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The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library

(aka "The Civil War")


Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b

     With canvas yielding to the western wind
     The navy sailed the deep, and every eye
     Gazed on Ionian billows.  But the chief
     Turned not his vision from his native shore
     Now left for ever, while the morning mists
     Drew down upon the mountains, and the cliffs
     Faded in distance till his aching sight
     No longer knew them.  Then his wearied frame
     Sank in the arms of sleep.  But Julia's shape,
10   In mournful guise, dread horror on her brow,
     Rose through the gaping earth, and from her tomb
     Erect (1), in form as of a Fury spake:
     "Driven from Elysian fields and from the plains
     The blest inhabit, when the war began,
     I dwell in Stygian darkness where abide
     The souls of all the guilty.  There I saw
     Th' Eumenides with torches in their hands
     Prepared against thy battles; and the fleets (2)
     Which by the ferryman of the flaming stream
20   Were made to bear thy dead: while Hell itself
     Relaxed its punishments; the sisters three
     With busy fingers all their needful task
     Could scarce accomplish, and the threads of fate
     Dropped from their weary hands.  With me thy wife,
     Thou, Magnus, leddest happy triumphs home:
     New wedlock brings new luck.  Thy concubine,
     Whose star brings all her mighty husbands ill,
     Cornelia, weds in thee a breathing tomb. (3)
     Through wars and oceans let her cling to thee
30   So long as I may break thy nightly rest:
     No moment left thee for her love, but all
     By night to me, by day to Caesar given.
     Me not the oblivious banks of Lethe's stream
     Have made forgetful; and the kings of death
     Have suffered me to join thee; in mid fight
     I will be with thee, and my haunting ghost
     Remind thee Caesar's daughter was thy spouse.
     Thy sword kills not our pledges; civil war
     Shall make thee wholly mine."  She spake and fled.
40   But he, though heaven and hell thus bode defeat,
     More bent on war, with mind assured of ill,
     "Why dread vain phantoms of a dreaming brain?
     Or nought of sense and feeling to the soul
     Is left by death; or death itself is nought."

     Now fiery Titan in declining path
     Dipped to the waves, his bright circumference
     So much diminished as a growing moon
     Not yet full circled, or when past the full;
     When to the fleet a hospitable coast
50   Gave access, and the ropes in order laid,
     The sailors struck the masts and rowed ashore.

     When Caesar saw the fleet escape his grasp
     And hidden from his view by lengthening seas,
     Left without rival on Hesperian soil,
     He found no joy in triumph; rather grieved
     That thus in safety Magnus' flight was sped.
     Not any gifts of Fortune now sufficed
     His fiery spirit; and no victory won,
     Unless the war was finished with the stroke.
60   Then arms he laid aside, in guise of peace
     Seeking the people's favour; skilled to know
     How to arouse their ire, and how to gain
     The popular love by corn in plenty given.
     For famine only makes a city free;
     By gifts of food the tyrant buys a crowd
     To cringe before him: but a people starved
     Is fearless ever.

                         Curio he bids
     Cross over to Sicilian cities, where
     Or ocean by a sudden rise o'erwhelmed
70   The land, or split the isthmus right in twain,
     Leaving a path for seas.  Unceasing tides
     There labour hugely lest again should meet
     The mountains rent asunder.  Nor were left
     Sardinian shores unvisited: each isle
     Is blest with noble harvests which have filled
     More than all else the granaries of Rome,
     And poured their plenty on Hesperia's shores.
     Not even Libya, with its fertile soil,
     Their yield surpasses, when the southern wind
80   Gives way to northern and permits the clouds
     To drop their moisture on the teeming earth.
     This ordered, Caesar leads his legions on,
     Not armed for war, but as in time of peace
     Returning to his home.  Ah!  had he come
     With only Gallia conquered and the North (4),
     What long array of triumph had he brought!
     What pictured scenes of battle!  how had Rhine
     And Ocean borne his chains!  How noble Gaul,
     And Britain's fair-haired chiefs his lofty car
90   Had followed!  Such a triumph had he lost
     By further conquest.  Now in silent fear
     They watched his marching troops, nor joyful towns
     Poured out their crowds to welcome his return.
     Yet did the conqueror's proud soul rejoice,
     Far more than at their love, at such a fear.

     Now Anxur's hold was passed, the oozy road
     That separates the marsh, the grove sublime (5)
     Where reigns the Scythian goddess, and the path
     By which men bear the fasces to the feast
100  On Alba's summit.  From the height afar --
     Gazing in awe upon the walls of Rome
     His native city, since the Northern war
     Unseen, unvisited -- thus Caesar spake:
     "Who would not fight for such a god-like town?
     And have they left thee, Rome, without a blow?
     Thank the high gods no eastern hosts are here
     To wreak their fury; nor Sarmatian horde
     With northern tribes conjoined; by Fortune's gift
     This war is civil: else this coward chief
110  Had been thy ruin."

