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When the wide earth to heaps of ashes turn'd,
And Heaven itself the wandering chariot buro'd:
For this my brother of the watery reign
Releas'd the impetuons sluices of the main;
kut-flames consum'd, and billows rag'd in vain.
Two races now, allied to Jove, offend;
To punish these, see Jove himself descend.
The Theban kings their line from Cadmus trace,
From godlike Perseus those of Argive race.
Unhappy Cadmus' fate who does not know,
And the long series of succeeding woe?
How oft the furies from the deeps of night
Arose, and mix'd with men in mortal fight;
The' exulting mother stain’d with filial blood,
The savage hunter and the haunted wood?
The direful banquet why should I proclaiin,
And crimes that grieve the trembling gods to
Ere I recount the sins of these profane,
The sun would sink into the western main,
And, rising, gild the radiant east again.
Have we not seen (the blood of Laius shed)
The murdering son ascend his parents bed,
Through violated nature force his way,
And stain the sacred womb where once he lay?
Yet now in darkness and despair be groans,
And for the crimes of guilty fate atones;
His sons 'with-scorn their eyeless father view,
Insult his wounds, and make them bleed anew.
Thiy curse, 0 Edipus ! just Heav'n alarms,
And sets the' avenging thunderer in arms.
I from the root thy guilty race will tear,
And give the nations to the waste of war,
Adrastus soon, with gods averse, shall join
In dire alliance with the Theban line:
Hence strife shall rise, and mortal war succeed:
The guilty realms of Tantalus shall bleed :
Fix'd is their doom. This all-remembering breast
Yet barbours vengeance for the tyrant's feast.'
He said; and thus the queen of Heav'n return'd: (With sadden grief her labouring bosom burn’d)
Must I, whose cares Phoroneus' towers defend, Must I, O Jove! in bloody wars contend? Thou know'st those regions my protection claim, Glorious in arms, in riches, and in fame: Though there the fair Egyptian heifer fed, And there deluded Argas slept and bled; Though there the brazen tow'r was storm'd of old, When Jove descended in almighty gold! 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 triamphant 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
proveAh! why should Argos feel the rage of Jove? Yet since thou wilt thy sister-queen control, Since still the lust of discord fires thy soul, Go, raise my Samos, let Mycene fall, And level with the dust the Spartan wall; No more let mortals Juno's pow'r invoke, Her fades 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 desigo'd
To date bis 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, defild with blood;
Where once his steeds their savage banquet found,
And hunian bones yet whiten all the ground.
Say, can those honours please? and can'st thou love
Presumptuous Crete, that boasts the tomb of Jove?
And shall not Tantalus's kingdoms sliare
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 express'd
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 further 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 Tartareau ceasts,
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 ethereal height;
Then wheeling down the steep of heaven he flies,
And draws a radiant circle o'er the skies.
Meantime the banish'd Polynices roves
(His Thebes abandon'd) through the' Aoniau 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 bis joys in length of wishes lost.
The hero then resolves his course to bend
Where ancient Danans' fruitful fields extend,
And fam'd Mycene's lofty towers ascend!
(Where late the sun did Atreus' crimes detest,
And disappeard in horror of the feast)
And now by chance, by fate, or furies, led,
From Bacchus' consecrated caves he fled,
Where the shrill cries of frantic matrons sound,
And Pentheus' blood enrich'd the rising ground;
Then sees Cithæron towering o'er the plain,
And thence declining gently to the main ;
Next to the bounds of Nisus' realm repairs,
Where treacherous Scylla cut the purple hairs ;
The hanging cliffs of Scyron's rock explores,
And hears the murmurs of the different shores;
Passes the strait that parts the foaming seas,
And stately Corinth's pleasing site surveys.
'Twas now the time when Phæbus yields to