previous next

Then the blood
Grew warm and liquid, and with softening touch
Cherished the stiffened wounds and filled the veins,
Till throbbed once more the slow returning pulse
And every fibre trembled, as with death
Life was commingled. Then, not limb by limb,
With toil and strain, but rising at a bound
Leaped from the earth erect the living man.
Fierce glared his eyes uncovered, and the life
Was dim, and still upon his face remained
The pallid hues of hardly parted death.
Amazement seized upon him, to the earth
Brought back again: but from his lips tight drawn
No murmur issued; he had power alone
When questioned to reply. 'Speak,' quoth the hag,
As I shall bid thee; great shall be thy gain
If true thine answers, freed for evermore
From all Haemonian art. Such burial place
Shall now be thine, and on thy funeral pyre
Such fatal woods shall burn, such chant shall sound,
'That to thy ghost no more or magic song
Or spell shall reach, and thy Lethaean sleep
Shall never more be broken in a death
' From me received anew: for such reward
' Think not this second life enforced in vain.
' Obscure may be the answers of the gods
' By priestess spoken at the holy shrine;
' But whoso braves the oracles of death
' In search of truth, should gain a sure response.
' Then speak, I pray thee. Let the hidden fates
' Tell through thy voice the mysteries to come.'
Thus spake she, and her words by mystic force
Gave him his answer; but with gloomy mien,
And tears swift flowing, thus he made reply:
'Called from the margin of the silent stream
I saw no fateful sisters spin the threads.
'Yet know I this, that 'mid the Roman shades
'Reigns fiercest discord; and this impious war
'Destroys the peace that ruled the fields of death.
'Elysian meads and deeps of Tartarus
'In paths diverse the Roman chieftains leave
'And thus disclose the fates. The blissful ghosts
Bear visages of sorrow. Sire and son
'The Decii, who gave themselves to death
'In expiation of their country's doom,
'And great Camillus, wept; and Sulla's shade
'Complained of fortune. Scipio bewailed
'The scion of his race about to fall
' In sands of Libya: Cato, greatest foe
' To Carthage, grieves for that indignant soul
' Which shall disdain to serve. Brutus alone
' In all the happy ranks I smiling saw,
' First consul when the kings were thrust from Rome.
' The chains were fallen from boastful Catiline.
' Him too I saw rejoicing, and the pair
' Of Marii, and Cethegus' naked arm.1
' The Drusi, heroes of the people, joyed,
' In laws immoderate; and the famous pair 2
' Of greatly daring brothers: guilty bands
' By bars eternal shut within the doors
' That close the prison of hell, applaud the fates,
'Claiming the plains Elysian: and the King
' Throws wide his pallid halls, makes hard the points
' Of craggy rocks, and forges iron chains,
' The victor's punishment. But take with thee
'This comfort, youth, that there a calm abode,
' And peaceful, waits thy father and his house.
' Nor let the glory of a little span
' Disturb thy boding heart: the hour shall come
' When all the chiefs shall meet. Shrink not from death,
' But glorying in the greatness of your souls,
' E'en from your humble sepulchres descend,
' And tread beneath your feet, in pride of place,
' The wandering phantoms of the gods of Rome.3
' Which chieftain's tomb by Tiber shall be laved,
' And which by Nile; their fate, and theirs alone,
' This battle shall decide. Nor seek to know
' From me thy fortunes: for the fates in time
' Shall give thee all thy due; and thy great sire,4
' A surer prophet, in Sicilian fields
'Shall speak thy future-doubting even he
' What regions of the world thou shouldst avoid
' And what shouldst seek. O miserable race!
' Europe and Asia and Libya's plains,5
' Which saw your conquests, now shall hold alike
' Your burial-place-nor has the earth for you
' A happier land than this.'
His task performed,
He stands in mournful guise, with silent look
Asking for death again; yet could not die
Till mystic herb and magic chant prevailed.
For nature's law, once used, had power no more
To slay the corpse and set the spirit free.
With plenteous wood she builds the funeral pyre
To which the dead man comes: then as the flames
Seized on his form outstretched, the youth and witch
Together sought the camp; and as the dawn
Now streaked the heavens, by the hag's command
The day was stayed till Sextus reached his tent,
And mist and darkness veiled his safe return.

1 See Book II., 611.

2 The Gracchi, the younger of whom aimed at being a perpetual tribune, and was in some sort a forerunner of the Emperors.

3 That is, the Caesars, who will be in Tartarus.

4 Referring probably to an episode intended to be introduced in a later book, in which the shade of Pompeius was to foretell his fate to Sextus.

5 Cnaeus was killed in Spain after the battle of Munda; Sextus at Miletus; Pompeius himself, of course, in Egypt.

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Libya (Libya) (2)
Tiber (Italy) (1)
Scipio (Ohio, United States) (1)
Nile (1)
Miletus (Turkey) (1)
Europe (1)
Egypt (Egypt) (1)
Cato (New York, United States) (1)
Camillus (New York, United States) (1)
Brutus (Virginia, United States) (1)
Asia (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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: