You, being consul, at once did observe the swift constellations,
Noting the glare of luminous stars in direful conjunction;
Then you beheld the tremulous sheen of the Northern aurora,
1 When, on ascending the mountainous heights of snowy Albanus,
You offered joyful libations of milk at the Feast of the Latins
2 ; Ominous surely the time wherein fell that Feast of the Latins:
Many a warning was given, it seemed, of slaughter nocturnal;
[p. 245] Then, of a sudden, the moon at her full3 was blotted from heaven—
Hidden her features resplendent, though night was bejewelled with planets;
Then did that dolorous herald of War, the torch of Apollo,
4 Mount all aflame to the dome of the sky, to the zenith of heaven,
Seeking a place on the westerly slopes, where the sun has its setting;
Then did a Roman depart from these radiant abodes of the living,
Stricken by terrible lightning from heavens serene and unclouded.
Then through the fruit-laden body of earth ran the shock of an earthquake;
Spectres at night were observed, appalling and changeful of figure,
Giving their warning that war was at hand, and internal commotion;
Over all lands there outpoured, from the frenzied bosoms of prophets,
Dreadful predictions, gloomy forecasts of impending disaster.
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1 For cometa = aurora septentrionalis cf. Sen. Q.N. vii. 6.
2 The feriae Latinae, in honour of the Latin League, were celebrated by the consuls immediately upon assuming office, in the presence of all the magistrates, in part on the Alban Mount and in part on the Capitol, and lasted four days.
3 Concreto lumine, i.e. quum iunctis cornibus pleno orbe luceret, Hott.
4 Phoebi fax=bolida, an arrow-shaped torch.
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