WHEN from the deep the hour’s eternal sway,
Impels the coursers of the flaming day,
The long haired Greeks, with brazen arms prepare,
Their freedom to preserve and wage the war.
First Aristides from the couch arose,
While his great mind with all Minerva glows;
His mighty limbs, his golden arms invest,
The cuirass blazes on his ample breast,
The glittering cuises both his legs infold,
And the huge shield’s on fire with burnished gold
His hands two spears uphold of equal size,
And fame’s bright glories kindle in his eyes;
Upon his helmet, plumes of horse hair nod
And forth he moved, majestic as a God!
Upon his snorting steed the warrior sprung
The courser neighed, the brazen armour rung.
From heaven’s etherial heights the martial maid
With conscious pride, the hero’s might surveyed.
Him as she eyed, she shook the gorgon shield
“Henceforth to me,” she cried, “let all th’ immortals yield,
Let monster Mars, the Latia regions own,
For Attica, Minerva stands alone.”
And now, th’ unconquered Chief of Justice, gains
The Senate’s walls, and there the steed detains,
Whence he dismounts — -Miltiades he seeks,
Beloved of Jove, the leader of the Greeks,
Nor sought in vain, there clad in armour bright
The Chieftain stood, all eager for the fight:
Within his aged hands two lances shine,
The helmet blazed upon his brows divine,
And as he bends beneath th’ unequal weight
Youth smiles again, when with gigantic might
His nervous limbs, immortal arms could wield
Crush foe on foe, and raging, heap the field;
Yet tho’ such days were past, and ruthless age
Transformed the warrior, to the thoughtful sage,
Tho’ the remorseless hand of silent time
Impaired each joint, and stiffened every limb,
Yet thro’ his breast, the fire celestial stole,
Throbbed in his veins, and kindled in his soul,
111 thought, the Lord of Asia, threats no more,
And Hippias bites the dust, midst seas of gore.
Ilim as he viewed, the youthful hero’s breast,
Heaved high with joy, and thus the sage addressed,
“Chief, best beloved of Pallas,” he began,
“In fame allied to Gods, oh wondrous man!
Behold Apollo gilds the Athenian wall,
Our freedom waits, and fame and glory call
To battle! Asia’s King and myriads dare.
Swell the loud trump, and raise the din of war.”
He said impatient; then the warrior sage
Began, regardless of the fears of age:
“Not mine, oh youth, with caution to controul
The fire and glory of thy eager soul;
kSo was I wont in brazen arms to shine
Such strength, and such impatient fire were mine.”
He said, and bade the trumpet’s peals rebound.
High, and more high, the echoing war notes sound:
Sudden one general shout the din replies
A thousand lances blazing as they rise
And Athen’s banners wave, and float along the skie?
So from the marsh, the cranes embodied fly
Clap their glad wings, and cut the liquid sky
With thrilling cries, they mount their joyful way
Vig’rous they spring, and hail the new born day,
So rose the shouting Greeks, inspired by fame
T’ assert their freedom, and maintain their name.
First came Themistocles in arms renowned
Whose steed impatient, tore the trembling ground,
High o’er his helmet snowy plumes arise
And shade that brow, which Persia’s might defies;
A purple mantle graceful waves behind
Nor hides his arms but floats upon the wind.
His mighty form two crimson belts unfold
Rich in embroidery, and stiff with gold.
Calimachus the Polemarch, next came
The theme of general praise and general fame.
Cynagirus who e’en the Gods would dare
Heap ranks on ranks and thunder thro’ the war;
His virtues godlike; man’s his strength surpassed,
In battle foremost, and in flight the last,
His ponderous helm’s a shaggy lions hide
And the huge war axe clattered at his side,
The mighty Chief, a brazen chariot bore
While fame and glory hail him and adore.
Antenor next, his aid to Athens gave
Like Paris youthful, and like Hector brave;
Cleon, Minerva’s priest, experienced sage
Advanced in wisdom, as advanced in age.
