Imatges de pÓgina
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THE

FIRST BOOK

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STATIUS his THEBAIS.

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RATERNAL rage, the guilty Thebes alarms,

Th' alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms
Demand our song; a sacred fury fires
My ravish'd breast, and all the muse inspires,
O Goddess, fày, shall I deduce my rhimes

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From the dire nation in its early times,
Europa's rape, Agenor's ftern decree,
And Cadmius searching round the spacious sea ?
How with the serpent's teeth he fow'd the soil,
And reap'd an iron harvest of his toil?
Or how from joining stones the city sprung,
While to his harp divine Amphion sung?
Or shall I Juno's hate to Thebes resound,
Whose fatal rage th' unhappy monarch found
The fire against the son his arrow drew,

15 O'er the wide fields the furious 'mother flew, And while her arms her second hope contain, Sprung from the rocks and plung'd into the main.

But wave whate'er to Cadmus may belong,
And fix, O muse! the barrier of thy song
At Oedipus-From his disasters trace

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The long confusions of his guilty race :
Nor yet attempt to ftretch thy bolder wing,
And mighty Cæsar's conqu’ring eagles fing;
VOL. I.
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How twice he tam'd proud Ister's rapid flood,
While Dacian mountains stream'd with barb'rous blood,
Twice taught the Rhinc beneath his laws to roll,
And stretch'd his empire to the frozen pole,
Or long before, with early valour strove
In youthful arms t'assert the cause of Jove.
And Thou, great heir of all thy father's fame,
Encrease of glory to the Latian name !
Oh bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
Nor let defiring worlds intreat in vain.
What tho' the stars contract their heav'nly space,

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And croud their shining ranks to yield thee place ;
Tho' all the skies, ambitious of thy sway,
Conspire to court thee from our world away
Tho' Phæbus longs to mix his rays with thine,
And in thy glories more serenely shine
.Tho' Jove himself no' less content would be,
To part his throne and share his heav'n with thee ,
Yet stay, great Cæfar! and vouchsafe to reign
O'er the wide carth, and ofer, the watry main;
Resign to Jove his empire of the skies,
And people heav'n with Roman deities.

The time will come, when a diviner fame
Shall warm my breast to sing of Cæsar's fame :
Meanwhile permit, that my preluding muse-
In Theban wars an humbler theme may chuse:
Of furious hate, surviving death, the fings,
A fatal throne to two contending kings,
And fun'ral flames, that parting wide in air
Express the discord of the fouls they bear.in
Of towns dispeopled, and the wand'ring ghosts

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Of kings unbury'd on the wasted coasts; 1.! 1.'.
When Dirce's fountain bluth'd With Grecian blood,
And Thetis, near Isinenos' swelling flood, ..
With dread beheld the rolling furges Tweep

60 In heaps, his flaughter'd fons into the deep.

What hero, Clio! wilt thou first related
The rage of Tydeus, or the prophet's fatet

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Or how with hills of slain on ev'ry side,
Hippomedon repell’d the hostile tide ?
Or how the youth with ev'ry grace adorn'd,

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Untimely fell, to be for ever mourn'd?
Then to fierce Capaneus thy verse extend,
And fing, with horror, his prodigious end.

Now wretched Oedipus, depriv'd of fight, Led a long death in everlasting night;

70 But while he dwells where not a chearful ray Can pierce the darkness, and abhors the day; The clear, reflecting mind, prefents his fin In frightful views, and makes it day within ; Returning thoughts in endless circles roll,

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And thousand furies haunt his guilty soul.
The wretch then lifted to th' unpitying skies
Those empty orbs from whence he tore liis eyes,
Whose wounds yet fresh, with bloody hands he strook,
While from his breast these dreadful accents broke. 80

Yè gods that o'er the gloomy regions reign,
Where guilty spirits feel eternal pain;
Thou, sable Styx ! whose livid streams are rollid
Thro' dreary coasts, which I tho' blind behold :
Tisiphone, that oft haft heard my pray’r,
Affift, if Oedipus deserve thy care !
If you receiv'd me froin Jocasta's womb,
And nurs'd the hope of mischiefs yet to come ;
If leaving Polybus, I took my way
To Cyrrha's temple, on that fatal day,

