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At Jove's assent, the deities around
In solemn state the consistory crown'd.
Next a long order of inferior powers
Ascend from hills, and plains, and shady bowers;
Those from whose urns the rolling rivers flow;
And those that give the wandering winds to blow;
Here all their rage, and e'en their murmurs cease,
And sacred silence reigns, and universal peace.
A shining synod of majestic gods
Gilds with new lustre the divine abodes;
Heaven seems improved with a superior ray,
And the bright arch reflects a double day.
The monarch then his solemn silence broke,
The still creation listen'd while he spoke;
Each sacred accent bears eternal weight,
And each irrevocable word is fate.
'How long shall man the wrath of heaven defy
And force unwilling vengeance from the sky!
Oh race confederate into crimes, that prove
Triumphant o’er the eluded rage of Jove!
This wearied arm can scarce the bolt sustain,
And unregarded thunder rolls in vain;
The o'erlabour'd Cyclop from his task retires;
The Æolian forge exhausted of its fires.
For this I suffer'd Phæbus' steeds to stray,
And the mad ruter to misguide the day,
When the wide earth to heaps of ashes turn'd
And heaven itself the wandering chariot burn'd.
For this, my brother of the watery reign,
Released the impetuous sluices of the main :
But flames consumed, and billows raged in vain.
Two races now, allied to Jove, offend :
To punish these, see Jove himself descend.
The Theban kings their line from Cadmus trace,
From godlike Perseus those of Argive race.
Unhappy Cadmus' fate who does not know,
And the long series of succeeding wo?
How oft the Furies, from the deeps of night,
Arose and mix'd with men in mortal fight :
The exulting mother, stain’d with filial blood
The savage hunter, and the haunted wood ?
The direful banquet why should I proclaim,
And crimes that grieve the trembling gods to
Ere I recount the sins of these profane,
The sun would sink into the western main,
And rising gild the radiant east again.
Have we not seen (the blood of Laius shed)
The murdering son ascend his parent's bed,
Through violated nature force his way,
And stain the sacred womb where once he lay?
Yet now in darkness and despair he groans,
And for the crimes of guilty fate atones;
His sons with scorn their eyeless father view,
Insult his wounds, and make them bleed anew.
Thy curse, oh Edipus, just Heaven alarms,
And sets the avenging Thunderer in arms
I from the root thy guilty race will tear,
And give the nations to the waste of war.
Adrastus soon, with gods averse, shall join
In dire alliance with the Theban line:
Hence strife shall rise, and mortal war succeed;
The guilty realms of Tantalus shall bleed :
Fix'd is their doom; this all-remembering breast
Yet harbours vengeance for the tyrant's feast.'
He said : and thus the queen of heaven return'da (With sudden grief her labouring bosom burn'd ;) Must I, whose cares Phoroneus' towers defend, Must I, oh Jove, in bloody wars contend ? Thou know'st those regions my protection claim, Glorious in arms, in riches, and in fame : Though there the fair Egyptian heifer fed, And there deluded Argus slept, and bled ; Though there the brazen tower was storm'd of old, When Jove descended in almighty gold, Yet I can pardon those obscurer rapes, Those bashful crimes disguised in borrow' I shapes ;
But Thebes, whose, shining in celestial charms,
Thou camest triumphant to a mortal's arms,
When all my glories o'er her limbs were spread,
And blazing lightnings danced around her bed ;
Cursed Thebes the vengeance it deserves may prove
Ah, why should Argos feel the rage of Jove ?
Yet, since thou wilt thy sister queen control,
Since still the lust of discord fires thy soul,
Go, raze my Samos, let Mycene fall,
And level with the dust the Spartan wall;
No more let mortals Juno's power invoke,
Her fanes no nore with eastern incense smoke,
Nor victims sink beneath the sacred stroke :
But to your Isis all my rights transfer,
Let altars blaze, and temples smoke for her;
For her, through Egypt's fruitful clime renown'd.
Let weeping Nilus hear the timbrel sound.
