"Chapter Fourteen" by Petronius.
This story set the sailors all laughing, while it made Tryphaena blush not a little and lay her face
amorously against Giton's bosom. Lichas on the other hand was far from laughing, and shaking
his head indignantly, "If the Governor of Ephesus had been a just man," he declared, "he should
have returned the good husband's body to the tomb and hung the woman on the cross."
Doubtless he was thinking of the injury done to his own bed, and the pillage of his ship by the
roving band of wantons. But not only did the terms of our treaty forbid his bearing rancor, but
the mirth that filled all hearts left no room for resentment. Meantime Tryphaena, sitting on
Giton's lap, was now covering his breast with kisses, now adjusting his wig so as to set off his
face in spite of the loss of his ringlets.
For myself, so chagrined and impatient was I at this new and unexpected reconciliation I could neither eat nor drink, but sat looking grimly askance at the pair. Every kiss they exchanged wounded me, and every artful blandishment the wanton employed. I knew not whether I was the more incensed with the boy for having robbed me of my mistress, or with my mistress for debauching the boy. Both sights cut me to the quick, and were far more painful than my late captivity. To make things worse, Tryphaena never vouchsafed me a word, as she surely might have to a friend and a once favored lover, nor did Giton deign so much as to do me the common courtesy of drinking my health, or at the very least speaking to me in the course of general conversation. I suppose he was afraid, just at the commencement of renewed favors on the lady's part, of re-opening a scarcely healed wound. Tears of vexation wetted my bosom, and the groans I stifled under the guise of a sigh all but choked me.
The vulture grim that, sick hearts
Mangles the inmost vitals day and night,
Is not the bird complacent poets sing,
But bitter jealousy and sore despite.
Notwithstanding my dismal countenance, my flaxen wig set off my beauty to advantage, and Lichas, inflamed afresh with amorousness, began to cast sheep's eyes at me and to solicit my favors, adopting more the tone of a friend than of a supercilious master who commands. Many were his attempts, but all in vain; at last, his advances meeting with nothing but decided rebuffs, his love changed to fury, and he endeavored to carry the place by assault. But Tryphaena, making a sudden inroad, observed his naughtiness, whereupon he hurriedly adjusts his dress in great confusion, and takes to his heels.
This added fresh fuel to Tryphaena's wantonness, who demanded, "What was Lichas aiming at in these ardent attempts of his?" She forced me to explain, and fired by my tale, remembering too our former intimate relations, would fain have had me renew our bygone amours. But I was tired out with excessive venery, and rejected her advances with scorn. At this, Tryphaena, in a frenzy of desire, threw her arms wildly around me and hugged me so tight I uttered a sudden cry of pain. One of the maids rushed in at the sound, and jumping to the conclusion I was extorting from her mistress the very favor I refused her, sprang at me and tore us apart. Mad with the disappointment of her lecherous passion, Tryphaena upbraided me violently, and with a thousand threats hastened away to Lichas, to still further exasperate him against me and to join him in contriving some means of vengeance.
You must know that at one time I had found much favor in this same waiting-maid's eyes, when I was on familiar terms with her mistress; so she took it extremely ill when she surprised me with Tryphaena, and sobbed bitterly. I eagerly inquired the reason of her distress, and after making some show of reluctance, she burst out, "If you have one drop of good blood in your veins, you will treat her as no better than a strumpet; as you are a man, don't go with that female catamite."
This incident perplexed my mind and made me still more anxious; but what I feared more than anything else was that Eumolpus might get wind of the circumstances, such as they were, and being a most sarcastic person might compose a versified lampoon to avenge my supposed wrongs, for in that case his fiery partisanship would undoubtedly have made me ridiculous, a thing I especially dreaded. I was just debating in my own mind how I could keep Eumolpus from this knowledge, when behold! the very man in question appeared, perfectly acquainted with what had occurred; for Tryphaena had retailed the whole circumstances to Giton, trying to indemnify herself for my rebuff at my little favorite's expense. This had made Eumolpus furiously angry, all the more as these ebullitions of amorousness were open violations of the treaty signed and sealed between us. The instant the old fellow set eyes on me, he began bewailing my lot, and begged I would tell him exactly how it had all happened. So I frankly told him, seeing he was thoroughly posted already, of Lichas's abominable attempt and Tryphaena's lecherous provocations. After listening to my tale, Eumolpus swore in good set terms, that he would avenge us, declaring the Gods were too just to suffer such villainies to go unpunished.
