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Title: Lays of Ancient Rome
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859
Language: English
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By Thomas Babbington Macaulay



       The Lay

     The Battle of the Lake Regillus
       The Lay

       The Lay

     The Prophecy of Capys
       The Lay

That what is called the history of the Kings and early Consuls of
Rome is to a great extent fabulous, few scholars have, since the
time of Beaufort, ventured to deny. It is certain that, more than
three hundred and sixty years after the date ordinarily assigned
for the foundation of the city, the public records were, with
scarcely an exception, destroyed by the Gauls. It is certain that
the oldest annals of the commonwealth were compiled more than a
century and a half after this destruction of the records. It is
certain, therefore, that the great Latin writers of the Augustan
age did not possess those materials, without which a trustworthy
account of the infancy of the republic could not possibly be
framed. Those writers own, indeed, that the chronicles to which
they had access were filled with battles that were never fought,
and Consuls that were never inaugurated; and we have abundant
proof that, in these chronicles, events of the greatest
importance, such as the issue of the war with Porsena and the
issue of the war with Brennus, were grossly misrepresented. Under
these circumstances a wise man will look with great suspicion on
the legend which has come down to us. He will perhaps be inclined
to regard the princes who are said to have founded the civil and
religious institutions of Rome, the sons of Mars, and the husband
of Egeria, as mere mythological personages, of the same class
with Perseus and Ixion. As he draws nearer to the confines of
authentic history, he will become less and less hard of belief.
He will admit that the most important parts of the narrative have
some foundation in truth. But he will distrust almost all the
details, not only because they seldom rest on any solid evidence,
but also because he will constantly detect in them, even when
they are within the limits of physical possibility, that peculiar
character, more easily understood than defined, which
distinguishes the creations of the imagination from the realities
of the world in which we live.

The early history of Rome is indeed far more poetical than
anything else in Latin literature. The loves of the Vestal and
the God of War, the cradle laid among the reeds of Tiber, the
fig-tree, the she-wolf, the shepherd's cabin, the recognition,
the fratricide, the rape of the Sabines, the death of Tarpeia,
the fall of Hostus Hostilius, the struggle of Mettus Curtius
through the marsh, the women rushing with torn raiment and
dishevelled hair between their fathers and their husbands, the
nightly meetings of Numa and the Nymph by the well in the sacred
grove, the fight of the three Romans and the three Albans, the
purchase of the Sibylline books, the crime of Tullia, the
simulated madness of Brutus, the ambiguous reply of the Delphian
oracle to the Tarquins, the wrongs of Lucretia, the heroic
actions of Horatius Cocles, of Scaevola, and of Cloelia, the
battle of Regillus won by the aid of Castor and Pollux, the
defense of Cremera, the touching story of Coriolanus, the still
more touching story of Virginia, the wild legend about the
draining of the Alban lake, the combat between Valerius Corvus
and the gigantic Gaul, are among the many instances which will at
once suggest themselves to every reader.

In the narrative of Livy, who was a man of fine imagination,
these stories retain much of their genuine character. Nor could
even the tasteless Dionysius distort and mutilate them into mere
prose. The poetry shines, in spite of him, through the dreary
pedantry of his eleven books. It is discernible in the most
tedious and in the most superficial modern works on the early
times of Rome. It enlivens the dulness of the Universal History,
and gives a charm to the most meagre abridgements of Goldsmith.

Even in the age of Plutarch there were discerning men who
rejected the popular account of the foundation of Rome, because
that account appeared to them to have the air, not of a history,
but of a romance or a drama. Plutarch, who was displeased at
their incredulity, had nothing better to say in reply to their
arguments than that chance sometimes turns poet, and produces
trains of events not to be distinguished from the most elaborate
plots which are constructed by art. But though the existence of a
poetical element in the early history of the Great City was
detected so many ages ago, the first critic who distinctly saw
from what source that poetical element had been derived was James
Perizonius, one of the most acute and learned antiquaries of the
seventeenth century. His theory, which in his own days attracted
little or no notice, was revived in the present generation by
Niebuhr, a man who would have been the first writer of his time,
if his talent for communicating truths had borne any proportion
to his talent for investigating them. That theory has been
adopted by several eminent scholars of our own country,
particularly by the Bishop of St. David's, by Professor Malde,
and by the lamented Arnold. It appears to be now generally
received by men conversant with classical antiquity; and indeed
it rests on such strong proofs, both internal and external, that
it will not be easily subverted. A popular exposition of this
theory, and of the evidence by which it is supported, may not be
without interest even for readers who are unacquainted with the
ancient languages.

The Latin literature which has come down to us is of later date
than the commencement of the Second Punic War, and consists
almost exclusively of works fashioned on Greek models. The Latin
metres, heroic, elegiac, lyric, and dramatic, are of Greek
origin. The best Latin epic poetry is the feeble echo of the
Iliad and Odyssey. The best Latin eclogues are imitations of
Theocritus. The plan of the most finished didactic poem in the
Latin tongue was taken from Hesiod. The Latin tragedies are bad
copies of the masterpieces of Sophocles and Euripides. The Latin
philosophy was borrowed, without alteration, from the Portico and
the Academy; and the great Latin orators constantly proposed to
themselves as patterns the speeches of Demosthenes and Lysias.

But there was an earlier Latin literature, a literature truly
Latin, which has wholly perished, which had, indeed almost wholly
perished long before those whom we are in the habit of regarding
as the greatest Latin writers were born. That literature abounded
with metrical romances, such as are found in every country where
there is much curiosity and intelligence, but little reading and
writing. All human beings, not utterly savage, long for some
information about past times, and are delighted by narratives
which present pictures to the eye of the mind. But it is only in
very enlightened communities that books are readily accessible.
Metrical composition, therefore, which, in a highly civilized
nation, is a mere luxury, is, in nations imperfectly civilized,
almost a necessary of life, and is valued less on account of the
pleasure which it gives to the ear, than on account of the help
which it gives to the memory. A man who can invent or embellish
an interesting story, and put it into a form which others may
easily retain in their recollection, will always be highly
esteemed by a people eager for amusement and information, but
destitute of libraries. Such is the origin of ballad-poetry, a
species of composition which scarcely ever fails to spring up and
flourish in every society, at a certain point in the progress
towards refinement. Tacitus informs us that songs were the only
memorials of the past which the ancient Germans possessed. We
learn from Lucan and from Ammianus Marcellinus that the brave
actions of the ancient Gauls were commemorated in the verses of
Bards. During many ages, and through many revolution, minstrelsy
retained its influence over both the Teutonic and the Celtic
race. The vengeance exacted by the spouse of Attila for the
murder of Siegfried was celebrated in rhymes, of which Germany is
still justly proud. The exploits of Athelstane were commemorated
by the Anglo-Saxons and those of Canute by the Danes, in rude
poems, of which a few fragments have come down to us. The chants
of the Welsh harpers preserved, through ages of darkness, a faint
and doubtful memory of Arthur. In the Highlands of Scotland may
still be gleaned some relics of the old songs about Cuthullin and
Fingal. The long struggle of the Servians against the Ottoman
power was recorded in lays full of martial spirit. We learn from
Herrera that, when a Peruvian Inca died, men of skill were
appointed to celebrate him in verses, which all the people
learned by heart, and sang in public on days of festival. The
feats of Kurroglou, the great freebooter of Turkistan, recounted
in ballads composed by himself, are known in every village of
northern Persia. Captain Beechey heard the bards of the Sandwich
Islands recite the heroic achievements of Tamehameha, the most
illustrious of their kings. Mungo Park found in the heart of
Africa a class of singing men, the only annalists of their rude
tribes, and heard them tell the story of the victory which Damel,
the negro prince of the Jaloffs, won over Abdulkader, the
Mussulman tyrant of Foota Torra. This species of poetry attained
a high degree of excellence among the Castilians, before they
began to copy Tuscan patterns. It attained a still higher degree
of excellence among the English and the Lowland Scotch, during
the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. But it
reached its full perfection in ancient Greece; for there can be
no doubt that the great Homeric poems are generically ballads,
though widely distinguished from all other ballads, and indeed
from almost all other human composition, by transcendent
sublimity and beauty.

As it is agreeable to general experience that, at a certain stage
in the progress of society, ballad-poetry should flourish, so is
it also agreeable to general experience that, at a subsequent
stage in the progress of society, ballad-poetry should be
undervalued and neglected. Knowledge advances; manners change;
great foreign models of composition are studied and imitated. The
phraseology of the old minstrels becomes obsolete. Their
versification, which, having received its laws only from the ear,
abounds in irregularities, seems licentious and uncouth. Their
simplicity appears beggarly when compared with the quaint forms
and gaudy coloring of such artists as Cowley and Gongora. The
ancient lays, unjustly despised by the learned and polite, linger
for a time in the memory of the vulgar, and are at length too
often irretrievably lost. We cannot wonder that the ballads of
Rome should have altogether disappeared, when we remember how
very narrowly, in spite of the invention of printing, those of
our own country and those of Spain escaped the same fate. There
is indeed little doubt that oblivion covers many English songs
equal to any that were published by Bishop Percy, and many
Spanish songs as good as the best of those which have been so
happily translated by Mr. Lockhart. Eighty years ago England
possessed only one tattered copy of Childe Waters and Sir
Cauline, and Spain only one tattered copy of the noble poem of
the Cid. The snuff of a candle, or a mischievous dog, might in a
moment have deprived the world forever of any of those fine
compositions. Sir Walter Scott, who united to the fire of a great
poet the minute curiosity and patient diligence of a great
antiquary, was but just in time to save the precious relics of
the Minstrelsy of the Border. In Germany, the lay of the
Nibelungs had been long utterly forgotten, when, in the
eighteenth century, it was, for the first time, printed from a
manuscript in the old library of a noble family. In truth, the
only people who, through their whole passage from simplicity to
the highest civilization, never for a moment ceased to love and
admire their old ballads, were the Greeks.

That the early Romans should have had ballad-poetry, and that
this poetry should have perished, is therefore not strange. It
would, on the contrary, have been strange if these things had not
come to pass; and we should be justified in pronouncing them
highly probable even if we had no direct evidence on the subject.
But we have direct evidence of unquestionable authority.

Ennius, who flourished in the time of the Second Punic War, was
regarded in the Augustan age as the father of Latin poetry. He
was, in truth, the father of the second school of Latin poetry,
the only school of which the works have descended to us. But from
Ennius himself we learn that there were poets who stood to him in
the same relation in which the author of the romance of Count
Alarcos stood to Garcilaso, or the author of the Lytell Geste of
Robyn Hode to Lord Surrey. Ennius speaks of verses which the
Fauns and the Bards were wont to chant in the old time, when none
had yet studied the graces of speech, when none had yet climbed
the peaks sacred to the Goddesses of Grecian song. "Where,"
Cicero mournfully asks, "are those old verses now?"

Contemporary with Ennius was Quintus Fabius Pactor, the earliest
of the Roman annalists. His account of the infancy and youth of
Romulus and Remus has been preserved by Dionysius, and contains a
very remarkable reference to the ancient Latin poetry. Fabius
says that, in his time, his countrymen were still in the habit of
singing ballads about the Twins. "Even in the hut of
Faustulus,"--so these old lays appear to have run,--"the
children of Rhea and Mars were, in port and in spirit, not like
unto swineherds or cowherds, but such that men might well guess
them to be of the blood of kings and gods."

Cato the Censor, who also lived in the days of he Second Punic
War, mentioned this lost literature in his lost work on the
antiquities of his country. Many ages, he said, before his time,
there were ballads in praise of illustrious men; and these
ballads it was the fashion for the guests at banquets to sing in
turn while the piper played. "Would," exclaims Cicero, "that
we still had the old ballads of which Cato speaks!"

Valerius Maximus gives us exactly similar information, without
mentioning his authority, and observes that the ancient Roman
ballads were probably of more benefit to the young than all the
lectures of the Athenian schools, and that to the influence of
the national poetry were to be ascribed the virtues of such men
as Camillus and Fabricus.

Varro, whose authority on all questions connected with the
antiquities of his country is entitled to the greatest respect,
tells us that at banquets it was once the fashion for boys to
sing, sometimes with and sometimes without instrumental music,
ancient ballads in praise of men of former times. These young
performers, he observes, were of unblemished character, a
circumstance which he probably mentioned because, among the
Greeks, and indeed, in his time among the Romans also, the morals
of singing boys were in no high repute.

The testimony of Horace, though given incidentally, confirms the
statements of Cato, Valerius Maximus, and Varro. The poet
predicts that, under the peaceful administration of Augustus, the
Romans will, over their full goblets, sing to the pipe, after the
fashion of their fathers, the deeds of brave captains, and the
ancient legends touching the origin of the city.

The proposition, then, that Rome had ballad-poetry is not merely
in itself highly probable, but is fully proved by direct evidence
of the greatest weight.

This proposition being established, it becomes easy to understand
why the early history of the city is unlike almost everything
else in Latin literature, native where almost everything else is
borrowed, imaginative where almost everything else is prosaic. We
can scarcely hesitate to pronounce that the magnificent,
pathetic, and truly national legends, which present so striking a
contrast to all that surrounds them, are broken and defaced
fragments of that early poetry which, even in the age of Cato the
Censor, had become antiquated, and of which Tully had never heard
a line.

That this poetry should have been suffered to perish will not
appear strange when we consider how complete was the triumph of
the Greek genius over the public mind of Italy. It is probable
that, at an early period, Homer and Herodotus furnished some
hints to the Latin Minstrels; but it was not till after the war
with Pyrrhus that the poetry of Rome began to put off its old
Ausonian character. The transformation was soon consummated. The
conquered, says Horace, led captive the conquerors. It was
precisely at the time at which the Roman people rose to
unrivalled political ascendency that they stooped to pass under
the intellectual yoke. It was precisely at the time at which the
sceptre departed from Greece that the empire of her language and
of her arts became universal and despotic. The revolution indeed
was not effected without a struggle. Naevius seems to have been
the last of the ancient line of poets. Ennius was the founder of
a new dynasty. Naevius celebrated the First Punic War in
Saturnian verse, the old national verse of Italy. Ennius sang the
Second Punic War in numbers borrowed from the Iliad. The elder
poet, in the epitaph which he wrote for himself, and which is a
fine specimen of the early Roman diction and versification,
plaintively boasted that the Latin language had died with him.
Thus what to Horace appeared to be the first faint dawn of Roman
literature appeared to Naevius to be its hopeless setting. In
truth, one literature was setting, and another dawning.

The victory of the foreign taste was decisive; and indeed we can
hardly blame the Romans for turning away with contempt from the
rude lays which had delighted their fathers, and giving their
whole admiration to the immortal productions of Greece. The
national romances, neglected by the great and the refined whose
education had been finished at Rhodes or Athens, continued, it
may be supposed, during some generations to delight the vulgar.
While Virgil, in hexameters of exquisite modulation, described
the sports of rustics, those rustics were still singing their
wild Saturnian ballads. It is not improbable that, at the time
when Cicero lamented the irreparable loss of the poems mentioned
by Cato, a search among the nooks of the Appenines, as active as
the search which Sir Walter Scott made among the descendents of
the mosstroopers of Liddesdale, might have brought to light many
fine remains of ancient minstrelsy. No such search was made. The
Latin ballads perished forever. Yet discerning critics have
thought that they could still perceive in the early history of
Rome numerous fragments of this lost poetry, as the traveller on
classic ground sometimes finds, built into the heavy wall of a
fort or convent, a pillar rich with acanthus leaves, or a frieze
where the Amazons and Bacchanals seem to live. The theatres and
temples of the Greek and the Roman were degraded into the
quarries of the Turk and the Goth. Even so did the ancient
Saturnian poetry become the quarry in which a crowd of orators
and annalists found the materials for their prose.

