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NE'ER to the summons of the Eternal laws
More slowly Titan rose,1 nor drave his steeds,
Forced by the sky revolving,2 up the heaven,
With gloomier presage; wishing to endure
The pangs of ravished light, and dark eclipse;
And drew the mists up, not to feed his flames,3
But lest his light upon Thessalian earth
Might fall undimmed.
Pompeius on that morn,
To him the latest day of happy life,
In troubled sleep an empty dream conceived.
For in the watches of the night he heard
Innumerable Romans shout his name
Within his theatre; the benches vied
To raise his fame and place him with the gods;
As once in youth, when victory was won
O'er conquered tribes whom swift Iberus girds,4
And when Sertorius' armies fought and fled,
He sat triumphant for the west subdued,
In pure white gown, and heard the Senate cheer;
No less majestic as a Roman knight
Than had the purple robe adorned his car.
Perhaps, as ills drew near, his anxious soul,
Shunning the future, wooed the happy past;
Or, as is wont, prophetic slumber showed
That which was not to be, by doubtful forms
Misleading; or as envious Fate forbade
Return to Italy, this glimpse of Rome
Kind Fortune gave. Break not his latest sleep,
Ye sentinels; let not the trumpet call
Strike on his ear: for on the morrow's night
Shapes of the battle lost, of death and war
Shall crowd his rest with terrors. Whence shalt thou
The poor man's happiness of sleep regain?
Happy if thus, e'en thus, thy Rome could see
Once more her captain! Would the gods had given
To thee and to thy country one day yet
To reap the latest fruit of such a love:
Though sure of fate to come! Thou marchest on
As though by heaven ordained in Rome to die;
She, conscious ever of her prayers for thee
Heard by the gods, deemed not the fates decreed
Such evil destiny, that she should lose
The last sad solace of her Magnus' tomb.
Then young and old had blent their tears for thee,
And child unbidden; women torn their hair
And struck their bosoms as for Brutus dead.
E'en now though trembling at the victor's sword,
Though cruel Caesar herald thy defeat,
Yet shall they grieve, while at the Thunderer's throne
They offer incense and the laurel wreath.
Ah, wretched fate! In silence must they groan;
Nor in that theatre which heard thy praise
Proclaim their sorrow for Pompeius dead.
The stars had fled before the growing morn,
When eager voices (as the fates drew on
The world to ruin) round Pompeius' tent
Ask for the signal. What! shall those condemned
To die ere fall of eve, provoke the hour
Of hastening death, demand the fatal doom
Their own, their country's? 'Magnus fears,' they cry,
He's patient of his kinsman, slow to strike,
'And fondly holds beneath his sway the world;
'So dreads a peace.' And kings from Orient lands,
And peoples, eager for their distant homes,
Already murmured at the lengthy war.
Thus has it pleased the gods, when woe impends
On guilty men, to make them seem its cause.
We court disaster, crave the fatal sword.
Of Magnus' camp Pharsalia was the prayer;
For Tullius, of all the sons of Rome
Chief orator, beneath whose civil rule
Fierce Catiline at the peace-compelling axe
Trembled and fled, arose, to Magnus' ear
Bearing the voice of all. To him was war
Grown hateful, and he longed once more to hear
The Senate's plaudits; and with eloquent lips
He lent persuasion to the weaker cause.
Fortune, Pompeius, for her gifts to thee
'Asks this one boon, that thou shouldst use her now.
Here at thy feet thy leading captains lie;
' And here thy monarchs, and a suppliant world
' Entreats thee prostrate for thy kinsman's fall.
' So long shall Caesar plunge the world in war?
' Swift was thy tread when these proud nations fell;
' How deep their shame, and justly, should delay
'Now mar thy conquests! Where thy trust in Fate,
Thy fervour where? Ingrate! Dost dread the gods,
' Or think they favour not the Senate's cause?
' Thy troops unbidden shall the standards seize
' And conquer; thou in shame be forced to win.
' If at the Senate's orders and for us
' The war is waged, then give to us the right
' To choose the battle-field. Why dost thou keep
' From Caesar's throat the swords of all the world?
' The weapon quivers in the eager hand:
' Scarce one awaits the signal. Strike at once,
' Or without thee the trumpets sound the frav.
' Art thou the Senate's comrade or her lord?
' We wait your answer.'
But Pompeius groaned;
His mind was adverse, but he felt the fates
Opposed his wish, and knew the hand divine.


It is, methinks, a morning full of fate!
It riseth slowly, as her sullen car
Had all the weight of sleep and death hung at it!
And her sick head is bound about with clouds
As if she threatened night ere noon of day.

Ben Jonson, 'Catiline,' i., 1.

2 See Book VI., 576.

3 As to the sun finding fuel in the clouds, see Book I., line 472.

4 Pompeius triumphed first in 81 B.C. for his victories in Sicily and Africa, at the age of twenty-four. Sulla at first objected, but finally yielded and said, 'Let him triumph then in God's name.' The triumph for the defeat of Sertorius was not till 71 B.C., in which year Pompeius was elected Consul along with Crassus. (Compare Book IX., 706.)

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