THEBAID BOOK 7, TRANSLATED BY J. H. MOZLEY
 As thus they tarried at the outset of the Tyrian war, Jupiter turned on the Pelasgians his wrathful gaze and shook his head, at the movement of which the high stars tremble and Atlas cries that his shoulders’ burden is increased. Then thus did he address the speedy Tegean: “Go, boy, and swiftly leaping glide through the North as far as the Bistonian dwellings and the snowy constellations of the pole, where the Parrhasian1 feeds her Ocean-barred fires on storm-clouds and Heaven’s own rain. And there, whether Mars has laid aside his spear and draws breath again – though repose be hateful to him – or whether, as I think, he has his arms and his trumpets, whereof he never tires, and is wantoning in the blood of his beloved tribe,2 haste thou to deliver the angry message of his sire, and spare nought. Surely long since was he bidden to inflame the Inachian host, and all that the rock of Isthmus holds apart and the thunderous wrath of echoing Malea encompasses; yet scarce hath their army passed the boundary of their walls and they hold sacred festival; one would deem they had returned from war, so keen is their applause, as they attend the rites of an offended tomb. Is this thy rage, Gradivus? The round quoit crashes and reverberates, and the Oebalian3 gloves meet in the boxing-match. But if he really hath that boasted fury and mad joy in battle, then ruthlessly will he lay innocent towns in ashes, wielding sword and fire, and strike the peoples to the ground while they implore the Thunderer, and exhaust the miserable world. Now he is lenient in warfare and he grows slack though I am angry: but if he hastens not the fight and hurls not, more swiftly than the word of my command, the Danaan ranks against the Tyrian walls – with nought cruel do I threaten him – let his power be all for kindliness and goodness, and his ungoverned rage be slackened to quietness and peace, let him return me his horses and his sword, nor have right of bloodshed any more: I will look upon the earth and bid all cease from strife; for the Ogygian4 war Tritonia will suffice.”
 He had spoken, and the Cyllenian was drawing nigh the fields of Thrace; down-gliding from the gate of the Northern pole5 he is driven this way and that by the region’s everlasting tempest and the serried storm-clouds ranged athwart the sky and the first blasts of Aquilo: the pouring hail rattles upon his golden robe and ill does the shady hat6 of Arcady protect him. Here he observes barren forests, the sacred haunts of Mars – and he shudders as he looks – where on the far slopes of Haemus his savage mansion is ringed by a thousand furies. The walls are of iron structure, iron portals bear upon the threshold, the roof is carried by columns wrought of iron. The rays of Phoebus are weakened when they meet it, the very light fears that dwelling, and its murky glare dismays the stars. Fit sentinels hold watch there: from the outer gate wild Passion leaps, and blind Mischief and Angers flushed red and pallid Fear, and Treachery lurks with hidden sword, and Discord holding a two-edged blade. Threatenings innumerable make clamour in the court, sullen Valour stands in the midst, and Rage exultant and armed Death with blood-stained visage are seated there; no blood but that of wars is on the altars, no fire but snatched from burning cities. All around were spoils of every land, and captured peoples adorned the temple’s high front,7 and fragments of iron-wrought gates and ships of war and empty chariots and faces ground by chariot-wheels, ay, almost even their groans! truly every form of violence and wounds. Himself was everywhere to behold, but nowhere with softened looks; in such wise had Mulciber with divine skill portrayed him: not yet had the adulterer, made manifest by the sun’s bright beams, atoned his shameful union in the bed’s grasping chains.8
 Scarce had the winged Maenalian begun to seek the temple’s lord – lo! earth trembles, and horned Hebrus bellows and stays his torrent’s flow; then all the war-steeds that troubled the valley sped foaming o’er the frightened meads, sure sign of his approach, and the gates barred with everlasting adamant flew open. Glorious in Hyrcanian gore he himself comes riding by; far and wide the dire bespattering changes the aspect of the fields, behind him are borne spoils and weeping throngs; forest and deep snows give him room; with bloody hand dark Bellona guides the team and plies them hard with her long spear. The offspring of Cyllene grew stiff with terror at the sight, and cast down his eyes: ay, even the Father himself would feel awe, were he present, and would forgo his threats nor command so sternly. First spake the Lord of War: “What decree of Jove, what message bringest thou from the vast heaven? For not of thine own will comest thou, O brother, to this clime and to my wintry storms, thou whose home is dewy Maenalus and the kindlier air of warm Lycaeus.” He reports his sire’s resolve. Nor does Mars long delay, but drives forward his flying steeds, all panting as they were and sweating together ‘neath the yoke, himself indignant that the Greeks were sluggish to begin the war. The Father on high beheld, and abating now his anger let his head sink with slow weight: as when the East wind sinks to rest and leaves the waters it has vanquished, yet even in calm the waters swell and the departed storm yet rolls the surface of the deep; not yet have the vessels all their tackling set, nor do the mariners draw a full breath again.
 The funeral rites had brought an end to the unarmed combats, but the crowds were not gone away, when amid universal silence the hero Adrastus poured wine upon the ground and propitiated the ashes of Archemorus: “Grant, little one, that this day may be renewed at many a triennial feast; let not maimed Pelops prefer to seek Arcadian altars or knock at Elean temples with his ivory arm, nor the serpent rather glide to the Castalian shrine, nor its own shade of the pine-groves of Lechaeum.9 We refuse thee, O child, to sad Avernus, and link these mournful rites with the undying stars, we who hurry now to arms. But if thou wilt grant us to overthrow the Boeotian dwellings with the sword, then a mighty temple shall exalt thee, then shalt thou be a god indeed, nor through Inachian cities only shall thy worship spread, but Thebes also in her captivity shall swear by thy name.” So vowed the chief for all, so vowed each warrior for himself.