It is not difficult to trace the process by which the old songs
were transmuted into the form which they now wear. Funeral
panegyric and chronicle appear to have been the intermediate
links which connected the lost ballads with the histories now
extant. From a very early period it was the usage that an oration
should be pronounced over the remains of a noble Roman. The
orator, as we learn from Polybius, was expected, on such
occasions, to recapitulate all the services which the ancestors
of the deceased had, from the earliest time, rendered to the
commonwealth. There can be little doubt that the speaker on whom
this duty was imposed would make use of all the stories suited to
his purpose which were to be found in the popular lays. There can
be as little doubt that the family of an eminent man would
preserve a copy of the speech which had been pronounced over his
corpse. The compilers of the early chronicles would have recourse
to these speeches; and the great historians of a later period
would have recourse to the chronicles.

It may be worth while to select a particular story, and to trace
its probable progress through these stages. The description of
the migration of the Fabian house to Cremera is one of the finest
of the many fine passages which lie thick in the earlier books of
Livy. The Consul, clad in his military garb, stands in the
vestibule of his house, marshalling his clan, three hundred and
six fighting men, all of the same proud patrician blood, all
worthy to be attended by the fasces, and to command the legions.
A sad and anxious retinue of friends accompanies the adventurers
through the streets; but the voice of lamentation is drowned by
the shouts of admiring thousands. As the procession passes the
Capitol, prayers and vows are poured forth, but in vain. The
devoted band, leaving Janus on the right, marches to its doom,
through the Gate of Evil Luck. After achieving high deeds of
valor against overwhelming numbers, all perish save one child,
the stock from which the great Fabian race was destined again to
spring, for the safety and glory of the commonwealth. That this
fine romance, the details of which are so full of poetical truth,
and so utterly destitute of all show of historical truth, came
originally from some lay which had often been sung with great
applause at banquets is in the highest degree probable. Nor is it
difficult to imagine a mode in which the transmission might have
taken place. The celebrated Quintus Fabius Maximus, who died
about twenty years before the First Punic War, and more than
forty years before Ennius was born, is said to have been interred
with extraordinary pomp. In the eulogy pronounced over his body
all the great exploits of his ancestors were doubtless recounted
and exaggerated. If there were then extant songs which gave a
vivid and touching description of an event, the saddest and the
most glorious in the long history of the Fabian house, nothing
could be more natural than that the panegyrist should borrow from
such songs their finest touches, in order to adorn his speech. A
few generations later the songs would perhaps be forgotten, or
remembered only by shepherds and vinedressers. But the speech
would certainly be preserved in the archives of the Fabian
nobles. Fabius Pictor would be well acquainted with a document so
interesting to his personal feelings, and would insert large
extracts from it in his rude chronicle. That chronicle, as we
know, was the oldest to which Livy had access. Livy would at a
glance distinguish the bold strokes of the forgotten poet from
the dull and feeble narrative by which they were surrounded,
would retouch them with a delicate and powerful pencil, and would
make them immortal.

That this might happen at Rome can scarcely be doubted; for
something very like this has happened in several countries, and,
among others, in our own. Perhaps the theory of Perizonius cannot
be better illustrated than by showing that what he supposes to
have taken place in ancient times has, beyond all doubt, taken
place in modern times.

"History," says Hume with the utmost gravity, "has preserved
some instances of Edgar's amours, from which, as from a specimen,
we may form a conjecture of the rest." He then tells very
agreeably the stories of Elfleda and Elfrida, two stories which
have a most suspicious air of romance, ad which, indeed, greatly
resemble, in their character, some of the legends of early Rome.
He cites, as his authority for these two tales, the chronicle of
William of Malmesbury, who lived in the time of King Stephen. The
great majority of readers suppose that the device by which
Elfleda was substituted for her young mistress, the artifice by
which Athelwold obtained the hand of Elfrida, the detection of
that artifice, the hunting party, and the vengeance of the
amorous king, are things about which there is no more doubt than
about the execution of Anne Boleyn, or the slitting of Sir John
Coventry's nose. But when we turn to William of Malmesbury, we
find that Hume, in his eagerness to relate these pleasant fables,
has overlooked one very important circumstance. William does
indeed tell both the stories; but he gives us distinct notice
that he does not warrant their truth, and that they rest on no
better authority than that of ballads.

Such is the way in which these two well-known tales have been
handed down. They originally appeared in a poetical form. They
found their way from ballads into an old chronicle. The ballads
perished; the chronicle remained. A great historian, some
centuries after the ballads had been altogether forgotten,
consulted the chronicle. He was struck by the lively coloring of
these ancient fictions: he transferred them to his pages; and
thus we find inserted, as unquestionable facts, in a narrative
which is likely to last as long as the English tongue, the
inventions of some minstrel whose works were probably never
committed to writing, whose name is buried in oblivion, and whose
dialect has become obsolete. It must, then, be admitted to be
possible, or rather highly probable, that the stories of Romulus
and Remus, and of the Horatii and Curiatti, may have had a
similar origin.

Castilian literature will furnish us with another parallel case.
Mariana, the classical historian of Spain, tells the story of the
ill-starred marriage which the King Don Alonso brought about
between the heirs of Carrion and the two daughters of the Cid.
The Cid bestowed a princely dower on the sons-in-law. But the
young men were base and proud, cowardly and cruel. They were
tried in danger, and found wanting. They fled before the Moors,
and once, when a lion broke out of his den, they ran and crouched
in an unseemly hiding-place. They knew that they were despised,
and took counsel how they might be avenged. They parted from
their father-in-law with many signs of love, and set forth on a
journey with Doña Elvira and Doña Sol. In a solitary place the
bridegrooms seized their brides, stripped them, scourged them,
and departed, leaving them for dead. But one of the House of
Bivar, suspecting foul play, had followed the travellers in
disguise. The ladies were brought back safe to the house of their
father. Complaint was made to the king. It was adjudged by the
Cortes that the dower given by the Cid should be returned, and
that the heirs of Carrion together with one of their kindred
should do battle against three knights of the party of the Cid.
The guilty youths would have declined the combat; but all their
shifts were in vain. They were vanquished in the lists, and
forever disgraced, while their injured wives were sought in
marriage by great princes.

Some Spanish writers have labored to show, by an examination of
dates and circumstances, that this story is untrue. Such
confutation was surely not needed; for the narrative is on the
face of it a romance. How it found its way into Mariana's history
is quite clear. He acknowledges his obligations to the ancient
chronicles; and had doubtless before him the Cronica del famoso
Cavallero Cid Ruy Diez Campeador, which had been printed as early
as the year 1552. He little suspected that all the most striking
passages in this chronicle were copied from a poem of the twelfth
century,--a poem of which the language and versification had long
been obsolete, but which glowed with no common portion of the
fire of the Iliad. Yet such is the fact. More than a century and
a half after the death of Mariana, this venerable ballad, of
which one imperfect copy on parchment, four hundred years old,
had been preserved at Bivar, was for the first time printed. Then
it was found that every interesting circumstance of the story of
the heirs of Carrion was derived by the eloquent Jesuit from a
song of which he had never heard, and which was composed by a
minstrel whose very name had been long forgotten.

Such, or nearly such, appears to have been the process by which
the lost ballad-poetry of Rome was transformed into history. To
reverse that process, to transform some portions of early Roman
history back into the poetry out of which they were made, is the
object of this work.

In the following poems the author speaks, not in his own person,
but in the persons of ancient minstrels who know only what Roman
citizen, born three or four hundred years before the Christian
era, may be supposed to have known, and who are in no wise above
the passions and prejudices of their age and nation. To these
imaginary poets must be ascribed some blunders which are so
obvious that is unnecessary to point them out. The real blunder
would have been to represent these old poets as deeply versed in
general history, and studious of chronological accuracy. To them
must also be attributed the illiberal sneers at the Greeks, the
furious party spirit, the contempt for the arts of peace, the
love of war for its own sake, the ungenerous exultation over the
vanquished, which the reader will sometimes observe. To portray a
Roman of the age of Camillus or Curius as superior to national
antipathies, as mourning over the devastation and slaughter by
which empire and triumphs were to be won, as looking on human
suffering with the sympathy of Howard, or as treating conquered
enemies with the delicacy of the Black Prince, would be to
violate all dramatic propriety. The old Romans had some great
virtues, fortitude, temperance, veracity, spirit to resist
oppression, respect for legitimate authority, fidelity in the
observing of contracts, disinterestedness, ardent patriotism; but
Christian charity and chivalrous generosity were alike unknown to

It would have been obviously improper to mimic the manner of any
particular age or country. Something has been borrowed, however,
from our own old ballads, and more from Sir Walter Scott, the
great restorer of our ballad-poetry. To the Iliad still greater
obligations are due; and those obligations have been contracted
with the less hesitation, because there is reason to believe that
some of the old Latin minstrels really had recourse to that
inexhaustible store of poetical images.

It would have been easy to swell this little volume to a very
considerable bulk, by appending notes filled with quotations; but
to a learned reader such notes are not necessary; for an
unlearned reader they would have little interest; and the
judgment passed both by the learned and by the unlearned on a
work of the imagination will always depend much more on the
general character and spirit of such a work than on minute


There can be little doubt that among those parts of early Roman
history which had a poetical origin was the legend of Horatius
Cocles. We have several versions of the story, and these versions
differ from each other in points of no small importance.
Polybius, there is reason to believe, heard the tale recited over
the remains of some Consul or Prætor descended from the old
Horatian patricians; for he introduces it as a specimen of the
narratives with which the Romans were in the habit of
embellishing their funeral oratory. It is remarkable that,
according to him, Horatius defended the bridge alone, and
perished in the waters. According to the chronicles which Livy
and Dionysius followed, Horatius had two companions, swam safe to
shore, and was loaded with honors and rewards.

These discrepancies are easily explained. Our own literature,
indeed, will furnish an exact parallel to what may have taken
place at Rome. It is highly probably that the memory of the war
of Porsena was preserved by compositions much resembling the two
ballads which stand first in the Relics of Ancient English
Poetry. In both those ballads the English, commanded by the
Percy, fight with the Scots, commanded by the Douglas. In one of
the ballads the Douglas is killed by a nameless English archer,
and the Percy by a Scottish spearman; in the other, the Percy
slays the Douglas in single combat, and is himself made prisoner.
In the former, Sir Hugh Montgomery is shot through the heart by a
Northumbrian bowman; in the latter he is taken and exchanged for
the Percy. Yet both the ballads relate to the same event, and
that event which probably took place within the memory of persons
who were alive when both the ballads were made. One of the
Minstrels says:--

   "Old men that knowen the grounde well yenoughe
     Call it the battell of Otterburn:
     At Otterburn began this spurne
     Upon a monnyn day.
     Ther was the dougghte Doglas slean:
     The Perse never went away."

The other poet sums up the event in the following lines:

   "Thys fraye bygan at Otterborne
       Bytwene the nyghte and the day:
     Ther the Doglas lost hys lyfe,
       And the Percy was lede away."

It is by no means unlikely that there were two old Roman lays
about the defence of the bridge; and that, while the story which
Livy has transmitted to us was preferred by the multitude, the
other, which ascribed the whole glory to Horatius alone, may have
been the favorite with the Horatian house.

The following ballad is supposed to have been made about a
hundred and twenty years after the war which it celebrates, and
just before the taking of Rome by the Gauls. The author seems to
have been an honest citizen, proud of the military glory of his
country, sick of the disputes of factions, and much given to
pining after good old times which had never really existed. The
allusion, however, to the partial manner in which the public
lands were allotted could proceed only from a plebeian; and the
allusion to the fraudulent sale of spoils marks the date of the
poem, and shows that the poet shared in the general discontent
with which the proceedings of Camullus, after the taking of Veii,
were regarded.

The penultimate syllable of the name Porsena has been shortened
in spite of the authority of Niebuhr, who pronounces, without
assigning any ground for his opinion, that Martial was guilty of
a decided blunder in the line,

    "Hanc spectare manum Porsena non potuit."

It is not easy to understand how any modern scholar, whatever his
attainments may be,--and those of Niebuhr were undoubtedly
immense,--can venture to pronounce that Martial did not know the
quantity of a word which he must have uttered, and heard uttered,
a hundred times before he left school. Niebuhr seems also to have
forgotten that Martial has fellow culprits to keep him in
countenance. Horace has committed the same decided blunder; for
he give us, as a pure iambic line,--

    "Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenæ dextram;"

Silius Italicus has repeatedly offended in the same way, as when
he says,--"Clusinum vulgus, cum, Porsena magne, jubebas." A
modern writer may be content to err in such company.

Niebuhr's supposition that each of the three defenders of the
bridge was the representative of one of the three patrician
tribes is both ingenious and probable, and has been adopted in
the following poem.


     A Lay Made About the Year Of The City CCCLX


     Lars Porsena of Closium
          By the Nine Gods he swore
     That the great house of Tarquin
          Should suffer wrong no more.
     By the Nine Gods he swore it,
          And named a trysting day,
     And bade his messengers ride forth,
     East and west and south and north,
          To summon his array.


     East and west and south and north
          The messengers ride fast,
     And tower and town and cottage
          Have heard the trumpet's blast.
     Shame on the false Etruscan
          Who lingers in his home,
     When Porsena of Clusium
          Is on the march for Rome.


     The horsemen and the footmen
          Are pouring in amain
     From many a stately market-place,
          From many a fruitful plain,
     From many a lonely hamlet,
          Which, hid by beech and pine,
     Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest
          Of purple Apennine;


     From lordly Volaterræ,
          Where scowls the far-famed hold
     Piled by the hands of giants
          For godlike kings of old;
     From seagirt Populonia,
          Whose sentinels descry
     Sardinia's snowy mountain-tops
          Fringing the southern sky;


     From the proud mart of Pisæ,
          Queen of the western waves,
     Where ride Massilia's triremes
          Heavy with fair-haired slaves;
     From where sweet Clanis wanders
          Through corn and vines and flowers;
     From where Cortona lifts to heaven
          Her diadem of towers.


     Tall are the oaks whose acorns
          Drop in dark Auser's rill;
     Fat are the stags that champ the boughs
          Of the Ciminian hill;
     Beyond all streams Clitumnus
          Is to the herdsman dear;
     Best of all pools the fowler loves
          The great Volsinian mere.


     But now no stroke of woodman
          Is heard by Auser's rill;
     No hunter tracks the stag's green path
          Up the Ciminian hill;
     Unwatched along Clitumnus
          Grazes the milk-white steer;
     Unharmed the water fowl may dip
          In the Volsminian mere.


     The harvests of Arretium,
          This year, old men shall reap;
     This year, young boys in Umbro
          Shall plunge the struggling sheep;
     And in the vats of Luna,
          This year, the must shall foam
     Round the white feet of laughing girls
          Whose sires have marched to Rome.


     There be thirty chosen prophets,
          The wisest of the land,
     Who alway by Lars Porsena
          Both morn and evening stand:
     Evening and morn the Thirty
          Have turned the verses o'er,
     Traced from the right on linen white
          By mighty seers of yore.


     And with one voice the Thirty
          Have their glad answer given:
     "Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena;
          Go forth, beloved of Heaven;
     Go, and return in glory
          To Clusium's royal dome;
     And hang round Nurscia's altars
          The golden shields of Rome."


     And now hath every city
          Sent up her tale of men;
     The foot are fourscore thousand,
          The horse are thousands ten.
     Before the gates of Sutrium
          Is met the great array.
     A proud man was Lars Porsena
          Upon the trysting day.


     For all the Etruscan armies
          Were ranged beneath his eye,
     And many a banished Roman,
          And many a stout ally;
     And with a mighty following
          To join the muster came
     The Tusculan Mamilius,
          Prince of the Latian name.


     But by the yellow Tiber
          Was tumult and affright:
     From all the spacious champaign
          To Rome men took their flight.
     A mile around the city,
          The throng stopped up the ways;
     A fearful sight it was to see
          Through two long nights and days.


