Classical Texts Library >> Statius, Thebaid >> Book 6




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] Far-travelling Rumour glides through the Danaan cities, and tells that the Inachidae are ordaining sacred rites for the new tomb, and games thereto, whereby their martial valour may be kindled and have foretaste of the sweat of war. Customary among the Greeks is such a festival: first1 did the dutiful Alcides contest this honour with Pelops in the fields of Pisa, and brush the dust of combat from his hair with the wild-olive spray; next is celebrated the freeing of Phocis from the serpent’s coils, the battle of the boy Apollo’s quiver; then the dark cult of Palaemon is solemnized about the gloomy altars, so oft as undaunted Leucothea renews her grief, and in the time of festival comes to the welcoming shores: from end to end Isthmos resounds with lamentation and Echionian Thebes makes answering wail. And now the peerless princes whose rearing links Argos with heaven, princes whose mighty names the Aonian2 land and Tyrian mothers, utter with sighs, meet in rivalry and arouse their naked vigour to the fray: just as the two-banked galleys that must venture the unknown deep, whether they provoke the stormy Tyrrhenian or the calm Aegean sea, first prove on a smooth lake their tackling and rudder and nimble oars, and learn to face the real perils; but when their crews are trained, then confidently do they push further out into the main nor seek the vanished coast.

[25] The bright consort of Tithonus had shown in heaven her toil-bringing car, and Night and Sleep with empty horn3 were fleeing from the pale goddess’ wakeful reins; already the ways are loud with wailing, and the palace with fearful lamentation; from afar the wild forests catch the sounds, and scatter them in a thousand echoes. The father himself4 sits stripped of the honour of the twined fillet, his unkempt head and neglected beard sprinkled with dust of mourning. More violent than he and passionate with more than a man’s grief, the bereaved mother urges on her handmaidens by example and by speech, willing though they be, and yearns to cast herself upon the mangled remains of her chid, and as oft they tear her from them and bring her back. Even the father too restrains her. Soon when the Inachian princes with royal bearing entered the sorrowing portals, then, as though the stroke were fresh and the babe but newly hurt, or the deadly serpent had burst into the palace, they smite their breasts though wearied and raise clamour upon clamour, and the doors re-echo with the new-kindled wailing; the Pelasgians feel their ill-will and plead their innocence with streaming tears.

[45] Adrastus himself, whenso’er the tumult was quelled and the distracted house fell silent, and opportunity was given, addressed the sire unbidden with consoling words, reviewing now the cruel destiny of mankind and the inexorable thread of doom, now giving hope of other offspring and pledges that by heaven’s favour would endure. But he had not ended, when mourning broke forth anew. Nor does the king more gently hear his friendly speech than the madness of the fierce Ionian hears the sailors shouting prayers upon the deep, or the wayward lightning heed the frail clouds.

[54] Meanwhile the flame-appointed pyre and the infant bier are intertwined with bloomy boughs and shoots of cypress; lowest of all is laid the green produce o the country-side, then a space is more laboriously wrought with grassy chaplets and the mound is decked with flowers that soon must perish; third in order rises a heap of Arabian spices and the rich profusion of the East, with lumps of hoary incense and cinnamon that has come down from Belus of old.5 On the summit is set tinkling gold, and a soft coverlet of Tyrian purple is raised high, gleaming everywhere with polished gems, and within a border of acanthus is Linus woven and the hounds that caused his death6: hateful ever to his mother was the marvellous work, and ever did she turn her yes from the omen. Arms, too, and spoils of ancestors of old are cast about the pyre, the pride and chequered glory of the afflicted house, as though the funeral train bore thither the burden of some great warrior’s limbs; yet even empty and barren fame delights the mourners, and the pomp magnifies the infant shade. Wherefore tears are held in high reverence and afford a mournful joy, and gifts greater than his years are brought to feed the flames. For his father,7 in haste for the fulfilment of his prayers had set apart for him quivers and tiny javelins and innocent arrows, and even already in his name was rearing proved horses of his stable’s famous breed; loud-ringing belts8 too are brought, and armour waiting for a mightier frame. Insatiable hopes! what garments did she not make for him in eager haste, credulous woman, and robes of purple, emblems of royalty, and childish sceptre? Yet all does the sire himself ruthlessly condemn to the murky flames, and bid his own signs of rank be borne withal, if by their loss he may sate his devouring grief.

[84] In another region the army hastens at the bidding of the wise augur to raise an airy pile, high as a mountain, of tree-trunks and shattered forests, to dark burnt-offering for the ill-omened war. These labour to cut down Nemea and its shady glens and hurl them to the ground, and to lay the forests open to the sunlight. Straightway a wood that axe has never shorn of its ancient boughs is felled, a wood than which none more rich in abundant shade between the vales of Argolis and Mount Lycaeus ever raised aloft its head above the stars; in reverend sanctity of eld it stands, and is said not only to reach back in years beyond the grandsires of men, but o have seen Nymphs pass9 and flocking Fauns and yet be living. Upon the wood came pitiful destruction: the beasts are fled, and the birds, terror-driven, flutter forth from their warm nests; the towering beeches fall and the Chaonian10 groves and the cypress that the winter harms not, spruces are flung prostrate that feed the funeral flames, ash-trees and trunks of holm-oak and yews with poisonous sap. And mountain ashes destined to drink the gore of cursed battle,11 and oaks unconquerable by age. Then the daring12 fir is cloven, and the pine with fragrant wound, alders that love the sea bow to the ground their unshorn summits, and elms that give friendly shade to the vines. The earth groans: not so are the woods of Ismarus swept away uprooted, when Boreas breaks his prison cave and rears his head, no swifter does the nightly flame tear through the forest before the south wind’s onset; hoar Pales and Silvanus,13 lord of the shady glen, and the folk, half-god, half-animal, go forth weeping from the leisure haunts they loved, and as they go the woodland groans in sympathy, nor can the Nymphs loose the trees from their embrace.14 As when a leader gives over to the greedy conquerors the captured towers to plunder, scarce is the signal heard, and the city is nowhere to be found; they drive and carry, take captive and strike down in fury unrestrained: the din of battle was less loud.

[118] Two altars now of equal height had they with like toil erected, one to the doleful shades, the other to the gods above, when the low braying of the pipe with curved horn gave signal for lament, the pipe that by Phrygia’s mournful use was wont to escort the youthful dead. They say that Pelops ordained for infant shade this funeral rite and chant, to which Niobe, undone by the quivers twain, and dressed in mourning garb, brought the twelve urns to Sipylus.15

[126] The Grecian leaders bear the funeral gifts and offerings for the flame, each by his titles witnessing to his race’s honourable renown; long after, high upon the necks of youths chosen by the prince from all his host, amid wild clamour comes the bier. The Lernaean chieftains encircle Lycurgus, a female company are gathered about the queen, nor does Hypsipyle go unattended: the Inachidae,16 not unmindful, surround her close, her sons support her bruised arms, and suffer their new-found mother to lament.

