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And lifted, for the blow, the sceptre hung: Patient above thy sex! an ill reward,
home: “ Hear, mighty prince! respect the words of age, To mountain wolves expos'd, a helpless prey, And calm the wasteful tempest of thy rage; And men unjust more terrible than they. The public welfare to revenge prefer,
Save her, ye gods! and let me stand the aim For nations suffer when their sov'reigns err. Of Jove's all-dreaded bolt,and scorching flame." It ill becomes us now, when hostile pow'rs
Thus plain'd the hero till the setting ray With strictest siege invest our stait'ned tow'rs! Withdrew, and ev'ning shades expellid the day, It ill becomes us thus, with civil arms,
Then in his tent, before his lofty seat, To wound the state, and aggravate our harms. Appear'd a herald from the Theban state; Hear, all ye princes! what to me appears The hero's knees, with trembling hands, be A prudent counsel, worthy of your ears:
press'd, Let us inquire, if in our hands we hold
And with his message thus the chief addressid: A life esteem'd by Diomed the bold:
" Hear, mighty prince! the tidings wbich I bring, If, in his breast, those tender passions reign, From Thebes assembled, and the Theban king. . Which charms like these must kindle and main An armed warriour of your native train, Our mandates freely to his tent we send, stain; At early dawn, was seiz'd upon the plain. For to our will his haughty soul must bend: What others did, forgive, if I relate; Nor dares he, while the Theban walls enclose Creou commands me and the Theban state, A pledge so dear, invade us or oppose ;
A fairer youth, in martial arms, ne'er came Byt must submit, whenever we require,
To court bright honour in the fields of fame. Or with his pow'rs to aid us, or retire."
A casque of polish'd steel his temples press'd, He said; the monarch painfully supprest The golden cone with various plumage dress'd; His burning rage, and lock'd it in his breast. A silver mail embrac'd his body round, He thus reply'd: “Thy prudent words inspire And greaves of brass his slender ancles bound: Pacific councils, and subdue mine ire:
To Thebes well known the panoply he wore. But if in peace I rul'd the Theban state,
The same, which once, renown'd Clytander Nor hostile armies thunder'd at my gate;
bore. They had not dard, with insolence and spite, Our warriors dragg'd him to the Cadinean gate, My purpose to oppose and scorn my might." Where Creon, with the rulers of the state, He said, and to his scat again retir'd;
Assembled sat: the trembling captive stoud. While sudden transport ev'ry breast inspir'd; With arms surrounded, and th' insulting crowd. As swains rejoice, when, from the troubled skies, O spare my life !' he cry'd, nor wealth, nor By breezes swept, a gather'd tempest Ries; To purchase in the works of war, I came. (fame With wish'd return the Sun exerts his beams No hate to you I bear, or Creon's sway, To chcer the woods and gild the shining streams. Whose sov’reign will the sons of Thebes obey. Mean while the sou of Tydeus, through the Meluckless friendship bither led, to share, plain,
With Diomed, the dangers of the war. With wishing eyes, Cassandra sought in vain; I now return, and quit the martial strife, At ev'ry leader of the bands inquir'd;
My sire to succour on the verge of life; Then, sad and hopeless, to his tent retir'd. Whose feeble age the present aid demands, 'Twas then his grief the bounds of silence broke, And kind assistance of my filial hands.' And thus in secret to himself he spoke:
His words inclin'd the wisest and the best, "Me sure, of all men's sons, the gods have curst | And some their gen'rous sympathy exprest: With their chief plagues, the greatest and the But others, nothing mov'd, his guiltless bead worst;
With threats demanded, to avenge the dead : Doom'd to disasters, from my earliest hour; And thus the king : My countrymen, attend ! Not wise to shun nor patient to endure.