Agregoras, Delenus’ favorite child
The parent’s cares, the glorious son beguiled
But now he leaves his sire to seek his doom
His country’s freedom, or a noble tomb;
And young Aratus moved with youthful pride,
And heart elated at the hero’s side.
Next thou Cleones, thou triumphant moved
By Athens honoured, by the Greeks beloved:
And Sthenellus the echoing pavements trod,
From youth devoted to the martial God
Honor unspotted, crowned the hero’s name,
Unbounded virtue, and unbounded fame.
Such heroes shone the foremost of the host
All Athens’ glory, and all Athens’ boast.
Behind a sable cloud of warriors rise
With ponderous arms, and shouting rend the skies;
These bands with joy, Miltiades inspire,
Fame fills his breast, and sets his soul on fire.
Aloft he springs into the gold wrought car
While the shrill blast resounds, to war! to war!
The coursers plunge as conscious of their load
And proudly neighing, feel they bear a God.
The snow white steeds by Pallas self were given,
Which sprung from the immortal breed of heaven,
The car was wrought of brass and burnished gold
And divers figures on its bulk were told,
Of heroes who in plunging to the fight
Shrouded Troy’s glories in eternal night:
Of fierce Pelides who relenting gave
At Priam’s prayer, to Hector’s corpse a grave,
Here Spartan Helen, flies her native shore
To bid proud Troy majestic stand no more;
There Hector clasps his consort to his breast
Consoles her sufferings, tho’ himself oppressed,
And there he rushes to the embattled field
For victory or death, nor e’en in death to yield:
Here Illium prostrate feels the Argive ire
Her heroes perished, and her towers on fire.
And here old Priam breathes his last drawn sigh
And feels ’tis least of all his griefs to die;
There his loved sire, divine Aeneas bears
And leaves his own with all a patriot’s tears
While in one hand he holds his weeping boy,
And looks his last on lost unhappy Troy.
The warrior seized the reins, the impatient steeds
Foam at the mouth and spring where glory leads,
The gates, the heroes pass, th’ Athenian dames
Bend from their towers, and bid them save from flames
Their walls, their infant heirs and fill the skies
With shouts, entreaties, prayers, and plaintive cries
Echo repeats their words, the sounds impart
New vigor to each Greek’s aspiring heart.
Forward with shouts they press, and hastening on
Try the bold lance and dream of Marathon.
Meanwhile the Persians on th’ embattled plain
Prepare for combat, and the Greeks disdain,
Twice twenty sable bulls they daily pay
Unequalled homage to the God of day;
Such worthy gifts, the wealthy warriors bring.
And such the offerings of the Persian King;
While the red wine around his altars flowed
They beg protection from the flaming God.
But the bright Patron of the Trojan war
Accepts their offerings, but rejects their prayer:
The power of love alone, dares rigid fate.
To vent on Greece her vengeance and her hate;
Not love for Persia prompts the vengeful dame,
But hate for Athens, and the Grecian name:
In Phoebus name, the fraudful Queen receives
The hecatombs, and happy omens gives.
And now the heralds with one voice repeat
The will of Datis echoing thro’ the fleet,
To council, to convene the Persian train
That Athens Chiefs should brave their might in vain,
The Chiefs and Hippias self his will obey,
And seek the camp, the heralds lead the way.
There on the couch, their leader Datis sat
In ease luxurious, and in Kingly state,
Around his brow, pride deep, and scornful played,
A purple robe, his slothful limbs arrayed.
Which o’er his form, its silken draperies fold
Majestic sweeps the ground, and glows with gold.
While Artaphernes resting at his side
Surveys th’ advancing train with conscious pride.
The Elder leader, mighty Datis, then,
“Assembled Princes, great and valiant men.
And thou thrice glorious Hippias, loved by heav’n,
To whom as to thy Sire, is Athens giv’n;
Behold the Grecian banners float afar
Shouting they hail us, and provoke the war.
Then mighty Chiefs and Princes, be it yours
To warm and fire the bosoms of our powers.
That when the morn has spread her saffron light.
The Greeks may own and dread Darius’ might;
For know, oh Chiefs, when once proud Athens falls,
When Persian flames shall reach her haughty walls.