 Already Gradivus with forward-straining steeds was trampling the Ephyrean shores, where Acrocorinthus raises his summit into the airy heights and casts his shadow over the twin seas in turn. Then he orders Panic, one of his fearful train, to go before the horses: none more skilled than he to insinuate gasping terror and to steal courage from the heart; voices and hands innumerable has the monster, and aspects to assume at will; all-persuasive is he, and his onslaughts drive cities mad with horror. If he suggests that there are two suns, or that the stars are falling, or the ground heaving, or ancient forests marching down from the hills,10 alas! the wretches believe that they have seen it. A new and cunning trick was he then devising: he raises a phantom dust upon the plain of Nemea; astounded the chiefs behold above their heads the darkening cloud; he swells the tumult with unsubstantial clamour and imitates the clank of armour and the tread of horses’ hooves, and scatters the terrible war-cry upon the wandering breezes. Their hearts leap in fear, and the crowd wait muttering in suspense: “Whence comes the noise? – unless our ears betray us. But why stand the heaven in a cloud of dust? surely the Ismenian soldiery have not dared so far? Ay, ‘tis even so; they come! But is Thebes then so bold? Must they wait, think you, for us to pay rites to sepulchres?”
 Thus Panic in their bewildered minds: and many a different countenance does he assume amid their ranks, now is he one of a thousand men of Pisa, now a Pylian, now a Laconian by his look, and he swears the foe are near, and dismays the host with vain alarm. To their terror nought is false. But when undisguised he fell upon the distracted warriors, and, borne on a swift whirlwind around the heights of the sacred vale, thrice brandished his spear, thrice smote his steeds, thrice clashed his shield upon his breast, ”to arms, to arms,” they cry, each snatching in wild disorder his neighbour’s or his own, and they seize other helms and force strange steeds beneath the yoke; in ever heart burns the mad lust of death and slaughter, nothing hinders their fiery rage; in furious haste they atone for their delays. Such a clamour fills the shore when the wind is rising, and men are leaving the port; everywhere sails are bellying and loose ropes flapping, and now the oars are afloat and every anchor too upon the surface, and now from mid-sea they are gazing back at the land they love and at the friends left far astern.
 Bacchus had seen the Inachian cohorts gather swiftly for the march; with a groan he turned towards the Tyrian city, and he recalls the home that nurtured him and his father’s fires,11 with sadness in his heart and dismay upon his bright countenance; disordered were his locks and garlands, the thyrsus was fallen from his hand the untouched grapes from off his horns; tearful then and unsightly as he was with dishevelled robe, he stood before Jupiter – reigning then by chance alone in heaven – in such guise as had never before been seen – yet his sire knew well the cause – and spake in supplication: “Destroyest thou thine own Thebes, O worthy father of the gods? is thy spouse so cruel? pitiest thou not that well-loved land, that hearth thou didst deceive, those ashes I hold dear? Be it so, once thou didst hurl unwilling fire from the clouds – so I believe – but lo! a second time art thou bringing deadly fire upon the land, without oath of Styx or cunning paramour’s request. What limit wilt thou set? Art thou my father, and incensed against me? Kindly, and yet dost wield the thunderbolt? Not in such mood wouldst thou go to Danaë’s city, or the Parrhasian grove,12 or Amyclae, Leda’s home. Am I then in truth the worst-scorned of all thy sons? Yet am I surely he, who was a sweet burden for thy carrying, for whom thou deignedst to open once more life’s threshold and the way once closed against me, and the period of the womb.13 Moreover, my people are unwarlike, and rarely schooled in camps, and know my warfare only, my battles, the twining of garlands in their hair and twirling to the frenzied pipe; they fear the wands that brides wield, the wars that matrons wage.14 How should they endure the bray of trumpets and the work of Mars, who makes – behold him! – such furious preparation? What if he were to lead thy own Curetes to the fight, and bid them15 decide the issue with their guileless targes? Nay more, ‘tis hated16 Argos thou choosest – was there no other foe? Ah! cruel, O father, is our peril, but more cruel thy command! We pay the penalty, to make rich17 my stepmother’s Mycenae. I yield! But my ruined people’s sacred rites, and aught that my mother left when she brought forth but for the tomb – whither must we depart? to Thrace and the forests of Lycurgus? or shall I flee a captive to that India where I once did triumph? Grant the outlaw some resting-place! My brother could make Delos fast, Lato’s rocky home – nor do I grudge him that – and entrust it to the lowest depths18; the Tritonian removed the hostile waters from her beloved citadel; myself I have seen Epaphus lording it over Eastern races, and remote Cyllene and Minoan Ida fear not the trumpet’s blast19; why do our altars so offend thee? Here – since my own influence must already yield – here were those nights of Hercules’ begetting, and the favoured flame of wandering Nycteis,20 here was the race of Tyre and the bull more fruitful than my lightning-brand: protect at least Agenor’s offspring!”
 Smiling at his jealousy his father raised him quietly to his embrace from where he knelt with arms outstretched, and in turn makes tranquil answer: “This comes not by my consort’s will, as thou thinkest, my son, nor am I thus a slave to her fierce demands; ‘tis fate’s unchanging wheel that ordains our destiny21; ancient causes are leading, now late in time, to war. Whose anger sinks so soon to rest, who is more sparing of human blood? The heavens and my eternal age-long dwelling witness how often I lay by the whirling22 thunderbolt, how rarely these fires have mastery of the earth. Unwillingly indeed, though they had suffered great wrongs that cried for vengeance, did I deliver the Lapithae to Mars or ancient Calydon to Diana for destruction; sad is the loss, and ‘tis irksome to give so many new lives for old, and animate afresh so many bodies. But for the seed of Labdacus and the sons of Pelops’ line, them am I slow to destroy; thou knowest thyself – to leave unsaid the Dorian crimes – how ready is Thebes to accuse the gods; thee too – but my former anger is appeased and I will hold my peace. Pentheus23 was stained by no father’s blood nor bore the guilt of defiling his mother’s bed and begetting brothers, yet he filled thy haunts with the mangled fragments of his limbs: where then were these tears, this eloquent appeal? But it is to glut no private wrath that I sacrifice the sons of Oedipus: earth and heaven demand it, and natural piety and injured faith, and the laws of the Avenging Powers themselves. But be not distressed for thy city; not at this time have I decreed that the Aonian state shall fall, a darker age shall come hereafter, and others to avenge24; now royal Juno shall complain.”
 He hearing this was composed in mind and aspect; as when rose-gardens droop ‘neath a fiery scorching sun and cruel South wind, should the day clear and Western breezes refresh the sky, all their beauty returns, the blooms open resplendent, and the unsightly branches are decked in their proper glory.
