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Medieval and Classical Library

Pharsalia
(aka "The Civil War")

BOOK IX
Cato

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b


     Yet in those ashes on the Pharian shore,
     In that small heap of dust, was not confined
     So great a shade; but from the limbs half burnt
     And narrow cell sprang forth (1) and sought the sky
     Where dwells the Thunderer.  Black the space of air
     Upreaching to the poles that bear on high
     The constellations in their nightly round;
     There 'twixt the orbit of the moon and earth
     Abide those lofty spirits, half divine,
10   Who by their blameless lives and fire of soul
     Are fit to tolerate the pure expanse
     That bounds the lower ether: there shall dwell,
     Where nor the monument encased in gold,
     Nor richest incense, shall suffice to bring
     The buried dead, in union with the spheres,
     Pompeius' spirit.  When with heavenly light
     His soul was filled, first on the wandering stars
     And fixed orbs he bent his wondering gaze;
     Then saw what darkness veils our earthly day
20   And scorned the insults heaped upon his corse.
     Next o'er Emathian plains he winged his flight,
     And ruthless Caesar's standards, and the fleet
     Tossed on the deep: in Brutus' blameless breast
     Tarried awhile, and roused his angered soul
     To reap the vengeance; last possessed the mind
     Of haughty Cato.

                         He while yet the scales
     Were poised and balanced, nor the war had given
     The world its master, hating both the chiefs,
     Had followed Magnus for the Senate's cause
30   And for his country: since Pharsalia's field
     Ran red with carnage, now was all his heart
     Bound to Pompeius.  Rome in him received
     Her guardian; a people's trembling limbs
     He cherished with new hope and weapons gave
     Back to the craven hands that cast them forth.
     Nor yet for empire did he wage the war
     Nor fearing slavery: nor in arms achieved
     Aught for himself: freedom, since Magnus fell,
     The aim of all his host.  And lest the foe
40   In rapid course triumphant should collect
     His scattered bands, he sought Corcyra's gulfs
     Concealed, and thence in ships unnumbered bore
     The fragments of the ruin wrought in Thrace.
     Who in such mighty armament had thought
     A routed army sailed upon the main
     Thronging the sea with keels?  Round Malea's cape
     And Taenarus open to the shades below
     And fair Cythera's isle, th' advancing fleet
     Sweeps o'er the yielding wave, by northern breeze
50   Borne past the Cretan shores.  But Phycus dared
     Refuse her harbour, and th' avenging hand
     Left her in ruins.  Thus with gentle airs
     They glide along the main and reach the shore
     From Palinurus (2) named; for not alone
     On seas Italian, Pilot of the deep,
     Hast thou thy monument; and Libya too
     Claims that her waters pleased thy soul of yore.
     Then in the distance on the main arose
     The shining canvas of a stranger fleet,
60   Or friend or foe they knew not.  Yet they dread
     In every keel the presence of that chief
     Their fear-compelling conqueror.  But in truth
     That navy tears and sorrow bore, and woes
     To make e'en Cato weep.

                              For when in vain
     Cornelia prayed her stepson and the crew
     To stay their flight, lest haply from the shore
     Back to the sea might float the headless corse;
     And when the flame arising marked the place
     Of that unhallowed rite, "Fortune, didst thou
70   Judge me unfit," she cried, "to light the pyre
     To cast myself upon the hero dead,
     The lock to sever, and compose the limbs
     Tossed by the cruel billows of the deep,
     To shed a flood of tears upon his wounds,
     And from the flickering flame to bear away
     And place within the temples of the gods
     All that I could, his dust?  That pyre bestows
     No honour, haply by some Pharian hand
     Piled up in insult to his mighty shade.
80   Happy the Crassi lying on the waste
     Unburied.  To the greater shame of heaven
     Pompeius has such funeral.  And shall this
     For ever be my lot?  her husbands slain
     Cornelia ne'er enclose within the tomb,
     Nor shed the tear beside the urn that holds
     The ashes of the loved?  Yet for my grief
     What boots or monument or ordered pomp?
     Dost thou not, impious, upon thy heart
     Pompeius' image, and upon thy soul
90   Bear ineffaceable?  Dust closed in urns
     Is for the wife who would survive her lord
     Not such as thee, Cornelia!  And yet
     Yon scanty light that glimmers from afar
     Upon the Pharian shore, somewhat of thee
     Recalls, Pompeius!  Now the flame sinks down
     And smoke drifts up across the eastern sky
     Bearing thine ashes, and the rising wind
     Sighs hateful in the sail.  To me no more
     Dearer than this whatever land may yield
100  Pompeius' victory, nor the frequent car
     That carried him in triumph to the hill;
     Gone is that happy husband from my thoughts;
     Here did I lose the hero whom I knew;
     Here let me stay; his presence shall endear
     The sands of Nile where fell the fatal blow.
     Thou, Sextus, brave the chances of the war
     And bear Pompeius' standard through the world.
     For thus thy father spake within mine ear:
     `When sounds my fatal hour let both my sons
110  Urge on the war; nor let some Caesar find
     Room for an empire, while shall live on earth
     Still one in whom Pompeius' blood shall run.
     This your appointed task; all cities strong
     In freedom of their own, all kingdoms urge
     To join the combat; for Pompeius calls.
     Nor shall a chieftain of that famous name
     Ride on the seas and fail to find a fleet.
     Urged by his sire's unconquerable will
     And mindful of his rights, mine heir shall rouse
120  All nations to the conflict.  One alone,
     (Should he contend for freedom) may ye serve;
     Cato, none else!'  Thus have I kept the faith;
     Thy plot (3) prevailed upon me, and I lived
     Thy mandate to discharge.  Now through the void
     Of space, and shades of Hell, if such there be,
     I follow; yet how distant be my doom
     I know not: first my spirit must endure
     The punishment of life, which saw thine end
     And could survive it; sighs shall break my heart,
130  Tears shall dissolve it: sword nor noose I need
     Nor headlong plunge. 'Twere shameful since thy death,
     Were aught but grief required to cause my own."

     She seeks the cabin, veiled, in funeral garb,
     In tears to find her solace, and to love
     Grief in her husband's room; no prayers were hers
     For life, as were the sailors'; nor their shout
     Roused by the height of peril, moved her soul,
     Nor angered waves: but sorrowing there she lay,
     Resigned to death and welcoming the storm.

140  First reached they Cyprus on the foamy brine;
     Then as the eastern breeze more gently held
     The favouring deep, they touched the Libyan shore
     Where stood the camp of Cato.  Sad as one
     Who deep in fear presages ills to come,
     Cnaeus beheld his brother and his band
     Of patriot comrades.  Swift into the wave
     He leaps and cries,  "Where, brother, is our sire?
     Still stands our country mistress of the world,
     Or are we fallen, Rome with Magnus' death
150  Rapt to the shades?"  Thus he: but Sextus said

     "Oh happy thou who by report alone
     Hear'st of the deed that chanced on yonder shore!
     These eyes that saw, my brother, share the guilt.
     Not Caesar wrought the murder of our sire,
     Nor any captain worthy in the fray.
     He fell beneath the orders of a king
     Shameful and base, while trusting to the gods
     Who shield the guest; a king who in that land
     By his concession ruled: (this the reward
160  For favours erst bestowed). Within my sight
     Pierced through with wounds our noble father fell:
     Yet deeming not the petty prince of Nile
     So fell a deed would dare, to Egypt's strand
     I thought great Caesar come.  But worse than all,
     Worse than the wounds which gaped upon his frame
     Struck me with horror to the inmost heart,
     Our murdered father's head, shorn from the trunk
     And borne aloft on javelin; this sight,
     As rumour said, the cruel victor asked
170  To feast his eyes, and prove the bloody deed.
     For whether ravenous birds and Pharian dogs
     Have torn his corse asunder, or a fire
     Consumed it, which with stealthy flame arose
     Upon the shore, I know not.  For the parts
     Devoured by destiny I only blame
     The gods: I weep the part preserved by men."