                         Trembling at his feet
     He found the city: deadly fire and flame,
     As from a conqueror, gods and fanes dispersed;
     Such was the measure of their fear, as though
     His power and wish were one.  No festal shout
     Greeted his march, no feigned acclaim of joy.
     Scarce had they time for hate.  In Phoebus' hall
     Their hiding places left, a crowd appeared
     Of Senators, uncalled, for none could call.
     No Consul there the sacred shrine adorned
120  Nor Praetor next in rank, and every seat
     Placed for the officers of state was void:
     Caesar was all; and to his private voice (6)
     All else were listeners.  The fathers sat
     Ready to grant a temple or a throne,
     If such his wish; and for themselves to vote
     Or death or exile.  Well it was for Rome
     That Caesar blushed to order what they feared.
     Yet in one breast the spirit of freedom rose
     Indignant for the laws; for when the gates
130  Of Saturn's temple hot Metellus saw,
     Were yielding to the shock, he clove the ranks
     Of Caesar's troops, and stood before the doors
     As yet unopened.  'Tis the love of gold
     Alone that fears not death; no hand is raised
     For perished laws or violated rights:
     But for this dross, the vilest cause of all,
     Men fight and die.  Thus did the Tribune bar
     The victor's road to rapine, and with voice
     Clear ringing spake: "Save o'er Metellus dead
140  This temple opens not; my sacred blood
     Shall flow, thou robber, ere the gold be thine.
     And surely shall the Tribune's power defied
     Find an avenging god; this Crassus knew (7),
     Who, followed by our curses, sought the war
     And met disaster on the Parthian plains.
     Draw then thy sword, nor fear the crowd that gapes
     To view thy crimes: the citizens are gone.
     Not from our treasury reward for guilt
     Thy hosts shall ravish: other towns are left,
150  And other nations; wage the war on them --
     Drain not Rome's peace for spoil."  The victor then,
     Incensed to ire: "Vain is thy hope to fall
     In noble death, as guardian of the right;
     With all thine honours, thou of Caesar's rage
     Art little worthy: never shall thy blood
     Defile his hand.  Time lowest things with high
     Confounds not yet so much that, if thy voice
     Could save the laws, it were not better far
     They fell by Caesar."  Such his lofty words.

160  But as the Tribune yielded not, his rage
     Rose yet the more, and at his soldiers' swords
     One look he cast, forgetting for the time
     What robe he wore; but soon Metellus heard
     These words from Cotta: "When men bow to power
     Freedom of speech is only Freedom's bane (8),
     Whose shade at least survives, if with free will
     Thou dost whate'er is bidden thee.  For us
     Some pardon may be found: a host of ills
     Compelled submission, and the shame is less
170  That to have done which could not be refused.
     Yield, then, this wealth, the seeds of direful war.
     A nation's anger is by losses stirred,
     When laws protect it; but the hungry slave
     Brings danger to his master, not himself."

     At this Metellus yielded from the path;
     And as the gates rolled backward, echoed loud
     The rock Tarpeian, and the temple's depths
     Gave up the treasure which for centuries
     No hand had touched: all that the Punic foe
180  And Perses and Philippus conquered gave,
     And all the gold which Pyrrhus panic-struck
     Left when he fled: that gold (9), the price of Rome,
     Which yet Fabricius sold not, and the hoard
     Laid up by saving sires; the tribute sent
     By Asia's richest nations; and the wealth
     Which conquering Metellus brought from Crete,
     And Cato (10) bore from distant Cyprus home;
     And last, the riches torn from captive kings
     And borne before Pompeius when he came
190  In frequent triumph.  Thus was robbed the shrine,
     And Caesar first brought poverty to Rome.

     Meanwhile all nations of the earth were moved
     To share in Magnus' fortunes and the war,
     And in his fated ruin.  Graecia sent,
     Nearest of all, her succours to the host.
     From Cirrha and Parnassus' double peak
     And from Amphissa, Phocis sent her youth:
     Boeotian leaders muster in the meads
     By Dirce laved, and where Cephisus rolls
200  Gifted with fateful power his stream along:
     And where Alpheus, who beyond the sea (11)
     In fount Sicilian seeks the day again.
     Pisa deserted stands, and Oeta, loved
     By Hercules of old; Dodona's oaks
     Are left to silence by the sacred train,
     And all Epirus rushes to the war.
     And proud Athena, mistress of the seas,
     Sends three poor ships (alas! her all) to prove
     Her ancient victory o'er the Persian King.
210  Next seek the battle Creta's hundred tribes
     Beloved of Jove and rivalling the east
     In skill to wing the arrow from the bow.
     The walls of Dardan Oricum, the woods
     Where Athamanians wander, and the banks
     Of swift Absyrtus foaming to the main
     Are left forsaken.  Enchelaean tribes
     Whose king was Cadmus, and whose name records
     His transformation (12), join the host; and those
     Who till Penean fields and turn the share
220  Above Iolcos in Thessalian lands."
     There first men steeled their hearts to dare the waves (13)
     And 'gainst the rage of ocean and the storm
     To match their strength, when the rude Argo sailed
     Upon that distant quest, and spurned the shore,
     Joining remotest nations in her flight,
     And gave the fates another form of death.
     Left too was Pholoe; pretended home
     Where dwelt the fabled race of double form (14);
     Arcadian Maenalus; the Thracian mount
230  Named Haemus; Strymon whence, as autumn falls,
     Winged squadrons seek the banks of warmer Nile;
     And all the isles the mouths of Ister bathe
     Mixed with the tidal wave; the land through which
     The cooling eddies of Caicus flow
     Idalian; and Arisbe bare of glebe.
     The hinds of Pitane, and those who till
     Celaenae's fields which mourned of yore the gift
     Of Pallas (15), and the vengeance of the god,
     All draw the sword; and those from Marsyas' flood
240  First swift, then doubling backwards with the stream
     Of sinuous Meander: and from where
     Pactolus leaves his golden source and leaps
     From Earth permitting; and with rival wealth
     Rich Hermus parts the meads.  Nor stayed the bands
     Of Troy, but (doomed as in old time) they joined
     Pompeius' fated camp: nor held them back
     The fabled past, nor Caesar's claimed descent
     From their Iulus.  Syrian peoples came
     From palmy Idumea and the walls
250  Of Ninus great of yore; from windy plains
     Of far Damascus and from Gaza's hold,
     From Sidon's courts enriched with purple dye,
     And Tyre oft trembling with the shaken earth.
     All these led on by Cynosura's light (16)
     Furrow their certain path to reach the war.