 Long since has the messenger brought sure tidings of discovery to the astounded ears of Eteocles, announcing that the Grecian chiefs are on the march at the head of a long array, and soon will be nigh the Aonian fields; wheresoever they advance, all tremble and pity Thebes; he reports the family and fame of each and their warlike deeds. The king hiding his fear demands to be told and hates the teller; then he decides to send a stirring message to his allies and to take the measure of his own resources. Mars – so it pleased Jove – had stirred up Aonia and Euboea and the neighbouring lands of Phocis; far flies the rapid signal from town to town; they march forth their hosts and display themselves in arms; they move upon the plain that, doomed to war, spreads near the city and awaits the fury of the fray. They meet no foe as yet, but matrons in an excited throng ascend the walls, and thence show to their children the glittering armour and their sires’ formidable arms.
 Far removed upon a lonely tower and still withheld from the eyes of the people, Antigone shrouds in a black veil her tender cheeks; with her was an attendant, Laius’ squire of old, whom the royal maid reveres. She first addressed him: “Is there hope, O father, that these standards will hold the Pelasgians in check? We hear that all the tribes of Pelops descend upon us; recount, I pray, the princes and their foreign bands, for I see what standards our own Menoeceus, and what troops our Creon hath under command, and how Haemon with towering crest of brazen Sphinx marches out from the mighty Homoloian gates.” So spake artless Antigone, and old Phorbas thus replied: “Dryas, look! leads forth a thousand archers from cold Tanagra’s hill: he whose snow-white armour bears a trident and a fire-brand rudely wrought in gold, is for valour the true son of exalted Orion: heaven forged the ill omen of his sire, and chaste Diana’s ancient grudge!25 Ocalea and Medeon join our camps and declare for our monarch’s cause, and thickly-wooded Nisa and Thisbe echoing with Dione’s tuneful birds.26 Next is Eurymedon who counterfeits the pastoral arms and horsehair crest of his father Faunus with club and leaves of pine; terrible is he in the woodland, and such, I ween, will he be in the bloody conflict. Erythrae rich in flocks is with us, and so are they who hold Scolos, and Eteonos set thick with arduous ridges, and the brief strand of Hyle, and the proud folk of Schoenos, Atalanta’s home, who till the famous plain her feet imprinted: they brandish as of wont the long ashen Macedonian shafts, and targes that scarce can ward off savage blows. But lo! the Neptunian folk of Onechestus rush on with shouts: they whom Mycalessos nourishes beneath her pines, and Melas, Pallas’ stream, and Gargaphie with the waters loved of Hecate, and they on whose young wheat Haliartos looks jealously, o’ergrowing the glad cornlands with too abundant grass. Unfashioned tree-trunks are their weapons, and lions’ empty jaws their helms, the curving bark affords them bucklers. These, as they lack a king, our own Amphion, look! is leading – ‘tis easy to recognize him, O maid – conspicuous with a lyre and our ancestral bull upon his helm. A blessing on thy courage, youth! he is ready to go where swords are thickest, and protect with naked breast the walls he loves. Ye too come to add your strength to ours, ye Heliconian throng, and thou, Permessus, and Olmius, happy in your tuneful streams, ye have armed your unwarlike sons. Now heartest thou thy people exult in strains worthy of their home, such strains as, when pale winter yields, the swans uplift in praise of smiling Strymon.27 Onward, valiant ones! your praise shall never die, and Muses in songs unending shall recount your wars.”
 He had finished, when the maiden briefly spake in turn: “But those yonder, what tie of birth unites those brethren? So truly alike are their arms, so rise their helmet-peaks into the air together; would that my brothers had such concord!” Smiling the old man answered her: “Thou are not the first, Antigone, to be so deluded in thy seeing; many have called them brethren, for their years deceive. Father and son they are, though the fashions of age are all confounded: the nymph Dercetis in burning passion and shameless lust of wedlock corrupted ere his time the boy Lapithaon, still innocent of the marriage bed and unripe for a lover’s flames; and soon was born the fair Alatreus, and overtakes his father while still in the flower of youth, and assumes his features and confounds their years. So now they rejoice in the false name of brethren, but more the father; for the past has brought him pleasure as well as the years to come.28 Three hundred knights doth the sire marshal for the fray, and the son as many more; these, they say, have left scant Glisas and Coronia, once their husbandmen, Coronia rich in harvest, Glisas fertile in the grape.
 “But rather look at Hypseus casting his shadow far o’er his lofty steeds, his left side guarded by the sevenfold bull’s-hide of his shield, his breast by triply woven mail;: his breast, for no fear hath he for his back. His spear is an ancient glory of the woodland: once thrown it always cleaves armour and flesh alike, and his hand fails never of its aim. Asopos is deemed his sire, a father worthy to behold, when in full torrent he sweeps past the wreck of bridges, or in swollen wrath and vengeance for his maiden daughter he lashes his waters to fury and scorns the Thunderer her paramour. For they say that Aegina was carried by force from her father’s stream and hidden in the embrace of Jove; the river in wild rage prepares fierce war against the stars – not yet had even the gods such licence –; in defiant, quenchless anger he stood and strove, nor had he any whose aid he could implore, till, scarce subdued by the threefold lightning of the brand, he yielded. Even yet doth the proud flood rejoice from out his heaving banks to pant forth ‘gainst heaven fiery ashes, the signs of his dire punishment, and Aetnaean vapours. Such fury shall we marvelling see in Hypseus on the Cadmean plain, if but Aegina has happily appeased the Thudnerer. He leads the men of Itone and Minerva’s Alalcomenaean bands, and those whom Midea furnishes and Arne rich in grapes, the men who sow the fields of Aulis and of Graea and verdant Plataeae, and subdue Peteon with furrows and hold – where it is ours – Euripus whose current ebbs and flows, and thee, Anthedon, remotest of our lands, where from the grassy shore Glaucus plunged beneath the waters that summoned him, sea-green already in face and hair, and started to behold the fish-tail growing from his waist.29 They whirl the sling and cleave the zephyrs with the bullets: their javelins will outstrip fleet arrows.
