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The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library

(aka "The Civil War")

The Oracle. The Mutiny. The Storm.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #16b

     Thus had the smiles of Fortune and her frowns
     Brought either chief to Macedonian shores
     Still equal to his foe.  From cooler skies
     Sank Atlas' (1) daughters down, and Haemus' slopes
     Were white with winter, and the day drew nigh
     Devoted to the god who leads the months,
     And marking with new names the book of Rome,
     When came the Fathers from their distant posts
     By both the Consuls to Epirus called (2)
10   Ere yet the year was dead: a foreign land
     Obscure received the magistrates of Rome,
     And heard their high debate.  No warlike camp
     This; for the Consul's and the Praetor's axe
     Proclaimed the Senate-house; and Magnus sat
     One among many, and the state was all.

     When all were silent, from his lofty seat
     Thus Lentulus began, while stern and sad
     The Fathers listened: "If your hearts still beat
     With Latian blood, and if within your breasts
20   Still lives your fathers' vigour, look not now
     On this strange land that holds us, nor enquire
     Your distance from the captured city: yours
     This proud assembly, yours the high command
     In all that comes.  Be this your first decree,
     Whose truth all peoples and all kings confess;
     Be this the Senate.  Let the frozen wain
     Demand your presence, or the torrid zone
     Wherein the day and night with equal tread
     For ever march; still follows in your steps
30   The central power of Imperial Rome.
     When flamed the Capitol with fires of Gaul
     When Veii held Camillus, there with him
     Was Rome, nor ever though it changed its clime
     Your order lost its rights.  In Caesar's hands
     Are sorrowing houses and deserted homes,
     Laws silent for a space, and forums closed
     In public fast.  His Senate-house beholds
     Those Fathers only whom from Rome it drove,
     While Rome was full.  Of that high order all
40   Not here, are exiles. (3)  Ignorant of war,
     Its crimes and bloodshed, through long years of peace,
     Ye fled its outburst: now in session all
     Are here assembled.  See ye how the gods
     Weigh down Italia's loss by all the world
     Thrown in the other scale?  Illyria's wave
     Rolls deep upon our foes: in Libyan wastes
     Is fallen their Curio, the weightier part (4)
     Of Caesar's senate!  Lift your standards, then,
     Spur on your fates and prove your hopes to heaven.
50   Let Fortune, smiling, give you courage now
     As, when ye fled, your cause.  The Consuls' power
     Fails with the dying year: not so does yours;
     By your commandment for the common weal
     Decree Pompeius leader."  With applause
     They heard his words, and placed their country's fates,
     Nor less their own, within the chieftain's hands.

     Then did they shower on people and on kings
     Honours well earned -- Rhodes, Mistress of the Seas,
     Was decked with gifts; Athena, old in fame,
60   Received her praise, and the rude tribes who dwell
     On cold Taygetus; Massilia's sons
     Their own Phocaea's freedom; on the chiefs
     Of Thracian tribes, fit honours were bestowed.
     They order Libya by their high decree
     To serve King Juba's sceptre; and, alas!
     On Ptolemaeus, of a faithless race
     The faithless sovereign, scandal to the gods,
     And shame to Fortune, placed the diadem
     Of Pella.  Boy!  thy sword was only sharp
70   Against thy people.  Ah if that were all!
     The fatal gift gave, too, Pompeius' life;
     Bereft thy sister of her sire's bequest, (5)
     Half of the kingdom; Caesar of a crime.
     Then all to arms.

                         While soldier thus and chief,
     In doubtful sort, against their hidden fate
     Devised their counsel, Appius (6) alone
     Feared for the chances of the war, and sought
     Through Phoebus' ancient oracle to break
     The silence of the gods and know the end.

80   Between the western belt and that which bounds (7)
     The furthest east, midway Parnassus rears
     His double summit: to the Bromian god
     And Paean consecrate, to whom conjoined
     The Theban band leads up the Delphic feast
     On each third year.  This mountain, when the sea
     Poured o'er the earth her billows, rose alone,
     By one high peak scarce master of the waves,
     Parting the crest of waters from the stars.
     There, to avenge his mother, from her home
90   Chased by the angered goddess while as yet
     She bore him quick within her, Paean came
     (When Themis ruled the tripods and the spot) (8)
     And with unpractised darts the Python slew.
     But when he saw how from the yawning cave
     A godlike knowledge breathed, and all the air
     Was full of voices murmured from the depths,
     He took the shrine and filled the deep recess;
     Henceforth to prophesy.

                              Which of the gods
     Has left heaven's light in this dark cave to hide?
100  What spirit that knows the secrets of the world
     And things to come, here condescends to dwell,
     Divine, omnipotent?  bear the touch of man,
     And at his bidding deigns to lift the veil?
     Perchance he sings the fates, perchance his song,
     Once sung, is fate.  Haply some part of Jove
     Sent here to rule the earth with mystic power,
     Balanced upon the void immense of air,
     Sounds through the caves, and in its flight returns
     To that high home of thunder whence it came.
110  Caught in a virgin's breast, this deity
     Strikes on the human spirit: then a voice
     Sounds from her breast, as when the lofty peak
     Of Etna boils, forced by compelling flames,
     Or as Typheus on Campania's shore
     Frets 'neath the pile of huge Inarime. (9)

     Though free to all that ask, denied to none,
     No human passion lurks within the voice
     That heralds forth the god; no whispered vow,
     No evil prayer prevails; none favour gain:
120  Of things unchangeable the song divine;
     Yet loves the just.  When men have left their homes
     To seek another, it hath turned their steps
     Aright, as with the Tyrians; (10)  and raised
     The hearts of nations to confront their foe,
     As prove the waves of Salamis: (11)  when earth
     Hath been unfruitful, or polluted air
     Has plagued mankind, this utterance benign
     Hath raised their hopes and pointed to the end.
     No gift from heaven's high gods so great as this
130  Our centuries have lost, since Delphi's shrine
     Has silent stood, and kings forbade the gods (12)
     To speak the future, fearing for their fates.
     Nor does the priestess sorrow that the voice
     Is heard no longer; and the silent fane
     To her is happiness; for whatever breast
     Contains the deity, its shattered frame
     Surges with frenzy, and the soul divine
     Shakes the frail breath that with the god receives,
     As prize or punishment, untimely death.

