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I have explained myself upon the foregoing particulars, for the sake of the learned part of my readers only: and shall now drop a hint for such of them as do not fall under that denomination.
The following poem is called the Epigoniad, because the heroes, whose actions it celebrates, have got the name of The Epigoni (or descendants), being the sons of those who attempted the conquest of Thebes in a former expedition.
Thus far I have endeavoured to apologise for the following performance. It may be censured, no doubt, upon many accounts besides those that have been mentioned: but I am persuaded, that what has been said will determine every candid reader, not to be peremptory in condemning what at first view he may dislike; for the specimen of criticism which has been given, will convince him that the real faults of epic poetry are not easily ascertained, and distinguished from those inconveniences that must be allowed to take place, in order to prevent greater faults, and produce, upon the whole, a higher degree of perfection.
But if great Campbell, whose auspicious smile EPIGONIAD.
Bids genius yet revive to bless our isle,
Who, from the toils of state, and public cares, BOOK I.
Oft with the Muses to the shade repairs, Ye pow'rs of song! with whose immortal fire
My numbers shall approve, I rise to fame :
For what he praises, envy dares not blame. Your bard enraptur'd sung Pelides' ire,
Where high Olympus' hundred heads arise, To Greece so fatal, when in evil hour,
Divide the clouds, and mingle with the skies, He brar'd, in stern debate, the sov'reign pow'r,
The gods assembled met: and view'd from far, By likeexample teach me now to show
Thebes and the various combats of the war. From lore, no less, what dire disasters flow.
From all apart the Paphian goddess sat, For when the youth of Greece, by Theseus led,
And pity'd in her heart her fav’rite state, Return’d to conquer where their fathers bled,
Decreed to perish, by the Argive bands,
Pallas's art, Tydides' mighty hands :
To charm the victor, and restrain his sword;
But veil'd her purpose from the piercing ray Who, from his plighted faith by passion sway'd, Of Pallas, ever jealous of her sway: The chiefs, the army, and himself betray'd. Unseen the goddess, from th’ Olympian height This theme did once your fav'rite bard employ, To shady Cyprus bent her rapid flight, Wbose verse immortaliz'd the fall of Troy : Down the steep air, as, from the setting skies, But time's oblivious gulf, whose circle draws
At ev'n's approach, a streaming meteor flies.
Where azure billows wash the golden sands,
A hollow cave; and lifts its rocky head,
With native myrtle crown'd, a lofty shade; And in the Summer's heat its blossom bears, Whither resort the Naiads of the flool, But, shri'ling at the touch of Winter hoar, Assemblid with the nymphs from ev'ry wood, Sinks to its native earth, and is ro more;
ller heisers there they tend, and fleecy store, figiit match the lofty oak, which long hatlı stood, Along the windings of the desert shore. Fromage tware, the monarch of the wood. Thither the goddess, from the Olympian height But lore excites me, and desire to trace
Descending swift, precipitales her tight ;
Conspicuous, on the yellow sand, she stood,
Above the margin of the azure flood. With garlands erɔwn'd of leaves which never fade; Froin ev'ry grove and stream the nymphs attend, lle prints the path to fame, and bids me scale And to their queen in cheerful homage bend. Pamassus' slipp'ry height, where thousands fail: Some hast'ning to the sacred grot repair, IGHow trembling; for the calls are high, And deck its rocky walls with garlands fair; And huv'rine tuund them watchful harpies fly, Others produce the gifts whichi Autamu brings, Tusnatch the poet's wreath with envivus clairs, And hiss euntem.pt for Derited applause,
And sparkling nectar quench’d with moupiain
And now the queen, impatient to explain
“Goddess ! these shafts shall compass what Her secret griefs, address'd her list ning train:
you aim, “ Ye rural goddesses, immortal fair ! My mother dipt their points in Stygian Alame; Who all my triumphs, all my sorrows share; Where'er my father's darts their way have found, I come, amicter, from th'ethereal tow'rs, Mine follow deep, and poison all the wound. Where Thebes is doom'd to fall by partial pow'rs. By these, we soon, with triumph, shall behold Nor can entreaty sare my fav'rite state,
Pallas deceiv'd, and Juno's self control'd." Avert or change the rigour of her fate;
They all approve; and, to the rural fane, Though, breathing incense, there my altar stands, Around their sov'reign, moves the joyful train ; With daily gift: supply'd from virgin's hands. The goddess plac'd, in order each succeeds, Juno now rules the senate of the skies,
With song and dance the genial feast proceeds ; And with her dictates ev'ry pow'r complies; While to the sprightly harp, the voice explains Her jealous hate the guiltless town condemns The loves of all the gods in wanton strains: To wasteful havoc, and the rage of flames;
But when arriv'd the silent hour, which brings Since, thither tempted by a stranger's charms,
The shades of erining on its dewy wings, The mighty thunderer forsook her arms.