     For aged folks on crutches,
          And women great with child,
     And mothers sobbing over babes
          That clung to them and smiled,
     And sick men borne in litters
          High on the necks of slaves,
     And troops of sun-burned husbandmen
          With reaping-hooks and staves,


     And droves of mules and asses
          Laden with skins of wine,
     And endless flocks of goats and sheep,
          And endless herds of kine,
     And endless trains of wagons
          That creaked beneath the weight
     Of corn-sacks and of household goods,
          Choked every roaring gate.


     Now, from the rock Tarpeian,
          Could the wan burghers spy
     The line of blazing villages
          Red in the midnight sky.
     The Fathers of the City,
          They sat all night and day,
     For every hour some horseman come
          With tidings of dismay.


     To eastward and to westward
          Have spread the Tuscan bands;
     Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote
          In Crustumerium stands.
     Verbenna down to Ostia
          Hath wasted all the plain;
     Astur hath stormed Janiculum,
          And the stout guards are slain.


     I wis, in all the Senate,
          There was no heart so bold,
     But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
          When that ill news was told.
     Forthwith up rose the Consul,
          Up rose the Fathers all;
     In haste they girded up their gowns,
          And hied them to the wall.


     They held a council standing,
          Before the River-Gate;
     Short time was there, ye well may guess,
          For musing or debate.
     Out spake the Consul roundly:
          "The bridge must straight go down;
     For, since Janiculum is lost,
          Nought else can save the town."


     Just then a scout came flying,
          All wild with haste and fear:
     "To arms! to arms! Sir Consul:
          Lars Porsena is here."
     On the low hills to westward
          The Consol fixed his eye,
     And saw the swarthy storm of dust
          Rise fast along the sky.


     And nearer fast and nearer
          Doth the red whirlwind come;
     And louder still and still more loud,
     From underneath that rolling cloud,
     Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
          The trampling, and the hum.
     And plainly and more plainly
          Now through the gloom appears,
     Far to left and far to right,
     In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
     The long array of helmets bright,
          The long array of spears.


     And plainly and more plainly,
          Above that glimmering line,
     Now might ye see the banners
          Of twelve fair cities shine;
     But the banner of proud Clusium
          Was highest of them all,
     The terror of the Umbrian,
          The terror of the Gaul.


     And plainly and more plainly
          Now might the burghers know,
     By port and vest, by horse and crest,
          Each warlike Lucumo.
     There Cilnius of Arretium
          On his fleet roan was seen;
     And Astur of the four-fold shield,
     Girt with the brand none else may wield,
     Tolumnius with the belt of gold,
     And dark Verbenna from the hold
          By reedy Thrasymene.


     Fast by the royal standard,
          O'erlooking all the war,
     Lars Porsena of Clusium
          Sat in his ivory car.
     By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
          Prince of the Latian name;
     And by the left false Sextus,
          That wrought the deed of shame.


     But when the face of Sextus
          Was seen among the foes,
     A yell that rent the firmament
          From all the town arose.
     On the house-tops was no woman
          But spat towards him and hissed,
     No child but screamed out curses,
          And shook its little fist.


     But the Consul's brow was sad,
          And the Consul's speech was low,
     And darkly looked he at the wall,
          And darkly at the foe.
     "Their van will be upon us
          Before the bridge goes down;
     And if they once may win the bridge,
          What hope to save the town?"


     Then out spake brave Horatius,
          The Captain of the Gate:
     "To every man upon this earth
          Death cometh soon or late.
     And how can man die better
          Than facing fearful odds,
     For the ashes of his fathers,
          And the temples of his gods,


     "And for the tender mother
          Who dandled him to rest,
     And for the wife who nurses
          His baby at her breast,
     And for the holy maidens
          Who feed the eternal flame,
     To save them from false Sextus
          That wrought the deed of shame?


     "Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
          With all the speed ye may;
     I, with two more to help me,
          Will hold the foe in play.
     In yon strait path a thousand
          May well be stopped by three.
     Now who will stand on either hand,
          And keep the bridge with me?"


     Then out spake Spurius Lartius;
          A Ramnian proud was he:
     "Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
          And keep the bridge with thee."
     And out spake strong Herminius;
          Of Titian blood was he:
     "I will abide on thy left side,
          And keep the bridge with thee."


     "Horatius," quoth the Consul,
          "As thou sayest, so let it be."
     And straight against that great array
          Forth went the dauntless Three.
     For Romans in Rome's quarrel
          Spared neither land nor gold,
     Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
          In the brave days of old.


     Then none was for a party;
          Then all were for the state;
     Then the great man helped the poor,
          And the poor man loved the great:
     Then lands were fairly portioned;
          Then spoils were fairly sold:
     The Romans were like brothers
          In the brave days of old.


     Now Roman is to Roman
          More hateful than a foe,
     And the Tribunes beard the high,
          And the Fathers grind the low.
     As we wax hot in faction,
          In battle we wax cold:
     Wherefore men fight not as they fought
          In the brave days of old.


     Now while the Three were tightening
          Their harness on their backs,
     The Consul was the foremost man
          To take in hand an axe:
     And Fathers mixed with Commons
          Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
     And smote upon the planks above,
          And loosed the props below.


     Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
          Right glorious to behold,
     Come flashing back the noonday light,
     Rank behind rank, like surges bright
          Of a broad sea of gold.
     Four hundred trumpets sounded
          A peal of warlike glee,
     As that great host, with measured tread,
     And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
     Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,
          Where stood the dauntless Three.


     The Three stood calm and silent,
          And looked upon the foes,
     And a great shout of laughter
          From all the vanguard rose:
     And forth three chiefs came spurring
          Before that deep array;
     To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
     And lifted high their shields, and flew
          To win the narrrow way;


     Aunus from green Tifernum,
          Lord of the Hill of Vines;
     And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves
          Sicken in Ilva's mines;
     And Picus, long to Clusium
          Vassal in peace and war,
     Who led to fight his Umbrian powers
     From that gray crag where, girt with towers,
     The fortress of Nequinum lowers
          O'er the pale waves of Nar.


     Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
          Into the stream beneath;
     Herminius struck at Seius,
          And clove him to the teeth;
     At Picus brave Horatius
          Darted one fiery thrust;
     And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
          Clashed in the bloody dust.


     Then Ocnus of Falerii
          Rushed on the Roman Three;
     And Lausulus of Urgo,
          The rover of the sea;
     And Aruns of Volsinium,
          Who slew the great wild boar,
     The great wild boar that had his den
     Amidst the reeds of Cosa's fen,
     And wasted fields, and slaughtered men,
          Along Albinia's shore.


     Herminius smote down Aruns:
          Lartius laid Ocnus low:
     Right to the heart of Lausulus
          Horatius sent a blow.
     "Lie there," he cried, "fell pirate!
          No more, aghast and pale,
     From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
     The track of thy destroying bark.
     No more Campania's hinds shall fly
     To woods and caverns when they spy
          Thy thrice accursed sail."


     But now no sound of laughter
          Was heard among the foes.
     A wild and wrathful clamor
          From all the vanguard rose.
     Six spears' lengths from the entrance
          Halted that deep array,
     And for a space no man came forth
          To win the narrow way.


     But hark! the cry is Astur:
          And lo! the ranks divide;
     And the great Lord of Luna
          Comes with his stately stride.
     Upon his ample shoulders
          Clangs loud the four-fold shield,
     And in his hand he shakes the brand
          Which none but he can wield.


     He smiled on those bold Romans
          A smile serene and high;
     He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
          And scorn was in his eye.
     Quoth he, "The she-wolf's litter
          Stand savagely at bay:
     But will ye dare to follow,
          If Astur clears the way?"


     Then, whirling up his broadsword
          With both hands to the height,
     He rushed against Horatius,
          And smote with all his might.
     With shield and blade Horatius
          Right deftly turned the blow.
     The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
     It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh:
     The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
          To see the red blood flow.


     He reeled, and on Herminius
          He leaned one breathing-space;
     Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds,
          Sprang right at Astur's face.
     Through teeth, and skull, and helmet
          So fierce a thrust he sped,
     The good sword stood a hand-breadth out
          Behind the Tuscan's head.


     And the great Lord of Luna
          Fell at that deadly stroke,
     As falls on Mount Alvernus
          A thunder smitten oak:
     Far o'er the crashing forest
          The giant arms lie spread;
     And the pale augurs, muttering low,
          Gaze on the blasted head.


     On Astur's throat Horatius
          Right firmly pressed his heel,
     And thrice and four times tugged amain,
          Ere he wrenched out the steel.
     "And see," he cried, "the welcome,
          Fair guests, that waits you here!
     What noble Lucomo comes next
          To taste our Roman cheer?"


     But at his haughty challenge
          A sullen murmur ran,
     Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,
          Along that glittering van.
     There lacked not men of prowess,
          Nor men of lordly race;
     For all Etruria's noblest
          Were round the fatal place.


     But all Etruria's noblest
          Felt their hearts sink to see
     On the earth the bloody corpses,
          In the path the dauntless Three:
     And, from the ghastly entrance
          Where those bold Romans stood,
     All shrank, like boys who unaware,
     Ranging the woods to start a hare,
     Come to the mouth of the dark lair
     Where, growling low, a fierce old bear
          Lies amidst bones and blood.


     Was none who would be foremost
          To lead such dire attack;
     But those behind cried, "Forward!"
          And those before cried, "Back!"
     And backward now and forward
          Wavers the deep array;
     And on the tossing sea of steel
     To and frow the standards reel;
     And the victorious trumpet-peal
          Dies fitfully away.


     Yet one man for one moment
          Strode out before the crowd;
     Well known was he to all the Three,
          And they gave him greeting loud.
     "Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!
          Now welcome to thy home!
     Why dost thou stay, and turn away?
          Here lies the road to Rome."


     Thrice looked he at the city;
          Thrice looked he at the dead;
     And thrice came on in fury,
          And thrice turned back in dread:
     And, white with fear and hatred,
          Scowled at the narrow way
     Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,
          The bravest Tuscans lay.


     But meanwhile axe and lever
          Have manfully been plied;
     And now the bridge hangs tottering
          Above the boiling tide.
     "Come back, come back, Horatius!"
          Loud cried the Fathers all.
     "Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!
          Back, ere the ruin fall!"


     Back darted Spurius Lartius;
          Herminius darted back:
     And, as they passed, beneath their feet
          They felt the timbers crack.
     But when they turned their faces,
          And on the farther shore
     Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
          They would have crossed once more.


     But with a crash like thunder
          Fell every loosened beam,
     And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
          Lay right athwart the stream:
     And a long shout of triumph
          Rose from the walls of Rome,
     As to the highest turret-tops
          Was splashed the yellow foam.


     And, like a horse unbroken
          When first he feels the rein,
     The furious river struggled hard,
          And tossed his tawny mane,
     And burst the curb and bounded,
          Rejoicing to be free,
     And whirling down, in fierce career,
     Battlement, and plank, and pier,
          Rushed headlong to the sea.


     Alone stood brave Horatius,
          But constant still in mind;
     Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
          And the broad flood behind.
     "Down with him!" cried false Sextus,
          With a smile on his pale face.
     "Now yield thee," cried Lars Porsena,
          "Now yield thee to our grace."


     Round turned he, as not deigning
          Those craven ranks to see;
     Nought spake he to Lars Porsena,
          To Sextus nought spake he;
     But he saw on Palatinus
          The white porch of his home;
     And he spake to the noble river
          That rolls by the towers of Rome.


     "Oh, Tiber! Father Tiber!
          To whom the Romans pray,
     A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
          Take thou in charge this day!"
     So he spake, and speaking sheathed
          The good sword by his side,
     And with his harness on his back,
          Plunged headlong in the tide.


     No sound of joy or sorrow
          Was heard from either bank;
     But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
     With parted lips and straining eyes,
          Stood gazing where he sank;
     And when above the surges,
          They saw his crest appear,
     All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
     And even the ranks of Tuscany
          Could scarce forbear to cheer.


     But fiercely ran the current,
          Swollen high by months of rain:
     And fast his blood was flowing;
          And he was sore in pain,
     And heavy with his armor,
          And spent with changing blows:
     And oft they thought him sinking,
          But still again he rose.


     Never, I ween, did swimmer,
          In such an evil case,
     Struggle through such a raging flood
          Safe to the landing place:
     But his limbs were borne up bravely
          By the brave heart within,
     And our good father Tiber
          Bare bravely up his chin.


     "Curse on him!" quoth false Sextus;
          "Will not the villain drown?
     But for this stay, ere close of day
          We should have sacked the town!"
     "Heaven help him!" quoth Lars Porsena
          "And bring him safe to shore;
     For such a gallant feat of arms
          Was never seen before."


     And now he feels the bottom;
          Now on dry earth he stands;
     Now round him throng the Fathers;
          To press his gory hands;
     And now, with shouts and clapping,
          And noise of weeping loud,
     He enters through the River-Gate
          Borne by the joyous crowd.


     They gave him of the corn-land,
          That was of public right,
     As much as two strong oxen
          Could plough from morn till night;
     And they made a molten image,
          And set it up on high,
     And there is stands unto this day
          To witness if I lie.


     It stands in the Comitium
          Plain for all folk to see;
     Horatius in his harness,
          Halting upon one knee:
     And underneath is written,
          In letters all of gold,
     How valiantly he kept the bridge
          In the brave days of old.


     And still his name sounds stirring
          Unto the men of Rome,
     As the trumpet-blast that cries to them
          To charge the Volscian home;
     And wives still pray to Juno
          For boys with hearts as bold
     As his who kept the bridge so well
          In the brave days of old.


     And in the nights of winter,
          When the cold north winds blow,
     And the long howling of the wolves
          Is heard amidst the snow;
     When round the lonely cottage
          Roars loud the tempest's din,
     And the good logs of Algidus
          Roar louder yet within;


     When the oldest cask is opened,
          And the largest lamp is lit;
     When the chestnuts glow in the embers,
          And the kid turns on the spit;
     When young and old in circle
          Around the firebrands close;
     When the girls are weaving baskets,
          And the lads are shaping bows;


     When the goodman mends his armor,
          And trims his helmet's plume;
     When the goodwife's shuttle merrily
          Goes flashing through the loom;
     With weeping and with laughter
          Still is the story told,
     How well Horatius kept the bridge
          In the brave days of old.

                 The Battle of the Lake Regillus

The following poem is supposed to have been produced about ninety
years after the lay of Horatius. Some persons mentioned in the
lay of Horatius make their appearance again, and some
appellations and epithets used in the lay of Horatius have been
purposely repeated: for, in an age of ballad-poetry, it scarcely
ever fails to happen, that certain phrases come to be
appropriated to certain men and things, and are regularly applied
to those men and things by every minstrel. Thus we find, both in
the Homeric poems and in Hesiod, [several examples of common
phrases, in Greek]. Thus, too, in our own national songs, Douglas
is almost always the doughty Douglas; England is merry England;
all the gold is red; and all the ladies are gay.