Whilst we were still engaged in talk of this and the like sort, the sea rose and heavy clouds
gathering from all quarters plunged the scene in darkness. The sailors run to their posts in panic
haste, and take in sail to ease the ship. But the wind, continually changing, had raised a
cross-sea, and the helmsman was uncertain what course to steer. At one moment the storm
would be driving us towards Sicily, while at others the North Wind, that tyrant of the Italian
coast, would repeatedly whirl our helpless ship hither and thither at its mercy; and what was
more dangerous than all the squalls, a sudden darkness had fallen, so thick the helmsman could
not see even to the ship's bows. So the tempest being, God knows, utterly overpowering, Lichas
stretches forth his hands towards me in terror and supplication, crying, "Help us, Encolpius, help
us in our peril; restore that sacred robe and the sistrum you robbed the ship of. By all you hold
sacred, have pity, you who are so tender-hearted usually." As he was vociferating thus, the gale
swept him overboard; he rose once and again from the raging whirlpool, then the waters whirled
him round and sucked him under.
Tryphaena on the contrary was saved by the fidelity of her slaves, who seized her, put her in the ship's boat along with the greater part of her baggage, and so rescued her from certain death.
Clinging to Giton, I lamented, "Is this all the Gods give us, to unite us only in death? Nay! cruel Fortune grudges even this. Look! in an instant the waves will overset the ship; look! the angry sea will in an instant sever the embraces of two lovers. If ever you truly loved Encolpius, kiss me, while you may, and snatch this last delight from swift impending doom."
As I said the words, Giton threw off his robe, and creeping inside my tunic, protruded his head to be kissed. Moreover, that the cruel waves might not tear our embrace asunder, he girt us both together with a girdle round our waists, crying, "If nothing else, at least we shall thus float longer united; or if the ocean be so merciful as to cast up our dead bodies on the same shore, either some passer-by will have the common humanity to heap a cairn over us, or else the unconscious sand will give us a burial even the angry waves cannot dispute." I submit to this last and final bond, and calm as if composed on my funeral couch, await a death I no longer dread.
The tempest meantime carries out the decrees of Fate, and beats down the last defenses of the ship. Mast and rudder are carried away, and not a rope or an oar left; like a mere shapeless mass of logs she goes drifting with the billows. Some fishermen now put out hastily in their small craft to loot the vessel; but when they saw men were still on board ready to defend their property, they changed
from wreckers into rescuers. Suddenly we hear
an extraordinary noise, like the howling of a wild beast trying to get out, coming from underneath
the master's cabin. Following up the sound, we discover Eumolpus seated, dashing down verses
on a huge sheet of parchment. Marveling how the man could find leisure in the very face of
death to be writing poetry, we haul him out in spite of his clamorous protests, telling him to have
some common sense for once. But he was furious at the interruption, and shouted, "Let me finish
my phrase; my poem's just in the throes of completion!" I laid violent hands on the maniac,
calling on Giton to help me drag the bellowing poet ashore. After accomplishing our purpose
with much difficulty, we found dismal shelter in a fisherman's hut, where having refreshed
ourselves as best we might with provisions damaged by sea-water, we passed a most wretched
Next day, as we were debating what district we might most safely make for, I suddenly caught sight of a human body that was driving ashore, tossing lightly up and down on the waves. I stood sadly waiting, gazing with wet eyes on the work of the faithless element, and thus soliloquized, "Somewhere or another, mayhap, a wife is looking in blissful security for this poor fellow's return, or a son perhaps, or a father, all unsuspicious of storm and wreck; be sure, he has left some one behind, whom he kissed fondly at parting. This then is the end of human projects, this the accomplishment of men's mighty schemes. Look! how now he rides the waves."
