A KING is sought to guide the growing state,
One able to support the publick weight
And fill the throne where Romulus had sate.
Renown, which oft bespeaks the publick voice,
Had recommended Numa to their choice:
A peaceful, pious prince; who not content
To know the Sabine rites, his study bent
To cultivate his mind; to learn the laws
Of Nature, and explore their hidden cause.
Urg’d by this care, his country he forsook,
And to Crotona thence his journey took.
Arriv’d, he first enquir’d the founder’s name
Of this new colony; and whence he came.
Then thus a senior of the place replies
(Well read, and curious of antiquities):
’Tis said, Alcides hither took his way
From Spain, and drove along his conquer’d prey;
Then, leaving in the fields his grazing cows,
He sought himself some hospitable house:
Good Croton entertain’d his godlike guest;
While he repair’d his weary limbs with rest.
The hero, thence departing, bless’d the place;
And here, he said, in time’s revolving race,
A rising town shall take his name from thee.
Revolving time fulfill’d the prophecy:
For Myscelos, the justest man on Earth,
Alemon’s son, at Argos had his birth:
Him Hercules, arm’d with his club of oak,
O’ershadow’d in a dream, and thus bespoke:
Go, leave thy native soil, and make abode,
Where Aesaris rowls down his rapid flood:
He said; and sleep forsook him, and the God.
Trembling he wak’d, and rose with anxious heart;
His country laws forbad him to depart:
What shou’d he do? ’Twas death to go away,
And the God menac’d, if he dar’d to stay.
All day he doubted, and when night came on,
Sleep, and the same forewarning dream, begun:
Once more the God stood threatning o’er his head;
With added curses if he disobey’d.
Twice warn’d, he study’d flight; but wou’d convey,
At once, his person, and his wealth away:
Thus while he linger’d, his design was heard;
A speedy process form’d, and death declar’d.
Witness there needed none of his offence;
Against himself the wretch was evidence:
Condemn’d, and destitute of human aid,
To him, for whom he suffer’d, thus he pray’d.
O Pow’r, who hast deserv’d in Heav’n a throne,
Not giv’n, but by thy labours made thy own,
Pity thy suppliant, and protect his cause,
Whom thou hast made obnoxious to the laws.
A custom was of old, and still remains,
Which life, or death by suffrages ordains:
White stones, and black within an urn are cast;
The first absolve, but Fate is in the last.
The judges to the common urn bequeath
Their votes, and drop the sable signs of death;
The box receives all black, but, pour’d from thence,
The stones came candid forth; the hue of innocence.
Thus Alemonides his safety won,
Preserv’d from death by Alcumena’s son:
Then to his kinsman-God his vows he pays,
And cuts with prosp’rous gales th’ Ionian seas:
He leaves Tarentum favour’d by the wind,
And Thurine bays, and Ternises, behind;
Soft Sybaris, and all the capes that stand
Along the shore, he makes in sight of land;
Still doubling, and still coasting, ’till he found
The mouth of Aesaris, and promis’d ground;
Then saw, where, on the margin of the flood,
The tomb, that held the bones of Croton stood:
Here, by the Gods’ command, he built, and wall’d
The place predicted; and Crotona call’d.
Thus Fame, from time to time, delivers down
The sure tradition of th’ Italian town.
Here dwelt the man divine, whom Samos bore,
But now self-banish’d from his native shore,
Because he hated tyrants, nor cou’d bear
The chains, which none but servile souls will wear.
He, tho’ from Heav’n remote, to Heav’n cou’d move,
With strength of mind, and tread th’ abyss above;
And penetrate, with his interior light,
Those upper depths, which Nature hid from sight:
And what he had observ’d, and learnt from thence,
Lov’d in familiar language to dispence.
The crowd with silent admiration stand,
And heard him, as they heard their God’s command;
While he discours’d of Heav’n’s mysterious laws,
The world’s original, and Nature’s cause;
And what was God; and why the fleecy snows
In silence fell, and rattling winds arose;
What shook the stedfast Earth, and whence begun
The dance of planets round the radiant sun;
If thunder was the voice of angry Jove,
Or clouds, with nitre pregnant, burst above:
Of these, and things beyond the common reach,
He spoke, and charm’d his audience with his speech.
He first the taste of flesh from tables drove,
And argu’d well, if arguments cou’d move:
O mortals, from your fellows’ blood abstain,
Nor taint your bodies with a food profane:
While corn, and pulse by Nature are bestow’d,
And planted orchards bend their willing load;
While labour’d gardens wholesom herbs produce,
And teeming vines afford their gen’rous juice;
Nor tardier fruits of cruder kind are lost,
But tam’d with fire, or mellow’d by the frost;
While kine to pails distended udders bring,
And bees their hony redolent of Spring;
While Earth not only can your needs supply,
But, lavish of her store, provides for luxury;
A guiltless feast administers with ease,
And without blood is prodigal to please.
Wild beasts their maws with their slain brethren fill;
And yet not all, for some refuse to kill;
Sheep, goats, and oxen, and the nobler steed,
On browz, and corn, and flow’ry meadows, feed.
Bears, tygers, wolves, the Lyon’s angry brood,
Whom Heav’n endu’d with principles of blood,
He wisely sundred from the rest, to yell
In forests, and in lonely caves to dwell;
Where stronger beasts oppress the weak by might,
And all in prey, and purple feasts delight.
O impious use! to Nature’s laws oppos’d,
Where bowels are in other bowels clos’d:
Where fatten’d by their fellow’s fat, they thrive;
Maintain’d by murder, and by death they live.
’Tis then for nought, that Mother Earth provides
The stores of all she shows, and all she hides,
If men with fleshy morsels must be fed,
And chaw with bloody teeth the breathing bread:
What else is this, but to devour our guests,
And barb’rously renew Cyclopean feasts!
We, by destroying life, our life sustain;
And gorge th’ ungodly maw with meats obscene.
Not so the Golden Age, who fed on fruit,
Nor durst with bloody meals their mouths pollute.
Then birds in airy space might safely move,
And tim’rous hares on heaths securely rove:
Nor needed fish the guileful hooks to fear,
For all was peaceful; and that peace sincere.
Whoever was the wretch (and curs’d be he)
That envy’d first our food’s simplicity,
Th’ essay of bloody feasts on brutes began,
And after forg’d the sword to murder Man.
Had he the sharpen’d steel alone employ’d
On beasts of prey; that other beasts destroy’d,
Or Man invaded with their fangs and paws,
This had been justify’d by Nature’s laws,
And self-defence: but who did feasts begin
Of flesh, he stretch’d necessity to sin.
To kill man-killers, Man has lawful pow’r,
But not th’ extended licence, to devour.
Ill habits gather by unseen degrees,
As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.