From her depression, wealth to you shall spring,
And honor, fame and glory to your King.”
He said; his words the Princes’ breast’s inspire,
Silent they bend, and with respect retire.
And now the Greeks, in able marches gain
By Pallas fired, the Marathonian plain,
Before their eyes th’ unbounded ocean rolls
And all Darius’ fleet — unawed their souls,
They fix their banners, and the tents they raise
And in the sun, their polished javelins blaze,
Their leaders self, within the brazen car
Their motions orders, and prepares for war;
Their labors o’er, the aged hero calls
The Chiefs to council midst the canvas walls.
And then the Sage, “How great the Persian host!
But let them not their strength or numbers boast,
Their slothful minds to love of fame unknown.
Sigh not for war, but for the spoil alone,
Strangers to honor’s pure immortal light.
They not as heroes, but as women fight;
Grovelling as proud, and cowardly as vain
The Greeks they fear, their numbers they disdain;
And now Athenians! fired by glory, rise
And lift your fame unsullied to the skies,
Your victim Persia, liberty your prize.
And now twice twenty sable bullocks bring
To heap the altars of the thundering King,
Bid twelve white heifers of gigantic breed
To Jove’s great daughter, wise Minerva bleed,
And then in sleep employ the solemn night
Nor till Apollo reigns, provoke the fight.”
The hero said; the warlike council o’er
They raise the lofty altars on the shore.
They pile in heaps the pride of all the wood
They fall the first, who first in beauty stood:
The pine that soars to heaven, the sturdy oak,
And cedars crackle at each hero’s stroke.
And now two altars stand of equal size
And lift their forms majestic to the skies.
The heroes then twice twenty bullocks bring
A worthy offering to the thundering King.
The aged leader seized the sacred knife
Blow followed blow, out gushed the quivering life
Thro’ their black hides the ruthless steel is driven
The victims groan — Jove thunders from his heaven.
And then their bulks upon the pile they lay,
The flames rush upward, and the armies pray.
Driven by the wind, the roaring fires ascend
And now they hiss in air, and now descend
With all their sap, the new cut faggots raise
Their flames to heaven, and crackle as they blaze;
And then the Sage, “Oh, thou of powers above
The first and mightiest, hear, eternal Jove!
Give us, that Athens in her strength may rise
And lift our fame and freedom to the skies!”
This said, he ceased — th’ assembled warriors pour
The sacred incense, and the God adore;
Then partial Jove propitious heard their prayer
Thrice shook the heavens, and thundered thro’ the air
With joy, the Greeks, the favoring sign inspires
And their breasts glow, with all the warlike fires:
And now twelve heifers white as snow they lead
To great Minerva’s sacred name to bleed.
They fall — their bulks upon the pile are laid
Sprinkled with oil, and quick in flame arrayed.
And now descending midst the darkening skies
Behold the Goddess of the radiant eyes.
The ground she touched, beneath the mighty load
Earth groaning rocks, and nature hails the God.
Within her hand her father’s lightnings shone,
And shield that blazes near th’ eternal throne;
The Greeks with fear, her dauntless form surveyed
And trembling, bowed before the blue eyed maid.
Then favoring, thus began the power divine,
While in her eyes celestial glorys shine;
“Ye sons of Athens, loved by heaven,” she cries
“Revered by men, be valiant and be wise,
When morn awakes, Darius numbers dare
Clang your loud arms, and rouse the swelling war:
But first to yon proud fleet a herald send
To bid the Persians yield, and fight suspend,
For vainly to their God, they suppliant call,
Jove favors Greece, and Pallas wills their fall.”
She said, and thro’ the depths of air she flies
Mounts the blue heaven, and scales the liquid skies
The Greeks rejoicing thank the powers above
And Jove’s great daughter, and eternal Jove.
And now a herald to the fleet they send
To bid the Persians yield, and war suspend.
Thro’ the divided troops the herald goes
Thro’ Athens host, and thro’ th’ unnumbered foes,
Before the holy man, the Persian bands
Reverend give way, and ask what Greece demands:
He tells not all, but that he, chosen, seeks
Datis their Chief, by order of the Greeks.
