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I took to heart the merits of the cause,
With all the government of house and land,
That rest they wish'd for, grant them in the grave,
THE FIRST BOOK OF
Translated in the Year 1703.
Edipus, king of Thebes, having by mistake slain his father Laius, and married his mother Jocasta, put out his own eyes, and resigned the realm to his sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes his prayer to the fury Tisiphone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers. They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first lot is obtained by Eteocles. Jupiter, in a council of the gods, declares his resolution of punishing the Thebans, and Argives also, by means of a marriage between Polynices and one of the daughters of Adrastus, king of Argos. Juno opposes, but to no effect; and Mercury is sent on a message to the Shades, to the ghost of Laius, who is to appear to Eteocles, and provoke him to break the agreement. Polynices in the mean time departs from Thebes by night, is overtaken by a storm, and arrives at Argos; where he meets with Tydeus, who had fled from Calydon, having killed his brother. Adrastus entertains them, having received an oracle from Apollo that his daughter should be married to a boar and a
lion, which he understands to be meant of these strangers, by whom the hides of those beasts were worn, and who arrived at the time when he kept an annual feast in honour of that god. The rise of this solemnity he relates to his guests, the loves of Phoebus and Psamathe, and the story of Chorebus. He inquires, and is made acquainted with their descent and quality. The sacrifice is renewed, and the book concludes with a hymn to Apollo.
The translator hopes he need not apologize for his choice of this piece, which was made almost in his childhood: but, finding the version better than he expected, he gave it some correction a few years afterwards.
STATIUS HIS THEBAIS.
FRATERNAL rage the guilty Thebes alarms,
My ravish'd breast, and all the muse inspires.
And Cadmus searching round the spacious sea?
How twice he tamed proud Ister's rapid flood, While Dacian mountains stream'd with barbarous
Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll,
What though the stars contract their heavenly space,
Yet stay, great Cæsar! and vouchsafe to reign
The time will come, when a diviner flame
When Dirce's fountain blush'd with Grecian blood,
What hero, Clio! wilt thou first relate? The rage of Tydeus, or the prophet's fate? Or how, with hills of slain on every side, Hippomedon repell'd the hostile tide? Or how the youth, with every grace adorn'd, Untimely fell, to be for ever mourn'd? Then to fierce Capaneus thy verse extend, And sing with horror his prodigious end. Now wretched Edipus, deprived of sight, Led a long death in everlasting night; But while he dwells where not a cheerful ray Can pierce the darkness, and abhors the day; The clear reflecting mind presents his sin In frightful views, and makes it day within; Returning thoughts in endless circles roll, And thousand furies haunt his guilty soul; The wretch then lifted to the unpitying skies, Those empty orbs from whence he tore his eyes, Whose wounds, yet fresh, with bloody hand he strook, While from his breast these dreadful accents broke : 'Ye gods! that o'er the gloomy regions reign, Where guilty spirits feel eternal pain;
Thou, sable Styx! whose livid streams are roll'd
Assist, if Edipus deserve thy care!
To Cyrrha's temple, on that fatal day,
When by the son the trembling father died,
Where the three roads the Phocian fields divide :
If I the Sphinx's riddles durst explain,
Taught by thyself to win the promised reign;
With monstrous mixture stain'd my mother's bed,
Then self-condemn'd to shades of endless night.
If worthy thee, and what thou might'st inspire;
And sleeps thy thunder in the realms above?
Which o'er their children's children shall prevail:
Break all the bonds of nature, and prepare
Soon shalt thou find, if thou but arm their hands,
They'd prove the father from whose loins they came.'
Her snakes, untied, sulphureous waters drink;