 Thou too, Cephisus, wouldst have sent Narcissus,30 pre-eminent in beauty, but already, stubborn-hearted boy, he is a pale flower in a Thespian field: thou, O father, dost lave it with thy childless waves. Who could recount to thee the troops of Phoebus and of ancient Phocis? Panope, Daulis, Cyparissos, they valleys, Lebadia, and Hyampolis that nestles beneath a beetling cliff, the husbandmen who with their bulls upturn Parnassos’ either slope and Cirrha and Anemoria and the woodland of Corycia, and Lilaea that sends forth the ice-cold springs of Cephisus, whither Python was wont to take his panting thirst and turn aside the river from the sea: on all their helms behold the entwined bay, on all their armour Tityos or Delos or the quivers that he god emptied here in countless slaughter.31 Their leader is warlike Iphitus, whose father lately slain was Naubolus, son of Hippasus, thy friend, most gentle Laius: still was I holding the chariot-reins, without thought of ill, when thy neck lay mangled by cruel blows beneath the horses’ hooves – would that my blood had flowed there too!” 32
 His eyes were moistened as he spoke, and all his face grew pale, and sudden sobs checked the free passage of his voice; his ward soothes the trembling old man’s friendly heart; he recovers and faintly speaks: “O thou, my anxious pride and chiefest pleasure, Antigone! ‘tis for thee I shamelessly delay my late-arriving death, though perchance I must behold the crimes and murders of thy house repeated, until I deliver thee unharmed and fit for wedlock: that is enough; then, O Fates, let me leave this weary life. But while I am feebly swooning, what mighty champions – ah! now I see them again – have passed before us! Clonis I numbered not, nor the long-haired sons of Abas, nor thy men, rocky Carystus, nor low-lying Aegae and lofty Caphereus. But now my dimmed sight says me nay, and all have halted, while thy brother, look! bids the armed hosts be silent.”
 Scarce had the old man ended upon the tower, when the prince began from a high mound: “Great-hearted chieftains, whom I your leader would not refuse to obey and fight, a common soldier for my native Thebes, no attempt were mine to stir your zeal – for freely have ye rushed to arms and of your own accord taken oath to champion my righteous anger – nor shall I suffice to praise enough or pay you worthy thanks – the gods and your own victory o’er the foe will make requital; from friendly peoples are ye come to protect a city assailed by no pillaging warrior from foreign shores, no stranger from an alien land, but a native enemy, who as he marshals his opposing camps has here a father and a mother and sisters of one blood, ay, and a brother had he too. Lo! with what guilt thou plottest destruction everywhere against thy father’s race; but the Aonian peoples have come willingly to my aid, nor, cruel one, am I left to be thy victim. What yonder army wills, thou too shouldest be feeling: they forbid me to give up the throne.” Thus he spoke, and orders all things duly, who are to meet the foe, who to guard the walls, what troops shall lead the van, whom he shall place in mid-array. Even so does a shepherd, while the earth is fresh and the rays are shining through the doorways, unfasten the wattled pens; he bids the leaders go first, then follow the crowding ewes; he himself aids those that are with young, and the parents whose udders trail the ground, and bears to their mothers’ side the failing lambs.
 Meanwhile the Danai by day and night and night and day march under arms: wrath bears them onward; they scorn repose, scarce sleep or food delays them, like a fleeing army they haste toward the foe. They heed not the portents that chance, the herald of doom, with ominous presage strews thickly in their path; for birds and beasts give awful warnings, stars also and backward flowing rivers, and the Father thunders against them and baneful lightnings gleam; terrifying voices are heard in the shrines, and temple gates shut of their own accord; now it rains blood, now stones, ghosts suddenly appear and sires of old confront them weeping. Then too did Apollo’s oracle at Cirrha fall silent, and all night through in months unwonted did Eleusis wail, and prophetic Sparta saw in open temples – fearful sight! – the brethren of Amyclae33 locked in conflict. The Arcadians say that in the silence of the night Lycaon’s shade barked madly,34 and hiss own Pisa tells that Oenomaus drove o’er that cruel plain; Achelous, maimed of either horn,35 was dishonoured by the Acarnanian exile.36 Sad is the image of Perseus to which Mycenae prays, and downcast is Juno’s ivory statue; the rustics tell how mighty Inachus bellowed, and the dweller by the double main37 how Theban Palaemon made lament over the whole sea. The Pelopean phalanx hears these warnings, but warlike ardour hinders heavenly counsels and robs them of their terror.
 Already they were come to thy banks, Asopus, and the Boeotian streams. The squadrons dared not cross the hostile river forthwith; by chance too he was descending in mighty flood upon the trembling fields, whether the rain-bringing bow or mountain clouds had given him strength, or whether the river-sire so purposed and hurled his stream athwart them to forbid their arms. Then fierce Hippomedon with a great tearing of the bank thrust down his wavering steed, and supported by reins and trappings shouts from mid-stream to the leaders left behind: “Forward, ye men! And I will be the first, I warrant you, to lead the attack and break through the Theban ramparts.” All fling themselves into the river, ashamed to have but followed. Just so do cattle stand dismayed when the herdsman drives them to an unknown stream; far distant seems the other bank, and fear38 stretches wide between; but when the chieftain bull leaps in and makes the crossing, then gentler seem the waters, and easier to plunge, and the banks seem to draw nearer.
 Not far from thence they mark a ridge and suitable ground for a safe camp, whence too they can behold the city and the Sidonian towers; the situation pleased them and offered secure retreat upon a high and spreading hill, with open swelling fields beneath nor any other mountains near at hand to overlook; no weary toil added long lines of earthworks, for nature herself marvellously favoured the spot. Rocks rose to form a rampart, and the shelving earth served for trenches, and four chance mounds made bastions: the rest they themselves provide, until all the light had left the hills, and sleep gave rest to weariness.
 What words could portray the consternation of Thebes? In the face of war’s impending doom dark night racks her with sleepless terror and threatens her with the coming day. Men hurry hither and thither on the walls; in that awful panic nought seems guarded or secure enough, no strength is in Amphion’s fortress. Rumour announces other foes on every side, and Fear yet more and mightier; yonder they see the Inachian tents and foreign watch-fires in their own native hills. Some pray and entreat the gods, others exhort their weapons of war and battle-steeds, others weeping embrace the hearts they love and piteously appoint their pyres and funeral honours for the morrow.39 If their eyes are closed in a brief slumber, they are waging war; distraught they now sicken of life, now prize delay; they pray for the light, yet fear its coming. Tisiphone, shaking her twin serpents, goes rioting through either camp; brother against brother she inflames and against both their sire: aroused he wanders far from his secret cell,40 and implores the Furies and prays for his lost eyes once more.
