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[122] "She had scarcely ceased to speak when a cloud shook and was riven by a gleam of lightning, and flashed forth a moment's burst of flame. The father of darkness sank down, closed the chasm in earth's bosom, and grew white with terror at the stroke of his brother. Straightway the slaughter of men and the destruction to come were made plain by omens from on high. For Titan was disfigured and dabbled in blood, and veiled his face in darkness: thou hadst thought that even then he gazed on civil strife. In another quarter Cynthia darkened her full face, and denied her light to the crime. The mountain-tops slid down and the peaks broke in thunder, the wandering streams were dying, and no more ranged abroad between their familiar banks. The sky is loud with the clash of arms, the trumpet shakes to the stars and rouses the War God, and at once Aetna is the prey of unaccustomed fires, and casts her lightnings high into the air. The faces of the dead are seen visible among the tombs and the unburied bones, gibbering in dreadful menace. A blazing light girt with unknown stars leads the way for the flames of cities, and the sky rains down fresh showers of blood. In a little while God made these portents plain. For now Caesar shook off all his lingering, and, spurred by the passion of revenge, threw down his arms against Gaul and took them up against Rome.

"In the high Alps, where the rocks trodden by a Greek god1 slope downward and allow men to ap[p. 265] proach them, there is a place sacred to the altars of Hercules: the winter seals it with frozen snow, and heaves it up on its white top to the sky. It seems as though the sky had fallen away from there: the beams of the full sun do not soften the place, nor the breezes of the springtime, but the soil stands stiff with ice and winter's frost: its frowning shoulders could support the whole globe. When Caesar with his exultant army trod these heights and chose a place, he looked far over the fields of Hesperia from the high mountaintop, and lifted his voice and both hands to the stars and said: 'Jupiter, Lord of all, and thou land of Saturn, once proud of my victories and loaded with my triumphs, I call you to witness that I do not willingly summon the War God to these hosts, and that my hand is not raised willingly to strike. But I am driven on by wounds, by banishment from my own city, while I dye the Rhine with blood and cut off the Gauls from the Alps on their second march to our Capitol.2 Victory makes my exile doubly sure. My rout of the Germans and my sixty triumphs were the beginning of my offences. Yet who is it that fears my fame, who are the men that watch me fight? Base hirelings bought at a price, to whom my native Rome is a stepmother. But I think that no coward shall bind my strong arm unhurt without a blow in return. Come, men, to victory while anger is hot, come, my comrades, and plead our cause with the sword. For we are all summoned under one charge, and the same doom hangs over us all. My thanks are your due, my victory is not mine alone. Wherefore, since punishment threatens our trophies, and disgrace is the meed[p. 267] of conquest, let Chance decide how our lot shall fall. Raise the standard and prove your strength. My pleading at least is accomplished; armed amid so many warriors I cannot know defeat.' As he spoke these words aloud, the Delphic bird3 in the sky gave a happy omen, and beat the air as it flew. And from the left quarter of a gloomy grove strange voices sounded and fire flashed thereafter. Even Phoebus glowed with orb brighter than his wont, and set a burning halo of gold about his face.

1 Hercules was said to have been the first to cross the Alps.

2 The traditional date for the sack of Rome by the Gauls is 390 B.C.

3 The raven, consecrated to Apollo on account of its gift of prophecy.

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