140  These tripods Appius seeks, unmoved for years
     These soundless caverned rocks, in quest to learn
     Hesperia's destinies.  At his command
     To loose the sacred gateways and permit
     The prophetess to enter to the god,
     The keeper calls Phemonoe; (13) whose steps
     Round the Castalian fount and in the grove
     Were wandering careless; her he bids to pass
     The portals.  But the priestess feared to tread
     The awful threshold, and with vain deceits
150  Sought to dissuade the chieftain from his zeal
     To learn the future.  "What this hope," she cried,
     "Roman, that moves thy breast to know the fates?
     Long has Parnassus and its silent cleft
     Stifled the god; perhaps the breath divine
     Has left its ancient gorge and thro' the world
     Wanders in devious paths; or else the fane,
     Consumed to ashes by barbarian (14) fire,
     Closed up the deep recess and choked the path
     Of Phoebus; or the ancient Sibyl's books
160  Disclosed enough of fate, and thus the gods
     Decreed to close the oracle; or else
     Since wicked steps are banished from the fane,
     In this our impious age the god finds none
     Whom he may answer."  But the maiden's guile
     Was known, for though she would deny the gods
     Her fears approved them.  On her front she binds
     A twisted fillet, while a shining wreath
     Of Phocian laurels crowns the locks that flow
     Upon her shoulders.  Hesitating yet
170  The priest compelled her, and she passed within.
     But horror filled her of the holiest depths
     From which the mystic oracle proceeds;
     And resting near the doors, in breast unmoved
     She dares invent the god in words confused,
     Which proved no mind possessed with fire divine;
     By such false chant less injuring the chief
     Than faith in Phoebus and the sacred fane.
     No burst of words with tremor in their tones,
     No voice re-echoing through the spacious vault
180  Proclaimed the deity, no bristling locks
     Shook off the laurel chaplet; but the grove
     Unshaken, and the summits of the shrine,
     Gave proof she shunned the god.  The Roman knew
     The tripods yet were idle, and in rage,
     "Wretch," he exclaimed, "to us and to the gods,
     Whose presence thou pretendest, thou shalt pay
     For this thy fraud the punishment; unless
     Thou enter the recess, and speak no more,
     Of this world-war, this tumult of mankind,
190  Thine own inventions."  Then by fear compelled,
     At length the priestess sought the furthest depths,
     And stayed beside the tripods; and there came
     Into her unaccustomed breast the god,
     Breathed from the living rock for centuries
     Untouched; nor ever with a mightier power
     Did Paean's inspiration seize the frame
     Of Delphic priestess; his pervading touch
     Drove out her former mind, expelled the man,
     And made her wholly his.  In maddened trance
200  She whirls throughout the cave, her locks erect
     With horror, and the fillets of the god
     Dashed to the ground; her steps unguided turn
     To this side and to that; the tripods fall
     O'erturned; within her seethes the mighty fire
     Of angry Phoebus; nor with whip alone
     He urged her onwards, but with curb restrained;
     Nor was it given her by the god to speak
     All that she knew; for into one vast mass (15)
     All time was gathered, and her panting chest
210  Groaned 'neath the centuries.  In order long
     All things lay bare: the future yet unveiled
     Struggled for light; each fate required a voice;
     The compass of the seas, Creation's birth,
     Creation's death, the number of the sands,
     All these she knew.  Thus on a former day
     The prophetess upon the Cuman shore, (16)
     Disdaining that her frenzy should be slave
     To other nations, from the boundless threads
     Chose out with pride of hand the fates of Rome.
220  E'en so Phemonoe, for a time oppressed
     With fates unnumbered, laboured ere she found,
     Beneath such mighty destinies concealed,
     Thine, Appius, who alone had'st sought the god
     In land Castalian; then from foaming lips
     First rushed the madness forth, and murmurs loud
     Uttered with panting breath and blent with groans;
     Till through the spacious vault a voice at length
     Broke from the virgin conquered by the god:
     "From this great struggle thou, O Roman, free
230  Escap'st the threats of war: alive, in peace,
     Thou shalt possess the hollow in the coast
     Of vast Euboea."  Thus she spake, no more.

     Ye mystic tripods, guardians of the fates
     And Paean, thou, from whom no day is hid
     By heaven's high rulers, Master of the truth,
     Why fear'st thou to reveal the deaths of kings,
     Rome's murdered princes, and the latest doom
     Of her great Empire tottering to its fall,
     And all the bloodshed of that western land?
240  Were yet the stars in doubt on Magnus' fate
     Not yet decreed, and did the gods yet shrink
     From that, the greatest crime?  Or wert thou dumb
     That Fortune's sword for civil strife might wreak
     Just vengeance, and a Brutus' arm once more
     Strike down the tyrant?

                              From the temple doors
     Rushed forth the prophetess in frenzy driven,
     Not all her knowledge uttered; and her eyes,
     Still troubled by the god who reigned within,
     Or filled with wild affright, or fired with rage
250  Gaze on the wide expanse: still works her face
     Convulsive; on her cheeks a crimson blush
     With ghastly pallor blent, though not of fear.
     Her weary heart throbs ever; and as seas
     Boom swollen by northern winds, she finds in sighs,
     All inarticulate, relief.  But while
     She hastes from that dread light in which she saw
     The fates, to common day, lo!  on her path
     The darkness fell.  Then by a Stygian draught
     Of the forgetful river, Phoebus snatched
260  Back from her soul his secrets; and she fell
     Yet hardly living.