The sow, with her broad snout, for rooting up
Th’ intrusted seed, was judg’d to spoil the crop,
And intercept the sweating farmer’s hope:
The covetous churl, of unforgiving kind,
Th’ offender to the bloody priest resign’d:
Her hunger was no plea: for that she dy’d.
The goat came next in order to be try’d:
The goat had cropt the tendrils of the vine:
In vengeance laity, and clergy join,
Where one had lost his profit, one his wine.
Here was, at least, some shadow of offence;
The sheep was sacrific’d on no pretence,
But meek, and unresisting innocence.
A patient, useful creature, born to bear
The warm, and wooly fleece, that cloath’d her murderer;
And daily to give down the milk she bred,
A tribute for the grass on which she fed.
Living, both food and rayment she supplies,
And is of least advantage, when she dies.
How did the toyling ox his death deserve,
A downright simple drudge, and born to serve?
O tyrant! with what justice canst thou hope
The promise of the year, a plenteous crop;
When thou destroy’st thy lab’ring steer, who till’d,
And plough’d with pains, thy else ungrateful field?
From his yet reeking neck, to draw the yoke,
That neck, with which the surly clods he broke;
And to the hatchet yield thy husbandman,
Who finish’d Autumn, and the Spring began!
Nor this alone! but Heav’n it self to bribe,
We to the Gods our impious acts ascribe:
First recompence with death their creatures’ toil;
Then call the bless’d above to share the spoil:
The fairest victim must the Pow’rs appease
(So fatal ’tis sometimes too much to please!),
A purple fillet his broad brows adorns,
With flow’ry garlands crown’d, and gilded horns:
He hears the murd’rous pray’r the priest prefers,
But understands not, ’tis his doom he hears:
Beholds the meal betwixt his temples cast
(The fruit and product of his labours past);
And in the water views perhaps the knife
Uplifted, to deprive him of his life;
Then broken up alive, his entrails sees
Torn out, for priests t’ inspect the Gods’ decrees.
From whence, o mortal men, this gust of blood
Have you deriv’d, and interdicted food?
Be taught by me this dire delight to shun,
Warn’d by my precepts, by my practice won:
And when you eat the well-deserving beast,
Think, on the lab’rour of your field you feast!
Now since the God inspires me to proceed,
Be that, whate’er inspiring Pow’r, obey’d.
For I will sing of mighty mysteries,
Of truths conceal’d before, from human eyes,
Dark oracles unveil and open all the skies.
Pleas’d as I am to walk along the sphere
Of shining stars, and travel with the year,
To leave the heavy Earth, and scale the height
Of Atlas, who supports the heav’nly weight;
To look from upper light, and thence survey
Mistaken mortals wand’ring from the way,
And wanting wisdom, fearful for the state
Of future things, and trembling at their Fate!
Those I would teach; and by right reason bring
To think of death, as but an idle thing.
Why thus affrighted at an empty name,
A dream of darkness, and fictitious flame?
Vain themes of wit, which but in poems pass,
And fables of a world, that never was!
What feels the body, when the soul expires,
By time corrupted, or consum’d by fires?
Nor dies the spirit, but new life repeats
In other forms, and only changes seats.
Ev’n I, who these mysterious truths declare,
Was once Eupborbus in the Trojan war;
My name, and lineage I remember well,
And how in fight by Sparta’s king I fell.
In Argive Juno’s fane I late beheld
My buckler hung on high, and own’d my former shield.
Then, death, so call’d, is but old matter dress’d
In some new figure, and a vary’d vest:
Thus all things are but alter’d, nothing dies;
And here, and there th’ unbody’d spirit flies.
By time, or force, or sickness dispossest,
And lodges, where it lights, in man or beast;
Or hunts without, ’till ready limbs it find,
And actuates those according to their kind;
From tenement to tenement is toss’d,
The soul is still the same, the figure only lost:
And, as the soften’d wax new seals receives,
This face assumes, and that impression leaves;
Now call’d by one, now by another name;
The form is only chang’d, the wax is still the same:
So death, so call’d, can but the form deface;
Th’ immortal soul flies out in empty space,
To seek her fortune in some other place.
Then let not piety be put to flight,
To please the taste of glutton appetite;
But suffer inmate souls secure to dwell,
Lest from their seats your parents you expel;
With rabid hunger feed upon your kind,
Or from a beast dislodge a brother’s mind.
And since, like Typhis parting from the shore,
In ample seas I sail, and depths untry’d before,
This let me further add, that Nature knows
No stedfast station, but, or ebbs, or flows:
Ever in motion; she destroys her old,
And casts new figures in another mold.
Ev’n times are in perpetual flux, and run,
Like rivers from their fountain, rowling on,
For time, no more than streams, is at a stay;
The flying hour is ever on her way:
And as the fountain still supplies her store,
The wave behind impels the wave before;
Thus in successive course the minutes run,
And urge their predecessor minutes on,
Till moving, ever new: for former things
Are set aside, like abdicated kings:
And every moment alters what is done,
And innovates some act, ’till then unknown.
Darkness we see emerges into light,
And shining suns descend to sable night;
Ev’n Heav’n it self receives another dye,
When weary’d animals in slumbers lie
Of midnight ease: another, when the gray
Of morn preludes the splendor of the day.
The disk of Phoebus, when he climbs on high,
Appears at first but as a bloodshot eye;
And when his chariot downwards drives to bed.
His ball is with the same suffusion red;
But mounted high in his meridian race
All bright he shines, and with a better face:
For there, pure particles of Aether flow,
Far from th’ infection of the world below.
Nor equal light th’ unequal Moon adorns,
Or in her waxing, or her waning horns,
For ev’ry day she wanes, her face is less;
But gath’ring into globe, she fattens at increase.
Perceiv’st thou not the process of the year,
How the four seasons in four forms appear,
Resembling human life in ev’ry shape they wear?
Spring first, like infancy, shoots out her head,
With milky juice requiring to be fed:
Helpless, tho’ fresh, and wanting to be led.
The green stem grows in stature, and in size,
But only feeds with hope the farmer’s eyes;
Then laughs the childish year with flowrets crown’d,
And lavishly perfumes the fields around,
But no substantial nourishment receives;
Infirm the stalks, unsolid are the leaves.
Proceeding onward whence the year began,
The Summer grows adult, and ripens into Man.
This season, as in men, is most repleat
With kindly moisture, and prolifick heat.
Autumn succeeds, a sober tepid age,
Not froze with fear, nor boiling into rage;
More than mature, and tending to decay,
When our brown locks repine to mix with odious gray.
Last, Winter creeps along with tardy pace,
Sour is his front, and furrow’d is his face;
His scalp if not dishonour’d quite of hair,
The ragged fleece is thin; and thin is worse than bare.