In this, let all your loud contention end:
The held abandons and the martial strife ;
The captive safe, with presents, I'll restore, And wrong'd Cassandra from my presence flies. Of brass, and steel, and gold's refulgent ore: Me surely, at my birth, the gods desigu'd But if these terms the baughty chief shall slight, Their rod of wrath, to scourge the human kind; | And for the Argives still exert bis might; For slaughter forin'd, with brutal fury brave, Before our hero's tombs, this youth shall bleed, Prompt to destroy, but impotent to save. To please the living, and avenge the dead.' How could my madness blame thee, gen'rous His sentence all approv'd; and to your ear, maid!
As public herald, I the message bear; And, with my crime, thy innocence upbraid ? And must your answer crave, without delay; Dëiphobus is fall'o! but not by thce;
Creon and Thebes already blame my stay." Thy only fault, alas! was love to me;
Thus as he spoke, contending passions strove, For this, in plated steel thy limbs were dress'd, | With force oppos'd, the hero's soul to move; A weighty shield thy tender arm oppress'd : As shifting wines impel the ocean's tide, For this, thou didst to hostile fields repair, And sway the reeling waves from side to side: And court such objects as distraet the fair; Rage dietated revenge; but tender fear,
From love and pity, warn'd him to forbear:
Till, like a lion, fiercer from his pain,
| " In vain you strive to sway my constant mind ; These words broke forth in wrath and high dis- I'll not depart wbile Theseus stays behind : dain:
Me nothing e'er, to change my faith, shall more, “Go, tell your tyrant, that he tempts a soul By men attested, and the gods above: Which presents cannot win, nor threats control : But since your lawless tyrapt has detain'd Not form’d, like his, to mock at ev'ry tie; A valu'd hostage, treacherously gain'd; With perjury to sport, and Heav'n defy. And dire injustice only will restore A common league the Argive warriors swore, · When force compels, or proffer'd gifts implore: And seald the sacred tie with wine and gore; A truce i grant, till the revolving Sun, My faith was plighted then, and ne'er shall fail, Twice ten full circuits of his journey run, Nor Creon's arts, to change me, aught avail. From the red ocean, points the morning ray, But tell him loud, that all the host may hear, | And on the steps of darkness pours the day: And Thebes through all her warriors learn to Till then, froin fight and council I abstain, fear,
Nor lead my pow'rs to combat on the plain : If any, from himself, or by command,
For this, your monarch to my tent shall send The captive violates with hostile hand;
The captive, and from injuries defend.
If Thebes accepts it, let a sign declare,
A flaming torch, display'd aloft in air, Already in his thoughts, with vengeful hands, From that high tow'r, whose airy top is known He dealt destruction 'midst the Tbeban bands, By trav'lers from afar, and marks the town; lo fancy saw the tott'ring turrets fall,
The fane of Jove: but if they shall reject And led his warriors o'er the level'd wall.
The terms I send, nor equity respect, Rous'd with the thought, from his high seat he | They soon shall feel the fury of mine ire, sprung;
In wasteful havoc, and the rage of fire." And grasp'd the sword, which on a column hung; The hero thus; and round his shoulders flung The shining blade he balanc'd thrice in air; | A sbaggy cloak, with vulgar trappings bung; His lances next he view'd, and armour fair. And on his head a leathern helmet plac'd, When, hanging 'midst the costly panoply, A boar's rough front with grisly terrours grac'd; A scarf ernbroider'd met the hero's eye,
A spear he next assum'd, and pond'rous shield, Which fair Cassandra's skilful hands had wrought, And led the Theban, issuing to the field. A present for her lord, in secret brought,
Amid surronnding guards they pass'd unseen, That day, when first he led bis martial train For night had stretch'd her friendly shade beIn arms, to combat on the Theban plain. (pose,
[knew; As some strong charm, which magic sounds com Till nearer, through the gloom, the gate they Suspends a downward torrent as it flows; The herald enter'd, and the chief withdrew : Checks in the precipice its headlong course, But turning oft to Thebes his eager eyes, And calls it trembling upwards to its source : The signal, on the tow'r, at last he spies; Such seem'd the robe, which, to the hero's eyes, | A flaming torch, upon the top, expos'd, Made the fair artist in her charms to rise. Its ray at once his troubled mind compos'd: His rage, suspended in its full career,
Such joy he felt, as when a watch-tow'r's light, To love resigns, to grief and tender fear.