                         Nor did Appius dread
     Approaching death, but by dark oracles
     Baffled, while yet the Empire of the world
     Hung in the balance, sought his promised realm
     In Chalcis of Euboea.  Yet to escape
     All ills of earth, the crash of war -- what god
     Can give thee such a boon, but death alone?
     Far on the solitary shore a grave
     Awaits thee, where Carystos' marble crags (17)
270  Draw in the passage of the sea, and where
     The fane of Rhamnus rises to the gods
     Who hate the proud, and where the ocean strait
     Boils in swift whirlpools, and Euripus draws
     Deceitful in his tides, a bane to ships,
     Chalcidian vessels to bleak Aulis' shore.

     But Caesar carried from the conquered west
     His eagles to another world of war;
     When envying his victorious course the gods
     Almost turned back the prosperous tide of fate.
280  Not on the battle-field borne down by arms
     But in his tents, within the rampart lines,
     The hoped-for prize of this unholy war
     Seemed for a moment gone.  That faithful host,
     His comrades trusted in a hundred fields,
     Or that the falchion sheathed had lost its charm;
     Or weary of the mournful bugle call
     Scarce ever silent; or replete with blood,
     Well nigh betrayed their general and sold
     For hope of gain their honour and their cause.
290  No other perilous shock gave surer proof
     How trembled 'neath his feet the dizzy height
     From which great Caesar looked.  A moment since
     His high behest drew nations to the field:
     Now, maimed of all, he sees that swords once drawn
     Are weapons for the soldier, not the chief.
     From the stern ranks no doubtful murmur rose;
     Not silent anger as when one conspires,
     His comrades doubting, feared himself in turn;
     Alone (he thinks) indignant at the wrongs
300  Wrought by the despot.  In so great a host
     Dread found no place.  Where thousands share the guilt
     Crime goes unpunished.  Thus from dauntless throats
     They hurled their menace: "Caesar, give us leave
     To quit thy crimes; thou seek'st by land and sea
     The sword to slay us; let the fields of Gaul
     And far Iberia, and the world proclaim
     How for thy victories our comrades fell.
     What boots it us that by an army's blood
     The Rhine and Rhone and all the northern lands
310  Thou hast subdued?  Thou giv'st us civil war
     For all these battles; such the prize.  When fled
     The Senate trembling, and when Rome was ours
     What homes or temples did we spoil?  Our hands
     Reek with offence!  Aye, but our poverty
     Proclaims our innocence!  What end shall be
     Of arms and armies?  What shall be enough
     If Rome suffice not?  and what lies beyond?
     Behold these silvered locks, these nerveless hands
     And shrunken arms, once stalwart!  In thy wars
320  Gone is the strength of life, gone all its pride!
     Dismiss thine aged soldiers to their deaths.
     How shameless is our prayer!  Not on hard turf
     To stretch our dying limbs; nor seek in vain,
     When parts the soul, a hand to close our eyes;
     Not with the helmet strike the stony clod: (19)
     Rather to feel the dear one's last embrace,
     And gain a humble but a separate tomb.
     Let nature end old age.  And dost thou think
     We only know not what degree of crime
330  Will fetch the highest price?  What thou canst dare
     These years have proved, or nothing; law divine
     Nor human ordinance shall hold thine hand.
     Thou wert our leader on the banks of Rhine;
     Henceforth our equal; for the stain of crime
     Makes all men like to like.  Add that we serve
     A thankless chief: as fortune's gift he takes
     The fruits of victory our arms have won.
     We are his fortunes, and his fates are ours
     To fashion as we will.  Boast that the gods
340  Shall do thy bidding!  Nay, thy soldiers' will
     Shall close the war."  With threatening mien and speech
     Thus through the camp the troops demand their chief.

     When faith and loyalty are fled, and hope
     For aught but evil, thus may civil war
     In mutiny and discord find its end!
     What general had not feared at such revolt?
     But mighty Caesar trusting on the throw,
     As was his wont, his fortune, and o'erjoyed
     To front their anger raging at its height
350  Unflinching comes.  No temples of the gods,
     Not Jove's high fane on the Tarpeian rock,
     Not Rome's high dames nor maidens had he grudged
     To their most savage lust: that they should ask
     The worst, his wish, and love the spoils of war.
     Nor feared he aught save order at the hands
     Of that unconquered host.  Art thou not shamed
     That strife should please thee only, now condemned
     Even by thy minions?  Shall they shrink from blood,
     They from the sword recoil?  and thou rush on
360  Heedless of guilt, through right and through unright,
     Nor learn that men may lay their arms aside
     Yet bear to live?  This civil butchery
     Escapes thy grasp.  Stay thou thy crimes at length;
     Nor force thy will on those who will no more.

     Upon a turfy mound unmoved he stood
     And, since he feared not, worthy to be feared;
     And thus while anger stirred his soul began:
     "Thou that with voice and hand didst rage but now
     Against thine absent chief, behold me here;
370  Here strike thy sword into this naked breast,
     To stay the war; and flee, if such thy wish.
     This mutiny devoid of daring deed
     Betrays your coward souls, betrays the youth
     Who tires of victories which gild the arms
     Of an unconquered chief, and yearns for flight.
     Well, leave me then to battle and to fate!
     I cast you forth; for every weapon left,
     Fortune shall find a man, to wield it well.
     Shall Magnus in his flight with such a fleet
380  Draw nations in his train; and not to me as
     My victories bring hosts, to whom shall fall
     The prize of war accomplished, who shall reap
     Your laurels scorned, and scathless join the train
     That leads my chariot to the sacred hill?
     While you, despised in age and worn in war,
     Gaze on our triumph from the civic crowd.
     Think you your dastard flight shall give me pause?
     If all the rivers that now seek the sea
     Were to withdraw their waters, it would fail
390  By not one inch, no more than by their flow
     It rises now.  Have then your efforts given
     Strength to my cause?  Not so: the heavenly gods
     Stoop not so low; fate has no time to judge
     Your lives and deaths.  The fortunes of the world
     Follow heroic souls: for the fit few
     The many live; and you who terrified
     With me the northern and Iberian worlds,
     Would flee when led by Magnus.  Strong in arms
     For Caesar's cause was Labienus; (20) now
400  That vile deserter, with his chief preferred,
     Wanders o'er land and sea.  Nor were your faith
     One whit more firm to me if, neither side
     Espoused, you ceased from arms.  Who leaves me once,
     Though not to fight against me with the foe,
     Joins not my ranks again.  Surely the gods
     Smile on these arms who for so great a war
     Grant me fresh soldiers.  From what heavy load
     Fortune relieves me!  for the hands which aimed
     At all, to which the world did not suffice,
410  I now disarm, and for myself alone
     Reserve the conflict.  Quit ye, then, my camp,
     `Quirites', (21) Caesar's soldiers now no more,
     And leave my standards to the grasp of men!
     Yet some who led this mad revolt I hold,
     Not as their captain now, but as their judge.
     Lie, traitors, prone on earth, stretch out the neck
     And take th' avenging blow.  And thou whose strength
     Shall now support me, young and yet untaught,
     Behold the doom and learn to strike and die."