     Thus Sextus spake: and Cnaeus at the words
     Flamed into fury for his father's shame.
     "Sailors, launch forth our navies, by your oars
180  Forced through the deep though wind and sea oppose:
     Captains, lead on: for civil strife ne'er gave
     So great a prize; to lay in earth the limbs
     Of Magnus, and avenge him with the blood
     Of that unmanly tyrant.  Shall I spare
     Great Alexander's fort, nor sack the shrine
     And plunge his body in the tideless marsh?
     Nor drag Amasis from the Pyramids,
     And all their ancient Kings, to swim the Nile?
     Torn from his tomb, that god of all mankind
190  Isis, unburied, shall avenge thy shade;
     And veiled Osiris shall I hurl abroad
     In mutilated fragments; and the form
     Of sacred Apis; (4) and with these their gods
     Shall light a furnace, that shall burn the head
     They held in insult.  Thus their land shall pay
     The fullest penalty for the shameful deed.
     No husbandman shall live to till the fields
     Nor reap the benefit of brimming Nile.
     Thou only, Father, gods and men alike
200  Fallen and perished, shalt possess the land."

     Such were the words he spake; and soon the fleet
     Had dared the angry deep: but Cato's voice
     While praising, calmed the youthful chieftain's rage.

     Meanwhile, when Magnus' fate was known, the air
     Sounded with lamentations which the shore
     Re-echoed; never through the ages past,
     By history recorded, was it known
     That thus a people mourned their ruler's death.
     Yet more when worn with tears, her pallid cheek
210  Veiled by her loosened tresses, from the ship
     Cornelia came, they wept and beat the breast.
     The friendly land once gained, her husband's garb,
     His arms and spoils, embroidered deep in gold,
     Thrice worn of old upon the sacred hill (5)
     She placed upon the flame.  Such were for her
     The ashes of her spouse: and such the love
     Which glowed in every heart, that soon the shore
     Blazed with his obsequies.  Thus at winter-tide
     By frequent fires th' Apulian herdsman seeks
220  To render to the fields their verdant growth;
     Till blaze Garganus' uplands and the meads
     Of Vultur, and the pasture of the herds
     By warm Matinum.

                         Yet Pompeius' shade
     Nought else so gratified, not all the blame
     The people dared to heap upon the gods,
     For him their hero slain, as these few words
     From Cato's noble breast instinct with truth:
     "Gone is a citizen who though no peer (6)
     Of those who disciplined the state of yore
230  In due submission to the bounds of right,
     Yet in this age irreverent of law
     Has played a noble part.  Great was his power,
     But freedom safe: when all the plebs was prone
     To be his slaves, he chose the private gown;
     So that the Senate ruled the Roman state,
     The Senate's ruler: nought by right of arms
     He e'er demanded: willing took he gifts
     Yet from a willing giver: wealth was his
     Vast, yet the coffers of the State he filled
240  Beyond his own.  He seized upon the sword,
     Knew when to sheath it; war did he prefer
     To arts of peace, yet armed loved peace the more.
     Pleased took he power, pleased he laid it down:
     Chaste was his home and simple, by his wealth
     Untarnished.  Mid the peoples great his name
     And venerated: to his native Rome
     He wrought much good.  True faith in liberty
     Long since with Marius and Sulla fled:
     Now when Pompeius has been reft away
250  Its counterfeit has perished.  Now unshamed
     Shall seize the despot on Imperial power,
     Unshamed shall cringe the Senate.  Happy he
     Who with disaster found his latest breath
     And met the Pharian sword prepared to slay.
     Life might have been his lot, in despot rule,
     Prone at his kinsman's throne.  Best gift of all
     The knowledge how to die; next, death compelled.
     If cruel Fortune doth reserve for me
     An alien conqueror, may Juba be
260  As Ptolemaeus.  So he take my head
     My body grace his triumph, if he will."
     More than had Rome resounded with his praise
     Words such as these gave honour to the shade
     Of that most noble dead.

                              Meanwhile the crowd
     Weary of warfare, since Pompeius' fall,
     Broke into discord, as their ancient chief
     Cilician called them to desert the camp.
     But Cato hailed them from the furthest beach:
     "Untamed Cilician, is thy course now set
270  For Ocean theft again; Pompeius gone,
     Once more a pirate?"  Thus he spake, and gazed
     At all the stirring throng; but one whose mind
     Was fixed on flight, thus answered,  "Pardon, chief,
     'Twas love of Magnus, not of civil war,
     That led us to the fight: his side was ours:
     With him whom all the world preferred to peace,
     Our cause is perished.  Let us seek our homes
     Long since unseen, our children and our wives.
     If nor the rout nor dread Pharsalia's field
280  Nor yet Pompeius' death shall close the war,
     Whence comes the end?  The vigour of a life
     For us is vanished: in our failing years
     Give us at least some pious hand to speed
     The parting soul, and light the funeral pyre.
     Scarce even to its captains civil strife
     Concedes due burial.  Nor in our defeat
     Does Fortune threaten us with the savage yoke
     Of distant nations.  In the garb of Rome
     And with her rights, I leave thee.  Who had been
290  Second to Magnus living, he shall be
     My first hereafter: to that sacred shade
     Be the prime honour.  Chance of war appoints
     My lord but not my leader.  Thee alone
     I followed, Magnus; after thee the fates.
     Nor hope we now for victory, nor wish;
     For all our Thracian army is fled
     In Caesar's victory, whose potent star
     Of fortune rules the world, and none but he
     Has power to keep or save.  That civil war
300  Which while Pompeius lived was loyalty
     Is impious now.  If in the public right
     Thou, patriot Cato, find'st thy guide, we seek
     The standards of the Consul."  Thus he spake
     And with him leaped into the ship a throng
     Of eager comrades.

                         Then was Rome undone,
     For all the shore was stirring with a crowd
     Athirst for slavery.  But burst these words
     From Cato's blameless breast: "Then with like vows
     As Caesar's rival host ye too did seek
310  A lord and master!  not for Rome the fight,
     But for Pompeius!  For that now no more
     Ye fight for tyranny, but for yourselves,
     Not for some despot chief, ye live and die;
     Since now 'tis safe to conquer and no lord
     Shall rob you, victors, of a world subdued --
     Ye flee the war, and on your abject necks
     Feel for the absent yoke; nor can endure
     Without a despot!  Yet to men the prize
     Were worth the danger.  Magnus might have used
320  To evil ends your blood; refuse ye now,
     With liberty so near, your country's call?
     Now lives one tyrant only of the three;
     Thus far in favour of the laws have wrought
     The Pharian weapons and the Parthian bow;
     Not you, degenerate!  Begone, and spurn
     This gift of Ptolemaeus. (8)  Who would think
     Your hands were stained with blood?  The foe will deem
     That you upon that dread Thessalian day
     First turned your backs.  Then flee in safety, flee!
330  By neither battle nor blockade subdued
     Caesar shall give you life!  O slaves most base,
     Your former master slain, ye seek his heir!
     Why doth it please you not yet more to earn
     Than life and pardon?  Bear across the sea
     Metellus' daughter, Magnus' weeping spouse,
     And both his sons; outstrip the Pharian gift,
     Nor spare this head, which, laid before the feet
     Of that detested tyrant, shall deserve
     A full reward.  Thus, cowards, shall ye learn
340  In that ye followed me how great your gain.
     Quick to your task and purchase thus with blood
     Your claim on Caesar.  Dastardly is flight
     Which crime commends not."

                                   Cato thus recalled
     The parting vessels.  So when bees in swarm
     Desert their waxen cells, forget the hive
     Ceasing to cling together, and with wings
     Untrammelled seek the air, nor slothful light
     On thyme to taste its bitterness -- then rings
     The Phrygian gong -- at once they pause aloft
350  Astonied; and with love of toil resumed
     Through all the flowers for their honey store
     In ceaseless wanderings search; the shepherd joys,
     Sure that th' Hyblaean mead for him has kept
     His cottage store, the riches of his home.

