Classical Texts Library >> Statius, Thebaid >> Book 10




Exile of Polynices & Tydeus


Bridal of the Adrastides
Embassy of Tydeus to Thebes


The Winds of War;
Prophecy of Amphiaraus


Army of the Seven
Necromancy of Tiresias
Drought of Nemea


Hypsipyle & the Lemnians
Death of Opheltes


Funeral of Opheltes
The First Nemean Games


Thebes Preparing for War
Battle & Demise of Amphiaraus


Amphiarus Swallowed by Earth
Battle & Death of Tydeus


Battle & Death of Hippomedon
Battle & Death Parthenopaeus


Night-time Foray
Sacrifice of Menoeceus
Battle & Death of Capaneus


Deaths of Polynices & Eteocles
Creon & Exile of Oedipus


Antigone & Argia
Theseus & Burial of the Dead


[1] Dewy Night overwhelmed Phoebus in the gateway of the West, hastened by the commands of Jove; nought pities he the Pelasgian camp nor the Tyrian forces, but he grieved that beside the warriors so many innocent folk should fall by the sword. Far stretches the plain, a vast unsightly sea of blood; there they leave their arms, and the steeds whereon before they went so proudly, and the corpses deprived of their pyres and the neglected limbs. Then, an unsightly troop with tattered ensigns, they withdraw their exhausted lines, and the gates that were so narrow as they thronged to battle are all too broad as they return. Each side is alike distressed, but Thebes has solace in the four Danaan bands wandering without a chief: like alder vessels on the billowy deep that are widowed of their helmsmen and steered by God and Chance and all the storms. Therefore the Tyrians are emboldened to keep watch no more on their own camp, but rather on their foes’ retreat, lest haply they seek to return with all speed to Mycenae; the watchword gives the signal to the sentinels, and posts are set; Meges by lot, and Lycus at his request are leaders of the night’s enterprise.

[19] And now in marshalled ranks they bring arms and food and fire; the king cheers them as they go: “Conquerors of the Danaans – for tomorrow’s dawn is near, and the darkness that saved the cowards will not last for ever – raise your spirits high and let your hearts be worthy of heaven’s favour. All the glory of Lerna, all her foremost might lies low: Tydeus is gone to avenging Tartarus; Death starts to behold the black augur’s sudden shade1; Ismenos is swollen with the plunder of Hippomedon’s spoils; the Arcadian2 we are ashamed to count among the trophies of war. Our reward is in our hands, gone are the proud leaders of the host, and the chieftains’ crests displayed along the sevenfold array; formidable indeed is Adrastus’ dotage, and my brother’s more cowardly manhood, and Capaneus’ frenzied arms! Forward then, and set your wakeful fires about their beleaguered camp. Ye need not fear the foe; ‘tis booty ye watch, and wealth that at last is yours.”

[35] Thus does he heap encouraging words upon the fierce Labdacidae: they rejoice to repeat the toils already endured. Just as they were, with dust and sweat and blood still caked upon their limbs, they turned to go, scarce heeding the farewells that would stay them, but shaking off the embracing arms and hand-clasps of their friends. Then sharing between them front and rear and curving flanks they ring round the rampart with hostile flame. So gathers at nightfall a herd of ravening wolves, whom over all the country-side hunger that brings reckless daring has starved with long privation: already they are near the very sheep-folds, hope unfulfilled and the feeble bleatings and juicy scents from the pens torture their throats; at last they break their claws against the cruel stakes, and bruise their bodies and blunt their unfleshed fangs upon the doors.

[49] But far away a suppliant train of Pelopean dames, prostrate before their native altars and on the threshold of the Argolic fane, implore the help of sceptred Juno and the return of their loved ones, and press their faces to the cold stones and painted doors, and teach their little children to kneel. The day was already spent in entreaties: night comes and adds its cares, and the altars keep vigil with high-piled fires. They bear too a gift in a basket, a robe whose marvellous texture no hand of childless wife nor of any parted from her husband had wrought, a garment full worthy of the chaste goddess: thereon was much purple, gaily embroidered in manifold design and blazing with interwoven gold. She herself was there, promised in marriage to the great Thunderer, but not yet a bride and timidly putting off her sisterhood; with downcast eyes she kisses the youthful Jupiter, a simple maid, nor yet offended by the secret loves of her husband. With this robe the Argive matrons at that time veiled the sacred ivory image, and with tears and supplications made their prayer: “Look upon the sacrilegious towers of the Cadmean harlot,3 O Queen of the starry pole, shatter that rebel hill, and hurl – for thou canst – another thunderbolt against Thebes.” What can she doe? She knows the Fates are adverse to her Grecians, and Jove’s favour is turned away, but she would that such prayers and gifts were not wasted; nevertheless, a ready chance gave occasion for potent aid. From lofty heaven she sees the city-gates closed and the rampart guarded by sleepless sentinels; the stings of anger thrilled her frame, and stirred her hair and shook the awful diadem: no more fiercely did she rage, when alone in heaven she felt wrath against Alcmene for her offspring and for the Thunderer’s twofold4 adultery. Therefore she determines to make the Aonians, sunk in the timeless bliss of slumber, a prey to death, and bids her own Iris gird herself with her wonted circles, and commits to her all her task. Obedient to command, the bright goddess leaves the pole and wings her way down her long arc to earth.

[84] Beyond the cloud-wrapt chambers of western gloom and Aethiopia’s other realm5 there stands a motionless grove, impenetrable by any star; beneath it the hollow recesses of a deep and rocky cave run far into a mountain, where the slow hand of Nature has set the halls of lazy Sleep and his untroubled dwelling. The threshold is guarded by shady Quiet and dull Forgetfulness and torpid Sloth with every drowsy countenance. Ease, and Silence with folded wings sit mute in the forecourt and drive the blustering winds from the roof-top, and forbid the branches to sway, and take away their warblings from the birds. No roar of the sea is here, though all the shores be sounding, nor yet of the sky; the very torrent that runs down the deep valley nigh the cave is silent among the rocks and boulders; by its side are sable herds, and sheep reclining one and all upon the ground; the fresh buds wither, and a breath from the earth makes the grasses sink and fail. Within, glowing Mulciber had carved a thousand likenesses of the god: here wreathed Pleasure clings to his side, here Labour drooping to repose bears him company, here he shares a couch with Bacchus, there with Love, the child of Mars. Further within, in the secret places of the palace he lies with Death also, but that dread image is seen by none. These are but pictures: he himself beneath humid caverns rests upon coverlets heaped with slumberous flowers, his garments reek, and the cushions are warm with his sluggish body, and above the bed a dark vapour rises from his breathing mouth. One hand holds up the locks that fall from his left temple, from the other drops his neglected horn.6 Vague dreams of countless shapes stand round about him, true mixed with false, flattering with sad, the dark brood of Night, and cling to beams and doorposts, or lie on the ground. The light about the chamber is weak and fitful, and languid gleams that woo to earliest slumbers vanish as the lamps flicker and die.