420  Such were his words of ire, and all the host
     Drew back and trembled at the voice of him
     They would depose, as though their very swords
     Would from their scabbards leap at his command
     Themselves unwilling; but he only feared
     Lest hand and blade to satisfy the doom
     Might be denied, till they submitting pledged
     Their lives and swords alike, beyond his hope.
     To strike and suffer (22) holds in surest thrall
     The heart inured to guilt; and Caesar kept,
430  By dreadful compact ratified in blood,
     Those whom he feared to lose.

                                        He bids them march
     Upon Brundusium, and recalls the ships
     From soft Calabria's inlets and the point
     Of Leucas, and the Salapinian marsh,
     Where sheltered Sipus nestles at the feet
     Of rich Garganus, jutting from the shore
     In huge escarpment that divides the waves
     Of Hadria; on each hand, his seaward slopes
     Buffeted by the winds; or Auster borne
440  From sweet Apulia, or the sterner blast
     Of Boreas rushing from Dalmatian strands.

     But Caesar entered trembling Rome unarmed,
     Now taught to serve him in the garb of peace.
     Dictator named, to grant their prayers, forsooth:
     Consul, in honour of the roll of Rome.
     Then first of all the names by which we now
     Lie to our masters, men found out the use:
     For to preserve his right to wield the sword
     He mixed the civil axes with his brands;
450  With eagles, fasces; with an empty word
     Clothing his power; and stamped upon the time
     A worthy designation; for what name
     Could better mark the dread Pharsalian year
     Than "Caesar, Consul"?  (23) Now the famous field
     Pretends its ancient ceremonies: calls
     The tribes in order and divides the votes
     In vain solemnity of empty urns.
     Nor do they heed the portents of the sky:
     Deaf were the augurs to the thunder roll;
460  The owl flew on the left; yet were the birds
     Propitious sworn.  Then was the ancient name
     Degraded first; and monthly Consuls, (24)
     Shorn of their rank, are chosen to mark the years.
     And Trojan Alba's (25) god (since Latium's fall
     Deserving not) beheld the wonted fires
     Blaze from his altars on the festal night.

     Then through Apulia's fallows, that her hinds
     Left all untilled, to sluggish weeds a prey
     Passed Caesar onward, swifter than the fire
470  Of heaven, or tigress dam: until he reached
     Brundusium's winding ramparts, built of old
     By Cretan colonists.  There icy winds
     Constrained the billows, and his trembling fleet
     Feared for the winter storms nor dared the main.
     But Caesar's soul burned at the moments lost
     For speedy battle, nor could brook delay
     Within the port, indignant that the sea
     Should give safe passage to his routed foe:
     And thus he stirred his troops, in seas unskilled,
480  With words of courage: "When the winter wind
     Has seized on sky and ocean, firm its hold;
     But the inconstancy of cloudy spring
     Permits no certain breezes to prevail
     Upon the billows.  Straight shall be our course.
     No winding nooks of coast, but open seas
     Struck by the northern wind alone we plough,
     And may he bend the spars, and bear us swift
     To Grecian cities; else Pompeius' oars,
     Smiting the billows from Phaeacian (26) coasts,
490  May catch our flagging sails.  Cast loose the ropes
     From our victorious prows.  Too long we waste
     Tempests that blow to bear us to our goal."

     Now sank the sun to rest; the evening star
     Shone on the darkening heaven, and the moon
     Reigned with her paler light, when all the fleet
     Freed from retaining cables seized the main.
     With slackened sheet the canvas wooed the breeze,
     Which rose and fell and fitful died away,
     Till motionless the sails, and all the waves
500  Were still as deepest pool, where never wind
     Ripples the surface.  Thus in Scythian climes
     Cimmerian Bosphorus restrains the deep
     Bound fast in frosty fetters; Ister's streams (27)
     No more impel the main, and ships constrained
     Stand fast in ice; and while in depths below
     The waves still murmur, loud the charger's hoof
     Sounds on the surface, and the travelling wheel
     Furrows a track upon the frozen marsh.
     Cruel as tempest was the calm that lay
510  In stagnant pools upon the mournful deep:
     Against the course of nature lay outstretched
     A rigid ocean: 'twas as if the sea
     Forgat its ancient ways and knew no more
     The ceaseless tides, nor any breeze of heaven,
     Nor quivered at the image of the sun,
     Mirrored upon its wave.  For while the fleet
     Hung in mid passage motionless, the foe
     Might hurry to attack, with sturdy stroke
     Churning the deep; or famine's deadly grip
520  Might seize the ships becalmed.  For dangers new
     New vows they find.  "May mighty winds arise
     And rouse the ocean, and this sluggish plain
     Cast off stagnation and be sea once more."
     Thus did they pray, but cloudless shone the sky,
     Unrippled slept the surface of the main;
     Until in misty clouds the moon arose
     And stirred the depths, and moved the fleet along
     Towards the Ceraunian headland; and the waves
     And favouring breezes followed on the ships,
530  Now speeding faster, till (their goal attained)
     They cast their anchors on Palaeste's (28) shore.