The mission but in part, he, sage reveals
And what his prudence prompts him, he conceals.
Then to their Chief they lead him, where he sat
With pomp surrounded, and in gorgeous state,
Around his kingly couch, his arms were spread
Flaming in gold, by forge Cyclopean made;
And then stern Datis, frowning thus began,
“What hopes deceive thee, miserable man?
What treacherous fate allures thee thus to stray
Thro’ all our hosts? what Gods beguile the way?
Think’st thou to ’scape the Persian steel, when Greece
Our herald crushed, and banished hopes of peace?
But speak, what will the Greeks? and do they dare
To prove our might, and tempt th’ unequal war?
Or do they deign to own Darius’ sway
And yield to Persia’s might, th’ embattled day?”
To whom th’ Athenian herald made reply
“The Greeks disdain your terms, and scorn to fly,
Unknown to heroes, and to sons of Greece
The shameful slavery of a Persian peace;
Defiance stern, not servile gifts I bring,
Your bonds detested, and despised your King;
Of equal size, the Greeks two altars raise
To Jove’s high glory, and Minerva’s praise,
The God propitious heard, and from the skies
Descends the Goddess of the azure eyes,
And thus began — Assembled Greeks give ear
Attend my wisdom, nor my glory fear;
When morn awakes, Darius numbers dare
Clang your loud arms, and rouse the swelling war,
But first to yon proud fleet a herald send
To bid the Persians yield, and war suspend
For vainly to their God, they suppliant call
Jove favors Greece, and Pallas wills their fall.”
The Goddess spoke th’ Athenians own her sway
I seek the fleet, and heaven’s command obey.
The Greeks disdain your millions in the war
Nor I, oh Chief, your promised vengeance fear
Strike! but remember that the God on high
Who rules the heavens, and thunders thro’ the sky
Not unrevenged will see his herald slain
Nor shall thy threats his anger tempt in vain.”
And thus the Greek, then Datis thus replies
Flames black and fearful scowling from his eyes,
“Herald away! and Asia’s vengeance fear
Back to your phrenzied train my mandate bear,
That Greece and Grecian Gods may threat in vain,
We scorn their anger, and their wrath disdain:
For he who lights the earth and rules the skies
With happy omens to our vows replies.
When morn uprising, breathes her saffron light
Prepare to dare our millions in the fight.
Thy life I give, Darius’ will to say
And Asia’s hate — hence Chief, no more, away!”
He said, and anger filled the Grecian’s breast
But prudent, he the rising wrath suppressed;
Indignant, thro’ the canvas tents he strode
And silently invoked the thundering God.
Fears for his country in his bosom rose.
As on he wandered midst unnumbered foes;
He strikes his swelling breast and hastens on
O’er the wide plains of barren Marathon.
And now he sees the Grecian banners rise
And well armed warriors blaze before his eyes,
Then thus he spoke — “Ye Grecian bands give ear.
Ye warrior Chiefs, and Attic heroes hear!
Your will to Asia’s other Prince I told
All which you bade me. Chieftains to unfold.
But Pallas’ vengeance I denounced in vain,
Your threats he scorned, and heard with proud disdain,
The God, he boasts, who lights the earth and skies
With happy omens to his vows replies;
Then when the uprising morn extends her light
Prepare, ye Greeks, to dare his powers in fight.”
He said — the Greeks for instant strife declare
Their will, and arm impatient for the war.
Then he their godlike Chief, as Pallas sage,
“Obey my counsels, and repress your rage,
Ye Greeks,” he cried, “the sacred night displays
Her shadowy veil, and earth in gloom arrays;
Her sable shades, e’en Persia’s Chiefs obey
And wait the golden mandate of the day:
Such is the will of Jove, and Gods above,
And such the order of the loved of Jove.”
He said — the Greeks their leaders word obey,
They seek their tents, and wait th’ approaching day,
O’er either host celestial Somnus reigns,
And solemn silence lulls th’ embattled plains.
End of Book III.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:05