[118] Hither from the blue sky came in balanced flight the varicoloured maid; the forests shine out, and the shady glens smile upon the goddess, and smitten with her zones of radiance the palace stars from its sleep; but he himself, awoken neither by the bright glow nor by the sound or voice of the goddess, lay motionless as ever, till the Thaumantian7 shot at him all her splendours and sank deep into his drowsy vision. Then thus began to speak the golden fashioner of clouds8: “Sleep, gentlest of the gods, Juno bids thee bind fast the Sidonian leaders and the folk of ruthless Cadmus, who now, puffed up by the issue of the fight, are watching in ceaseless vigil the Achaean rampart, and refuse thy sway. Grant so solemn a request – rarely is this opportunity vouchsafed, to win the favour of Jove with Juno on thy side.” She spoke, and with her hand beat upon his languid breast, and charged him again and yet again, lest her message be lost. He with his own nodding visage9 nods assent to the goddess’ command; o’erweighted with the caverns’ gloom Iris goes forth, and tricks out her beams, made dim by showers of rain.

[137] Himself too he bestirred both swift progress and his wind-torn temples,10 and filling his mantle’s folds with the chill dark air is borne in silent course through heaven, and from afar swoops down in might upon the Aonian fields. The wind of his coming sets birds and beasts and cattle prostrate on the ground, and, whatsoever region of the world he passes in his flight, the waves slide languidly from the rocks, more lazily cling the clouds, the forests bow their summits, and many a star drops from the loosened vault of heaven. The plain first felt the god’s presence by the sudden coming of a mist, and the countless voices and cries of men were hushed; but when he brooded with dewy wings and entered the camp, unsubstantial as a pitchy shadow, eyes wavered and heads sank, and words were left unfinished in mid-speech. Next shining bucklers and cruel spears are dropped from their hands, their faces fall in weariness upon their breasts. And now universal silence reigns: even the horn-footed steeds refuse to stand, even the fires are quenched in sudden ashes.

[156] But slumber woos no the anxious Greeks to the same repose, and the night-wandering, persuasive deity keeps his mists from the camp hard by; on every side they stand to arms, in wrath at the hateful gloom and their foes’ proud sentinels. Lo! a sudden frenzy, heaven-inspired, seizes Thiodamas, and in awful tumult bids him show forth the fates, whether Saturnia11 fired him with this resolve, or kindly Apollo incited his new attendant. He rushes in the midst, fearful to see and to hear, and impatient of the god, whom his frail mind had received but could not contain; his pangs overwhelm him, stark madness reigns upon his visage, and the uncertain blood now distends, now ebbs from his trembling cheeks; his gaze darts here and there, he shakes and scatters on his shoulders the wreaths entwined in his locks. Thus does the Idaean mother summon from the terrible shrine the blood-stained Phrygian and make him unconscious of his knife-hacked arms; he beats the holy pine-brands against his breast, and tosses his gory hair and deadens his wounds by running; all the country-side and the bespattered votary tree12 feels terror, and the panic-stricken lions rear the chariot high.

[176] Now had he reached the inner council-chamber and the revered home of the standards, where Adrastus, long distressed by the dire disasters, takes fruitless counsel for their desperate plight: the new-appointed chiefs stand about him, each the next successor to the slain, and gaze at the empty places of the mighty princes, feeling no joy but rather grief that they are raised so high. Even so when a bark has lost its helmsman and stopped in mid-voyage, either the watchman of the sides or of the wave-breasting prow succeeds to the guidance of the widowed helm; the ship herself is all aghast, and the very tackling is slow to obey the word, nor does she brook the protection of a lesser lord. Therefore with spirited words the prophet rouses the hearts of the downcast Achaeans: “Chieftains, it is the high commands and awful counsels of the gods that I bring you; these words come not from my own breast; he gives the oracle, whom your solemn word, he too consenting, constrained me to serve and to assume his fillets. The divine augury reveals a night fruitful in achievement and well fitted for glory-winning guile; Valour meets and beckons us, and Fortune implores our arms. The Aonian legions are sunk ‘neath the spell of slumber: now is the time to avenge our princes’ deaths and that unhappy day; snatch up your weapons and break through the hindering gates! This means the lighting of our comrade’s pyres, this means their burial. This saw I during the battle of the day, when our arms were stricken and we fled defeated to the rear – I sear it by the tripods and the strange fate of my lost master – I saw it, and the birds around me sang a favouring strain. But now my belief is sure. Only now beneath the silent night he himself – himself, Amphiaraus! – rose up again from the chasm of earth, even as he was – the shades had touched his team alone – and came towards me: ‘tis of no vain phantom of night, or vision of sleep that I tell. `Wilt thou allow the idle sons of Inachus,’ he cries, `– restore then those Parnassian wreaths, give me back my own gods! – to lose so favourable a night, degenerate one? Was it thus I taught thee all the secrets of the sky and the wandering flight of birds? Begone! for me at least take vengeance with the sword.’ He spake, and seemed to raise his lance, and to drive me with all his chariot’s force unto these doors. Arouse you, then, and use heaven’s favour; this is no hand-to-hand slaying of the foe; his men lie prostrate, and ye may take your revenge. Will any come forward, ready to exalt themselves to mighty fame, while the Fates allow? Lo! once again the birds of night are auspicious; I follow them, and though my comrades’ troops lie idle, I go alone! Ay, and there he too comes, shaking his reins!”

[219] With such cries did he disturb the night: the chiefs pour forward, fired as though the same got inspired the hearts of all: they burn to accompany him, and share his fortunes. By command he chooses thirty himself, the flower of all the host; the rest of the youth demand in wrathful clamour, why remain they in the camp ingloriously at ease; some plead their noble birth, some their kinsmen’s deeds, others their own, others again shout for the lot, and all take up the cry. Adrastus exults that they oppose him, and his spirits rise. Thus upon Pholoë’s height a rearer of swift coursers rejoices when the breeding-time of prolific spring has renewed his stud, and he beholds some straining up steep mountain-paths, some swimming the stream, others vying with their sires; then in idle thought he ponders which he shall tame to bear a gentle yoke, which will make good riders, which are born for trumpets and arms, which best fitted to win the palm of Elis: such was the aged chieftain of the Achaean host. Nor does he fail the enterprise: “Whence of a sudden comes so late the favour of heaven? What gods are ye, who have turned again to Argos in her distress? Is this the valour born of misfortune? Does the vigour of our race still survive, and seeds of courage endure in spite of adversity? Yea, I praise you, heroic youths, and enjoy my warriors’ glorious mutiny; but it is fraud and a hidden assault that we devise, our movements must be concealed; a crowd ill fits a secret ruse. Nurse then your rage, lo! dawn will bring vengeance on our foes; then shall the fight be open, and all take the field!” These words at length restrained and allayed their ardour: even so might father Aeolus, when the cave is in a tumult and the winds are already yearning for the deep, sternly set another rock against the door, and wholly bar their passage.

