(aka "The Civil War")
Death of Pompeius
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b
Now through Alcides'(1) pass and Tempe's groves Pompeius, aiming for Haemonian glens And forests lone, urged on his wearied steed Scarce heeding now the spur; by devious tracks Seeking to veil the footsteps of his flight: The rustle of the foliage, and the noise Of following comrades filled his anxious soul With terrors, as he fancied at his side Some ambushed enemy. Fallen from the height 10 Of former fortunes, still the chieftain knew His life not worthless; mindful of the fates: And 'gainst the price he set on Caesar's head, He measures Caesar's value of his own. Yet, as he rode, the features of the chief Made known his ruin. Many as they sought The camp Pharsalian, ere yet was spread News of the battle, met the chief, amazed, And wondered at the whirl of human things: Nor held disaster sure, though Magnus' self 20 Told of his ruin. Every witness seen Brought peril on his flight: 'twere better far Safe in a name obscure, through all the world To wander; but his ancient fame forbad. Too long had great Pompeius from the height Of human greatness, envied of mankind, Looked on all others; nor for him henceforth Could life be lowly. The honours of his youth Too early thrust upon him, and the deeds Which brought him triumph in the Sullan days, 30 His conquering navy and the Pontic war, Made heavier now the burden of defeat, And crushed his pondering soul. So length of days Drags down the haughty spirit, and life prolonged When power has perished. Fortune's latest hour, Be the last hour of life! Nor let the wretch Live on disgraced by memories of fame! But for the boon of death, who'd dare the sea Of prosperous chance? Upon the ocean marge By red Peneus blushing from the fray, 40 Borne in a sloop, to lightest wind and wave Scarce equal, he, whose countless oars yet smote Upon Coreyra's isle and Leucas point, Lord of Cilicia and Liburnian lands, Crept trembling to the sea. He bids them steer For the sequestered shores of Lesbos isle; For there wert thou, sharer of all his griefs, Cornelia! Sadder far thy life apart Than wert thou present in Thessalia's fields. Racked is thy heart with presages of ill; 50 Pharsalia fills thy dreams; and when the shades Give place to coming dawn, with hasty step Thou tread'st some cliff sea-beaten, and with eyes Gazing afar art first to mark the sail Of each approaching bark: yet dar'st not ask Aught of thy husband's fate. Behold the boat Whose bending canvas bears her to the shore: She brings (unknown as yet) thy chiefest dread, Rumour of evil, herald of defeat, Magnus, thy conquered spouse. Fear then no more, 60 But give to grief thy moments. From the ship He leaps to land; she marks the cruel doom Wrought by the gods upon him: pale and wan His weary features, by the hoary locks Shaded; the dust of travel on his garb. Dark on her soul a night of anguish fell; Her trembling limbs no longer bore her frame: Scarce throbbed her heart, and prone on earth she lay Deceived in hope of death. The boat made fast, Pompeius treading the lone waste of sand 70 Drew near; whom when Cornelia's maidens saw, They stayed their weeping, yet with sighs subdued, Reproached the fates; and tried in vain to raise Their mistress' form, till Magnus to his breast Drew her with cherishing arms; and at the touch Of soothing hands the life-blood to her veins Returned once more, and she could bear to look Upon his features. He forbad despair, Chiding her grief. "Not at the earliest blow By Fortune dealt, inheritress of fame 80 Bequeathed by noble fathers, should thy strength Thus fail and yield: renown shall yet be thine, To last through ages; not of laws decreed Nor conquests won; a gentler path to thee As to thy sex, is given; thy husband's woe. Let thine affection struggle with the fates, And in his misery love thy lord the more. I bring thee greater glory, for that gone Is all the pomp of power and all the crowd Of faithful senators and suppliant kings; 90 Now first Pompeius for himself alone Tis thine to love. Curb this unbounded grief, While yet I breathe, unseemly. O'er my tomb Weep out thy full, the final pledge of faith. Thou hast no loss, nor has the war destroyed Aught save my fortune. If for that thy grief That was thy love." Roused by her husband's words, Yet scarcely could she raise her trembling limbs, Thus speaking through her sobs: "Would I had sought Detested Caesar's couch, ill-omened wife 100 Of spouse unhappy; at my nuptials twice A Fury has been bridesmaid, and the ghosts Of slaughtered Crassi, with avenging shades Brought by my wedlock to the doomed camp The Parthian massacre. Twice my star has cursed The world, and peoples have been hurled to death In one red moment; and the gods through me Have left the better cause. O, hero mine, mightiest husband, wedded to a wife Unworthy! 'Twas through her that Fortune gained 110 The right to strike thee. Wherefore did I wed To bring thee misery? Mine, mine the guilt, Mine be the penalty. And that the wave May bear thee gently onwards, and the kings May keep their faith to thee, and all the earth Be ready to thy rule, me from thy side Cast to the billows. Rather had I died To bring thee victory; thy disasters thus, Thus expiate. And, cruel Julia, thee, Who by this war hast vengeance on our vows, 120 From thine abode I call: atonement find In this thy rival's death, and spare at least Thy Magnus." Then upon his breast she fell, While all the concourse wept -- e'en Magnus' self, Who saw Thessalia's field without a tear. But now upon the shore a numerous band From Mitylene thus approached the chief: "If 'tis our greatest glory to have kept The pledge with us by such a husband placed, Do thou one night within these friendly walls 130 We pray thee, stay; thus honouring the homes Long since devoted, Magnus, to thy cause. This spot in days to come the guest from Rome For thee shall honour. Nowhere shalt thou find A surer refuge in defeat. All else May court the victor's favour; we long since Have earned his chastisement. And though our isle Rides on the deep, girt by the ocean wave, No ships has Caesar: and to us shall come, Be