I was still deploring the stranger's fate, as I supposed him to be, when the swell heaved the face, still quite undisfigured, towards the beach, and I recognized the features of Lichas, my erstwhile enemy, so formidable and implacable a foe, now cast helpless almost at my feet. I could restrain my tears no longer, but smiting my breast again and again, "Where is your anger now," I exclaimed, "and all your domineering ways? There you lie, a prey to the fishes and monsters of the deep; you who so short a while ago proudly boasted your despotic powers, have never a plank left of your great ship. Go to, mortals; swell your hearts with high-flown anticipations. Go to, ye men of craft; arrange the disposal for a thousand years to come of the wealth you have got by fraud. Why! only yesterday this dead man here cast up the accounts of his fortune, and actually fixed in his own mind the day, when he should return to his native shore. Ye Gods! how far away he lies from the point he hoped to reach. Nor is it the sea alone that disappoints men's hopes like this. The warrior is betrayed by his arms; the householder in the act of paying his offerings to heaven is overwhelmed in the ruin of his own penates. One is thrown from his car, and breathes his last hurried breath; the glutton dies of an over-hearty meal, the frugal man of fasting. Reckon it aright, and there is shipwreck everywhere. But then a drowned man misses burial, you object. As if it made one scrap of difference how the perishable body is consumed,-- by fire, by water, or by time. Do what you will, these all end in the same result. Ah! but wild bests will mangle his corpse. As if fire would treat it any kindlier; why! fire is the very penalty we deem the most appalling, when we are savage with our slaves. What folly then to make such ado to ensure that no part of us remain unburied, when the Fates arrange this matter at their pleasure, whether we will or no."
After indulging in these grim thoughts, we proceed to perform the last offices to the dead man, and Lichas, borne by the hands of his ill-wishers to the pile, is consumed to ashes. Eumolpus meantime is busy composing an epitaph for the departed, and after rolling his eyes about for a while in search of inspiration, delivers himself of the following fragment:
His doom was sealed,
No carven marble marked his sepulture;
Five feet of common earth received the corpse,
His tomb a lowly mound.
This office duly and willingly performed, we pursue our interrupted journey, and in a very brief
space of time arrive sweating at the top of a steep hill, whence we spy at no great distance a city
occupying the summit
of a lofty crag. We did not know its name, being mere wanderers, until a peasant informed us it
was Croton, a very ancient place and once upon a time the first town of all Italy. We next
inquired anxiously what sort were the people inhabiting this famous site, and what commerce
they mostly carried on since the ruin of their former prosperity by constantly recurring
"Good strangers," the fellow replied, "if so be you are merchants, change your trade and seek some other means of livelihood. But if you are of a more genteel stamp, and can tell lies without end and stick to them, you're in the straight road to fortune. In this city literature is not cultivated, nor does eloquence find favor; sobriety and morality meet with neither commendation nor success; its inhabitants each and all, you must know, belong to one or other of two classes, viz., legacy hunters and their prey. In this city no man rears children, for whosoever has natural heirs of his own, is admitted to no entertainment, no public show; excluded from every privilege of citizenship, he is condemned to a life of furtive obscurity among the lowest of the low. The unmarried on the contrary and all who have no near kindred, attain the highest honors; they alone are brave, and capable, and respectable. You will find the town," he concluded, "like a pestfield, where there are but two thing to be seen-- corpses being torn, and crows tearing them."
Eumolpus, more far-seeing than the rest of us, pondered over these novel arrangements and
admitted the method indicated of making a fortune took his fancy. For my part, I supposed the
old poet was joking in his fantastic way, but he went on quite seriously, "I only wish I had a more
adequate stock in trade, I mean a more fashionable robe and more elegant outfit generally, to
make the imposture more convincing. Great Hercules; I would get done with my wallet for good
and all, and lead you all straight to wealth." On this I promised him whatever he required,
provided the dress we used for our light-fingered work would satisfy him; together with anything
we had appropriated from Lycurgus's place. As for ready money, this we might safely trust the
Mother of Gods to provide.
"What hinders us then," cried Eumolpus, "to arrange our little comedy? Make me master, if you like my plan." None of us ventured to disapprove a project where we had nothing to lose. Accordingly, to ensure the deception being faithfully kept up by all concerned, we swore an oath in terms dictated by Eumolpus, to endure fire, imprisonment, stripes, cold steel, and whatsoever else he might command us, in his behalf. Like regular gladiators we vowed ourselves most solemnly to our master, body and soul.
After completing the oath-taking, we salute our master with pretended servility, and are instructed all to tell the same tale,-- how Eumolpus had lost a son, a young man of prodigious eloquence and high promise; how consequently the poor old father had quitted his native city, that the sight of his boy's clients and companions and the vicinity of his tomb might not be continually renewing his grief. This sad event, we were to add, had been followed by a recent shipwreck, which had cost him two million sesterces; that it was not however so much the loss of the money which annoyed him as the fact that for want of a proper retinue he could not fittingly keep up his rank. Further, that he had thirty millions in Africa invested in landed estates and securities, and such a host of slaves scattered over the length and breadth of Numidia that they could storm Carthage at a pinch.