[249] Beside the rest the seer takes with him Agylleus, son of Hercules, and Actor: persuasive of speech is Actor, the other boasts strength equal to his sire’s; with each go ten companions, a troop that even in open fight the Aonians would fear. He himself, since he goes to unwonted battle and ruse of war, lays down the sacred leaves, the emblems of Phoebus, and entrusts the glory of his brow to the bosom of the aged prince, and dons helm and corslet, the welcome gift of Polynides. Fierce Capaneus fastens his heavy sword on Actor, not deigning himself to go by stealth against the foe, or to follow where heaven leads. Agylleus borrows the arms of truculent Nomius; for what would the bow and shafts of Hercules have availed him, battling amid deceiving shades?

[262] Then, lest the brazen hinges groan too loudly, they leap down from the steep battlements of the fortress wall; nor is it long before lo! their prey lies vast upon the ground, as though already lifeless and slain by many a sword. “Forward, friends, withersoe’er delight in carnage unsated takes you, and have strength for the work I pray, since heaven shows us favour!” Now with loud voice the seer exhorts them, “See ye the cohorts lying in base torpor? Shame on them! Dared these beleaguer Argive gates, and keep watch on heroes?” So spake he, and drew his flashing sword, and with swift hand passed over the doomed lines. Who could reckon up the slaughter, or give names to all the crowd of corpses? At random he goes o’er backs and breasts, and leaves behind him groans stifled in their helms, and mingled all his victims in a welter of blood; one stretched carelessly upon a couch, another slipping with reeling steps upon his shield, too late, and fumbling with his arms, others lying in a throng amid wine and weapons, others propped against their shields – each one just as ill-fated slumber and the night that was their last had bound and cast them to the ground. Nor lack they divine power, but armed Juno frees her right hand and brandishing a lunar torch13 makes clear their path and strengthens their courage and displays the bodies. Thiodamas feels her presence, but conceals his joy in silence; already his hand grows slow, and his blade weak, and his fury is dimmed by too much success. Not otherwise does a Caspian tigress, amid a mighty slaughter of bullocks, when fury appeased by streams of gore has wearied out her jaws and stained her stripes in foul clotted corruption, behold her work, and grieve that her appetite fails; so wanders the augur fordone among the Aonian corpses: now would he have a hundred arms, a hundred hands to fight with; already it irks him to squander menaces in vain, and he could wish the foe would rise against him.

[296] Here the son of mighty Hercules, there Actor destroys the sluggish Sidonians, each followed by his own band along a path of slaughter; the grass is black and stagnant with gore, the tents totter and sway in streams of blood, the earth reeks, and the breathing of sleep is mingled with the gasps of death; none of the slumberers lifts his head or turns his gaze, so deep the shade wherewith the winged god broods over the wretched ones, and unseals their eyes but as they die. Ialmenus had spent his last night in unsleeping merriment and with the lute, never to behold to-morrow’s dawn, and was singing a Sidonian paean; under the influence of the god his languid neck sank leftward, and his lyre pillowed his drooping head; through his breast Agylleus drives the blade, and pierces the right hand that grasps the tortoiseshell, and the fingers trembling among their well-known strings. The tables are flooded by the dreadful stream; everywhere flow blood and water mingled, and the wine returned to the goblets and deep mixing-bowls. Fierce Actor catches Thamyris in his brother’s embrace, Tagus stabs garlanded Echetlus in the back, Danaus shears off the head of Hebrus: unwitting alas! he meets his fate, and mirthfully his life passes to the shades, saving the pains of cruel death. Calpetus, lying on the cold ground beneath his trusty chariot-wheels, scared with his heavy breathing his Aonian steeds as they cropped their native grass: his mouth o’erflows with liquor, and his slumber wine-inflamed grows agitated; lo! the Inachian prophet pierces his throat as he lies: the wine is forced out in a great rush of blood, and his murmurs perish in the stream. Perchance his sleep foretold his doom, and in his dream he saw with dismay Thiodamas and a black ruin that was Thebes.

[327] The fourth period of slumberous night remained, when the clouds have shed their dew and not all the stars shine bright, and Bootes flies before the pantings of a mightier care. And now, the task itself failing them, prudent Actor calls Thiodamas: “Sufficient for the Pelasgians is this unhoped-for triumph; scarce any, methinks, of so large a company have escaped cruel death, save the base cowards whom the gory flood conceals, polluted but alive; set a limit to success: dread Thebes too hath her deities. Perchance we too may lose those who late have favoured us.” He consented, and raising his dripping hands to the stars: “These spoils, O Phoebus, the trophies of the night thou didst reveal, I present to thee, I, the bold champion of thy tripods and thy faithful priest, not yet cleansed with water, for this is my sacrifice to thee. If I have not disgraced thy commands and have borne thy instancy, come often to me, often deign to take possession of my mind. Rude is thy guerdon now, maimed limbs and human blood, but if ever, O Paean, thou wilt bestow on me my native home and the temples that I long for, O Lycian god, forget not my vow, but demand as many sumptuous gifts and as many bulls for thy sacred portals.” He spoke, and recalled his comrades from the glad work of arms.