sure, thy captains, to our trusted shore, 140 The war renewing. Take, for all is thine, The treasures of our temples and the gold, Take all our youth by land or on the sea To do thy bidding: Lesbos only asks This from the chief who sought her in his pride, Not in his fall to leave her." Pleased in soul At such a love, and joyed that in the world Some faith still lingered, thus Pompeius said: "Earth has for me no dearer land than this. Did I not trust it with so sweet a pledge 150 And find it faithful? Here was Rome for me, Country and household gods. This shore I sought Home of my wife, this Lesbos, which for her Had merited remorseless Caesar's ire: Nor was afraid to trust you with the means To gain his mercy. But enough -- through me Your guilt was caused -- I part, throughout the world To prove my fate. Farewell thou happiest land! Famous for ever, whether taught by thee Some other kings and peoples may be pleased 160 To give me shelter; or should'st thou alone Be faithful. And now seek I in what lands Right may be found or wrong. My latest prayer Receive, O deity, if still with me Thou bidest, thus. May it be mine again, Conquered, with hostile Caesar on my tracks To find a Lesbos where to enter in And whence to part, unhindered." In the boat He placed his spouse: while from the shore arose Such lamentation, and such hands were raised 170 In ire against the gods, that thou had'st deemed All left their kin for exile, and their homes. And though for Magnus grieving in his fall Yet for Cornelia chiefly did they mourn Long since their gentle guest. For her had wept The Lesbian matrons had she left to join A victor husband: for she won their love, By kindly modesty and gracious mien, Ere yet her lord was conquered, while as yet Their fortunes stood. Now slowly to the deep 180 Sank fiery Titan; but not yet to those He sought (if such there be), was shown his orb, Though veiled from those he quitted. Magnus' mind, Anxious with waking cares, sought through the kings His subjects, and the cities leagued with Rome In faith, and through the pathless tracts that lie Beyond the southern bounds: until the toil Of sorrowing thought upon the past, and dread Of that which might be, made him cast afar His wavering doubts, and from the captain seek 190 Some counsel on the heavens; how by the sky He marked his track upon the deep; what star Guided the path to Syria, and what points Found in the Wain would pilot him aright To shores of Libya. But thus replied The well-skilled watcher of the silent skies: "Not by the constellations moving ever Across the heavens do we guide our barks; For that were perilous; but by that star (2) Which never sinks nor dips below the wave, 200 Girt by the glittering groups men call the Bears. When stands the pole-star clear before the mast, Then to the Bosphorus look we, and the main Which carves the coast of Scythia. But the more Bootes dips, and nearer to the sea Is Cynosura seen, so much the ship Towards Syria tends, till bright Canopus (3) shines, In southern skies content to hold his course; With him upon the left past Pharos borne Straight for the Syrtes shalt thou plough the deep. 210 But whither now dost bid me shape the yards And set the canvas?" Magnus, doubting still; "This only be thy care: from Thracia steer The vessel onward; shun with all thy skill Italia's distant shore: and for the rest Trust to the winds for guidance. When I sought, Pledged with the Lesbians, my spouse beloved, My course was sure: now, Fortune, where thou wilt Give me a refuge." These his answering words. The pilot, as they hung from level yards 220 Shifted the sails; and hauling to the stern One sheet, he slacked the other, to the left Steering, where Samian rocks and Chian marred The stillness of the waters; while the sea Sent up in answer to the changing keel A different murmur. Not so deftly turns Curbing his steeds, his wain the Charioteer, While glows his dexter wheel, and with the left He almost touches, yet avoids the goal. Now Titan veiled the stars and showed the shore; 230 When, following Magnus, came a scattered band Saved from the Thracian storm. From Lesbos' port His son; (4) next, captains who preserved their faith; For at his side, though vanquished in the field, Cast down by fate, in exile, still there stood, Lords of the earth and all her Orient realms, The Kings, his ministers. To the furthest lands He bids (5) Deiotarus: "O faithful friend, Since in Emathia's battle-field was lost The world, so far as Roman, it remains 240 To test the faith of peoples of the East Who drink of Tigris and Euphrates' stream, Secure as yet from Caesar. Be it thine Far as the rising of the sun to trace The fates that favour Magnus: to the courts Of Median palaces, to Scythian steppes; And to the son of haughty Arsaces, To bear my message, `Hold ye to the faith, Pledged by your priests and by the Thunderer's name Of Latium sworn? Then fill your quivers full, 250 Draw to its fullest span th' Armenian bow; And, Getan archers, wing the fatal shaft. And you, ye Parthians, if when I sought The Caspian gates, and on th' Alaunian tribes (6) Fierce, ever-warring, pressed, I suffered you In Persian tracts to wander, nor compelled To seek for shelter Babylonian walls; If beyond Cyrus' kingdom (7) and the bounds Of wide Chaldaea, where from Nysa's top Pours down Hydaspes, and the Ganges flood 260 Foams to the ocean, nearer far I stood Than Persia's bounds to Phoebus' rising fires; If by my sufferance, Parthians, you alone Decked not my triumphs, but in equal state Sole of all Eastern princes, face to face Met Magnus in his pride, nor only once Through me were saved; (for after that dread day Who but Pompeius soothed the kindling fires Of Latium's anger?) -- by my service paid Come forth to victory: burst the ancient bounds 270 By Macedon's hero set: in Magnus' cause March, Parthians, to Rome's conquest. Rome herself Prays to be conquered.'" Hard the task imposed; Yet doffed his robe, and swift obeyed, the king Wrapped in a servant's mantle. If a Prince For safety play the boor, then happier, sure, The peasant's lot than lordship of the world. The king thus parted, past Icaria's rocks Pompeius' vessel