     Phoenicians first (if story be believed)
     Dared to record in characters; for yet
     Papyrus was not fashioned, and the priests
     Of Memphis, carving symbols upon walls
260  Of mystic sense (in shape of beast or fowl)
     Preserved the secrets of their magic art.

     Next Persean Tarsus and high Taurus' groves
     Are left deserted, and Corycium's cave;
     And all Cilicia's ports, pirate no more,
     Resound with preparation.  Nor the East
     Refused the call, where furthest Ganges dares,
     Alone of rivers, to discharge his stream
     Against the sun opposing; on this shore (17)
     The Macedonian conqueror stayed his foot
270  And found the world his victor; here too rolls
     Indus his torrent with Hydaspes joined
     Yet hardly feels it; here from luscious reed
     Men draw sweet liquor; here they dye their locks
     With tints of saffron, and with coloured gems
     Bind down their flowing garments; here are they,
     Who satiate of life and proud to die,
     Ascend the blazing pyre, and conquering fate,
     Scorn to live longer; but triumphant give
     The remnant of their days in flame to heaven. (18)

280  Nor fails to join the host a hardy band
     Of Cappadocians, tilling now the soil,
     Once pirates of the main: nor those who dwell
     Where steep Niphates hurls the avalanche,
     And where on Median Coatra's sides
     The giant forest rises to the sky.
     And you, Arabians, from your distant home
     Came to a world unknown, and wondering saw
     The shadows fall no longer to the left. (19)
     Then fired with ardour for the Roman war
290  Oretas came, and far Carmania's chiefs,
     Whose clime lies southward, yet men thence descry
     Low down the Pole star, and Bootes runs
     Hasting to set, part seen, his nightly course;
     And Ethiopians from that southern land
     Which lies without the circuit of the stars,
     Did not the Bull with curving hoof advanced
     O'erstep the limit.  From that mountain zone
     They come, where rising from a common fount
     Euphrates flows and Tigris, and did earth
300  Permit, were joined with either name; but now
     While like th' Egyptian flood Euphrates spreads
     His fertilising water, Tigris first
     Drawn down by earth in covered depths is plunged
     And holds a secret course; then born again
     Flows on unhindered to the Persian sea.

     But warlike Parthia wavered 'twixt the chiefs,
     Content to have made them two (20); while Scythia's hordes
     Dipped fresh their darts in poison, whom the stream
     Of Bactros bounds and vast Hyrcanian woods.
310  Hence springs that rugged nation swift and fierce,
     Descended from the Twins' great charioteer. (21)
     Nor failed Sarmatia, nor the tribes that dwell
     By richest Phasis, and on Halys' banks,
     Which sealed the doom of Croesus' king; nor where
     From far Rhipaean ranges Tanais flows,
     On either hand a quarter of the world,
     Asia and Europe, and in winding course
     Carves out a continent; nor where the strait
     In boiling surge pours to the Pontic deep
320  Maeotis' waters, rivalling the pride
     Of those Herculean pillar-gates that guard
     The entrance to an ocean.  Thence with hair
     In golden fillets, Arimaspians came,
     And fierce Massagetae, who quaff the blood
     Of the brave steed on which they fight and flee.

     Not when great Cyrus on Memnonian realms
     His warriors poured; nor when, their weapons piled, (22)
     The Persian told the number of his host;
     Nor when th' avenger (23) of a brother's shame
330  Loaded the billows with his mighty fleet,
     Beneath one chief so many kings made war;
     Nor e'er met nations varied thus in garb
     And thus in language.  To Pompeius' death
     Thus Fortune called them: and a world in arms
     Witnessed his ruin.  From where Afric's god,
     Two-horned Ammon, rears his temple, came
     All Libya ceaseless, from the wastes that touch
     The bounds of Egypt to the shore that meets
     The Western Ocean.  Thus, to award the prize
340  Of Empire at one blow, Pharsalia brought
     'Neath Caesar's conquering hand the banded world.