Zelotypé, impaticut to pursue Jove's warlike daughter too promotes ber aim, Her journey, hast'ning to her cave, withdrew. Who for Tydides seeks immortal fame;
First to her feet the winged shoes she binds, For him employs a mother's watchful cares, Which tread the air, and mount the rapid winds; And the first honours of the war prepares:
Aloft they bear her throngh th' ethereal plain, To frustrate both, a monument would raise Above the solid earth and liquid main : Of lasting triumph and immortal praise; Her arrow's next she takes of pointed steel, To draw the son of Tydeus fr m the fielii, For sight too small, but terrible to feel : To whose victorious hands the town must yield; Rous'd by their smart, the savage lion roars, For, by the all-decreeing will of fate,
And mad to combat rush the tusky boars, He only can o'erthrow the Theban state. Of wounds secure; for where their venom lights, A way which promises success I'll name: What feels their power all other torment slights, The valiant youth adores a lovely dame,
A figurd zone, mysterionsly design'd, Alcander's daughter, whom the graces join'd Around her waist her yellow robe confin'd : With gifts adorn above the human kind :
There dark Suspicion lurk'd, of sable hue; She with her sire forscok th' Hesperian strand, There hasty Rage his deadly dagger drew; By hostile arms expelld their native land : Pale Envy inly pin'd; and by her side For Echetus who rules, with tyrant force, Stood Phrenzy, raging with his chains unty'd; Where Aufidus directs his downward course,
Affiont d Pride with thirst of vengeance burn'd, And bigh Garganos, on th’Apulian plain, And Love's excess to deepest hatred turn'd. Is mark'd by sailors, from the distant main; All these the artist's curious hand express'd, Oft from her sire bad claim'd the lovely maid, The work divine his matchless skill confess'd. Who, still averse, to grant his suit delay'd: The virgin last, around her shoulders flung For, barb'rous in extreme, the tyrant feeds The bow; and by her side the quiver hung: With mangl'd limbs of men his hungry steeds : Then, springing up, her airy course she bends Impatient of his love, by hostile arms
For Thebes; and lightly o'er the tents desceuris. And force declar'd, he claim'd her matchless The son of Tydeus, 'midst his bands, she found charms,
In arms complete, reposing on the grouud ; Pelignium raz'd, the hero's royal seat,
And, as he slept, the hero thus address'd, Who sought in foreign climes a safe retreat : Her form to fancy's waking cye express'd. His Aight, tolia's friendly shore receives, “ Thrice happy youth? whose glory 'tis to Her gen'rous lord protects him and relievos; The Paphian goddess's peculiar care; (share Three cities to possess, the chief obtains, But happy only, as you now improve With hills for pasture fit, and fruitful plains. The warning sent as earnest of her love. Cassandra for his bride Tydides claim'd; Her messenger I am: if in your heart For hymeneal rites the hour was nam'd;
The fair Hesperian virgin claims a part: When, call’d to arms against the Theban tow'rs, If, with regret, you'd see her matchless charme The chief reluctant led his martial pow'rs. Destin'd to bless a happier rival's arms; Hence jealousy and fear his breast diride, Your coasts defenceless, and unguarded tow'rs Fear for the safety of an absent bride ;
Consum'd and ravag'd by the Latian pow'rs; Lest, by his passion rous'd, the tyrant rise, Withdraw your warriors from the Argive hosi, And unoppos'd usurp the lovely prize.