skirts the foamy crags Of little Samos: Colophon's tranquil sea 280 And Ephesus lay behind him, and the air Breathed freely on him from the Coan shore. Cuidos he shunned, and, famous for its sun, Rhodos, and steering for the middle deep Escaped the windings of Telmessus' bay; Till rose Pamphylian coasts before the bark, And first the fallen chieftain dared to find In small Phaseils shelter; for therein Scarce was the husbandman, and empty homes Forbad to fear. Next Taurus' heights he saw 290 And Dipsus falling from his lofty sides: So sailed he onward. Did Pompeius hope, Thus severed by the billows from the foe, To make his safety sure? His little boat Flies unmolested past Cilician shores; But to their exiled lord in chiefest part The senate of Rome was drawn. Celendrae there Received their fleet, where fair Selinus' stream In spacious bay gives refuge from the main; And to the gathered chiefs in mournful words 300 At length Pompeius thus resolved his thoughts: "O faithful comrades mine in war and flight! To me, my country! Though this barren shore Our place of meeting, and no gathered host Surrounds us, yet upon our changed estate I seek your counsel. Rouse ye as of yore With hearts of courage! Magnus on the field Not all is perished, nor do fates forbid But that I rise afresh with living hope Of future victories, and spurn defeat. 310 From Libyan ruins did not Marius rise Again recorded Consul on the page Full of his honours? shall a lighter blow Keep Magnus down, whose thousand chiefs and ships Still plough the billows; by defeat his strength Not whelmed but scattered? And the fame alone Of our great deeds of glory in the past Shall now protect us, and the world unchanged Still love its hero. "Weigh upon the scales Ye chiefs, which best may help the needs of Rome, 320 In faith and armies; or the Parthian realm Egypt or Libya. For myself, ye chiefs, I veil no secret thoughts, but thus advise. Place no reliance on the Pharian king; His age forbids: nor on the cunning Moor, Who vain of Punic ancestors, and vain Of Carthaginian memories and descent (8) Supposed from Hannibal, and swollen with pride At Varus' supplication, sees in thought Rome lie beneath him. Wherefore, comrades, seek 330 At speed, the Eastern world. Those mighty realms Disjoins from us Euphrates, and the gates Called Caspian; on another sky than ours There day and night revolve; another sea Of different hue is severed from our own. (9) Rule is their wish, nought else: and in their plains Taller the war-horse, stronger twangs the bow; There fails nor youth nor age to wing the shaft Fatal in flight. Their archers first subdued The lance of Macedon and Baetra's (10) walls, 340 Home of the Mede; and haughty Babylon With all her storied towers: nor shall they dread The Roman onset; trusting to the shafts By which the host of fated Crassus fell. Nor trust they only to the javelin blade Untipped with poison: from the rancorous edge The slightest wound deals death. "Would that my lot Forced me not thus to trust that savage race Of Arsaces! (11) Yet now their emulous fate Contends with Roman destinies: the gods 350 Smile favouring on their nation. Thence I'll pour On Caesar peoples from another earth And all the Orient ravished from its home. But should the East and barbarous treaties fail, Fate, bear our shipwrecked fortunes past the bounds Of earth, as known to men. The kings I made I supplicate not, but in death shall take To other spheres this solace: chief of all; His hands, my kinsman's, never shed my blood Nor soothed me dying. Yet as my mind in turn 360 The varying fortunes of my life recalls, How was I glorious in that Eastern world! How great my name by far Maeotis marsh And where swift Tanais flows! No other land Has so resounded with my conquests won, So sent me home triumphant. Rome, do thou Approve my enterprise! What happier chance Could favouring gods afford thee? Parthian hosts Shall fight the civil wars of Rome, and share Her ills, and fall enfeebled. When the arms 370 Of Caesar meet with Parthian in the fray, Then must kind Fortune vindicate my lot Or Crassus be avenged." But murmurs rose, And Magnus speaking knew his words condemned. Then Lentulas (12) answered, with indignant soul, Foremost to rouse their valour, thus in words Worthy a Consul: "Have Thessalian woes Broken thy spirit so? One day's defeat Condemned the world to ruin? Is the cause Lost in one battle and beyond recall? 380 Find we no cure for wounds? Does Fortune drive Thee, Magnus, to the Parthians' feet alone? And dost thou, fugitive, spurn the lands and skies Known heretofore, and seek for other poles And constellations, and Chaldaean gods, And rites barbarian, servant of the realm Of Parthia? But why then took we arms For love of liberty? If thou canst slave Thou hast deceived the world! Shall Parthia see Thee at whose name, ruler of mighty Rome, 390 She trembled, at whose feet she captive saw Hyrcanian kings and Indian princes kneel, Now humbly suppliant, victim of the fates; And at thy prayer her puny strength extol In mad contention with the Western world? Nor think, Pompeius, thou shalt plead thy cause In that proud tongue unknown to Parthian ears Of which thy fame is worthy; sobs and tears He shall demand of thee. And has our shame Brought us to this, that some barbarian foe 400 Shall venge Hesperia's wrongs ere Rome her own? Thou wert our leader for the civil war: Mid Scythia's peoples dost thou bruit abroad Wounds and disasters which are ours alone? Rome until now, though subject to the yoke Of civic despots, yet within her walls Has brooked no foreign lord. And art thou pleased From all the world to summon to her gates These savage peoples, while the standards lost By far Euphrates when the Crassi fell 410 Shall lead thy columns? Shall the only king Who failed Emathia, while the fates yet hid Their favouring voices, brave the victor's power, And join with thine his fortune? Nay, not so This nation trusts itself. Each race that claims A northern birth, unconquered in the fray Claims but the warrior's death; but as the sky Slopes towards the eastern tracts and gentler climes So are the nations. There in flowing robes And garments delicate are men arrayed. 