[135] There, as soon as Eurydice came forth from her ill-starred palace, she bared her breast and cried aloud, and with beating of her bosom and prelude of long wailings thus began: “I never thought, my son, to follow thee with this encompassing train of Argive matrons, nor thus did I picture in my foolish prayers thy infant years, nought cruel did I expect; whence at my life’s end should I have fear for thee from a Theban war, whereof I knew not? What god has taken delight in joining battle with our race? Who vowed this crime against our arms? But thy house, O Cadmus, has not suffered yet, no infant do Tyrian crowds lament. ‘Tis I that have borne the first-fruits of grief and untimely death, before even trumpets brayed or sword was drawn, while in indolent neglect I put faith in his nurse’s bosom and entrusted to her my babe to suckle. Why should I not? She told a tale of cunning rescue of her sire and her innocence. But look! this woman, who alone, we must think, abjured the deadly deed she vowed, and alone of her race was free from the Lemnian madness, this woman here – and ye believe her, after her daring deed! – so strong in her devotion, cast awy in desolate fields, no king or lord, but , impious one! another's child, that is all! and left him on a path in an ill-famed wood, where not merely poisonous snake – what need, alas, of so huge a slayer? – but a strong tempest only, or a bough broken by the wind, or groundless fright could have availed to cause his death! Nor you would I accuse in my stricken grief; unalterable and sure came this curse upon the mother, at his nurse’s hands. Yet her didst thou favour more, my son, her only didst thou know and heard when she called thee; me thou knewest not, no joy had thy mother of thee. But she, the fiend! she heard thy cries and thy laughter mixt with tears, and caught the accents of thy earliest speech. She was ever thy mother, while life remained to thee, I only now. But woe is me! that I cannot punish her for her crime! Why bring ye these gifts, ye chieftains, to the pyre, why these empty rites? Herself, I beg – no more does his shade demand – herself, I pray you, offer, both to the dead and to the ruined parent, I beseech you by this first bloodshed of the war, for which I bore him; so may the Ogyian mothers have deaths to mourn as sad as mine!” She tears her hair and repeats her supplication: “Ay, give her up, nor call me cruel or greedy of blood; I will die likewise, so be it that, my eyes full-sated by her just death, we fall upon the selfsame fire.”

[177] Thus loudly crying she beheld elsewhere afar Hypsipyle lamenting – for she too spares nor hair nor bosom – and ill brooking a partner in her woe: “This at least prevent, O princes, and thou for whom the child of our own bed has been flung to ruin; remove that hated woman from the funeral rites! Why does she offend his mother with her accursed presence, and who herself thus in my ruin?” Thus spake she and fell silent, and her complainings ceased. Even so when a wild beast has seized or shepherd borne away to the cruel shrine a bullock cheated of its first milk, whose strength is yet but frail and whose vigour is drawn but from the udder, the despoiled mother stirs now the valley, now the stream, now the herds with her moanings, and questions the empty meads; then it irks her to go home, and she leaves the desolate fields the last of all, and turns unfed from the herbage spread before her.

[195] But the father hurls with his own hand upon the pyre his glorious sceptre and the emblems of the Thunderer, and with the sword cuts short the hair that fell o’er back and breast, and with the shorn tresses covers the frail features of the infant where he lies, and mingles with tender tears such words as these: “Far otherwise, treacherous Jupiter, did I once consecrate these locks to thee, and held me to my vow, shouldst thou have granted me to offer therewith my son’s ripe manhood at thy shrine17; but the priest confirmed it not, and my prayer was lost; let his shade, then, who is worthier receive them!” Already the torch is set to the pyre, and the flame crackles in the lowest branches; hard is it to restrain the frenzied parents. Danaans are bidden stand and with barrier raised of weapons shut out afar from their vision the awful scene. The fire is richly fed: never before was so sumptuous a blaze; precious stones crack, huge streams of molten silver run, and gold oozes from out the embroidered raiment; the boughs are fattened with Assyrian juices, pale saffron drops hissing in the burning honey; foaming bowls of wine are outpoured, and beakers of black blood and pleasant milk yet warm from the udder.18

[213] Then squadrons seven in number – a hundred tall knights in each – led by the Greek-born kings themselves with arms reversed, circling leftward in due manner purify the pyre, and quell with their dust the shooting flames. Thrice accomplished they their wheeling course, then with resounding clash of arms on arms four times19 their weapons gave forth a terrible din, four times the handmaids beat their breasts in womanly lament. The other fire receives half-dead animals and beasts yet living; here the prophet bids them cease their wailing, ominous of fresh disaster, although he knows the signs are true; rightward they wheel and so return with quivering spears, and each throws some offering snatched from his own armour, be it rein or belt he is pleased to plunge into the flames, or javelin or helmet’s shady crest. [Around, the countryside is filled with the hoarse cries of wailing, and piercing trumpets rend the earth. Loud shouts affright the groves; even so do the bugles tear the Martian standards from the ground, while eager still is cool, and the sword unreddened with blood, and the first face of battle is made fair and glorious: high on a cloud stands Mavors, uncertain yet which host to favour.]

[234] The end was come, and weary Mulciber was sinking now to crumbling ash; they attack the flames and dowse the pyre with plenteous water, till with the setting sun their toils were finished; scarce did their labour yield to the late-coming shadows. And now nine times had Lucifer chased the dewy stars from heaven, and as often changed his steed and nightly heralded the lunar fires – yet he deceives not the conscious stars, but is found the same in his alternate risings20; ‘tis marvellous how the work has sped! there stands a marble pile, a mighty temple to the departed shade, where a row of sculptured scenes tells all his story: here Hypsipyle shows the river to the weary Danai, here crawls the unhappy babe, here lies he, while the scaly snake writhes angry coils around the hillock’s end; one would think to hear the dying hisses of his blood-stained mouth, so twines the serpent about the marble spear.

[249] And now Rumour is summoning a multitude eager to behold the unarmed battles; called forth from every field and city they come; they also gather together, to whom the horror of war is yet unknown, and they who through weary age or infant years had stayed behind; never were such clamouring throngs on the strand of Ephyre or in the circus of Oenomaus.21

[256] Set in a green ring of curving hills and embraced by woodland lies a vale; rough ridges stand about it, and the twin summits of a mound make a barrier and forbid issue from the plain, which running long and level rises with gentle slope to grassy brows and winding heights soft with living turf. There in dense crowds while the fields were still rosy in the dawn, the warrior company took their seats; there the heroes delight to reckon the number of the motley multitude, and scan the faces and the dress of their fellows, and they fell the glad confidence of a mighty host. Thither they drag a hundred black bulls, the strength of the herd, slow-paced and straining; as many cows of similar hue, and bullocks with foreheads not yet crescent-crowned.22

[268] Then the ancient line of great-hearted sires is borne along, in images marvellously fashioned to living likeness. First the Tirynthian crushes the gasping lion against the strong pressure of his breast and breaks it upon his own bones; him the Inachidae behold not without terror, though he be in bronze and their own famous hero. Next in order is seen father Inachus reclining leftward on the mound of a reedy bank and letting the streaming urn flow free. Io, already prone23 and the sorrow of her sire, sees behind her back Argus starred with eyes that know no setting. But kindlier Jupiter had raised her erect in the Pharian fields, and already was Aurora24 giving her gracious welcome. Then father Tantalus, not he who hangs above the deceiving waters and snatches the empty wind of the elusive branch, but the great Thunderer’s god-fearing guest is borne along. Elsewhere triumphant in his car Pelops handles the reins of Neptune,25 and Myrtilos the charioteer grasps at the bounding wheels, as the swift axle leaves him far and farther behind. Grave Acrisius too and the dread likeness of Coroebeus and Danaë’s guilty bosom, and Amymone26 in sadness by the stream she found, and Alcmena proud of the infant Hercules, a threefold moon27 about her hair. The sons of Belus28 join their discordant right hands in a pledge of enmity, but Aegyptus with milder look stand near; easy is it to mark on the feigned countenance of Danaus the signs of a treacherous peace and of the coming night. Then follow shapes innumerable. At length pleasure is sated, and prowess summons the foremost heroes to its own rewards.