     Now in the active conduct of the war
     Were brought to discipline their minds, untaught
     To bear repose; first on the sandy shore
     Toiling they learned fatigue: then stormed thy walls,
     Cyrene; prizeless, for to Cato's mind
360  'Twas prize enough to conquer.  Juba next
     He bids attack, though Nature on the path
     Had placed the Syrtes; which his sturdy heart
     Aspired to conquer.  Either at the first
     When Nature gave the universe its form
     She left this region neither land nor sea;
     Not wholly shrunk, so that it should receive
     The ocean flood; nor firm enough to stand
     Against its buffets -- all the pathless coast
     Lies in uncertain shape; the land by earth
370  Is parted from the deep; on sandy banks
     The seas are broken, and from shoal to shoal
     The waves advance to sound upon the shore.
     Nature, in spite, thus left her work undone,
     Unfashioned to men's use -- Or else of old
     A foaming ocean filled the wide expanse,
     But Titan feeding from the briny depths
     His burning fires (near to the zone of heat)
     Reduced the waters; and the sea still fights
     With Phoebus' beams, which in the length of time
380  Drank deeper of its fountains.

                                        When the main
     Struck by the oars gave passage to the fleet,
     Black from the sky rushed down a southern gale
     Upon his realm, and from the watery plain
     Drave back th' invading ships, and from the shoals
     Compelled the billows, and in middle sea
     Raised up a bank.  Forth flew the bellying sails
     Beyond the prows, despite the ropes that dared
     Resist the tempest's fury; and for those
     Who prescient housed their canvas to the storm,
390  Bare-masted they were driven from their course.
     Best was their lot who gained the open waves
     Of ocean; others lightened of their masts
     Shook off the tempest; but a sweeping tide
     Hurried them southwards, victor of the gale.
     Some freed of shallows on a bank were forced
     Which broke the deep: their ship in part was fast,
     Part hanging on the sea; their fates in doubt.
     Fierce rage the waves till hems (9) them in the land;
     Nor Auster's force in frequent buffets spent
400  Prevails upon the shore.  High from the main
     By seas inviolate one bank of sand,
     Far from the coast arose; there watched in vain
     The storm-tossed mariners, their keel aground,
     No shore descrying.  Thus in sea were lost
     Some portion, but the major part by helm
     And rudder guided, and by pilots' hands
     Who knew the devious channels, safe at length
     Floated the marsh of Triton loved (as saith
     The fable) by that god, whose sounding shell (10)
410  All seas and shores re-echo; and by her,
     Pallas, who springing from her father's head
     First lit on Libya, nearest land to heaven,
     (As by its heat is proved); here on the brink
     She stood, reflected in the placid wave
     And called herself Tritonis.  Lethe's flood
     Flows silent near, in fable from a source
     Infernal sprung, oblivion in his stream;
     Here, too, that garden of the Hesperids
     Where once the sleepless dragon held his watch,
420  Shorn of its leafy wealth.  Shame be on him
     Who calls upon the poet for the proof
     Of that which in the ancient days befell;
     But here were golden groves by yellow growth
     Weighed down in richness, here a maiden band
     Were guardians; and a serpent, on whose eyes
     Sleep never fell, was coiled around the trees,
     Whose branches bowed beneath their ruddy load.
     But great Alcides stripped the bending boughs,
     And bore their shining apples (thus his task
430  Accomplished) to the court of Argos' king.

     Driven on the Libyan realms, more fruitful here,
     Pompeius (11) stayed the fleet, nor further dared
     In Garamantian waves.  But Cato's soul
     Leaped in his breast, impatient of delay,
     To pass the Syrtes by a landward march,
     And trusting to their swords, 'gainst tribes unknown
     To lead his legions.  And the storm which closed
     The main to navies gave them hope of rain;
     Nor biting frosts they feared, in Libyan clime;
440  Nor suns too scorching in the falling year.

     Thus ere they trod the deserts, Cato spake:
     "Ye men of Rome, who through mine arms alone
     Can find the death ye covet, and shall fall
     With pride unbroken should the fates command,
     Meet this your weighty task, your high emprise
     With hearts resolved to conquer.  For we march
     On sterile wastes, burnt regions of the world;
     Scarce are the wells, and Titan from the height
     Burns pitiless, unclouded; and the slime
450  Of poisonous serpents fouls the dusty earth.
     Yet shall men venture for the love of laws
     And country perishing, upon the sands
     Of trackless Libya; men who brave in soul
     Rely not on the end, and in attempt
     Will risk their all.  'Tis not in Cato's thoughts
     On this our enterprise to lead a band
     Blind to the truth, unwitting of the risk.
     Nay, give me comrades for the danger's sake,
     Whom I shall see for honour and for Rome
460  Bear up against the worst.  But whose needs
     A pledge of safety, to whom life is sweet,
     Let him by fairer journey seek his lord.
     First be my foot upon the sand; on me
     First strike the burning sun; across my path
     The serpent void his venom; by my fate
     Know ye your perils.  Let him only thirst
     Who sees me at the spring: who sees me seek
     The shade, alone sink fainting in the heat;
     Or whoso sees me ride before the ranks
470  Plodding their weary march: such be the lot
     Of each, who, toiling, finds in me a chief
     And not a comrade.  Snakes, thirst, burning sand
     The brave man welcomes, and the patient breast
     Finds happiness in labour.  By its cost
     Courage is sweeter; and this Libyan land
     Such cloud of ills can furnish as might make
     Men flee unshamed."  'Twas thus that Cato spake,
     Kindling the torch of valour and the love
     Of toil: then reckless of his fate he strode
480  The desert path from which was no return:
     And Libya ruled his destinies, to shut
     His sacred name within a narrow tomb.

     One-third of all the world, (12) if fame we trust,
     Is Libya; yet by winds and sky she yields
     Some part to Europe; for the shores of Nile
     No more than Scythian Tanais are remote
     From furthest Gades, where with bending coast,
     Yielding a place to Ocean, Europe parts
     From Afric shores.  Yet falls the larger world
490  To Asia only.  From the former two
     Issues the Western wind; but Asia's right
     Touches the Southern limits and her left
     The Northern tempest's home; and of the East
     She's mistress to the rising of the Sun.
     All that is fertile of the Afric lands
     Lies to the west, but even here abound
     No wells of water: though the Northern wind,
     Infrequent, leaving us with skies serene,
     Falls there in showers.  Not gold nor wealth of brass
500  It yields the seeker: pure and unalloyed
     Down to its lowest depths is Libyan soil.
     Yet citron forests to Maurusian tribes
     Were riches, had they known; but they, content,
     Lived 'neath the shady foliage, till gleamed
     The axe of Rome amid the virgin grove,
     To bring from furthest limits of the world
     Our banquet tables and the fruit they bear. (13)
     But suns excessive and a scorching air
     Burn all the glebe beside the shifting sands:
510  There die the harvests on the crumbling mould;
     No root finds sustenance, nor kindly Jove
     Makes rich the furrow nor matures the vine.
     Sleep binds all nature and the tract of sand
     Lies ever fruitless, save that by the shore
     The hardy Nasamon plucks a scanty grass.
     Unclothed their race, and living on the woes
     Worked by the cruel Syrtes on mankind;
     For spoilers are they of the luckless ships
     Cast on the shoals: and with the world by wrecks
520  Their only commerce.

                              Here at Cato's word
     His soldiers passed, in fancy from the winds
     That sweep the sea secure: here on them fell
     Smiting with greater strength upon the shore,
     Than on the ocean, Auster's tempest force,
     And yet more fraught with mischief: for no crags
     Repelled his strength, nor lofty mountains tamed
     His furious onset, nor in sturdy woods
     He found a bar; but free from reining hand,
     Raged at his will o'er the defenceless earth.
530  Nor did he mingle dust and clouds of rain
     In whirling circles, but the earth was swept
     And hung in air suspended, till amazed
     The Nasamon saw his scanty field and home
     Reft by the tempest, and the native huts
     From roof to base were hurried on the blast.
     Not higher, when some all-devouring flame
     Has seized upon its prey, in volumes dense
     Rolls up the smoke, and darkens all the air.
     Then with fresh might he fell upon the host
540  Of marching Romans, snatching from their feet
     The sand they trod.  Had Auster been enclosed
     In some vast cavernous vault with solid walls
     And mighty barriers, he had moved the world
     Upon its ancient base and made the lands
     To tremble: but the facile Libyan soil
     By not resisting stood, and blasts that whirled
     The surface upwards left the depths unmoved.
     Helmet and shield and spear were torn away
     By his most violent breath, and borne aloft
550  Through all the regions of the boundless sky;
     Perchance a wonder in some distant land,
     Where men may fear the weapons from the heaven
     There falling, as the armour of the gods,
     Nor deem them ravished from a soldier's arm.
     'Twas thus on Numa by the sacred fire
     Those shields descended which our chosen priests (14)
     Bear on their shoulders; from some warlike race
     By tempest rapt, to be the prize of Rome.

