, but Lucan says that Eurotas rises from the Stygian pools, and that, mindful of this mysterious source, he refuses to mingle his streams with that of Peneus, in order that the gods may still fear to break an oath sworn upon his waters. (24) See on line 429. (25) Chiron, the aged Centaur, instructor of Peleus, Achilles, and others. He was killed by one of the poisoned arrows of Hercules, but placed by Zeus among the stars as the Archer, from which position he appears to be aiming at the Scorpion. His constellation appears in winter. (26) The teeth of the dragon slain by Cadmus; though this took place in Boeotia. (27) Poseidon and Athena disputed as to which of them should name the capital of Attica. The gods gave the reward to that one of them who should produce the thing most useful to man; whereupon Athena produced an olive tree, and Poseidon a horse. Homer also places the scene of this event in Thessaly. ("Iliad", xxiii., 247.) (28) The Argo. Conf. Book III., 223. (29) See Book VII., 1022. (30) Son of Pelasgus. From him was derived the ancient name of Thessaly, Haemonia. (31) Medea. (32) It was supposed that there was on the forehead of the new- born foal an excrescence, which was bitten off and eaten by the mother. If she did not do this she had no affection for the foal. (Virgil, "Aeneid", iv., 515.) (33) "When the boisterous sea, Without a breath of wind, hath knocked the sky." -- Ben Jonson, "Masque of Queens". (34) The sky was supposed to move round, but to be restrained in its course by the planets. (See Book X., line 244.) (35) "Coatus audire silentum." To be present at the meetings of the dead and hear their voices. So, in the sixth Aeneid, the dead Greek warriors in feeble tones endeavour to express their fright at the appearance of the Trojan hero (lines 492, 493). (36) "As if that piece were sweeter which the wolf had bitten." Note to "The Masque of Queens", in which the first hag says: "I have been all day, looking after A raven feeding on a quarter, And soon as she turned her beak to the south I snatched this morsel out of her mouth." --Ben Jonson, "Masque of Queens". But more probably the meaning is that the wolf's bite gave the flesh magical efficacy. (37) Confusing Pharsalia with Philippi. (See line 684.) (38) One of the miraculous stories to be found in Pliny's "Natural History". See Lecky's "Augustus to Charlemagne", vol. i., p. 370. (39) The mysterious goddess Hecate was identified with Luna in heaven, Diana on earth, and Proserpine in the lower regions. The text is doubtful. (40) That is, for the second life of her victim. (41) See Book II., 609. (42) The Gracchi, the younger of whom aimed at being a perpetual tribune, and was in some sort a forerunner of the Emperors. (43) That is, the Caesars, who will be in Tartarus. (44) Referring probably to an episode intended to be introduced in a later book, in which the shade of Pompeius was to foretell his fate to Sextus. (45) Cnaeus was killed in Spain after the battle of Munda; Sextus at Miletus; Pompeius himself, of course, in Egypt.