[296] First came the sweat of steeds. Tell, O Phoebus, the drivers’ famous names, tell of the steeds themselves; for never did nobler array of wing-footed coursers meet in conflict: even as serried ranks of birds compete in swift course or on a single shore Aeolus appoints a contest for the wild winds.

[301] Before the rest Arion, marked by his mane of fiery red, is led forth. Neptune, if the fame of olden time be true, was his sire; he first is said to have hurt his young mouth with the bit and tamed him on the sand of the sea-shore, sparing the lash; for insatiable was his eagerness to run, and he was capricious as a winter sea. Oft was he wont to go in harness with the steeds of ocean through the Libyan or Ionian deep, and bring his dark-blue sire safe home to every shore; the storm-clouds marvelled to be outstripped, and East and South winds strive and are left behind. Nor less swiftly on land had he borne Amphitryon’s son, when he waged Eurystheus’ wars, in deep-pressed furrows o’er the mead, fierce to him also and impatient of control. Soon by the gods’ bounty he was deemed worthy to have Adrastus for his lord, and meanwhile had grown far gentler. On that day the chieftain allows him to be driven by his son-in-law Polynices, and much did he counsel him, what arts would soothe the horse when enraged, not to use too fierce a hand, nor to let him gallop free of the rein; “urge other steeds,” said he, “with voice and goad; but he will go, ay, faster than you wish.” Even so, when the Sun granted the fiery reins and set his son upon the whirling chariot, with tears did he warn the rejoicing youth of treacherous stars and zones that would fain not be o’errun and the temperate heat that lies midway between the poles; obedient was he and cautious, but the cruel Fates would not suffer him to learn.

[326] Amphiaraus, next favourite for the prize, aloft in his chariot drives Oebalian steeds; thy progeny, Cyllarus, stealthily begotten while far away by the mouth of Scythian Pontus Castor was exchanging for the oar the Amyclean rein. Snow-white his own raiment, snow-white are the coursers that lend their necks to the yoke, his helm and fillet match the whiteness of his crested plume. Admetus, too, the fortunate, from Thessalian shores, can scarce restrain his barren mares, of Centaur’s seed, as they tell (so scornful, methinks, are they of their sex, and their natural heat turns all to body’s vigour).29 White with dark flecks, they resemble day and night: so strongly marked was each colour, nor unfit were they to be deemed of that stock30 which stood spellbound at the piping of the Castalian reed, and scorned their pasture when they heard Apollo play.

[340] Lo! the young sons of Jason, too, their mother Hypsipyle’s new-found pride, took stand upon the chariots wherein each rode, Thoas, bering the name of his grandsire, proper to his race, and Euneos,31 called from Argo’s omen. In everything were the twins alike, in looks, in car and steeds, in raiment, and in the harmony of their wishes, either to win or to lose only at a brother’s hands. Next ride Chromis and Hippodamus, the one born of mighty Hercules, the other of Oenomaus: it were doubtful which drove more madly. The one has horses bred by Getic Diomede, the other a yoked pair of his Pisean sire, both chariots are decked with cruel spoils and drip with ghastly blood. For turning-points there stood here a bare oak-trunk, there a stone pillar, arbiter of husbandmen; betwixt either bound there lay a space thou mightest reach with four times a javelin’s cast, with thrice an arrow’s flight.32

[355] Meanwhile Apollo was charming with his strains the Muses’ glorious company, and, his finger placed upon the strings, was gazing down to earth from the airy summit of Parnassus. First he recounts the deeds of the gods – for oft in duty bound he had sung of Jove and Phlegra and his own victory o’er the serpent and his brothers’ praises33 – and then reveals what spirit drives the thunderbolt or guides the stars, whence comes the fury of the rivers, what feeds the winds, what founts supply the unmeasured ocean, what pathway of the sun hastens or draws out the course of night, whether earth be lowest or in mid-heaven and encompassed by yet another world we view not. There he ended, and puts off the sisters, eager though they are to listen, and while he fastens bay about his lyre and the woven brilliance of his coronet, and ungirds his breast of the pictured girdle, he hears a clamour, and beholds not far away Nemea famed for Hercules, and there the mighty spectacle of a four-horsed chariot-race. He recognizes all, and by chance Admetus and Amphiaraus had taken their stand in a field hard by. Then to himself he spake: “What god has set those two princes, Phoebus’ most loyal names, in mutual rivalry? Both are devoted to me, and both are dear; nor could I say which holds first place. The one, when I served as thrall on Pelian ground – such was Jove’s command, so the dark Sisters willed – burnt incense to his slave, nor dared to deem me his inferior. The other is the companion of the tripods and the devout pupil of the wisdom of the air: and though the first has preference by his deserts, yet the other’s thread is near its distaff’s end. For Admetus is old age ordained, and a late death; to thee no joys remain, for Thebes awaits thee and the dark gulf. Thou knowest it, unhappy one: long since have my own birds sung thy doom.” He spoke, and tears bedewed the face that scarce any sorrow may profane; then straightway came he to Nemea, bounding radiant through the air, swifter than his father’s fire and his own shafts. Long had he reached the earth, yet still his tracks remain in heaven, and still athwart the zephyrs his path gleams bright.

[389] And now Prothous had shaken the lots in a brazen helmet, and each had his place and order at the starting. The heroes, each his country’s glorious boast, and the coursers, a match to them in glory, all alike of blood divine, stand penned by the one barrier, hopeful, daring yet fearful, anxious yet confident. All is confusion in their hearts; they strive, yet are afraid, to be gone, and a thrill of courage mixt with dread runs through them to the extremities of their limbs. The steeds are as ardent as their masters: their eyes dart flame, they loudly champ the bits, and blood and foam corrode the iron; scarce do the confining posts resist their pressure, they smoke and pant in stifled rage. Such misery is it to stand still, a thousand steps are lost ere they start, and, on the absent plain, their hooves ring loud.34 Around stand trusty friends, smoothing out the twisted tangled manes, and speak heartening words and give much counsel. The Tyrrhenian35 blast rang in their ears, and all leapt forward from their places. What canvas on the deep, what javelins in war, what clouds so swiftly fly across the heavens? less violent are winter streams, or fire; slower fall stars or gather rains, more slowly flow the torrents from the mountain-summits.