     Fearing the storm prone fell the host to earth
560  Winding their garments tight, and with clenched hands
     Gripping the earth: for not their weight alone
     Withstood the tempest which upon their frames
     Piled mighty heaps, and their recumbent limbs
     Buried in sand.  At length they struggling rose
     Back to their feet, when lo!  around them stood,
     Forced by the storm, a growing bank of earth
     Which held them motionless.  And from afar
     Where walls lay prostrate, mighty stones were hurled,
     Thus piling ills on ills in wondrous form:
570  No dwellings had they seen, yet at their feet
     Beheld the ruins.  All the earth was hid
     In vast envelopment, nor found they guide
     Save from the stars, which as in middle deep
     Flamed o'er them wandering: yet some were hid
     Beneath the circle of the Libyan earth
     Which tending downwards hid the Northern sky.

     When warmth dispersed the tempest-driven air,
     And rose upon the earth the flaming day,
     Bathed were their limbs in sweat, but parched and dry
580  Their gaping lips; when to a scanty spring
     Far off beheld they came, whose meagre drops
     All gathered in the hollow of a helm
     They offered to their chief.  Caked were their throats
     With dust, and panting; and one little drop
     Had made him envied.  "Wretch, and dost thou deem
     Me wanting in a brave man's heart?" he cried,
     "Me only in this throng?  And have I seemed
     Tender, unfit to bear the morning heat?
     He who would quench his thirst 'mid such a host,
590  Doth most deserve its pangs."  Then in his wrath
     Dashed down the helmet, and the scanty spring,
     Thus by their leader spurned, sufficed for all.

     Now had they reached that temple which possess
     Sole in all Libya, th' untutored tribes
     Of Garamantians.  Here holds his seat
     (So saith the story) a prophetic Jove,
     Wielding no thunderbolts, nor like to ours,
     The Libyan Hammen of the curved horn.
     No wealth adorns his fane by Afric tribes
600  Bestowed, nor glittering hoard of Eastern gems.
     Though rich Arabians, Ind and Ethiop
     Know him alone as Jove, still is he poor
     Holding his shrine by riches undefiled
     Through time, and god as of the olden days
     Spurns all the wealth of Rome.  That here some god
     Dwells, witnesses the only grove
     That buds in Libya -- for that which grows
     Upon the arid dust which Leptis parts
     From Berenice, knows no leaves; alone
610  Hammon uprears a wood; a fount the cause
     Which with its waters binds the crumbling soil.
     Yet shall the Sun when poised upon the height
     Strike through the foliage: hardly can the tree
     Protect its trunk, and to a little space
     His rays draw in the circle of the shade.
     Here have men found the spot where that high band
     Solstitial divides in middle sky (15)
     The zodiac stars: not here oblique their course,
     Nor Scorpion rises straighter than the Bull,
620  Nor to the Scales does Ram give back his hours,
     Nor does Astraea bid the Fishes sink
     More slowly down: but watery Capricorn
     Is equal with the Crab, and with the Twins
     The Archer; neither does the Lion rise
     Above Aquarius.  But the race that dwells
     Beyond the fervour of the Libyan fires
     Sees to the South that shadow which with us
     Falls to the North: slow Cynosure sinks (16)
     For them below the deep; and, dry with us,
630  The Wagon plunges; far from either pole,
     No star they know that does not seek the main,
     But all the constellations in their course
     Whirl to their vision through the middle sky.

     Before the doors the Eastern peoples stood
     Seeking from horned Jove to know their fates:
     Yet to the Roman chief they yielded place,
     Whose comrades prayed him to entreat the gods
     Famed through the Libyan world, and judge the voice
     Renowned from distant ages.  First of these
640  Was Labienus: (17) "Chance," he said, "to us
     The voice and counsel of this mighty god
     Has offered as we march; from such a guide
     To know the issues of the war, and learn
     To track the Syrtes.  For to whom on earth
     If not to blameless Cato, shall the gods
     Entrust their secrets?  Faithful thou at least,
     Their follower through all thy life hast been;
     Now hast thou liberty to speak with Jove.
     Ask impious Caesar's fates, and learn the laws
650  That wait our country in the future days:
     Whether the people shall be free to use
     Their rights and customs, or the civil war
     For us is wasted.  To thy sacred breast,
     Lover of virtue, take the voice divine;
     Demand what virtue is and guide thy steps
     By heaven's high counsellor."

                                        But Cato, full
     Of godlike thoughts borne in his quiet breast,
     This answer uttered, worthy of the shrines:
     "What, Labienus, dost thou bid me ask?
660  Whether in arms and freedom I should wish
     To perish, rather than endure a king?
     Is longest life worth aught?  And doth its term
     Make difference?  Can violence to the good
     Do injury?  Do Fortune's threats avail
     Outweighed by virtue?  Doth it not suffice
     To aim at deeds of bravery?  Can fame
     Grow by achievement?  Nay!  No Hammen's voice
     Shall teach us this more surely than we know.
     Bound are we to the gods; no voice we need;
670  They live in all our acts, although the shrine
     Be silent: at our birth and once for all
     What may be known the author of our being
     Revealed; nor Chose these thirsty sands to chaunt
     To few his truth, whelmed in the dusty waste.
     God has his dwelling in all things that be,
     In earth and air and sea and starry vault,
     In virtuous deeds; in all that thou can'st see,
     In all thy thoughts contained.  Why further, then,
     Seek we our deities?  Let those who doubt
680  And halting, tremble for their coming fates,
     Go ask the oracles.  No mystic words,
     Make sure my heart, but surely-coming Death.
     Coward alike and brave, we all must die.
     Thus hath Jove spoken: seek to know no more."

     Thus Cato spake, and faithful to his creed
     He parted from the temple of the god
     And left the oracle of Hammon dumb.

     Bearing his javelin, as one of them
     Before the troops he marched: no panting slave
690  With bending neck, no litter bore his form.
     He bade them not, but showed them how to toil.
     Spare in his sleep, the last to sip the spring
     When at some rivulet to quench their thirst
     The eager ranks pressed onward, he alone
     Until the humblest follower might drink
     Stood motionless.  If for the truly good
     Is fame, and virtue by the deed itself,
     Not by sucoessful issue, should be judged,
     Yield, famous ancestors!  Fortune, not worth
700  Gained you your glory.  But such name as his
     Who ever merited by successful war
     Or slaughtered peoples?  Rather would I lead
     With him his triumph through the pathless sands
     And Libya's bounds, than in Pompeius' car
     Three times ascend the Capitol, (18) or break
     The proud Jugurtha. (19)  Rome!  in him behold
     His country's father, worthiest of thy vows;
     A name by which men shall not blush to swear,
     Whom, should'st thou break the fetters from thy neck,
710  Thou may'st in distant days decree divine.

     Now was the heat more dense, and through that clime
     Than which no further on the Southern side
     The gods permit, they trod; and scarcer still
     The water, till in middle sands they found
     One bounteous spring which clustered serpents held
     Though scaroe the space sufficed.  By thirsting snakes
     The fount was thronged and asps pressed on the marge.
     But when the chieftain saw that speedy fate
     Was on the host, if they should leave the well
720  Untasted, "Vain," he cried, "your fear of death.
     Drink, nor delay: 'tis from the threatening tooth
     Men draw their deaths, and fatal from the fang
     Issues the juice if mingled with the blood;
     The cup is harmless."  Then he sipped the fount,
     Still doubting, and in all the Libyan waste
     There only was he first to touch the stream.