Ev’n our own bodies daily change receive,
Some part of what was theirs before, they leave;
Nor are to-day, what yesterday they were;
Nor the whole same to-morrow will appear.
Time was, when we were sow’d, and just began,
From some few fruitful drops, the promise of a man:
Then Nature’s hand (fermented as it was)
Moulded to shape the soft, coagulated mass;
And when the little man was fully form’d,
The breathless embrio with a spirit warm’d;
But when the mother’s throws begin to come,
The creature, pent within the narrow room,
Breaks his blind prison, pushing to repair
His stifled breath, and draw the living air;
Cast on the margin of the world he lies,
A helpless babe, but by instinct he cries.
He next essays to walk, but downward press’d
On four feet imitates his brother beast:
By slow degrees he gathers from the ground
His legs, and to the rowling chair is bound;
Then walks alone; a horseman now become,
He rides a stick, and travels round the room.
In time he vaunts among his youthful peers,
Strong-bon’d, and strung with nerves, in pride of years,
He runs with mettle his first merry stage,
Maintains the next, abated of his rage,
But manages his strength, and spares his age.
Heavy the third, and stiff, he sinks apace,
And tho’ tis down hill all, but creeps along the race.
Now sapless on the verge of death he stands,
Contemplating his former feet and hands;
And, Milo-like, his slacken’d sinews sees,
And wither’d arms, once fit to cope with Hercules,
Unable now to shake, much less to tear, the trees.
So Helen wept, when her too faithful glass
Reflected on her eyes the ruins of her face:
Wondring, what charms her ravishers cou’d spy,
To force her twice, or ev’n but once t’ enjoy!
Thy teeth, devouring time, thine, envious age,
On things below still exercise your rage:
With venom’d grinders you corrupt your meat,
And then, at lingring meals, the morsels eat.
Nor those, which elements we call, abide,
Nor to this figure, nor to that are ty’d;
For this eternal world is said, of old,
But four prolifick principles to hold,
Four different bodies; two to Heav’n ascend,
And other two down to the center tend:
Fire first with wings expanded mounts on high,
Pure, void of weight, and dwells in upper sky;
Then air, because unclog’d in empty space,
Flies after fire, and claims the second place:
But weighty water, as her nature guides,
Lies on the lap of Earth; and Mother Earth subsides.
All things are mix’d of these, which all contain,
And into these are all resolv’d again:
Earth rarifies to dew; expanded more,
The subtil dew in air begins to soar;
Spreads, as she flies, and weary of her name
Extenuates still, and changes into flame;
Thus having by degrees perfection won,
Restless they soon untwist the web, they spun,
And fire begins to lose her radiant hue,
Mix’d with gross air, and air descends to dew;
And dew condensing, does her form forego,
And sinks, a heavy lump of Earth below.
Thus are their figures never at a stand,
But chang’d by Nature’s innovating hand;
All things are alter’d, nothing is destroy’d,
The shifted scene for some new show employ’d.
Then, to be born, is to begin to be
Some other thing we were not formerly:
And what we call to die, is not t’ appear,
Or be the thing, that formerly we were.
Those very elements, which we partake
Alive, when dead some other bodies make:
Translated grow, have sense, or can discourse;
But death on deathless substance has no force.
That forms are chang’d, I grant; that nothing can
Continue in the figure it began:
The golden age, to silver was debas’d:
To copper that; our metal came at last.
The face of places, and their forms, decay;
And that is solid Earth, that once was sea:
Seas in their turn retreating from the shore,
Make solid land, what ocean was before;
And far from strands are shells of fishes found,
And rusty anchors fix’d on mountain-ground:
And what were fields before, now wash’d and worn
By falling floods from high, to valleys turn,
And crumbling still descend to level lands;
And lakes, and trembling bogs, are barren sands.
And the parch’d desart floats in streams unknown;
Wondring to drink of waters not her own.
Here Nature living fountains opes; and there
Seals up the wombs, where living fountains were;
Or earthquakes stop their ancient course, and bring
Diverted streams to feed a distant spring.
So Licus, swallow’d up, is seen no more,
But far from thence knocks out another door.
Thus Erasinus dives; and blind in Earth
Runs on, and gropes his way to second birth,
Starts up in Argos’ meads, and shakes his locks
Around the fields, and fattens all the flocks.
So Mysus by another way is led,
And, grown a river, now disdains his head:
Forgets his humble birth, his name forsakes,
And the proud title of Caïcus takes.
Large Amenane, impure with yellow sands,
Runs rapid often, and as often stands,
And here he threats the drunken fields to drown;
And there his dugs deny to give their liquor down.
Anigros once did wholsome draughts afford,
But now his deadly waters are abhorr’d:
Since, hurt by Hercules, as Fame resounds,
The centaurs in his current wash’d their wounds.
The streams of Hypanis are sweet no more,
But brackish lose the taste they had before.
Antissa, Pharos, Tyre, in seas were pent,
Once isles, but now increase the continent;
While the Leucadian coast, main land before,
By rushing seas is sever’d from the shore.
So Zancle to th’ Italian earth was ty’d,
And men once walk’d, where ships at anchor ride.
’Till Neptune overlook’d the narrow way,
And in disdain pour’d in the conqu’ring sea.
Two cities that adorn’d th’ Achaian ground,
Buris, and Helice, no more are found,
But whelm’d beneath a lake, are sunk and drown’d;
And boatsmen through the crystal water show,
To wond’ring passengers, the walls below.
Near Traten stands a hill, expos’d in air
To winter-winds, of leafy shadows bare:
This once was level ground: but (strange to tell)
Th’ included vapours, that in caverns dwell,
Lab’ring with cholick pangs; and close confin’d,
In vain sought issue for the rumbling wind:
Yet still they heav’d for vent, and heaving still
Inlarg’d the concave, and shot up the hill;
As breath extends a bladder, or the skins
Of goats are blown t’ inclose the hoarded wines:
The mountain yet retains a mountain’s face,
And gather’d rubbish heals the hollow space.
Of many wonders, which I heard, or knew,
Retrenching most, I will relate but few:
What, are not springs with qualities oppos’d,
Endu’d at seasons, and at seasons lost?
Thrice in a day thine, Ammon, change their form,
Cold at high noon, at morn, and evening warm:
Thine, Athaman, will kindle wood, if thrown
On the pil’d earth, and in the waning moon.
The Thracians have a stream, if any try
The taste, his harden’d bowels petrify;
Whate’er it touches, it converts to stones,
And makes a marble pavement, where it runs.
Crathis, and Sybaris her sister flood,
That slide through our Calabrian neighbour wood,
With gold, and amber dye the shining hair,
And thither youth resort (for who would not be fair?).
But stranger virtues yet in streams we find,
Some change not only bodies, but the mind:
Who has not heard of Salmacis obscene,
Whose waters into women soften men?