 Already had breaking day put out cold Phoebe and the fading stars, while Ocean was pregnant with dawning fire, and the sea’s expanse, revealed by new-born Titan, was sinking to rest beneath his radiant panting steeds: lo! Jocasta, wild-eyed, with hoary unkempt hair falling about her haggard face, her bosom bruised and livid and in her hand a branch of olive entwined with sable wool, goes forth from the gates in all the mighty majesty of sorrow, like to the most ancient of the Furies. On this side and on that her daughters, now the better sex,41 support her as she hastens her aged limbs and would fain go faster than her strength allows. She goes to meet the foe, and baring her breast she strikes upon the gates and with tremulous wail prays for admittance: “Unbar the road! it is the guilty mother of the war who asks you; some right to utter curses in this camp have I by virtue of this womb.” The squadrons started with alarm beholding her, and hearing her, yet more; and now the messenger sent to Adrastus returns; at his command they receive her, and open a way through the swords’ midst.
 As soon as she saw the Achaean princes, she uttered a fearful cry of rage and grief: “Ye Argive chiefs, who will show me the enemy whom I bore? Under what helm – tell me – shall I find my son?” Thus frantic she is met by the Cadmean hero, who clasps her to him and sheds tears of joy, and holding her in his arms consoles her, and ever and anon repeats “mother!” “mother!” entreating now herself, now his beloved sisters – when the aged dame mingles sharp anger with her weeping: “Why this pretence of unmanly tears and venerable names to me, O Argive prince? Why doest thou put thy arms about my neck, and crush thy hated mother against this mail-clad breast? Art thou that wandering exile, that hapless stranger? Whose heart wouldest thou not stir? Far-stretching cohorts await thy word and countless blades glitter at thy side. Ah! we unhappy mothers! Is this the son whom I wept for day and night? Yet if thou hast respect for the counsel of thy kinsfolk, now, while the armies are silent, and natural affection shrinks irresolute from war, I thy mother command thee and entreat: come with me, and look at least on thy country’s gods and the homes which soon must burn, and, thy brother – why dost thou look away? – speak to thy brother and demand thy realm with me now for arbiter: either he will grant it, or thou wilt resume the sword with better right. Or fearest thou, lest there be treachery, and I thy mother purposely deceive thee? Not so wholly ahs righteousness fled our unhappy house; scarce shouldst thou have to fear if Oedipus led thee.42 Sinful verily was my marrying and my bringing forth, but I love you even so – ah! bitter grief! – and even now forgive your fury. But if thou dost persist so far, of our own accord we give thee to the victory, cruel one! Seize thy sisters and bind their hands behind them, load me with chains; thy sire shall also be brought hither, aged though he be. And now to your sense of shame, ye sons of Inachus, I turn my sad appeal; for ye have left at home, each one of you, little ones and aged parents and tears like these: believe in a mother’s feelings! If my son here has grown dear to you so soon – and I pray he may be dear – what must I feel, Pelasgians, how must this bosom suffer! This might I have borne from Hyrcanian or Odrysian princes, and those whose frenzy surpassed my own. Grant my request, or may I die here with my arms around my son, nor live to see this war.”
 The proud cohorts quailed before her words, and one could have seen the warriors’ helmets quaking and their armour bedewed with pious tears. As when lions with furious impact have strewn men and weapons on the ground, straightway their wrath abates, and they rejoice to sate their hunger untroubled on the captured pray: so the Pelasgians’ hearts are swayed and waver, and their fiery greed of battle grows tame.
 He himself, even before their eyes, turns to kiss now his mother, now Ismene plain of speech, now Antigone more tearful in her appeal, and in the varied tumult that distracts his mind the kingdom is forgot; he would fain go, nor does kindly Adrastus forbid him; then Tydeus, mindful of righteous anger, breaks in upon him: “Send me rather, comrades, who lately made trial of Eteocles’ word, though not his brother, send me to face the king, whose boasted peace and honest covenant I yet bear on this breast of mine. Where then was the mother, mediator of peace and honour, when ye stayed me that night with such noble welcome? Is it to such intercourse thou dost drag thy son? Take him to that field which reeks yet richly of Theban blood, and richly yet of mine. Wilt thou follow her so far, too soft of heart, alas! and too forgetful of thy friends? Forsooth, when bared blades flash all round thee in hostile hands, her tears shall lay those swords to rest? Fool that thou art, will he send thee back to the Argive camp, once safe within his walls and at the mercy of his hatred? Ere that will this lance shake off its point and burgeon, or Inachus and my own Achelous flow backward. But ‘tis gentle speech that thou art seeking, and peace amid savage arms: well, this camp too is open to thee, nor has yet merited fear.43 Or am I suspected? then I depart and make a present of my wounds.44 Let him enter: here too will he find mother and sisters to mediate. But suppose that utterly defeated he quits his covenanted realm: wilt thou surrender it a second time?” The troops, swayed by his words, veer round again; as when in a sudden hurricane the South wind swooping down wrests from Boreas the mastery of the sea. The rage of battle finds favour once more; fierce Erinys seizes the moment and sows the seed of opening conflict.
 Two tigers were straying by Dirce’s waters, gentle yoke-fellows, whose warlike chariot had once laid waste the East, but Liber, lately triumphant from Erythraean45 shores, had suffered them to roam in Aonian fields. The followers of the god and, as of wont, an aged priest are zealous to adorn them, forgetful now of bloodshed and redolent of Indian herbs, with full-grown shoots and varied clusters of the vine, and deck their spotted hide with bands of purple. And by now the very hills and even – who would believe it? – the cattle loved them, and the lowing heifers ventured near; for no hunger drives them to fell deeds, they take their food from hands ready to feed them, and throw back their terrible heads to quaff the wine outpoured; they wander at peace over the countryside; and whenever with placid gait they come into the city, every home and every temple glows with sacrificial fire, and all believe that Lyaeus himself has entered. These did the Fury touch, three times each, with her snaky lash, and stung them to their former mood of madness; they dash forth, and the fields know them not. As when from opposing tracts of heaven two lightning-brands burst forth together, and falling trail through the clouds their length of hair: not otherwise do they with rapid course and furious roar bound o’er the plains, with a mighty spring seize they charioteer, Amphiaraus – nor was it without ill omen,46 that by chance he was first driving his master’s horses to a neighbouring mere – then assail Taenarian Idas, following, and Aetolian Acamas; the horn-footed steeds flee madly over the fields, until Aconteus, kindling at the sight of heroes slain – an Arcadian was he, of wonted valour in the chase – pursued them, now making for their trusted walls, with thick-flung darts, and plying many a spear drove thrice and again the poised javelin through their backs and flanks. But they with a long trail of streaming blood bear fainting to the gates the darts that pierced them, and uttering human wails lean their wounded bodies on the walls they love. One would think the city and its shrines were being plundered, and the Sidonian homes were ablaze with accursed fire, such clamour arises when the gates are opened; rather would they that the cradle of great Hercules had perished, or Semele’s bower or Harmonia’s bridal chamber. Phegeus, votary of Bacchus, rushes with drawn sword on Aconteus, now weaponless and exulting in his victims twain; the youth of Tegea dash up in tardy succour, but already on the sacred bodies of the beasts the youth lies dead, and sorrowing Bacchus is avenged.