     This land first saw the chiefs in neighbouring camps
     Confronted, which the streams of Apsus bound
     And swifter Genusus; a lengthy course
     Is run by neither, but on Apsus' waves
     Scarce flowing from a marsh, the frequent boat
     Finds room to swim; while on the foamy bed
     Of Genusus by sun or shower compelled
     The melted snows pour seawards.  Here were met
540  (So Fortune ordered it) the mighty pair;
     And in its woes the world yet vainly hoped
     That brought to nearer touch their crime itself
     Might bleed abhorrence: for from either camp
     Voices were clearly heard and features seen.
     Nor e'er, Pompeius, since that distant day
     When Caesar's daughter and thy spouse was reft
     By pitiless fate away, nor left a pledge,
     Did thy loved kinsman (save on sands of Nile)
     So nearly look upon thy face again.

550  But Caesar's mind though frenzied for the fight
     Was forced to pause until Antonius brought
     The rearward troops; Antonius even now
     Rehearsing Leucas' fight.  With prayers and threats
     Caesar exhorts him.  "Why delay the fates,
     Thou cause of evil to the suffering world?
     My speed hath won the major part: from thee
     Fortune demands the final stroke alone.
     Do Libyan whirlpools with deceitful tides
     Uncertain separate us?  Is the deep
560  Untried to which I call?  To unknown risks
     Art thou commanded?  Caesar bids thee come,
     Thou sluggard, not to leave him.  Long ago
     I ran my ships midway through sands and shoals
     To harbours held by foes; and dost thou fear
     My friendly camp?  I mourn the waste of days
     Which fate allotted us.  Upon the waves
     And winds I call unceasing: hold not back
     Thy willing troops, but let them dare the sea;
     Here gladly shall they come to join my camp,
570  Though risking shipwreck.  Not in equal shares
     The world has fallen between us: thou alone
     Dost hold Italia, but Epirus I
     And all the lords of Rome."  Twice called and thrice
     Antonius lingered still: but Caesar thought
     To reap in full the favour of the gods,
     Not sit supine; and knowing danger yields
     To whom heaven favours, he upon the waves
     Feared by Antonius' fleets, in shallow boat
     Embarked, and daring sought the further shore.

580  Now gentle night had brought repose from arms;
     And sleep, blest guardian of the poor man's couch,
     Restored the weary; and the camp was still.
     The hour was come that called the second watch
     When mighty Caesar, in the silence vast
     With cautious tread advanced to such a deed (29)
     As slaves should dare not.  Fortune for his guide,
     Alone he passes on, and o'er the guard
     Stretched in repose he leaps, in secret wrath
     At such a sleep.  Pacing the winding beach,
590  Fast to a sea-worn rock he finds a boat
     On ocean's marge afloat.  Hard by on shore
     Its master dwelt within his humble home.
     No solid front it reared, for sterile rush
     And marshy reed enwoven formed the walls,
     Propped by a shallop with its bending sides
     Turned upwards.  Caesar's hand upon the door
     Knocks twice and thrice until the fabric shook.
     Amyclas from his couch of soft seaweed
     Arising, calls: "What shipwrecked sailor seeks
600  My humble home?  Who hopes for aid from me,
     By fates adverse compelled?"  He stirs the heap
     Upon the hearth, until a tiny spark
     Glows in the darkness, and throws wide the door.
     Careless of war, he knew that civil strife
     Stoops not to cottages.  Oh!  happy life
     That poverty affords!  great gift of heaven
     Too little understood!  what mansion wall,
     What temple of the gods, would feel no fear
     When Caesar called for entrance?  Then the chief:
610  "Enlarge thine hopes and look for better things.
     Do but my bidding, and on yonder shore
     Place me, and thou shalt cease from one poor boat
     To earn thy living; and in years to come
     Look for a rich old age: and trust thy fates
     To those high gods whose wont it is to bless
     The poor with sudden plenty."  So he spake
     E'en at such time in accents of command,
     For how could Caesar else?  Amyclas said,
     "'Twere dangerous to brave the deep to-night.
620  The sun descended not in ruddy clouds
     Or peaceful rays to rest; part of his beams
     Presaged a southern gale, the rest proclaimed
     A northern tempest; and his middle orb,
     Shorn of its strength, permitted human eyes
     To gaze upon his grandeur; and the moon
     Rose not with silver horns upon the night
     Nor pure in middle space; her slender points
     Not drawn aright, but blushing with the track
     Of raging tempests, till her lurid light
630  Was sadly veiled within the clouds.  Again
     The forest sounds; the surf upon the shore;
     The dolphin's mood, uncertain where to play;
     The sea-mew on the land; the heron used
     To wade among the shallows, borne aloft
     And soaring on his wings -- all these alarm;
     The raven, too, who plunged his head in spray,
     As if to anticipate the coming rain,
     And trod the margin with unsteady gait.
     But if the cause demands, behold me thine.
640  Either we reach the bidden shore, or else
     Storm and the deep forbid -- we can no more."

     Thus said he loosed the boat and raised the sail.
     No sooner done than stars were seen to fall
     In flaming furrows from the sky: nay, more;
     The pole star trembled in its place on high:
     Black horror marked the surging of the sea;
     The main was boiling in long tracts of foam,
     Uncertain of the wind, yet seized with storm.
     Then spake the captain of the trembling bark:
650  "See what remorseless ocean has in store!
     Whether from east or west the storm may come
     Is still uncertain, for as yet confused
     The billows tumble.  Judged by clouds and sky
     A western tempest: by the murmuring deep
     A wild south-eastern gale shall sweep the sea.
     Nor bark nor man shall reach Hesperia's shore
     In this wild rage of waters.  To return
     Back on our course forbidden by the gods,
     Is our one refuge, and with labouring boat
660  To reach the shore ere yet the nearest land
     Way be too distant."