In accordance with this scheme, we direct Eumolpus to cough a great deal, to have a weak digestion at any rate, and in company to grumble at every dish set before him; to be for ever talking about gold and silver, and unproductive farms, and how terrible barren land always was; also every day to sit over accounts, and regularly once a month to add new codicils to his will. And to make the farce quite complete, whenever he wished to call one of us, he was to use the wrong name, plainly showing the master was thinking of other servants no longer with him.
Matters being thus arranged, after praying the gods for "good success and happy issue," as the phrase runs, we set forward. But poor Giton could not stand his unusual load; while Corax, Eumolpus's hired man, objecting strongly to his job, kept everlastingly dropping his pack and cursing us for going too fast; he swore he would either throw away his traps, or else make off with the swag altogether. "Do you take me for a beast of burden," he grumbled, "or a stone-ship? I contracted for a man's work, not a dray-horse's! I'm as much a freeman as you are, though my father did leave me a poor man." Not content with bad language, he kept lifting up his leg again and again, and filling the road with a filthy noise and a filthy stench. Giton only laughed at his impudence, and after each explosion gave a loud imitation of the noise with his mouth.
But even this did not hinder the poet from relapsing into his accustomed vein. "Many are the
victims, my young friends," he began, "poetry has seduced! The instant a man has got a verse to
stand on its feet and clothed a tender thought in appropriate language, he thinks he has scaled
Helicon right off. Many others, after long practice of forensic talents, finally retreat to the
tranquil calm of verse-making as to a blessed harbor of refuge, imagining a poem is easier put
together than an argument all embroidered with scintillating conceits. But a mind of nobler
inspiration is revolted by this flippancy; and no intellect that is not flooded with a mighty
tide of learning, can either conceive or bring to birth a worthy poetic child. In diction, anything
approaching commonness, if I may use the word, is to be avoided; a poet must choose words
devoid of base associations, and hold to
I hate and bid avaunt the vulgar herd.
Again, care should be exercised to avoid sentiments that stand out as mere excrescences on the framework of the main conception; let the fabric be as brilliant as it may, its colors must be ingrained in the stuff. I may instance Homer, and the Lyric poets, and our Roman Virgil, and Horace with his happy preciosity. The rest, one and all, were blind to the true path to Parnassus, or if they did see it, were afraid to tread it.
"Look at that mighty subject, the Civil Wars; anyone attempting it, if not a man of the ripest scholarship, will sink under the burden. It is no question of a string of facts to be catalogued in verse, a task the Historian will perform far better; nay! rather must the untrammeled spirit be hurried along through a series of digressions and divine interventions and all the intricacies of myth and fable. The inspired frenzy of the bard should be more apparent than the tested pedantry of scrupulous precision. For example, see how you like this rapid sketch, though indeed it has not yet received the final touches:
Now haughty Rome reigned mistress of the Globe,
Where'er the Ether shines with heavenly fires,
Or Earth extends, or circling Ocean rolls.
Yet still insatiate, her winged navies plowed
The burdened main, to each unplundered shore;
For to the rich she bore immortal hate,
And her own avarice still prepared her Fall.
E'en former pleasures were beheld with scorn,
As joys grown threadbare by too vulgar use.
The soldier now admired th' Assyrian dye,
And now th' Hesperian charmed his fickle pride.
Numidia here the lofty roof sustained;
There shone the honors of Serean looms;
Arabia of her balmy sweets was spoiled;
Yet still unquenched, the lust of ravage burned.
In Maurian wilds, and Ammon's distant reign,
Monsters were captived for our cruel sports.
The stranger tiger in his golden cage
Now crossed the main to press our friendly shore;
Whilst joyful Rome her monster entertained
With purple streams of her own kindred blood.
I blush to speak, I tremble to recite
Our Persian manners, and our curse of Fate!
From Youth they snatched the Man with cruel art,
Whilst Venus frowned o'er the retreating tide;
As if they thought to favor the deceit,
E'en Age itself would like that tide retire!
Nature was lost, and sought herself in vain.
Hence naught but lewd effeminacies please,
Soft curling hair, and wantonness of dress,
And all that can disgrace man's godlike form.
From Afric slaves and purple carpets come,
With citron tables, rich in golden stains,
Around whose costly, but dishonored pride,
Buried in wine, the giddy drunkards lie.