     Why fertile thus in death the pestilent air
     Of Libya, what poison in her soil
     Her several nature mixed, my care to know
730  Has not availed: but from the days of old
     A fabled story has deceived the world.

     Far on her limits, where the burning shore
     Admits the ocean fervid from the sun
     Plunged in its waters, lay Medusa's fields
     Untilled; nor forests shaded, nor the plough
     Furrowed the soil, which by its mistress' gaze
     Was hardened into stone: Phorcus, her sire.
     Malevolent nature from her body first
     Drew forth these noisome pests; first from her jaws
740  Issued the sibilant rattle of serpent tongues;
     Clustered around her head the poisonous brood
     Like to a woman's hair, wreathed on her neck
     Which gloried in their touch; their glittering heads
     Advanced towards her; and her tresses kempt
     Dripped down with viper's venom.  This alone
     Thou hast, accursed one, which men can see
     Unharmed; for who upon that gaping mouth
     Looked and could dread?  To whom who met her glance,
     Was death permitted?  Fate delayed no more.
750  But ere the victim feared had struck him down:
     Perished the limbs while living, and the soul
     Grew stiff and stark ere yet it fled the frame.
     Men have been frenzied by the Furies' locks,
     Not killed; and Cerberus at Orpheus' song
     Ceased from his hissing, and Alcides saw
     The Hydra ere he slew.  This monster born
     Brought horror with her birth upon her sire
     Phorcus, in second order God of Waves,
     And upon Ceto and the Gorgon brood, (20)
760  Her sisters.  She could threat the sea and sky
     With deadly calm unknown, and from the world
     Bid cease the soil.  Borne down by instant weight
     Fowls fell from air, and beasts were fixed in stone.
     Whole Ethiop tribes who tilled the neighbouring lands
     Rigid in marble stood.  The Gorgon sight
     No creature bore and even her serpents turned
     Back from her visage.  Atlas in his place
     Beside the Western columns, by her look
     Was turned to rocks; and when on snakes of old
770  Phlegraean giants stood and frighted heaven,
     She made them mountains, and the Gorgon head
     Borne on Athena's bosom closed the war.
     Here born of Danae and the golden shower,
     Floating on wings Parrhasian, by the god
     Arcadian given, author of the lyre
     And wrestling art, came Perseus, down from heaven
     Swooping.  Cyllenian Harp (21) did he bear
     Still crimson from another monster slain,
     The guardian of the heifer loved by Jove.
780  This to her winged brother Pallas lent
     Price of the monster's head: by her command
     Upon the limits of the Libyan land
     He sought the rising sun, with flight averse,
     Poised o'er Medusa's realm; a burnished shield
     Of yellow brass upon his other arm,
     Her gift, he bore: in which she bade him see
     The fatal face unscathed.  Nor yet in sleep
     Lay all the monster, for such total rest
     To her were death -- so fated: serpent locks
790  In vigilant watch, some reaching forth defend
     Her head, while others lay upon her face
     And slumbering eyes.  Then hero Perseus shook
     Though turned averse; trembled his dexter hand:
     But Pallas held, and the descending blade
     Shore the broad neck whence sprang the viper brood.
     What visage bore the Gorgon as the steel
     Thus reft her life!  what poison from her throat
     Breathed!  from her eyes what venom of death distilled!
     The goddess dared not look, and Perseus' face
800  Had frozen, averse, had not Athena veiled
     With coils of writhing snakes the features dead.
     Then with the Gorgon head the hero flew
     Uplifted on his wings and sought the sky.
     Shorter had been his voyage through the midst
     Of Europe's cities; but Athena bade
     To spare her peoples and their fruitful lands;
     For who when such an airy courser passed
     Had not looked up to heaven?  Western winds
     Now sped his pinions, and he took his course
810  O'er Libya's regions, from the stars and suns
     Veiled by no culture.  Phoebus' nearer track
     There burns the soil, and loftiest on the sky (22)
     There fails the night, to shade the wandering moon,
     If o'er forgetful of her course oblique,
     Straight through the stars, nor bending to the North
     Nor to the South, she hastens.  Yet that earth,
     In nothing fertile, void of fruitful yield,
     Drank in the poison of Medusa's blood,
     Dripping in dreadful dews upon the soil,
820  And in the crumbling sands by heat matured.

     First from the dust was raised a gory clot (23)
     In guise of Asp, sleep-bringing, swollen of neck:
     Full was the blood and thick the poison drop
     That were its making; in no other snake
     More copious held.  Greedy of warmth it seeks
     No frozen world itself, nor haunts the sands
     Beyond the Nile; yet has our thirst of gain
     No shame nor limit, and this Libyan death,
     This fatal pest we purchase for our own.
830  Haemorrhois huge spreads out his scaly coils,
     Who suffers not his hapless victims' blood
     To stay within their veins.  Chersydros sprang
     To life, to dwell within the doubtful marsh
     Where land nor sea prevails.  A cloud of spray
     Marked fell Chelyder's track: and Cenchris rose
     Straight gliding to his prey, his belly tinged
     With various spots unnumbered, more than those
     Which paint the Theban (24) marble; horned snakes
     With spines contorted: like to torrid sand
840  Ammodytes, of hue invisible:
     Sole of all serpents Scytale to shed
     In vernal frosts his slough; and thirsty Dipsas;
     Dread Amphisbaena with his double head
     Tapering; and Natrix who in bubbling fount
     Fuses his venom.  Greedy Prester swells
     His foaming jaws; Pareas, head erect
     Furrows with tail alone his sandy path;
     Swift Jaculus there, and Seps (25) whose poisonous juice
     Makes putrid flesh and frame: and there upreared
850  His regal head, and frighted from his track
     With sibilant terror all the subject swam,
     Baneful ere darts his poison, Basilisk (26)
     In sands deserted king.  Ye serpents too
     Who in all other regions harmless glide
     Adored as gods, and bright with golden scales,
     In those hot wastes are deadly; poised in air
     Whole herds of kine ye follow, and with coils
     Encircling close, crush in the mighty bull.
     Nor does the elephant in his giant bulk,
860  Nor aught, find safety; and ye need no fang
     Nor poison, to compel the fatal end.

     Amid these pests undaunted Cato urged
     His desert journey on.  His hardy troops
     Beneath his eyes, pricked by a scanty wound,
     In strangest forms of death unnumbered fall.
     Tyrrhenian Aulus, bearer of a flag,
     Trod on a Dipsas; quick with head reversed
     The serpent struck; no mark betrayed the tooth:
     The aspect of the wound nor threatened death,
870  Nor any evil; but the poison germ
     In silence working as consuming fire
     Absorbed the moisture of his inward frame,
     Draining the natural juices that were spread
     Around his vitals; in his arid jaws
     Set flame upon his tongue: his wearied limbs
     No sweat bedewed; dried up, the fount of tears
     Fled from his eyelids.  Tortured by the fire
     Nor Cato's sternness, nor of his sacred charge
     The honour could withhold him; but he dared
880  To dash his standard down, and through the plains
     Raging, to seek for water that might slake
     The fatal venom thirsting at his heart.
     Plunge him in Tanais, in Rhone and Po,
     Pour on his burning tongue the flood of Nile,
     Yet were the fire unquenched.  So fell the fang
     Of Dipsas in the torrid Libyan lands;
     In other climes less fatal.  Next he seeks
     Amid the sands, all barren to the depths,
     For moisture: then returning to the shoals
890  Laps them with greed -- in vain -- the briny draught
     Scarce quenched the thirst it made.  Nor knowing yet
     The poison in his frame, he steels himself
     To rip his swollen veins and drink the gore.
     Cato bids lift the standard, lest his troops
     May find in thirst a pardon for the deed.