The principal distinction between the lay of Horatius and the lay
of the Lake Regillus is that the former is meant to be purely
Roman, while the latter, though national in its general spirit,
has a slight tincture of Greek learning and of Greek
superstition. The story of the Tarquins, as it has come down to
us, appears to have been compiled from the works of several
popular poets; and one, at least, of those poets appears to have
visited the Greek colonies in Italy, if not Greece itself, and to
have had some acquaintance with the works of Homer and Herodotus.
Many of the most striking adventures of the House of Tarquin,
before Lucretia makes her appearance, have a Greek character. The
Tarquins themselves are represented as Corinthian nobles of the
great House of the Bacchiadæ, driven from their country by the
tyranny of that Cypselus, the tale of whose strange escape
Herodotus has related with incomparable simplicity and
liveliness. Livy and Dionysius tell us that, when Tarquin the
Proud was asked what was the best mode of governing a conquered
city, he replied only by beating down with his staff all the
tallest poppies in his garden. This is exactly what Herodotus, in
the passage to which reference has already been made, relates of
the counsel given to Periander, the son of Cypselus. The
stratagem by which the town of Gabii is brought under the power
of the Tarquins is, again, obviously copied from Herodotus. The
embassy of the young Tarquins to the oracle at Delphi is just
such a story as would be told by a poet whose head was full of
the Greek mythology; and the ambiguous answer returned by Apollo
is in the exact style of the prophecies which, according to
Herodotus, lured Croesus to destruction. Then the character of
the narrative changes. From the first mention of Lucretia to the
retreat of Porsena nothing seems to be borrowed from foreign
sources. The villainy of Sextus, the suicide of his victim, the
revolution, the death of the sons of Brutus, the defence of the
bridge, Musius burning his hand, Cloelia swimming through Tiber,
seem to be all strictly Roman. But when we have done with the
Tuscan wars, and enter upon the war with the Latines, we are
again struck by the Greek air of the story. The Battle of the
Lake Regillus is in all respects a Homeric battle, except that
the combatants ride astride on their horses, instead of driving
chariots. The mass of fighting men is hardly mentioned. The
leaders single each other out, and engage hand to hand. The great
object of the warriors on both sides is, as in the Iliad, to
obtain possession of the spoils and bodies of the slain; and
several circumstances are related which forcibly remind us of the
great slaughter round the corpses of Sarpedon and Patroclus.

But there is one circumstance which deserves especial notice.
Both the war of Troy and the war of Regillus were caused by the
licentious passions of young princes, who were therefore
peculiarly bound not to be sparing of their own persons on the
day of battle. Now the conduct of Sextus at Regillus, as
described by Livy, so exactly resembles that of Paris, as
described at the beginning of the third book of the Iliad, that
it is difficult to believe the resemblance accidental. Paris
appears before the Trojan ranks, defying the bravest Greek to
encounter him:--

       3 lines from the Iliad, in Greek, probably those
       translated by Pope as:

       ...to the van, before the sons of fame
       Whom Troy sent forth, the beauteous Paris came:

Livy introduces Sextus in a similar manner: "Ferocem juvenem
Tarquinium, ostentantem se in prima exsulum acie." Menelaus
rushes to meet Paris. A Roman noble, eager for vengeance, spurs
his horse towards Sextus. Both the guilty princes are instantly

       3 more lines in Greek, Pope's translation being:

       ...[Menelaus] approaching near,
       The beauteous champion views with marks of fear,
       Smit with a conscious sense, retires behind,
       And shuns the fate he well deserv'd to find.

"Tarquinius," says Livy, "retro in agmen suorum infenso cessit
hosti." If this be a fortuitous coincidence, it is also one of
the most extraordinary in literature.

In the following poem, therefore, images and incidents have been
borrowed, not merely without scruple, but on principle, from the
incomparable battle-pieces of Homer.

The popular belief at Rome, from an early period, seems to have
been that the event of the great day of Regillus was decided by
supernatural agency. Castor and Pollux, it was said, had fought
armed and mounted, at the head of the legions of the
commonwealth, and had afterwards carried the news of the victory
with incredible speed to the city. The well in the Forum at which
they had alighted was pointed out. Near the well rose their
ancient temple. A great festival was kept to their honor on the
Ides of Quintilis, supposed to be the anniversary of the battle;
and on that day sumptuous sacrifices were offered to them at the
public charge. One spot on the margin of Lake Regillus was
regarded during many ages with superstitious awe. A mark,
resembling in shape a horse's hoof, was discernible in the
volcanic rock; and this mark was believed to have been made by
one of the celestial chargers.

How the legend originated cannot now be ascertained; but we may
easily imagine several ways in which it might have originated;
nor is it at all necessary to suppose, with Julius Frontinus,
that two young men were dressed up by the Dictator to personate
the sons of Leda. It is probable that Livy is correct when he
says that the Roman general, in the hour of peril, vowed a temple
to Castor. If so, nothing could be more natural than that the
multitude should ascribe the victory to the favor of the Twin
Gods. When such was the prevailing sentiment, any man who chose
to declare that, in the midst of the confusion and slaughter, he
had seen two godlike forms on white horses scattering the
Latines, would find ready credence. We know, indeed, that in
modern times a very similar story actually found credence among a
people much more civilized than the Romans of the fifth century
before Christ. A chaplain of Cortes, writing about thirty years
after the conquest of Mexico, in an age of printing presses,
libraries, universities, scholars, logicians, jurists, and
statesmen, had the face to assert that, in one engagement against
the Indians, St. James had appeared on a gray horse at the head
of the Castilian adventurers. Many of those adventurers were
living when this lie was printed. One of them, honest Bernal
Diaz, wrote an account of the expedition. He had the evidence of
his own senses against the legend; but he seems to have
distrusted even the evidence of his own senses. He says that he
was in the battle, and that he saw a gray horse with a man on his
back, but that the man was, to his thinking, Francesco de Morla,
and not the ever-blessed apostle St. James. "Nevertheless,"
Bernal adds, "it may be that the person on the gray horse was
the glorious apostle St. James, and that I, sinner that I am, was
unworthy to see him." The Romans of the age of Cincinatus were
probably quite as credulous as the Spanish subjects of Charles
the Fifth. It is therefore conceivable that the appearance of
Castor and Pollux may be become an article of faith before the
generation which had fought at Regillus had passed away. Nor
could anything be more natural than that the poets of the next
age should embellish this story, and make the celestial horsemen
bear the tidings of victory to Rome.

Many years after the temple of the Twin Gods had been built in
the Forum, an important addition was made to the ceremonial by
which the state annually testified its gratitude for their
protection. Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius were elected
Censors at a momentous crisis. It had become absolutely necessary
that the classification of the citizens should be revised. On
that classification depended the distribution of political power.
Party spirit ran high; and the republic seemed to be in danger of
falling under the dominion either of a narrow oligarchy or of an
ignorant and headstrong rabble. Under such circumstances, the
most illustrious patrician and the most illustrious plebeian of
the age were entrusted with the office of arbitrating between the
angry factions; and they performed their arduous task to the
satisfaction of all honest and reasonable men.

One of their reforms was the remodelling of the equestrian order;
and, having effected this reform, they determined to give to
their work a sanction derived from religion. In the chivalrous
societies of modern times,--societies which have much more than
may at first sight appear in common with with the equestrian
order of Rome,--it has been usual to invoke the special
protection of some Saint, and to observe his day with peculiar
solemnity. Thus the Companions of the Garter wear the image of
St. George depending from their collars, and meet, on great
occasions, in St. George's Chapel. Thus, when Louis the
Fourteenth instituted a new order of chivalry for the rewarding
of military merit, he commended it to the favor of his own
glorified ancestor and patron, and decreed that all the members
of the fraternity should meet at the royal palace on the feast of
St. Louis, should attend the king to chapel, should hear mass,
and should subsequently hold their great annual assembly. There
is a considerable resemblance between this rule of the order of
St. Louis and the rule which Fabius and Decius made respecting
the Roman knights. It was ordained that a grand muster and
inspection of the equestrian body should be part of the
ceremonial performed, on the anniversary of the battle of
Regillus, in honor of Castor and Pollux, the two equestrian gods.
All the knights, clad in purple and crowned with olive, were to
meet at a temple of Mars in the suburbs. Thence they were to ride
in state to the Forum, where the temple of the Twins stood. This
pageant was, during several centuries, considered as one of the
most splendid sights of Rome. In the time of Dionysius the
cavalcade sometimes consisted of five thousand horsemen, all
persons of fair repute and easy fortune.

There can be no doubt that the Censors who instituted this august
ceremony acted in concert with the Pontiffs to whom, by the
constitution of Rome, the superintendence of the public worship
belonged; and it is probable that those high religious
functionaries were, as usual, fortunate enough to find in their
books or traditions some warrant for the innovation.

The following poem is supposed to have been made for this great
occasion. Songs, we know, were chanted at religious festivals of
Rome from an early period, indeed from so early a period that
some of the sacred verses were popularly ascribed to Numa, and
were utterly unintelligible in the age of Augustus. In the Second
Punic War a great feast was held in honor of Juno, and a song was
sung in her praise. This song was extant when Livy wrote; and,
though exceedingly rugged and uncouth, seemed to him not wholly
destitute of merit. A song, as we learn from Horace, was part of
the established ritual at the great Secular Jubilee. It is
therefore likely that the Censors and Pontiffs, when they had
resolved to add a grand procession of knights to the other
solemnities annually performed on the Ides of Quintilis, would
call in the aid of a poet. Such a poet would naturally take for
his subject the battle of Regillus, the appearance of the Twin
Gods, and the institution of their festival. He would find
abundant materials in the ballads of his predecessors; and he
would make free use of the scanty stock of Greek learning which
he had himself acquired. He would probably introduce some wise
and holy Pontiff enjoining the magnificent ceremonial which,
after a long interval, had at length been adopted. If the poem
succeeded, many persons would commit it to memory. Parts of it
would be sung to the pipe at banquets. It would be peculiarly
interesting to the great Posthumian House, which numbered among
its many images that of the Dictator Aulus, the hero of Regillus.
The orator who, in the following generation, pronounced the
funeral panegyric over the remains of Lucius Posthumius Megellus,
thrice Consul, would borrow largely from the lay; and thus some
passages, much disfigured, would probably find their way into the
chronicles which were afterwards in the hands of Dionysius and

Antiquaries differ widely as to the situation of the field of
battle. The opinion of those who suppose that the armies met near
Cornufelle, between Frascati and the Monte Porzio, is at least
plausible, and has been followed in the poem.

As to the details of the battle, it has not been thought
desirable to adhere minutely to the accounts which have come down
to us. Those accounts, indeed, differ widely from each other,
and, in all probability, differ as widely from the ancient poem
from which they were originally derived.

It is unnecessary to point out the obvious imitations of the
Iliad, which have been purposely introduced.

                      The Battle of the Lake Regillus

A Lay Sung at the Feast of Castor and Pollux on the Ides of
Quintilis in the year of the City CCCCLI.


     Ho, trumpets, sound a war-note!
          Ho, lictors, clear the way!
     The Knights will ride, in all their pride,
          Along the streets to-day.
     To-day the doors and windows
          Are hung with garlands all,
     From Castor in the Forum,
          To Mars without the wall.
     Each Knight is robed in purple,
          With olive each is crowned;
     A gallant war-horse under each
          Paws haughtily the ground.
     While flows the Yellow River,
          While stands the Sacred Hill,
     The proud Ides of Quintilis
          Shall have such honor still.
     Gay are the Martian Kalends,
          December's Nones are gay,
     But the proud Ides, when the squadron rides,
          Shall be Rome's whitest day.


     Unto the Great Twin Brethren
          We keep this solemn feast.
     Swift, swift, the Great Twin Brethren
          Came spurring from the east.
     They came o'er wild Parthenius
          Tossing in waves of pine,
     O'er Cirrha's dome, o'er Adria's foam,
          O'er purple Apennine,
     From where with flutes and dances
          Their ancient mansion rings,
     In lordly Lacedæmon,
          The City of two kings,
     To where, by Lake Regillus,
          Under the Porcian height,
     All in the lands of Tusculum,
          Was fought the glorious fight.


     Now on the place of slaughter
          Are cots and sheepfolds seen,
     And rows of vines, and fields of wheat,
          And apple-orchards green;
     The swine crush the big acorns
          That fall from Corne's oaks.
     Upon the turf by the Fair Fount
          The reaper's pottage smokes.
     The fisher baits his angle;
          The hunter twangs his bow;
     Little they think on those strong limbs
          That moulder deep below.
     Little they think how sternly
          That day the trumpets pealed;
     How in the slippery swamp of blood
          Warrior and war-horse reeled;
     How wolves came with fierce gallops,
          And crows on eager wings,
     To tear the flesh of captains,
          And peck the eyes of kings;
     How thick the dead lay scattered
          Under the Porcian height;
     How through the gates of Tusculum
          Raved the wild stream of flight;
     And how the Lake Regillus
          Bubbled with crimson foam,
     What time the Thirty Cities
          Came forth to war with Rome.


     But Roman, when thou standest
          Upon that holy ground,
     Look thou with heed on the dark rock
          That girds the dark lake round.
     So shalt thou see a hoof-mark
          Stamped deep into the flint:
     It was not hoof of mortal steed
          That made so strange a dint:
     There to the Great Twin Brethren
          Vow thou thy vows, and pray
     That they, in tempest and in flight,
          Will keep thy head alway.


     Since last the Great Twin Brethren
          Of mortal eyes were seen,
     Have years gone by an hundred
          And fourscore and thirteen.
     That summer a Virginius
          Was Consul first in place;
     The second was stout Aulus,
          Of the Posthumian race.
     The Herald of the Latines
          From Gabii came in state:
     The Herald of the Latines
          Passed through Rome's Eastern Gate:
     The Herald of the Latines
          Did in our Forum stand;
     And there he did his office,
          A sceptre in his hand.


     "Hear, Senators and people
          Of the good town of Rome,
     The Thirty Cities charge you
          To bring the Tarquins home:
     And if ye still be stubborn
          To work the Tarquins wrong,
     The Thirty Cities warn you,
          Look your walls be strong."


     Then spake the Consul Aulus,
          He spake a bitter jest:
     "Once the jays sent a message
          Unto the eagle's nest:--
     Now yield thou up thine eyrie
          Unto the carrion-kite,
     Or come forth valiantly, and face
          The jays in deadly fight.--
     Forth looked in wrath the eagle;
          And carrion-kite and jay,
     Soon as they saw his beak and claw,
          Fled screaming far away."


     The Herald of the Latines
          Hath hied him back in state:
     The Fathers of the City
          Are met in high debate.
     Then spake the elder Consul,
          And ancient man and wise:
     "Now harken, Conscript Fathers,
          To that which I advise.
     In seasons of great peril
          'Tis good that one bear sway;
     Then choose we a Dictator,
          Whom all men shall obey.
     Camerium knows how deeply
          The sword of Aulus bites,
     And all our city calls him
          The man of seventy fights.
     Then let him be Dictator
          For six months and no more,
     And have a Master of the Knights,
          And axes twenty-four."


     So Aulus was Dictator,
          The man of seventy fights;
     He made Æbutius Elva
          His Master of the Knights.
     On the third morn thereafter,
          At downing of the day,
     Did Aulus and Æbutius
          Set forth with their array.
     Sempronius Atratinus
          Was left in charge at home
     With boys, and with gray-headed men,
          To keep the walls of Rome.
     Hard by the Lake Regillus
          Our camp was pitched at night:
     Eastward a mile the Latines lay,
          Under the Porcian height.
     Far over hill and valley
          Their mighty host was spread;
     And with their thousand watch-fires
          The midnight sky was red.


     Up rose the golden morning
          Over the Porcian height,
     The proud Ides of Quintilis
          Marked evermore in white.
     Not without secret trouble
          Our bravest saw the foe;
     For girt by threescore thousand spears,
          The thirty standards rose.
     From every warlike city
          That boasts the Latian name,
     Fordoomed to dogs and vultures,
          That gallant army came;
     From Setia's purple vineyards,
          From Norba's ancient wall,
     From the white streets of Tusculum,
          The proudust town of all;
     From where the Witch's Fortress
          O'er hangs the dark-blue seas;
     From the still glassy lake that sleeps
          Beneath Aricia's trees--
     Those trees in whose dim shadow
          The ghastly priest doth reign,
     The priest who slew the slayer,
          And shall himself be slain;
     From the drear banks of Ufens,
          Where flights of marsh-fowl play,
     And buffaloes lie wallowing
          Through the hot summer's day;
     From the gigantic watch-towers,
          No work of earthly men,
     Whence Cora's sentinels o'erlook
          The never-ending fen;
     From the Laurentian jungle,
          The wild hog's reedy home;
     From the green steeps whence Anio leaps
          In floods of snow-white foam.


