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But now their leaders yield; Afranius,
Vanquished, throws down his arms, and leads his troops,
Now hardly living, to the hostile camp
Before the victor's feet, and sues for peace.
Proud is his bearing, and despite of ills,
His mien majestic, of his triumphs past
Still mindful in disaster thus he stands,
Though suppliant for grace, a leader yet;
From fearless heart thus speaking: 'Had the fates
Thrown me before some base ignoble foe,
Not, Caesar, thee; still had this arm fought on
And snatched my death. Now if I suppliant ask,
'Tis that I value still the boon of life
Given by a worthy hand. No party ties
'Roused us to arms against thee; when the war,
'This civil war, broke out, it found us chiefs;
And with our former cause we kept the faith,
So long as brave men should. The fates' decree
'No longer we withstand. Unto thy will
We yield the western tribes: the east is thine
'And all the world lies open to thy march.
'Be generous! blood nor sword nor wearied arm
'Thy conquests bought. Thou hast not to forgive
Aught but thy victory won. Nor ask we much.
'Give us repose; to lead in peace the life
'Thou shalt bestow; suppose these armed lines
'Are corpses prostrate on the field of war,
'Ne'er were it meet that thy victorious ranks
Should mix with ours, the vanquished. Destiny
'Has run for us its course: one boon I beg;
'Bid not the conquered conquer in thy train.'
Such were his words, and Caesar's gracious smile
Granted his prayer, remitting rights that war
Gives to the victor. To th' unguarded stream
The soldiers speed: prone on the bank they lie
And lap the flood or foul the crowded waves.
In many a burning throat the sudden draught
Poured in too copious, filled the empty veins
And choked the breath within: yet left unquenched
The burning pest which, though their frames were full,
Craved water for itself. Then, nerved once more,
Their strength returned. Oh, lavish luxury,
Contented never with the frugal meal!
Oh, greed that searchest over land and sea
To furnish forth the banquet! Pride that joy'st
In sumptuous tables! learn what life requires,
How little nature needs! No ruddy juice
Pressed from the vintage in some famous year,
Whose consuls are forgotten, served in cups
With gold and jewels wrought, restores the spark,
The failing spark, of life; but water pure
And simplest fruits of earth. The flood, the field
Suffice for nature. Ah! the weary lot
Of those who war! But these, their armour laid
Low at the victor's feet, with lightened breast,
Secure themselves, no longer dealing death,
Beset by care no more, seek out their homes.
What priceless gift in peace had they secured!
How grieved it now their souls to have poised the dart
With arm outstretched; to have felt their raving thirst;
And prayed the gods for victory in vain!
Nay, hard they think the victor's lot, for whom
A thousand risks and battles still remain;
If fortune never is to leave his side,
How often must he triumph! and how oft
Pour out his blood where'er great Caesar leads!
Happy, thrice happy, he who, when the world
Is nodding to its ruin, knows the spot
Where he himself shall, though in ruin, lie!
No trumpet call shall break his sleep again:
But in his humble home, with faithful spouse
And sons unlettered, Fortune leaves him free
From rage of party; for if life he owes
To Caesar, Magnus sometime was his lord.
Thus happy they alone live on apart,
Nor hope nor dread the event of civil war.
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