Seen through the gloom of some tempestuous
But held his peers in council to debate Whom you too rigidly resign to fate;
Plans for revenge, suggested by lis hate. Expos'd alone, no hope of comfort near,
Before the king Dienices appear'd; The scorn and cruelty of foes to bear.
To speak his tidings sad, the hero fear'd; O that my timely counsel might avail,
Return'd from Oeta ; thither sent to call For love, and sympathy, to turn the scale! Alcides to protect his native wall. That Thebes releas'd from thy devouring sword, And Creon thus: “ Dienices! explain The captive bonor'd, and with gifts restor'd, Your sorrow; are our hopes of aid in vain ? We get might hope for peace, and you again Does Hercules neglect his native soil; Enjoy the blessings of your native reign." While strangers reap the harvest of his toil? Insinuating thus, the herald try'd
We from your silence cannot hope success ; His aim to compass; and the chief reply'd: But further ills your falling tears confess:
Cleon my son is dead; his fate you mourn; A cave appear'd, which from a mountain steen
Through a low valley, look'd into the deep.
The cavern hung with savage spoils around;
Some solitary hunter's wild retreat.
The club of Hercules ; and wrapt around,
The mantle which he wore in all his toils. Where Pelion's lofty head ascends the sky. Amaz'd we stood ; in silence, each his mird For as, on Oeta's top, he vainly strove
To fear and hope alternately resign'd: To win the arrows of the son of Jove;
With joy we hop'd to find the hero near; Compelling Philoctetes to resign,
The club and mantle found, dispos'd to fear. The friend of Hercules, his arms divine ;
His force invincible in tight we knew,
Which nought of mortal kind could e'er subdue,
“Pond'ring we stood ; when on the roof above,
Ty'd with a rope of twisted rushes, hung. And arrows, sacred from his mighty handz. He dropt his burden in the gate, and plac'd, Nor fear my valiant son's untimely fate,
Against the pillar'd cliff, his bow unbrac'd. With all its weight of sorrow, to relate :
'Twas then our footsteps in the cave he heard, All I can bear. Against my naked bead, And thro' the gloom our shining arms appear'd. I see the vengeance of the gods clecreed;
His bow he bent; and backwards from the rock With hostile arms beset my tott'ring reign; Retir'd, and, of our purpose quest'ning, spoke ; The people wasted, and my children slain.
Say who you are, who seek this wild abude, Attempts prove fruitless; ev'ry hope deceives ; | Thro' desert paths, by mortals rarely trod? Success in prospect, disappointment gives : If just, and with a fair intent you come, With swift approach, I see destruction come; Friendship expect, and safety in my dome: But with a mind unmov'd, I'll meet my doom; But if for violence, your danger learn, Nor stain this war-worn visage with a tear, And trust my admonition when I warn: Since all that Heav'n has purpos'd, I can bear." Certain as fate, where'er this arrow flies, The monarch thus his rising grief suppress'd; The bapless wretch, who meets its fury, dies: And thus the peers Dienices address:d :
No buckler to resist its point avails, (fails; “ Princes of Thebes ! and thou, whose sov' The hammer'd cuirass yields, the breast-plate reign hand
And where it once has drawn the purple gore, Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command! | No charm can cure, no med'cine health restore. To what I offer, lend an equal ear; [hear. “ With threats he question'd thus; and Cleon The truth I'll speak, and judge me when you
said: If Cleon, by my fault, no more returns,
We come to call Alcides to our aid ; For whom, her second hope, his country mourns; By us the senators of Thebes entreat No doom I deprecate, no torture fly,
The hero, to protect his native state: Which justice can denounce, or rage supply: For hostile arms invest the Theban tow'rs: Bat if my innocence appears, I claim
Famine within. without the sword, devours. Your censure to escape, and public blame. If you have learn'd where Hercules remains,
“From Marathon by night our course we steer'd, I In mountain caves, or hamlets on the plains, And pass'd Gerastus when the day appear'd; Our way direct; for, led by gen'ral fame, Andros we saw, with promontories steep,
To find him in these desert wilds we came.' Ascend; and Delos level with the deep.