 The Grecian council too is broken up in the sudden tumult of the camp: Jocasta flees through the enemy, already in battle trim; no longer dares she supplicate; they, of late so courteous, now spurn her and her daughters, and Tydeus is quick to use the moment: “Away with you, now hope for peace and honest dealing! Surely he could have waited and delayed the outrage till his mother had returned in safety?” So speaking he bares his blade and calls to his comrades. And now fierce shouts are raised, and on every side wrath boils to fever-heat; the host assembles in disorder, chiefs are confounded with the common soldiers, and leaders’ commands unmarked; horsemen, infantry in troops and rapid chariots are intermixed, and an indiscriminate mob urges the rout, nor is there time to display themselves nor scan the foe. Then in sudden swarms the youth of Thebes and Argos engaged; standards and bugles are in the rear, and the trumpets must needs follow to find the battle. So great waxes the conflict from so little bloodshed! Even so the wind gathers its earliest strength within the clouds: gentle as yet, it sways the leaves and the unprotected summits, but soon it has torn away the forest and laid the dark mountain bare to view.
 Come now, Pierian sisters, ‘tis of no far-off deeds we bid you tell, sing your own country’s wars, your own Aonia; for ye beheld while Mars raged near and the quills of Helicon shook at the blaring of Tyrrhenian bronze.
 The horse of Sidonian Pterelas, untrustworthy in battle, carries his rider, tearing at the reins, through the enemy’s lines; and now he is free, so weary is his master’s arm, when through his shoulder the spear of Tydeus flies, and pierces the youth’s left thigh and nails him swooning to his seat; away he dashes, pinned to his dead lord, and bears him on, though no more he holds weapon or bridle: even as a Centaur, not yet bereft of both his lives, sinks on his own back in death. They vie with each other in the deadly work: in furious interchange Hippomedon lays Sybaris low, Menoeceus Pylian Periphas, Parthenopaeus Itys: Sybaris falls a victim to the reeking blade, fierce Periphas to the spear-point, Itys to a treacherous arrow. Marvortian Haemus severs with a blow the neck of Inachian Caeneus: his eyes wide-opened seek the trunk across the cloven wound, his spirit the head; already Abas was spoiling him as he lay, when caught by an Achaean shaft he left fall in death his foeman’s buckler and his own.
 Who persuaded thee, Eunaeus, to desert they Bacchic worship and the groves a priest may never leave, and to change thy Bromian frenzy? Whom couldst thou make afraid? Pale ivy-wreaths of Nysa garland the weak texture of thy shield, and a while riband is fastened to thy vine-wood javelin. Tresses hide his shoulders, and the down is yet growing on his cheeks; his corslet blushes unwarlike with threads of Tyrian dye, he wears bracelets upon his arms and embroidered sandals on his feet, and is garbed in linen folds; a smooth golden clasp bites with a tawny jasper stone his Taenarian cloak, whereon rattle the nimble bow-case and the bow and the hanging quivers of gold-embroidered lynxes’ hide. Crazed by the god he goes through the midst of thousands, and cries afar: “Stay your hands! these walls Apollo revealed by the good omen of Cirrha’s heifer!47 Forbear! rocks came willingly of their own accord to form them. A sacred race are we: Jove is this city’s son-in-law, and its father-in-law is Gradivus48: Bacchus and great Alcides we truly call our children.”
 Amid boasts so vain fierce Capaneus meets him, a tall spear in his hand. And as at break of day a lion in his gloomy lair stirs up his fresh-awoken fury, and spies from the grim cave a hind or bullock with yet unwarlike forehead, and leaps forth with joyous roar, though assailed by the spears of hunting bands, but he sees his prey and knows not of his wounds: so then did Capaneus exult in the unequal conflict and poised for the throw the great weight of his cypress-spear. Yet first he cries: “Why, doomed one, doest thou affright our troops with womanly howls? Would that he for whom thou ragest would come himself to battle! Go, bawl that message to thy Tyrian dames!” and therewith he flung the spear, which in its flight, as though no force could meet and stay it, scarce rang upon the shield and already had passed clean through his back. His weapons fall, the gold resounds with long choking sobs, blood streams forth and overflows his bosom. Thou art fallen, bold youth; thou too, one favourite more49 of Aonian Lyaeus, art fallen. Thee languid Ismarus lamented with broken wands, thee Tmolus and fruitful Nysa mourned, and Naxos of Theseus’ fame, and Ganges, that in fear swore fealty to Theban orgies.50
 Nor was Eteocles found a sluggard by the Argolic bands, but Polynices’ sword, more sparing, shrank from his countrymen. Before the rest Amphiaraus shines pre-eminent, although already51 his horses fear the ground, and ‘mid clouds of dust he upturns the indignant plain; Apollo sadly sheds a vain lustre upon his servant, and makes his last hours glorious. His shield too and his helm he sets afire with starry splendours, nor, Gradivus, wert thou slow to grant thy brother than no human hand, no mortal weapon should have power to harm the seer, but that he should go to Dis sacred and venerable in death. In such wise, conscious himself of doom, he is borne into the thickest of the fray; the assurance of death gives him new strength, his limbs grow mightier and the sky more favourable,52 nor ever knew he so well to read the heavens, had he but leisure: but Valour, near the neighbour of death, turns his gaze away. He glows with an insatiable love of savage War and revels in his might, and his fiery soul exults. Is this he who so oft alleviated the lot of man and made the Fates powerless? How quickly changed from him who was skilled to follow the guidance of tripod and of bay, to salute Phoebus and learn the import of the birds in every cloud! Like some pestilence or adverse ray of baleful star, his sword offers up to his own shade a host innumerable. With a javelin he slays Phlegyas and proud Phyleus, with scythed chariot he mows down Clonis and Chremetaon, the one standing to fight him, the other he severs at the knee; with spear-thrust Chromis and Iphinous and Sages and unshorn Gyas and Lycoreus sacred to Phoebus – the last unwillingly: already had he driven home the ashen strength of the spear when the falling crest revealed the fillet – with a stone Alcathous, to whom by the meres of Carystus was home and wife and his children who loved its shores. Long had he lived a poor searcher of the waters: earth played him false, and dying he praises the storms and winds, and the more welcome dangers of the familiar sea.