     But on Sabellus' yet more piteous death
     Their eyes were fastened.  Clinging to his skin
     A Seps with curving tooth, of little size,
     He seized and tore away, and to the sands
900  Pierced with his javelin.  Small the serpent's bulk;
     None deals a death more horrible in form.
     For swift the flesh dissolving round the wound
     Bared the pale bone; swam all his limbs in blood;
     Wasted the tissue of his calves and knees:
     And all the muscles of his thighs were thawed
     In black distilment, and file membrane sheath
     Parted, that bound his vitals, which abroad
     Flowed upon earth: yet seemed it not that all
     His frame was loosed, for by the venomous drop
910  Were all the bands that held his muscles drawn
     Down to a juice; the framework of his chest
     Was bare, its cavity, and all the parts
     Hid by the organs of life, that make the man.
     So by unholy death there stood revealed
     His inmost nature.  Head and stalwart arms,
     And neck and shoulders, from their solid mass
     Melt in corruption.  Not more swiftly flows
     Wax at the sun's command, nor snow compelled
     By southern breezes.  Yet not all is said:
920  For so to noxious humours fire consumes
     Our fleshly frame; but on the funeral pyre
     What bones have perished?  These dissolve no less
     Than did the mouldered tissues, nor of death
     Thus swift is left a trace.  Of Afric pests
     Thou bear'st the palm for hurtfulness: the life
     They snatch away, thou only with the life
     The clay that held it.

                              Lo!  a different fate,
     Not this by melting!  for a Prester's fang
     Nasidius struck, who erst in Marsian fields
930  Guided the ploughshare.  Burned upon his face
     A redness as of flame: swollen the skin,
     His features hidden, swollen all his limbs
     Till more than human: and his definite frame
     One tumour huge concealed.  A ghastly gore
     Is puffed from inwards as the virulent juice
     Courses through all his body; which, thus grown,
     His corselet holds not.  Not in caldron so
     Boils up to mountainous height the steaming wave;
     Nor in such bellying curves does canvas bend
940  To Eastern tempests.  Now the ponderous bulk
     Rejects the limbs, and as a shapeless trunk
     Burdens the earth: and there, to beasts and birds
     A fatal feast, his comrades left the corse
     Nor dared to place, yet swelling, in the tomb.

     But for their eyes the Libyan pests prepared
     More dreadful sights.  On Tullus great in heart,
     And bound to Cato with admiring soul,
     A fierce Haemorrhois fixed.  From every limb, (27)
     (As from a statue saffron spray is showered
950  In every part) there spouted forth for blood
     A sable poison: from the natural pores
     Of moisture, gore profuse; his mouth was filled
     And gaping nostrils, and his tears were blood.
     Brimmed full his veins; his very sweat was red;
     All was one wound.

                         Then piteous Levus next
     In sleep was victim, for around his heart
     Stood still the blood congealed: no pain he felt
     Of venomous tooth, but swift upon him fell
     Death, and he sought the shades; more swift to kill
960  No draught in poisonous cups from ripened plants
     Of direst growth Sabaean wizards brew.

     Lo! Upon branchless trunk a serpent, named
     By Libyans Jaculus, rose in coils to dart
     His venom from afar.  Through Paullus' brain
     It rushed, nor stayed; for in the wound itself
     Was death.  Then did they know how slowly flies,
     Flung from a sling, the stone; how gently speed
     Through air the shafts of Scythia.

                                             What availed,
     Murrus, the lance by which thou didst transfix
970  A Basilisk?  Swift through the weapon ran
     The poison to his hand: he draws his sword
     And severs arm and shoulder at a blow:
     Then gazed secure upon his severed hand
     Which perished as he looked.  So had'st thou died,
     And such had been thy fate!

                                   Whoe'er had thought
     A scorpion had strength o'er death or fate?
     Yet with his threatening coils and barb erect
     He won the glory of Orion (28) slain;
     So bear the stars their witness.  And who would fear
980  Thy haunts, Salpuga? (29)  Yet the Stygian Maids
     Have given thee power to snap the fatal threads.

     Thus nor the day with brightness, nor the night
     With darkness gave them peace.  The very earth
     On which they lay they feared; nor leaves nor straw
     They piled for couches, but upon the ground
     Unshielded from the fates they laid their limbs,
     Cherished beneath whose warmth in chill of night
     The frozen pests found shelter; in whose jaws
     Harmless the while, the lurking venom slept.
990  Nor did they know the measure of their march
     Accomplished, nor their path; the stars in heaven
     Their only guide.  "Return, ye gods," they cried,
     In frequent wail, "the arms from which we fled.
     Give back Thessalia.  Sworn to meet the sword
     Why, lingering, fall we thus?  In Caesar's place
     The thirsty Dipsas and the horned snake
     Now wage the warfare.  Rather let us seek
     That region by the horses of the sun
     Scorched, and the zone most torrid: let us fall
1000 Slain by some heavenly cause, and from the sky
     Descend our fate!  Not, Africa, of thee
     Complain we, nor of Nature.  From mankind
     Cut off, this quarter, teeming thus with pests
     She gave to snakes, and to the barren fields
     Denied the husbandman, nor wished that men
     Should perish by their venom.  To the realms
     Of serpents have we come.  Hater of men,
     Receive thy vengeance, whoso of the gods
     Severed this region upon either hand,
1010 With death in middle space.  Our march is set
     Through thy sequestered kingdom, and the host
     Which knows thy secret seeks the furthest world.
     Perchance some greater wonders on our path
     May still await us; in the waves be plunged
     Heaven's constellations, and the lofty pole
     Stoop from its height.  By further space removed
     No land, than Juba's realm; by rumour's voice
     Drear, mournful.  Haply for this serpent land
     There may we long, where yet some living thing
1020 Gives consolation.  Not my native land
     Nor European fields I hope for now
     Lit by far other suns, nor Asia's plains.
     But in what land, what region of the sky,
     Where left we Africa?  But now with frosts
     Cyrene stiffened: have we changed the laws
     Which rule the seasons, in this little space?
     Cast from the world we know, 'neath other skies
     And stars we tread; behind our backs the home
     Of southern tempests: Rome herself perchance
1030 Now lies beneath our feet.  Yet for our fates
     This solace pray we, that on this our track
     Pursuing Caesar with his host may come."

     Thus was their stubborn patience of its plaints
     Disburdened.  But the bravery of their chief
     Forced them to bear their toils.  Upon the sand,
     All bare, he lies and dares at every hour
     Fortune to strike: he only at the fate
     Of each is present, flies to every call;
     And greatest boon of all, greater than life,
1040 Brought strength to die.  To groan in death was shame
     In such a presence.  What power had all the ills
     Possessed upon him?  In another's breast
     He conquers misery, teaching by his mien
     That pain is powerless.

                              Hardly aid at length
     Did Fortune, wearied of their perils, grant.
     Alone unharmed of all who till the earth,
     By deadly serpents, dwells the Psyllian race.
     Potent as herbs their song; safe is their blood,
     Nor gives admission to the poison germ
1050 E'en when the chant has ceased.  Their home itself
     Placed in such venomous tract and serpent-thronged
     Gained them this vantage, and a truce with death,
     Else could they not have lived.  Such is their trust
     In purity of blood, that newly born
     Each babe they prove by test of deadly asp
     For foreign lineage.  So the bird of Jove
     Turns his new fledglings to the rising sun
     And such as gaze upon the beams of day
     With eves unwavering, for the use of heaven
1060 He rears; but such as blink at Phoebus' rays
     Casts from the nest.  Thus of unmixed descent
     The babe who, dreading not the serpent touch,
     Plays in his cradle with the deadly snake.
     Nor with their own immunity from harm
     Contented do they rest, but watch for guests
     Who need their help against the noisome plague.