“ He spoke; and Philoctetes thus again : A circuit wide; for where Euripus roars
• May Jove, for Thebes, some other aid ordain; Between Euboea and the Theban shores,
For Hercules no more exerts his might, The Argives had dispos'd their naval train; Against oppressive force, for injur'd right: And prudence taught to shun the hostile plain. Retir'd, among the gods, he sits serene, Four days we sail'd; the fifth our voyage ends, And views, beneath him far, this mortal scene: Where Oeta, sloping to the sea, descends. But enter now this grotto, and partake The vales I search'd, and woody heights above, | What I can offer, for the hero's sake: Guided by fame, to find the son of Jove;
With you from sacred Thebes he claim' hub With Cleon only : for we charg'd the band
birth, To stay, and guard our vessel on the strand. For gud-like virtue fam'a thro' all the Earth ; In vain we search'd; but when the lamp of day Thebes therefore and her people still shall be, Approach'd the ocean with its setting ray, Like fair Trachines and her sons to we.
Enter; for now the double twilight fails; His form divine he roll'd in dust and blood;
Then rising furious, to the ocean's streams
« The cave we enter'd, and his bounty shar'd: 1 But burning still the linextinguish'd pain, A rural banquet by himself prepard.
The shore he left, and stietch'd into the main. But soon the rage of thirst and hunger stay'd, A galley anchor'd near the beach we found ; My mind still doubtful, to the youth I said: Her curled canvass to the breeze unbound;
Must hapless Thebes, despairing and undone, And trac'd his desp'rate course, till far before
We saw him land on Oeta's desert shore.
Towards the skies his furious hands he rear'd, The sad assurance of our loss to hear.'
And thus, across the deep, bis voice we heard : I question'd thus. The youth, with horror pale, “ • Sor'reign of Heav'n and Earth! whose Attempted to recite an awful tale;
boundless sway Above the fabled woes which bards rehearse, The fates of men and mortal things obey, When sad Melpomene inspires the verse.
If e'er delighted from the courts above, «« The wife of Jore' (Peonides reply'd) In human form you sought Alcinene's love; 'All arts in vain to crush the hero try'd;
If fame's unchanging voice to all the Earth, For brighter from ber hate his virtue burn'd; With truth, proclaims you author of my birth And disappointed still, the goddess mourn'd. . Whence, from a course of spotless glory run, His ruin to effect at last she strove
Successful toils and wreaths of triumph won, By jealousy, the rage of injur'd love.
Am I thus wretched ? better that before The bane to Deianira's breast conya'd,
Sume monster fierce had drank my streaming Who, as a rival, fear'd th' Oechalian maid.
gore; The goddess knew, that, jealous of her lord,
Or crush'd by Cacus, foe to gods and men, A robe she kept with latent poisons stor'd;
My batter'd brains had strew'd bis rocky den; The centaur's gift, bequeath'd her, to reclaim
Than, from my glorious toils and triumpbs past, The hero's love, and light his dying flame;
To fall subdu'd by female arts, at last. If e'er devoted to a stranger's charms,
O cool my boiling blood, ye winds, that blow He stray'd inconstant, from her widow'd arms; From mountains loaded with eternal snow, But giv'n with treacherous intent to prove
And crack the icy cliffs : in vain! in vain ! The death of oature, not the life of love.