420 True that the Parthian in Sarmatia's plains, Where Tigris spreads across the level meads, Contends invincible; for flight is his Unbounded; but should uplands bar his path He scales them not; nor through the night of war Shall his weak bow uncertain in its aim Repel the foeman; nor his strength of arm The torrent stem; nor all a summer's day In dust and blood bear up against the foe. They fill no hostile trench, nor in their hands 430 Shall battering engine or machine of war Dash down the rampart; and whate'er avails To stop their arrows, battles like a wall. (13) Wide sweep their horsemen, fleeting in attack And light in onset, and their troops shall yield A camp, not take it: poisoned are their shafts; Nor do they dare a combat hand to hand; But as the winds may suffer, from afar They draw their bows at venture. Brave men love The sword which, wielded by a stalwart arm, 440 Drives home the blow and makes the battle sure. Not such their weapons; and the first assault Shall force the flying Mede with coward hand And empty quiver from the field. His faith In poisoned blades is placed; but trustest thou Those who without such aid refuse the war? For such alliance wilt thou risk a death, With all the world between thee and thy home? Shall some barbarian earth or lowly grave Enclose thee perishing? E'en that were shame 450 While Crassus seeks a sepulchre in vain. Thy lot is happy; death, unfeared by men, Is thy worst doom, Pompeius; but no death Awaits Cornelia -- such a fate for her This king shall not reserve; for know not we The hateful secrets of barbarian love, Which, blind as that of beasts, the marriage bed Pollutes with wives unnumbered? Nor the laws By nature made respect they, nor of kin. In ancient days the fable of the crime 460 By tyrant Oedipus unwitting wrought, Brought hate upon his city; but how oft Sits on the throne of Arsaces a prince Of birth incestuous? This gracious dame Born of Metellus, noblest blood of Rome, Shall share the couch of the barbarian king With thousand others: yet in savage joy, Proud of her former husbands, he may grant Some larger share of favour; and the fates May seem to smile on Parthia; for the spouse 470 Of Crassus, captive, shall to him be brought As spoil of former conquest. If the wound Dealt in that fell defeat in eastern lands Still stirs thy heart, then double is the shame First to have waged the war upon ourselves, Then ask the foe for succour. For what blame Can rest on thee or Caesar, worse than this That in the clash of conflict ye forgot For Crassus' slaughtered troops the vengeance due? First should united Rome upon the Mede 480 Have poured her captains, and the troops who guard The northern frontier from the Dacian hordes; And all her legions should have left the Rhine Free to the Teuton, till the Parthian dead Were piled in heaps upon the sands that hide Our heroes slain; and haughty Babylon Lay at her victor's feet. To this foul peace We pray an end; and if Thessalia's day Has closed our warfare, let the conqueror march Straight on our Parthian foe. Then should this heart, 490 Then only, leap at Caesar's triumph won. Go thou and pass Araxes' chilly stream On this thine errand; and the fleeting ghost Pierced by the Scythian shaft shall greet thee thus: `Art thou not he to whom our wandering shades Looked for their vengeance in the guise of war? And dost thou sue for peace?' There shalt thou meet Memorials of the dead. Red is yon wall Where passed their headless trunks: Euphrates here Engulfed them slain, or Tigris' winding stream 500 Cast on the shore to perish. Gaze on this, And thou canst supplicate at Caesar's feet In mid Thessalia seated. Nay, thy glance Turn on the Roman world, and if thou fear'st King Juba faithless and the southern realms, Then seek we Pharos. Egypt on the west Girt by the trackless Syrtes forces back By sevenfold stream the ocean; rich in glebe And gold and merchandise; and proud of Nile Asks for no rain from heaven. Now holds this boy 510 Her sceptre, owed to thee; his guardian thou: And who shall fear this shadow of a name? Hope not from monarchs old, whose shame is fled, Or laws or troth or honour of the gods: New kings bring mildest sway." (14) His words prevailed Upon his hearers. With what freedom speaks, When states are trembling, patriot despair! Pompeius' voice was quelled. They hoist their sails For Cyprus shaped, whose altars more than all The goddess loves who from the Paphian wave 520 Sprang, mindful of her birth, if such be truth, And gods have origin. Past the craggy isle Pompeius sailing, left at length astern Its southern cape, and struck across the main With winds transverse and tides; nor reached the mount Grateful to sailors for its nightly gleam: But to the bounds of Egypt hardly won With battling canvas, where divided Nile Pours through the shallows his Pelusian stream. (15) Now was the season when the heavenly scale 530 Most nearly balances the varying hours, Once only equal; for the wintry day Repays to night her losses of the spring; And Magnus learning that th' Egyptian king Lay by Mount Casius, ere the sun was set Or flagged his canvas, thither steered his ship. Already had a horseman from the shore In rapid gallop to the trembling court Brought news their guest was come. Short was the time For counsel given; but in haste were met 540 All who advised the base Pellaean king, Monsters, inhuman; there Achoreus sat Less harsh in failing years, in Memphis born Of empty rites, and guardian of the rise (16) Of fertilising Nile. While he was priest Not only once had Apis (17) lived the space Marked by the crescent on his sacred brow. First was his voice, for Magnus raised and troth And for the pledges of the king deceased: But, skilled in counsel meet for shameless minds 550 And tyrant hearts, Pothinus, dared to claim Judgment of death on Magnus. "Laws and right Make many guilty, Ptolemmus king. And faith thus lauded (18) brings its punishment When it supports the fallen. To the fates Yield thee, and to the gods; the wretched shun But seek the happy. As the stars from earth Differ, and fire from ocean, so from right Expedience. (19) The