previous next

Meanwhile all nations of the earth were moved
To share in Magnus' fortunes and the war,
And in his fated ruin. Graecia sent,
Nearest of all, her succours to the host.
From Cirrha and Parnassus' double peak
And from Amphissa, Phocis sent her youth:
From swift Cephisus' fate-declaring stream,
And Theban Dirce, chiefs Boeotian came:
All Pisa mustered and Alpheus' youths,1
Alpheus who in far Sicilian lands
Beyond the billows seeks the day again:
Arcadian Maenalus, and OEta loved
By Hercules, and old Dodona's oaks
Are left to silence; for the sacred train
With all Epirus rushes to the war.
Athens, deserted at the call to arms,
Yet found three vessels in Apollo's port
To prove her triumph o'er the Persian king.
Next seek the battle Creta's hundred tribes
Beloved of Jove and rivalling the east
In skill to wing the arrow from the bow.
The walls of Dardan Oricum, the woods
Where Athamanians wander, and the banks
Of swift Absyrtus foaming to the main
Are left forsaken. Enchelaean tribes
Whose king was Cadmus, and whose name records
His transformation,2 join the host; and those
Who till Penean fields and turn the share
Above Iolcos in Thessalian lands.
There first men steeled their hearts to dare the waves 3
And 'gainst the rage of ocean and the storm
To match their strength, when the rude Argo sailed
Upon that distant quest, and spurned the shore,
Joining remotest nations in her flight,
And gave the fates another form of death.
Left too was Pholoe; pretended home
Where dwelt the fabled race of double form; 4
Arcadian Maenalus; the Thracian mount
Named Hemus; Strymon, whence, as autumn falls,
Winged squadrons seek the banks of warmer Nile;
And all those isles the mouths of Ister bathe
Mixed with the tidal wave; the land through which
The cooling eddies of Caicus flow
Idalian; and Arisbe bare of glebe.
The hinds of Pitane, and those who till
Celaenae's fields which mourned of yore the gift
Of Pallas,5 and the vengeance of the god,
All draw the sword; and those from Marsyas' flood
First swift, then doubling backwards with the stream
Of sinuous Meander: and from where
Earth gives Pactolus and his golden store
Free passage forth; and where with rival wealth
Rich Hermus parts the meads. Nor stayed the bands
Of Troy, but (doomed as in old time) they joined
Pompeius' fated camp: nor held them back
The fabled past, nor Caesar's claimed descent
From their Iulus. Syrian peoples came
From palmy Idumea and the walls
Of Ninus great of yore; from windy plains
Of far Damascus and from Gaza's hold,
From Sidon's courts enriched with purple dye,
And Tyre oft trembling with the shaken earth.
All these led on by Cynosura's light6
Furrow their certain path to reach the war.
Phoenicians first (if story be believed)
Dared to record in characters; for yet
Papyrus was not fashioned, and the priests
Of Memphis, carving symbols upon walls
Of mystic sense (in shape of beast or fowl)
Preserved the secrets of their magic art.
Next Persean Tarsus and high Taurus' groves
Are left deserted, and Corycium's cave;
And all Cilicia's ports, pirate no more,
Resound with preparation. Nor the East
Refused the call, where furthest Ganges dares,
Alone of rivers, to discharge his stream
Against the sun opposing; on this shore7
The Macedonian conqueror stayed his foot
And found the world his victor; Indus rolls
Here his vast torrent, by Hydaspes joined
Yet scarce augmented; here from luscious reed
Men draw sweet liquor; here they dye their locks
With tints of saffron, and with coloured gems
Bind down their flowing garments; here are they,
Who satiate of life and proud to die,
Ascend the blazing pyre, and conquering fate,
Scorn to live longer; but triumphant give
The remnant of their days in flame to heaven.8
Nor failed to join the host a hardy band
Of Cappadocians, tilling now the soil,
Once pirates of the main : nor those who dwell
Where steep Niphates hurls the avalanche,
And where on Median Coatra's sides
The giant forest rises to the sky.
And you, Arabians, from your distant home
Came to a world unknown, and wondering saw
The shadows fall no longer to the left.9
Then fired with ardour for the Roman war
Oretas came, and far Carmania's chiefs,
Whose clime lies southward, yet men thence descry
Low down the Pole star, and Bootes runs
Hasting to set, part seen, his nightly course;
And Ethiopians from that southern land
Which lies without the circuit of the stars,
Did not the Bull with curving hoof advanced
O'erstep the limit. From that mountain zone
They came, where rising from a common fount
Euphrates flows and Tigris, and did earth
Permit, were joined with either name; but now
While like th' Egyptian flood Euphrates spreads
His fertilising water, Tigris first
Drawn down by earth in covered depths is plunged
And holds a secret course; then born again
Flows on unhindered to the Persian sea.
But warlike Parthia wavered 'twixt the chiefs,
Content to have made them two 10; while Scythia's hordes
Dipped fresh their darts in poison, whom the stream
Of Bactros bounds and vast Hyrcanian woods.
Hence springs that rugged nation swift and fierce,
Descended from the Twins' great charioteer.11
Nor failed Sarmatia, nor the tribes that dwell
By richest Phasis, and on Halys' banks,
Which sealed the doom of Croesus king; nor where
From far Rhipaean ranges Tanais flows,
On either hand a quarter of the world,
Asia and Europe, and in winding course
Carves out a continent; nor where the strait
In boiling surge pours to the Pontic deep
Maeotis' waters, rivalling the pride
Of those Herculean pillar-gates that guard
The entrance to an ocean. Thence with hair
In golden fillets, Arimaspians came,
And fierce Massagetae, who quaff the blood
Of the brave steed on which they fight and flee.
Not when great Cyrus on Memnonian realms
His warriors poured; nor when, their weapons piled,12
The Persian told the number of his host;
Nor when th' avenger 13 of a brother's shame
Loaded the billows with his mighty fleet,
Beneath one chief so many kings made war;
Nor e'er met nations varied thus in garb
And thus in language. To Pompeius' death
Thus Fortune called them: and a world in arms
Witnessed his ruin. From where Afric's god,
Two-horned Ammon, rears his temple, came
All Libya ceaseless, from the wastes that touch
The bounds of Egypt to the shore that meets
The Western Ocean. Thus, to award the prize
Of Empire at one blow, Pharsalia brought
'Neath Caesar's conquering hand the banded world.