[410] As they sped forth the Pelasgi saw and marked them; now are they lost to view, now confused and hidden in one cloud of blinding dust; they can see nothing for the press, and scarce by shout of name can they recognize each other. Then some draw clear of the throng, and each takes place according to his strength; the second lap blots out the former furrows, and now stooping forward in their eagerness they touch the yoke, now with straining knees they bend double, tugging at the reins.36 On the shaggy necks the muscles swell, and the breeze combs back the erect manes, while the dusty ground drinks up the white rain of foam. The thunder of hooves and the gentler sound of running wheels are blended. Never idle are their arms, the air hisses with the oft-plied lash; no more densely spatters the hail from the cold North, nor streams the rain from the Olenian horns.37

[424] By instinct38 had Arion guessed that another driver stood grasping the reins, and feared, innocent as he was, the dire son of Oedipus; from the very start he rages more fiercely than his wont, fretting angrily against his burden. The sons of Inachus think him fired by praises, but it is the charioteer that he is flying, the charioteer that he threatens in maddened fury, and he looks round for his lord on all the plain. Amphiaraus follows him, yet far before the rest and by a long space second, and level with him runs Thessalian Admetus; the twins are together, now Euneos to the fore, now Thoas, and in turn give ground and go ahead, nor ever does ambitious love of glory set at variance the devoted brothers. Last of all fierce Chromis and fierce Hippodamus contend, not lacking skill, but the weight of their coursers retards them; Hippodamus, leading, feels the panting breath of the following steeds, and their hot wind upon his shoulders. The seer of Phoebus hoped by drawing tight his rein and turning close around the goal to gain first place; and the Thessalian hero too feels hope glow nearer, while Arion, defying control, dashes here and there in circles and strays rightward from the course. Already Oeclides was in front and Admetus no longer third, when the sea-born steed, at last brought back form his wide circuit, overtakes and passes both, their triumph but short-lived; a loud crash rises to the sky, and heaven trembles, and all the seats flashed bare, as the crowd sprang to their feet. But the son of Labdacus39 in pale anxiety neither handles the rein nor dares the lash: just as a steersman, his skill exhausted, rushes upon waves and rocks alike, nor any more consults the stars, but flings hi baffled art to the mercy of chance.

[454] Again at headlong speed they swerve right-handed from the track into the plain, and strive to keep their course, and again comes the shock of axle on axle, wheel on wheel-spokes; no truce is there, nor keeping faith; a lighter task, one would think, were war, savage war, and bloodshed, such furious will to victory is theirs, such fear and threats of death; and many a hoof is struck as it runs crosswise o’er the plain. Neither goads nor lashes now suffice, but with shout of name does Admetus urge Iris and Pholoë and steaming Thoë, and the Danaan augur chide fleet Aschetos and Cygnus well so-called. Strymon to hears Chromis, son of Hercules, and fiery Aethion Euneos; Hippodamus provokes slow Cydon, Thoas entreats piebald Podarces to greater speed. Only Echion’s son keeps gloomy silence in his erring car, and fears to confess his plight by cries of alarm.

[469] Scarce was the real struggle of the steeds begun, and yet now they are entering the fourth dusty lap, and now steaming sweat is pouring from their exhausted limbs, and fiery thirst leaves and gasps forth the thick breath of the horn-footed steeds; and now their vigour flags, and their flanks are racked with long-drawn pantings. Then first does Fortune, long time doubtful, dare to step in make decision. Thoas, pressing madly on to pass Haemonian Admetus, falls, nor does his brother aid him; fain would he, but Martian Hippodamus forestalled him and drove his team between them. Next Chromis by Herculean vigour and all his father’s strength holds Hippodamus with axles interlocked, as he wheels inside him past the goal; in vain the steeds struggle to get free, and strain their sinewy necks and bridles. As when the tide holds fast Sicilian craft and a strong South wind impels them, the swelling sails stand motionless in mid-sea. Then Chromis hurls his rival from the shattered car, and had sped on the foremost, but when the Thracian horses saw Hippodamus lying on the ground, that awful hunger comes back upon them, and already had they shared in their mad lust his trembling frame, had not the Tirynthian hero, forgetful of victory, taken their bridles and dragged away the neighing steeds, and left the field vanquished but praised of all.

[491] But Phoebus hath long desired for thee, Amphiaraus, thy promised honours. At last, deeming the moment fit to show thee favour, he visits the grim spaces of the dusty course, when now the race is nearing its end, and for the last time victory hovers doubtful; a snake-tressed monstrous phantom, of visage terrible to behold, whether he wrought it in Erebus or for the cunning purpose of the moment, certainly endowed with countless terrors – this horrid plague he raises to the world above. The guardian of dusky Lethe could not have beheld it unterrified, nor the Eumenides themselves without a deep thrill of fear, it would have overturned the horses of the sun in mid-career, and the team of Mars. When golden Arion saw it, his mane leapt up erect, and he halts with upreared shoulders and holds high suspended his yoke-fellow and the steeds that shared his toil on either side. Straightway the Aonian exile is flung backward head-over-heels: he drops the reins, and the chariot, freed from restraint, dashes far away. But past him as he lies on the crumbling earth sweep the Taenarian car and the Thessalian axle and the Lemnian hero,40 and just avoid him by swerving in their flight. His friends rush up, and at last he lifts his dazed head and reeling limbs from the ground, and returns, scarce hoped for by his father-in-law Adrastus.

[513] How timely then, O Theban, had been thy death, had not stern Tisiphone forbidden! How grievous a war couldest thou have prevented! Thebe had bewailed thee and thy brother made show thereof, and Argos too had mourned, and Nemea and Lerna and Larissa had in suppliant guise shorn tresses for thee, thou hadst excelled Archemorus in funeral pomp.

[518] Then Oeclides, although the prize was now sure for him as he followed, since masterless Arion held first place, yearned yet with keen desire to pass even the empty chariot. The god lends strength and refreshment; swifter than the East wind he flies, as though the barrier were but just fallen and he were starting on the race, and calling aloud on nimble Caerus and snow-white Cygnus, plies their necks with blows and shakes the reins upon their backs. Now at least, when nobody is in front, the fiery axle devours the course, and the scattered sand is thrown afar. The earth groans, and even then savagely threatens. And perchance Arion too had owned defeat and Cygnus taken first place, but his ocean-sire suffers him not to be defeated; thus by a just division the glory remained for the horse, but the prophet gained the victory. His meed of triumph was a Herculean bowl, borne by two youths; the Tirynthian on a time was wont to take it in one hand, and with head flung back quaff it foaming, whether victorious over a monster or in the field of Mars. Fierce Centaurs has it, cunningly wrought, and fearful shapes in gold: here amid slaughter of Lapithae are stones and torches flying, and again other bowls41; everywhere the furious anger of dying men; he himself seizes the raging Hylaeus, and grips him by the beard and wields his club. But for thee, Admetus, is brought for thy deserving a cloak with a flowing border of Maeonian dye, stained many a time with purple; here swims the youth contemptuous of Phrixean waters,42 and gleams with sea-blue body through the pictured wave; one sees the sideward sweep of his arm, and he seems about to make the alternate stroke, nor would one think to find his hair dry in the woven fabric. Yonder high upon the tower sits anxiously watching, all in vain, the Sestian maid; near her the conscious lamp droops and flickers. These rich rewards Adrastus bids be given to the victors; but his son-in-law he consoles with an Achaean handmaid.

