Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 Phæbus and Psamathe, and the story of Choræbus. He inquires, and is made acquainted with their descent and quali. ty. The sacritice 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, be gave it some correction a few years afterwards.

STATIUS HIS THEBAIS.
FRATERNAL rage the guilty Thebes alarms,
The alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms,
Demand our song; a sacred fury fires
My ravish'd breast, and all the muse inspires.
O goddess ! say, shall I deduce my rhymes
From the dire nation in its earlv times,
Europa's rape, Agenor's stern decree,
And Cadmus searching round the spacious sca?
How with the serpent's teeth he sowed the soil,
And reap'd an iron harvest of his toil ?
Or how from joining stones the city sprung,
While to his harp divine Amphion sung?
Or shall I Juno's hate to Thebes resound,
Whose fatal rage the unhappy monarch found?
The sire against the son his arrows drew,
O'er the wide fields the furious mother flew,
And while her arms a second hope contain,
Sprung from the rocks, and plunged into the main

But wave whate'er tu Cadmus may belong,
And fix, O Muse! the barrier of thy song
At Edipus—from his disasters trace
The long confusions of his guilty race :
Nor yet attempt to stretch thy older wing,
And mighty Cæsar's conquering eagles sing:

How twice he tamed proud Ister's rapid flood, While Dacian mountains stream'd with barbarous

blood :
Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll,
And stretch'd his empire to the frozen pole:
Or long before, with early valour, strove
In youthful arms to assert the cause of Jove.
And thou, great heir of all thy father's fame,
Increase of glory to the Latian name,
O bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
Nor let desiring worlds entreat in vain!
What though the stars contract their heavenly space
And crowd their shining ranks to yield thee place;
Though all the skies, ambitious of thy sway,
Conspire to court thee from our world away;
Though Phæbus longs to mix his rays with thine,
And in thy.glories more serenely shine;
Though Jove himself no less content would be
To part his throne, and share his heaven with

thee;
Yet stay, great Cæsar! and vouchsafe to reign
O'er the wide earth, and o'er the watery main;
Resign to Jove his empire of the skies,
And people heaven with Roman deities.

The time will come, when a diviner flame
Shall warm my breast to sing of Cæsar's fame:
Meanwhile permit, that my preluding muse
In Theban wars a humbler theme may chuse :
Of furious hate, surviving death, she sings,
A fatal throne to two contending kings,
And funeral flames, that parting wide in air,
Express the discord of the souls they bear:
Of towns dispeopled, and the wandering ghosts
Of kings unburied in the wasted coasts ;
When Dirce's fountain blush'd with Grecian blood
And Thetis, near Ismenos' swelling flood,
With dread beheld the rolling surges sweep,
In heaps, her slaughter'd sons into the deep.

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 repelld the hostile lide ?
Or how the youth, with every grace adorn'd,
Untimely fell, to be for ever mourn'd ?
Then to tierce 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 froia his breast these dreadful accents broke:

Ye gods! that o'er the gloomy regions reign, Where guilty spirits feel eternal pain; Thou, sable Siyx! whose livid streams are rollid Through dreary coasts, which I, thouglı blind, behold Tisishone, thai oft hast heard my prayer, Assist, if Edipus deserve thy care ! If you received me from Jocasta's womb, And nursed the hope of mischiefs yet to come : If, leaving Polybus, I took my way To Cyrrha's temple, on that fatal day, When by the son the trembling father died, Where the three roads the Phocian fields divide : Jf I the Sphinx's riddles durst explain, Taught by thyself to win the promised reign; If wretched I, by baleful Furies led, With monstrous mixture stain'd my mother's bed, For hell and thee begot an impious brood, And with full lust those horrid joys renew'd;

Then self-condemn'd to shades of endless night
Fored from these orbs the bleeding balls of sight;
O hear, and aid the vengeance I require,
If worthy thee, and what thou mighi'st inspire ;
My sons their old unhappy sire despise,
Spoil'd of his kingdom, and deprived of eyes;
Guideless I wander, unregarded mourn,
While these exalt their sceptres o'er my urn;
These sons, ye gods! who, with flagitious pride,
Insult my darkness, and my groans deride.
Art thou a father, unregarding Jove!
And sleeps thy thunder in the realms above ?
Thou Fury, then, some lasting curse entail,
Which o'er their children's children shall prevail :
Place on their heads that crown distain'd with gore,
Which these dire hands from my slain father tore;
Go, and a parent's heavy curses bear;
Break all the bonds of nature, and prepare
Their kindred souls to mutual hate and war.
Give them to dare, what I might wish to see,
Blind as I am, some glorious villany!
Soon shalt thou find, if thou but arm their hands,
Their ready guilt preventing thy commands:
Couldst thou some greatproportion'd mischief

frame, They'd prove the father from whose loins they came.'

The Fury heard, while on Cocytus' brink Her snakes, untied, sulphureous waters drink; But at the summons roll'd her eyes around, And snatch'd the starting serpents from the ground. Not half so swiftly shoots along the air, The gliding lightning, or descending star, Through crowds of airy shades she wing'd her flight And dark dominions of the silent night; Swift as she pass'd the flitting ghosts withdrew And the pale spectres trembled at her view : To the iron gates of Tænarus she flies, There spreads her dusky pinions to tbe skies.

The day beheld, and, sickening at the sight,
Veil'd her fair glories in the shades of night.
Affrighied Atlas, on the distani shore,
Trembled, and shook the heavens and gods hs

bore.
Now from beneath Malea's airy height
Aloft she sprung, and steer'd 10 Thebes her flight:
With eager speed the well-known journey took,
Nor here regrets the hell she late forsook.
A hundred snakes her gloomy visage shade,
A hundred serpents guard her horrid head;
In her sunk eye-balls dreadful meteors glow;
Such rays from Phæbe's bloody circles flow,
When labouring with strong charms, she shoots

from high, A fiery gleam, and reddens all the sky. Blood stain'd her checks, and from her mouth there

came
Blue streaming poisons, and a length of fame.
From every blast of her contagious breath,
Famine and droughi proceed, and plagues and death
A robe obscene was o'er her shoulders thrown,
A dress by Fates and Furies worn alone.
She toss'd her meagre arms: her better hand
In waving circles whirl'd a funeral brand :
A serpent from her left was seen to rear
His tiaming crest, and lash the yielding air.

But when the Fury took her stand on high,
Where vast Cithæron's top salutes the sky
A hiss from all the snaky tire went round;
The dreadful signal all the rocks rebound,
And through the Achaian cities send the sound.
@te, with high Parnassus, heard the voice ;
Eurotus' banks remurmur'd to the noise ;
Again Leucothoe shook at these alarms,
And press'd Palæmon closer in her arms.
Headlong from thence the glowing Fury springs
And o'er the Theban palace spreads her wings,

« EelmineJätka »