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While the brave victor gazed upon the bulk
enormous of his vanquished foe, a voice
was heard—from whence was difficult to know,
but surely heard—“Son of Agenor, why

art thou here standing by this carcase-worm,
for others shall behold thy body changed
into a serpent?” Terrified, amazed,
he lost his colour and his self-control;
his hair stood upright from the dreadful fright.

But lo, the hero's watchful Deity,
Minerva, from the upper realms of air
appeared before him. She commanded him
to sow the dragon's teeth in mellowed soil,
from which might spring another race of men.
And he obeyed: and as he plowed the land,
took care to scatter in the furrowed soil
the dragon's teeth; a seed to raise up man.

'Tis marvelous but true, when this was done
the clods began to move. A spear-point first
appeared above the furrows, followed next
by helmet-covered heads, nodding their cones;
their shoulders, breasts and arms weighted with spears;
and largely grew the shielded crop of men.—
so is it in the joyful theaters
when the gay curtains, rolling from the floor,
are upward drawn until the scene is shown,—
it seems as if the figures rise to view:
first we behold their faces, then we see
their bodies, and their forms by slow degrees
appear before us on the painted cloth.

Cadmus, affrighted by this host, prepared
to arm for his defence; but one of those
from earth created cried; “Arm not! Away
from civil wars!” And with his trenchant sword
he smote an earth-born brother, hand to hand;
even as the vanquished so the victor fell,
pierced by a dart some distant brother hurled;
and likewise he who cast that dart was slain:
both breathing forth their lives upon the air
so briefly theirs, expired together. All
as if demented leaped in sudden rage,
each on the other, dealing mutual wounds.

So, having lived the space allotted them,
the youthful warriors perished as they smote
the earth (their blood-stained mother) with their breasts:
and only five of all the troop remained;
of whom Echion, by Minerva warned,
called on his brothers to give up the fight,
and cast his arms away in pledge of faith.—
when Cadmus, exiled from Sidonia's gates,
builded the city by Apollo named,
these five were trusted comrades in his toil.


Now Thebes is founded, who can deem thy days
unhappy in shine exile, Cadmus? Thou,
the son-in-law of Mars and Venus; thou,
whose glorious wife has borne to shine embrace
daughters and sons? And thy grandchildren join
around thee, almost grown to man's estate.—
nor should we say, “He leads a happy life,”
Till after death the funeral rites are paid.

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load focus Latin (Hugo Magnus, 1892)
load focus English (Arthur Golding, 1567)
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