[550] Then he incites those heroes who are speediest of foot to strive for ample rewards: a contest of agility where prowess is frailest,43 fit pursuit for peace, when sacred games invite, nor useless in war as a refuge should power of arm fail. Before all the rest Idas leaps to the front, whose temples were lately shaded by Olympian wreaths; the youth of Pisa and the bands of Elis hail him with applause. Alcon of Sicyon follows, and Phaedimus, twice acclaimed the victor of the sands of Isthmus, and Dymas, who once outstripped the flight of wing-footed steeds, but now they outran him by reason of retarding age. Many too, whom the ignorant multitude received in silence, came forward from this side and from that. But for Parthenopaeus the Arcadian they call aloud, and arouse murmurs that roam throughout the close-packed circus. Well know is his parent for speed of foot; who cannot tell of the peerless renown of Atalanta, and of those footprints that no suitor could o’ertake? The son bears all his mother’s glory, and he himself, already known to fame, is said to catch on foot the defenceless hinds in the open glades of Mount Lycaeus, and, as he runs, to o’ertake the flung javelin. Long expected, at last darts he forward, leaping lightly o’er the companies, and unfastens the twisted golden clasp of his cloak. His limbs shine forth, and all his graceful frame is revealed, his fine shoulders, and breast as smooth and comely ahs his cheeks, and his face was lost in his body’s beauty. But he scorns the praise of his fairness, and suffers not admirers to come near him. Then he cunningly sets to work with the draughts of Pallas,44 and makes his skin tawny with rich oil. Thus do Idas and Dymas and the rest shine sleek and glossy. So when the starlight glitters on a tranquil sea, and the spangled heaven is mirrored tremulous in the deep, brilliant is every star, but more brilliant than the rest does Hesperus shoot his beams, and brightly as he flames in the high heavens, so bright is his reflection in the dark-blue waves. Idas is next in beauty, nor much slower in speed, next older too in years; but for him already has the palaestra’s oil brought on the tender growth, and the down is creeping o’er his cheeks, nor yet confesses itself among the cloud of unshorn locks. Then they duly try their speed and sharpen up their paces, and by various arts and feigned excitement stir their languid limbs; now they sink down with bended knees, now smite with loud claps their slippery breasts, now ply their fiery feet in short sprint and sudden stop.

[593] As soon as the bar fell, and left the threshold level, they nimbly dashed away and the naked forms gleamed upon the plain; more slowly seemed the swift coursers to move of late on the same ground: one might deem them so many arrows poured forth from Cydonian host or flying Parthians. Not otherwise speed the stags over Hyrcanian wilds, hearing, or fancying that they hear, a famished lion roar afar; blind fear drives them in crowding panic-stricken flight, amid the ceaseless noise of clashing horns. Then swifter than the rapid breeze the Maenalian boy outstrips the sight, and hard behind him fierce Idas runs and breathes upon his shoulder and presses close upon his rear with panting breath and over-shadowing form. After them Phaedimus and Dymas strive in doubtful contest, near them fleet Alcon. The yellow hair hung down from the Arcadian’s unshorn head; this from his earliest years he cherished as a gift to Trivia, and vainly boasting had vowed it to his country’s altars, when he should return in triumph from the Ogygian war. At that time, freed from its band and streaming loose behind, it flies backward as it meets the wind, at once hindering his own speed, and spreading out in front of his rival Idas. Thereat the youth bethought him of deceit and an opportunity for fraud; already close upon the goal, even while Parthenopaeus is triumphantly crossing the threshold,45 he grasps his hair, and pulling him back seizes his place, and is the first to breast the wide entrance of the goal.46

[618] The Arcadians cry “To arms!” and with arms they hasten to defend their prince, if the lost prize and merited honour be not restored, and make ready to descend on all the course. Others again were pleased by the ruse of Idas. Parthenopaeus himself pours showers of earth upon his face and streaming eyes, and the comeliness of tears is added to his beauty. In his grief he rends with bloody nails now his breast, now his innocent cheeks and guilty hair, while all around discordant clamour rages, and old Adrastus halts irresolute of counsel. At last he speaks: “Cease quarrelling, youths! your prowess must be tried again; but run not in one track only; Idas has this side; keep thou apart yonder, and let there by no cheating in the race!”

[631] They heard, and abide by his command. Then the youth of Tegea with silent prayer humbly entreats the gods: “Goddess, queen of the woodlands, for to thee and to thine honour these locks of mine are vowed, and from this vow comes my disgrace; if my mother or I myself have deserved well of thee in hunting, suffer me not, I pray thee, to go ill-omened thus to Thebes, or to have won such bitter shame for Arcadia.” Clear proof was given that he was heard. The plain scarce feels him as he goes, his feet treads tenuous air, and the rare footsteps hover and leave the dust unbroken. With a shout he dashes to the goal, with a shout he runs back to the chief, and seizing the palm appeased his grief. The running was over, and prizes for their toils stand ready. The Arcadian is given a horse, the shameless Idas bears away a shield, the rest go contented with Lycian quivers.

[646] Then he invites any who may wish to try the issue with the hurled quoit,47 and display untiring vigour and proud strength. At his command goes Peterelas, and with all his body bent scarce lays down beside him the slippery weight of the bronze mass; in silence the sons of Inachus look on and estimate the toil. Soon a number rush forward: two of Achaean race, three sons of Ephyre, one Pisa-born, the seventh an Acarnanian; and more was the love of glory urging on, had not tall Hippomedon, incited by the crowd, come forward, and carrying another broad disk at his right side: “Take this one rather, ye warriors, who are marching to shatter walls with stones, and to overthrow the Tyrian towers, take this one! As for that other, any hand can toss that weight!” and with no effort he caught it up and threw it to one side. They fall back in amaze and confess themselves undone; scarce Phlegyas alone and eager Menestheus, compelled by sense of shame and noble ancestry, vouchsafed to try their strength; the rest of their own accord gave place, and returned inglorious, marvelling at the disk. Even so the shield of Mars on the Bistonian48 plain reflects an evil light on Mount Pangaeus, and shining strikes the sun with terror, and deeply clangs beneath the spear of the god.