Nothing escapes our raging lust of taste;
The soldier draws his sword in rapine's cause;
And from Sicilia's distant main the scar
Is brought alive to our luxurious board;
The Lucrine shore is of its oysters spoiled,
And hunger purchased with th' expensive sauce;
Phasis is widowed of its feathered race,
And nothing heard o'er all the desert strand
But trees remurmuring to the passing gales.
Nor less in Mars's Field Corruption swayed,
Where every vote was prostitute to gain;
The People and the Senate both were sold.
E'en Age itself was deaf to Virtue's voice,
And all its court to sordid interest paid,
Beneath whose feet lay trampled Majesty.
E'en Cato's self was by the crowd exiled,
Whilst he who won suffused with blushes stood,
Ashamed to snatch the power from worthier hands.
Oh! shame to Rome and to the Roman name!
'Twas not one man alone whom they exiled,
But banished Virtue, Fame and Freedom too.
Thus wretched Rome her own destruction bought,
Herself the merchant, and herself the ware.
Besides, in debt was the whole Empire bound,
A prey to Usury's insatiate jaws;
Not one could call his house, or self, his own;
But debts on debts like silent fevers wrought,
Till through the members they the vitals seized.
Fierce tumults now they to their succor call,
And War must heal the wounds of Luxury;
For Want may safely dare without a fear.
And sunk in hopeless misery, what could wake
Licentious Rome from her voluptuous trance,
But fire, and sword, and all the din of arms?
Three mighty chiefs kind Fortune had supplied,
Whom cruel Fate in various manner slew.
The Parthian fields were drunk with Crassus' gore;
Great Pompey perished on the Libyan main;
And thankless Rome saw greater Julius bleed.
Thus as one soil too narrow were to hold
Their rival dust, their ashes shared the World.
But their immortal glory never dies.
'Twixt Naples and Dicharchian fields extends
A horrid Gulf, immensely deep and wide,
Through which Cocytus rolls his lazy streams,
And poisons all the air with sulphurous fogs.
No Autumn here e'er clothes himself with green,
Nor joyful Spring the languid herbage cheers;
Nor feathered warblers chant their mirthful strains
In vernal comfort to the rustling boughs;
But Chaos reigns, and ragged rocks around
With naught but baleful cypress are adorned.
Amidst these horrors Pluto raised his head,
With mingled flames and ashes sprinkled o'er,
Stopped Fortune in her flight, and thus addressed:
Oh! thou controller of both Earth and Heaven,
Who had'st the power which too securely stands,
And only heap'st thy favors to resume;
Dost thou not sink beneath Rome's ponderous
Unable to sustain her tottering pride?
E'en Rome herself beneath her burden groans,
And ill sustains Monopoly of Power.
For see elate in Luxury of Spoils,
Her golden domes invade the frighted skies!
Sea's turned to land, and land is turned to sea,
And injured Nature mourns her slighted Laws.
E'en me they threaten, and besiege my Throne;
The Earth is ransacked for her treasured stores,
And in the solid hills such caverns made,
That murmuring ghosts begin to hope for day.
Change, Fortune, ergo change this prideful scene!
Fire every Roman's breast with civil rage,
And give new subjects to my desert reign!
For ne'er have I been joyed with human gore,
Nor my Tisiphone e'er quenched her thirst,
Since Sulla's sword let loose the purple tide,
And reaped the harvest of insatiate death.
He spoke . . . and lo! the opening Earth disclosed,
And to the Goddess' hand his hand he joined.
Then Fortune, smiling, this reply addressed:
Oh! Father who Cocytus' empire sways!
If dangerous truths may safely be revealed,
Enjoy your wish! not less my anger boils,
And in my breast as fierce resentment burns.
I hate the height to which I've lifted Rome,
And my own lavished favors now repent.
But that same God who built her haughty power,
Shall soon rehumble to the dust her pride.
Then I'll with transport light the general flame,
And with the plenteous slaughter feast revenge.
Methinks I see Thessalia's fatal plain
Already heaped with dead, and funeral piles
Innumerous blazing on Iberia's shore!
I see the Libyan sands distained with blood,
And sevenfold Nile groans with prophetic fears!
On every side the clang of arms resounds,
An Actium's flight seems present to my eyes!
Then open all the portals of thy Reign,
And give thy crowding subjects free access!