tyrant's shorn of strength Who ponders justice; and regard for right 560 Bring's ruin on a throne. For lawless power The best defence is crime, and cruel deeds Find safety but in doing. He that aims At piety must flee the regal hall; Virtue's the bane of rule; he lives in dread Who shrinks from cruelty. Nor let this chief Unpunished scorn thy youth, who thinks that thou Not even the conquered from our shore can'st bar. Nor to a stranger, if thou would'st not reign, Resign thy sceptre, for the ties of blood 570 Speak for thy banished sister. Let her rule O'er Nile and Pharos: we shall at the least Preserve our Egypt from the Latian arms. What Magnus owned not ere the war was done, No more shall Caesar. Driven from all the world, Trusting no more to Fortune, now he seeks Some foreign nation which may share his fate. Shades of the slaughtered in the civil war Compel him: nor from Caesar's arms alone But from the Senate also does he fly, 580 Whose blood outpoured has gorged Thessalian fowl; Monarchs he fears whose all he hath destroyed, And nations piled in one ensanguined heap, By him deserted. Victim of the blow Thessalia dealt, refused in every land, He asks for help from ours not yet betrayed. But none than Egypt with this chief from Rome Has juster quarrel; who has sought with arms To stain our Pharos, distant from the strife And peaceful ever, and to make our realm 590 Suspected by his victor. Why alone Should this our country please thee in thy fall? Why bringst thou here the burden of thy fates, Pharsalia's curse? In Caesar's eyes long since We have offence which by the sword alone Can find its condonation, in that we By thy persuasion from the Senate gained This our dominion. By our prayers we helped If not by arms thy cause. This sword, which fate Bids us make ready, not for thee I hold 600 Prepared, but for the vanquished; and on thee (Would it had been on Caesar) falls the stroke; For we are borne. as all things, to his side. And dost thou doubt, since thou art in my power, Thou art my victim? By what trust in us Cam'st thou, unhappy? Scarce our people tills The fields, though softened by the refluent Nile: Know well our strength, and know we can no more. Rome 'neath the ruin of Pompeius lies: Shalt thou, king, uphold him? Shalt thou dare 610 To stir Pharsalia's ashes and to call War to thy kingdom? Ere the fight was fought We joined not either army -- shall we now Make Magnus friend whom all the world deserts? And fling a challenge to the conquering chief And all his proud successes? Fair is help Lent in disaster, yet reserved for those Whom fortune favours. Faith her friends selects Not from the wretched." They decree the crime: Proud is the boyish tyrant that so soon 620 His slaves permit him to so great a deed To give his favouring voice; and for the work They choose Achillas. Where the treacherous shore Runs out in sand below the Casian mount And where the shallow waters of the sea Attest the Syrtes near, in little boat Achillas and his partners in the crime With swords embark. Ye gods! and shall the Nile And barbarous Memphis and th' effeminate crew That throngs Pelusian Canopus raise 630 Its thoughts to such an enterprise? Do thus Our fates press on the world? Is Rome thus fallen That in our civil frays the Phaxian sword Finds place, or Egypt? O, may civil war Be thus far faithful that the hand which strikes Be of our kindred; and the foreign fiend Held worlds apart! Pompeius, great in soul, Noble in spirit, had deserved a death From Caesar's self. And, king, hast thou no fear At such a ruin of so great a name? 640 And dost thou dare when heaven's high thunder rolls, Thou, puny boy, to mingle with its tones Thine impure utterance? Had he not won A world by arms, and thrice in triumph scaled The sacred Capitol, and vanquished kings, And championed the Roman Senate's cause; He, kinsman of the victor? 'Twas enough To cause forbearance in a Pharian king, That he was Roman. Wherefore with thy sword Dost stab our breasts? Thou know'st not, impious boy, 650 How stand thy fortunes; now no more by right Hast thou the sceptre of the land of Nile; For prostrate, vanquished in the civil wars Is he who gave it. Furling now his sails, Magnus with oars approached th' accursed land, When in their little boat the murderous crew Drew nigh, and feigning from th' Egyptian court A ready welcome, blamed the double tides Broken by shallows, and their scanty beach Unfit for fleets; and bade him to their craft 660 Leaving his loftier ship. Had not the fates' Eternal and unalterable laws Called for their victim and decreed his end Now near at hand, his comrades' warning voice Yet might have stayed his course: for if the court To Magnus, who bestowed the Pharian crown, In truth were open, should not king and fleet In pomp have come to greet him? But he yields: The fates compel. Welcome to him was death Rather than fear. But, rushing to the side, 670 His spouse would follow, for she dared not stay, Fearing the guile. Then he, "Abide, my wife, And son, I pray you; from the shore afar Await my fortunes; mine shall be the life To test their honour." But Cornelia still Withstood his bidding, and with arms outspread Frenzied she cried: "And whither without me, Cruel, departest? Thou forbad'st me share Thy risks Thessalian; dost again command That I should part from thee? No happy star 680 Breaks on our sorrow. If from every land Thou dost debar me, why didst turn aside In flight to Lesbos? On the waves alone Am I thy fit companion?" Thus in vain, Leaning upon the bulwark, dazed with dread; Nor could she turn her straining gaze aside, Nor see her parting husband. All the fleet Stood silent, anxious, waiting for the end: Not that they feared the murder which befell, But lest their leader might with humble prayer 690 Kneel to the king he made. As Magnus passed, A Roman soldier from the Pharian boat, Septimius, salutes him. Gods of heaven! There stood he, minion to a barbarous king, Nor bearing still the javelin of Rome; But vile in all his arms; giant in form Fierce, brutal, thirsting as a beast may thirst For carnage. Didst thou, Fortune, for the sake Of nations, spare to dread Pharsalus field This