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A solemn custom was observ'd of old,
Which Latium held, and now the Romans hold,
Their standard when in fighting fields they rear
Against the fierce Hyrcanians, or declare
The Scythian, Indian, or Arabian war;
Or from the boasting Parthians would regain
Their eagles, lost in Carrhae's bloody plain.
Two gates of steel (the name of Mars they bear,
And still are worship'd with religious fear)
Before his temple stand: the dire abode,
And the fear'd issues of the furious god,
Are fenc'd with brazen bolts; without the gates,
The wary guardian Janus doubly waits.
Then, when the sacred senate votes the wars,
The Roman consul their decree declares,
And in his robes the sounding gates unbars.
The youth in military shouts arise,
And the loud trumpets break the yielding skies.
These rites, of old by sov'reign princes us'd,
Were the king's office; but the king refus'd,
Deaf to their cries, nor would the gates unbar
Of sacred peace, or loose th' imprison'd war;
But hid his head, and, safe from loud alarms,
Abhorr'd the wicked ministry of arms.
Then heav'n's imperious queen shot down from high:
At her approach the brazen hinges fly;
The gates are forc'd, and ev'ry falling bar;
And, like a tempest, issues out the war.

The peaceful cities of th' Ausonian shore,
Lull'd in their ease, and undisturb'd before,
Are all on fire; and some, with studious care,
Their restiff steeds in sandy plains prepare;
Some their soft limbs in painful marches try,
And war is all their wish, and arms the gen'ral cry.
Part scour the rusty shields with seam; and part
New grind the blunted ax, and point the dart:
With joy they view the waving ensigns fly,
And hear the trumpet's clangor pierce the sky.
Five cities forge their arms: th' Atinian pow'rs,
Antemnae, Tibur with her lofty tow'rs,
Ardea the proud, the Crustumerian town:
All these of old were places of renown.
Some hammer helmets for the fighting field;
Some twine young sallows to support the shield;
The croslet some, and some the cuishes mold,
With silver plated, and with ductile gold.
The rustic honors of the scythe and share
Give place to swords and plumes, the pride of war.
Old fauchions are new temper'd in the fires;
The sounding trumpet ev'ry soul inspires.
The word is giv'n; with eager speed they lace
The shining headpiece, and the shield embrace.
The neighing steeds are to the chariot tied;
The trusty weapon sits on ev'ry side.

load focus Notes (Georgius Thilo, 1881)
load focus Notes (John Conington, 1876)
load focus Latin (J. B. Greenough, 1900)
load focus English (Theodore C. Williams, 1910)
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