                              But great Caesar's trust
     Was in himself, to make all dangers yield.
     And thus he answered: "Scorn the threatening sea,
     Spread out thy canvas to the raging wind;
     If for thy pilot thou refusest heaven,
     Me in its stead receive.  Alone in thee
     One cause of terror just -- thou dost not know
     Thy comrade, ne'er deserted by the gods,
     Whom fortune blesses e'en without a prayer.
670  Break through the middle storm and trust in me.
     The burden of this fight fails not on us
     But on the sky and ocean; and our bark
     Shall swim the billows safe in him it bears.
     Nor shall the wind rage long: the boat itself
     Shall calm the waters.  Flee the nearest shore,
     Steer for the ocean with unswerving hand:
     Then in the deep, when to our ship and us
     No other port is given, believe thou hast
     Calabria's harbours.  And dost thou not know
680  The purpose of such havoc?  Fortune seeks
     In all this tumult of the sea and sky
     A boon for Caesar."  Then a hurricane
     Swooped on the boat and tore away the sheet:
     The fluttering sail fell on the fragile mast:
     And groaned the joints.  From all the universe
     Commingled perils rush.  In Atlas' seas
     First Corus (30) lifts his head, and stirs the depths
     To fury, and had forced upon the rocks
     Whole seas and oceans; but the chilly north
690  Drove back the deep that doubted which was lord.
     But Scythian Aquilo prevailed, whose blast
     Tossed up the main and showed as shallow pools
     Each deep abyss; and yet was not the sea
     Heaped on the crags, for Corus' billows met
     The waves of Boreas: such seas had clashed
     Even were the winds withdrawn; Eurus enraged
     Burst from the cave, and Notus black with rain,
     And all the winds from every part of heaven
     Strove for their own; and thus the ocean stayed
700  Within his boundaries.  No petty seas
     Rapt in the storm are whirled.  The Tuscan deep
     Invades th' Aegean; in Ionian gulfs
     Sounds wandering Hadria.  How long the crags
     Which that day fell, the Ocean's blows had braved!
     What lofty peaks did vanquished earth resign!
     And yet on yonder coast such mighty waves
     Took not their rise; from distant regions came
     Those monster billows, driven on their course
     By that great current which surrounds the world. (31)
710  Thus did the King of Heaven, when length of years
     Wore out the forces of his thunder, call
     His brother's trident to his help, what time
     The earth and sea one second kingdom formed
     And ocean knew no limit but the sky.
     Now, too, the sea had risen to the stars
     In mighty mass, had not Olympus' chief
     Pressed down its waves with clouds: came not from heaven
     That night, as others; but the murky air
     Was dim with pallor of the realms below; (32)
720  The sky lay on the deep; within the clouds
     The waves received the rain: the lightning flash
     Clove through the parted air a path obscured
     By mist and darkness: and the heavenly vaults
     Re-echoed to the tumult, and the frame
     That holds the sky was shaken.  Nature feared
     Chaos returned, as though the elements
     Had burst their bonds, and night had come to mix
     Th' infernal shades with heaven.

                                        In such turmoil
     Not to have perished was their only hope.
730  Far as from Leucas point the placid main
     Spreads to the horizon, from the billow's crest
     They viewed the dashing of th' infuriate sea;
     Thence sinking to the middle trough, their mast
     Scarce topped the watery height on either hand,
     Their sails in clouds, their keel upon the ground.
     For all the sea was piled into the waves,
     And drawn from depths between laid bare the sand.
     The master of the boat forgot his art,
     For fear o'ercame; he knew not where to yield
740  Or where to meet the wave: but safety came
     From ocean's self at war: one billow forced
     The vessel under, but a huger wave
     Repelled it upwards, and she rode the storm
     Through every blast triumphant.  Not the shore
     Of humble Sason (33), nor Thessalia's coast
     Indented, not Ambracia's scanty ports
     Dismay the sailors, but the giddy tops
     Of high Ceraunia's cliffs.

                                   But Caesar now,
     Thinking the peril worthy of his fates:
750  "Are such the labours of the gods?" exclaimed,
     "Bent on my downfall have they sought me thus,
     Here in this puny skiff in such a sea?
     If to the deep the glory of my fall
     Is due, and not to war, intrepid still
     Whatever death they send shall strike me down.
     Let fate cut short the deeds that I would do
     And hasten on the end: the past is mine.
     The northern nations fell beneath my sword;
     My dreaded name compels the foe to flee.
760  Pompeius yields me place; the people's voice
     Gave at my order what the wars denied.
     And all the titles which denote the powers
     Known to the Roman state my name shall bear.
     Let none know this but thou who hear'st my prayers,
     Fortune, that Caesar summoned to the shades,
     Dictator, Consul, full of honours, died
     Ere his last prize was won.  I ask no pomp
     Of pyre or funeral; let my body lie
     Mangled beneath the waves: I leave a name
770  That men shall dread in ages yet to come
     And all the earth shall honour."  Thus he spake,
     When lo!  a tenth gigantic billow raised
     The feeble keel, and where between the rocks
     A cleft gave safety, placed it on the shore.
     Thus in a moment fortune, kingdoms, lands,
     Once more were Caesar's.