But if thou must reform the stubborn times,
Avenging on the sons the father's crimes,
And from the long records of distant age,
Derive incitements to renew thy rage;
Say, from what period then has Jove design'd
To date his vengeance; to what bounds confined ?
Begin from thence, where first Alpheus hides
His wandering stream, and through the briny tides
Unmix'd to his Sicilian river glides.
Thy own Arcadians there the thunder claim,
Whose impious rites disgrace thy mighty name;
Who raise thy temples where the chariot stood
Of fierce (Euomäus defil'd with blood;
Where once his steeds their savage banquet found,
And human bones yet whiten all the ground.
Say, can those honours please ? and canst thou lovo
Presumptuous Crete, that boasts the tomb of Jove
And shall not Tantalus's kingdom share
Thy wife and sister's tutelary care?
Reverse, O Jove, thy too severe decree,
Nor doom to war a race derived from thee.
On impious realms and barbarous kings impose Thy plagues, and curse them with such sons as those.
Thus, in reproach and prayer, the queen express'd The rage and grief contending in her breast; Unmoved remain'd the ruler of the sky, And from his throne return'd this stern reply : ''Twas thus I deem'd thy haughty soul would
The dire, though just, revenge which I prepare
Against a nation thy peculiar care.
No less Dione might for Thebes contend,
Nor Bacchus less his native town defend;
Yet these in silence see the fates fulfil
Their work, and reverence our superior will.
For, by the black infernal Styx I swear,
(That dreadful oath which binds the Thunderer,)
'Tis fix'd; the irrevocable doom of Jove;
No force can bend me, no persuasion move.
Haste then, Cyllenius, through the liquid air ;
Go mount the winds, and to the shades repair ;
Bid hell's black monarch my commands obey,
And give up Laius to the realms of day:
Whose ghost yet shivering on Cocytus' sand,
Expects its passage to the farther strand;
Let the pale sire revisit Thebes, and bear
These pleasing orders to the tyrant's ear;
That, from his exil'd brother, swell’d with pride
Of foreign forces, and his Argive bride,
Almighty Jove commands him to detain
The promised empire, and alternate reign;
Be this the cause of more than mortal hate:
The rest succeeding times shall ripen into fate.'
The god obeys, and to his feet applies
Those golden wings that cut the yielding skies;
His ample hat his beamy locks o'erspread,
And veil'd the starry glories of his head.
He seized the wand that causes sleep to fly,
Or in soft slumbers seals the wakeful eye;
That drives the dead to dark Tartariar coasts,
Or back to life compels the wandering ghosts.
Thus, through the parting clouds, the son of May
Wings on the whistling winds his rapid way;
Now smoothly steers through air his equal Aight,
Now springs aloft, and towers the ethereal height
Then wheeling, down the steep of heaven he fies,
And draws a radiant circle o'er the skies.
Meantime the banish'd Polynices roves (His Thebes abandon'd) through the Aonian groves, While future realms his wandering thoughts de
His daily vision, and his dream by night;
Forbidden Thebes appears before his eye,
From whence he sees his absent brother fly
With transport views the airy rule his own,
And swells on an imaginary throne.
Fain would he cast a tedious age away,
And live out all in one triumphant day:
He chides the lazy progress of the sun,
And bids the year with swifter motion run.
With anxious hopes his craving mind is toss'd,
And all his joys in length of wishes lost.
The hero then resolves his course to bend
Where ancient Danaus' fruitful fields extend,
And famed Mycene's lofty towers ascend,
(Where late the sun did Atreus crimes detest,
And disappear'd in horror of the feast.)
And now, by chance, by fate, or furies led,
From Bacchus' consecrated caves he fled,
Where the shrill cries of frantic matrons sound,
And Pentheus' blood enrich'd the rising ground.
Then sees Cithæron towering o'er the plain,
And thence declining gently to the main.
Next to the bounds of Nisus' realm repairs,
Where treacherous Scylla cut the purple hairs :
The hanging cliffs of Scyron's rock explores,
And hears the murmurs of the different shores.