And save whate'er you value, ere 'tis lost. He knows not, that, in martial arms conceal'd, For Fchetus, who rules with tyrant force, With him she braves the terrours of the field; Where Aufidus directs his downward cuurse ; True to his side, noon's sultry toil endures, And bigh Garganus on th’Apulian strand And the cold damps that chill the midnight hours. Marks to the mariner the distant land, If dreams, or signs, could jealousy impart, Prepares, by swift invasion, to remove And whets the cares that sting the hero's heart, Your virgin bride, and disappoint your love: Impatient of his pain, he'd soon prepare, Before, excited by her matchless charms, With all its native bouds, to quit the war.” He claim'd her from her sire by hostile arms;
The goddess thus: a Paphian nymph reply'd, Pelignium taz'd, the hero's royal seat, And drew the list’oing crow'd on ev'ry side: When in your land he sought a safe retreat. Zelotypé, whom fell Alecto bore,
Cassandra follow'd with reluctant mind, With Cupid mixing on th' infernal sbore. To love the tyrant secretly inclin'd;
"Though fierce and barb'rous in extreme, he feeds In Phthia staid ; to Chiron's care resign'd,
The chiefs were plac'd. Superior to the rest
She said ; and turning, fix'd upon the bow Which prudence may prevent, or force resist,
“ What dire disasters all my ways beset ! But openly my judgment to express How close around me pitch'd the fatal net! Of mischiefs seen, which prudence must redress: Here if I stay, nor quit the Argive host, By war's devouring rage, our martial pow'rs Etolia's ravag'd, and Cassandra's lost :
Grow thin and waste before these hostile tow'rs; For sure the pow'rs immortal ne'er in vain While Thebes, secure, our vain attempts withTo mortals thus the secret fates explain.
By daily aid sustain'd from distant lands. (stands, If I retire, the princes must upbraid
Shall we proceed to urge this dire debate, My plighted faith infring'd, the host betray'd; And press, with hostile arms, the Theban state? And, to succeeding times, the voice of fame, Or, by experience taught the worst to fear, With cowardice and sloth, will blot my name. Consult the public safety, and for ear? Petween these sad alternatives I find
Had our great sires, by happier counsels sway'd, Nu distant hopes to sooth my anxious mind; As prudence taught, necessity obey'd ; Unless I could persuade the Argive pow'rs Renounc'd in time this fatal strife, which brings To quit at once these long contested tow'rs : Alike to nations miscbief, and to kings; Nor want I reasons specious in debate
Those heroes had not, with their martial train, To move the boldest warriors to retreat,
Distinguish'd by their fall a foreign plain. Divided thus, the shame would lighter fall; The gods themselves, in vengeance for our crimes, Reproach is scarce reproach which touches all.” With such disasters lash the guilty times;
Thus pond'ring in his mind the hero lay, In judgment just, they sow'd the seeds of strife, Till darkness Aed before the morning ray: To sweep transgressors from the seats of life. Then rose ; and, grasping in his mighty hand Let him, who obstinately will, proceed, The regal staff, the sign of high command, And wait the vengeance hov’ring o'er bis head; Pensive and sad forsook his lofty tent,
Since Thebes grows stronger;and the Argive pow'rs And sought the son of Dares as he went :
Decrease, as famine or the sword devours,
And mingled murmurs round th' assembly glide, Obedient to the charge, he took his way, Heard like the sound which warn the careful Where Theseus 'midst the bold Athenians lay,
swain The king of men; in whose superior hand, Of sudden winds or thick-descending rain ; Consenting princes plac'd the chief command. When mountain echoes catch the sullen roar Adrastus next he call’d, whose hoary hairs Of billows bursting on the sandy shore, . By age were whitend and a length of cares; And hurl it round in airy circles tost, Who first to Thebes the Argive warriors led: Till in the distant clouds the voice is lost. la vain for Polynices' right they bled,
The king of men to sudden rage resign'd, By fate decreed to fall; he now inspires
At once, the empire of his mighty mind, The sons to conquer, and avenge their sires. With sharp reproaches hast'ning to reply; Ulysses heard, who led his martial train, But, more sedate, the Pylian inonarch pigh, In twenty ships, across the sounding main: In act to rise, the angry chief contin'd; The youth, in Ithaca, Zacynthus, bred, And, whisp'ring, thus address'd with head de. And Cephalenia crown'd with lofty shade.
clin'd : The Spartan monarch, with his brother, heard “ It ill becomes the prince, whose sov'reign hand The herald's call; and at the call appear'd: Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command, Yet young in arms, but destin'd to command To be the first in discord; and obey All Greece, assembled on the Trojan strand. As headlong passion blindly leads the way. The Cretan chief appear'd; and he whose sway For when the kings in rash debate engage, Messenia and the Pylian realms obey.
'Tis yours to check and moderate their rage; ! Oileus next be calld, whose martial pow'rs Since, of the various ills that can distress
From Bessa move and Scarphe's lofty tor'rs. Confed'rate councils, and prevent success,
The parts she severs, and the whole bei rays."
The hero thus. The king of men remain'd In ten years war before the Trojan town. By sound advice persuaded, and restrain'd. Achilles only, yet unfit to wield
Crete's valiant monarch rose; and to the rest, The Pelian jav'lin, and the pond'rous shield, Thus spoke the dictates of his gen'rous breast.