     Now to the Roman standards are they come,
     And when the chieftain bade the tents be fixed,
     First all the sandy space within the lines
1070 With song they purify and magic words
     From which all serpents flee: next round the camp
     In widest circuit from a kindled fire
     Rise aromatic odours: danewort burns,
     And juice distils from Syrian galbanum;
     Then tamarisk and costum, Eastern herbs,
     Strong panacea mixt with centaury
     From Thrace, and leaves of fennel feed the flames,
     And thapsus brought from Eryx: and they burn
     Larch, southern-wood and antlers of a deer
1080 Which lived afar.  From these in densest fumes,
     Deadly to snakes, a pungent smoke arose;
     And thus in safety passed the night away.
     But should some victim feel the fatal fang
     Upon the march, then of this magic race
     Were seen the wonders, for a mighty strife
     Rose 'twixt the Psyllian and the poison germ.
     First with saliva they anoint the limbs
     That held the venomous juice within the wound;
     Nor suffer it to spread.  From foaming mouth
1090 Next with continuous cadence would they pour
     Unceasing chants -- nor breathing space nor pause --
     Else spreads the poison: nor does fate permit
     A moment's silence.  Oft from the black flesh
     Flies forth the pest beneath the magic song:
     But should it linger nor obey the voice,
     Repugmant to the summons, on the wound
     Prostrate they lay their lips and from the depths
     Now paling draw the venom.  In their mouths,
     Sucked from the freezing flesh, they hold the death,
1100 Then spew it forth; and from the taste shall know
     The snake they conquer.

                              Aided thus at length
     Wanders the Roman host in better guise
     Upon the barren fields in lengthy march. (30)
     Twice veiled the moon her light and twice renewed;
     Yet still, with waning or with growing orb
     Saw Cato's steps upon the sandy waste.
     But more and more beneath their feet the dust
     Began to harden, till the Libyan tracts
     Once more were earth, and in the distance rose
1110 Some groves of scanty foliage, and huts
     Of plastered straw unfashioned: and their hearts
     Leaped at the prospect of a better land.
     How fled their sorrow!  how with growing joy
     They met the savage lion in the path!
     In tranquil Leptis first they found retreat:
     And passed a winter free from heat and rain. (31)

     When Caesar sated with Emathia's slain
     Forsook the battlefield, all other cares
     Neglected, he pursued his kinsman fled,
1120 On him alone intent: by land his steps
     He traced in vain; then, rumour for his guide,
     He crossed the sea and reached the Thracian strait
     For love renowned; where on the mournful shore
     Rose Hero's tower, and Helle born of cloud (32)
     Took from the rolling waves their former name.
     Nowhere with shorter space the sea divides
     Europe from Asia; though Pontus parts
     By scant division from Byzantium's hold
     Chalcedon oyster-rich: and small the strait
1130 Through which Propontis pours the Euxine wave.
     Then marvelling at their ancient fame, he seeks
     Sigeum's sandy beach and Simois' stream,
     Rhoeteum noble for its Grecian tomb,
     And all the hero's shades, the theme of song.
     Next by the town of Troy burnt down of old
     Now but a memorable name, he turns
     His steps, and searches for the mighty stones
     Relics of Phoebus' wall.  But bare with age
     Forests of trees and hollow mouldering trunks
1140 Pressed down Assaracus' palace, and with roots
     Wearied, possessed the temples of the gods.
     All Pergamus with densest brake was veiled
     And even her stones were perished.  He beheld
     Thy rock, Hesione; the hidden grove,
     Anchises' nuptial chamber; and the cave
     Where sat the arbiter; the spot from which
     Was snatched the beauteous youth; the mountain lawn
     Where played Oenone.  Not a stone but told
     The story of the past.  A little stream
1150 Scarce trickling through the arid plain he passed,
     Nor knew 'twas Xanthus: deep in grass he placed,
     Careless, his footstep; but the herdsman cried
     "Thou tread'st the dust of Hector."  Stones confused
     Lay at his feet in sacred shape no more:
     "Look on the altar of Jove," thus spake the guide,
     "God of the household, guardian of the home."

     O sacred task of poets, toil supreme,
     Which rescuing all things from allotted fate
     Dost give eternity to mortal men!
1160 Grudge not the glory, Caesar, of such fame.
     For if the Latian Muse may promise aught,
     Long as the heroes of the Trojan time
     Shall live upon the page of Smyrna's bard,
     So long shall future races read of thee
     In this my poem; and Pharsalia's song
     Live unforgotten in the age to come.

     When by the ancient grandeur of the place
     The chieftain's sight was filled, of gathered turf
     Altars he raised: and as the sacred flame
1170 Cast forth its odours, these not idle vows
     Gave to the gods, "Ye deities of the dead,
     Who watch o'er Phrygian ruins: ye who now
     Lavinia's homes inhabit, and Alba's height:
     Gods of my sire Aeneas, in whose fanes
     The Trojan fire still burns: pledge of the past
     Mysterious Pallas, (24) of the inmost shrine,
     Unseen of men!  here in your ancient seat,
     Most famous offspring of Iulus' race,
     I call upon you and with pious hand
1180 Burn frequent offerings.  To my emprise
     Give prosperous ending!  Here shall I replace
     The Phrygian peoples, here with glad return
     Italia's sons shall build another Troy,
     Here rise a Roman Pergamus."

                                   This said,
     He seeks his fleet, and eager to regain
     Time spent at Ilium, to the favouring breeze
     Spreads all his canvas.  Past rich Asia borne,
     Rhodes soon he left while foamed the sparkling main
     Beneath his keels; nor ceased the wind to stretch
1190 His bending sails, till on the seventh night
     The Pharian beam proclaimed Egyptian shores.
     But day arose, and veiled the nightly lamp
     Ere rode his barks on waters safe from storm.
     Then Caesar saw that tumult held the shore,
     And mingled voices of uncertain sound
     Struck on his ear: and trusting not himself
     To doubtful kingdoms, of uncertain troth,
     He kept his ships from land.
                                   But from the king
     Came his vile minion forth upon the wave,
1200 Bearing his dreadful gift, Pompeius' head,
     Wrapped in a covering of Pharian wool.
     First took he speech and thus in shameless words
     Commends the murder: "Conqueror of the world,
     First of the Roman race, and, what as yet
     Thou dost not know, safe by thy kinsman slain;
     This gift receive from the Pellaean king,
     Sole trophy absent from the Thracian field,
     To crown thy toils on lands and on the deep.
     Here in thine absence have we placed for thee
1210 An end upon the war.  Here Magnus came
     To mend his fallen fortunes; on our swords
     Here met his death.  With such a pledge of faith
     Here have we bought thee, Caesar; with his blood
     Seal we this treaty.  Take the Pharian realm
     Sought by no bloodshed, take the rule of Nile,
     Take all that thou would'st give for Magnus' life:
     And hold him vassal worthy of thy camp
     To whom the fates against thy son-in-law
     Such power entrusted; nor hold thou the deed
1220 Lightly accomplished by the swordsman's stroke,
     And so the merit.  Guest ancestral he
     Who was its victim; who, his sire expelled,
     Gave back to him the sceptre.  For a deed
     So great, thou'lt find a name -- or ask the world.
     If 'twas a crime, thou must confess the debt
     To us the greater, for that from thy hand
     We took the doing."

                              Then he held and showed
     Unveiled the head.  Now had the hand of death
     Passed with its changing touch upon the face:
1230 Nor at first sight did Caesar on the gift
     Pass condemnation; nor avert his gaze,
     But dwelt upon the features till he knew
     The crime accomplished.  Then when truth was sure
     The loving father rose, and tears he shed
     Which flowed at his command, and glad in heart
     Forced from his breast a groan: thus by the flow
     Of feigned tears and grief he hoped to hide
     His joy else manifest: and the ghastly boon
     Sent by the king disparaging, professed
1240 Rather to mourn his son's dissevered head,
     Than count it for a debt.  For thee alone,
     Magnus, he durst not fail to find a tear:
     He, Caesar, who with mien unaltered spurned
     The Roman Senate, and with eyes undimmed
     Looked on Pharsalia's field.  O fate most hard!
     Didst thou with impious war pursue the man
     Whom 'twas thy lot to mourn?  No kindred ties
     No memory of thy daughter and her son
     Touch on thy heart.  Didst think perchance that grief
1250 Might help thy cause 'mid lovers of his name?
     Or haply, moved by envy of the king,
     Griev'st that to other hands than thine was given
     To shed the captive's life-blood?  and complain'st
     Thy vengeance perished and the conquered chief
     Snatched from thy haughty hand?  Whate'er the cause
     That urged thy grief, 'twas far removed from love.
     Was this forsooth the object of thy toil
     O'er lands and oceans, that without thy ken
     He should not perish?  Nay! but well was reft
1260 From thine arbitrament his fate.  What crime
     Did cruel Fortune spare, what depth of shame
     To Roman honour!  since she suffered not,
     Perfidious traitor, while yet Magnus lived,
     That thou should'st pity him!