Your rigour cannot quench my raging pain ! Mad from her jealousy, the charm she try'd;
For round this heart the furies wave their brands, His love to change, the deadly robe apply'd:
And wring my entrails with their burning hands, And guiltless of the present which he bore, Now bending from the skies, O wife of Jove! Lychas convey'd it to Cenænum's shore:
Enjoy the rengeance of thy injur'd love : Where to the pow'rs immortal, for their aid, For fate, by me, the thund'rer's guilt atones; A grateful hecatomb the hero paid :
And, punish'd in her son, Alcmene groans : When favor'd from above, bis arm o'erthrew The object of your hate shall soon expire; The proud Eurytus, and his warriors slew. Fix'd on my shoulders preys a net of fire; The venom'd robe the hero took, nor fear'd Whom nor the toils nor dangers could subdue, A gift by conjugal respects endear'd:
By false Eurystheus dictated from you; And straight resign d the lion's shaggy spoils, Nor tyrants lawless, nor the monstrous brood The mantle which he wore in all his toils.
Which haunts the desert or infests the flood, No sign of harm the fatal present show'd; Nor Grece, nor all the barb'rous clines that lie Till rous'd by heat its secret venom glow'd: Where Phæbas ever points his golden eye; Straight on the flesh it seiz'd, like stiffest glue, A woman bath o'erthrown !-ye gods! I yield And scorching deep, to ev'ry meinber grew. To female arts, unconquer'd in the field. Then tearing with his hands th' infernal snare, My arms--alas! are these the same that bow'd His skin he rent, and laid the muscles bare; Anteus, and his giant force subdu'd ? While streams of blood, descending from the | That dragg'd Nemea's monster from his den? wound,
And slew the dragon in his native fen?
Awake my virtue, oft in dangers try'd,
With fame achiev'd, be blotted by the last :
"• The hero thus; and grasp'd a pointed rock My love and sympathy by fear restrain'! : With both his arms, which straight in pieces For furious 'midst the sacred fires he grew;
broke, The victims scatter'd, and the hearths o'er- | Crush'd in his agony : then on his breast
Descending prostrate, further plaint supprest. Then sinking prostrate, where a tide of gore And now the clouds, iu dusky volumes spread, From oxen slain bad blacken'd all the sbore, Had darkeu'd all the mountains with their shades
The winds withhold their breath; the billows | O let me still attend you, and receive
Who come obsequious for your last commands, We saw, and steer'd our vessel to the land. | And tenders to your need his willing hands,' Then mounting on the rocky beach above,
""My voice be heard; and from the mountain's Thro' the thick gloom, descry'd the son of Jove. Saw me ascending on the steep below. [brow His head, declin'd between his bands, he leau'd; To savour my approach his steps he stay'd; His elbows on his bended knees sustain'd.
And pleas'd, amidst his anguish, smiling said: Above bim still a hov'ring vapour flew,
* Approach, my Philoctetes ! Oft I've known Which, from his boiling veins, the garment drew. Your friendly zeal in former labours shown : Thro' the thick woof we saw the fumes aspire; The present, more than all, your love proclaims, Like smoke of victims from the sacred fire, Which braves the thand'rer's bolts and volley'd Compassion's keenest touch my bosom thrill'd; My eyes, a flood of melting sorrow fill'd: | With daring step, the rocking earthquake treads, Doubtful I stood; and pond'ring in my mind, While the firm mountains shake their trembling By fear, and pity, variously inclind,
heads. Whether to shun the hero, or essay,
As my last gift, these arrows, with the bow, With friendly words, his torment to allay: Accept; the greatest which I can bestow; When bursting from above with hideous glare, My glory all my wealth; of pow'r to raise A food of lightning kindled all the air.
Your naine to avnour and imunortal praise ; From Oeta's top it rush'd in sudden streams; If for wrong'd innocence your shafts shall fly, The ocean redden'd at its fiery beams.