Or Aethiopian lakes, which turn the brain
To madness, or in heavy sleep constrain?
Clytorian streams the love of wine expel
(Such is the virtue of th’ abstemious well),
Whether the colder nymph that rules the flood
Extinguishes, and balks the drunken God;
Or that Melampus (so have some assur’d)
When the mad Proetides with charms he cur’d,
And pow’rful herbs, both charms, and simples cast
Into the sober spring, where still their virtues last.
Unlike effects Lyncestis will produce;
Who drinks his waters, tho’ with mod’rate use,
Reels as with wine, and sees with double sight:
His heels too heavy, and his head too light.
Ladon, once Pheneos, an Arcadian stream
(Ambiguous in th’ effects, as in the name),
By day is wholsome bev’rage; but is thought
By night infected, and a deadly draught.
Thus running rivers, and the standing lake,
Now of these virtues, now of those partake:
Time was (and all things time, and Fate obey)
When fast Ortygia floated on the sea;
Such were Cyanean isles, when Typhis steer’d
Betwixt their streights, and their collision fear’d;
They swam, where now they sit; and firmly join’d
Secure of rooting up, resist the wind.
Nor Aetna vomiting sulphureous fire
Will ever belch; for sulphur will expire
(The veins exhausted of the liquid store):
Time was, she cast no flames; in time will cast no more.
For whether Earth’s an animal, and air
Imbibes; her lungs with coolness to repair,
And what she sucks remits; she still requires
Inlets for air, and outlets for her fires;
When tortur’d with convulsive fits she shakes,
That motion choaks the vent, ’till other vent she makes:
Or when the winds in hollow caves are clos’d,
And subtle spirits find that way oppos’d,
They toss up flints in air; the flints that hide
The seeds of fire, thus toss’d in air, collide,
Kindling the sulphur, ’till the fewel spent
The cave is cool’ d, and the fierce winds relent.
Or whether sulphur, catching fire, feeds on
Its unctuous parts, ’till all the matter gone
The flames no more ascend; for Earth supplies
The fat that feeds them; and when Earth denies
That food, by length of time consum’d, the fire
Famish’d for want of fewel must expire.
A race of men there are, as Fame has told,
Who shiv’ring suffer Hyperborean cold,
’Till nine times bathing in Minerva’s lake,
Soft feathers, to defend their naked sides, they take.
’Tis said, the Scythian wives (believe who will)
Transform themselves to birds by magick skill;
Smear’d over with an oil of wond’rous might,
That adds new pinions to their airy flight.
But this by sure experiment we know,
That living creatures from corruption grow:
Hide in a hollow pit a slaughter’d steer,
Bees from his putrid bowels will appear;
Who, like their parents, haunt the fields, and bring
Their hony-harvest home, and hope another Spring.
The warlike-steed is multiply’d, we find,
To wasps, and hornets of the warrior kind.
Cut from a crab his crooked claws, and hide
The rest in Earth, a scorpion thence will glide,
And shoot his sting, his tail in circles toss’d
Refers the limbs his backward father lost:
And worms, that stretch on leaves their filmy loom,
Crawl from their bags, and butterflies become.
Ev’n slime begets the frog’s loquacious race:
Short of their feet at first, in little space
With arms, and legs endu’d, long leaps they take
Rais’d on their hinder part, and swim the lake,
And waves repel: for Nature gives their kind,
To that intent, a length of legs behind.
The cubs of bears a living lump appear,
When whelp’d, and no determin’d figure wear.
Their mother licks ’em into shape, and gives
As much of form, as she her self receives.
The grubs from their sexangular abode
Crawl out unfinish’d, like the maggot’s brood:
Trunks without limbs; ’till time at leisure brings
The thighs they wanted, and their tardy wings.
The bird who draws the carr of Juno, vain
Of her crown’d head, and of her starry train;
And he that bears th’ Artillery of Jove,
The strong-pounc’d eagle, and the billing dove;
And all the feather’d kind, who cou’d suppose
(But that from sight, the surest sense, he knows)
They from th’ included yolk, not ambient white, arose.
There are, who think the marrow of a man,
Which in the spine, while he was living, ran;
When dead, the pith corrupted will become
A snake, and hiss within the hollow tomb.
All these receive their birth from other things;
But from himself the Phoenix only springs:
Self-born, begotten by the parent flame
In which he burn’d, another, and the same;
Who not by corn, or herbs his life sustains,
But the sweet essence of Amomum drains:
And watches the rich gums Arabia bears,
While yet in tender dew they drop their tears.
He (his five centuries of life fulfill’d)
His nest on oaken boughs begins to build,
Or trembling tops of palm, and first he draws
The plan with his broad bill, and crooked claws,
Nature’s artificers; on this the pile
Is form’d, and rises round, then with the spoil
Of Casia, Cynamon, and stems of Nard
(For softness strew’d beneath) his fun’ral bed is rear’d:
Fun’ral and bridal both; and all around
The borders with corruptless myrrh are crown’d,
On this incumbent; ’till aetherial flame
First catches, then consumes the costly frame:
Consumes him too, as on the pile he lies;
He liv’d on odours, and in odours dies.
An infant Phoenix from the former springs,
His father’s heir, and from his tender wings
Shakes off his parent dust, his method he pursues,
And the same lease of life on the same terms renews.
When grown to manhood he begins his reign,
And with stiff pinions can his flight sustain,
He lightens of its load the tree that bore
His father’s royal sepulcher before,
And his own cradle: this (with pious care
Plac’d on his back) he cuts the buxome air,
Seeks the Sun’s city, and his sacred church,
And decently lays down his burden in the porch.
A wonder more amazing wou’d we find?
Th’ Hyaena shows it, of a double kind,
Varying the sexes in alternate years,
In one begets, and in another bears.
The thin Camelion fed with air, receives
The colour of the thing, to which he cleaves.
India when conquer’d, on the conqu’ring God
For planted vines the sharp-ey’d Lynx bestow’d,
Whose urine, shed before it touches Earth,
Congeals in air, and gives to gems their birth.
So Coral soft, and white in ocean’s bed,
Comes harden’d up in air, and glows with red.
All changing species should my song recite;
Before I ceas’d, wou’d change the day to night.
Nations, and empires flourish, and decay,
By turns command, and in their turns obey;
Time softens hardy people, time again
Hardens to war a soft, unwarlike train.
Thus Troy for ten long years her foes withstood,
And daily bleeding bore th’ expence of blood:
Now for thick streets it shows an empty space,
Or only fill’d with tombs of her own perish’d race,
Her self becomes the sepulcher of what she was.
Mycené, Sparta, Thebes of mighty fame,
Are vanish’d out of substance into name.