[668] Phlegyas of Pisa begins the toil; straightway he drew all eyes upon himself, when they beheld his frame, such promise of great deeds was there. And first with earth he roughens the quoit and his own hand, then shaking off the dust turns it right skilfully to see which side best suits his fingers, or fits more surely the middle of his arm. This sport had he ever loved, not only when he attended his country’s famous festival, but he was wont to reckon the space between Alpheos’ either bank, and, where they are most widely distant, to clear the river nor ever wet the disk. At once, then, confident in his powers he measures, not the rough acres of the plain, but the sky’s expanse with his right arm, and with either knee bent earthward49 he gathers up his strength and whirls the disk above him and hides it in the clouds. Swiftly it speeds aloft, and as though falling grows faster as it mounts50; at last exhausted it returns to earth more slowly from the height, and buries itself in the field. So falls, whenever she is torn from the astonished stars, the darkened sister of the sun51; afar the peoples beat the bronze for succour, and indulge their fruitless fears, but the Thessalian hag triumphant laughs at the panting steeds who obey her spell. The Danai shout applause, though amid thy frowns, Hippomedon, and he hopes for a mightier throw along the level.52

[691] But thereupon Fortune, whose pleasure it is to dash immoderate hopes, assails him; what power has man against the gods? Already he was preparing a mighty throw, his head was turned and all his side was swinging back53: the weight slipped and fell before his feet and baffled his throw, and his hand dropped empty and unavailing. All groaned, while to a few the sight brought pleasure. Menestheus then, more cautious, brings careful skill to the attempt, and uttering many a prayer to thee, O son of Maia,54 corrects with dust the slippery surface of the powerful mass. With far better fortune it speeds from his huge hand, nor falls till it has covered no mean extent of the course. They applaud, and an arrows is fixed to mark the spot. Third, Hippomedon with slow and ponderous step advances to the labours of the contest; for deep in his heart he takes warning from the fate of Phlegyas and the good fortune of Menestheus. He lifts the instrument of combat that his hand knew well, and holding it aloft summons up the strength of his unyielding side and vigorous arms, and flings it with a mighty whirl, springing forward after it himself. With a terrific bound the quoit flies through the empty air, and even in its flight remembers the hand that flung it and keeps to its due path, nor attains a doubtful or a neighbouring goal as it passes the defeated Menestheus, but far beyond the rival sign it falls to earth, and makes tremble the green buttresses and shady heights of the theatre, as though they were falling in vast and widespread ruin; even so from smoke-emitting Aetna did Polyphemus hurl the rock, though with hand untaught of vision, yet on the very track of the ship he could but hear, and close to his enemy Ulixes. Thus too the Aloidae, when rigid Ossa already trod Olympus under foot, bore icy Pelion also, and hoped to join it the frightened heaven.

[722] Then the son of Talaus bids a tiger’s skin go as prize to the victor: all glossy it shone with a yellow border, and its sharp claws were tamed with gold. Menestheus receives a Gnosian bow and errant shafts. “But to thee, Phlegyas,” he cries, “whom unlucky fortune foiled, we give this sword, once the glory and aid of our Pelasgus, nor will Hippomedon grudge it thee. And now is courage needed; wield ye the terrible cestus in close conflict; valour here comes nighest to that of battle and the sword.”

[731] Argive Capaneus took his stand – awful in aspect, awful the terror he inspires – and, binding on his arms the raw ox-hide black with lumps of lead, himself no softer, “Send me one,” says he, “from all those thousands of warriors; and would rather that my rival were of Aonian stock, whom it were right to slay, and that my valour were not stained55 with kindred blood.” They stood aghast and terror made them silent. At last Alcidamas, unexpected, leapt forth from the naked56 crowd of Laconians, while the Dorian princes marvel; but his comrades knew he relied on his master Pollux, and had grown up in the wrestling-school of a god. Pollux himself guided his hands and moulded his arms – love of the sport constrained him – and of the set him against himself, and admiring him as he stood up in like mood caught him up exultant, and pressed his naked body to his breast. Capaneus thinks scorn of him and mocks at his challenge, as though in pity, and demands another foe; at last perforce he faces him, and now his languid neck swells at anger’s prompting. With bodies poised at their full height they lift their hands, deadly as thunderbolts; safe withdrawn are their faces on their shoulders, ever watching, and closed is the approach to wounds. The one is as great in broad expanse of every limb and terrible in size of bone as though Tityos should rise up from the Stygian fields, did the fierce birds allow him; the other was lately but a boy, yet his strength is riper than his years, and his youthful vigour gives promise of a mighty manhood; him would none wish to see defeated nor stained with cruel gore, but each man fears the spectacle with eager prayers.57

[760] Scanning each other with their gaze and each awaiting the first opening, they fell not at once to angry blows, but stayed awhile in mutual fear, and mingled caution with their rage; they but incline their arms against each other as they spar, and make trial of their gloves, dulling them with mere rubs.58 The one, more skilfully trained, puts by his fury, and taking thought for the future delays and husbands up his strength; but the other, prodigal of harm and reckless of his powers, rushes with all his might and in wild blows exhausts both arms, and attacks with fruitless gnashing of teeth, and injures his own cause. But the Laconian, prudent and crafty, and with all his country’s vigilance, now parries, now avoids the blow; sometimes by the throwing back or rapid bending of his head he shuns all hurt, now with his hands he beats off the aimed assault, and advances with his feet while keeping his head drawn back.59 Often again, as his foe engages him with superior power – such strength is in his cunning, such skill in his right hand – with bold initiative he enters his guard and overshadows him, and towering high assails him. Just as a mass of water hurls itself headlong on a threatening rock, and falls back broken, so does he wheel round his angry foe, breaking his defence; look! he lifts his hand and threatens a long time his face or side, and thus by fear of his hard weapons diverts his guard and cunningly plants a sudden blow, and marks the middle of his forehead with a wound; blood flows, and the warm stream stains his temples. Capaneus, yet ignorant, wonders at the sudden murmur of the crowd, but when, as he chanced to draw his weary hand across his face, he saw the stains upon the cowhide, no lion nor tiger feeling the javelin’s smart was e’er so mad; hotly he drives the youth before him in headlong retreat over the whole field, and is forcing him on to his back; terribly he grinds his teeth and whirls his fists in countless repeated blows. The strokes are wasted on the winds, some fall on the gloves of his foe; with active movement and aid of nimble feet the Spartan eludes the thousand deaths that shower about his temples, yet not unmindful of his art he flees still fighting, and though fleeing meets blows with blows.

[796] And now both are wearied with the toil and their exhausted panting; slower the one pursues, nor is the other so swift to escape; the knees of both fail them and alike they rest. Thus when long wandering o’er the sea has wearied the mariners, the signal is given from the stern and they rest their arms awhile; but scarce have they taken repose, when another cry summons them to the oars again. Lo! a second time he makes a furious dash, but the other tricks him and goes at him with a rush of his own and sinking into his shoulders; forward he60 pitches on his head, and as he rises the merciless boy smote him another blow and himself grew pale at the success. The Inachidae raise a shout louder than the noise of shore or forest. But when Adrastus saw him struggling from the ground, and lifting his hands, intent on hideous deeds; “Haste, friends, I pray you, he is mad! hasten, prevent him! he is out of his mind – quick! bring the palm and the prizes! He will not cease, I see well, till he pounds the brain within the shattered skull. Rescue the doomed Laconian!” At once Tydeus darts forth, and Hippomedon, obedient to command; then scarce do the two with all their might master his two arms and bind them fast, and forcefully urge him: “Leave the field, thou art victorious; ‘tis noble to spare the vanquished. He too is one of us, and a comrade in the war.” But no whit is the hero’s fury lessened; he thrusts away the proffered branch and the cuirass, and shouts: “Let me free! Shall I not smash in gore and clotted dust those cheeks whereby that eunuch-boy gained favour, and send his unsightly corpse to the tomb and give cause for mourning to his Oebalian masters61?” So says he, but his friends force him away, swelling with wrath and protesting that he has not conquered, while the Laconians praise the nursling of famed Taygetus, and laugh loud at the other’s threats.