As Jove by signs directs them from the sky.' Then, bellowing deep, the thunder's awful sound' “Straight from his mighty shoulders, as he Shook the firm mountains and the shores around,
spoke, Far to the east it roll'd, a length of sky;
He loos'd and lodg'd them in a cavernd rock ; We heard Euboea's rattling cliffs reply,
To lie untouch'd, till future care had drain'd As at his master's voice a swain appears,
Their poison from the veuom'd robe retain'd. When wak'd from sleep his early call he hears, And thus again : 'The only aid I need, The hero rose; and to the mountain turn'd, For all my favours past, the only meed, Whose cloud-involvedl top with lightning burn'd, Is, tllat, with vengeful hand, you fix a dart And thus his sire address'd; With patient In cruel Deianira's faithless beart: Thy call I hear, obedient and resign'd; (mind Her treach'rous messenger already dead, Faithful and true the oracle! which spoke, Let ber, the author of his crime, succeed. In high Dodona, from the sacred oak;
This awful scene forsake without delay; That twenty years of painful labours past, In vain to mingle with my fate you stay : On Oeta's top I should repose at last :
No kind assistauce can my state retrieve, Before, involved, the meaning lay conceal'd; Nor any friend attend me, and survive.' But now I find it in my fate reveal'd.
" • The hero thus his tender care exprest, Thy sov'reign will I blame not, which denies, And spread his arms to clasp me to bis breast; With length of days, to crown my victories: But soon withdrew them, lest bis tainted veins 1 hough still with danger and distress engag'd, Infection had convey'd and mortal pains : For injur'd r.ght eternal war I wag'd;
Silent I stood in streams of sorrow drown'd, A life of pain, in barb'rous climates, led, | Till from my heart these words a passage found: The heav'ns my canopy, a rock my bed :
() bid me pot forsake thee, nor impose More joy I've felt tban delicacy knows,
What wretched Philoctetes must refuse. Or all the pride of regal pomp bestows.
By him I swear, whose presence now proclaim Dread sire! thy will I honour and revere,
'The thunder's awful voice and forked flame, And own thy love with gratitude sincere,
Beneath whose steps the trembling desert quakes, Which watch'd me in my toils, that none could | And Earth affrighted to her centre shakes ; To raise a trophy from my glory lost: [boast I never will forsake thee, but remain And though at last, by female arts, o'ercome, while struggling life these ruin'd limbs retain: And unsuspected fraud, I find my doom; No form of fate shall drive me from thy side, There to have fail'd, my honour ne'er can shake, Nor death with all its terrours e'er divide; Where vice is only strong and virtue weak.' Though the same stroke our mortal lives should “He said, and turning to the clouds height,
end, The seat of thunder, wrapt in sable night, One flash consume us, and our asbes blend.' Firm and undauuted trud the steep ascent; “I spoke; and to the cloudy steep we turn'd; An earthquake rock'd the mountain as he went. Along its brow the kindled forest burn'd. Back from the shaking shores retir'd the flood; The savage brood, descending to the plains, In horror lost, my bold companions stwod, The scattered flocks and dread distracted swains, To speech or motion : but the present pow'r Rush'd from the shaking cliffs : we saw their Of love inspir'd me, in that awful hour;
corne, With trembling steps, I trac'd the son of Jove ; | In wild disorder mingled, through the gloom. And saw him darkly on the steep above, (noise And now appear'd the desert's lofty head, Through the thick gloom. The thunder's awful A narrow rock with forest thinly spread. Ceas'd; and I call'd him thus with feeble voice: His mighty hands display'd aloft in air, "O son of mighty Jove! thy friend await;
To Jove the hero thus address'd a pray's Who comes to comfort thee, or share thy fate. Hear me, dread pow'r! whose nod controls In ev'ry danger and distress before,
the skies, His part your faithful Philoctetes bore,
At whose command the winged lightning Aies :