savage monster's blows? Or dost thou place 700 Throughout the world, for thy mysterious ends, Some ministering swords for civil war? Thus, to the shame of victors and of gods, This story shall be told in days to come: A Roman swordsman, once within thy ranks, Slave to the orders of a puny prince, Severed Pompeius' neck. And what shall be Septimius' fame hereafter? By what name This deed be called, if Brutus wrought a crime? Now came the end, the latest hour of all: 710 Rapt to the boat was Magnus, of himself No longer master, and the miscreant crew Unsheathed their swords; which when the chieftain saw He swathed his visage, for he scorned unveiled To yield his life to fortune; closed his eyes And held his breath within him, lest some word, Or sob escaped, might mar the deathless fame His deeds had won. And when within his side Achillas plunged his blade, nor sound nor cry He gave, but calm consented to the blow 720 And proved himself in dying; in his breast These thoughts revolving: "In the years to come Men shall make mention of our Roman toils, Gaze on this boat, ponder the Pharian faith; And think upon thy fame and all the years While fortune smiled: but for the ills of life How thou could'st bear them, this men shall not know Save by thy death. Then weigh thou not the shame That waits on thine undoing. Whose strikes, The blow is Caesar's. Men may tear this frame 730 And cast it mangled to the winds of heaven; Yet have I prospered, nor can all the gods Call back my triumphs. Life may bring defeat, But death no misery. If my spouse and son Behold me murdered, silently the more I suffer: admiration at my death Shall prove their love." Thus did Pompeius die, Guarding his thoughts. But now Cornelia filled The air with lamentations at the sight; "O, husband, whom my wicked self hath slain! 740 That lonely isle apart thy bane hath been And stayed thy coming. Caesar to the Nile Has won before us; for what other hand May do such work? But whosoe'er thou art Sent from the gods with power, for Caesar's ire, Or thine own sake, to slay, thou dost not know Where lies the heart of Magnus. Haste and do! Such were his prayer -- no other punishment Befits the conquered. Yet let him ere his end See mine, Cornelia's. On me the blame 750 Of all these wars, who sole of Roman wives Followed my spouse afield nor feared the fates; And in disaster, when the kings refused, Received and cherished him. Did I deserve Thus to be left of thee, and didst thou seek To spare me? And when rushing on thine end Was I to live? Without the monarch's help Death shall be mine, either by headlong leap Beneath the waters; or some sailor's hand Shall bind around this neck the fatal cord; 760 Or else some comrade, worthy of his chief, Drive to my heart his blade for Magnus' sake, And claim the service done to Ceasar's arms. What! does your cruelty withhold my fate? Ah! still he lives, nor is it mine as yet To win this freedom; they forbid me death, Kept for the victor's triumph." Thus she spake, While friendly hands upheld her fainting form; And sped the trembling vessel from the shore. Men say that Magnus, when the deadly blows 770 Fell thick upon him, lost nor form divine, Nor venerated mien; and as they gazed Upon his lacerated head they marked Still on his features anger with the gods. Nor death could change his visage -- for in act Of striking, fierce Septimius' murderous hand (Thus making worse his crime) severed the folds That swathed the face, and seized the noble head And drooping neck ere yet was fled the life: Then placed upon the bench; and with his blade 780 Slow at its hideous task, and blows unskilled Hacked through the flesh and brake the knotted bone: For yet man had not learned by swoop of sword Deftly to lop the neck. Achillas claimed The gory head dissevered. What! shalt thou A Roman soldier, while thy blade yet reeks From Magnus' slaughter, play the second part To this base varlet of the Pharian king? Nor bear thyself the bleeding trophy home? Then, that the impious boy (ah! shameful fate) 790 Might know the features of the hero slain, Seized by the locks, the dread of kings, which waved Upon his stately front, on Pharian pike The head was lifted; while almost the life Gave to the tongue its accents, and the eyes Were yet scarce glazed: that head at whose command Was peace or war, that tongue whose eloquent tones Would move assemblies, and that noble brow On which were showered the rewards of Rome. Nor to the tyrant did the sight suffice 800 To prove the murder done. The perishing flesh, The tissues, and the brain he bids remove By art nefarious: the shrivelled skin Draws tight upon the bone; and poisonous juice Gives to the face its lineaments in death. Last of thy race, thou base degenerate boy, About to perish (20) soon, and yield the throne To thine incestuous sister; while the Prince From Macedon here in consecrated vault Now rests, and ashes of the kings are closed 810 In mighty pyramids, and lofty tombs Of thine unworthy fathers mark the graves; Shall Magnus' body hither and thither borne Be battered, headless, by the ocean wave? Too much it troubled thee to guard the corse Unmutilated, for his kinsman's eye To witness! Such the faith which Fortune kept With prosperous Pompeius to the end. 