[347] Among these by the will of Fate had come Calydonian Hopleus and Maenalian Dymas, both favourites and close companions of their princes, after whose deaths they grieve and think scorn of living. First Hopleus incites the Arcadian: “Renowned Dymas, hast thou no care for thy hapless prince once slain, though perchance already birds and Theban dogs possess him? What then will ye bring home to your country, yet Arcadians? Lo! his stern mother meets you returning, and asks “Where is his body?” But in my heart unburied Tydeus gives me no rest, though more enduring of limb nor so worthy of lament for an untimely death. Yet fain would I go and search everywhere, high and low, over the ruthless plain, or break into the midst of Thebes.” Dymas makes reply: “I swear by these moving stars, by my chieftain’s wandering shade, to me a power divine, my grief inspires my resolve; my downcast mind hath long looked for a companion, but now I will lead the way” – and straight he stars upon the road, and turning his sad face to heaven thus speaks: “Cynthia, queen of the mysteries of night, if as they say thou dost vary in threefold wise the aspect of thy godhead, and in different shape comest down into the woodland, ‘tis he who was lately thy companion and the glorious nursling of thy groves, ‘tis thine own boy, Diana – now at least look upon us! – ‘tis he we search for.” The goddess stooped her horns and made bright her kindly star, and illumined the battle-field with near-approaching chariot. The plain appears and Thebes and lofty Cithaeron: so when fell Jupiter cleaves the sky at night with thunder, the clouds divide and the bright flash reveals the stars, and the world is suddenly shown to watching eyes. He caught the rays, and by the same piercing light Hopleus sees Tydeus; from afar they joyfully beckon to each other through the darkness, and each lifts his beloved burden on his bowed shoulders, as though it were restored to life and rescued from cruel death; no word to they utter, nor for a long while dare to weep; unfriendly day is nigh at hand, and the sunrise that threatens to betray. Mute they go with long strides through the sad silences and grieve that the exhausted gloom is paling to the dawn.

[384] Fate is envious of devoted souls, and good luck gores rarely with great ventures. Already they see the camp and in thought are at the gates, and lighter grows the burden, when there is a sudden cloud of dust and a sound behind them. It was bold Amphion at the head of his troop, bidden by his chief to explore the night and the guarded camp; he is the first to see far away on the pathless plain – not yet had the light dispersed all the shadows – something stirring faint and doubtful to the sight and bodies moving; then on a sudden he discovers the fraud and cries: “Halt, whoe’er ye be!” but ‘tis plain they are the foe; on go the hapless ones, and fear, though not for themselves; then he threatens the anxious pair with death, and flings his spear, but, aiming in purposed error, sends it high and far beyond them. Before the eyes of Dymas it fell, who by chance was in front: he halted; but Aepytus, proud of soul, cared not to lose his throw, and transfixed the back of Hopleus, grazing thereby the shoulder of Tydeus as he hung. Hopleus falls, not yet forgetful of his peerless chieftain, and dies still clutching him – happy were he ignorant that the corpse was lost – and in such wise descends to the cruel shades.

[405] Dymas had turned and seen, and knew that battle was joined, and doubted whether to use arms or prayers against the oncoming foe: wrath urges arms, fortune bids him try prayer not daring; neither resource brings confidence. Anger forbade entreaty; before his feet he places the hapless body, and flings on his left arm a heavy tiger’s hide that he wore by chance upon his back, and holding out his bared blade he stands on guard, and turns to face every dart, prepared both to slay and to be slain: as a lioness lately whelped, beset by Numidian hunters in her savage lair, stands above her young, erect but doubting in her mind, and utters a wild and melancholy roar; full well could she scatter their array and snap their weapons in her jaws, but love of her offspring overcomes the fierceness of her heart, and from the midst of her rage she looks round upon her cubs. And now the hero’s left hand has been cut away, though Amphion bade them use no violence, and the boy is dragged along by his hair with face upturned.

[422] Then at last, too late a suppliant, he lets fall his blade and makes entreaty: “Carry him less roughly, I pray you, by the cradle of lightning-born Bacchus and the flight of Ino and your own Palaemon’s tender years; if any of you know at home the joy of children, if any here is a father, grant the lad some few handfuls of dust, and a little fire: lo! he implores, the implores you with mute countenance; better that I should sate the accursed fowls, cast me to the wild beasts, ‘twas I that made him dare the fight.” “If so great be thy desire to bury thy prince,” Amphion cried, “tell us, what plan of war have the scared Pelasgians, what purpose they in their broken heartless state? Quick, out with it all, and we grant thee to depart alive and give burial to thy chief!” The Arcadian shuddered, and on the instant plunged his sword up to the hilt in his own breast. “Was this then lacking,” he cried, “to crown our woes, that I should dishonour and betray Argos in her hour of need? That were too dearly bought, nor would he himself wish for the pyre at such a cost.” So speaking, he tore a mighty gash in his breast, and casting him down upon the lad with his last breath murmured: “Yet receive meanwhile this burial with me!” Thus in the longed-for embraces of their chiefs do both the noble-minded pair, Aetolian alike and famed Arcadian, breathe out their peerless souls and taste of death. Ye too are consecrate, though my sons soar for a less lofty lyre, and will go down the unforgetful years. Perchance too Euryalus will not spurn his comrade shades, and the glory of Phrygian Nisus will not say them nay.

[449] But fierce Amphion sends in triumph heralds to report his doings to the king, and inform him of the crafty attack, and deliver back the captured bodies; he himself proceeds to insult the beleaguered Pelasgians, and to display their comrades’ severed heads. Meanwhile from the summit of the walls the Greeks perceive Thiodamas returning, nor conceal any more their joyous outbursts. But when they saw their naked swords and arms all red with recent carnage, a fresh shout leaps upward to the broad sky, and eager throngs hang from the rampart’s top, while each one looks for his own. Even so a crowd of nestlings, seeing their mother returning through the air afar, would fain go to meet her, and lean gaping from the edge of the nest, and would even now be falling, did she not spread all her motherly bosom to save them, and chide them with loving wings. And while they recount their hidden deeds and the swift work of silent war, and clasp their friends in a long embrace, they look for Hopleus and complain of Dymas’ slowness: and lo! Amphion, the commander of the Theban band, had drawn nigh in haste; no long delight had he of his late bloodshed, when he saw the ground a heap of countless bodies, and whole race in the death-throes of one universal doom. Such a tremor as falls on those whom the brand called forth from heaven has smitten, seized now the warrior, and in one spasm voice, sight, and blood all fail, and as he still attempts a groan his charger unbidden wheels him round; ‘mid a whirl of dust the troop flees back.

[474] Not yet had they entered the barred gates of Thebes, when the Argive band, flushed with their nocturnal triumph, leapt forth into the plain; over weapons and prostrate bodies and earth befouled by heaps of slain, and blood still warm with life men and horn-footed steeds go rushing: the heavy hoof crushes the limbs, and a rain of gore bathes and clogs the axles. Sweet is it to the heroes to go by such a road, as if they proudly trampled Sidonian homes and Thebes herself in blood. Capaneus cheers them on: “Long enough, Pelasgians, has our valour lain in hiding; now, now is victory fair in my eyes, in the full blaze of day! On, men, with me to open conflict! Raise the dust and shout your battle-cry! Sure is the omen of my right hand, terrible the fury of my drawn sword!” So he speaks; Adrastus and the Argive prince with eagerness inflame their ire, and the augur follows in sadder mood. Already they are nigh the walls – and still Amphion is telling of the new disaster – and would straight have entered the hapless city, had not Megareus from a high watch-tower exclaimed in haste: “Shut the gates, sentry, everywhere! the enemy comes.”

