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Yet ere the victor touched the Pharian sands
Some scanty rites to Magnus Fortune gave,
Lest he should want all burial. Pale with fear
Came Cordus, hasting from his hiding place;
Quaestor, he joined Pompeius on thy shore,
Idalian Cyprus, bringing in his train
A cloud of evils. Through the darkening shades
Love for the dead compelled his trembling steps,
Hard by the margin of the deep to search
And drag to land his master. Through the clouds
The moon shone sadly, and her rays were dim;
But by its hue upon the hoary main
He knew the body. In a fast embrace
He holds it, wrestling with the greedy sea,
And deftly watching for a refluent wave
Gains help to bring his burden to the land.
Then clinging to the loved remains, the wounds
Washed with his tears, thus to the gods he speaks,
And misty stars obscure: 'Here, Fortune, lies
Pompeius, thine: no costly incense rare
Or pomp of funeral he dares to ask;
Nor that the smoke rise heavenward from his pyre
With eastern odours rich; nor that the necks
Of pious Romans bear him to the tomb,
Their parent; while the forums shall resound
' With dirges; nor that triumphs won of yore
'Be borne before him; nor for sorrowing hosts
'To cast their weapons forth. Some little shell
He begs as for the meanest, laid in which
His mutilated corse may reach the flame.
Grudge not his misery the pile of wood
' Lit by this menial hand. Is't not enough
'That his Cornelia with dishevelled hair
' Weeps not beside him at his obsequies,
' Nor with a last embrace shall place the torch
' Beneath her husband dead, but on the deep
' Hard by still wanders? '
Burning from afar
He sees the pyre of some ignoble youth
Deserted of his own, with none to guard:
And quickly drawing from beneath the limbs
Some glowing logs, ' Whoe'er thou art,' he said,
Neglected shade, uncared for, dear to none,
Yet happier than Pompeius in thy death,
Pardon I ask that this my stranger hand
' Should violate thy tomb. Yet if to shades
'Be sense or memory, gladly shalt thou yield
'This from thy pyre to Magnus. 'Twere thy shame,
'Blessed with due burial, if his remains
Were homeless.' Speaking thus, the wood aflame
Back to the headless trunk at speed he bore,
Which hanging on the margin of the deep,
Almost the sea had won. In sandy trench
The gathered fragments of a broken boat,
Trembling, he placed around the noble limbs.
No pile above the corse nor under lay,
Nor was the fire beneath. Then as he crouched
Beside the blaze, ' 0, greatest chief,' he cried,
Majestic champion of Hesperia's name,
'If to be tossed unburied on the deep
Rather than these poor rites thy shade prefer,
'From these mine offices thy mighty soul
Withdraw, Pompeius. Injuries dealt by fate
Command this duty, lest some bird or beast
'Or ocean monster, or fierce Caesar's wrath
'Should venture aught upon thee. Take the fire;
All that thou canst; by Roman hand at least
'Enkindled. And should Fortune grant return
'To loved Hesperia's land, not here shall rest
'Thy sacred ashes; but within an urn
Cornelia, from this humble hand received,
Shall place them. Here upon a meagre stone
We draw the characters to mark thy tomb.
These letters reading may some kindly friend
'Bring back thine head, dissevered, and may grant
'Full funeral honours to thine earthly frame.'
Then did he cherish the enfeebled fire
Till Magnus' body mingled with its flames.
But now the harbinger of coming dawn
Had paled the constellations: he in fear
Seeks for his hiding place. Whom dost thou dread,
Madman, what punishment for such a crime,
For which thy fame by rumour trumpet-tongued
Has been sent down to ages? Praise is thine
For this thy work, at impious Caesar's hands;
Sure of a pardon, go; confess thy task,
And beg the head dissevered. But his work
Was still unfinished, and with pious hand
(Fearing some foe) he seizes on the bones
Now half consumed, and sinews; and the wave
Pours in upon them, and in shallow trench
Commits them to the earth; and lest some breeze
Might bear away the ashes, or by chance
Some sailor's anchor might disturb the tomb,
A stone he places, and with stick half burned
Traces the sacred name: Here Magnus lies.
And art thou, Fortune, pleased that such a spot
Should be his tomb which even Caesar's self
Had chosen, rather than permit his corse
To rest unburied? Why, with thoughtless hand
Confine his shade within the narrow bounds
Of this poor sepulchre? Where the furthest sand
Hangs on the margin of the baffled deep
Cabined he lies; yet where the Roman name
Is known, and Empire, such in truth shall be
The boundless measure of his resting-place.
Blot out this stone, this proof against the gods!
OEta finds room for Hercules alone,
And Nysa's mountain for the Bromian god;1
Not all the lands of Egypt should suffice
For Magnus dead: and shall one Pharian stone
Mark his remains? Yet should no turf disclose
His title, peoples of the earth would fear
To spurn his ashes, and the sands of Nile
No foot would tread. But if the stone deserves
So great a name, then add his mighty deeds:
Write Lepidus conquered and the Alpine war,
And fierce Sertorius by his aiding arm
O'erthrown; the chariots which as knight he drove;2
Cilician pirates driven from the main,
And Commerce safe to nations; Eastern kings
Defeated and the barbarous Northern tribes;
Write that from arms he ever sought the robe;
Write that content upon the Capitol
Thrice only triumphed he, nor asked his due.
What mausoleum were for such a chief
A fitting monument? This paltry stone
Records no syllable of the lengthy tale
Of honours: and the name which men have read
Upon the sacred temples of the gods,
And lofty arches built of hostile spoils,
On desolate sands here marks his lowly grave
With characters obscure, such as erect
No traveller could read, and Roman guest
Without a hand to guide would pass unseen.

1 Dionysus. But this god, though brought up by the nymphs of Mount Nysa, was not supposed to have been buried there.

2 See Book VII., line 20.

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