Old Charon in his boats can ne'er convey
The shoals of ghosts that for their passage wait,
But needs a fleet!-- Tisiphone may then
Quench her dire thirst, and cloy herself with Fate.
The mangled World is hurrying to thy Reign.
Scarce ended she her words, when from a cloud
Blue lightnings flashed, and sudden thunders roared.
Affrighted Pluto feared his brother's darts,
And trembling hid his head in shades of night.
The Gods by dreadful omens straight disclosed
The deathful horrors of approaching Fate.
The Sun in bloody clouds obscured his rays,
As if he mourned the dreadful scene begun;
Whilst trembling Cynthia fled the impious sight,
Quenching her orb, and from the World withdrew.
Mountains by sudden storms were overturned;
And erring rivers left their channels dry.
E'en Heaven itself confesses the alarm,
And fierce battalions skirmish in the clouds;
Etna redoubles all her sulphurous rage,
And darts strange lightnings at th' affrighted sky;
Unburied ghosts too wander round the tombs,
And with impatient threatenings ask repose;
A fiery comet shakes her blazing hair;
And wondering Jove descends in showers of blood.
Nor was it long that Heaven th' event concealed;
For mighty Caesar panting for revenge,
Gave peace to Gaul, and flew to Civil Arms.
Upon the towering Alps' remotest height,
Where the cragg'd rocks look down upon the clouds,
A Grecian altar to Alcides smokes.
There everlasting Winter bars access,
And the ambitious summit props the skies;
No Summer ever darts his genials beams,
Nor vernal Zephyrs cheer the joyless air;
But snows on snows accumulated rise,
The icy pillars of the starry Orb.
Here Caesar with his joyful legions climbed;
Here camped; and from the lofty precipice,
Surveying all Hesperia's fertile plains.
With hands uplifted, thus addressed his prayer:
Almighty Jove! And thou, Saturnian Earth,
So oft by me with filial triumphs graced!
Witness these arms I with reluctance bear,
Compelled by matchless wrongs to War's redress.
Exiled and interdicted, whilst the Rhine
I swelled beyond its banks with native gore,
And to his Alps confined the haughty Gaul,
Once more to storm your Capitol prepared.
But what reward has all these toils repaid?
Conquest alas! is by herself undone!
Germania vanquished a new crime is deemed,
And sixty Triumphs are with exile crowned.
But what are they my glory thus compels
To count the aid of mercenary arms?
Oh! shame to Rome! My Rome disowns their birth
Nor shall they long her injured honors stain,
Beneath this arm their envious Chief shall fall!
Come fellow-victors, rouse your martial rage,
And with your conquering swords assert my cause!
One is our danger, and our crime the same.
It was not I alone reaped glory's field,
But thanks to you! by you these laurels won;
Then since disgrace and punishment's decreed,
Mutual our trophies and victorious toils,
The die be thrown! and Fortune judge the cast!
Let each brave warrior grasp his shining blade!
For me my rights already crowned appear,
Nor 'midst so many heroes doubt success.
He spoke. . . . When swift-descending from the
The Bird of Jove urged his auspicious flight.
Strange voices in the left-hand woods were heard;
And issuing flames flashed through the sylvan gloom.
Phoebus himself assumed his brightest beams,
And with unusual splendor cheered the day.
Fired with the omen, dauntless Caesar bids
His engines move; himself the first t' essay
The dangerous path; for yet in frost confined
And peaceful horrors lay the passive ground.
But when with ardent feet th' innumerous train
Of men and horse and icy fetters loosed,
To fierce resistance swelled the melted snows,
And sudden rivers o'er the mountains rolled.
But soon again as if by Fate's command,
The rising waves in icy billows stood;
Whilst in confusion o'er the treacherous path
Horses and men and mingled standards lay.
To aid the horror, sudden winds compel
The gathering clouds, and burst into a storm,
Thick o'er their ringing arms and hail descends,
And from the Ether pours an icy sea;
One common ruin conquers Earth and Sky,
And frighted rivers hurry o'er their banks;
But dauntless Caesar aided by his spear
Still presses forward with unshaken soul.
With such an ardor was Alcides fired,
When down Caucasian steeps he rushed to fame.
And thus descending from Olympus' brow,
Almighty Jove the Giants put to flight.
Meantime on trembling pinions through the Skies
To Mount Palatium frighted Rumor flew.