[493] Overmastering fear sometimes gives strength: quick closes every gate; only while Echion is slow to bar the Ogygian, courageous Spartan warriors break in, and fall in the threshold slain, Panopeus, dweller upon Taygetus, and Oebalus, swimmer of rough Eurotas; thou too, Alcidamas, who didst prove thy worth in every wrestling-ground, and of late win victory in Nemean dust, thou for whom the son of Tyndareus himself fastened thy first gloves; dying thou lookest toward the vault where thy master shines; straightway the god sinks with averted star. Thee the Oebalian woodland, thee the Laconian maiden’s deceitful river-bank shall mourn, and the flood14 that the feigned swan once sang of; thou shalt be wept by Trivia’s Amyclaean Nymphs, and thy mother who taught thee the laws and valiant rules of war shall lament that thou wert too apt a scholar. Thus does Mavors wreak his fury on the threshold of Echion’s town.

[509] At length Acron, heaving with his shoulders, and Ialmenides, leaning all his body’s weight, forced to the bronze-clad doors: with such strength do groaning bullocks cleave side by side the long-unploughed fields of Pangaeum. Yet equal is the loss to their labour’s gain, for they have kept the foe within, and shut out their own countrymen. Ormenus the Grecian is slain within the walls, and while Amyntor stretches imploring arms and pours out prayers, his head is severed, and words and face alike fall to earth, and at the blow a shapely necklace drops from his neck into the hostile dust. Meanwhile the rampart is breached, the first lines give way, and already troops of infantry are at the walls; but the horses fear to leap the wide trenches and shrink back in alarm, and panic-struck at the vast abyss marvel that they are driven on; now they start forward from the edge, now of their own accord recoil upon the reins. Some tear from the ground the planted palisades, others hack at the defences of the gates and sweat to force away the iron barriers, and with beams and sounding bronze drive stones from their places; some hurl torches roofwards and exult when they stick fast, others assail foundations and with the blind tortoise sap the base of hollow towers.

[531] But the Tyrians – their only means of safety – crown the summit of the battlements, and hurl charred stakes and shining darts of steel against the foe, and stones torn from their own walls, and missiles that catch fire as they go through the void of air; a fierce deluge streams from the roof-tops, and the barred windows spew forth hissing javelins. As when the tempests sit motionless in the clouds over Malea or tall Ceraunia’s mount and are ranged about he darkened hills, then suddenly swoop upon the sails beneath: so is the Argive host overwhelmed by the Agenorian arms; yet the relentless rain turns aside neither face nor breast, the warriors keep their gaze steady upon the walls, forgetful of death and seeing nought but their own weapons. While Antheus drives his scythed car round the Theban walls the violent impact of an Ogygian spear strikes him from above; the reins are torn from his grasp, and, scarce alive, he is hurled to the rear upon his back, but stays caught by his greaves; strange sight and horrible fate of war! his arms are dragged along, the smoking wheels and the spear with third furrow ploughing the earth; tossed to and fro the head follows in a long wake of dust, and the broad track of the outspread locks shows clear.

[552] But now the trumpet’s clangour smites the city with dismay, and its harsh sound penetrates the barricaded doors. They divide the approaches, and in every gate there stands a fierce ensign-bearer, raising high for all to see their sufferings or their joys.15 Dreadful is the sight within, scarce Mars himself would rejoice to behold it; Grief and Fury and Panic, and Rout enwrapped in blinding gloom rend with many-voiced discord the frenzied, horror-stricken town. One would think the battle was within; men are hurrying to and fro about the citadel, the streets are full of clamour, everywhere they see in imagination sword and fire, everywhere cruel chains. Fear anticipates the future; already houses and temples are thronged, and the ungrateful shrines are ringed with lamentation. Old and young alike are in the grip of one universal terror; the old men pray for death, the young flush with ardour and grow pale by turns, the houses rock with the shriek of women’s wailing. Children weep, nor know the cause of their weeping, but stand aghast and tremble at their mothers’ sobs. Them love constrains, nor does utmost need admit of shame16; with their own hands they give weapons to the men, with their own voices they fire them to wrath and valour, and exhort them, and rush with them to battle, nor cease amid their tears to show them their ancestral homes and helpless babes. So when a husbandman, on plunder bent, has aroused the armed bees from their rocky cavern, the angry swarm is in an uproar, inciting each other with loud buzzing, and all fly in the enemy’s faces; but soon with failing wings they clasp their waxen home, and bewail the rifled store of honey, and press to their bosoms the laboured combs.

[580] The crowd is filled with the strife of opposing tongues, and spreads discordant passions; some, with no muttered voice, but outspokenly and in open tumult, bid the brother restore the kingdom; in their distress all reverence for their prince is lost: “Let him come, and here make up the count of his bargained year, and salute – unhappy exile! – his Cadmean home and his father’s blindness; why should my blood atone the fraud and the royal miscreant’s traitorous crime?” Then others: “Too late is good faith now, he would rather conquer.” Others in tearful suppliant throng implore Tiresias, and ask – the only solace in adversity – to learn the future. But he withholds and keeps hidden the destinies of heaven: “Is it because17 our monarch so trusted my warning counsels before, when I forbade perfidious warfare? Yet, unhappy Thebes,” he cries, “that art doomed to destruction should I be dumb, I cannot endure miserably to hear of thy fall and with these empty eyes to drink in Argolic18 flames. Let me yield, O Piety!19 ho! maiden, set the altars, let us inquire of the gods above.” She obeys, and keenly gazing informs him of blood-red points of flame and a twofold fire upon the altar, and now the middle blaze yet rises high and clear; then she teaches her doubting sire that the ruddy flame is rolled and shaped with double coil into the ghostly likeness of a serpent20 and illuminates her father’s gloom. He straightway spreads his arms about the garlanded fire, and absorbs the prophetic vapours with glowing countenance. His hair rises in horror and dismay, and the grey locks madly lift high the covering fillets: one would think his eyes were open, and the lost glow had returned again to his cheeks. At length he gave vent in words to the flood of his frenzy: “Listen, ye guilty sons of Labdacus, and hear the last sacrifice of all! Kindly salvation cometh, but by a hard path. The snake of Mars demands a victim and a cruel offering: the latest born of the serpent-brood must fall, at this price alone can victory come. Happy is he whose death shall win so great a guerdon!”