[826] Long time have the varied deeds of valour and his own conscious worth provoked with urgent stings great-hearted Tydeus; both at the quoit and in speed of foot did he excel, nor less was he a champion of the boxing-glove, but before all other sports the anointed wrestling-match was dear. Thus had he been wont to spend the leisure intervals of fighting and relax his martial ire, and with mighty heroes on the banks of Achelous did he strive, heaven-taught, in many a victorious bout. Therefore when keen ambition called the youths to wrestle, the Aetolian puts off the terrible covering of native boar-hide from his shoulders. Against him Agylleus, who boasts of Cleonaean62 stock, raises his tall limbs, no less in bulk than Hercules, so loftily he towers with huge shoulders and monstrously surpasses human measure. But he lacks his father’s close-knit strength of body; loose-limbed and overgrown is he, unsteady and soft of muscle63; hence is Oenides64 boldly confident to overthrow so mighty an antagonist. Though slight himself to look upon, yet he is heavy of bone and hard and sinewy of arm: never did nature dare enclose so fiery a spirit or so great force in so small a frame.

[847] When their skins had taken pleasure in the oil, both ran forward to the middle of the plain and clad themselves in showers of sand; then with the dust they dry their wet limbs in turn, and sink their necks into their shoulders and hold out their arms wide-branching. At once Tydeus with cunning craft stoops his own body, his knees near touching the sand, and so draws down the tall Agylleus and makes him bend to his own level. But just as the cypress, queen of the Alpine height, inclines her summit to the south wind’s pressure, scarce holding by her root, and nears the ground, yet soon springs up again into the air – not otherwise does towering Agylleus of his own will force down his huge limbs and groaning65 bend double over his little foe; and now, first one, then the other, their hands attack brow and shoulder and side and neck and breast and legs that evade the clutch. Sometimes they hang a long while locked in each other’s grip, now savagely they seek to break the fingers’ clasp. Less fiercely do two bulls, the leaders of the herd, make war; in the meadow stands the fair white heifer and awaits the victor, while their breasts are torn in the mad struggle, and love plies the goad and heals their wounds66; so do boars fight with flashing tusks, so do ugly bears grasp shaggy hides in hairy conflict.

[870] So violent is Oenides; neither dust nor heat of sun makes his limbs faint and weary, but his skin is close-knit and firm, and schooled by toil to hard muscle. But the other, unsound in wind, pants heavily, and breathes sickly gasps in his exhaustion, and the caked sand runs off him in streams of sweat, while furtively he snatches support for his body from the ground. On him Tydeus constantly presses, and feinting at his neck catches at his legs, but his arms were baffled by their shortness and failed in their design, while all the other’s towering height came down upon him, and crushed and buried him under the huge falling mass. Just as when the Iberian67 miner burrows beneath a hill and leaves far behind the living day, then, if the suspended ground has rocked and the tunnelled earth crashed down with sudden roar, overwhelmed by the fallen mount he lies within, nor ever does his crushed and utterly broken corpse deliver up the indignant soul to its own skies. More vigorous is Tydeus than his foe, and superior in spirited valour; nor is it long before he has slipped from the other’s hold and unequal weight, and encompassing him as he hesitates fastens suddenly on his back, then swiftly enfolds sides and groin in a firm embrace and grips his knees between his thighs, and relentlessly, as he struggles in vain to escape from the grasp and force his hand against his side – a burden wonderful and terrible to see – raises him aloft. So, fame tells, did Hercules hold fast in his arms the sweating earth-born Libyan,68 when he found the trick and snatched him up on high, and left him no hope of falling, nor suffered him to touch even with his foot’s extremity his mother earth.

[897] A shout arises and glad applause from the multitude. Then, poising him aloft, suddenly of his own will he loosed him and threw him sideways, and following him as he fell seized his neck with his right hand and his middle between his legs. Thus beset, his spirit fails, and only shame drives him to struggle. At last he lies extended, with breast and belly prone on the ground, and a long time after sadly rises, leaving the marks of his disgrace on the imprinted earth. But Tydeus, bearing the palm in his right hand and in his left the prize of shining armour: “What if the plain of Dirce held not no small measure of my blood – as well ye know – where of late these scars made treaty with Thebes69?” So speaking he displays the scars, and gives to his comrades the glorious rewards that he had won, while the spurned corselet follows Agylleus from the field.

[911] There are some, too, who advance to combat with the naked sword. And already were they taking their stand, fully armed, Agreus from Epidaurus, and the Dircaean exile, not yet doomed by fate. But the chieftain, the son of Iasus, forbids them: “Great store of death remains, O youths, preserve your warlike temper and your mad desire for a foeman’s blood. And thou, for whose sake we have laid bare our ancestral acres and our beloved cities, given not, I pray thee, such power to chance before the fight begins, nor – may the gods forfend it! - to thy brother’s prayers.” Thus he speaks, and enriches them both with a golden helm. Then lest his son-in-law lack praise, he bids his lofty temples be garlanded, and himself proclaimed aloud victor of Thebes70: the dire Fates echoed back the ominous sound.

[924] The monarch himself also do the princes urge to dignify with some exploit of his own the festal contests, and to confer this final honour on the tomb; they bid him lest one victory be lacking to the number of the leaders, to shoot Lyctian71 arrows from his bow, or to cleave the clouds with the slender spear. Gladly he accedes, and thronged about by the foremost warriors descends from the green mound to the level plain; his armour-bearer at command bears after him his light quiver and his bow: he prepares to shoot the circus’ mighty length, and to plant wounds upon an appointed ash-tree.

[934] Who will deny that omens flow from the hidden causes of things to come? The fates lie open to mankind, but we choose not to take heed, and the proof foreshown is wasted; thus turn we omens into chance, and from hence Fortune draws her power of harm.

[938] The fateful arrow in a moment measured the plain and struck the tree, and then – awful to behold! – came back through the air it but now had traversed and turning homeward from the goal kept on its way, and fell by the mouth of its well-known quiver. Much talk the princes interchange in error: some say the clouds and the winds on high did meet and drive the shaft, others that the impact of the wood repelled it. Deep hidden lies the mighty issue and the awful truth foretold: to its master only did the arrow vouchsafe survival, and a sad returning from the war.