And to astonished Rome these tidings bore:
A hostile Fleet is riding on the main,
And o'er the Alps, with German conquests flushed,
The vengeful Legions pour on guilty Rome.
Straight Fire and Sword and all the dreadful train
Of civil rage before their eyes appear!
Distracting tumults every bosom swayed,
And Reason 'midst the dubious fears was lost.
This flies by land, and that confides the sea,
As far less dangerous than his native shores!
These run to arms; Fate aids the wild affright,
And each obeys the guidance of his fears.
No certain course the giddy vulgar know,
But through the Gates in thronged confusion crowd,
And rival terror;-- Rome to Rumor yields,
And weeping Romans leave their native seats.
This is his hand his trembling children leads,
And this his gods within his bosom hides,
His long-loved threshold quits with mournful looks.
And wings his curses at the absent foe.
There on the husband's breast the bride complains;
And here his father's age a pious youth
Supports with filial care, nor feels his load,
Nor fears but for his venerable charge.
Whilst these, insensate! to the field convey
Their treasured wealth, and glut the war with spoils.
As on the deep when stormy Auster blows,
And mounts the billows with tumultuous rage,
Th' affrighted seamen ply their arts in vain;
The pilots stand aghast; these lash their sails;
Whilst these make land, and those avoid the shores,
And rather Fortune than the rocks confide.
But what can paint the fears that seized all men,
When both the Consuls with great Pompey fled?
Pompey, Hydaspes' and proud Pontus' scourge,
The rock of Pirates, whom with wonder Jove
Had thrice beheld in the triumphal Car!
That mighty Chief who gave the Euxine laws,
And taught th' admiring Bosphorus to obey,
Oh shame! Deserted the Imperial Name,
And meanly left both Rome and Fame behind!
Whilst fickle Fortune gloried in his flight.
The Gods with horror see th' intestine jars,
And even celestial breasts consent to fear.
For see the mild pacific train depart.
Exiled the World by our impiety!
First soft-winged Peace extends her snowy arm,
And pulling o'er her brows her olive wreath,
Seeks the Elysian shades with hasty flight.
On her with downcast eyes meek Faith attends,
And mourning Justice with disheveled hair,
And weeping Concord with her garments rent.
But joyful Hell unbolts the brazen doors,
And all her Furies quit the Stygian Court.
Threatening Bellona with Erinys joins,
And dire Megaera armed with fiery brands.
Pale Death, insidious Fraud, and Massacre,
With Rage, burst forth! Who from his fetters freed,
Lifts high his gory head; a helmet hides
His wounded visage, and his left hand grasps
The shield of Mars horrid with countless darts.
Whilst in his right a flaming torch appears,
To light Destruction, and to fire the World.
The Gods descending also left the skies,
Whilst wondering Atlas missed his usual load;
And mortal jars even Heaven itself divide.
In Caesar's cause Dione first appeared;
Her Pallas aided, and the God of War.
Whilst in espousal of brave Pompey's part
Cynthia and Phoebus and Cyllene's son
And his own model, great Alcides, joined.
The trumpets sound! When straight fell Discord
Her Stygian head, and shook her matted locks.
With clotted blood her face was covered o'er,
And gummy horrors from her eyes distilled;
Two rows of cankered teeth deformed her mouth,
And from her tongue a stream of poison flowed;
Whilst hissing serpents played around her cheeks;
Her livid skin with rags was scarce concealed,
And in her trembling hand a torch she shook.
Ascending thus from the Tartarean gloom,
She reached the top of lofty Apennine;
Whence viewing all the subject land and sea,
And armies floating on the crowded plains,
This into words her joyful fury broke:
Now, rush ye Nations, rush to mutual arms,
And let Dissension's torch for ever burn!
For flight no longer shall the Coward save,
Nor age, nor sex, nor children's pity move,
But the Earth tremble, and her haughtiest towers
Shake in convulsive ruins to the ground.
Do thou, Marcellus, the Decree uphold;
And Curio, thou excite the madding crowd!
Nor thou, persuasive Lentulus, forbear
To aid the Faction with thy potent tongue!
But why, O Caesar, this delayed Revenge?
Why burst'st thou not the Gates of guilty Rome,
And mak'st her treasured pride thy welcome prey?
And thou, O Pompey, know'st thou not thy power?
If thou fear'st Rome, to Epidamnus haste,
And feast Thessalia's plain with human gore!
Thus Discord spoke. . . . The impious Earth