[616] Creon, sad at heart and mourning as yet only for his country and the common fate, stood by the stern altar of the prophetic seer: when with the shock of a sudden blow, as if a flung lance had pierced his breast, he heard, near dead with horror, and knew Menoeceus was demanded. Fear points the truth, nor suffers doubt: he is benumbed by anguish, and any icy dread assails the father’s heart; even so does the Trinacrian21 coast sustain the sea hurled back from the Libyan surge. Then humbly clasping the knees of the seer, who, full of Phoebus, bids him make speed, and touching the lips that chant the oracle, he entreats him to be silent, all in vain; already rumour has seized the word and flies abroad, and Thebes proclaims the oracle.

[628] Come, now, tell who fired the youth with joy in a noble death – for never without haven’s aid is this mind given to men – begin thou, unforgetting Clio, for the ages are in thy keeping, and all the storied annals of the past.

[632] The goddess Virtue, close companion of the throne of Jove, whence rarely she is wont to be vouchsafed to the world and to bless the earth, whether the almighty Father hath sent her, or she herself hath chosen to dwell in men worthy of her – how gladly then did she leap down form the heavenly places! The shining stars gave way before her, and those fires that she herself had fixed in hevaen22; already she treads the earth nor is her countenance far distant from the sky23; but it pleased her to change her aspect, and she becomes sagacious Manto, that her speech might have full credence, and by deceit puts off her former mien. The look of awe, the austerity were gone, something of charm remained, and a softer beauty; the sword was laid aside, and she took instead the prophet’s wand; her robe falls to her feet, and on her stern brow the wool is bound, where before was laurel; yet her grave aspect and more than mortal strides betray the goddess. Even so at Amphitryon’s son did his Lydian mistress24 laugh, when putting off the bristling hide he marred the Sidonian raiment with his vast shoulders, and wrought confusion in the distaff and smashed the timbrels with his hand.

[650] Nor does she find thee, O Menoeceus, an unworthy victim, nor unfit to receive so solemn a behest, as thou standest before the Dircaean tower; the huge gate unbarred, thou wert slaying the Danaans, and Martian Haemon25 in like manner. But though ye were of one blood, and in everything brothers, thou hadst first place: heaps of dead are piled around thee, every dart finds its mark, no stroke but a victim falls – nor yet had Virtue come to aid – neither mind nor hand is idle, the eager weapons are never still, even the Sphinx, the guardian of his casque, appears to rage, the image, animated by the sight of blood, flashes out, and the bespattered brass gleams: when the goddess stays the warrior’s hand upon the sword-hilt: “Great-hearted youth, than whom none were more surely known of Mars to be of Cadmus’ fighting seed, leave these mean affrays, such is not the prowess reserved for thee: the stars are calling thee, thou shalt send thy soul to heaven – conceive a nobler destiny! This it is that inspires my father’s frenzy at the joyful altars, this the flames and the fibres demand, this doth Apollo urge: they call for an earth-born one on behalf of our country’s common life. Rumour repeats the counsel, the folk of Cadmus, certain of thee, rejoice; take the gods’ word to heart, and snatch a glorious fate. Go, I pray thee, and hasten, lest Haemon by thy side forestall thee.” So speaking she assured his wavering mind with the silent touch of her mighty hand, and left herself within his heart. No more swiftly does the cypress blasted by the lightning flash drink up the deadly flame from stem to summit than did the youth, possessed by the mighty deity, raise high his spirit and fall straight in love with death. But when he marked her gait and habit as she turned, and beheld Manto on a sudden rise from earth into the clouds, he was astounded. “I follow thee,” he cries, “whoever of the gods hast called me, nor am I slow to obey:” yet even as he retired he pierce Agreus of Pylos, who was threatening the rampart. His squires receive him, weary from the battle; then, as he proceeds, the mob in joy hails him as peace-bringer, preserver and god, and kindles within him a noble flame.

[686] And now he is making his way to the city in breathless hate, rejoicing to have avoided his unhappy parents, when his father – both stopped, with speech cut short and eyes downcast. At length his sire began: “What new chance has taken thee from a battle lately joined? What design hast thou, that is weightier than war? Tell me, my son, I entreat thee, why is thy look so fierce? Why this angry pallor in thy face, why do thy eyes meet not thy father’s gaze? ‘Tis plain, thou hast heard the oracle. By thy years and mine, my son, and by thy wretched mother’s breast, I pray thee, lad, listen not to the seer! Do the gods deign to inspire an impious dotard, with sightless face and blinded eyes, stricken even as dread Oedipus? What if the king be using treachery and deceitful fraud, fearing in his desperate case our noble blood and thy valour that is renowned above our chieftains? Perchance they are his words, which we deem to be the gods’; ‘tis he that gives this counsel! Suffer not thy hot blood to carry thee away, but delay a trifling space, passion is ever a bad guide; grant this boon, I entreat thee, to thy father. So may thy temples be marked with the grey hairs of age, and thyself be a parent, and come, rash boy, to fear like me: lay not my home desolate. Do other sires and the babes of strangers move thee? If thou hast any shame, pity first thine own. This is duty, this is true honour; there lies but empty glory and wind-blown renown and a name that will be lost in death. Nor is it from a father’s fears that I urge thee: go, join in the fray, go, force thy way through the Danaan lines where swords are thickest: I do not hold thee back; let me but cleanse thy quivering wounds and stanch with my tears thy welling blood, and send thee back again and yet again to the cruel battle. This does Thebes rather choose.”

[718] So spake he, with his arms in close embrace about his son’s neck, but the youth, once vowed to the gods, was moved by neither tears nor words; nay, at their prompting he met his sire with secret fraud and turned his fears: “Good father, thou art mistaken, thy fears are vain. No warning or speech of frenzied seers disturbs me, or troubles me with empty terrors; let crafty Tiresias keep his chantings for himself and his own daughter; nought should I care, if Apollo himself were to open his shrine and confront me with his ravings. No, ‘tis the sore hurt of my loved brother that takes me back of my own will to the city; my Haemon groans from the wound of an Inachian spear; scarce out of the dust of battle, from between the lines – the Argives had already seized him – but I waste time; go, cheer his distress, and tell his bearers to spare him and carry him gently; I go to find Aëtion who is skilled to join up wounds and recall the life-blood’s ebbing stream.” He breaks off and speeds away in the other’s breast confusion reigns and a dark cloud of woe; he wavers uncertainly between devoted love and harsh, discordant fears; but Fate impels him to believe.

[738] Meanwhile impetuous Capaneus drives o’er the battle-plain the troops that issue from the breached gates, now squadrons of horse, now regiments of foot, now chariots that trample the corpses of their own charioteers; he it is that rends high towers with stones and many a whizzing dart, he it is that routs the cohorts and reeks in gore. Now he whirls the winged bullet and scatters strange wounds all around, now he swings his arm aloft and sends the javelin flying, nor ever a lance mounts the roof-top, that brings not down its man, and falls back streaming with blood. No longer does the Pelopean phalanx believe Oenides or Hippomedon slain, or the bard or yet the Arcadian, but rather that their comrades’ souls are all rejoined in his one frame, so fills he all the battle-field. Nor age, nor dress, nor beauty moves him; alike on those that fight and those that entreat he pours his fury; none dare resist, or try the chances of war; afar as he rages they shudder at his armour and terrible crest and helmet’s front.