And Dardan Rome that just begins to rise,
On Tiber’s banks, in time shall mate the skies:
Widening her bounds, and working on her way;
Ev’n now she meditates imperial sway:
Yet this is change, but she by changing thrives,
Like moons new-born, and in her cradle strives
To fill her infant-horns; an hour shall come,
When the round world shall be contain’d in Rome.
For thus old saws foretel, and Helenus
Anchises’ drooping son enliven’d thus:
When Ilium now was in a sinking state;
And he was doubtful of his future fate:
O Goddess-born, with thy hard fortune strive,
Troy never can be lost, and thou alive.
Thy passage thou shalt free through fire, and sword,
And Troy in foreign lands shall be restor’d.
In happier fields a rising town I see
Greater, than what e’er was, or is, or e’er shall be:
And Heav’n yet owes the world a race deriv’d from thee.
Sages, and chiefs, of other lineage born,
The city shall extend, extended shall adorn:
But from lulus he must draw his breath,
By whom thy Rome shall rule the conquer’d Earth:
Whom Heav’n will lend Mankind on Earth to reign,
And late require the precious pledge again.
This Helenus to great Aeneas told,
Which I retain, e’er since in other mould
My soul was cloath’d; and now rejoice to view
My country walls rebuilt, and Troy reviv’d anew,
Rais’d by the fall, decreed by loss to gain;
Enslav’d but to be free, and conquer’d but to reign.
’Tis time my hard-mouth’d coursers to controul,
Apt to run riot, and transgress the goal:
And therefore I conclude, Whatever lies,
In Earth, or flits in air, or fills the skies,
All suffer change; and we, that are of soul
And body mix’d, are members of the whole.
Then when our sires, or grandsires, shall forsake
The forms of men, and brutal figures take,
Thus hous’d, securely let their spirits rest,
Nor violate thy father in the beast,
Thy friend, thy brother, any of thy kin,
If none of these, yet there’s a man within:
O spare to make a Thyestaean meal,
T’ inclose his body, and his soul expel.
Ill customs by degrees to habits rise,
Ill habits soon become exalted vice:
What more advance can mortals make in sin
So near perfection, who with blood begin?
Deaf to the calf, that lyes beneath the knife,
Looks up, and from her butcher begs her life:
Deaf to the harmless kid, that ere he dies
All methods to procure thy mercy tries,
And imitates in vain thy children’s cries.
Where will he stop, who feeds with houshold bread,
Then eats the poultry, which before he fed?
Let plough thy steers; that when they lose their breath,
To Nature, not to thee, they may impute their death.
Let goats for food their loaded udders lend,
And sheep from winter-cold thy sides defend;
But neither sprindges, nets, nor snares employ,
And be no more ingenious to destroy.
Free as in air, let birds on Earth remain,
Nor let insidious glue their wings constrain;
Nor opening hounds the trembling stag affright,
Nor purple feathers intercept his flight:
Nor hooks conceal’d in baits for fish prepare,
Nor lines to heave ’em twinkling up in air.
Take not away the life you cannot give,
For all things have an equal right to live.
Kill noxious creatures, where ’tis sin to save;
This only just prerogative we have:
But nourish life with vegetable food,
And shun the sacrilegious taste of blood.
These precepts by the Samian sage were taught,
Which God-like Numa to the Sabines brought,
And thence transferr’d to Rome, by gift his own:
A willing people, and an offer’d throne.
O happy monarch, sent by Heav’n to bless
A salvage nation with soft arts of peace,
To teach religion, rapine to restrain,
Give laws to lust, and sacrifice ordain:
Himself a saint, a Goddess was his bride,
And all the Muses o’er his acts preside.
Advanc’d in years he dy’d; one common date
His reign concluded, and his mortal state.
Their tears plebeians, and patricians shed,
And pious matrons wept their monarch dead.
His mournful wife, her sorrows to bewail,
Withdrew from Rome, and sought th’ Arician vale.
Hid in thick woods, she made incessant moans,
Disturbing Cinthia’s sacred rites with groans.
How oft the nymphs, who rul’d the wood and lake,
Reprov’d her tears, and words of comfort spice!
How oft (in vain) the son of Theseus said,
Thy stormy sorrows be with patience laid;
Nor are thy fortunes to be wept alone,
Weigh others’ woes, and learn to bear thine own,
Be mine an instance to asswage thy grief:
Would mine were none! — yet mine may bring relief.
You’ve heard, perhaps, in conversation told,
What once befel Hippolytus of old;
To death by Theseus’ easie faith betray’d,
And caught in snares his wicked step-dame laid.
The wondrous tale your credit scarce may claim,
Yet (strange to say) in me behold the same,
Whom lustful Phaedra oft had press’d in vain,
With impious joys, my father’s bed to stain;
’Till seiz’d with fear, or by revenge inspir’d,
She charg’d on me the crimes herself desir’d.
Expell’d by Theseus, from his home I fled
With heaps of curses on my guiltless head.
Forlorn, I sought Pitthëan Troezen’s land,
And drove my chariot o’er Corinthus’ strand;
When from the surface of the level main
A billow rising, heav’d above the plain;
Rolling, and gath’ring, ’till so high it swell’d,
A mountain’s height th’ enormous mass excell’d;
Then bellowing, burst; when from the summit cleav’d,
A horned bull his ample chest upheav’d.
His mouth, and nostrils, storms of briny rain,
Expiring, blew. Dread horror seiz’d my train.
I stood unmov’d. My father’s cruel doom
Claim’d all my soul, nor fear could find a room.
Amaz’d, awhile my trembling coursers stood
With prick’d up ears, contemplating the flood;
Then starting sudden, from the dreadful view,
At once, like lightning, from the seas they flew,
And o’er the craggy rocks the rattling chariot drew.
In vain to stop the hot-mouth’d steeds I try’d,
And bending backward all my strength apply’d;
The frothy foam in driving flakes distains
The bits, and bridles, and bedews the reins.
But tho’, as yet untam’d they run, at length
Their heady rage had tir’d beneath my strength,
When in the spokes, a stump intangling, tore
The shatter’d wheel, and from its axle bore.
The shock impetuous tost me from the seat,
Caught in the reins beneath my horse’s feet.
My reeking guts drag’d out alive, around
The jagged strump, my trembling nerves were wound,
Then stretch’d the well-knit limbs, in pieces hal’d,
Part stuck behind, and part the chariot trail’d;
’Till, midst my cracking joints, and breaking bones,
I breath’d away my weary’d soul in groans.
No part distinguish’d from the rest was found,
But all my parts an universal wound.
Now say, self-tortur’d nymph, can you compare
Our griefs as equal, or in justice dare?
I saw besides the darksome realms of woe,
And bath’d my wounds in smoking streams below.