                                        Thus by words he dared,
     To gain their credence in his sembled grief:
     "Hence from my sight with thy detested gift,
     Thou minion, to thy King.  Worse does your crime
     Deserve from Caesar than from Magnus' hands.
     The only prize that civil war affords
1270 Thus have we lost -- to bid the conquered live.
     If but the sister of this Pharian king
     Were not by him detested, by the head
     Of Cleopatra had I paid this gift.
     Such were the fit return.  Why did he draw
     His separate sword, and in the toil that's ours
     Mingle his weapons?  In Thessalia's field
     Gave we such right to the Pellaean blade?
     Magnus as partner in the rule of Rome
     I had not brooked; and shall I tolerate
1280 Thee, Ptolemaeus?  In vain with civil wars
     Thus have we roused the nations, if there be
     Now any might but Caesar's.  If one land
     Yet owned two masters, I had turned from yours
     The prows of Latium; but fame forbids,
     Lest men should whisper that I did not damn
     This deed of blood, but feared the Pharian land.
     Nor think ye to deceive; victorious here
     I stand: else had my welcome at your hands
     Been that of Magnus; and that neck were mine
1290 But for Pharsalia's chance.  At greater risk
     So seems it, than we dreamed of, took we arms;
     Exile, and Magnus' threats, and Rome I knew,
     Not Ptolemaeus.  But we spare the boy:
     Pass by the murder.  Let the princeling know
     We give no more than pardon for his crime.
     And now in honour of the mighty dead,
     Not merely that the earth may hide your guilt,
     Lay ye the chieftain's head within the tomb;
     With proper sepulture appease his shade
1300 And place his scattered ashes in an urn.
     Thus may he know my coming, and may hear
     Affection's accents, and my fond complaints.
     Me sought he not, but rather, for his life,
     This Pharian vassal; snatching from mankind
     The happy morning which had shown the world
     A peace between us.  But my prayers to heaven
     No favouring answer found; that arms laid down
     In happy victory, Magnus, once again
     I might embrace thee, begging thee to grant
1310 Thine ancient love to Caesar, and thy life.
     Thus for my labours with a worthy prize
     Content, thine equal, bound in faithful peace,
     I might have brought thee to forgive the gods
     For thy disaster; thou had'st gained for me
     From Rome forgiveness."

                              Thus he spake, but found
     No comrade in his tears; nor did the host
     Give credit to his grief.  Deep in their breasts
     They hide their groans, and gaze with joyful front
     (O famous Freedom!) on the deed of blood:
1320 And dare to laugh when mighty Caesar wept.


ENDNOTES:
(1)  This was the Stoic theory.  The perfect of men passed after
     death into a region between our atmosphere and the heavens,
     where they remained until the day of general conflagration,
     (see Book VII. line 949), with their senses amplified and
     rendered akin to divine.
(2)  A promontory in Africa was so called, as well as that in
     Italy.
(3)  Meaning that her husband gave her this commission in order
     to prevent her from committing suicide.
(4)  See Book VIII., line 547.
(5)  See line 709.
(6)  This passage is described by Lord Macaulay as "a pure gem of
     rhetoric without one flaw, and, in my opinion, not very far
     from historical truth" (Trevelyan's "Life and Letters", vol.
     i., page 462.)
(7)       "... Clarum et venembile nomen
          Gentibus, et multum nostrae quod profuit urbi,"
     quoted by Mr. Burke, and applied to Lord Chatham, in his
     Speech on American taxation.
(8)  That is, liberty, which by the murder of Pompeius they had
     obtained.
(9)  Reading "saepit", Hosius.  The passage seems to be corrupt.
(10) "Scaly Triton's winding shell", (Comus, 878).  He was
     Neptune's son and trumpeter.  That Pallas sprang armed from
     the head of Jupiter is well known.
(11) Cnaeus.
(12) Compare Herodotus, ii., 16: "For they all say that the earth
     is divided into three parts, Europe, Asia and Libya." (And
     see Bunbury's "Ancient Geography", i., 145, 146, for a
     discussion of this subject.)
(13) Citron tables were in much request at Rome. (Comp. "Paradise
     Regained", Book iv., 115; and see Book X., line 177.)
(14) Alluding to the shield of Mars which fell from heaven on
     Numa at sacrifice.  Eleven others were made to match it
     ("Dict. Antiq.")  While Horace speaks of them as chief
     objects of a patriot Roman's affection ("Odes" iii., 5, 9),
     Lucan discovers for them a ridiculous origin.  They were in
     the custody of the priests of Mars. (See Book I., 666.)
(15) I.e. Where the equinoctial circle cuts the zodiac in its
     centre. -- Haskins.
(16) Compare Book III., 288.
(17) See Book V., 400.
(18) 1st.  For his victories in Sicily and Africa, B.C. 81; 2nd.
     For the conquest of Sertorius, B.C. 71; 3rd. For his Eastern
     triumphs, B.C. 61.  (Compare Book II., 684, &c.)
(19) Over whom Marius triumphed.
(20) Phoreus and Ceto were the parents of the Gorgons -- Stheno,
     Euryale. and Medusa, of whom the latter alone was mortal,
     (Hesiod. "Theogony", 276.)  Phorcus was a son of Pontus and
     Gaia (sea and land), ibid, 287.
(21) The scimitar lent by Hermes (or Mercury) to Perseus for the
     purpose; with which had been slain Argus the guardian of Io
     (Conf. "Prometheus vinctus", 579.)  Hermes was born in a
     cave in Mount Cyllene in Arcadia.
(22) The idea seems to be that the earth, bulging at the equator,
     casts its shadow highest on the sky: and that the moon
     becomes eclipsed by it whenever she follows a straight path
     instead of an oblique one, which may happen from her
     forgetfulness (Mr. Haskins' note).
(23) This catalogue of snakes is alluded to in Dante's "Inferno",
     24.
          "I saw a crowd within
          Of serpents terrible, so strange of shape
          And hideous that remembrance in my veins
          Yet shrinks the vital current.  Of her sands
          Let Libya vaunt no more: if Jaculus,
          Pareas, and Chelyder be her brood,
          Cenchris and Amphisbaena, plagues so dire
          Or in such numbers swarming ne'er she showed."
               -- Carey.
          (See also Milton's "Paradise Lost", Book X., 520-530.)
(24) The Egyptian Thebes.
(25)                "... All my being
          Like him whom the Numidian Seps did thaw
          Into a dew with poison, is dissolved,
          Sinking through its foundations."
               --Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound", Act iii, Scene 1.
(26) The glance of the eye of the basilisk or cockatrice, was
     supposed to be deadly. (See "King Richard III", Act i.,
     Scene 2: --
          Gloucester:    Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected
                         mine.
          Anne:          Would they were basilisks, to strike
                         thee dead!)
     The word is also used for a big cannon. ("1 King Henry IV",
     Act ii., Scene 3.)
(27) See Book III., 706.
(28) According to one story Orion, for his assault on Diana, was
     killed by the Scorpion, who received his reward by being
     made into a constellation.
(29) A sort of venomous ant.
(30) No other author gives any details of this march; and those
     given by Lucan are unreliable.  The temple of Hammon is far
     from any possible line of route taken from the Lesser Syrtes
     to Leptis.  Dean Merivale states that the inhospitable sands
     extended for seven days' journey, and ranks the march as one
     of the greatest exploits in Roman military history.
     Described by the names known to modern geography, it was
     from the Gulf of Cabes to Cape Africa.  Pope, in a letter to
     Henry Cromwell, dated November 11, 1710, makes some caustic
     remarks on the geography of this book. (See "Pope's Works",
     Vol. vi., 109; by Elwin & Courthope.)
(31) See Line 444.
(32) See Book IV., 65.
(33) The "Palladium" or image of Pallas, preserved in the temple
     of Vesta. (See Book I., 659.)

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