     Now Caesar left the walls of trembling Rome
     And swift across the cloudy Alpine tops
     He winged his march; but while all others fled
     Far from his path, in terror of his name,
     Phocaea's (24) manhood with un-Grecian faith
     Held to their pledged obedience, and dared
     To follow right not fate; but first of all
     With olive boughs of truce before them borne
350  The chieftain they approach, with peaceful words
     In hope to alter his unbending will
     And tame his fury.  "Search the ancient books
     Which chronicle the deeds of Latian fame;
     Thou'lt ever find, when foreign foes pressed hard,
     Massilia's prowess on the side of Rome.
     And now, if triumphs in an unknown world
     Thou seekest, Caesar, here our arms and swords
     Accept in aid: but if, in impious strife
     Of civil discord, with a Roman foe
360  Thou seek'st to join in battle, weeping then
     We hold aloof: no stranger hand may touch
     Celestial wounds.  Should all Olympus' hosts
     Have rushed to war, or should the giant brood
     Assault the stars, yet men would not presume
     Or by their prayers or arms to help the gods:
     And, ignorant of the fortunes of the sky,
     Taught by the thunderbolts alone, would know
     That Jupiter supreme still held the throne.
     Add that unnumbered nations join the fray:
370  Nor shrinks the world so much from taint of crime
     That civil wars reluctant swords require.
     But grant that strangers shun thy destinies
     And only Romans fight -- shall not the son
     Shrink ere he strike his father?  on both sides
     Brothers forbid the weapon to be hurled?
     The world's end comes when other hands are armed (25)
     Than those which custom and the gods allow.
     For us, this is our prayer: Leave, Caesar, here
     Thy dreadful eagles, keep thy hostile signs
380  Back from our gates, but enter thou in peace
     Massilia's ramparts; let our city rest
     Withdrawn from crime, to Magnus and to thee
     Safe: and should favouring fate preserve our walls
     Inviolate, when both shall wish for peace
     Here meet unarmed.  Why hither turn'st thou now
     Thy rapid march?  Nor weight nor power have we
     To sway the mighty conflicts of the world.
     We boast no victories since our fatherland
     We left in exile: when Phocaea's fort
390  Perished in flames, we sought another here;
     And here on foreign shores, in narrow bounds
     Confined and safe, our boast is sturdy faith;
     Nought else.  But if our city to blockade
     Is now thy mind -- to force the gates, and hurl
     Javelin and blazing torch upon our homes --
     Do what thou wilt: cut off the source that fills
     Our foaming river, force us, prone in thirst,
     To dig the earth and lap the scanty pool;
     Seize on our corn and leave us food abhorred:
400  Nor shall this people shun, for freedom's sake,
     The ills Saguntum bore in Punic siege; (26)
     Torn, vainly clinging, from the shrunken breast
     The starving babe shall perish in the flames.
     Wives at their husbands' hands shall pray their fate,
     And brothers' weapons deal a mutual death.
     Such be our civil war; not, Caesar, thine."

     But Caesar's visage stern betrayed his ire
     Which thus broke forth in words: "Vain is the hope
     Ye rest upon my march: speed though I may
410  Towards my western goal, time still remains
     To blot Massilia out.  Rejoice, my troops!
     Unsought the war ye longed for meets you now:
     The fates concede it.  As the tempests lose
     Their strength by sturdy forests unopposed,
     And as the fire that finds no fuel dies,
     Even so to find no foe is Caesar's ill.
     When those who may be conquered will not fight
     That is defeat.  Degenerate, disarmed
     Their gates admit me!  Not content, forsooth,
420  With shutting Caesar out they shut him in!
     They shun the taint of war!  Such prayer for peace
     Brings with it chastisement.  In Caesar's age
     Learn that not peace, but war within his ranks
     Alone can make you safe."

                                   Fearless he turns
     His march upon the city, and beholds
     Fast barred the gate-ways, while in arms the youths
     Stand on the battlements.  Hard by the walls
     A hillock rose, upon the further side
     Expanding in a plain of gentle slope,
430  Fit (as he deemed it) for a camp with ditch
     And mound encircling.  To a lofty height
     The nearest portion of the city rose,
     While intervening valleys lay between.
     These summits with a mighty trench to bind
     The chief resolves, gigantic though the toil.
     But first, from furthest boundaries of his camp,
     Enclosing streams and meadows, to the sea
     To draw a rampart, upon either hand
     Heaved up with earthy sod; with lofty towers
440  Crowned; and to shut Massilia from the land.

     Then did the Grecian city win renown
     Eternal, deathless, for that uncompelled
     Nor fearing for herself, but free to act
     She made the conqueror pause: and he who seized
     All in resistless course found here delay:
     And Fortune, hastening to lay the world
     Low at her favourite's feet, was forced to stay
     For these few moments her impatient hand.

     Now fell the forests far and wide, despoiled
450  Of all their giant trunks: for as the mound
     On earth and brushwood stood, a timber frame
     Held firm the soil, lest pressed beneath its towers
     The mass might topple down.  There stood a grove
     Which from the earliest time no hand of man
     Had dared to violate; hidden from the sun (27)
     Its chill recesses; matted boughs entwined
     Prisoned the air within.  No sylvan nymphs
     Here found a home, nor Pan, but savage rites
     And barbarous worship, altars horrible
460  On massive stones upreared; sacred with blood
     Of men was every tree.  If faith be given
     To ancient myth, no fowl has ever dared
     To rest upon those branches, and no beast
     Has made his lair beneath: no tempest falls,
     Nor lightnings flash upon it from the cloud.
     Stagnant the air, unmoving, yet the leaves
     Filled with mysterious trembling; dripped the streams
     From coal-black fountains; effigies of gods
     Rude, scarcely fashioned from some fallen trunk
470  Held the mid space: and, pallid with decay,
     Their rotting shapes struck terror.  Thus do men
     Dread most the god unknown.  'Twas said that caves
     Rumbled with earthquakes, that the prostrate yew
     Rose up again; that fiery tongues of flame
     Gleamed in the forest depths, yet were the trees
     Unkindled; and that snakes in frequent folds
     Were coiled around the trunks.  Men flee the spot
     Nor dare to worship near: and e'en the priest
     Or when bright Phoebus holds the height, or when
480  Dark night controls the heavens, in anxious dread
     Draws near the grove and fears to find its lord.