'Twas not for him in evil days some ray Of light to hope for. Shattered from the height 820 Of power in one short moment to his death! Years of unbroken victories balanced down By one day's carnage! In his happy time Heaven did not harass him, nor did she spare In misery. Long Fortune held the hand That dashed him down. Now beaten by the sands, Torn upon rocks, the sport of ocean's waves Poured through its wounds, his headless carcase lies, Save by the lacerated trunk unknown. Yet ere the victor touched the Pharian sands 830 Some scanty rites to Magnus Fortune gave, Lest he should want all burial. Pale with fear Came Cordus, hasting from his hiding place; Quaestor, he joined Pompeius on thy shore, Idalian Cyprus, bringing in his train A cloud of evils. Through the darkening shades Love for the dead compelled his trembling steps, Hard by the marin of the deep to search And drag to land his master. Through the clouds The moon shone sadly, and her rays were dim; 840 But by its hue upon the hoary main He knew the body. In a fast embrace He holds it, wrestling with the greedy sea, And deftly watching for a refluent wave Gains help to bring his burden to the land. Then clinging to the loved remains, the wounds Washed with his tears, thus to the gods he speaks, And misty stars obscure: "Here, Fortune, lies Pompeius, thine: no costly incense rare Or pomp of funeral he dares to ask; 850 Nor that the smoke rise heavenward from his pyre With eastern odours rich; nor that the necks Of pious Romans bear him to the tomb, Their parent; while the forums shall resound With dirges; nor that triumphs won of yore Be borne before him; nor for sorrowing hosts To cast their weapons forth. Some little shell He begs as for the meanest, laid in which His mutilated corse may reach the flame. Grudge not his misery the pile of wood 860 Lit by this menial hand. Is't not enough That his Cornelia with dishevelled hair Weeps not beside him at his obsequies, Nor with a last embrace shall place the torch Beneath her husband dead, but on the deep Hard by still wanders?" Burning from afar He sees the pyre of some ignoble youth Deserted of his own, with none to guard: And quickly drawing from beneath the limbs Some glowing logs, "Whoe'er thou art," he said 870 "Neglected shade, uncared for, dear to none, Yet happier than Pompeius in thy death, Pardon I ask that this my stranger hand Should violate thy tomb. Yet if to shades Be sense or memory, gladly shalt thou yield This from thy pyre to Magnus. 'Twere thy shame, Blessed with due burial, if his remains Were homeless." Speaking thus, the wood aflame Back to the headless trunk at speed he bore, Which hanging on the margin of the deep, 880 Almost the sea had won. In sandy trench The gathered fragments of a broken boat, Trembling, he placed around the noble limbs. No pile above the corpse nor under lay, Nor was the fire beneath. Then as he crouched Beside the blaze, "O, greatest chief," he cried, Majestic champion of Hesperia's name, If to be tossed unburied on the deep Rather than these poor rites thy shade prefer, From these mine offices thy mighty soul 890 Withdraw, Pompeius. Injuries dealt by fate Command this duty, lest some bird or beast Or ocean monster, or fierce Caesar's wrath Should venture aught upon thee. Take the fire; All that thou canst; by Roman hand at least Enkindled. And should Fortune grant return To loved Hesperia's land, not here shall rest Thy sacred ashes; but within an urn Cornelia, from this humble hand received, Shall place them. Here upon a meagre stone 900 We draw the characters to mark thy tomb. These letters reading may some kindly friend Bring back thine head, dissevered, and may grant Full funeral honours to thine earthly frame." Then did he cherish the enfeebled fire Till Magnus' body mingled with its flames. But now the harbinger of coming dawn Had paled the constellations: he in fear Seeks for his hiding place. Whom dost thou dread, Madman, what punishment for such a crime, 910 For which thy fame by rumour trumpet-tongued Has been sent down to ages? Praise is thine For this thy work, at impious Caesar's hands; Sure of a pardon, go; confess thy task, And beg the head dissevered. But his work Was still unfinished, and with pious hand (Fearing some foe) he seizes on the bones Now half consumed, and sinews; and the wave Pours in upon them, and in shallow trench Commits them to the earth; and lest some breeze 920 Might bear away the ashes, or by chance Some sailor's anchor might disturb the tomb, A stone he places, and with stick half burned Traces the sacred name: HERE MAGNUS LIES. And art thou, Fortune, pleased that such a spot Should be his tomb which even Caesar's self Had chosen, rather than permit his corse To rest unburied? Why, with thoughtless hand Confine his shade within the narrow bounds Of this poor sepulchre? Where the furthest sand 930 Hangs on the margin of the baffled deep Cabined he lies; yet where the Roman name Is known, and Empire, such in truth shall be The boundless measure of his resting-place. Blot out this stone, this proof against the gods! Oeta finds room for Hercules alone, And Nysa's mountain for the Bromian god; (21) Not all the lands of Egypt should suffice For Magnus dead: and shall one Pharian stone Mark his remains? Yet should no turf disclose 940 His title, peoples of the earth would fear To spurn his ashes, and the sands of Nile No foot would tread. But if the stone deserves So great a name, then add his mighty deeds: Write Lepidus conquered and the Alpine war, And fierce Sertorius by his aiding arm O'erthrown; the chariots which as knight he drove; (22) Cilician pirates driven from the main, And Commerce safe to nations; Eastern kings Defeated and the barbarous Northern tribes; 950 Write that from arms he ever sought the robe; Write that content upon the Capitol Thrice only triumphed he, nor asked his due. What mausoleum were for such a chief A fitting monument? This paltry stone Records no syllable of the lengthy tale Of honours: and the name which men have read Upon the sacred temples of the gods, And lofty arches built of hostile spoils, On desolate sands here marks his lowly grave 960 With characters uncouth, such as the glance Of passing traveller or Roman guest Might pass unnoticed. Thou Egyptian land By destiny foredoomed to bear a part In civil warfare, not unreasoning sang High Cumae's prophetess, when she forbad (23) The stream Pelusian to the Roman arms, And all the banks which in the summer-tide Are covered by his flood. What grievous fate Shall I call down upon thee? May the Nile 970 Turn back his water to his source, thy fields Want for the winter rain, and all the land Crumble to desert wastes! We in our fanes Have known thine Isis and thy hideous gods, Half hounds, half human, and the drum that bids To sorrow, and Osiris, whom thy dirge (24) Proclaims for man. Thou, Egypt, in thy sand Our dead containest. Nor, though her temples now Serve a proud master, yet has Rome required Pompeius' ashes: in a foreign land 980 Still lies her chief. But though men feared at first The victor's