The Life of Cicero, by Anthony Trollope

Appendix E.

LUCAN, LIBER I.*

“O male concordes, nimiaque cupidine cæci,

Quid miscere juvat vires orbemque tenere

In medio.”

“Temporis angusti mansit concordia discors,

Paxque fuit non sponte ducum. Nam sola futuri

Crassus erat belli medius mora. Qualiter undas

Qui secat, et geminum gracilis mare separat isthmos,

Nec patitur conferre fretum; si terra recedat,

Ionium Ægæo frangat mare. Sic, ubi sæva

Arma ducum dirimens, miserando funere Crassus

Assyrias latio maculavit sanguine Carras.”

“Dividitur ferro regnum; populique potentis,

Quæ mare, quæ terras, quæ totum possidet orbem,

Non cepit fortuna duos.”

“Tu nova ne veteres obscurent acta triumphos,

Et victis cedat piratica laurea Gallis,

Magne, times; te jam series, ususque laborum

Erigit, impatiensque loci fortuna secundi.

Nec quemquam jam ferre potest Cæsarve priorem,

Pompeiusve parem. Quis justius induit arma,

Scire nefas; magno se judice quisque tuetur,

Victrix causa deis placuit sed victa, Catoni.1

Nec coiere pares; alter vergentibus annis

In senium, longoque togæ tranquillior usu

Dedidicit jam pace ducem; famæque petitor

Multa dare in vulgas; totus popularibus auris

Impelli, plausuque sui gaudere theatri;

Nec reparare novas vires, multumque priori

Credere fortunæ. Stat magni nominis umbra.”

“Sed non in Cæsare tantum

Nomen erat, nec fama ducis; sed nescia virtus

Stare loco; solusque pudor non vincere bello.

Acer et indomitus; quo spes, quoque ira vocasset,

Ferre manum, et nunquam te merando parcere ferro;

Successus urgere suos; instare favori

Numinis.”— Lucan, lib. i.

 

“O men so ill-fitted to agree, O men blind with greed, of what service can it be that you should join your powers, and possess the world between you?”

“For a short time the ill-sorted compact lasted, and there was a peace which each of them abhorred. Crassus alone stood between the others, hindering for a while the coming war — as an isthmus separates two waters and forbids sea to meet sea. If the morsel of land gives way, the Ionian waves and the Ægean dash themselves in foam against each other. So was it with the arms of the two chiefs when Crassus fell, and drenched the Assyrian Carræ with Roman blood.”

“Then the possession of the Empire was put to the arbitration of the sword. The fortunes of a people which possessed sea and earth and the whole world, were not sufficient for two men.”

“You, Magnus, you, Pompeius, fear lest newer deeds than yours should make dull your old triumphs, and the scattering of the pirates should be as nothing to the conquering of Gaul. The practice of many wars has so exalted you, O Cæsar, that you cannot put up with a second place. Cæsar will endure no superior; but Pompey will have no equal. Whose cause was the better the poet dares not inquire! Each will have his own advocate in history. On the side of the conqueror the gods ranged themselves. Cato has chosen to follow the conquered.

“But surely the men were not equal. The one in declining years, who had already changed his arms for the garb of peace, had unlearned the general in the statesman — had become wont to talk to the people, to devote himself to harangues, and to love the applause of his own theatre. He has not cared to renew his strength, trusting to his old fortune. There remains of him but the shadow of his great name.”

“The name of Cæsar does not loom so large; nor is his character as a general so high. But there is a spirit which can content itself with no achievements; there is but one feeling of shame — that of not conquering; a man determined, not to be controlled, taking his arms wherever lust of conquest or anger may call him; a man never sparing the sword, creating all things from his own good-fortune trusting always the favors of the gods.”

1 For the full understanding of this oft-quoted line the reader should make himself acquainted with Cato’s march across Libya after the death of Pompey, as told by Lucan in his 9th book.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43