[756] But the devoted Menoeceus stood on a chosen part of the wall, sacred already to behold, and majestic in mien beyond his wont, as though suddenly descended to earth from heaven above, bareheaded and manifest to view; he gazed down upon the lines of warriors, and stilled the clamours of the field and bade the war be silent. “Ye gods of battle, and thou, O Phoebus, who grantest me a death so glorious, vouchsafe to Thebes the joys which I have covenanted for and bought with all my lavish lifeblood. Roll back the tide of war, and hurl against captive Lerna her base remnants; let father Inachus turn away from his dishonoured sons as they nurse the spear-wound in their backs. But restore to the Tyrians by my death their temples, fields and homes, children and wives; if I, your chosen victim, have pleased you, if I heard the prophet’s oracle with no panic-stricken ear, and took it to my heart ere ever Thebes believed it, reward Amphion’s town in my stead, and reconcile, I pray, the sire whom I deceived.” So he speaks, and with his glittering blade tears at the noble soul that long has disdained its body and grieved to be held fast, and probes for the life and rends it with one wound. Then with his blood he sprinkled the towers and purified the walls, and grasping still his sword hurled himself into the midst of the lines and strove to fall upon the fierce Achaeans. But Piety26 and Virtue clasped and bore his body lightly to the earth; for his spirit long since is at the throne of Jove, and demands for itself a crown ‘mid the highest stars.

[783] And now rejoicing they bear the hero within the walls, recovering his body with no labour: of its own accord the Tantalid host in reverence withdrew; he is borne on the necks of youths in a long train, and is acclaimed by the glad praise of all the populace as patron of the town above Cadmus and Amphion; with garlands and all the honour of the spring they heap his lifeless limbs, and lay his venerated body in his forefathers’ tomb. Then when their lauds are finished they resume the fight, and his sire, his wrath appeased, sheds tears and joins in the lament, and his mother can weep her fill at last: “Was it then to make atonement and devote thy life for cruel Thebes that I nourished thee, illustrious boy, as though I were some worthless mother? What crime then had I wrought, what god so hated me? No incestuous offspring have I borne in unnatural intercourse, nor given unhallowed progeny to my own son. What matters that? Jocasta hath her sons, and sees them leaders and kings: but we must make cruel expiation for the war, that the brothers, sons of Oedipus, may exchange their diadems – doth this please thee, O author of the blow?27 But why complain I of men and gods? Thou, cruel Menoeceus, thou before all didst haste to slay thy unhappy mother! Whence came this love of death? What cursed madness seized thy mind? What did I conceive, what misbegotten child did I bear, so different from myself? Verily ‘tis the snake of Mars, and the ground that burgeoned fresh with our armed sires – thence comes that desperate valour, that o’ermastering love of war: nought comes of his mother. Lo! of thine own will and pleasure slain, ay, even against the will of Fate, thou forcest an entrance to the gloomy shades. I was fearing the Danaans and the shafts of Capaneus: ‘twas this hand, this hand of thine I should have feared, and the sword I myself once gave thee in my folly. See how the glade is wholly buried in his throat! None of the Danaans could have made a deeper thurst.”

[815] Even yet would the unhappy woman be speaking and making her sorrow known on every side; but her companions and her handmaids bear her away, hating those who would console her, and keep her in her chamber; there she sits, her cheeks deep ploughed by her nails, nor looks towards the light, nor listens to entreaties, nor turns her face that is ever fixed on the ground – her voice, her reason lost. So a fierce tigress robbed of her cubs lie desolate in her Scythian lair and licks the traces on the warm stone; her fury is gone, the savagery and hunger of her ravenous jaws are abated, and the flocks and herds go careless by: she sees them and lies still, for where are they for whom she should feed her dugs, or, long-awaited, heap up the abundant prey?

[827] So far of arms and trumpets, of swords and wounds I tell; but now Capaneus must be raised high to do battle with the star-bearing vault. No more may I sing after the wonted way of bards; a mightier frenzy must be summoned from the Aonian groves. Dare with me, goddesses all: whether that madness of his was sent from deepest night and the Stygian sisters dogged the banner of Capaneus and forced him to the assault against Jove, or whether ‘twas valour that brooked no bouds, nor headlong love of glory, or utter destruction’s appointed doom,28 or success that goes before disaster and heaven luring to ruin in its wrath.

[837] Now earthly battles grow mean in her hero’s eyes, he is tired of the endless slaughter; long ago have his own weapons and those of the Greeks been spent, his right arm grows weary, he looks up to the sky. Soon with frowning gaze he measures the lofty battlements, and gets him a skyward leading path of steps innumerable, a tree guarding its either flank,29 and terribly from afar he brandishes a flaring torch of oaken faggots: his armour glows red, and a glaze is kindled on his shield. “By this road,” he cries, “by this road my lofty valour bids me go to Thebes, where yonder tower is slippery with Menoeceus’ blood. I shall try what sacrifice avails, and whether Apollo be false.” He speaks, and climbs with alternate step exultant against the captured wall: even as the vault beheld the Aloidae30 amid the clouds, when impious earth rose high and was like to look down upon the gods; not yet had mighty Pelion been added and Ossa already touched the affrighted Thunderer.

[853] Then indeed aghast, upon the utmost verge of doom, as though the last destruction threatened, or Bellona with blood-stained brand drew nigh to raze their towers to the ground, from every roof in emulous haste they hurl huge stones and stakes, and whirl the strong lash of the Balearic sling – what hope is there in javelins and the vague flight of arrows? – nay, they eagerly ply their engines and impel great rocks against him. But he, unmoved by missiles assailing him in front or rear, hovers aloft in empty air, yet sure as though he planted his steps on the flat earth, and strives onward, and draws nigh in the teeth of fell destruction: just as a river pressing upon the timbers of an ancient bride assaults it with unresting waters, and now the stones gape and the beams are loosened; with the more violence – for he knows it – and greater surge he shakes and drags at the weakening mass, till the swift current has burst all the fastenings, and triumphantly draws breath again, and flows on with unhampered course. And when he stood out high above the long-attempted summit, and in towering height looked down upon the trembling city, and terrified Thebes with his huge shadow, he taunted the astounded folk: “Are these Amphion’s insignificant towers – for shame! – are these the compliant walls that followed an unwarlike song? – that ancient, lying tale of Thebes? And what glory is there in overthrowing a fortress built by a feeble lyre?” Therewith he falls with foot and hand upon the masonry, and fiercely destroys the jointing and the flooring that would stay him; connecting bridges fall, the stone curbs of the covering roof give way, and again he uses the dismembered mass, and hurls down rocky fragments on temples and on houses, and now he is shattering the city with its own fortress-walls.