                                   But on his return
     When daylight came, he entered not the camp
     Silent as when he parted; for his friends
     Soon pressed around him, and with weeping eyes
780  In accents welcome to his ears began:
     "Whither in reckless daring hast thou gone,
     Unpitying Caesar?  Were these humble lives
     Left here unguarded while thy limbs were given,
     Unsought for, to be scattered by the storm?
     When on thy breath so many nations hang
     For life and safety, and so great a world
     Calls thee its master, to have courted death
     Proves want of heart.  Was none of all thy friends
     Deserving held to join his fate with thine?
790  When thou wast tossed upon the raging deep
     We lay in slumber!  Shame upon such sleep!
     And why thyself didst seek Italia's shores?
     'Twere cruel (such thy thought) to speak the word
     That bade another dare the furious sea.
     All men must bear what chance or fate may bring,
     The sudden peril and the stroke of death;
     But shall the ruler of the world attempt
     The raging ocean?  With incessant prayers
     Why weary heaven?  is it indeed enough
800  To crown the war, that Fortune and the deep
     Have cast thee on our shores?  And would'st thou use
     The grace of favouring deities, to gain
     Not lordship, not the empire of the world,
     But lucky shipwreck!"  Night dispersed, and soon
     The sun beamed on them, and the wearied deep,
     The winds permitting, lulled its waves to rest.
     And when Antonius saw a breeze arise
     Fresh from a cloudless heaven, to break the sea,
     He loosed his ships which, by the pilots' hands
810  And by the wind in equal order held,
     Swept as a marching host across the main.
     But night unfriendly from the seamen snatched
     All governance of sail, parting the ships
     In divers paths asunder.  Like as cranes
     Deserting frozen Strymon for the streams
     Of Nile, when winter falls, in casual lines
     Of wedge-like figures (34) first ascend the sky;
     But when in loftier heaven the southern breeze
     Strikes on their pinions tense, in loose array
820  Dispersed at large, in flight irregular,
     They wing their journey onwards.  Stronger winds
     With day returning blew the navy on,
     Past Lissus' shelter which they vainly sought,
     Till bare to northern blasts, Nymphaeum's port,
     But safe in southern, gave the fleet repose,
     For favouring winds came on.

                                   When Magnus knew
     That Caesar's troops were gathered in their strength
     And that the war for quick decision called
     Before his camp, Cornelia he resolved
830  To send to Lesbos' shore, from rage of fight
     Safe and apart: so lifting from his soul
     The weight that burdened it.  Thus, lawful Love.
     Thus art thou tyrant o'er the mightiest mind!
     His spouse was the one cause why Magnus stayed
     Nor met his fortunes, though he staked the world
     And all the destinies of Rome.  The word
     He speaks not though resolved; so sweet it seemed,
     When on the future pondering, to gain
     A pause from Fate!  But at the close of night,
840  When drowsy sleep had fled, Cornelia sought
     To soothe the anxious bosom of her lord
     And win his kisses.  Then amazed she saw
     His cheek was tearful, and with boding soul
     She shrank instinctive from the hidden wound,
     Nor dared to rouse him weeping.  But he spake:
     "Dearer to me than life itself, when life
     Is happy (not at moments such as these);
     The day of sorrow comes, too long delayed,
     Nor long enough!  With Caesar at our gates
850  With all his forces, a secure retreat
     Shall Lesbos give thee.  Try me not with prayers.
     This fatal boon I have denied myself.
     Thou wilt not long be absent from thy lord.
     Disasters hasten, and things highest fall
     With speediest ruin.  'Tis enough for thee
     To hear of Magnus' peril; and thy love (35)
     Deceives thee with the thought that thou canst gaze
     Unmoved on civil strife.  It shames my soul
     On the eve of war to slumber at thy side,
860  And rise from thy dear breast when trumpets call
     A woeful world to misery and arms.
     I fear in civil war to feel no loss
     To Magnus.  Meantime safer than a king
     Lie hid, nor let the fortune of thy lord
     Whelm thee with all its weight.  If unkind heaven
     Our armies rout, still let my choicest part
     Survive in thee; if fated is my flight,
     Still leave me that whereto I fain would flee."

     Hardly at first her senses grasped the words
870  In their full misery; then her mind amazed
     Could scarce find utterance for the grief that pressed.
     "Nought, Magnus, now is left wherewith to upbraid
     The gods and fates of marriage; 'tis not death
     That parts our love, nor yet the funeral pyre,
     Nor that dread torch which marks the end of all.
     I share the ignoble lot of vulgar lives:
     My spouse rejects me.  Yes, the foe is come!
     Break we our bonds and Julia's sire appease! --
     Is this thy consort, Magnus, this thy faith
880  In her fond loving heart?  Can danger fright
     Her and not thee?  Long since our mutual fates
     Hang by one chain; and dost thou bid me now
     The thunder-bolts of ruin to withstand
     Without thee?  Is it well that I should die
     Even while you pray for fortune?  And suppose
     I flee from evil and with death self-sought
     Follow thy footsteps to the realms below --
     Am I to live till to that distant isle
     Some tardy rumour of thy fall may come?
890  Add that thou fain by use would'st give me strength
     To bear such sorrow and my doom.  Forgive
     Thy wife confessing that she fears the power.
     And if my prayers shall bring the victory,
     The joyful tale shall come to me the last
     In that lone isle of rocks.  When all are glad,
     My heart shall throb with anguish, and the sail
     Which brings the message I shall see with fear,
     Not safe e'en then: for Caesar in his flight
     Might seize me there, abandoned and alone
900  To be his hostage.  If thou place me there,
     The spouse of Magnus, shall not all the world
     Well know the secret Mitylene holds?
     This my last prayer: if all is lost but flight,
     And thou shalt seek the ocean, to my shores
     Turn not thy keel, ill-fated one: for there,
     There will they seek thee."  Thus she spoke distraught,
     Leaped from the couch and rushed upon her fate;
     No stop nor stay: she clung not to his neck
     Nor threw her arms about him; both forego
910  The last caress, the last fond pledge of love,
     And grief rushed in unchecked upon their souls;
     Still gazing as they part no final words
     Could either utter, and the sweet Farewell
     Remained unspoken.  This the saddest day
     Of all their lives: for other woes that came
     More gently struck on hearts inured to grief.
     Borne to the shore with failing limbs she fell
     And grasped the sands, embracing, till at last
     Her maidens placed her senseless in the ship.