There I had staid, nor second life injoy’d,
But Poean’s son his wondrous art imploy’d.
To light restor’d, by medicinal skill,
In spight of Fate, and rigid Pluto’s will,
Th’ invidious object to preserve from view,
A misty cloud around me Cynthia threw;
And lest my sight should stir my foes to rage,
She stamp’d my visage with the marks of age.
My former hue was chang’d, and for it shown
A set of features, and a face unknown.
A-while the Goddess stood in doubt, or Crete,
Or Delos’ isle, to chuse for my retreat.
Delos, and Crete refus’d, this wood she chose,
Bad me my former luckless name depose,
Which kept alive the mem’ry of my woes;
Then said, Immortal life be thine; and thou,
Hippolytus once call’d, be Virbius now.
Here then a God, but of th’ inferior race,
I serve my Goddess, and attend her chace.
But others’ woes were useless to appease
Egeria’s grief, or set her mind at ease.
Beneath the hill, all comfortless she laid,
The dropping tears her eyes incessant shed,
’Till pitying Phoebe eas’d her pious woe,
Thaw’d to a spring, whose streams for ever flow.
The nymphs, and Virbius, like amazement fill’d,
As seiz’d the swains, who Tyrrhene furrows till’d;
When heaving up, a clod was seen to roll,
Untouch’d, self-mov’d, and big with human soul.
The spreading mass in former shape depos’d,
Began to shoot, and arms and legs disclos’d,
’Till form’d a perfect man, the living mold
Op’d its new mouth, and future truths foretold;
And Tages nam’d by natives of the place,
Taught arts prophetic to the Tuscan race.
Or such as once by Romulus was shown,
Who saw his lance with sprouting leaves o’er-grown,
When fix’d in Earth the point began to shoot,
And growing downward turn’d a fibrous root;
While spread aloft the branching arms display’d,
O’er wondring crowds, an unexpected shade.
Or as when Cippus in the current view’d
The shooting horns that on his forehead stood,
His temples first he feels, and with surprize
His touch confirms th’ assurance of his eyes.
Streight to the skies his horned front he rears,
And to the Gods directs these pious pray’rs.
If this portent be prosp’rous, O decree
To Rome th’ event; if otherwise, to me.
An altar then of turf he hastes to raise,
Rich gums in fragrant exhalations blaze;
The panting entrails crackle as they fry,
And boding fumes pronounce a mystery,
Soon as the augur saw the holy fire,
And victims with presaging signs expire,
To Cippus then he turns his eyes with speed,
And views the horny honours of his head:
Then cry’d, Hail conqueror! thy call obey,
Those omens I behold presage thy sway.
Rome waits thy nod, unwilling to be free,
And owns thy sov’reign pow’r as Fate’s decree.
He said — and Cippus, starting at th’ event,
Spoke in these words his pious discontent.
Far hence, ye Gods, this execration send,
And the great race of Romulus defend.
Better that I in exile live abhorr’d,
Than e’er the Capitol shou’d style me lord.
This spoke, he hides with leaves his omen’d head.
Then prays, the senate next convenes, and said:
If augurs can foresee, a wretch is come,
Design’d by destiny the bane of Rome.
Two horns (most strange to tell) his temples crown;
If e’er he pass the walls, and gain the town,
Your laws are forfeit, that ill-fated hour;
And liberty must yield to lawless pow’r.
Your gates he might have enter’d; but this arm
Seiz’d the usurper, and with-held the harm.
Haste, find the monster out, and let him be
Condemn’d to all the senate can decree;
Or ty’d in chains, or into exile thrown;
Or by the tyrant’s death prevent your own.
The crowd such murmurs utter as they stand,
As swelling surges breaking on the strand;
Or as when gath’ring gales sweep o’er the grove,
And their tall heads the bending cedars move.
Each with confusion gaz’d, and then began
To feel his fellow’s brows, and find the man.
Cippus then shakes his garland off, and cries,
The wretch you want, I offer to your eyes.
The anxious throng look’d down, and sad in thought,
All wish’d they had not found the sign they sought:
In haste with laurel wreaths his head they bind;
Such honour to such virtue was assign’d.
Then thus the senate — Hear, o Cippus, hear;
So god-like is thy tutelary care,
That since in Rome thy self forbids thy stay,
For thy abode those acres we convey
The plough-share can surround, the labour of a day.
In deathless records thou shalt stand inroll’d,
And Rome’s rich posts shall shine with horns of gold.
Melodious maids of Pindus, who inspire
The flowing strains, and tune the vocal lyre;
Tradition’s secrets are unlock’d to you,
Old tales revive, and ages past renew;
You, who can hidden causes best expound,
Say, whence the isle, which Tiber flows around,
Its altars with a heav’nly stranger grac’d,
And in our shrines the God of physic plac’d.
A wasting plague infected Latium’s skies;
Pale, bloodless looks were seen, with ghastly eyes;
The dire disease’s marks each visage wore,
And the pure blood was chang’d to putrid gore:
In vain were human remedies apply’d;
In vain the pow’r of healing herbs was try’d:
Weary’d with death, they seek celestial aid,
And visit Phoebus in his Delphic shade;
In the world’s centre sacred Delphos stands,
And gives its oracles to distant lands:
Here they implore the God, with fervent vows,
His salutary pow’r to interpose,
And end a great afflicted city’s woes.
The holy temple sudden tremors prov’d;
The laurel grove and all its quivers mov’d;
In hollow sounds the priestess, thus, began,
And thro’ each bosom thrilling horrors ran.
“Th’ assistance, Roman, which you here implore,
Seek from another, and a nearer shore;
Relief must be implor’d, and succour won,
Not from Apollo, but Apollo’s son;
My son, to Latium born, shall bring redress:
Go with good omens, and expect success.”
When these clear oracles the senate knew;
The sacred tripod’s counsels they pursue,
Depute a pious and a chosen band,
Who sail to Epidaurus’ neighb’ring land:
Before the Graecian elders when they stood,
They pray ’em to bestow the healing God:
“Ordain’d was he to save Ausonia’s state;
So promis’d Delphi, and unerring Fate.”
Opinions various their debates enlarge:
Some plead to yield to Rome the sacred charge;
Others, tenacious of their country’s wealth,
Refuse to grant the pow’r, who guards its health.
While dubious they remain’d, the wasting light
Withdrew before the growing shades of night;
Now, Roman, clos’d in sleep were mortal eyes,
When health’s auspicious God appears to thee,
And thy glad dreams his form celestial see:
In his left hand, a rural staff preferr’d,
His right is seen to stroke his decent beard.
“Dismiss,” said he, with mildness all divine,
“Dismiss your fears; I come, and leave my shrine;
This serpent view, that with ambitious play
My staff encircles, mark him ev’ry way;
His form, tho’ larger, nobler, I’ll assume,
And chang’d, as Gods should be, bring aid to Rome.”