     Spared in the former war, still dense it rose
     Where all the hills were bare, and Caesar now
     Its fall commanded.  But the brawny arms
     Which swayed the axes trembled, and the men,
     Awed by the sacred grove's dark majesty,
     Held back the blow they thought would be returned.
     This Caesar saw, and swift within his grasp
     Uprose a ponderous axe, which downward fell
490  Cleaving a mighty oak that towered to heaven,
     While thus he spake: "Henceforth let no man dread
     To fell this forest: all the crime is mine.
     This be your creed."  He spake, and all obeyed,
     For Caesar's ire weighed down the wrath of Heaven.
     Yet ceased they not to fear.  Then first the oak,
     Dodona's ancient boast; the knotty holm;
     The cypress, witness of patrician grief,
     The buoyant alder, laid their foliage low
     Admitting day; though scarcely through the stems
500  Their fall found passage.  At the sight the Gauls
     Grieved; but the garrison within the walls
     Rejoiced: for thus shall men insult the gods
     And find no punishment?  Yet fortune oft
     Protects the guilty; on the poor alone
     The gods can vent their ire.  Enough hewn down,
     They seize the country wagons; and the hind,
     His oxen gone which else had drawn the plough,
     Mourns for his harvest.

                              But the eager chief
     Impatient of the combat by the walls
510  Carries the warfare to the furthest west.

     Meanwhile a giant mound, on star-shaped wheels
     Concealed, they fashion, crowned with double towers
     High as the battlements, by cause unseen
     Slow creeping onwards; while amazed the foe,
     Beheld, and thought some subterranean gust
     Had burst the caverns of the earth and forced
     The nodding pile aloft, and wondered sore
     Their walls should stand unshaken.  From its height
     Hissed clown the weapons; but the Grecian bolts
520  With greater force were on the Romans hurled;
     Nor by the arm unaided, for the lance
     Urged by the catapult resistless rushed
     Through arms and shield and flesh, and left a death
     Behind, nor stayed its course: and massive stones
     Cast by the beams of mighty engines fell;
     As from the mountain top some time-worn rock
     At length by winds dislodged, in all its track
     Spreads ruin vast: nor crushed the life alone
     Forth from the body, but dispersed the limbs
530  In fragments undistinguished and in blood.
     But as protected by the armour shield
     The might of Rome drew nigh beneath the wall
     (The front rank with their bucklers interlaced
     And held above their helms), the missiles fell
     Behind their backs, nor could the toiling Greeks
     Deflect their engines, throwing still the bolts
     Far into space; but from the rampart top
     Flung ponderous masses down.  Long as the shields
     Held firm together, like to hail that falls
540  Harmless upon a roof, so long the stones
     Crushed down innocuous; but as the blows
     Rained fierce and ceaseless and the Romans tired,
     Some here and there sank fainting.  Next the roof
     Advanced with earth besprinkled: underneath
     The ram conceals his head, which, poised and swung,
     They dash with mighty force upon the wall,
     Covered themselves with mantlets.  Though the head
     Light on the lower stones, yet as the shock
     Falls and refalls, from battlement to base
550  The rampart soon shall topple.  But by balks
     And rocky fragments overwhelmed, and flames,
     The roof at length gave way; and worn with toil
     All spent in vain, the wearied troops withdrew
     And sought the shelter of their tents again.

     Thus far to hold their battlements was all
     The Greeks had hoped; now, venturing attack,
     With glittering torches for their arms, by night
     Fearless they sallied forth: nor lance they bear
     Nor deadly bow, nor shaft; for fire alone
560  Is now their weapon.  Through the Roman works
     Driven by the wind the conflagration spread:
     Nor did the newness of the wood make pause
     The fury of the flames, which, fed afresh
     By living torches, 'neath a smoky pall
     Leaped on in fiery tongues.  Not wood alone
     But stones gigantic crumbling into dust
     Dissolved beneath the heat; the mighty mound
     Lay prone, yet in its ruin larger seemed.

     Next, conquered on the land, upon the main
570  They try their fortunes.  On their simple craft
     No painted figure-head adorned the bows
     Nor claimed protection from the gods; but rude,
     Just as they fell upon their mountain homes,
     The trees were knit together, and the deck
     Gave steady foot-hold for an ocean fight.