1. The festivals alluded to are those at Olympia, Delphi, and the Isthmus of Corinth.
2. Boeotian. “Tyrian” = Theban.
3. Sleep is thought of a pouring slumber from a horn upon the earth, cf. x. 111.
4. Much of the following can be paralleled from the Consolatory poems of the Silvae.
5. A legendary king of Egypt, father of Danaus: also an Asiatic monarch, as in Virg. Aen. i. 621 and Ov. M. iv. 213, Statius only means “cinnamon from the East,” cf. Silv. iv. 5. 32.
6. Linus, according to one story ,was the name of the babe whose fate is told in i. 557 sqq., the son of Apollo and Psamathe, daughter of Crotopus.
7. The long parenthesis is awkward, but the only alternative is to construe “pascebat” by zeugma with “cinctusque . . . lacertos.”
8. Perhaps because belts were commonly adorned with gold and silver and precious stones, and would therefore ring against he armour; cf. Aen. v. 312.
9. There appears to be no parallel for this use of “muto,” “to take one for another,” i.e., “to see one (generation of Nymphs) succeed another”; but Statius is very free in his use of the word, cf. ii. 672, vii. 71.
10. i.e., of oaks, from Chaonia in Epirus, where was the oak-grove of Dodona.

11. i.e., when turned into speark-shafts.
12. i.e., because it “dares” the deep, when turned into ships.
13. Italian rustic deities.
14. The Nymphs are often thought of as the living spirits of the trees, cf. Silv. i. 3. 63. The passage reminds one of Milton’s Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, st. 20.
15. The mountain on which her children were slain by Apollo and Artemis.
16. i.e., the Argives, descended from Inachus.
17. “genas,” here “cheeks,” that would be in the flush of manhood: “viridis” often = “in the prime of age.” The clause “si dedisses” is not the protasis to “dicaram,” but expresses the content of the vow, i.e. implies an ellipse: “I had, previously, promised (that I would give you the lock) if you should have, etc.” “dicaram” is not “vivid” for “dicassem”; cf. vi. 609-610.
18. “rapto” suggested by Phillimore and E. H. Alton, is perhaps to be preferred here: “most pleasing to the lost one,” cf. Silv. ii. 1. 208.
19. It is not clear whether “quarter” is meant to apply to “sonant” as well as “pepulere,” or why, if they clashed arms thrice, the noise was heard four times.
20. i.e., they are quite aware that the morning and evening stars are really the same.

21. i.e., at the Isthmian or Olympian games.
22. i.e., with horns.
23. i.e., on all fours. Statius appears to mean that there were two representations of Io, one of her as heifer, and one of her in Egypt, where Jupiter “had raised her erect again.”
24. i.e., the East.
25. Pelops was a favourite of Poseidon, cf. Pindar, Ol. i. 39.
26. A daughter of Danaus, to whom Poseidon showed a spring at Lerna in time of drought, and ravished her there.
27. Because of the night of threefold length in which Hercules was begotten.
28. The suitors of the Danaïds, sons of Aegyptus, who was son of Belus, or was also Danaus; cf. iv. 133.
29. For other references to horse-breeding see x. 228, Silv. v. 2. 21. It is not clear why being of Centaur’s seed should make them scornful of their sex.
30. i.e., the horses of Admetus, whom Apollo served as a shepherd.

31. The word Euneos = happy voyaging.
32. A javelin could be flung 80 yards if the “amentum” or strap were used ( Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encycl. s.v. Hasta); the distance between the posts was therefore about 300 yards.
33. Phlegra was the scene of the battle between the gods and the giants; the snake is Python; his brothers are Bacchus and Hercules, both sons of Zeus.
34. The’ impatient courser pants in ev’ry vein,
And pawing, seems to beat the distant plain;
Hills, vales and floods appear cross’d,
And ere he stars, a thousand steps are lost. – Pope, Windsor Forest.
35. i.e., of the trumpet; see note on iii. 650.
36. i.e., at the turning-points.
37. See note on iii. 25.
38. Or, as he was son of Neptune, “prescient,” “inspired.” “insons”: the guilty mortal makes the guiltless horse afraid.
39. i.e., Polynices; the patronymic merely indicates descent, as later l. 467, where he is called “son of Echion,” one of the founders of Thebes.
40. i.e., Amphiaraus, Admetus, and Thoas.

41. i.e., the mixing-bowls portrayed on this bowl.
42. Leander, who swam from Abydos to Sestos.
43. i.e., in contrast to the robuster sports of chariot-racing, boxing, etc.; cf. l. 730.
44. Patron goddess of Athens, to whom the olive was sacred.
45. “limina” practically = “limes,” the line marking the goal.
46. In a Greek stadium the line marking the starting-point and the goal was 30 yards long. But “longae” might = “longinquae” (distant) here. In any case “longe” cannot be right.
47. I have translated the word both “quoit” and “disk,” though the discus, a plate of iron or stone about 10 or 12 inches in diameter, was very different from our quoit, which is a ring. The “discus” is well illustrated by the familiar “Discobolus” of Myron. Thomas Gray wrote a verse translation of this passage (646-725).
48. Thracian.
49. Here again the reader may refer to the “Discobolus” of Myron.
50. It is flung aloft so swiftly its fall by contrast is actually slower – a rhetorical paradox.

51. Eclipses of the moon were believed to be caused by Thessalian withces, who wee thought to have the power of drawing it down to earth; the steeds are those of the chariot of the moon.
52. Phlegyas’s first throw is a practice-throw. Upwards instead of “on the flat” (“in aequo”).
53. i.e., his left side had been bent round towards the discus in his right hand; it has already begun to swing back into place as he begins to throw.
54. Hermes, see note on iv. 228.
55. “crudelis” here seems to have the meaning of “crudus” ( from “cruor”).
56. Cf. iv. 229, where the Spartans are said to be trained by Mercury, the patron god of the wrestling-ground, in the modes of naked valour.
57. i.e., that Alcidamas would win. For “quisque” to be supplied after “nemo” cf. Orelli’s note on Hor. Sat. i. 1. 1.
58. They have not yet begun boxing in earnest, but are just sparring and rubbing glove against glove.
59. E. H. Alton would transpose “intrat” and “instat,” contrasting the former with “recedit”: “he stands up to him with his footwork, but keeps his head out of reach.”
60. i.e., Capaneus, of course; Alcidamas crouches (for “mersus umeris” cf. “colla demersere umeris,” l. 850) and rushes at Capaneus, who pitches forward over the Spartan’s head. This rush of Alcidamas is the “first” blow, and explains “alio,” l. 804.

61. i.e., Pollux (Oebalian = Spartan).
62. From Cleonae, the scene of Hercules’ first exploit, the Nemean lion; i.e. = Herculean.
63. “sanguine laxo” seems to express the opposite of “close-knit,” i.e., flabbiness, softness of flesh.
64. i.e., Tydeus.
65. Not from pain, but because, as Cicero says, “profundenda voce corpus intenditur venitque plaga vehementior” (Tusc. ii. 23. 56), i.e., uttering a sound makes the body strained up and taut, and helps the force of the blow (in boxing).
66. i.e., makes them not to be felt.
67. Spain was famous for its mines.
68. Antaeus. He was a son of Earth, and derived all his strength from contact with her. Hrecules’ “trick” therefore, was to deprive him of strength by keeping him lifted up above the ground.
69. i.e., “what would have happened to him if I had not suffered loss of blood?; the reference is to his adventures as an envoy (hence “foedera”) at Thebes (see Bk. ii.).
70. Alton suggests “Thebanum” here, finding the omen in the ambiguity of the word, as meaning either Polynices or his brother.
71. i.e., Cretan.