vengeance, now at length receive Thy Magnus' bones, if still the restless wave Hath not prevailed upon that hated shore. Shall men have fear of tombs and dread to move The dust of those who should be with the gods? O, may my country place the crime on me, If crime it be, to violate such a tomb Of such a hero, and to bear his dust Home to Ausonia. Happy, happy he 990 Who bears such holy office in his trust! (25) Haply when famine rages in the land Or burning southern winds, or fires abound And earthquake shocks, and Rome shall pray an end From angry heaven -- by the gods' command, In council given, shalt thou be transferred To thine own city, and the priest shall bear Thy sacred ashes to their last abode. Who now may seek beneath the raging Crab Or hot Syene's waste, or Thebes athirst 1000 Under the rainy Pleiades, to gaze On Nile's broad stream; or whose may exchange On the Red Sea or in Arabian ports Some Eastern merchandise, shall turn in awe To view the venerable stone that marks Thy grave, Pompeius; and shall worship more Thy dust commingled with the arid sand, Thy shade though exiled, than the fane upreared (26) On Casius' mount to Jove! In temples shrined And gold, thy memory were viler deemed: 1010 Fortune lies with thee in thy lowly tomb And makes thee rival of Olympus' king. More awful is that stone by Libyan seas Lashed, than are Conquerors' altars. There in earth A deity rests to whom all men shall bow More than to gods Tarpeian: and his name Shall shine the brighter in the days to come For that no marble tomb about him stands Nor lofty monument. That little dust Time shall soon scatter and the tomb shall fall 1020 And all the proofs shall perish of his death. And happier days shall come when men shall gaze Upon the stone, nor yet believe the tale: And Egypt's fable, that she holds the grave Of great Pompeius, be believed no more Than Crete's which boasts the sepulchre of Jove. (27) ENDNOTES: (1) Comp. Book VI., line 407. (2) Comp. Book III., line 256. (3) Canopus is a star in Argo, invisible in Italy. (Haskins.) (4) Sextus. (5) Tetrarch of Galatia. He was always friendly to Rome, and in the civil war sided with Pompeius. He was at Pharsalia. (6) A Scythian people. (7) Pompeius seems to have induced the Roman public to believe that he had led his armies to such extreme distances, but he never in fact did so. -- Mommsen, vol. iv. p. 147. (8) Juba was of supposed collateral descent from Hannibal. (Haskins, quoting "The Scholiast.") (9) Confusing the Red Sea with the Persian Gulf. (10) Balkh of modern times. Bactria was one of the kingdoms established by the successors of Alexander the Great. It was, however, subdued by the Parthians about the middle of the third century B.C. (11) Dion could not believe it possible that Pompeius ever contemplated taking refuge in Parthia, but Plutarch states it as a fact; and says that it was Theophanes of Lesbos who dissuaded him from doing so. ("Pompeius", 76). Mommsen (vol. iv., pp. 421-423) discusses the subject, and says that from Parthia only could Pompeius have attempted to seek support, and that such an attempt, putting the objections to it aside, would probably have failed. Lucan's sympathies were probably with Lentulus. (12) Probably Lucius Lentulus Crus, who had been Consul, for B.C. 49, along with Caius Marcellus. (See Book V., 9.) He was murdered in Egypt by Ptolemy's ministers. (13) That is, be as easily defended. (14) Thus rendered by Sir Thomas May, of the Long Parliament: "Men used to sceptres are ashamed of nought: The mildest governement a kingdome finds Under new kings." (15) That is, he reached the most eastern mouth of the Nile instead of the western. (16) At Memphis was the well in which the rise and fall of the water acted as a Nilometer (Mr. Haskins's note). (17) Comp. Herodotus, Book iii. 27. Apis was a god who appeared at intervals in the shape of a calf with a white mark on his brow. His appearance was the occasion of general rejoicing. Cambyses slew the Apis which came in his time, and for this cause became mad, as the Egyptians said. (18) That is, by Achoreus, who had just spoken. (19) Compare Ben Jonson's "Sejanus", Act ii., Scene 2: -- The prince who shames a tyrant's name to bear Shall never dare do anything, but fear; All the command of sceptres quite doth perish If it begin religious thoughts to cherish; Whole empires fall, swayed by these nice respects, It is the licence of dark deeds protects E'en states most hated, when no laws resist The sword, but that it acteth what it list." (20) He was drowned in attempting to escape in the battle on the Nile in the following autumn. (21) Dionysus. But this god, though brought up by the nymphs of Mount Nysa, was not supposed to have been buried there. (22) See Book VII., line 20. (23) This warning of the Sibyl is also alluded to by Cicero in a letter to P. Lentulus, Proconsul of Cilicia. (Mr. Haskins' note. See also Mommsen, vol. iv., p. 305.) It seems to have been discovered in the Sibylline books at the time when it was desired to prevent Pompeius from interfering in the affairs of Egypt, in B.C. 57. (24) That is, by their weeping for Iris departure they treated him as a mortal and not as a god. Osiris was the soul of Apis (see on line 537), and when that animal grew old and unfit for the residence of Osiris the latter was thought to quit it. Then began the weeping. which continued until a new Apis appeared, selected, of course, by Osiris for his dwelling-place. Then they called out "We have found him, let us rejoice." For a discussion on the Egyptian conception of Osiris, and Iris place in the theogony of that nation, see Hegel's "Lectures on the Philosophy of History": Chapter on Egypt. (25) It may be noted that the Emperor Hadrian raised a monument on the spot to the memory of Pompeius some sixty years after this was written (Durny's 'History of Rome,' iii., 319). Plutarch states that Cornelia had the remains taken to Rome and interred in a mausoleum. Lucan, it may be supposed, knew nothing of this. (26) There was a temple to Jupiter on "Mount Casius old". (27) The legend that Jove was buried in Crete is also mentioned by Cicero: "De Natura Deorum", iii., 21.