     Meantime had Caesar's squadron kept the isles
     Named Stoechades (28), and Brutus (29) turret ship
     Mastered the Rhone.  Nor less the Grecian host --
     Boys not yet grown to war, and aged men,
580  Armed for the conflict, with their all at stake.
     Nor only did they marshal for the fight
     Ships meet for service; but their ancient keels
     Brought from the dockyards.  When the morning rays
     Broke from the waters, and the sky was clear,
     And all the winds were still upon the deep,
     Smoothed for the battle, swift on either part
     The fleets essay the open; and the ships
     Tremble beneath the oars that urge them on,
     By sinewy arms impelled.  Upon the wings
590  That bound the Roman fleet, the larger craft
     With triple and quadruple banks of oars
     Gird in the lesser: so they front the sea;
     While in their rear, shaped as a crescent moon,
     Liburnian galleys follow.  Over all
     Towers Brutus' deck praetorian.  Oars on oars
     Propel the bulky vessel through the main,
     Six ranks; the topmost strike the waves afar.
     When such a space remained between the fleets
     As could be covered by a single stroke,
600  Innumerable voices rose in air
     Drowning with resonant din the beat of oars
     And note of trumpet summoning: and all
     Sat on the benches and with mighty stroke
     Swept o'er the sea and gained the space between.
     Then crashed the prows together, and the keels
     Rebounded backwards, and unnumbered darts
     Or darkened all the sky or, in their fall,
     The vacant ocean.  As the wings grew wide,
     Less densely packed the fleet, some Grecian ships
610  Pressed in between; as when with west and east
     The tide contends, this way the waves are driven
     And that the sea; so as they plough the deep
     In various lines converging, what the prow
     Throws up advancing, from the foemen's oars
     Falls back repelled.  But soon the Grecian fleet
     Was handier found in battle, and in flight
     Pretended, and in shorter curves could round;
     More deftly governed by the guiding helm:
     While on the Roman side their steadier keels
620  Gave vantage, as to men who fight on land.
     Then Brutus to the pilot of his ship:
     "Dost suffer them to range the wider deep,
     Contending with the foe in naval skill?
     Draw close the war and drive us on the prows
     Of these Phocaeans."  Him the pilot heard;
     And turned his vessel slantwise to the foe.
     Then was the sea all covered with the war:
     Then Grecian ships attacking Brutus found
     Their ruin in the stroke, and vanquished lay
630  Beside his bulwarks; while with grappling hooks
     Others laid fast the foe, themselves by oars
     Held back the while.  And now no outstretched arm
     Hurls forth the javelin, but hand to hand
     With swords they wage the fight: each from his ship
     Leans forward to the stroke, and falls when slain
     Upon a foeman's deck.  Deep flows the stream
     Of purple slaughter to the foamy main:
     By piles of floating corpses are the sides,
     Though grappled, kept asunder.  Some, half dead,
640  Plunge in the ocean, gulping down the brine
     Encrimsoned with their blood; some lingering still
     Draw their last struggling breath amid the wreck
     Of broken navies: weapons which have missed
     Find yet their victims, and the falling steel
     Fails not in middle deep to deal the wound.
     One vessel circled by Phocaean keels
     Divides her strength, and on the right and left
     On either side with equal war contends;
     On whose high poop while Tagus fighting gripped
650  The stern Phocaean, pierced his back and breast
     Two fatal weapons; in the midst the steel
     Meets, and the blood, uncertain whence to flow,
     Stands still, arrested, till with double course
     Forth by a sudden gush it drives each dart,
     And sends the life abroad through either wound.

     Here fated Telon also steered his ship:
     No pilot's hand upon an angry sea
     More deftly ruled a vessel.  Well he knew,
     Or by the sun or crescent moon, how best
660  To set his canvas fitted for the breeze
     To-morrow's light would bring.  His rushing stem
     Shattered a Roman vessel: but a dart
     Hurled at the moment quivers in his breast.
     He falls, and in the fall his dying hand
     Diverts the prow.  Then Gyareus, in act
     To climb the friendly deck, by javelin pierced,
     Still as he hung, by the retaining steel
     Fast to the side was nailed.
                                   Twin brethren stand
     A fruitful mother's pride; with different fates,
670  But ne'er distinguished till death's savage hand
     Struck once, and ended error: he that lived,
     Cause of fresh anguish to their sorrowing souls,
     Called ever to the weeping parents back
     The image of the lost: who, as the oars
     Grecian and Roman mixed their teeth oblique,
     Grasped with his dexter hand the Roman ship;
     When fell a blow that shore his arm away.
     So died, upon the side it held, the hand,
     Nor loosed its grasp in death.  Yet with the wound
680  His noble courage rose, and maimed he dared
     Renew the fray, and stretched across the sea
     To grasp the lost -- in vain!  another blow
     Lopped arm and hand alike.  Nor shield nor sword
     Henceforth are his.  Yet even now he seeks
     No sheltering hold, but with his chest advanced
     Before his brother armed, he claims the fight,
     And holding in his breast the darts which else
     Had slain his comrades, pierced with countless spears,
     He fails in death well earned; yet ere his end
690  Collects his parting life, and all his strength
     Strains to the utmost and with failing limbs
     Leaps on the foeman's deck; by weight alone
     Injurious; for streaming down with gore
     And piled on high with corpses, while her sides
     Sounded to ceaseless blows, the fated ship
     Let in the greedy brine until her ways
     Were level with the waters -- then she plunged
     In whirling eddies downwards -- and the main
     First parted, then closed in upon its prey.

700  Full many wondrous deaths, with fates diverse,
     Upon the sea in that day's fight befell.
     Caught by a grappling-hook that missed the side,
     Had Lysidas been whelmed in middle deep;
     But by his feet his comrades dragged him back,
     And rent in twain he hung; nor slowly flowed
     As from a wound the blood; but all his veins (30)
     Were torn asunder and the stream of life
     Gushed o'er his limbs till lost amid the deep.
     From no man dying has the vital breath
710  Rushed by so wide a path; the lower trunk
     Succumbed to death, but with the lungs and heart
     Long strove the fates, and hardly won the whole.