[883] Meanwhile about Jove’s throne the Argive and the Tyrian deities were clamouring in diverse factions: the impartial sire beholds their wrath blaze high around him, and marks that he restrains it. Beneath his stepmother’s31 gaze Liber regards his sire askance, and makes lament: “Where now is that ruthless hand?” he cries, “where alas! is my cradle of fire, the thunderbolt, ay, where the thunderbolt?” Apollo32 too laments the homes which once his command appointed; the Tirynthian weighs Lerna32 against Thebes, and hesitates with ready-strung bow; the winged Danaan32 grieves for his mother’s Argos; Venus weeps for Harmonia’s folk, and fearing her husband stands apart and gazes at Gradivus in silent anger. Bold Tritonia blames the Tyrian gods, while speechless rage tortures the heart of silent Juno. Yet undisturbed is the peace of Jove; and lo! their quarrels ceased when in mid-heaven Capaneus was heard: “Are there no gods among you,” he cries, “who stand for panic-stricken Thebes? Where are the sluggard sons of this accursed land, Bacchus and Alcides? Any of lesser name I am ashamed to challenge. Rather come thou – what worthier antagonist? For lo! Semele’s ashes and her tomb are in my power! – come thou, and strive with all thy flames against me, thou, Jupiter! Or art thou braver at frightening timid maidens with thy thunder, and razing the towers of thy father-in-law Cadmus?”

[907] Loud rose the gods’ indignant clamour at his words; Jove himself laughed at the madman, and shaking the thick mass of sacred locks: “What hope has man after Phlegra’s arrogant assault?” he says, “and must thou too be struck down?” As he hesitates the gods throng round him, gnashing their teeth and crying for the avenging weapons, nor any longer dares his anxious consort resist the Fates. The heavenly palace itself thunders, though no sign is given, the clouds themselves gather and the storms collect without the blast of any wind: one would think Iapetus had burst his Stygian chains, and that fettered Inarime or Aetna had been lifted to the heights above.33 Such things the denizens of heaven feel shame to fear; but when they see the hero stand midway in the dizzy height of air, and summon them to insane battle, they marvel in silence, and grow pale, doubting the thunderbolt’s power.

[921] Then above the summit of the Ogygian tower the vault began to bellow strangely, and the sky to be lost in darkness; yet still he grasps the battlements he no longer sees, and as often as the lightnings flashed through the rent storm-clouds: “Ay here,” he shouts, “here at last are the fires ‘tis right to use against Thebes! From them I may renew my torch, and awaken my smouldering oaken brand.” Even as he spoke, the thunderbolt struck him, hurled with the whole might of Jove: his crest first vanished into the clouds, the blackened shield-boss dripped, and all the hero’s limbs are now illumined. The armies both give way, in terror where he may fall, what squadrons he may strike with his burning body. He feels the flame hissing within him and his helmet and hair afire, and trying to push away the galling cuirass with his hand, touches the scorched steel beneath his breast. He stands nevertheless, and turning towards heaven pants out his life and leans his smoking breast on the hated battlements, lest he should fall; but his earthly frame deserts the hero, and his spirit is released; yet had his limbs been consumed a whit more slowly, he might have expected a second thunderbolt.

1. Inconsistent with l. 204, but he supposes that the seer’s body has been burnt, and that therefore his shade will be charred black, cf. viii. 6 “niger ab urna,” “black from the ashes of the urn.”
2. i.e., Parthenopaeus.
3. Semele.
4. Because the night was prolonged to twice its length.
5. The Aethiopians of the far West; they were usually spoken of as being in the East or South.
6. Elsewhere alluded to by Statius, ii. 145, vi. 27, never, apparently, by other poets.
7. Iris, daughter of Thaumas.
8. “fulvus” is a regular epithet of gold: Iris seems to be regarded as creating the clouds on which she shines.
9. i.e., nodding as he ever does in slumber.
10. Sleep is sometimes represented with wings upon his temples, as may be seen in a well-known bronze figure of Hypnos (Greek Bronzes, A. S. Murray, p. 72). Cf. also Theb. v. 433.

11. i.e., Juno, daughter of Saturn.
12. i.e., the pine, sacred to Cybele, and bespattered by the blood of her votaries.
13. Seems to mean a torch kindled from the lunar fires (cf. x. 370).
14. i.e., the Eurotas, where Jupiter feigned to be a swan (proverbially tuneful) and deceived Leda.
15. i.e., the standard, emblem of each one’s fate, whether sad or glorious.
16. “shame,” i.e., of appearing in public.
17. i.e., “do ye ask my counsel now because . . .”
18. i.e., lit by Argives.
19. The goddess of devotion to country, etc.; see n. on l. 780.
20. “ancipiti” here may mean “doubtful,” i.e. not clear to the sight, or “two-headed,” literally. “frangi” is to be broken or moulded into a shape.

21. Sicilian.
22. i.e., the spirits who for their virtue had been made divine. The stars were supposed to be the abode of such, or even the spirits themselves.
23. Apparently a rendering of Homer’s description of Eris. Il. iv. 443 ouranô estêrixe karê epi chthoni bainei.
24. i.e., Omphale.
25. His brother.
26. The Latin “Pietas” has a somewhat wider significance, including the ideas of Loyalty, Devotion, Affection, which it is impossible to express in one English word.
27. For the use of “fulmen” see note on ix. 218; for the phrase cf. Ovid, Met. viii. 349 “auctor teli.” Jupiter is presumably meant.
28. “magnae data fata neci” seems hardly Latin, but I have kept the MS. Reading; “fama” merely repeats the idea of “Gloria praeceps”; “necis,” Klotz’s suggestion, may be right.
29. A strange expression by which Statius means a ladder (the klimakos prosambaseis of Aeschylus, Sept. 466).
30. Otus and Ephialtes, Giants who tried to storm heaven.

31. i.e., Juno.
32. The references here are to the oracle given by Apollo at Delphi to Cadmus, which led to the founding of Thebes, cf. vii. 664, and to the fact that Hercules was connected both with Thebes and Argos (Lerna) by descent. The Danaan is Perseus, son of Danaë.
33. Iapetus was a Titan, imprisoned below the earth; volcanoes such as Aetna were thought to contain fettered giants and Titans.