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The pest a virgin's face and bosom bears;
High on a crown a rising snake appears,
Guards her black front, and hisses in her hairs :
About the realms she walks her dreadful round,
When night with sable wings o'erspreads the ground,
Devours young babes before their parents' eyes,
And feeds and thrives on public miseries.
• But generous rage the bold Choræbus warms,
Chorcebus, fam'd for virtue, as for arms;
Some few like him, inspir'd with martial flame,
Thought a short life well lost for endless fame.
These, where two ways in equal parts divide,
The direful monster from afar descried;
Two bleeding babes depending at her side,
Whose panting vitals, warm with life, she draws,
And in their hearts embrues her cruel claws.
The youths surround her with extended spears ;
But brave Choræbus in the front appears,
· Deep in her breast he plung'd his shining sword,
And hell's dire monster back to hell restor'd.
Th’ Inachians view the slain with vast surprise,
Her twisting volumes, and her rolling eyes,
Her spotted breast, and gaping womb embru'd
With livid poison, and our children's blood.
The crowd in stupid wonder fix'd appear,
Pale ev'n in joy, nor yet forget to fear.
Some with vast beams the squalid corpse engage,
And weary all the wild efforts of rage.
The birds obscene, that nightly flock'd to taste,
With hollow screeches fled the dire rcpast;
And ravenous dogs, allurid by scented blood,
And starving wolves ran howling to the wood.
. But, fir'd with rage, from cleft Parnassus' Avenging Phæbus bent his deadly bow, (brow And hissing flew the feather'd fates below: A night of sultry clouds involv'd around The towers, the fields, and the devoted ground: And now a thousand lives together fied, Death with his scythe cut off the fatal thread, And a whole province in his triumph led.
But Phoebus, ask'd why noxious fires appear,
And raging Sirius blasts the sickly year,
Demands their lives by whom his monster fell,
And dooms a dreadful sacrifice to hell.
Blest be thy dust, and let eternal fame
Attend thy manes, and preserve thy name,
Undaunted hero! who, divinely brave,
In such a cause disdain'd thy life to save,
But view'd the shrine with a superior look,
And its upbraided godhead thus bespoke:
With piety, the soul's securest guard,
And conscious virtue, still its own reward,
Willing I come, unknowing how to fear;
Nor shalt thou, Phæbus, find a suppliant here.
Thy monster's death to me was ow'd alone,
And 'tis a deed too glorious to disown.
Behold him here, for whom, so many days,
Impervious clouds conceal'd thy sullen rays;
For whom, az man no longer claim'd thy care,
Such numbers fell by pestilential air!
But if th' abandon'd race of human kind;
From gods above no more compassion find;
If such inclemency in heaven can dwell,
Yet why must unoffending Argos feel
The vengeance due to this unlucky steel ?
On me, on me, let all thy fury fall,
Nor err from me, since I deserve it all :
Unless our desert cities please thy sight,
Or funeral flames reflect a grateful light,
Discharge thy shafts, this ready bosom rend,
And to the shades a ghost triumphant send;
But for my country let my fate atone,
Be mine the vengeance, as the crime my own.'
* Merit distress'd, impartial Heaven relieves:
Unwelcome life relenting Phoebus gives ;
For not the vengeful power, that glow'd with rage,
With such amazing virtue durst engage.
The clouds dispers’d, Apollo's wrath expir'd,
And from the wondering god th' unwilling youth
Thence we these altars in his temple raise,
And offer annual honours, feasts, and praise;
Those solenip feasts propitious Phoebus please :
These honours, still renew'd, his ancient wrath ap.
pease. • But say, illustrious guest l' adjoin'd the king, • What name you bear, from what high race you
The noble Tydeus stands confess'd, and known
Our neighbour prince, and heir of Calydon.
Relate your fortunes, while the friendly night
And silent hours to various talk invite."
The Theban bends on earth his glooiny eyes,
Confus'd, and sadly thus at length replies :
• Before these altars how shall I proclaim
(Oh generous prince!) my nation or my name,
Or through what veins our ancient blood has roll'd?
Let the sad tale for ever rest untold !
Yet if, propitious to a wretch unknown,
You seek to share in sorrows not your own;
Know then, from Cadınus I derive my race,
Jocasta's son, and Thebes my native place.'
To whom the king (who felt his generous breast
Touch'd with concern for his unhappy guest)
Replies:--- Ah, why forbears the son to name
His wretched father, known too well by fame?
Fame, that delights around the world to stray,
Scorns not to take our Argos in her way.
Ev'n those who dwell where suns at distance
In northern wilds, and freeze beneath the pole;
And those who tread the burning Libyan lands,
The faithless Syrtes, and the moving sands;
Who views the western sea's extremest bounds,
Or drink of Ganges in their eastern grounds;
All these the woes of Edipus have known,
Your fates, your furies, and your haunted town.
If on the sons the parents' crimes descend,
What prince from those his lineage can defend?
Be this thy comfort, that 'tis thine t'efface
With virtuous acts thy ancestor's disgrace,
And be thyself the honour of thy race.
But see! the stars begin to steal away,
And shine mcre faintly at approaching day.
Now pour the wine; and in your tuneful lays
Once more resound the great Apollo's praise.'
Oh, father Phæbus! whether Lycia's coast
And snowy mountains thy bright presence boast;
Whether to sweet Castalia thou repair,
And bathe in silver dews thy yellow hair;
Or, pleas'd to find fair Delos float no more,
Delight in Cynthus, and the shady shore;
Or choose thy seat in Ilion's proud abodes,
The shining structures rais'd by labouring gods,
By thee the bow and mortal shafts are borne;
Eternal charms thy blooming youth adorn:
Skill'd in the laws of secret fate above,
And the dark counsels of almighty Jove,
'Tis thine the seeds of future war to know,
The-change of sceptres, and impending woe,
When direful meteors spread through glowing air
Long trails of light, and shake their blazing hair.
Thy rage the Phrygian felt, who durst aspire
T'excel the music of thy heavenly lyre;
Thy shafts aveng'd lewd Tityus' guilty flame,
Thi' immortal victim of thy mother's fame;
Thy band slew Python, and the dame who lost.
Her numerous offspring for a fatal boast.
In Phlegyas' doom thy just revenge appears,
Condemu'd to furies and eternal fears:
He views his food, but dreads, with lifted eye,
The mouldering rock, that trembles from on high.
Propitious hear our prayer,
And on thy hospitable Argos shine,
Whether the style of Titan please thee more,
Whose purple rays th' Achæmenes adore;
Or great Osiris, who first taught the swain
In Pbarian fields to sow the golden grain;
Or Mithra, to whose beams the Persian bows,
And pays, in hollow rocks, his awful vows!
Mithra, whose head the blaze of light adorns,
Who grasps the struggling heifer's lunar horns.'