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FRATERNAS acies, alternaque regna profanis
Decertata odiis, fontefque evolvere Thebas,
Pierius menti calor incidit. Unde jubetis
Ire, Dex? gentifne canam primordia diræ ?
Sidonios raptus, et inexorabile pactum
Legis Agenoreæ ? fcrutantemque æquora Cadmum?
Longa retro feries, trepidum fi Martis operti
Agricolam infandis condentem prælia fulcis
Expediam, penitufque fequar quo carmine muris
Jufferit Amphion Tyrios accedere montes:
Unde graves iræ cognata in monia Baccho,
Quod fævæ Junonis opus; cui fumpferit arcum
Infelix Athamas, cur non expaverit ingens
Ionium, focio cafura Palæmone mater.
FRATERNAL rage the guilty Thebes alarms,
Th' alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms,
Demand our fong; a facred Fury fires
My ravish'd breast, and all the Muse inspires.
O Goddess, fay, fhall I deduce my rhimes
From the dire nation in its early times,
Europa's rape, Agenor's ftern decree,
And Cadmus fearching round the spacious fea?
How with the serpent's teeth he fow'd the foil,
And reap'd an Iron harvest of his toil?
Or how from joining stones the city fprung,
While to his harp divine Amphion fung?
Or fhall I Juno's hate to Thebes refound,
Whofe fatal rage th' unhappy Monarch found?
The fire against the son his arrows drew,
O'er the wide fields the furious mother flew.
And while her arms a fecond hope contain,
Sprung from the rocks and plung'd into the main.
Atque adeo jam nunc gemitus, et profpera Cadmi
Præterüiffe finam: limes mihi carminis efto
Edipodæ confufa domus: quando Itala nondum
Signa, nec Arctoos aufim fperare triumphos,
Bifque jugo Rhenum, bis adactum legibus Iftrum,
Et conjurato dejectos vertice Dacos:
Aut defenfa prius vix pubefcentibus annis
Bella Jovis. Tuque o Latiæ decus addite famæ,
Quem nova maturi fubeuntem exorfa parentis
Æternum fibi Roma cupit: licet arctior omnes
Limes agat ftellas, et te plaga lucida cœli
Pleïadum, Boreæque, et hiulci fulminis expers
Sollicitet; licet ignipedum frænator equorum
Ipfe tuis alte radiantem crinibus arcum
Imprimat, aut magni cedat tibi Jupiter æqua
VER. 19. But wave whate'er] It is plain that Pope was not blind to the faults of Statius; many of which he points out with judgment and truth, in a letter to Mr. Cromwell, written 1708, vol. vii. p. 81.
The first attempt of Mr. Gray in English verfe was a translation from Statius, fent to Mr. Weft 1736.
Juvenal was banifhed for commending the Agave of Statius.
Both the exordium and the conclufion of the Thebais are too violent and pompous, particularly the latter, in which he promises himself immortality from this poem.
Statius was a favourite writer with the poets of the middle ages. His bloated magnificence of defcription, gigantic images, and pompous diction, suited their taste, and were fomewhat of a piece with the romances they fo much admired. They neglected the
But wave whate'er to Cadmus may belong,
And fix, O Mufe! the barrier of thy fong
At Edipus-from his difafters trace
The long confufions of his guilty race:
Nor yet attempt to stretch thy bolder wing,
And mighty Cæfar's conqu'ring eagles fing;
How twice he tam'd proud Ifter's rapid flood,
While Dacian mountains ftream'd with barb'rous
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 t' affert the cause of Jove.
And thou, great Heir of all thy Father's fame,
Encrease of glory to the Latian name,
Oh! bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
Nor let defiring worlds entreat in vain.
What tho' the stars contract their heav'nly space,
And croud their fhining ranks to yield thee place;
Tho' all the fkies, ambitious of thy fway,
Confpire to court thee from our world away;
Tho' Phoebus longs to mix his rays with thine,
And in thy glories more ferenely fhine;
gentler and genuine graces of Virgil, which they could not relish. His pictures were too correctly and chaftely drawn to take their fancies; and truth of defign, elegance of expreffion, and the arts of compofition, were not their object.
Parte poli: maneas hominum contentus habenis,
Undarum terræque potens, et fidera dones.
Tempus erit, cum Pierio tua fortior aftro
Facta canam: nunc tendo chelyn. fatis arma referre
Aonia, et geminis fceptrum exitiale tyrannis,
Nec furiis poft fata modum, flammafque rebelles
Seditione rogi, tumulifque carentia regum
Funera, et egestas alternis mortibus urbes ;
Cærula cum rubuit Lernæo fanguine Dirce,
Et Thetis arentes affuetum ftringere ripas,
Horruit ingenti venientem Ifmenon acervo.
Quem prius heroum Clio dabis? immodicum iræ
Tydea? laurigeri fubitos an vatis hiatus?
Urget ut hoftilem propellens cædibus amnem
Turbidus Hippomedon, plorandaque bella protervi
Arcados, atque alio Capaneus horrore canendus.