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Yet I can pardon those obscurer rapes,
Those bashful crimes disguis'd in borrow'd shapes;
But Thebes, where, shining in celestial charms,
Thou cam'st triumphant to a mortal's arms,
When all my glories o'er her limbs were spread,
And blazing lightnings danc'd around her bed;
Curs'd Thebes the vengeance it deserves may prove→→
Ah! why should Argos feel the rage of Jove ?
Yet since thou wilt thy sister-queen controul,
Since still the lust of discord fires thy soul,
Go, raise my Samos, let Mycene fall,
And level with the dust the Spartan wall;
No more let mortals Juno's pow'r invoke,
Her fanes no more with eastern incense smoke,
Nor victims sink beneath the sacred stroke;
But to your Isis all my rights transfer,
Let altars blaze and temples smoke for her;
For her, through Egypt's fruitful clime renown'd,
Let weeping Nilus hear the timbrel sound.
But if thou must reform the stubborn times,
Avenging on the sons the fathers' crimes,
And from the long records of distant age
Derive incitements to renew thy rage;
Say, from what period then has Jove design'd
To date his vengeance? to what bounds confin'd?
Begin from thence, where first Alpheus hides
His wandering stream, and through the briny tides
Unmix'd to his Sicilian river glides.
Thy own Arcadians there the thunder claim,
Whose impious rites disgrace thy mighty name;
Who raise thy temples where the chariot stood
Of fierce Enomaüs, defil'd with blood;
Where once his steeds their savage banquet found,
And human bones yet whiten all the ground.
Say, can those honours please? and canst thou love
Presumptuous Crete, that boasts the tomb of Jove?
And shall not Tantalus's kingdoms share
Thy wife and sister's tutelary care?
Reverse, O Jove! thy too severe decree,
Nor doom to war a race deriv'd from thee;
On impious realms and barbarous kings impose Thy plagues, and curse 'em with such sons as those. Thus in reproach and pray'r the queen exprest The rage and grief contending in her breast; Unmov'd remain'd the ruler of the sky,
And from his throne return'd this stern reply:
"Twas thus I deem'd thy haughty soul would bear
The dire though just revenge which I prepare
Against a nation thy peculiar care:
No less Dione might for Thebes contend,
Nor Bacchus less his native town defend ;
Yet these in silence see the fates fulfil
Their work, and reverence our superior will:
For by the black infernal Styx I swear,
(That dreadful oath which binds the Thunderer)
'Tis fix'd, the' irrevocable doom of Jove;
No force can bend me, no persuasion move.
Haste then, Cyllenius, through the liquid air;
Go, mount the winds, and to the shades repair ;
Bid hell's black monarch my commands obey,
And give up Laius to the realms of day,
Whose ghost yet shivering on Cocytus' sand
Expects its passage to the farther strand:
Let the pale sire revisit Thebes, and bear
These pleasing orders to the tyrant's ear;
That from his exil'd brother, swell'd with pride
Of foreign forces and his Argive bride,
Almighty Jove commands him to detain
The promis'd empire, and alternate reign:
Be this the cause of more than mortal hate;
The rest succeeding times shall ripen into fate."
The god obeys, and to his feet applies
Those golden wings that cut the yielding skies;
His ample hat his beamy locks o'erspread,
And veil'd the starry glories of his head.
He seiz'd the wand that causes sleep to fly,
Or in soft slumbers seals the wakeful eye;
That drives the dead to dark Tartarean coasts,
Or back to life compels the wandering ghosts.
Thus through the parting clouds the son of May
Wings on the whistling winds his rapid way;
Now smoothly steers through air his equal flight,
Now springs aloft, and tow'rs the' etherial height;
Then wheeling down the steep of heav'n he flies,
And draws a radiant circle o'er the skies.
Meantime the banish'd Polynices roves
(His Thebes abandon'd) through the' Aonian groves,
While future realms his wandering thoughts delight,
His daily vision, and his dream by night;
Forbidden Thebes appears before his eye,
From whence he sees his absent brother fly,
With transport views the airy rule his own,
And swells on an imaginary throne;
Fain would he cast a tedious age away,
And live out all in one triumphant day:
He chides the lazy progress of the sun,
And bids the year with swifter motion run:
With anxious hopes his craving mind is tost,
And all his joys in length of wishes lost.
