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One-third of all the world,1 if fame we trust,
Is Libya; yet by winds and sky she proves
Equal to Europe; for the shores of Nile
No more than Scythian Tanais are remote
From furthest Gades, where with bending coast,
Yielding a place to Ocean, Europe parts
From Afric shores. Yet falls the larger world
To Asia only. From the former two
Issues the Western wind; but Asia's right
Touches the Southern limits and her left
The Northern tempest's home, and of the East
She's mistress to the rising of the Sun.
All that is fertile of the Afric lands
Lies to the west, but even here abound
No wells of water: though the Northern wind,
Infrequent, leaving us with skies serene,
Falls there in showers. Not gold nor wealth of brass
It yields the seeker; pure and unalloyed
Down to its lowest depths is Libyan soil.
Yet citron forests to Maurusian tribes
Were riches, had they known; but they, content,
Lived 'neath the shady foliage, till gleamed
The axe of Rome amid the virgin grove,
To bring from furthest limits of the world
Our banquet tables and the fruit they bear.2
But suns excessive and a scorching clime
Burn all the glebe beside the shifting sands:
There die the harvests on the crumbling mould;
No root finds sustenance, nor kindly Jove
Makes rich the furrow nor matures the vine.
Sleep binds all nature and the tract of sand
Lies ever fruitless, save that by the coast
The hardy Nasamon plucks a scanty grass.
Unclothed their race, and living on the woes
Worked by the cruel Syrtes on the world.
He dwells a spoiler by the sandy waves,
And while no ships unlade upon his shore,
Grows rich by wrecks-his only trade with man.
By such a path at hardy Cato's word
His soldiers passed, in thought from winds secure
Nor dreading storms: but fearful was their lot
More than on ocean waves; for Auster's force
Here strikes with greater strength upon the sands,
And yet more fraught with mischief: neither crags
Repelled his strength, nor lofty mountains tamed
His furious onset, nor in sturdy woods
He found a bar; but free from curb he raged
O'er the defenceless earth. Nor merely dust
Swirled up in drifts of rain, but Earth herself,
In major part, was rapt into the air
On ceaseless whirlwinds borne, until amazed
The Nasamon saw his scanty field and home
Reft by the tempest, and the native huts
From roof to base were hurried on the blast.
Not higher, when some all-devouring flame
Has seized upon its prey, in volumes dense
Rolls up the smoke, and darkens all the air.
Then with fresh might he fell upon the host
Of marching Romans, snatching from their feet
The sand they trod. Had Auster been enclosed
In some vast cavernous vault with solid walls
And mighty barriers, he had moved the world
Upon its ancient base and made the lands
To tremble: but the facile Libyan soil
By not resisting stood, and blasts that whirled
The surface upwards left the depths unmoved.
Helmet and shield and spear were torn away
By his most violent breath, and borne aloft
Through all the regions of the boundless sky;
Perchance a wonder in some distant land,
Where men may fear the weapons from the heaven
There falling, as the armour of the gods,
Nor deem them ravished from a soldier's arm.
'Twas thus on Numa by the sacred fire
Those shields descended which our chosen priests3
Bear on their shoulders; from some warlike race
By tempest rapt, to be the prize of Rome.
While thus the tempest whirled the earth aloft
Prone fell the host, and wound their garments tight,
And gripped the soil; but hardly thus prevailed.
Weight had not held them safe; the raging blast
Piles heaps upon them, their recumbent limbs
Are whelmed in sand. At length they struggling rose
Back to their feet, when lo! around them stood,
Forced by the storm, a growing bank of earth
Which held them motionless. And from afar
Where walls lay prostrate, mighty stones were hurled,
Thus piling ills on ills in wondrous form:
No dwellings had they seen, yet at their feet
Beheld the ruins. All the earth was hid
In vast envelopment, nor found they guide
Save from the stars, which as in middle deep
Flamed o'er them wandering: yet some were hid
Beneath the circle of the Libyan earth
Which tending downwards hid the Northern sky.
When warmth dispersed the tempest-driven air,
And rose upon the earth the flaming day,
Bathed were their limbs in sweat, but parched and dry
Their gaping lips; when to a scanty spring
Far off beheld they came, whose meagre drops
All gathered in the hollow of a helm
They offered to their chief. Caked were their throats
With dust, and panting; and one little drop
Had made him envied. 'Wretch, and dost thou deem
Me wanting in a brave man's heart? ' he cried,
' Me only in this throng? And have I seemed
'Tender, unfit to bear the morning heat?
He who would quench his thirst 'mid such a host,
'Doth most deserve its pangs.' Then in his wrath
Dashed down the helmet, and the scanty spring,
Thus by their leader spurned, sufficed for all.

1 Compare Herodotus, ii., 16: 'For they all say that the earth is divided into three parts, Europe, Asia and Libya.' See Bunbury's 'Ancient Geography,' i., 145, 146. I read par in this passage, preferring it to pars with Francken.

2 Citron tables were in much request at Rome. (Comp. 'Paradise Regained,' Book IV., 115; and see Book X., line 170.)

3 Alluding to the shield of Mars which fell from heaven on Numa at sacrifice. Eleven others were made to match it (Dict. Antiq.). While Horace speaks of them as chief objects of a patriot Roman's affection,('Odes,' iii., 5, 9), Lucan discovers for them a ridiculous origin. They were in the custody of the priests of Mars. (See Book I., 668.)

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