     While, bent upon the fight, an eager crew
     Were gathered to the margin of their deck
     (Leaving the upper side as bare of foes),
     Their ship was overset.  Beneath the keel
     Which floated upwards, prisoned in the sea,
     And powerless by spread of arms to float
     The main, they perished.  One who haply swam
720  Amid the battle, chanced upon a death
     Strange and unheard of; for two meeting prows
     Transfixed his body.  At the double stroke
     Wide yawned his chest; blood issued from his mouth
     With flesh commingled; and the brazen beaks
     Resounding clashed together, by the bones
     Unhindered: now they part and through the gap
     Swift pours the sea and drags the corse below.
     Next, of a shipwrecked crew, the larger part
     Struggling with death upon the waters, reached
730  A comrade bark; but when with elbows raised do
     They seized upon the bulwarks and the ship
     Rolled, nor could bear their weight, the ruthless crew
     Hacked off their straining arms; then maimed they sank
     Below the seething waves, to rise no more.

     Now every dart was hurled and every spear,
     The soldier weaponless; yet their rage found arms:
     One hurls an oar; another's brawny arm
     Tugs at the twisted stern; or from the seats
     The oarsmen driving, swings a bench in air.
740  The ships are broken for the fight.  They seize
     The fallen dead and snatch the sword that slew.
     Nay, many from their wounds, frenzied for arms,
     Pluck forth the deadly steel, and pressing still
     Upon their yawning sides, hurl forth the spear
     Back to the hostile ranks from which it came;
     Then ebbs their life blood forth.

                                        But deadlier yet
     Was that fell force most hostile to the sea;
     For, thrown in torches and in sulphurous bolts
     Fire all-consuming ran among the ships,
750  Whose oily timbers soaked in pitch and wax
     Inflammable, gave welcome to the flames.
     Nor could the waves prevail against the blaze
     Which claimed as for its own the fragments borne
     Upon the waters.  Lo!  on burning plank
     One hardly 'scapes destruction; one to save
     His flaming ship, gives entrance to the main.
     Of all the forms of death each fears the one
     That brings immediate dying: yet quails not
     Their heart in shipwreck: from the waves they pluck
760  The fallen darts and furnishing the ship
     Essay the feeble stroke; and should that hope
     Still fail their hand, they call the sea to aid
     And seizing in their grasp some floating foe
     Drag him to mutual death.

                                   But on that day
     Phoceus above all others proved his skill.
     Well trained was he to dive beneath the main
     And search the waters with unfailing eye;
     And should an anchor 'gainst the straining rope
     Too firmly bite the sands, to wrench it free.
770  Oft in his fatal grasp he seized a foe
     Nor loosed his grip until the life was gone.
     Such was his frequent deed; but this his fate:
     For rising, victor (as he thought), to air,
     Full on a keel he struck and found his death.
     Some, drowning, seized a hostile oar and checked
     The flying vessel; not to die in vain,
     Their single care; some on their vessel's side
     Hanging, in death, with wounded frame essayed
     To check the charging prow.

                                   Tyrrhenus high
780  Upon the bulwarks of his ship was struck
     By leaden bolt from Balearic sling
     Of Lygdamus; straight through his temples passed
     The fated missile; and in streams of blood
     Forced from their seats his trembling eyeballs fell.
     Plunged in a darkness as of night, he thought
     That life had left him; yet ere long he knew
     The living rigour of his limbs; and cried,
     "Place me, O friends, as some machine of war
     Straight facing towards the foe; then shall my darts
790  Strike as of old; and thou, Tyrrhenus, spend
     Thy latest breath, still left, upon the fight:
     So shalt thou play, not wholly dead, the part
     That fits a soldier, and the spear that strikes
     Thy frame, shall miss the living."  Thus he spake,
     And hurled his javelin, blind, but not in vain;
     For Argus, generous youth of noble blood,
     Below the middle waist received the spear
     And failing drave it home.  His aged sire
     From furthest portion of the conquered ship
800  Beheld; than whom in prime of manhood none,
     More brave in battle: now no more he fought,
     Yet did the memory of his prowess stir
     Phocaean youths to emulate his fame.
     Oft stumbling o'er the benches the old man hastes
     To reach his boy, and finds him breathing still.
     No tear bedewed his cheek, nor on his breast
     One blow he struck, but o'er his eyes there fell
     A dark impenetrable veil of mist
     That blotted out the day; nor could he more
810  Discern his luckless Argus.  He, who saw
     His parent, raising up his drooping head
     With parted lips and silent features asks
     A father's latest kiss, a father's hand
     To close his dying eyes.  But soon his sire,
     Recovering from his swoon, when ruthless grief
     Possessed his spirit, "This short space," he cried,
     "I lose not, which the cruel gods have given,
     But die before thee.  Grant thy sorrowing sire
     Forgiveness that he fled thy last embrace.
820  Not yet has passed thy life blood from the wound
     Nor yet is death upon thee -- still thou may'st (31)
     Outlive thy parent." Thus he spake, and seized
     The reeking sword and drave it to the hilt,
     Then plunged into the deep, with headlong bound,
     To anticipate his son: for this he feared
     A single form of death should not suffice.