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When by the fon the trembling father dy'd,
Where the three roads the Phocian fields divide :
If I the Sphynx's riddles durft explain,
Taught by thyself to win the promis'd reign':
If wretched I, by baleful furies led,

95 With monstrous mixture ftain'd my mother's bed, For hell and thee begot an impious brood, And with full luft those horrid joyś renew'd; Then self-condemn'd to shades of endless night, Forc'd from these orbs the bleeding bąlis of fight. D'd 2

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Oh hear, and aid the vengeance I require,

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If worthy thee, and what thou inight'st inspire !
My sons their old, unhappy fire despise,
Spoild of his kingdom, and depriv’d of eyes;
Guideless I wander, unregarded mourn,

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While these exalt their sceptres o'er my urn;
These sons, ye gods! who with flagitious pride,
Insult my darkness, and my groans deride,
Art thou a father, unregarding Jove !
And sleeps thy thunder in the realms above? 119
Thou fury, then, some lafting curfe entail,
Which o'er their children's children shall prevail :
Place on their heads that crown diftain'd with gore,
Which these dire hands from my slain father tore;
Go, and a parent's heavy curses bear;
Break all the bonds of nature, and prepare
Their kindred souls to mutual hate and war,
Give them to dare, what I might wish to see
Blind as I am, some glorious villany!
Soon shalt thou find, if thou but arm their hands, 120,
Their ready guilt preventing thy commands :
Could'At thou some great, proportion'd mischief frame,
They'd prove the father from whose loins they came.

The fury heard, while on Cocytus' brink Her snakes unty'd, fulphureous waters drink; 125 But at the fùmmons, rolld her eyes around, And snatch'd the starting ferpents from the ground, Not half so swiftly fhoots along in air, The gliding light’ning, or descending star, Thro' crouds of airy shades the wing'd her flight, '139 And dark dominions of the filent night; Swift as she pass’d, the flitting ghosts withdrew, And the pale spectres trembled at her view: To th” iron gates of Tenarus the flies, There spreads her dulky pinions to the skies, 135 The day beheld, and fickning at the fight, Veil'd her fair glories in the shades of night. Affrighted Atlas, on the distant shore, Trembled, and shook the heay'ņs and gods he bore.

Now Now from beneath Malea's airy height

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Aloft she sprung, and steer'd to Thebes her flight;
With eager speed the well-known journey took,
Nor here regrets the hell fhe late forfook.
A hundred snakes her gloomy visage shade,
A hundred serpents guard her horrid head, 145
In her supk eye-balls dreadful meteors glow,
Such rays from Phoebe’s bloody circles flow,
When lab’ring with strong charms, she shoots from high
A fiery gleam, and reddens all the sky,

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Blood stainld her cheeks, and from her mouth there came
Blue steaming poisons, and a length of flame;
From ev'ry blast of her contagious breath,
Famine and drought proceed, and plagues and death :
A robe obscene was o'er her shoulders thrown,
A dress by fates and furies worn alone :

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She tofs'd her meagre arms; her better hand
In waving circles whirl'd a fun'ral brand;
A ferpent from her left was seen to rear
His flaming creft, and lash the yielding air,

But when the fury took her stand on high, 1ba
Where vaft Cythæron's top falutes the sky,
A hiss from all the snaky tire went round:
The dreadful signal all the rocks rebound,
And thro' th' Achaian cities send the found.
Qete, with high Parnassus, heard the voice; 165
Eurota's banks remurmur'd to the noise ;
Again Leucothoe Shook at these alarms,
And press'd Palæmon closer in her arms.
Headlong from thence the glowing fury springs,
And o'er the Theban palace spreads her wings, 170
Once more invades the guilty dome, and shrouds
Its bright pavillions in a veil of clouds.
Strait with the rage of all their race poffefs’d,
Stung to the soul, the brothers start from reft,
And all the furies wake within their breaft. 175
Their tortur'd minds repining envy tears,
Ind hate, engender'd by suspicious fears ;

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