     Aricia, Cora, Norba,
          Velitræ, with the might
     Of Setia and of Tusculum,
          Were marshalled on the right:
     The leader was Mamilius,
          Prince of the Latian name;
     Upon his head a helmet
          Of red gold shone like flame:
     High on a gallant charger
          Of dark-gray hue he rode;
     Over his gilded armor
          A vest of purple flowed,
     Woven in the land of sunrise
          By Syria's dark-browed daughters,
     And by the sails of Carthage brought
          Far o'er the southern waters.


     Lavinium and Laurentum
          Had on the left their post,
     With all the banners of the marsh,
          And banners of the coast.
     Their leader was false Sextus,
          That wrought the deed of shame:
     With restless pace and haggard face
          To his last field he came.
     Men said he saw strange visions
          Which none beside might see;
     And that strange sounds were in his ears
          Which none might hear but he.
     A woman fair and stately,
          But pale as are the dead,
     Oft through the watches of the night
          Sat spinning by his bed.
     And as she plied the distaff,
          In a sweet voice and low,
     She sang of great old houses,
          And fights fought long ago.
     So spun she, and so sang she,
          Until the east was gray.
     Then pointed to her bleeding breast,
          And shrieked, and fled away.


     But in the centre thickest
          Were ranged the shields of foes,
     And from the centre loudest
          The cry of battle rose.
     There Tibur marched and Pedum
          Beneath proud Tarquin's rule,
     And Ferentinum of the rock,
          And Gabii of the pool.
     There rode the Volscian succors:
          There, in the dark stern ring,
     The Roman exiles gathered close
          Around the ancient king.
     Though white as Mount Soracte,
          When winter nights are long,
     His beard flowed down o'er mail and belt,
          His heart and hand were strong:
     Under his hoary eyebrows
          Still flashed forth quenchless rage:
     And, if the lance shook in his gripe,
          'Twas more with hate than age.
     Close at his side was Titus
          On an Apulian steed,
     Titus, the youngest Tarquin,
          Too good for such a breed.


     Now on each side the leaders
          Gave signal for the charge;
     And on each side the footmen
          Strode on with lance and targe;
     And on each side the horsemen
          Struck their spurs deep in gore,
     And front to front the armies
          Met with a mighty roar:
     And under that great battle
          The earth with blood was red;
     And, like the Pomptine fog at morn,
          The dust hung overhead;
     And louder still and louder
          Rose from the darkened field
     The braying of the war-horns,
          The clang of sword and shield,
     The rush of squadrons sweeping
          Like whirlwinds o'er the plain,
     The shouting of the slayers,
          And screeching of the slain.


     False Sextus rode out foremost,
          His look was high and bold;
     His corslet was of bison's hide,
          Plated with steel and gold.
     As glares the famished eagle
          From the Digentian rock
     On a choice lamb that bounds alone
          Before Bandusia's flock,
     Herminius glared on Sextus,
          And came with eagle speed,
     Herminius on black Auster,
          Brave champion on brave steed;
     In his right hand the broadsword
          That kept the bridge so well,
     And on his helm the crown he won
          When proud Fidenæ fell.
     Woe to the maid whose lover
          Shall cross his path to-day!
     False Sextus saw, and trembled,
          And turned, and fled away.
     As turns, as flies, the woodman
          In the Calabrian brake,
     When through the reeds gleams the round eye
          Of that fell speckled snake;
     So turned, so fled, false Sextus,
          And hid him in the rear,
     Behind the dark Lavinian ranks,
          Bristling with crest and spear.


     But far to the north Æbutius,
          The Master of the Knights,
     Gave Tubero of Norba
          To feed the Porcian kites.
     Next under those red horse-hoofs
          Flaccus of Setia lay;
     Better had he been pruning
          Among his elms that day.
     Mamilus saw the slaughter,
          And tossed his golden crest,
     And towards the Master of the Knights
          Through the thick battle pressed.
     Æbutius smote Mamilius
          So fiercely on the shield
     That the great lord of Tusculum
          Well-nigh rolled on the field.
     Mamilius smote Æbutius,
          With a good aim and true,
     Just where the next and shoulder join,
          And pierced him through and through;
     And brave Æbutius Elva
          Fell swooning to the ground:
     But a thick wall of bucklers
          Encompassed him around.
     His clients from the battle
          Bare him some little space,
     And filled a helm from the dark lake,
          And bathed his brow and face;
     And when at last he opened
          His swimming eyes to light,
     Men say, the earliest words he spake
          Was, "Friends, how goes the fight?".


     But meanwhile in the centre
          Great deeds of arms were wrought;
     There Aulus the Dictator
          And there Valerius fought.
     Aulus with his good broadsword
          A bloody passage cleared
     To where, amidst the thickest foes,
          He saw the long white beard.
     Flat lighted that good broadsword
          Upon proud Tarquin's head.
     He dropped the lance: he dropped the reins:
          He fell as fall the dead.
     Down Aulus springs to slay him,
          With eyes like coals of fire;
     But faster Titus hath sprung down,
          And hath bestrode his sire.
     Latian captains, Roman knights,
          Fast down to earth they spring,
     And hand to hand they fight on foot
          Around the ancient king.
     First Titus gave tall Cæso
          A death wound in the face;
     Tall Cæso was the bravest man
          Of the brave Fabian race:
     Aulus slew Rex of Gabii,
          The priest of Juno's shrine;
     Valerius smote down Julius,
          Of Rome's great Julian line;
     Julius, who left his mansion,
          High on the Velian hill,
     And through all turns of weal and woe
          Followed proud Tarquin still.
     Now right across proud Tarquin
          A corpse was Julius laid;
     And Titus groaned with rage and grief,
          And at Valerius made.
     Valerius struck at Titus,
          And lopped off half his crest;
     But Titus stabbed Valerius
          A span deep in the breast.
     Like a mast snapped by the tempest,
          Valerius reeled and fell.
     Ah! woe is me for the good house
          That loves the people well!
     Then shouted loud the Latines;
          And with one rush they bore
     The struggling Romans backward
          Three lances' length and more:
     And up they took proud Tarquin,
          And laid him on a shield,
     And four strong yeomen bare him,
          Still senseless, from the field.


     But fiercer grew the fighting
          Around Valerius dead;
     For Titus dragged him by the foot
          And Aulus by the head.
     "On, Latines, on!" quoth Titus,
          "See how the rebels fly!"
     "Romans, stand firm!" quoth Aulus,
          "And win this fight or die!
     They must not give Valerius
          To raven and to kite;
     For aye Valerius loathed the wrong,
          And aye upheld the right:
     And for your wives and babies
          In the front rank he fell.
     Now play the men for the good house
          That loves the people well!"


     Then tenfold round the body
          The roar of battle rose,
     Like the roar of a burning forest,
          When a strong north wind blows,
     Now backward, and now forward,
          Rocked furiously the fray,
     Till none could see Valerius,
          And none wist where he lay.
     For shivered arms and ensigns
          Were heaped there in a mound,
     And corpses stiff, and dying men
          That writhed and gnawed the ground;
     And wounded horses kicking,
          And snorting purple foam:
     Right well did such a couch befit
          A Consular of Rome.


     But north looked the Dictator;
          North looked he long and hard,
     And spake to Caius Cossus,
          The Captain of his Guard;
     "Caius, of all the Romans
          Thou hast the keenest sight,
     Say, what through yonder storm of dust
          Comes from the Latian right;"


     Then answered Caius Cossus:
          "I see an evil sight;
     The banner of proud Tusculum
          Comes from the Latian right;
     I see the pluméd horsemen;
          And far before the rest
     I see the dark-gray charger,
          I see the purple vest;
     I see the golden helmet
          That shines far off like flame;
     So ever rides Mamilius,
          Prince of the Latian name."


     "Now hearken, Caius Cossus:
          Spring on thy horse's back;
     Ride as the wolves of Apennine
          Were all upon thy track;
     Haste to our southward battle:
          And never draw thy rein
     Until thou find Herminius,
          And bid hime come amain."


     So Aulus spake, and turned him
          Again to that fierce strife;
     And Caius Cossus mounted,
          And rode for death and life.
     Loud clanged beneath his horse-hoofs
          The helmets of the dead,
     And many a curdling pool of blood
          Splashed him heel to head.
     So came he far to southward,
          Where fought the Roman host,
     Against the banners of the marsh
          And banners of the coast.
     Like corn before the sickle
          The stout Laninians fell,
     Beneath the edge of the true sword
          That kept the bridge so well.


     "Herminius! Aulus greets thee;
          He bids thee come with speed,
     To help our central battle,
          For sore is there our need;
     There wars the youngest Tarquin,
          And there the Crest of Flame,
     The Tusculan Mamilius,
          Prince of the Latian name.
     Valerius hath fallen fighting
          In front of our array;
     And Aulus of the seventy fields
          Alone upholds the day."


     Herminius beat his bosom:
          But never a word he spake.
     He clapped his hand on Auster's mane,
          He gave the reins a shake.
     Away, away, went Auster,
          Like an arrow from the bow:
     Black Auster was the fleetest steed
          From Aufidus to Po.


     Right glad were all the Romans
          Who, in that hour of dread,
     Against great odds bare up the war
          Around Valerius dead,
     When from the south the cheering
          Rose with a mighty swell;
     "Herminius comes, Herminius,
          Who kept the bridge so well!"


     Mamilius spied Herminius,
          And dashed across the way.
     "Herminius! I have sought thee
          Through many a bloody day.
     One of us two, Herminius,
          Shall never more go home.
     I will lay on for Tusculum,
          And lay thou on for Rome!"


     All round them paused the battle,
          While met in mortal fray
     The Roman and the Tusculan,
          The horses black and gray.
     Herminius smote Mamilius
          Through breast-plate and through breast,
     And fast flowed out the purple blood
          Over the purple vest.
     Mamilius smote Herminius
          Through head-piece and through head,
     And side by side those chiefs of pride,
          Together fell down dead.
     Down fell they dead together
          In a great lake of gore;
     And still stood all who saw them fall
          While men might count a score.


     Fast, fast, with heels wild spurning,
          The dark-gray charger fled:
     He burst through ranks of fighting men,
          He sprang o'er heaps of dead.
     His bridle far out-streaming,
          His flanks all blood and foam,
     He sought the southern mountains,
          The mountains of his home.
     The pass was steep and rugged,
          The wolves they howled and whined;
     But he ran like a whirlwind up the pass,
          And he left the wolves behind.
     Through many a startled hamlet
          Thundered his flying feet;
     He rushed through the gate of Tusculum,
          He rushed up the long white street;
     He rushed by tower and temple,
          And paused not from his race
     Till he stood before his master's door
          In the stately market-place.
     And straightway round him gathered
          A pale and trembling crowd,
     And when they knew him, cries of rage
          Brake forth, and wailing loud:
     And women rent their tresses
          For their great prince's fall;
     And old men girt on their old swords,
          And went to man the wall.


     But, like a graven image,
          Black Auster kept his place,
     And ever wistfully he looked
          Into his master's face.
     The raven-mane that daily,
          With pats and fond caresses,
     The young Herminia washed and combed,
          And twined in even tresses,
     And decked with colored ribbons
          From her own gay attire,
     Hung sadly o'er her father's corpse
          In carnage and in mire.
     Forth with a shout sprang Titus,
          And seized black Auster's rein.
     Then Aulus sware a fearful oath,
          And ran at him amain.
     "The furies of thy brother
          With me and mine abide,
     If one of your accursed house
          Upon black Auster ride!"
     As on a Alpine watch-tower
          From heaven comes down the flame,
     Full on the neck of Titus
          The blade of Aulus came:
     And out the red blood spouted,
          In a wide arch and tall,
     As spouts a fountain in the court
          Of some rich Capuan's hall.
     The knees of all the Latines
          Were loosened with dismay,
     When dead, on dead Herminius,
          The bravest Tarquin lay.


     And Aulus the Dictator
          Stroked Auster's raven mane,
     With heed he looked unto the girths,
          With heed unto the rein.
     "Now bear me well, black Auster,
          Into yon thick array;
     And thou and I will have revenge
          For thy good lord this day."


     So spake he; and was buckling
          Tighter black Auster's band,
     When he was aware of a princely pair
          That rode at his right hand.
     So like they were, no mortal
          Might one from other know:
     White as snow their armor was:
          Their steeds were white as snow.
     Never on earthly anvil
          Did such rare armor gleam;
     And never did such gallant steeds
          Drink of an earthly stream.


     And all who saw them trembled,
          And pale grew every cheek;
     And Aulus the Dictator
          Scarce gathered voice to speak.
     "Say by what name men call you?
          What city is your home?
     And wherefore ride ye in such guise
          Before the ranks of Rome?"


     "By many names men call us;
          In many lands we dwell:
     Well Samothracia knows us;
          Cyrene knows us well.
     Our house in gay Tarentum
          Is hung each morn with flowers:
     High o'er the masts of Syracuse
          Our marble portal towers;
     But by the proud Eurotas
          Is our dear native home;
     And for the right we come to fight
          Before the ranks of Rome."


     So answered those strange horsemen,
          And each couched low his spear;
     And forthwith all the ranks of Rome
          Were bold, and of good cheer:
     And on the thirty armies
          Came wonder and affright,
     And Ardea wavered on the left,
          And Cora on the right.
     "Rome to the charge!" cried Aulus;
          "The foe begins to yield!
     Charge for the hearth of Vesta!
          Charge for the Golden Shield!
     Let no man stop to plunder,
          But slay, and slay, and slay;
     The gods who live forever
          Are on our side to-day."


     Then the fierce trumpet-flourish
          From earth to heaven arose,
     The kites know well the long stern swell
          That bids the Romans close.
     Then the good sword of Aulus
          Was lifted up to slay;
     Then, like a crag down Apennine,
          Rushed Auster through the fray.
     But under those strange horsemen
          Still thicker lay the slain;
     And after those strange horses
          Black Auster toiled in vain.
     Behind them Rome's long battle
          Came rolling on the foe,
     Ensigns dancing wild above,
          Blades all in line below.
     So comes the Po in flood-time
          Upon the Celtic plain;
     So comes the squall, blacker than night,
          Upon the Adrian main.
     Now, by our Sire Quirinus,
          It was a goodly sight
     To see the thirty standards
          Swept down the tide of flight.
     So flies the spray of Adria
          When the black squall doth blow
     So corn-sheaves in the flood-time
          Spin down the whirling Po.
     False Sextus to the mountains
          Turned first his horse's head;
     And fast fled Ferentinum,
          And fast Lanuvium fled.
     The horsemen of Nomentus
          Spurred hard out of the fray;
     The footmen of Velitræ
          Threw shield and spear away.
     And underfoot was trampled,
          Amidst the mud and gore,
     The banner of proud Tusculum,
          That never stooped before:
     And down went Flavius Faustus,
          Who led his stately ranks
     From where the apple blossoms wave
          On Anio's echoing banks,
     And Tullus of Arpinum,
          Chief of the Volscian aids,
     And Metius with the long fair curls,
          The love of Anxur's maids,
     And the white head of Vulso,
          The great Arician seer,
     And Nepos of Laurentum
          The hunter of the deer;
     And in the back false Sextus
          Felt the good Roman steel,
     And wriggling in the dust he died,
          Like a worm beneath the wheel:
     And fliers and pursuers
          Were mingled in a mass;
     And far away the battle
          Went roaring through the pass.