920  Not in such grief she left her country's shores
     When Caesar's host drew near; for now she leaves,
     Though faithful to her lord, his side in flight
     And flees her spouse.  All that next night she waked;
     Then first what means a widowed couch she knew,
     Its cold, its solitude.  When slumber found
     Her eyelids, and forgetfulness her soul,
     Seeking with outstretched arms the form beloved,
     She grasps but air.  Though tossed by restless love,
     She leaves a place beside her as for him
930  Returning.  Yet she feared Pompeius lost
     To her for ever.  But the gods ordained
     Worse than her fears, and in the hour of woe
     Gave her to look upon his face again.

(1)  The Pleiades, said to be daughters of Atlas.
(2)  These were the Consuls for the expiring year, B.C. 49 --
     Caius Marcellus and L. Lentulus Crus.
(3)  That is to say, Caesar's Senate at Rome could boast of those
     Senators only whom it had, before Pompeius' flight, declared
     public enemies.  But they were to be regarded as exiles,
     having lost their rights, rather than the Senators in
     Epirus, who were in full possession of theirs.
(4)  Dean Merivale says that probably Caesar's Senate was not
     less numerous than his rival's.  Duruy says there were
     senators in Pompeius' camp, out of a total of between 500
     and 600.  Mommsen says, "they were veritably emigrants. 
     This Roman Coblentz presented a pitiful spectacle of the
     high pretensions and paltry performances of the grandees of
     Rome." (Vol. iv., p. 397.)  Almost all the Consulars were
     with Pompeius.
(5)  By the will of Ptolemy Auletes, Cleopatra had been appointed
     joint sovereign of Egypt with her young brother.  Lucan
     means that Caesar would have killed Pompeius if young
     Ptolemy had not done so.  She lost her hare of the kingdom,
     and Caesar was clear of the crime.
(6)  Appius was Proconsul, and in command of Achaia, for the
(7)  See Book IV., 82.
(8)  Themis, the goddess of law, was in possession of the Delphic
     oracle, previous to Apollo. (Aesch., "Eumenides", line 2.)
(9)  The modern isle of Ischia, off the Bay of Naples.
(10) The Tyrians consulted the oracle in consequence of the
     earthquakes which vexed their country (Book III., line 225),
     and were told to found colonies.
(11) See Herodotus, Book VII., 140-143.  The reference is to the
     answer given by the oracle to the Athenians that their
     wooden walls would keep them safe; which Themistocles
     interpreted as meaning their fleet.
(12) Cicero, on the contrary, suggests that the reason why the
     oracles ceased was this, that men became less credulous.
     ("De Div.", ii., 57)  Lecky, "History of European Morals
     from Augustus to Charlemagne", vol. i., p. 368.
(13) This name is one of those given to the Cumaean Sibyl
     mentioned at line 210.  She was said to have been the
     daughter of Apollo.
(14) Probably by the Gauls under Brennus, B.C. 279.
(15) These lines form the Latin motto prefixed to Shelley's poem,
     "The Demon of the World".
(16) Referring to the visit of Aeneas to the Sibyl. (Virgil,
     "Aeneid", vi., 70, &c.)
(17) Appius was seized with fever as soon as he reached the spot;
     and there he died and was buried, thus fulfilling the
(18) That is, Nemesis.
(19) Reading "galeam", with Francken; not "glebam".
(20) Labienus left Caesar's ranks after the Rubicon was crossed,
     and joined his rival.  In his mouth Lucan puts the speech
     made at the oracle of Hammon in Book IX.  He was slain at
     Munda, B.C. 45.
(21) That is, civilians; no longer soldiers.  This one
     contemptuous expression is said to have shocked and abashed
     the army. (Tacitus, "Annals", I., 42.)
(22) Reading "tenet", with Hosius and Francken; not "timet", as
     Haskins.  The prospect of inflicting punishment attracted,
     while the suffering of it subdued, the mutineers.
(23) Caesar was named Dictator while at Massilia.  Entering Rome,
     he held the office for eleven days only, but was elected
     Consul for the incoming year, B.C. 48, along with Servilius
     Isauricus.  (Caesar, "De Bello Civili", iii., 1; Merivale,
     chapter xvi.)
(24) In the time of the Empire, the degraded Consulship,
     preserved only as a name, was frequently transferred
     monthly, or even shorter, intervals from one favourite to
(25) Caesar performed the solemn rites of the great Latin
     festival on the Alban Mount during his Dictatorship.
     (Compare Book VII., line 471.)
(26) Dyrrhachium was founded by the Corcyreams, with whom the
     Homeric Phaeacians have been identified.
(27) Apparently making the Danube discharge into the Sea of Azov.
     See Mr. Heitland's Introduction, p. 53.
(28) At the foot of the Acroceraunian range.
(29) Caesar himself says nothing of this adventure.  But it is
     mentioned by Dion, Appian and Plutarch ("Caesar", 38).  Dean
     Merivale thinks the story may have been invented to
     introduce the apophthegm used by Caesar to the sailor, "Fear
     nothing: you carry Caesar and his fortunes" (lines 662-665).
     Mommsen accepts the story, as of an attempt which was only
     abandoned because no mariner could be induced to undertake
     it.  Lucan colours it with his wildest and most exaggerated
(30) See Book I., 463.
(31) The ocean current, which, according to Hecataeus, surrounded
     the world.  But Herodotus of this theory says, "For my part
     I know of no river called Ocean, and I think that Homer or
     one of the earlier poets invented the name and introduced it
     into his poetry."  (Book II., 23, and Book IV., 36.)  In
     "Oceanus" Aeschylus seems to have intended to personify the
     great surrounding stream. ("Prom. Vinc.", lines 291, 308.)
(32) Comp. VI., 615.
(33) Sason is a small island just off the Ceraunian rocks, the
     point of which is now called Cape Linguetta, and is nearly
     opposite to Brindisi.
(34) Compare "Paradise Lost", VII., 425.
(35) Reading "Teque tuus decepit amor", as preferred by Hosius.