Here fled the vision, and the vision’s flight
Was follow’d by the chearful dawn of light.
Now was the morn with blushing streaks o’erspread,
And all the starry fires of Heav’n were fled;
The chiefs perplex’d, and fill’d with doubtful care,
To their protector’s sumptuous roofs repair,
By genuin signs implore him to express,
What seats he deigns to chuse, what land to bless:
Scarce their ascending pray’rs had reach’d the sky;
Lo, the serpentine God, erected high!
Forerunning hissings his approach confest;
Bright shone his golden scales, and wav’d his lofty crest;
The trembling altar his appearance spoke;
The marble floor, and glittering ceiling shook;
The doors were rock’d; the statue seem’d to nod;
And all the fabric own’d the present God:
His radiant chest he taught aloft to rise,
And round the temple cast his flaming eyes:
Struck was th’ astonish’d crowd; the holy priest,
His temples with white bands of ribbon drest,
With rev’rent awe the Power divine confest!
The God! the God! he cries; all tongues be still!
Each conscious breast devoutest ardour fill!
O beauteous! O divine! assist our cares,
And be propitious to thy vot’ries prayers!
All with consenting hearts, and pious fear,
The words repeat, the deity revere:
The Romans in their holy worship join’d,
With silent awe, and purity of mind:
Gracious to them, his crest is seen to nod,
And, as an earnest of his care, the God,
Thrice hissing, vibrates thrice his forked tongue;
And now the smooth descent he glides along:
Still on the ancient seats he bends his eyes,
In which his statue breaths, his altars rise;
His long-lov’d shrine with kind concern he leaves,
And to forsake th’ accustom’d mansion grieves:
At length, his sweeping bulk in state is born
Thro’ the throng’d streets, which scatter’d flowers adorn;
Thro’ many a fold he winds his mazy course,
And gains the port and moles, which break the ocean’s force.
’Twas here he made a stand, and having view’d
The pious train, who his last steps pursu’d,
Seem’d to dismiss their zeal with gracious eyes,
While gleams of pleasure in his aspect rise.
And now the Latian vessel he ascends;
Beneath the weighty God the vessel bends:
The Latins on the strand great Jove appease,
Their cables loose, and plough the yielding seas:
The high-rear’d serpent from the stern displays
His gorgeous form, and the blue deep surveys;
The ship is wafted on with gentle gales,
And o’er the calm Ionian smoothly sails;
On the sixth morn th’ Italian coast they gain,
And touch Lacinia, grac’d with Juno’s fane;
Now fair Calabria to the sight is lost,
And all the cities on her fruitful coast;
They pass at length the rough Sicilian shore,
The Brutian soil, rich with metalic ore,
The famous isles, where Aeolus was king,
And Paestum blooming with eternal Spring:
Minerva’s cape they leave, and Capreae’s isle,
Campania, on whose hills the vineyards smile,
The city, which Alcides’ spoils adorn,
Naples, for soft delight and pleasure born;
Fair Stabiae, with Cumean Sibyl’s seats,
And Baia’s tepid baths, and green retreats;
Linternum next they reach, where balmy gums
Distil from mastic trees, and spread perfumes:
Caieta, from the nurse so nam’d, for whom
With pious care Aeneas rais’d a tomb,
Vulturne, whose whirlpools suck the numerous sands,
And Trachas, and Minturnea’s marshy lands,
And Formia’s coast is left, and Circe’s plain,
Which yet remembers her enchanting reign;
To Antium, last, his côurse the pilot guides.
Here, while the anchor’d vessel safely rides
(For now the rufled deep portends a storm),
The spiry God unfolds his spheric form,
Thro’ large indentings draws his lubric train,
And seeks the refuge of Apollo’s fane;
The fane is situate on the yellow shore:
When the sea smil’d, and the winds rag’d no more,
He leaves his father’s hospitable lands,
And furrows, with his rattling scales, the sands
Along the coast; at length the ship regains,
And sails to Tibur, and Lavinum’s plains.
Here mingling crowds to meet their patron came,
Ev’n the chast guardians of the Vestal flame,
From every part tumultuous they repair,
And joyful acclamations rend the air:
Along the flowry banks, on either side,
Where the tall ship floats on the swelling tide,
Dispos’d in decent order altars rise,
And crackling incense, as it mounts the skies,
The air with sweets refreshes; while the knife,
Warm with the victim’s blood, lets out the streaming life.
The world’s great mistress, Rome, receives him now;
On the mast’s top reclin’d he waves his brow,
And from that height surveys the great abodes,
And mansions, worthy of residing Gods.
The land, a narrow neck, it self extends,
Round which his course the stream divided bends;
The stream’s two arms, on either side, are seen,
Stretch’d out in equal length; the land between.
The isle, so call’d from hence derives its name:
’Twas here the salutary serpent came;
Nor sooner has he left the Latian pine,
But he assumes again his form divine,
And now no more the drooping city mourns,
Joy is again restor’d, and health returns.
But Aesculapius was a foreign power:
In his own city Caesar we adore:
Him arms, and arts alike renown’d beheld,
In peace conspicuous, dreadful in the field;
His rapid conquest, and swift-finish’d wars,
The hero justly fix’d among the stars;
Yet is his progeny his greatest fame:
The son immortal makes the father’s name.
The sea-girt Britons, by his courage tam’d,
For their high rocky cliffs, and fierceness fam’d;
His dreadful navies, which victorious rode
O’er Nile’s affrighted waves and seven-sourc’d flood;
Numidia, and the spacious realms regain’d;
Where Cinyphis or flows, or Juba reign’d;
The powers of titled Mithridates broke,
And Pontus added to the Roman yoke;
Triumphal shows decreed, for conquests won,
For conquests, which the triumphs still outshone;
These are great deeds; yet less, than to have giv’n
The world a lord, in whom, propitious Heav’n,
When you decreed the sov’reign rule to place,
You blest with lavish bounty human race.
Now lest so great a prince might seem to rise
Of mortal stem, his sire much reach the skies;
The beauteous Goddess, that Aeneas bore,
Foresaw it, and foreseeing did deplore;
For well she knew her hero’s fate was nigh,
Devoted by conspiring arms to die.
Trembling, and pale, to every God, she cry’d,
Behold, what deep and subtle arts are try’d,
To end the last, the only branch that springs
From my lulus, and the Dardan kings!
How bent they are! how desp’rate to destroy
All that is left me of unhappy Troy!
Am I alone by Fate ordain’d to know
Uninterrupted care, and endless woe!