     Semponius Atratinus
          Sat in the Eastern Gate,
     Beside him were three Fathers,
          Each in his chair of state;
     Fabius, whose nine stout grandsons
          That day were in the field,
     And Manlius, eldest of the Twelve
          Who keep the Golden Shield;
     And Sergius, the High Pontiff,
          For wisdom far renowned;
     In all Etruria's colleges
          Was no such Pontiff found.
     And all around the portal,
          And high above the wall,
     Stood a great throng of people,
          But sad and silent all;
     Young lads and stooping elders
          That might not bear the mail,
     Matrons with lips that quivered,
          And maids with faces pale.
     Since the first gleam of daylight,
          Sempronius had not ceased
     To listen for the rushing
          Of horse-hoofs from the east.
     The mist of eve was rising,
          The sun was hastening down,
     When he was aware of a princely pair
          Fast pricking towards the town.
     So like they were, man never
          Saw twins so like before;
     Red with gore their armor was,
          Their steeds were red with gore.


     "Hail to the great Asylum!
          Hail to the hill-tops seven!
     Hail to the fire that burns for aye,
          And the shield that fell from heaven!
     This day, by Lake Regillus,
          Under the Porcian height,
     All in the lands of Tusculum
          Was fought a glorious fight.
     Tomorrow your Dictator
          Shall bring in triumph home
     The spoils of thirty cities
          To deck the shrines of Rome!"


     Then burst from that great concourse
          A shout that shook the towers,
     And some ran north, and some ran south,
          Crying, "The day is ours!"
     But on rode these strange horsemen,
          With slow and lordly pace;
     And none who saw their bearing
          Durst ask their name or race.
     On rode they to the Forum,
          While laurel-boughs and flowers,
     From house-tops and from windows,
          Fell on their crests in showers.
     When they drew nigh to Vesta,
          They vaulted down amain,
     And washed their horses in the well
          That springs by Vesta's fane.
     And straight again they mounted,
          And rode to Vesta's door;
     Then, like a blast, away they passed,
          And no man saw them more.


     And all the people trembled,
          And pale grew every cheek;
     And Sergius the High Pontiff
          Alone found voice to speak:
     "The gods who live forever
          Have fought for Rome to-day!
     These be the Great Twin Brethren
          To whom the Dorians pray.
     Back comes the chief in triumph,
          Who, in the hour of fight,
     Hath seen the Great Twin Brethren
          In harness on his right.
     Safe comes the ship to haven,
          Through billows and through gales,
     If once the Great Twin Brethren
          Sit shining on the sails.
     Wherefore they washed their horses
          In Vesta's holy well,
     Wherefore they rode to Vesta's door,
          I know, but may not tell.
     Here, hard by Vesta's temple,
          Build we a stately dome
     Unto the Great Twin Brethren
          Who fought so well for Rome.
     And when the months returning
          Bring back this day of fight,
     The proud Ides of Quintilis,
          Marked evermore with white,
     Unto the Great Twin Brethren
          Let all the people throng,
     With chaplets and with offerings,
          With music and with song;
     And let the doors and windows
          Be hung with garlands all,
     And let the knights be summoned
          To Mars without the wall:
     Thence let them ride in purple
          With joyous trumpet-sound,
     Each mounted on his war-horse,
          And each with olive crowned;
     And pass in solemn order
          Before the sacred dome,
     Where dwell the Great Twin Brethren
          Who fought so well for Rome."


A collection consisting exclusively of war-songs would give an
imperfect, or rather an erroneous, notion of the spirit of the
old Latin ballads. The Patricians, during more than a century
after the expulsion of the Kings, held all the high military
commands. A Plebeian, even though, like Lucius Siccius, he were
distinguished by his valor and knowledge of war, could serve only
in subordinate posts. A minstrel, therefore, who wished to
celebrate the early triumphs of his country, could hardly take
any but Patricians for his heroes. The warriors who are mentioned
in the two preceding lays, Horatius, Lartius, Herminius, Aulus
Posthumius, Æbutius Elva, Sempronius Atratinus, Valerius
Poplicola, were all members of the dominant order; and a poet who
was singing their praises, whatever his own political opinions
might be, would naturally abstain from insulting the class to
which they belonged, and from reflecting on the system which had
placed such men at the head of the legions of the Commonwealth.

But there was a class of compositions in which the great families
were by no means so courteously treated. No parts of early Roman
history are richer with poetical coloring than those which relate
to the long contest between the privileged houses and the
commonality. The population of Rome was, from a very early
period, divided into hereditary castes, which, indeed, readily
united to repel foreign enemies, but which regarded each other,
during many years, with bitter animosity. Between those castes
there was a barrier hardly less strong than that which, at
Venice, parted the members of the Great Council from their
countrymen. In some respects, indeed, the line which separated an
Icilius or a Duilius from a Posthumius or a Fabius was even more
deeply marked than that which separated the rower of gondola from
a Contarini or a Morosini. At Venice the distinction was merely
civil. At Rome it was both civil and religious. Among the
grievances under which the Plebeians suffered, three were felt as
peculiarly severe. They were excluded from the highest
magistracies; they were excluded from all share in the public
lands; and they were ground down to the dust by partial and
barbarous legislation touching pecuniary contracts. The ruling
class in Rome was a moneyed class; and it made and administered
the laws with a view solely to its own interest. Thus the
relation between lender and borrower was mixed up with the
relation between sovereign and subject. The great men held a
large portion of the community in dependence by means of advances
at enormous usury. The law of debt, framed by creditors, and for
the protection of creditors, was the host horrible that has ever
been known among men. The liberty and even the life of the
insolvent were at the mercy of the Patrician money-lenders.
Children often became slaves in consequence of the misfortunes of
their parents. The debtor was imprisoned, not in a public jail
under the care of impartial public functionaries, but in a
private workhouse belonging to the creditor. Frightful stories
were told respecting these dungeons. It was said that torture and
brutal violation were common; that tight stocks, heavy chains,
scanty measures of food, were used to punish wretches guilty of
nothing but poverty; and that brave soldiers, whose breasts were
covered with honorable scars, were often marked still more deeply
on the back by the scourges of high-born usurers.

The Plebeians were, however, not wholly without constitutional
rights. From an early period they had been admitted to some share
of political power. They were enrolled each in his century, and
were allowed a share, considerable though not proportioned to
their numerical strength, in the disposal of those high dignities
from which they were themselves excluded. Thus their position
bore some resemblance to that of the Irish Catholics during the
interval between the year 1792 and the year 1829. The Plebeians
had also the privilege of annually appointing officers, named
Tribunes, who had no active share in the government of the
commonwealth, but who, by degree, acquired a power formidable
even to the ablest and most resolute Consuls and Dictators. The
person of the Tribune was inviolable; and, though he could
directly effect little, he could obstruct everything.

During more than a century after the institution of the
Tribuneship, the Commons struggled manfully for the removal of
the grievances under which they labored; and, in spite of many
checks and reverses, succeeded in wringing concession after
concession from the stubborn aristocracy. At length in the year
of the city 378, both parties mustered their whole strength for
their last and most desperate conflict. The popular and active
Tribune, Caius Licinius, proposed the three memorable laws which
are called by his name, and which were intended to redress the
three great evils of which the Plebeians complained. He was
supported, with eminent ability and firmness, by his colleague,
Lucius Sextius. The struggle appears to have been the fiercest
that every in any community terminated without an appeal to arms.
If such a contest had raged in any Greek city, the streets would
have run with blood. But, even in the paroxysms of faction, the
Roman retained his gravity, his respect for law, and his
tenderness for the lives of his fellow citizens. Year after year
Licinius and Sextius were reëlected Tribunes. Year after year, if
the narrative which has come down to us is to be trusted, they
continued to exert, to the full extent, their power of stopping
the whole machine of government. No curule magistrates could be
chosen; no military muster could be held. We know too little of
the state of Rome in those days to be able to conjecture how,
during that long anarchy, the peace was kept, and ordinary
justice administered between man and man. The animosity of both
parties rose to the greatest height. The excitement, we may well
suppose, would have been peculiarly intense at the annual
election of Tribunes. On such occasions there can be little doubt
that the great families did all that could be done, by threats
and caresses, to break the union of the Plebeians. That union,
however, proved indissoluble. At length the good cause triumphed.
The Licinian laws were carried. Lucius Sextius was the first
Plebeian Consul, Caius Licinius the third.

The results of this great change were singularly happy and
glorious. Two centuries of prosperity, harmony, and victory
followed the reconciliation of the orders. Men who remembered
Rome engaged in waging petty wars almost within sight of the
Capitol lived to see her the mistress of Italy. While the
disabilities of the Plebeians continued, she was scarcely able to
maintain her ground against the Volscians and Hernicans. When
those disabilities were removed, she rapidly became more than a
match for Carthage and Macedon.

During the great Licinian contest the Plebeian poets were,
doubtless, not silent. Even in modern times songs have been by no
means without influence on public affairs; and we may therefore
infer that, in a society where printing was unknown and where
books were rare, a pathetic or humorous party-ballad must have
produced effects such as we can but faintly conceive. It is
certain that satirical poems were common at Rome from a very
early period. The rustics, who lived at a distance from the seat
of government, and took little part in the strife of factions,
gave vent to their petty local animosities in coarse Fescennine
verse. The lampoons of the city were doubtless of a higher order;
and their sting was early felt by the nobility. For in the Twelve
Tables, long before the time of the Licinian laws, a severe
punishment was denounced against the citizen who should compose
or recite verses reflecting on another. Satire is, indeed, the
only sort of composition in which the Latin poets, whose works
have come down to us, were not mere imitators of foreign models;
and it is therefore the only sort of composition in which they
have never been rivalled. It was not, like their tragedy, their
comedy, their epic and lyric poetry, a hothouse plant which, in
return for assiduous and skilful culture, gave only scanty and
sickly fruits. It was hardy and full of sap; and in all the
various juices which it yielded might be distinguished the flavor
of the Ausonian soil. "Satire," said Quinctilian, with just
pride, "is all our own." Satire sprang, in truth, naturally
from the constitution of the Roman government and from the spirit
of the Roman people; and, though at length subjected to metrical
rules derived from Greece, retained to the last an essentially
Roman character. Lucilius was the earliest satirist whose works
were held in esteem under the Caesars. But many years before
Lucilius was born, Nævius had been flung into a dungeon, and
guarded there with circumstances of unusual rigor, on account of
the bitter lines in which he had attacked the great Caecilian
family. The genius and spirit of the Roman satirists survived the
liberty of their country, and were not extinguished by the cruel
despotism of the Julian and Flavian Emperors. The great poet who
told the story of Domitian's turbot was the legitimate successor
of those forgotten minstrels whose songs animated the factions of
the infant Republic.

Those minstrels, as Niebuhr has remarked, appear to have
generally taken the popular side. We can hardly be mistaken in
supposing that, at the great crisis of the civil conflict, they
employed themselves in versifying all the most powerful and
virulent speeches of the Tribunes, and in heaping abuse on the
leaders of the aristocracy. Every personal defect, every domestic
scandal, every tradition dishonorable to a noble house, would be
sought out, brought into notice, and exaggerated. The illustrious
head of the aristocratical party, Marcus Furius Camillus, might
perhaps be, in some measure, protected by his venerable age and
by the memory of his great services to the state. But Appius
Claudius Crassus enjoyed no such immunity. He was descended from
a long line of ancestors distinguished by their haughty demeanor,
and by the inflexibility with which they had withstood all the
demands of the Plebeian order. While the political conduct and
the deportment of the Claudian nobles drew upon them the fiercest
public hatred, they were accused of wanting, if any credit is due
to the early history of Rome, a class of qualities which, in a
military commonwealth, is sufficient to cover a multitude of
offences. The chiefs of the family appear to have been eloquent,
versed in civil business, and learned after the fashion of their
age; but in war they were not distinguished by skill or valor.
Some of them, as if conscious where their weakness lay, had, when
filling the highest magistracies, taken internal administration
as their department of public business, and left the military
command to their colleagues. One of them had been entrusted with
an army, and had failed ignominiously. None of them had been
honored with a triumph. None of them had achieved any martial
exploit, such as those by which Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus,
Titus Quinctius Capitolinus, Aulus Cornelius Cossus, and, above
all, the great Camillus, had extorted the reluctant esteem of the
multitude. During the Licinian conflict, Appius Claudius Crassus
signalized himself by the ability and severity with which he
harangued against the two great agitators. He would naturally,
therefore, be the favorite mark of the Plebeian satirists; nor
would they have been at a loss to find a point on which he was
open to attack.

His grandfather, called, like himself, Appius Claudius, had left
a name as much detested as that Sextus Tarquinius. This elder
Appius had been Consul more than seventy years before the
introduction of the Licinian laws. By availing himself of a
singular crisis in public feeling, he had obtained the consent of
the Commons to the abolition of the Tribuneship, and had been the
chief of that Council of Ten to which the whole direction of the
state had been committed. In a new months his administration had
become universally odious. It had been swept away by an
irresistible outbreak of popular fury; and its memory was still
held in abhorrence by the whole city. The immediate cause of the
downfall of this execrable government was said to have been an
attempt made by Appius Claudius upon the chastity of a beautiful
young girl of humble birth. The story ran that the Decemvir,
unable to succeed by bribes and solicitations, resorted to an
outrageous act of tyranny. A vile dependent of the Claudian house
laid claim to the damsel as his slave. The cause was brought
before the tribunal of Appius. The wicked magistrate, in defiance
of the clearest proofs, gave judgment for the claimant. But the
girl's father, a brave soldier, saved her from servitude and
dishonor by stabbing her to the heart in the sight of the whole
Forum. That blow was the signal for a general explosion. Camp and
city rose at once; the Ten were pulled down; the Tribuneship was
reëstablished; and Appius escaped the hands of the executioner
only by a voluntary death.

It can hardly be doubted that a story so admirably adapted to the
purposes both of the poet and of the demagogue would be eagerly
seized upon by minstrels burning with hatred against the
Patrician order, against the Claudian house, and especially
against the grandson and namesake of the infamous Decemvir.

In order that the reader may judge fairly of these fragments of
the lay of Virginia, he must imagine himself a Plebeian who has
just voted for the reëlection of Sextius and Licinius. All the
power of the Patricians has been exerted to throw out the two
great champions of the Commons. Every Posthumius, Æmilius, and
Cornelius has used his influence to the utmost. Debtors have been
let out of the workhouses on condition of voting against the men
of the people; clients have been posted to hiss and interrupt the
favorite candidates; Appius Claudius Crassus has spoken with more
than his usual eloquence and asperity: all has been in vain,
Licinius and Sextius have a fifth time carried all the tribes:
work is suspended; the booths are closed; the Plebeians bear on
their shoulders the two champions of liberty through the Forum.
Just at this moment it is announced that a great poet, a zealous
adherent of the Tribunes, has made a new song which will cut the
Claudian nobles to the heart. The crowd gathers round him, and
calls on him to recite it. He takes his stand on the spot where,
according to tradition, Virginia, more than seventy years ago,
was seized by the pandar of Appius, and he begins his story.


Fragments of a Lay Sung in the Forum on the Day Whereon Lucius
Sextius Sextinus Lateranus and Caius Licinius Calvus Stolo Were
Elected Tribunes of the Commons the Fifth Time, in the Year of

        Ye good men of the Commons, with loving hearts and true,
   Who stand by the bold Tribunes that still have stood by you,
   Come, make a circle round me, and mark my tale with care,
   A tale of what Rome once hath borne, of what Rome yet may bear.
   This is no Grecian fable, of fountains running wine,
   Of maids with snaky tresses, or sailors turned to swine.
   Here, in this very Forum, under the noonday sun,
   In sight of all the people, the bloody deed was done.
   Old men still creep among us who saw that fearful day,
   Just seventy years and seven ago, when the wicked Ten bare sway.