 Long has Asopian Hypseus beheld from far the slaughter of the scattered rout, and burned to stay the tide of battle, though he himself not less has put to flight Tirynthian53 forces; but the sight of the augur made him heed the present carnage less: for him his warlike spirit yearns. A dense phalanx of the foe bars his way: then proudly he makes ready a javelin, chosen from his father’s banks, and first exclaims: “O bounteous lavisher of Aonian streams, Asopus, yet renowned for the ashes of Giants,54 give power to this right hand; thy son and the oaken nursling of thy river ask thee; if thou didst strive with the Sire of all the gods, I may despise Phoebus. All his armour will I sink in thy waters, and the sad fillets from the augur’s head.” His father heard him, but Phoebus would not suffer him, fain though he was, to grant the prayer, and turns the blow aside upon Herses the charioteer. He falls, and the god himself takes up the straying reins, assuming the feigned shape of Haliacmon of Lerna. Then indeed no squadrons try to resist his fiery course, but flee in terror unalloyed, and in their panic they die a coward’s death unwounded; ‘tis doubtful to the view onward by the burden. So when a cloud-encompassed mountain-side is loosened by the fresh storms of winter, or by irresistible decay of age, it crashes down upon the plain, a fearful terror, and sweeps away in many a track of ruin fields, husbandmen, and aged oaks, and at length, its furious rush exhausted, either scoops out a vale or bars a river in mid-course. Not otherwise does the chariot, burdened by the great warrior and the mighty god, drive furiously through many a scene of bloodshed. From his seat the Delian guides both reins and weapons, and instructs his aim; he turns aside hostile darts and cheats the flying javelins of their fortune. Menaleus on foot is overthrown, and Antiphus, no whit defended by his lofty steed, and Aëtion, born of a nymph of Helicon, and Polites, ill-renowned for a brother’s murder, and Lampus, who tried to defile the couch of the priestess Manto: against him Phoebus with his own hand sped holy arrows. And now the horn-footed steeds snort at the corpses in alarm and probe the ground, and every wheel-track runs o’er bodies and reddens deep with severed limbs. Some the remorseless axle grinds unconscious, but others half-dead from wounds – and powerless to escape – see it as it draws nigh to crush them. Already the reins are wet with gore, the slippery care gives no foothold, blood clogs the wheels and trampled entrails hinder the horses’ hooves: then the hero himself madly tears out darts abandoned in the slain and spears projecting from the midst of corpses: ghosts shriek and pursue the chariot.
 At length, revealing to his servant all his godhead, Apollo said: “Use the light that is thine, and put on eternal fame, while Death irrevocable fears me in thy company. We are overcome: thou knowest that the cruel Fates unravel no threads; depart, long-promised delight of Elysian peoples, thou who of a surety wilt never bend thy neck to Creon’s rule, or lie exposed and barred from burial.”
 The other, taking breath awhile from the fight, makes answer: “Long since knew I, Cirrhaean father, that thou wert seated on my doomed chariot’s trembling axle – why such high honour to my hapless plight? – How long wilt thou delay the death that threatens me? Already I hear the flow of rapid Styx, and the dark rivers of Dis and the triple baying of his noxious sentinel. Receive the honours thou didst bestow upon my head, receive the laurels which may not be taken down to Erebus. Now with my last words, if any gratitude be owed to thy prophet ere he depart, I commend to thee, O Phoebus, my betrayed home and the punishment of my wicked spouse and my son’s noble rage.” Sad at heart Apollo leapt down and turned to hide his tears: then verily groaned the chariot and the horses, thus left desolate. Not otherwise in a blind hurricane at night, when he North-wester blows, does a ship know that she will perish, so soon as the brethren of Therapnae have fled the sials their sister’s fire has doomed.55
 And now little by little the earth began to shudder to its rending, and the surface to rock, and the dust to rise in thicker clouds, already an infernal bellowing fills the plain. In alarm they think it is the battle and noise of conflict, and hasten in their steps: a shock far different hurls arms and warriors and marvelling steeds to earth; already the leafy summits are nodding, and the walls, and Ismenos flees with all his banks exposed to view; their wrath is abated, they fix their swaying weapons in the ground, or wandering meet and lean on their rocking spears, and start when they see each other’s pallor. So when Bellona, scorning the deep,56 joins ships in battle on the sea, then, should a kindly tempest befall, all look to their own safety, and another death bids all their swords be sheathed, and common fears make peace among them. Such was the appearance of the heaving combat on the plain. Whether the earth, labouring with imprisoned blasts, expelled the pent-up fury of the raging wind, or whether hidden waters ate away and wore down and sapped the crumbling soil, or the fabric of the rolling sky flung that way its weight, or Neptune’s trident moved all the ocean and flung too vast a sea upon the shore, or whether that uproar was a tribute to the seer, or Earth threatened the brothers – lo! in a gaping chasm the ground yawns sheer and deep, and stars and shades feel mutual terror. Him the huge abyss engulfs, and swallows the horses as they try to leap across it; he drops neither reins nor weapons, but, just as he was, drove his unshaken chariot down to Tartarus, and as he sank looked back at the heavens and groaned to see the plain meet above him, until a fainter shock joined once more the parted fields and shut out the daylight from Avernus.