     Now gave the fates their judgment, and in doubt
     No longer was the war: the Grecian fleet
     In most part sunk; -- some ships by Romans oared
830  Conveyed the victors home: in headlong flight
     Some sought the yards for shelter.  On the strand
     What tears of parents for their offspring slain,
     How wept the mothers!  'Mid the pile confused
     Ofttimes the wife sought madly for her spouse
     And chose for her last kiss some Roman slain;
     While wretched fathers by the blazing pyres
     Fought for the dead.  But Brutus thus at sea
     First gained a triumph for great Caesar's arms. (32)

(1)  Reading adscenso, as Francken (Leyden, 1896).
(2)  So:       "The rugged Charon fainted,
          And asked a navy, rather than a boat,
          To ferry over the sad world that came."
                    (Ben Jonson, "Catiline", Act i., scene 1.)
(3)  I take "tepido busto" as the dative case; and, as referring
     to Pompeius, doomed, like Cornelia's former husband, to
     defeat and death.
(4)  It may be remarked that, in B.C. 46, Caesar, after the
     battle of Thapsus, celebrated four triumphs: for his
     victories over the Gauls, Ptolemaeus, Pharnaces, and Juba.
(5)  Near Aricia. (See Book VI., 92.)
(6)  He held no office at the time.
(7)  The tribune Ateius met Crassus as he was setting out from
     Rome and denounced him with mysterious and ancient curses.
     (Plutarch, "Crassus", 16.)
(8)  That is, the liberty remaining to the people is destroyed by
     speaking freely to the tyrant.
(9)  That is, the gold offered by Pyrrhus, and refused by
     Fabricius, which, after the final defeat of Pyrrhus, came
     into the possession of the victors.
(10) See Plutarch, "Cato", 34, 39.
(11) It was generally believed that the river Alpheus of the
     Peloponnesus passed under the sea and reappeared in the
     fountain of Arethusa at Syracuse.  A goblet was said to have
     been thrown into the river in Greece, and to have reappeared
     in the Sicilian fountain.  See the note in Grote's "History
     of Greece", Edition 1863, vol. ii., p. 8.)
(12) As a serpent. XXXXX is the Greek word for serpent.
(13) Conf. Book VI., 473.
(14) The Centaurs.
(15) Probably the flute thrown away by Pallas, which Marsyas
     picked up and then challenged Apollo to a musical contest.
     For his presumption the god had him flayed alive.
(16) That is, the Little Bear, by which the Phoenicians steered,
     while the Greeks steered by the Great Bear.  (See Sir G.
     Lewis's "Astronomy of the Ancients", p. 447.)  In Book VI.,
     line 193, the pilot declares that he steers by the pole star
     itself, which is much nearer to the Little than to the Great
     Bear, and is (I believe) reckoned as one of the stars
     forming the group known by that name.  He may have been a
(17) He did not in fact reach the Ganges, as is well known.
(18) Perhaps in allusion to the embassy from India to Augustus in
     B.C. 19, when Zarmanochanus, an Indian sage, declaring that
     he had lived in happiness and would not risk the chance of a
     reverse, burnt himself publicly.  (Merivale, chapter xxxiv.)
(19) That is to say, looking towards the west; meaning that they
     came from the other side of the equator. (See Book IX.,
(20) See Book I., 117.
(21) A race called Heniochi, said to be descended from the
     charioteer of Castor and Pollux.
(22) "Effusis telis".  I have so taken this difficult expression.
     Herodotus (7, 60) says the men were numbered in ten
     thousands by being packed close together and having a circle
     drawn round them.  After the first ten thousand had been so
     measured a fence was put where the circle had been, and the
     subsequent ten thousands were driven into the enclosure.  It
     is not unlikely that they piled their weapons before being
     so measured, and Lucan's account would then be made to agree
     with that of Herodotus.  Francken, on the other hand, quotes
     a Scholiast, who says that each hundredth man shot off an
(23) Agamemnon.
(24) Massilia (Marseilles) was founded from Phocaea in Asia Minor
     about 600 B.C.  Lucan (line 393) appears to think that the
     founders were fugitives from their city when it was stormed
     by the Persians sixty years later.  See Thucydides I. 13;
     Grote, "History of Greece", chapter xxii.
(25) A difficult passage, of which this seems to be the meaning
     least free from objection.
(26) Murviedro of the present day.  Its gallant defence against
     Hannibal has been compared to that of Saragossa against the
(27) See note to Book I., 506.
(28) Three islands off the coast near Toulon, now called the
     Isles d'Hyeres.
(29) This was Decimus Brutus, an able and trusted lieutenant of
     Caesar, who made him one of his heirs in the second degree.
     He, however, joined the conspiracy, and it was he who on the
     day of the murder induced Caesar to go to the Senate House.
     Less than two years later, after the siege of Perasia, he
     was deserted by his army, taken and put to death.
(30) According to some these were the lines which Lucan recited
     while bleeding to death; according to others, those at Book
     ix., line 952.
(31) It was regarded as the greatest of misfortunes if a child
     died before his parent.
(32) It was Brutus who gained the naval victory over the Veneti
     some seven years before; the first naval fight, that we know
     of, fought in the Atlantic Ocean.