        Of all the wicked Ten still the names are held accursed,
   And of all the wicked Ten Appius Claudius was the worst.
   He stalked along the Forum like King Tarquin in his pride:
   Twelve axes waited on him, six marching on a side;
   The townsmen shrank to right and left, and eyed askance with fear
   His lowering brow, his curling mouth which always seemed to
   That brow of hate, that mouth of scorn, marks all the kindred
   For never was there Claudius yet but wished the Commons ill;
   Nor lacks he fit attendance; for close behind his heels,
   With outstretched chin and crouching pace, the client Marcus
   His loins girt up to run with speed, be the errand what it may,
   And the smile flickering on his cheek, for aught his lord may
   Such varlets pimp and jest for hire among the lying Greeks:
   Such varlets still are paid to hoot when brave Licinius speaks.
   Where'er ye shed the honey, the buzzing flies will crowd;
   Where'er ye fling the carrion, the raven's croak is loud;
   Where'er down Tiber garbage floats, the greedy pike ye see;
   And wheresoe'er such lord is found, such client still will be.

      Just then, as through one cloudless chink in a black stormy
   Shines out the dewy morning-star, a fair young girl came by.
   With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,
   Home she went bounding from the school, nor dreamed of shame or
   And past those dreaded axes she innocently ran,
   With bright frank brow that had not learned to blush at gaze of
   And up the Sacred Street she turned, and, as she danced along,
   She warbled gayly to herself lines of the good old song,
   How for a sport the princes came spurring from the camp,
   And found Lucrece, combing the fleece, under the midnight lamp.
   The maiden sang as sings the lark, when up he darts his flight,
   From his nest in the green April corn, to meet the morning light;
   And Appius heard her sweet young voice, and saw her sweet young
   And loved her with the accursed love of his accursed race,
   And all along the Forum, and up the Sacred Street,
   His vulture eye pursued the trip of those small glancing feet.

    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

      Over the Alban mountains the light of morning broke;
   From all the roofs of the Seven Hills curled the thin wreaths of
   The city-gates were opened; the Forum all alive
   With buyers and with sellers was humming like a hive:
   Blithely on brass and timber the craftsman's stroke was ringing,
   And blithely o'er her panniers the market-girl was singing,
   And blithely young Virginia came smiling from her home:
   Ah! woe for young Virginia, the sweetest maid in Rome!
   With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,
   Forth she went bounding to the school, nor dreamed of shame or
   She crossed the Forum shining with stalls in alleys gay,
   And just had reached the very spot whereon I stand this day,
   When up the varlet Marcus came; not such as when erewhile
   He crouched behind his patron's heels with the true client smile:
   He came with lowering forehead, swollen features, and clenched
   And strode across Virginia's path, and caught her by the wrist.
   Hard strove the frightened maiden, and screamed with look aghast;
   And at her scream from right and left the folk came running fast;
   The money-changer Crispus, with his thin silver hairs,
   And Hanno from the stately booth glittering with Punic wares,
   And the strong smith Muræna, grasping a half-forged brand,
   And Volero the flesher, his cleaver in his hand.
   All came in wrath and wonder, for all knew that fair child;
   And, as she passed them twice a day, all kissed their hands and
   And the strong smith Muræna gave Marcus such a blow,
   The caitiff reeled three paces back, and let the maiden go.
   Yet glared he fiercely round him, and growled in harsh, fell
   "She's mine, and I will have her, I seek but for mine own:
   She is my slave, born in my house, and stolen away and sold,
   The year of the sore sickness, ere she was twelve hours old.
   'Twas in the sad September, the month of wail and fright,
   Two augers were borne forth that morn; the Consul died ere night.
   I wait on Appius Claudius, I waited on his sire:
   Let him who works the client wrong beware the patron's ire."

      So spake the varlet Marcus; and dread and silence came
   On all the people at the sound of the great Claudian name.
   For then there was no Tribune to speak the word of might,
   Which makes the rich man tremble, and guards the poor man's
   There was no brave Licinius, no honest Sixtius then;
   But all the city, in great fear, obeyed the wicked Ten.
   Yet ere the varlet Marcus again might seize the maid,
   Who clung tight to Muræna's skirt, and sobbed, and shrieked for
   Forth through the throng of gazers the young Icilius pressed,
   And stamped his foot, and rent his gown, and smote upon his
   And sprang upon that column, by many a minstrel sung,
   Whereon three mouldering helmets, three rusting swords, are hung,
   And beckoned to the people, and in bold voice and clear
   Poured thick and fast the burning words which tyrants quake to

      "Now, by your children's cradles, now by your fathers'
   Be men to-day, Quirites, or be forever slaves!
   For this did Servius give us laws? For this did Lucrece bleed?
   For this was the great vengeance wrought on Tarquin's evil seed?
   For this did those false sons make red the axes of their sire?
   For this did Scævola's right hand hiss in the Tuscan fire?
   Shall the vile fox-earth awe the race that stormed the lion's
   Shall we, who could not brook one lord, crouch to the wicked Ten?
   Oh, for that ancient spirit which curbed the Senate's will!
   Oh, for the tents which in old time whitened the Sacred Hill!
   In those brave days our fathers stood firmly side by side;
   They faced the Marcian fury; they tamed the Fabian pride:
   They drove the fiercest Quinctius an outcast forth from Rome;
   They sent the haughtiest Claudius with shivered fasces home.
   But what their care bequeathed us our madness flung away:
   All the ripe fruit of threescore years was blighted in a day.
   Exult, ye proud Patricians! The hard-fought fight is o'er.
   We strove for honors--'twas in vain; for freedom--'tis no more.
   No crier to the polling summons the eager throng;
   No Tribune breathes the word of might that guards the weak from
   Our very hearts, that were so high, sink down beneath your will.
   Riches, and lands, and power, and state--ye have them:--keep them
   Still keep the holy fillets; still keep the purple gown,
   The axes, and the curule chair, the car, and laurel crown:
   Still press us for your cohorts, and, when the fight is done,
   Still fill your garners from the soil which our good swords have
   Still, like a spreading ulcer, which leech-craft may not cure,
   Let your foul usance eat away the substance of the poor.
   Still let your haggard debtors bear all their fathers bore;
   Still let your dens of torment be noisome as of yore;
   No fire when Tiber freezes; no air in dog-star heat;
   And store of rods for free-born backs, and holes for free-born
   Heap heavier still the fetters; bar closer still the grate;
   Patient as sheep we yield us up unto your cruel hate.
   But, by the Shades beneath us, and by the gods above,
   Add not unto your cruel hate your yet more cruel love!
   Have ye not graceful ladies, whose spotless lineage springs
   From Consuls, and High Pontiffs, and ancient Alban kings?
   Ladies, who deign not on our paths to set their tender feet,
   Who from their cars look down with scorn upon the wondering
   Who in Corinthian mirrors their own proud smiles behold,
   And breathe the Capuan odors, and shine with Spanish gold?
   Then leave the poor Plebeian his single tie to life--
   The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife,
   The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vexed soul endures,
   The kiss, in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours.
   Still let the maiden's beauty swell the father's breast with
   Still let the bridegroom's arms infold an unpolluted bride.
   Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame,
   That turns the coward's heart to steel, the sluggard's blood to
   Lest, when our latest hope is fled, ye taste of our despair,
   And learn by proof, in some wild hour, how much the wretched

    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

      Straightway Virginius led the maid a little space aside,
   To where the reeking shambles stood, piled up with horn and hide,
   Close to yon low dark archway, where, in a crimson flood,
   Leaps down to the great sewer the gurgling stream of blood.
   Hard by, a flesher on a block had laid his whittle down:
   Virginius caught the whittle up, and hid it in his gown.
   And then his eyes grew very dim, and his throat began to swell,
   And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake, "Farewell, sweet child!
   Oh! how I loved my darling! Though stern I sometimes be,
   To thee, thou know'st, I was not so. Who could be so to thee?
   And how my darling loved me! How glad she was to hear
   My footstep on the threshold when I came back last year!
   And how she danced with pleasure to see my civic crown,
   And took my sword, and hung it up, and brought me forth my gown!
   Now, all those things are over--yes, all thy pretty ways,
   Thy needlework, thy prattle, thy snatches of old lays;
   And none will grieve when I go forth, or smile when I return,
   Or watch beside the old man's bed, or weep upon his urn.
   The house that was the happiest within the Roman walls,
   The house that envied not the wealth of Capua's marble halls,
   Now, for the brightness of thy smile, must have eternal gloom,
   And for the music of thy voice, the silence of the tomb.
   The time is come. See how he points his eager hand this way!
   See how his eyes gloat on thy grief, like a kite's upon the prey!
   With all his wit, he little deems, that, spurned, betrayed,
   Thy father hath in his despair one fearful refuge left.
   He little deems that in this hand I clutch what still can save
   Thy gentle youth from taunts and blows, the portion of the slave;
   Yea, and from nameless evil, that passeth taunt and blow--
   Foul outrage which thou knowest not, which thou shalt never know.
   Then clasp me round the neck once more, and give me one more
   And now mine own dear little girl, there is no way but this."
   With that he lifted high the steel, and smote her in the side,
   And in her blood she sank to earth, and with one sob she died.

      Then, for a little moment, all people held their breath;
   And through the crowded Forum was stillness as of death;
   And in another moment brake forth from one and all
   A cry as if the Volscians were coming o'er the wall.
   Some with averted faces shrieking fled home amain;
   Some ran to call a leech; and some ran to lift the slain;
   Some felt her lips and little wrist, if life might there be
   And some tore up their garments fast, and strove to stanch the
   In vain they ran, and felt, and stanched; for never truer blow
   That good right arm had dealt in fight agains a Volscian foe.

      When Appius Claudius saw that deed, he shuddered and sank
   And hid his face some little space with the corner of his gown,
   Till, with white lips and bloodshot eyes, Virginius tottered
   And stood before the judgment-seat, and held the knife on high.
   "Oh! dwellers in the nether gloom, avengers of the slain,
   By this dear blood I cry to you, do right between us twain;
   And even as Appius Claudius hath dealt by me and mine,
   Deal you by Appius Claudius and all the Claudian line!"
   So spake the slayer of his child, and turned, and went his way;
   But first he cast one haggard glance to where the body lay,
   And writhed, and groaned a fearful groan, an then, with steadfast
   Strode right across the market-place unto the Sacred Street.

      Then up sprang Appius Claudius: "Stop him; alive or dead!
   Ten thousand pounds of copper to the man who brings his head."
   He looked upon his clients; but none would work his will.
   He looked upon his lictors, but they trembled, and stood still.
   And, as Virginius through the press his way in silence cleft,
   Ever the mighty multitude fell back to right and left.
   And he hath passed in safety unto his woeful home,
   And there ta'en horse to tell the camp what deeds are done in

      By this the flood of people was swollen from every side,
   And streets and porches round were filled with that o'erflowing
   And close around the body gathered a little train
   Of them that were the nearest and dearest to the slain.
   They brought a bier, and hung it with many a cypress crown,
   And gently they uplifted her, and gently laid her down.
   The face of Appius Claudius wore the Claudian scowl and sneer,
   And in the Claudian note he cried, "What doth this rabble here?
   Have they no crafts to mind at home, that hitherward they stray?
   Ho! lictors, clear the market-place, and fetch the corpse away!"
   The voice of grief and fury till then had not been loud;
   But a deep sullen murmur wandered among the crowd,
   Like the moaning noise that goes before the whirlwind on the
   Or the growl of a fierce watch-dog but half aroused from sleep.
   But when the lictors at that word, tall yeomen all and strong,
   Each with his axe and sheaf of twigs, went down into the throng,
   Those old men say, who saw that day of sorrow and of sin,
   That in the Roman Forum was never such a din.
   The wailing, hooting, cursing, the howls of grief and hate,
   Were heard beyond the Pincian Hill, beyond the Latin Gate.
   But close around the body, where stood the little train
   Of them that were the nearest and dearest to the slain,
   No cries were there, but teeth set fast, low whispers and black
   And breaking up of benches, and girding up of gowns.
   'Twas well the lictors might not pierce to where the maiden lay,
   Else surely had they been all twelve torn limb from limb that
   Right glad they were to struggle back, blood streaming from their
   With axes all in splinters, and raiment all in shreads.
   Then Appius Claudius gnawed his lip, and the blood left his
   And thrice he beckoned with his hand, and thrice he strove to
   And thrice the tossing Forum set up a frightful yell:
   "See, see, thou dog! what thou hast done; and hide thy shame in
   Thou that wouldst make our maidens slaves must first make slaves
   of men.
   Tribunes! Hurrah for Trubunes! Down with the wicked Ten!"
   And straightway, thick as hailstones, came whizzing through the
   Pebbles, and bricks, and potsherds, all round the curule chair:
   And upon Appius Claudius great fear and trembling came,
   For never was a Claudius yet brave against aught but shame.
   Though the great houses love us not, we own, to do them right,
   That the great houses, all save one, have borne them well in
   Still Caius of Corioli, his triumphs and his wrongs,
   His vengeance and his mercy, live in our camp-fire songs.
   Beneath the yoke of Furius oft have Gaul and Tuscan bowed:
   And Rome may bear the pride of him of whom herself is proud.
   But evermore a Claudius shrinks from a stricken field,
   And changes color like a maid at sight of sword and shield.
   The Claudian triumphs all were won within the city towers;
   The Claudian yoke was never pressed on any necks but ours.
   A Cossus, like a wild cat, springs ever at the face;
   A Fabius rushes like a boar against the shouting chase;
   But the vile Claudian litter, raging with currish spite,
   Still yelps and snaps at those who run, still runs from those who
   So now 'twas seen of Appius. When stones began to fly,
   He shook, and crouched, and wrung his hands, and smote upon his
   "Kind clients, honest lictors, stand by me in this fray!
   Must I be torn in pieces? Home, home the nearest way!"
   While yet he spake, and looked around with a bewildered stare,
   Four sturdy lictors put their necks beneath the curule chair;
   And fourscore clients on the left, and fourscore on the right,
   Arrayed themselves with swords and staves, and loins girt up to
   But, though without or staff or sword, so furious was the throng,
   That scarce the train with might and main could bring their lord
   Twelve times the crowd made at him; five times they seized his
   Small chance was his to rise again, if once they got him down:
   And sharper came the pelting; and evermore the yell,--
   "Tribunes! we will have Tribunes!"-- rose with a louder swell:
   And the chair tossed as tosses a bark with tattered sail
   When raves the Adriatic beneath an eastern gale,
   When Calabrian sea-marks are lost in clouds of spume,
   And the great Thunder-Cape has donned his veil of inky gloom.
   One stone hit Appius in the mouth, and one beneath the ear;
   And ere he reached Mount Palatine, he swooned with pain and fear.
   His cursed head, that he was wont to hold so high with pride,
   Now, like a drunken man's, hung down, and swayed from side to
   And when his stout retainers had brought him to his door,
   His face and neck were all one cake of filth and clotted gore.
   As Appius Claudius was that day, so may his grandson be!
   God send Rome one such other sight, and send me there to see!
       . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

                      The Prophecy of Capys

It can hardly be necessary to remind any reader that according to
the popular tradition, Romulus, after he had slain his granduncle
Amulius, and restored his grandfather Numitor, determined to quit
Alba, the hereditary domain of the Sylvian princes, and to found
a new city. The gods, it was added, vouchsafed the clearest signs
of the favor with which they regarded the enterprise, and of the
high destinies reserved for the young colony.

This event was likely to be a favorite theme of the old Latin
minstrels. They would naturally attribute the project of Romulus
to some divine intimation of the power and prosperity which it
was decreed that his city should attain. They would probably
introduce seers foretelling the victories of unborn Consuls and
Dictators, and the last great victory would generally occupy the
most conspicuous place in the prediction. There is nothing
strange in the supposition that the poet who was employed to
celebrate the first great triumph of the Romans over the Greeks
might throw his song of exultation into this form.