1 It was generally believed that the river Alpheus of the Peloponnesus passed under the sea and reappeared in the fountain of Arethusa at Syracuse. A goblet was said to have been thrown into the river in Greece, and to have reappeared in the Sicilian fountain. See the note in Grote's 'History of Greece,' Edition 1862, vol. ii., p. 8.

2 As a serpent. ἔγχελυς is the Greek word for serpent.

3 Conf. Book VI., 472.

4 The Centaurs.

5 Probably the flute thrown away by Pallas, which Marsyas picked up when he challenged Apollo to a musical contest. For his presumption the god had him flayed alive.

6 That is, the Little Bear, by which the Phoenicians steered, while the Greeks steered by the Great Bear. (See Sir G. Lewis's 'Astronomy of the Ancients,' p, 447.) In Book VIII., line 198, the pilot declares that he steers by the pole star itself, which is much nearer to the Little than to the GreatBear, and is (I believe) reckoned as one of the stars forming the group known by that name. He may have been a Phoenician.

7 He did not in fact reach the Ganges, as is well known.

8 Perhaps in allusion to the embassy from India to Augustus in B.C. 19, when Zarmanochanus, an Indian sage, declaring that he had lived in happiness and would not risk the chance of a reverse, burnt himself publicly. (Merivale, chapter xxxiv.)

9 That is to say, looking towards the west; meaning that they came from the other side of the equator. (See Book IX., 620.)

10 See Book I., 120.

11 A race called Heniochi, said to be descended from the charioteer of Castor and Pollux.

12 Effusis telis. I have so taken this difficult expression. Herodotus (7, 60) says the men were numbered in ten thousands by being packed close together and having a circle drawn round them. After the first ten thousand had been so measured a fence was put where the circle had been, and the subsequent ten thousands were driven into the enclosure. It is not unlikely that they piled their weapons before being so measured, and Lucan's account would then be made to agree with that of Herodotus. Francken, on the other hand, quotes a Scholiast, who says that each hundredth man shot off an arrow. See Mr. J. A. R. Munro's paper in vol. xxii. of the Hellenic Society's publications, at p. 296.

13 Agamemnon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1862 AD (1)
19 BC (1)
hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: