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Thus helped, the Roman host with lighter heart
Trod through the barren fields in lengthy march.1
Twice veiled the moon her light and twice renewed;
Yet still, with waning or with growing orb
Saw Cato's steps upon the sandy waste.
But more and more beneath their feet the dust
Began to harden, till the Libyan tracts
Once more were earth, and in the distance rose
Some groves of scanty foliage, and huts
Of plastered straw unfashioned: and their hearts
Leaped at the prospect of a better land.
How fled their sorrow! how with growing joy
They met the savage lion in the path!
In tranquil Leptis first they found retreat:
And passed a winter free from heat and rain.2
When Caesar sated with Emathia's slain
Forsook the battlefield, all other cares
Neglected, he pursued his kinsman fled,
On him alone intent: by land his steps
He traced in vain; then, rumour for his guide,
He crossed the sea and reached the Thracian strait
For love renowned; where on the mournful shore
Rose Hero's tower, and Helle born of cloud
Took from the rolling waves their former name.
Nowhere with shorter space the sea divides
Europe from Asia; though Pontus parts
By scant division from Byzantium's hold
Chalcedon oyster-rich: and small the strait
Through which Propontis pours the Euxine wave.
Then marvelling at their ancient fame, he seeks
Sigeum's sandy beach and Simois' stream,
Rhoeteum noble for its Grecian tomb,
And all the heroes' shades, the theme of song.
Next by the town of Troy burnt down of old
Now but a memorable name, he turns
His steps, and searches for the mighty stones
Relics of Phoebus' wall. But bare with age
Forests of trees and mouldering trunks oppressed
Assaracus' palace, and with wearied roots
Possessed the ancient temples of the gods.
All Pergamus with densest brake was veiled
And even her stones were perished. He beheld
Thy rock, Hesione; the hidden grove,
Anchises' nuptial chamber; and the cave
Where sat the arbiter; the spot from which
Was snatched the beauteous youth; the mountain lawn
Where mourned OEnone.3 Not a stone but told
The story of the past. A little stream
Scarce trickling through the arid plain he passed,
Nor knew 'twas Xanthus: deep in grass he placed,
Careless, his footstep; but the herdsman cried
Thou tread'st the dust of Hector.' Stones confused
Lay at his feet in sacred shape no more:
'Look on the altar of Jove,' thus spake the guide,
God of the household, guardian of the home.'
O sacred task of poets, toil supreme,
Which rescuing all things from allotted fate
Dost give eternity to mortal men!
Grudge not the glory, Caesar, of such fame.
For if the Latian Muse may promise aught,
Long as the heroes of the Trojan time
Shall live upon the page of Smyrna's bard,
So long shall future races read of thee
In this my poem; and Pharsalia's song
Live unforgotten in the age to come.
When by the ancient grandeur of the place
The chieftain's sight was filled, of gathered turf
Altars he raised: and as the sacred flame
Cast forth its odours, these not idle vows
Gave to the gods, 'Ye deities of the dead,
' Who watch o'er Phrygian ruins: ye who now
Lavinia's homes inhabit, and Alba's height:
Gods of my sire AEneas, in whose fanes
The Trojan fire still burns: pledge of the past
'Mysterious Pallas,4 of the inmost shrine,
Unseen of men! here in your ancient seat,
'Most famous offspring of Iulus' race,
'I call upon you and with pious hand
Burn frequent offerings. To my emprise
Give prosperous ending! Here shall I replace
'The Phrygian peoples, here in glad return
'Italia's sons shall build a Pergamus
And from these stones shall rise a Roman Troy.'
He seeks his fleet, and eager to regain
Time spent at Ilium, to the favouring breeze
Spreads all his canvas. Past rich Asia borne,
Rhodes soon he left while foamed the sparkling main
Beneath his keels; nor ceased the wind to stretch
His bending sails, till on the seventh night
The Pharian beam proclaimed Egyptian shores.
But day arose, and veiled the nightly lamp
Ere rode his barks on waters safe from storm.
Then Caesar saw that tumult held the shore,
And mingled voices of uncertain sound
Struck on his ear: and trusting not himself
To doubtful kingdoms, of uncertain troth,
He kept his ships from land. But from the king
Came his vile minion forth upon the wave,
Bearing his dreadful gift, Pompeius' head,
Wrapped in a covering of Pharian wool.
First took he speech and thus in shameless words
Commends the murder: ' Conqueror of the world,
First of the Roman race, and, what as yet
Thou dost not know, safe by thy kinsman slain;
This gift receive from the Pellaean king,
Sole trophy absent from the Thracian field,
'To crown thy toils on land and on the deep.
Here in thine absence have we placed for thee
'An end upon the war. Here Magnus came
To mend his fallen fortunes; on our swords
'Here met his death. With such a pledge of faith
Here have we bought thee, Caesar; with his blood
Seal we this treaty. Take the Pharian realm
Sought by no bloodshed, take the rule of Nile,
Take all that thou wouldst give for Magnus' life:
And hold him vassal worthy of thy camp
'To whom the fates against thy son-in-law
'Such power entrusted; nor hold thou the deed
'Lightly accomplished by the swordsman's stroke,
And so the merit. Guest ancestral he
Who was its victim; who, his sire expelled,
' Gave back to him the sceptre. For a deed
' So great, thou'lt find a name-or ask the world.
' If 'twas a crime, thou must confess the debt
'To us the greater, for that from thy hand
' We took the doing.'
Then he held and showed
Unveiled the head. Now had the hand of death
Passed with its changing touch upon the face:
Nor at first sight did Caesar on the gift
Pass condemnation; nor avert his gaze,
But dwelt upon the features till he knew
The crime accomplished. Then when truth was sure
The loving father rose, and tears he shed
Which flowed at his command, and glad in heart
Forced from his breast a groan : thus by the flow
Of feigned tears and grief he hoped to hide
His joy else manifest: and the ghastly boon
Sent by the king disparaging, professed
Rather to mourn his son's dissevered head,
Than count it for a debt. For thee alone,
Magnus, he durst not fail to find a tear:
He, Caesar, who with mien unaltered spurned
The Roman Senate, and with eyes undimmed
Looked on Pharsalia's field. O fate most hard!
Didst thou with impious war pursue the man
Whom 'twas thy lot to mourn? No kindred ties,
No memory of thy daughter and her son
Touch on thy heart? Didst think perchance that grief
Might help thy cause 'mid lovers of his name?
Or haply, moved by envy of the king,
Griev'st that to other hands than thine was given
To shed the captive's life-blood? and complain'st
Thy vengeance perished and the conquered chief
Snatched from thy haughty hand? Whate'er the cause
That urged thy grief, 'twas far removed from love.
Was this forsooth the object of thy toil
O'er lands and oceans, that without thy ken
He should not perish? Nay! but well was reft
From thine arbitrament his fate. What crime
Did cruel Fortune spare, what depth of shame
To Roman honour! since she suffered not,
Perfidious traitor, while yet Magnus lived,
That thou shouldst pity him!
Thus by words he dared
To gain their credence in his sembled grief:
Hence from my sight with his detested gift,
Thou minion, to thy king. Worse does your crime
Deserve from Caesar than from Magnus' hands.
The only prize that civil war affords
Thus have we lost-to bid the conquered live.
If but the sister of this Pharian king
Were not by him detested, by the head
Of Cleopatra had I paid this gift.
Such were the fit return. Why did he draw
His separate sword, and in the toil that's ours
Mingle his weapons? In Thessalia's field
Gave we such right to the Pellaean blade?
Such licence did your mutual kingdom gain?
Magnus as partner in the rule of Rome
I had not brooked; and shall I tolerate
Thee, Ptolemaeus? In vain with civil wars
Thus have we roused the nations, if there be
Now any might but Caesar's, if any land
Yet owns you masters. From your shore I'd turn
The prows of Latium; but fame forbids,
Lest men should whisper that I did not damn
This deed of blood, but feared the Pharian land.
Nor think ye to deceive; victorious here
I stand: else had my welcome at your hands
Been that of Magnus; and that neck were mine
But for Pharsalia's chance. At greater risk
So seems it, than we dreamed of, took we arms;
Exile, and Magnus' threats, and Rome I knew,
Not Ptolemaeus. But we spare the boy:
Pass by the murder. Let the princeling know
We give no more than pardon for his crime.
And now in honour of the mighty dead,
Not merely that the earth may hide your guilt,
Lay ye the chieftain's head within the tomb;
' With proper sepulture appease his shade
'And place his scattered ashes in an urn.
Thus may he know my coming, and may hear
Affection's accents, and my fond complaints.
Me sought he not, but rather, for his life,
This Pharian vassal; snatching from mankind
The happy morning which had shown the world
A peace between us. But my prayers to heaven
No favouring answer found; that arms laid down
'In happy victory, Magnus, once again
I might embrace thee, begging thee to grant
'Thine ancient love to Caesar, and thy life.
'Thus for my labours with a worthy prize
'Content, thine equal, bound in faithful peace,
'I might have brought thee to forgive the gods
'For thy disaster; thou hadst gained for me
'From Rome forgiveness.'
Thus he spake, but found
No comrade in his tears; nor did the host
Give credit to his grief. Deep in their breasts
They hide their groans, and gaze with joyful front
(O famous Freedom! ) on the deed of blood:
And dare to laugh when mighty Caesar wept.
1 No other author gives any details of this march; and those given by Lucan are unreliable. The temple of Hammon is far from any possible line of route taken from the Lesser Syrtes to Leptis. Dean Merivale states that the inhospitable sands extended for seven days' journey, and ranks themarch as one of the greatest exploits in Roman military history. Described by the names known to modern geography, it was from the Gulf of Cabesto Cape Africa. Pope, in a letter to Henry Cromwell, dated November 11, 1710, makes some caustic remarks on the geography of this book. (See Pope's Works, Vol. VI., 109; by Elwin & Courthope.)
2 Line 439.
4 The 'Palladium' or image of Pallas, preserved in the temple of Vesta. (See Book I., 662.)
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