The hero then resolves his course to bend
Where ancient Danaus' fruitful fields extend,
And fain'd Mycene's lofty towers ascend;
(Where late the sun did Atreus' crimes detest,
And disappear'd in horror of the feast)
And now by chance, by fate, or furies, led,
From Bacchus' consecrated caves he fled,
Where the shrill cries of frantic matrons sound,
And Pentheus' blood enrich'd the rising ground;
Then sees Citharon towering o'er the plain,
And thence declining gently to the main;
Next to the bounds of Nisus' realm repairs,
Where treacherous Scylla cut the purple hairs;
The hanging cliffs of Scyron's rock explores,
And hears the murmurs of the different shores;
Passes the strait that parts the foaming seas,
And stately Corinth's pleasing site surveys.
'Twas now the time when Phoebus yields to night,
And rising Cynthia sheds her silver light;
Wide o'er the world in solemn pomp she drew
Her airy chariot, hung with pearly dew:
All birds and beasts lie hush'd: sleep steals away
The wild desires of men, and toils of day,
And brings, descending through the silent air,
A sweet forgetfulness of human care.
Yet no red clouds, with golden borders gay,
Promise the skies the bright return of day;
No faint reflections of the distant light
Streak with long gleams the scattering shades of night:
From the damp earth impervious vapours rise,
Increase the darkness, and involve the skies.
At once the rushing winds with roaring sound
Burst from the' Eolian caves, and rend the ground;
With equal rage their airy quarrel try,
And win by turns the kingdom of the sky:
But with a thicker night black Auster shrouds
The heav'ns, and drives on heaps the rolling clouds,
From whose dark womb a rattling tempest pours,
Which the cold north congeals to haily show'rs:
From pole to pole the thunder roars aloud,
And broken lightnings flash from every cloud.
Now smokes with show'rs the misty mountain-ground,
And floated fields lie undistinguish'd round:
The' Inachian streams with headlong fury run,
And Erasinus rolls a deluge on;
The foaming Lerna swells above its bounds,
And spreads its ancient poisons o'er the grounds:
Where late was dust, now rapid torrents play,
Rush through the mounds, and bear the dams away:
Old limbs of trees, from crackling forests torn,
Are whirl'd in air, and on the winds are borne:
The storm the dark Lycæan groves display'd,
And first to light expos'd the sacred shade.
The' intrepid Theban hears the bursting sky,
Sees yawning rocks in massy fragments fly,
And views astonish'd, from the hills afar,
The floods descending, and the watery war,
That, driv'n by storms, and pouring o'er the plain,
Swept herds, and hinds, and houses, to the main.
Through the brown horrors of the night he fled, Nor knows, amaz'd, what doubtful path to tread ; His brother's image to his mind appears,
Inflames his heart with rage, and wings his feet with fears.
So fares the sailor on the stormy main,
When clouds conceal Boötes golden wain,
When not a star its friendly lustre keeps,
Nor trembling Cynthia glimmers on the deeps;
He dreads the rocks, and shoals, and seas, and skies,
While thunder roars, and lightning round him flies.
Thus strove the chief, on every side distress'd;
Thus still his courage with his toils increas'd:
With his broad shield oppos'd, he forc'd his way
Through thickest woods, and rous'd the beasts of prey;
Till he beheld where from Larissa's height
The shelving walls reflect a glancing light :
Thither with haste the Theban hero flies;
On this side Lerna's poisonous water lies,
On that Prosymna's grove and temple rise.
He pass'd the gates, which then unguarded lay,
And to the regal palace bent his way;
On the cold marble, spent with toil, he lies,
And waits till pleasing slumbers seal his eyes.
Adrastus here his happy people sways,
Bless'd with calm peace in his declining days;
By both his parents of descent divine,
Great Jove and Phoebus grac'd his noble line:
Heav'n had not crown'd his wishes with a son,
But two fair daughters heir'd his state and throne.
To him Apollo (wondrous to relate!
But who can pierce into the depths of fate ?)
Had sung-" Expect thy sons on Argos' shore,
A yellow lion and a bristly boar."
This long revolv'd in his paternal breast,
Sat heavy on his heart, and broke his rest;
This, great Amphiaraus! lay hid from thee,
Though skill'd in fate and dark futurity.
The father's care and prophet's art were vain,
For thus did the predicting god ordain,