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Pompeius, ignorant that his captain thus
Was taken, armed his levies newly raised
To give his legions strength; and as he thought
To sound his trumpets with the coming dawn,
To test his soldiers ere he moved his camp
Thus in majestic tones their ranks addressed:
True host of Rome! avengers of her laws
Ranked 'neath the standards of the better right,
To whom the Senate gives no private arms,
Ask by your voices for the battle sign.
Fierce falls the pillage on Hesperian fields,
And Gallia's fury o'er the snowy Alps
Is poured upon us. Caesar's swords at last
' Are red with Roman blood. But with the wound
We gain the better cause; the crime is theirs.
Through me her captain Rome for vengeance calls;
' Tis no true fight to wreak your country's ire.
' Was that a war when Catilina's hand
' Lifted against her roofs the flaming torch,
' And, partner in his fury, Lentulus,
' And mad Cethegus 1 with his naked arm?
' Is such thy madness, Caesar? when the Fates
' With great Camillus' and Metellus' names
' Might place thine own, dost thou prefer to rank
' With Marius and Cinna? Swift shall be
' Thy fall: as Lepidus before the sword
' Of Catulus; or who my axes felt,
' Carbo,2 now buried in Sicanian tomb;
' Or who, in exile, roused Iberia's hordes,
' Sertorius-yet, witness Heaven, with these
' I hate to rank thee; hate the task that Rome
' Has laid upon me, to oppose thy rage.
' Would that in safety from the Parthian war
' And Scythian steppes had conquering Crassus come!
' Then haply hadst thou fallen by the hand
' That smote vile Spartacus the robber foe.
' But if among my triumphs fate has said
' Thy conquest shall be written, know this heart
' Still sends the life blood coursing: and this arm
' Still vigorously flings the dart afield.
' He deems me slothful. Caesar, thou shalt learn
'We brook not peace because we lag in war.
' Old, does he call me? Fear not ye mine age.3
' Let me be elder, if his soldiers are.
' The highest point a citizen can reach
' And leave his people free, is mine: a throne
' Alone were higher; whoso would surpass
' Pompeius, aims at that. Both Consuls stand
' Here; here for battle stand your lawful chiefs:
' And shall this Caesar drag the Senate down?
' Not with such blindness, not so lost to shame
' Does Fortune rule. Does he take heart from Gaul,
' For years on years rebellious, and a life
' Spent there in labour? or because he fled
' Rhine's icy torrent and the shifting pools
' He calls an ocean? or unchallenged sought
' Britannia's cliffs; then turned his back in flight?
' Or does he boast because his citizens
' Were driven in arms to leave their hearths and homes?
'Ah, vain delusion! not from thee they fled:
' My steps they follow-mine, whose conquering signs
' Swept all the ocean,4 and who, ere the moon
' Twice filled her orb and waned, compelled to flight
' The pirate, shrinking from the open sea,
' And humbly begging for a narrow home
' In some poor nook on shore. 'Twas I again
' Who, happier far than Sulla, drave to death 5
' That king who, exiled to the deep recess
' Of Scythian Pontus, held the fates of Rome
' Still in the balances. Where is the land
' That has not seen my trophies? Icy waves
' Of northern Phasis, hot Egyptian shores,
' And where Syene 'neath its noontide sun
' Knows shade on neither hand: 6 all these have learned
' To fear Pompeius: and far Baetis' 7 stream,
' Last of all floods to join the refluent sea.
' Arabia and the warlike hordes that dwell
' Beside the Euxine wave: the famous land
' That lost the golden fleece; Cilician wastes,
' And Cappadocian, and the Jews who pray
' Before an unknown God; Sophene soft-
' All felt my yoke. What conquests now remain,
' What wars not civil can my kinsman wage? '
No loud acclaim received his words, nor shout
Asked for the promised battle: and the chief
Drew back the standards, for the soldier's fears
Were in his soul alike; nor dared he trust
An army, vanquished by the fame alone
Of Caesar's powers, to fight for such a prize.
And as some bull, his early combat lost,
Forth driven from the herd, in exile roams
Through lonely plains or secret forest depths,
Whets on opposing trunks his growing horn,
And proves himself for battle, till his neck
Is ribbed afresh with muscle: then returns,
Defiant of the hind, and victor now
Leads wheresoever he will his lowing bands:
Thus Magnus, yielding to a stronger foe,
Gave up Italia, and sought in flight
Brundusium's sheltering battlements. Here of old
Fled Cretan settlers when the dusky sail 8
Spread the false message of the hero dead;
Here, where Hesperia, curving as a bow,
Draws back her coast, a little tongue of land
Shuts in with bending horns the sounding main.
Yet insecure the spot, unsafe in storm,
Were it not sheltered by an isle on which
The Adriatic billows dash and fall,
And tempests lose their strength: on either hand
A craggy cliff opposing breaks the gale
That beats upon them, while the ships within
Held by their trembling cables ride secure.
Hence to the mariner the boundless deep
Lies open, whether for Corcyra's port
He shapes his sails, or for Illyria's shore,
And Epidamnus facing to the main
Ionian. Here, when raging in his might
Fierce Adria whelms in foam Calabria's coast,
When clouds tempestuous veil Ceraunus' height,
The sailor finds a haven.
1 This family is also alluded to by Horace ('Ars Poetica,' 50) as having worn a garment of ancient fashion leaving their arms bare. (See also Book VI., 944.)
2 In B.C. 77, after the death of Sulla. Carbo had been defeated by Pompeius in 81 B.C., on which occasion Pompeius had, at the early age of twenty-five, demanded and obtained his first triumph. The war with Sertorius lasted till 71 B.C., when Pompeius and Metellus triumphed in respect of his overthrow.
3 See Book I., line 371.
4 In B.C. 67, Pompeius swept the pirates off the seas. The whole campaign did not last three months.
6 Being (as was supposed) exactly under the Equator. Syene (the modern Assouan) is the town mentioned by the priest of Sais, who told Herodotus that 'between Syene and Elephantine are two hills with conical tops. The name of one of them is Crophi, and of the other, Mophi. Mid-way between them are the fountains of the Nile.' (Herod., II., chapter 28.) And see 'Paradise Regained,' IV., 70:
“Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotick isle; ...
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