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Now saw Pompeius, grieving, that the gods
Had left his side, and knew the fates of Rome
Passed from his governance; yet all the blood
That filled the field scarce brought him to confess
His fortunes fled. A little hill he sought
Whence to descry the battle raging still
Upon the plain, which when he nearer stood
The warring ranks concealed. Thence did the chief
Gaze on unnumbered swords that flashed in air
And sought his ruin; and the tide of blood
In which his host had perished. Yet not as those
Who, prostrate fallen, would drag nations down
To share their evil fate, Pompeius did.
Still were the gods thought worthy of his prayers
To give him solace, in that after him
Might live his Romans. 'Spare, ye gods,' he said,
Nor lay whole peoples low; my fall attained,
The world and Rome may stand. And if ye need
More bloodshed, here on me, my wife, and sons
'Wreak out your vengeance-pledges to the fates
Such have we given. Too little for the war
Is our destruction? Doth the carnage fail,
The world escaping? Magnus' fortunes lost,
Why doom all else beside him? ' Thus he cried,
And passed amid his standards, and recalled
His vanquished host that rushed on fate declared.
Not for his sake such carnage should be wrought.
So thought Pompeius; nor the foeman's sword
He feared, nor death; but lest upon his fall
To quit their chief his soldiers might refuse,
And o'er his prostrate corpse a world in arms
Might find its ruin: or perchance he wished
From Caesar's eager eyes to veil his death.
In vain, unhappy! for the fates decree
He shall behold, shorn from the bleeding trunk,
Again thy visage. And thou, too, his spouse,
Beloved Cornelia, didst cause his flight;
Thy longed-for features; yet he shall not die
When thou art present.1
Then upon his steed,
Though fearing not the weapons at his back,
Pompeius fled, his mighty soul prepared
To meet his final doom. He saw thy field,
Pharsalia, tearless and without a groan;
For solemn grief and majesty of mien
Were in his face, as for the woes of Rome.
No pride in him the day of victory found,
Nor rout shall find despair; alike in days
When fickle Fortune triple triumph gave
And when she fled, her lord.
The burden laid
Of thine impending fate, thou partest free
To muse upon the happy days of yore.
Hope now has fled; but in the fleeting past
How wast thou great! Seek thou the wars no more,
And call the gods to witness that for thee
Henceforth no man shall die. The fights to come
On Afric's mournful shore, by Pharos' stream
And fateful Munda, and the final scene
Of dire Pharsalia's battle are not thine.
Thy name no more shall stir the world to war,
But those great rivals biding with us yet,
Caesar and Liberty; and not for thee
When thou hadst fled the field, but for itself
The dying Senate still upheld the fight.
Find'st thou not solace thus to quit the field
Nor witness all the horrors of its close?
Look back upon the crimsoned ranks of war,
The rivers turbid with ensanguined stream;
Then pity thou thy kinsman. How shall he
Enter the city, who on such a field
Finds happiness? Whate'er in lands unknown
Thine exiled lot, whate'er the Pharian king
May place upon thee, trust thou in the gods;
Trust the long story of the favouring fates:
'Twere worse to conquer. Then forbid the tear,
The nation's grief, the weeping of mankind,
And let the world adore thee in defeat
As in thy triumphs. With unaltered gaze
Look down upon the kings, thy subjects still;
Look on the realms and cities which they hold,
Egypt and Libya, gifts from thee of yore;
And choose the country that befits thy death.
Larissa first was witness of thy fall,
Thy noble mien, as victor of the fates;
And loud in sorrow, yet with gifts of price
Fit for a conqueror flung back her gates
And poured her citizens forth. ' Our homes and fanes
To thee are open; would it were our lot
With thee to perish; of thy mighty name
Still much survives and conquered by thyself,
Thyself alone, still couldst thou to the war
All nations call and challenge fate again.'
But thus he spake: 'To cities nor to men
Avails the conquered aught: then pledge your faith
To him who has the victory.' Caesar still
Trod deep in piles of slaughter on the field,
His country's vitals, while his daughter's spouse
Thus gave him kingdoms. But Pompeius fled
'Mid sobs and groans and blaming of the gods
For this their fierce commandment; and he fled
Full of the fruits and knowledge of the love
The peoples bore him, which he knew not his
In times of happiness.
1 This appears to be the only possible meaning of the text. But in truth, although Cornelia was not by her husband's side at his murder, she was present at the scene.
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