The occasion was one likely to excite the strongest feelings of
national pride. A great outrage had been followed by a great
retribution. Seven years before this time, Lucius Posthumius
Megellus, who sprang from one of the noblest houses of Rome, and
had been thrice Consul, was sent ambassador to Tarentum, with
charge to demand reparation for grievous injuries. The Tarentines
gave him audience in their theatre, where he addressed them in
such Greek as he could command, which, we may well believe, was
not exactly such as Cineas would have spoken. An exquisite sense
of the ridiculous belonged to the Greek character; and closely
connected with this faculty was a strong propensity to flippancy
and impertinence. When Posthumius placed an accent wrong, his
hearers burst into a laugh. When he remonstrated, they hooted
him, and called him barbarian; and at length hissed him off the
stage as if he had been a bad actor. As the grave Roman retired,
a buffoon, who, from his constant drunkenness, was nicknamed the
Pint-pot, came up with gestures of the grossest indecency, and
bespattered the senatorial gown with filth. Posthumius turned
round to the multitude, and held up the gown, as if appealing to
the universal law of nations. The sight only increased the
insolence of the Tarentines. They clapped their hands, and set up
a shout of laughter which shook the theatre. "Men of Tarentum,"
said Posthumius, "it will take not a little blood to wash this

Rome, in consequence of this insult, declared war against the
Tarentines. The Tarentines sought for allies beyond the Ionian
Sea. Phyrrhus, king of Epirus, came to their help with a large
army; and, for the first time, the two great nations of antiquity
were fairly matched against each other.

The fame of Greece in arms, as well as in arts, was then at the
height. Half a century earlier, the career of Alexander had
excited the admiration and terror of all nations from the Ganges
to the Pillars of Hercules. Royal houses, founded by Macedonian
captains, still reigned at Antioch and Alexandria. That barbarian
warriors, led by barbarian chiefs, should win a pitched battle
against Greek valor guided by Greek science, seemed as incredible
as it would now seem that the Burmese or the Siamese should, in
the open plain, put to flight an equal number of the best English
troops. The Tarentines were convinced that their countrymen were
irresistible in war; and this conviction had emboldened them to
treat with the grossest indignity one whom they regarded as the
representative of an inferior race. Of the Greek generals then
living Pyrrhus was indisputably the first. Among the troops who
were trained in the Greek discipline his Epirotes ranked high.
His expedition to Italy was a turning-point in the history of the
world. He found there a people who, far inferior to the Athenians
and Corinthians in the fine arts, in the speculative sciences,
and in all the refinements of life, were the best soldiers on the
face of the earth. Their arms, their gradations of rank, their
order of battle, their method of intrenchment, were all of Latin
origin, and had all been gradually brought near to perfection,
not by the study of foreign models, but by the genius and
experience of many generations of great native commanders. The
first words which broke from the king, when his practised eye had
surveyed the Roman encampment, were full of meaning: "These
barbarians," he said, "have nothing barbarous in their military
arrangements." He was at first victorious; for his own talents
were superior to those of the captains who were opposed to him;
and the Romans were not prepared for the onset of the elephants
of the East, which were then for the first time seen in
Italy--moving mountains, with long snakes for hands. But the
victories of the Epirotes were fiercely disputed, dearly
purchased, and altogether unprofitable. At length, Manius Curius
Dentatus, who had in his first Consulship won two triumphs, was
again placed at the head of the Roman Commonwealth, and sent to
conquer the invaders. A great battle was fought near Beneventum.
Pyrrhus was completely defeated. He repassed the sea; and the
world learned, with amazement, that a people had been discovered
who, in fair fighting, were superior to the best troops that had
been drilled on the system of Parmenio and Antigonus.

The conquerors had a good right to exult in their success; for
their glory was all their own. They had not learned from their
enemy how to conquer him. It was with their own national arms,
and in their own national battle array, that they had overcome
weapons and tactics long believed to be invincible. The pilum and
the broadsword had vanquished the Macedonian spear. The legion
had broken the Macedonian phalanx. Even the elephants, when the
surprise produced by their first appearance was over, could cause
no disorder in the steady yet flexible battalions of Rome.
It is said by Florus, and may easily be believed, that the
triumph far surpassed in magnificence any that Rome had
previously seen. The only spoils which Papirius Cursor and Fabius
Maximus could exhibit were flocks and herds, wagons of rude
structure, and heaps of spears and helmets. But now, for the
first time, the riches of Asia and the arts of Greece adorned a
Roman pageant. Plate, fine stuffs, costly furniture, rare
animals, exquisite paintings and sculptures, formed part of the
procession. At the banquet would be assembled a crowd of warriors
and statesmen, among whom Manius Curius Dentatus would take the
highest room. Caius Fabricius Luscinus, then, after two
Consulships and two triumphs, Censor of the Commonwealth, would
doubtless occupy a place of honor at the board. In situations
less conspicuous probably lay some of those who were, a few years
later, the terror of Carthage: Caius Duilius, the founder of the
maritime greatness of his country; Marcus Atilius Regulus, who
owed to defeat a renown far higher than that which he had derived
from his victories; and Caius Lutatius Catalus, who, while
suffering from a grievous wound, fought the great battle of the
Æates, and brought the First Punic War to a triumphant close. It
is impossible to recount the names of these eminent citizens,
without reflecting that they were, without exception, Plebeians,
and would, but for the ever memorable struggle maintained by
Caius Licinius and Lucius Sextius, have been doomed to hide in
obscurity, or to waste in civil broils, the capacity and energy
which prevailed against Pyrrhus and Hamilcar.

On such a day we may suppose that the patriotic enthusiasm of a
Latin poet would vent itself in reiterated shouts of "Io
triumphe," such as were uttered by Horace on a far less exciting
occasion, and in boasts resembling those which Virgil put into
the mouth of Anchises. The superiority of some foreign nations,
and especially of the Greeks, in the lazy arts of peace, would be
admitted with disdainful candor; but preëminence in all the
qualities which fit a people to subdue and govern mankind would
be claimed for the Romans.

The following lay belongs to the latest age of Latin
ballad-poetry. Nævis and Livius Andronicus were probably among
the children whose mothers held them up to see the chariot of
Curius go by. The minstrel who sang on that day might possibly
have lived to read the first hexameters of Ennius, and to see the
first comedies of Plautus. His poem, as might be expected, shows
a much wider acquaintance with the geography, manners, and
productions of remote nations, than would have been found in
compositions of the age of Camillus. But he troubles himself
little about dates, and having heard travellers talk with
admiration of the Colossus of Rhodes, and of the structures and
gardens with which the Macedonian king of Syria had embellished
their residence on the banks of the Orontes, he has never thought
of inquiring whether these things existed in the age of Romulus.

                           The Prophecy of Capys

A Lay Sung at the Banquet in the Capitol, on the Day Whereon
Manius Curius Dentatus, a Second Time Consul, Triumphed Over King
Pyrrhus and the Tarentines, in the Year of the City CCCCLXXIX.


     Now slain is King Amulius,
          Of the great Sylvian line,
     Who reigned in Alba Longa,
          On the throne of Aventine.
     Slain is the Ponfiff Camers,
          Who spake the words of doom:
     "The children to the Tiber,
          The mother to the tomb."


     In Alba's lake no fisher
          His net to-day is flinging;
     On the dark rind of Alba's oaks
          To-day no axe is ringing;
     The yoke hangs o'er the manger;
          The scythe lies in the hay:
     Through all the Alban villages
          No work is done to-day.


     And every Alban burgher
          Hath donned his whitest gown;
     And every head in Alba
          Weareth a poplar crown;
     And every Alban door-post
          With boughs and flowers is gay,
     For to-day the dead are living,
          The lost are found to-day.


     They were doomed by a bloody king,
          They were doomed by a lying priest,
     They were cast on the raging flood,
          They were tracked by the raging beast;
     Raging beast and raging flood
          Alike have spared the prey;
     And to-day the dead are living,
          The lost are found to-day.


     The troubled river knew them,
          And smoothed his yellow foam,
     And gently rocked the cradle
          That bore the fate of Rome.
     The ravening she-wolf knew them,
          And licked them o'er and o'er,
     And gave them of her own fierce milk,
          Rich with raw flesh and gore.
     Twenty winters, twenty springs,
          Since then have rolled away;
     And to-day the dead are living:
          The lost are found to-day.


     Blithe it was to see the twins,
          Right goodly youths and tall,
     Marching from Alba Longa
          To their old grandsire's hall.
     Along their path fresh garlands
          Are hung from tree to tree:
     Before them stride the pipers,
          Piping a note of glee.


     On the right goes Romulus,
          With arms to the elbows red,
     And in his hand a broadsword,
          And on the blade a head--
     A head in an iron helmet,
          With horse-hair hanging down,
     A shaggy head, a swarthy head,
          Fixed in a ghastly frown--
     The head of King Amulius
          Of the great Sylvian line,
     Who reigned in Alba Longa,
          On the throne of Aventine.


     On the left side goes Remus,
          With wrists and fingers red,
     And in his hand a boar-spear,
          And on the point a head--
     A wrinkled head and aged,
          With silver beard and hair,
     And holy fillets round it,
          Such as the pontiffs wear--
     The head of ancient Camers,
          Who spake the words of doom:
     "The children to the Tiber;
          The mother to the tomb."


     Two and two behind the twins
          Their trusty comrades go,
     Four and forty valiant men,
          With club, and axe, and bow.
     On each side every hamlet
          Pours forth its joyous crowd,
     Shouting lads and baying dogs,
          And children laughing loud,
     And old men weeping fondly
          As Rhea's boys go by,
     And maids who shriek to see the heads,
          Yet, shrieking, press more nigh.


     So marched they along the lake;
          They marched by fold and stall,
     By cornfield and by vineyard,
          Unto the old man's hall.


     In the hall-gate sat Capys,
          Capys, the sightless seer;
     From head to foot he trembled
          As Romulus drew near.
     And up stood stiff his thin white hair,
          And his blind eyes flashed fire:
     "Hail! foster child of the wondrous nurse!
          Hail! son of the wondrous sire!"


     "But thou--what dost thou here
          In the old man's peaceful hall?
     What doth the eagle in the coop,
          The bison in the stall?
     Our corn fills many a garner;
          Our vines clasp many a tree;
     Our flocks are white on many a hill:
          But these are not for thee.


     "For thee no treasure ripens
          In the Tartessian mine;
     For thee no ship brings precious bales
          Across the Libyan brine;
     Thou shalt not drink from amber;
          Thou shalt not rest on down;
     Arabia shall not steep thy locks,
          Nor Sidon tinge thy gown.


     "Leave gold and myrrh and jewels,
          Rich table and soft bed,
     To them who of man's seed are born,
          Whom woman's milk have fed.
     Thou wast not made for lucre,
          For pleasure, nor for rest;
     Thou, that art sprung from the War-god's loins,
          And hast tugged at the she-wolf's breast.


     "From sunrise unto sunset
          All earth shall hear thy fame:
     A glorious city thou shalt build,
          And name it by thy name:
     And there, unquenched through ages,
          Like Vesta's sacred fire,
     Shall live the spirit of thy nurse,
          The spirit of thy sire.


     "The ox toils through the furrow,
          Obedient to the goad;
     The patient ass, up flinty paths,
          Plods with his weary load:
     With whine and bound the spaniel
          His master's whistle hears;
     And the sheep yields her patiently
          To the loud-clashing shears.


     "But thy nurse will hear no master,
          Thy nurse will bear no load;
     And woe to them that shear her,
          And woe to them that goad!
     When all the pack, loud baying,
          Her bloody lair surrounds,
     She dies in silence, biting hard,
          Amidst the dying hounds.


     "Pomona loves the orchard;
          And Liber loves the vine;
     And Pales loves the straw-built shed
          Warm with the breath of kine;
     And Venus loves the whispers
          Of plighted youth and maid,
     In April's ivory moonlight
          Beneath the chestnut shade.


     "But thy father loves the clashing
          Of broadsword and of shield:
     He loves to drink the steam that reeks
          From the fresh battlefield:
     He smiles a smile more dreadful
          Than his own dreadful frown,
     When he sees the thick black cloud of smoke
          Go up from the conquered town.


     "And such as is the War-god,
          The author of thy line,
     And such as she who suckled thee,
          Even such be thou and thine.
     Leave to the soft Campanian
          His baths and his perfumes;
     Leave to the sordid race of Tyre
          Their dyeing-vats and looms;
     Leave to the sons of Carthage
          The rudder and the oar;
     Leave to the Greek his marble Nymphs
          And scrolls of wordy lore.


     "Thine, Roman, is the pilum:
          Roman, the sword is thine,
     The even trench, the bristling mound,
          The legion's ordered line;
     And thine the wheels of triumph,
          Which with their laurelled train
     Move slowly up the shouting streets
          To Jove's eternal flame.


     "Beneath thy yoke the Volscian
          Shall vail his lofty brow;
     Soft Capua's curled revellers
          Before thy chairs shall bow:
     The Lucumoes of Arnus
          Shall quake thy rods to see;
     And the proud Samnite's heart of steel
          Shall yield to only thee.


     "The Gaul shall come against thee
          From the land of snow and night;
     Thou shalt give his fair-haired armies
          To the raven and the kite.


     "The Greek shall come against thee,
          The conqueror of the East.
     Beside him stalks to battle
          The huge earth-shaking beast,
     The beast on whom the castle
          With all its guards doth stand,
     The beast who hath between his eyes
          The serpent for a hand.
     First march the bold Epirotes,
          Wedged close with shield and spear
     And the ranks of false Tarentum
          Are glittering in the rear.


     "The ranks of false Tarentum
          Like hunted sheep shall fly:
     In vain the bold Epirotes
          Shall round their standards die:
     And Apennine's gray vultures
          Shall have a noble feast
     On the fat and the eyes
          Of the the huge earth-shaking beast.


     "Hurrah! for the good weapons
          That keep the War-god's land.
     Hurrah! for Rome's stout pilum
          In a stout Roman hand.
     Hurrah! for Rome's short broadsword
          That through the thick array
     Of levelled spears and serried shields
          Hews deep its gory way.


     "Hurrah! for the great triumph
          That stretches many a mile.
     Hurrah! for the wan captives
          That pass in endless file.
     Ho! bold Epirotes, whither
          Hath the Red King taken flight?
     Ho! dogs of false Tarentum,
          Is not the gown washed white?


     "Hurrah! for the great triumph
          That stretches many a mile.
     Hurrah! for the rich dye of Tyre,
          And the fine web of Nile,
     The helmets gay with plumage
          Torn from the pheasant's wings,
     The belts set thick with starry gem
          That shone on Indian kings,
     The urns of massy silver,
          The goblets rough with gold,
     The many-colored tablets bright
          With loves and wars of old,
     The stone that breathes and struggles,
          The brass that seems to speak;--
     Such cunning they who dwell on high
          Have given unto the Greek.


     "Hurrah! for Manius Curius,
          The bravest son of Rome,
     Thrice in utmost need sent forth,
          Thrice drawn in triumph home.
     Weave, weave, for Manius Curius
          The third embroidered gown:
     Make ready the third lofty car,
          And twine the third green crown;
     And yoke the steeds of Rosea
          With necks like a bended bow,
     And deck the bull, Mevania's bull,
          The bull as white as snow.


     "Blest and thrice blest the Roman
          Who sees Rome's brightest day,
     Who sees that long victorious pomp
          Wind down the Sacred Way,
     And through the bellowing Forum,
          And round the Suppliant's Grove,
     Up to the everlasting gates
          Of Capitolian Jove.


     "Then where, o'er two bright havens,
          The towers of Corinth frown;
     Where the gigantic King of Day
          On his own Rhodes looks down;
     Where oft Orontes murmurs
          Beneath the laurel shades;
     Where Nile reflects the endless length
          Of dark red colonnades;
     Where in the still deep water,
          Sheltered from waves and blasts,
     Bristles the dusky forest
          Of Byrsa's thousand masts;
     Where fur-clad hunters wander
          Amidst the northern ice;
     Where through the sand of morning-land
          The camel bears the spice;
     Where Atlas flings his shadow
          Far o'er the western foam,
     Shall be great fear on all who hear
          The might name of Rome."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lays of Ancient Rome" ***

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