• Confedrate kings, when any leader here I freely own th' unnumber'd ills that wait The war dissuades, and warns you to forbear, On strife prolorgd, and war's disastrous state. I might approve; for, safe beyond the sea, With war lean famine and diseases dwell, Creon and Thebes can never injure me.
And Discord fierce, escap'd the bounds of Hello
And teach the tyrants of the Earth to feat.
(If oaths despis'd, and all the ties which bind By foreign aids the more our focs increase,
The great society of human kind ;) The greater glory waits us from success.
For Eteocles in the war she stood, You all remember, on the Istiimean strand, And drench'd her thirsty fields with Grecias Where neighb'ring seas besiege the straiten'd
The gods themselves have err'd, and plac'd ia When Grecce enleagu'd a full assembly held, The scepter'd king's injustice to restrain; By public justice to the war compellid;
Else she deserves the last extremes to feel That blood of slaughter'd victims drench'd the Of wasteful fire and keen devouring steel. ground,
Though prudence urg'd and equity approv'd, While oaths divine the willing nations bound,
Joining to second what Tydides mor'd, Ne'er to return, till our victorious pow'rs We could not hope the war for peace to change, Had lereld with the dust the Theban tow'rs. Thebes thinks not now of safety, but revenge. Jove heard, and bid applauding thunders roll, Last night, disguis'd, I mingled with the foe, Loud on the right; they shook the starry pole: Their secrei hopes and purposes to know; For Jove himself is witness of our vows,
And found that Creon, with his martial train, And him, who violates, his wrath pursues. This day intends to brave us on the plain. Our joyful shouts the earth, the occan heard ; Greece too, I heard, by barb'rous suvereigns We claim'd the omen, and the God rever'd:
claim'd, In confidence of full success we came,
Some Athens, Argos, some Mycrne nam'd; To conquer Thebes, and win immortal fame.
Sparta and Pylos, with the various towns But if the gods and fate our fears distrust, Which grace, in prospect fair, th' Arcadian To public justice and ourselves unjust;
downs: Dishonour'd to our native seats we go,
Others Etolia challeng'd for their lot; And yield a lasting triumph to the foe. [ghost Nor was even Ithaca itself forgot. Should pow, from hence arriv'd, some warrior's From such vain hopes to boasting they proceeds Greet valiant Tydeus on the Stygian coast, Each promises to win some hero's head. And tell, when danger or distress is near, Leophron too, distinguished from the rest, That Diomed persuades the rest to fear;
Superior pride and insolence express'd; He'd shun the synod of the mighty dead, In form a god he 'midst tl'assembly stood, And hide his anguish in the deepest shade: By all ador'd, the idol of the crowd; Nature in all an equal course maintains;
And promis'd, if he chanc'd in fight to meet The lion's whelp succeeds to awe the plains; Th’ Etolian chief, to tretch him at his feet; Pards gender pards; frum tigers tigers spring; Unless some god oppos'd, or dastard fear No doves are hatch'd beneath a vulture's wing: By sudden flight, should suatch him froin his Each parent's image in his offspring lives; But nought of Tydeus in his son survives.”
Can we then hope by peace to end our toils, He said ; and by his sharp reproaches stung, When focs secure alreadly share our spoils; And wav'ring in suspence the hero hung, Peace to expect from flight itself were rain ; Iu words now prone to vent his kindl'dire,
And flight, I know, your gen'rous souls disdain." Or fix'd in sullen silence to retire.
He said. The chiefs with indignation burn'd; as when a current, from the ocean wide,
And Dioined submitting thus return'd: Rolls, through the Cyclades, its angry tide; “ Princes! I nced no: for myself process, Now here, now there, in circling eddies tost, What all bave witness'd, all must sure confess; The certain tenour of its course is lost,
That in the front of battle still engagd, Each wary pilot for bis safety fears
I never shunn'd to mingle where it rag'd. In mute suspense, and trembles as he steers: Nor now does fear persuade me to retire, Such seem'd the tumult of the hero's breast, False Creon safe, and guilty Thebes entire; And such amazement long restrain'd the rest. But war and famine thin our martial pow'rs, Laertes' son at last the silence bioke,
Whilst adverse fates protect the Theban tow'rs. And, rising, thus with prudent purpose spoke: And as the careful shepherd turns his flock
“ Princes! I counsel war; but will not blame Back from the dangers of the slipp'ry rock, The chief dissenting, whose illustrious name And from the haunts where foxes mark the We all must'isonour: yet, with patience, hear
ground, What now I offer to the public ear:
Or rapid rivers Now with banks unsound