Now from Tydides’ spear I feel the wound:
Now Ilium’s tow’rs the hostile flames surround:
Troy laid in dust, my exil’d son I mourn,
Thro’ angry seas, and raging billows born;
O’er the wide deep his wandring course he bends;
Now to the sullen shades of Styx descends,
With Turnus driv’n at last fierce wars to wage,
Or rather with unpitying Juno’s rage.
But why record I now my ancient woes?
Sense of past ills in present fears I lose;
On me their points the impious daggers throw;
Forbid it, Gods, repel the direful blow:
If by curs’d weapons Numa’s priest expires,
No longer shall ye burn, ye Vestal fires.
While such complainings Cypria’s grief disclose;
In each celestial breast compassion rose:
Not Gods can alter Fate’s resistless will;
Yet they foretold by signs th’ approaching ill.
Dreadful were heard, among the clouds, alarms
Of ecchoing trumpets, and of clashing arms;
The Sun’s pale image gave so faint a light,
That the sad Earth was almost veil’d in night;
The Aether’s face with fiery meteors glow’d;
With storms of hail were mingled drops of blood;
A dusky hue the morning star o’erspread,
And the Moon’s orb was stain’d with spots of red;
In every place portentous shrieks were heard,
The fatal warnings of th’ infernal bird;
In ev’ry place the marble melts to tears;
While in the groves, rever’d thro’ length of years,
Boding, and awful sounds the ear invade;
And solemn music warbles thro’ the shade;
No victim can attone the impious age,
No sacrifice the wrathful Gods asswage;
Dire wars and civil fury threat the state;
And every omen points out Caesar’s fate:
Around each hallow’d shrine, and sacred dome,
Night-howling dogs disturb the peaceful gloom;
Their silent seats the wandring shades forsake,
And fearful tremblings the rock’d city shake.
Yet could not, by these prodigies, be broke
The plotted charm, or staid the fatal stroke;
Their swords th’ assassins in the temple draw;
Their murth’ring hands nor Gods nor temples awe;
This sacred place their bloody weapons stain,
And Virtue falls, before the altar slain.
’Twas now fair Cypria, with her woes opprest,
In raging anguish smote her heav’nly breast;
Wild with distracting fears, the Goddess try’d
Her hero’ in th’ etherial cloud to hide,
The cloud, which youthful Paris did conceal,
When Menelaus urg’d the threatning steel;
The cloud, which once deceiv’d Tydides’ sight,
And sav’d Aeneas in th’ unequal fight.
When Jove — In vain, fair daughter, you assay
To o’er-rule destiny’s unconquer’d sway:
Your doubts to banish, enter Fate’s abode;
A privilege to heav’nly powers allow’d;
There shall you see the records grav’d, in length,
On ir’n and solid brass, with mighty strength;
Which Heav’n’s and Earth’s concussion shall endure,
Maugre all shocks, eternal, and secure:
There, on perennial adamant design’d,
The various fortunes of your race you’ll find:
Well I have mark’d ’em, and will now relate
To thee the settled laws of future Fate.
He, Goddess, for whose death the Fates you blame,
Has finish’d his determin’d course with Fame:
To thee ’tis giv’n at length, that he shall shine
Among the Gods, and grace the worship’d shrine:
His son to all his greatness shall be heir,
And worthily succeed to empire’s care:
Our self will lead his wars, resolv’d to aid
The brave avenger of his father’s shade:
To him its freedom Mutina shall owe,
And Decius his auspicious conduct know;
His dreadful powers shall shake Pharsalia’s plain,
And drench in gore Philippi’s fields again:
A mighty leader, in Sicilia’s flood,
Great Pompey’s warlike son, shall be subdu’d:
Aegypt’s soft queen, adorn’d with fatal charms,
Shall mourn her soldier’s unsuccessful arms:
Too late shall find her swelling hopes were vain,
And know, that Rome o’er Memphis still must reign:
What name I Afric, or Nile’s hidden head?
Far as both oceans roll, his power shall spread:
All the known Earth to him shall homage pay,
And the seas own his universal sway:
When cruel war no more disturbs Mankind;
To civil studies shall he bend his mind,
With equal justice guardian laws ordain,
And by his great example vice restrain:
Where will his bounty or his goodness end?
To times unborn his gen’rous views extend;
The virtues of his heir our praise engage,
And promise blessings to the coming age:
Late shall he in his kindred orbs be placed,
With Pylian years, and crowded honours graced.
Mean-time, your hero’s fleeting spirit bear,
Fresh from his wounds, and change it to a star:
So shall great Julius rites divine assume,
And from the skies eternal smile on Rome.
This spoke, the Goddess to the senate flew;
Where, her fair form conceal’d from mortal view,
Her Caesar’s heav’nly part she made her care,
Nor left the recent soul to waste to air;
But bore it upwards to its native skies:
Glowing with new-born fires she saw it rise;
Forth springing from her bosom up it flew,
And kindling, as it soar’d, a comet grew:
Above the lunar sphere it took its flight,
And shot behind it a long trail of light.
Thus rais’d, his glorious off-spring Julius view’d,
Beneficently great, and scattering good,
Deeds, that his own surpass’d, with joy beheld,
And his large heart dilates to be excell’d.
What tho’ this prince refuses to receive
The preference, which his juster subjects give;
Fame uncontroll’d, that no restraint obeys,
The homage, shunn’d by modest virtue, pays,
And proves disloyal only in his praise.
Tho’ great his sire, him greater we proclaim:
So Atreus yields to Agamemnon’s fame;
Achilles so superior honours won,
And Peleus must submit to Peleus’ son;
Examples yet more noble to disclose,
So Saturn was eclips’d, when Jove to empire rose;
Jove rules the Heav’ns, the Earth Augustus sways;
Each claims a monarch’s, and a father’s praise.
Celestials, who for Rome your cares employ;
Ye Gods, who guarded the remains of Troy;
Ye native Gods, here born, and fix’d by Fate;
Quirinus, founder of the Roman state;
O parent Mars, from whom Quirinus sprung;
Chaste Vesta, Caesar’s household Gods among,
Most sacred held; domestic Phoebus, thou,
To whom with Vesta chaste alike we bow;
Great guardian of the high Tarpeian rock;
And all ye Pow’rs, whom poets may invoke;
O grant, that day may claim our sorrows late,
When lov’d Augustus shall submit to Fate,.
Visit those seats, where Gods and heroes dwell,
And leave, in tears, the world he rul’d so well!
The work is finish’d, which nor dreads the rage
Of tempests, fire, or war, or wasting age;
Come, soon or late, death’s undetermin’d day,
This mortal being only can decay;
My nobler part, my fame, shall reach the skies,
And to late times with blooming honours rise:
Whate’er th’ unbounded Roman power obeys,
All climes and nations shall record my praise:
If ’tis allow’d to poets to divine,
One half of round eternity is mine.
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53