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The tents are vacant by Lake Leman's side;
The camps upon the beetling crags of Vosges
No longer hold the warlike Lingon down,
Fierce in his painted arms; Isere is left,
Who past his shallows gliding, flows at last
Into the current of more famous Rhone,
To reach the ocean in another name.
The fair-haired people of Cevennes are free:
Soft Aude rejoicing bears no Roman keel,
Nor pleasant Var, since then Italia's bound;
The harbour sacred to Alcides' name
Where hollow crags encroach upon the sea,
Is left in freedom: there nor Zephyr gains
Nor 1 Caurus access, but the Circian blast
Forbids the roadstead by Monaecus' hold.
Left is the doubtful shore, which the vast sea
And land alternate claim, whene'er the tide
Pours in amain or when the wave rolls back
Be it the wind which thus compels the deep
From furthest pole, and leaves it at the flood;
Or else the moon that makes the tide to swell,
Or else, in search of fuel 2 for his fires,
The sun draws heavenward the ocean wave; -
Whatever the cause that may control the main
I leave to others; let the gods for me
Lock in their breasts the secrets of the world.
Those who keep watch beside the western shore
Have moved their standards home; the happy Gaul
Rejoices in their absence; fair Garonne
Through peaceful meads glides onward to the sea.
And where the river broadens, neath the cape
Her quiet harbour sleeps. No outstretched arm
Except in mimic war now hurls the lance.
No skilful warrior of Seine directs
The chariot scythed against his country's foe.
Now rest the Belgians, and th' Arvernian race
That boasts our kinship by descent from Troy;
And those brave rebels whose undaunted hands
Were dipped in Cotta's blood, and those who wear
Sarmatian garb. Batavia's warriors fierce
No longer listen for the trumpet's call,
Nor those who dwell where Rhone's swift eddies sweep
Saone to the ocean; nor the mountain tribes
Who dwell about its source. Thou, too, oh Treves,
Rejoicest that the war has left thy bounds.
Ligurian tribes, now shorn, in ancient days
First of the long-haired nations, on whose necks
Once flowed the auburn locks in pride supreme;
And those who pacify with blood accursed
Savage Teutates, Hesus' horrid shrines,
And Taranis' altars, cruel as were those
Loved by Diana,3 goddess of the north;
All these now rest in peace. And you, ye Bards,
Whose martial lays send down to distant times
The fame of valorous deeds in battle done,
Pour forth in safety more abundant song.
While you, ye Druids,4 when the war was done,
To mysteries strange and hateful rites returned:
To you alone 'tis given the heavenly gods
To know or not to know; secluded groves
Your dwelling-place, and forests far remote.
If what ye sing be true, the shades of men
Seek not the dismal homes of Erebus
Or death's pale kingdoms; but the breath of life
Still rules these bodies in another age-
Life on this hand and that, and death between.
Happy the peoples 'neath the Northern Star
In this their false belief; for them no fear
Of that which frights all others: they with hands
And hearts undaunted rush upon the foe
And scorn to spare the life that shall return.
Ye too depart who kept the banks of Rhine
Safe from the foe, and leave the Teuton tribes
Free at their will to march upon the world.
When strength increased gave hope of greater deeds
Caesar dispersed throughout Italia's bounds
His countless bands, and filled the neighbouring towns.
Then empty rumour to well-grounded fear
Gave strength, and heralding the coming war
In hundred voices 'midst the people spread.
One cries in terror, ' Swift the squadrons come
' Where Nar with Tiber joins: and where, in meads
'By oxen loved, Mevania spreads her walls,
'Fierce Caesar hurries his barbarian horse.
' With all his eagles and his standards joined
'He leads the throng that sweeps along the land.'
Nor as they knew him do they paint the chief,
But stronger than the truth, and pitiless
And fiercer far-as from his conquered foes
Advancing; in his rear the peoples march,
Snatched from their homes between the Rhine and Alps,
To sack the city while her sons look on.
Thus each man's panic thought swells rumour's lie:
They fear the phantoms they themselves create.
Nor did the terror seize the crowd alone:
But fled the Fathers, to the Consuls 5 first
Issuing their hated order, as for war;
And doubting of the peril, doubting too
Where safety lay, through all the choking gates
In dense array they urged the people forth.
Thou wouldst believe that blazing to the torch
Were men's abodes, or nodding to their fall.
So streamed they onwards, frenzied with affright,
As though in exile only could they find
Hope for their country. So, when southern blasts
From Libyan whirlpools drive the boundless main,
And mast and sail crash down upon a ship
With ponderous weight, but still the frame is sound,
Her crew and captain leap into the sea,
Each making shipwreck for himself. 'Twas thus
They passed the city gates and fled to war.
No aged parent now could stay his son;
Nor wife her spouse, nor did they pray the gods
To grant the safety of their fatherland.
None linger on the threshold for a look
Of their loved city, though perchance the last.
Ye gods, who lavish priceless gifts on men,
Nor care to guard them given! thus was Rome
Teeming with conquered nations, whose vast walls
Had compassed all mankind, by coward hands
To coming Caesar left an easy prey.
The Roman soldier, when in foreign lands
Pressed by the enemy, in narrow trench
And hurried mound finds guard enough to make
His tented sleep secure: thou Rome alone
Upon the rumour of advancing war
Art left a desert, and thy battlements
Not trusted for a night. Yet for their fear
This one excuse was left; Pompeius fled.
1 The north-west wind. Circius was a violent wind from about the same quarter, but peculiar to the district.
2 This idea that the sun found fuel in the clouds appears again in Book VII., line 7; Book IX., line 375; and Book X., line 311.
3 This Diana was worshipped by the Tauri, a people who dwelt in the Crimea; and, according to legend, was propitiated by human sacrifices. Orestes on his return from his expiatory wanderings brought her image to Greece, and the Greeks identified her with their Artemis. (Compare Book VI., 93.)
4 The horror of the Druidical groves is again alluded to in Book III., lines 460-490. Dean Merivale remarks (chapter li.) on this passage, that in the despair of another life which pervaded Paganism at the time, the Roman was exasperated at the Druids' assertion of the transmigration ofsouls. But the passage seems also to betray a lingering suspicion that the doctrine may in some shape be true, however horrible were the rites and sacrifices. The reality of a future life was a part of Lucan's belief, as a state of reward for heroes. (See the passage at the beginning of Book IX.) But all was vague and uncertain, and he appears to have viewed the Druidical transmigration rather with doubt and unbelief, as a possible form of future or recurring life, than with scorn as an absurdity.
5 Plutarch says the Consuls fled without making the sacrifices usual before wars. (' Pomp.,' 61.)
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