1. Callisto of Parrhasus in Arcadia, who was turned into a bear and made the constellation of Ursa Major.
2. The strange phrase appears to express the love of the War-God for the warrior people (the Thracians), and also his joy in bloodshed for its own sake.
3. See note on vi. 822.
4. Theban. “Tritonia”: i.e., Pallas Athena, the warlike goddess; the name was derived from a lake in Libya, where she was born, according to one legend.
5. Statius uses “cardo” here not in its literal sense of “hinge,” though “portae” follows, but as = “pole” (so Lucan often). The North is one of the poles or turning-points of the world, and also a gate or entrance into the sky, as being the nearest point to it; the two ideas are combined in the one phrase.
6. i.e., the broad-brimmed hat known as “petasus,” regularly worn by Mercury.
7. Statius is thinking of the pediment of some temple; he appears to describe now carvings, now real things. No doubt he has Virg. Aen. vi. 183 sqq. In his mind.
8. Mulciber (Vulcan) was the architect and craftsman of the gods (cf. Milton, P.L. i. 730 sqq.); he had here given Mars of his best work, because he had not yet been offended by Mars’ intrigue with Venus, his wife; on that occasion he had caught them together by means of a cunning bed he had made himself, cf. Hom. Od. viii. 266 sqq.
9. i.e., let not the festivals of Olympia, Delphi, or the Isthmus be more honoured. For Pelops see n. on iv. 590. The snake is the Python slain by Apollo, the shade that of Palaemon.
10. A curious parallel with Macbeth.
11. The lightning that struck his mother Semele and caused his birth.
12. Callisto (see on i. 8) was beloved of Jupiter.
13. Bacchus, born untimely from Semele his mother, when she was blasted with Jove’s lightning, was received into his father’s thigh, and born again from there.
14. i.e., in Bacchic revelling.
15. i.e., my citizens.
16. “hated,” because Juno was its patron goddess, the enemy of Thebes and Semele.
17. “ditare” is one of the hose infinitives of purpose that Statius uses so freely, cf. iii. 322. Often the sense is helped by the main verb bearing analogy to a verb that would naturally take an infinitive; this, however, is not the case here.
18. i.e., anchor it safely there.
19. In her contest with Poseidon Athena repelled the waters of the sea-god; Epaphus was the son of Zeus by Io; on Cyllene Maia bore Hermes to Zeus, while Ida in Crete was the scene of Zeus’ own birth.
20. Antiope, daughter of Nycteus.
21. The metaphor here is from spinning, of which “deducere” is a common term; “immoto” must therefore mean “steady,” “unshaken.”
22. More literally, “that I have already begun to whirl.”
23. Pentheus, king of Thebes, was torn in pieces by the Bacchanals, whose revelling he tried to put down.
24. i.e., the Epigoni, or perhaps Alexander, whose troops sacked Thebes.
25. Various causes are assigned for Diana’s anger with Orion; see Class. Dict.
26. Thisbe was famous for its doves. All these towns are in Boeotia; a very similar list occurs in Plin. N.H. iv. 7. 12, but Statius also takes hints from Homer’s Catalogue, e.g. polutêrôna Thisbên, poiêenth’ Haliarton, see Il. ii. 494 sqq.
27. “deducere” here with two accusatives, the phrase “concentum deducere” being equivalent to “cantare,” another example of Statian analogy. The construction is found also in Greek.
28. “olim” has the Silver Latin meaning “all this time” (= “iamdudum”); “iuvat” seems to be used first impersonally and then with “senectus” as subject.
29. “mixtos” is pregnant, “joined with and growing from.”
30. Narcissus, beloved of Echo, fell in love with his own image while gazing into the water; he remained there till he died, when he was turned into the flower called after him. Cephisus is the Boeotian, not the Attic, river of that name (but cf. Soph. Oed. Col. 681 sqq.).
31. The Parnassians bear on their shields emblems of Apollo’s exploits, e.g. the slaughter of Tityos who attempted to outrage Leto, and of the Python, the snake that ravaged Delphi, or Delos, the island where he was born.
32. Oedipus, not knowing Laius, his father, met him at the place where three roads meet (“trifidae in Phocidis arto,” i. 65), and slew him in a quarrel that arose there.
33. Castor and Pollux.
34. Lycaon was turned into a wolf by Jupiter.
35. By Hercules in the struggle for Deianira.
36. “exile,” i.e. Tydeus.
37. i.e., at the Isthmus of Corinth, where Palaemon, son of Ino, was worshipped.
38. This use of “timor” may be compared with that in l. 746 of a landslide, “desilit horrendus timor.”
39. They are so sure of being slain in battle that they order their own funeral pyre for the next day.
40. Oedipus had remained secluded in an inner chamber of the palace, cf. i. 49.
41. i.e., in contrast to their “impious” brothers.
42. i.e., to Thebes, whither Jocasta has invited him.
43. Tydeus ironically repeats Jocasta’s plea for discussion, and suggests that it might just as well take place in the Argive camp; cf. l. 509 (“adloquere”).
44. i.e., ask no vengeance for them. “Him” in the next sentence is, of course, Eteocles. In ll. 558, 559 the point seems to be, arbitrate if you wish, but if you fight and drive him from the throne, you are not likely to surrender it again, i.e., you will be perpetually king; therefore it is best to fight.
45. The “mare Erythraeum” or Red Sea was what we call the Persian Gulf.
46. The death of Amphiaraus’s charioteer was an omen of that of his master. “primus”: he happened to be first, and Idas and the others were following.
47. Which the oracle bade Cadmus follow till it lay down, and there built a city. The heifer was to be the first they saw on going out from the temple, hence “Cirrhaea,” i.e., Delphis, from Cirrha, port of Delphi.
48. Semele was the wife of Jove, and Harmonia the daughter of Mars and Venus.
49. i.e., after Phegeus, l. 603.
50. All these are places connected with Bacchus. India was conquered by him, according to one legend.
51. See l. 586.
52. i.e., the omens of the sky (“dies” often = “caelum”) grew more and more favourable.
53. i.e., Argive.
54. For meaning see ll. 315 sqq. The “oaken nursling” is his spear.
55. The star of Helen was baneful, as those of her brothers were beneficial to ships at sea. Cf. Silv. iii. 2. 8 sqq; also Plin. N.H. ii. 37.
56. i.e., outraging it by making it the scene of war. “Kindly,” as being safer than battle.