Classical Texts Library >> Statius, Thebaid >> Book 9




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] The news of the mad fury of blood-stained Tydeus exasperates the Aonians; even the Inachidae themselves grieve but little for the fallen warrior, and blame him, complaining that he has transgressed the lawful bounds of hatred; nay, thou too, O Gradivus, most violent of gods, though at that time the furious work of slaughter did most occupy thee, thou too wert offended, as they relate, by such hardihood,1 nor turned they own gaze thereon, but drove another way thy affrighted steeds. Therefore the Cadmean youth rise up to avenge the shameful profanation of Melanippus’ corpse, as much inflamed as though their father’s bones had been disturbed from their sepulchres and their urns flung a prey to cruel monsters. The king himself infuriates them still further: “Who any more is merciful or humane to the Pelasgians? Why, with hooked fangs they rend our limbs – shame on such madness! Have we then so glutted their weapons? – Do ye not think ye are making war on Hyrcanian tigers or facing angry Libyan lions? And now he lies – O! noble solace of death! – his jaws fastened in his enemy’s head, and meets his unhallowed end in welcome gore. Our weapons are ruthless steel and brands of fire, but theirs is naked hate, and savagery that needs no arms. May they continue in their frenzy and enjoy a renown so glorious, do thou but look upon it, O Father supreme! But they complained that the battle-field gaped and they marvel that the earth fled: would even their own soil bear such as them?” So speaking, he led his men forward in a fierce onset shouting loud, and all alike furious to seize the corpse of hated Tydeus and to gain his spoils. Not otherwise do swarms of obscene birds veil the stars, when the breezes have told them afar of tainted air and bodies left unburied; thither in clamorous greed they haste, the lofty sky is loud with flapping of wings, and lesser fowl withdraw from heaven.

[32] Fame, travelling in swift rumours about the Aonian plain, is spread from troop to troop, a more rapid messenger than of wont when her tidings are evil, until she glides into the affrighted ears of Polynices, to whom her tale brings most grievous news of loss. The youth stiffened with horror, his ready tears stood congealed, and slow was he to give credence; for Oenides’ well-known valour now prompts and now forbids him to believe his death. But when the disaster was confirmed on undoubted warrant, his mind and vision are whelmed in night; his blood stands still; together his arms, together his limbs sink down, his lofty helm is already moist with tears, and his greaves caught the shield as it fell. Sadly he goes, dragging faint knees and trailing spear, as though burdened by a thousand wounds and maimed in every limb; his comrades shrink from him and point to him with groans. At length he throws away the armour he scarce has power to carry, and falling naked on the now lifeless body of his peerless friend speaks thus with streaming tears:

[49] “Oenides, last hope of my emprise, is this my gratitude, is this my due reward and recompense to thee, that thou shouldst lie bare on Cadmus’ hated earth and I be unharmed? Now for ever am I an exile and for ever banished, since my other, ay and truer, brother has, alas, been taken from me. No more do I seek the old decrees of lot or the perjured diadem of a guilty throne: to what purpose are joys so dearly bought, or a sceptre that thy hand will not place in mine? Depart from me, ye warriors, and leave me to face my cruel kinsman alone: nought avails it to try further battle and be wasteful of deaths. Depart, I pray you; what greater thing can ye give me now?2 I have squandered Tydeus. By what death can I atone for that? O father of my bride! O Argos! and that first night’s honest quarrel, and our mutual blows, and the short wrath that was the pledge of long affection!3 Ah! why was I not then slain by thy sword, great Tydeus – thou wert able – on the threshold of our host Adrastus? Nay more, on my account thou didst go to Thebes, and willingly enter my brother’s impious palace, whence none other would have returned, as though to win a sceptre and honours for thyself alone. Already of devoted Telamon, already of Theseus fame ceased to tell – and lo! in what plight thou liest here! Which wounds shall I first marvel at? Which is they blood, which thy foe’s? What troops, what countless bands o’erthrew thee? Nay, the Father himself, and I mistake not, envied thee, and Mars smote thee with all the force of his spear.”

[73] So he speaks and weeping cleanses with his tears the hero’s face that still runs blood, and composes it with his own hand. “Didst thou then hate my foes thus far, and do I outlive thee?” – in his blind passion he had pulled the sword from its sheath, and was pointing it for death – his friends restrained him, and his father-in-law rebukes him, and calling to his mind the chances of war and the will of fate consoles his swelling heart, and from that dear body, whence comes his grief and eager will for death, little by little he drags him far away, and mid his converse silently puts back the weapon. He is led like a bull that having lost the partner of his toils deserts in numb despair the furrow he has begun among all the acres round, and on his drooping neck drags part of the unsightly yoke, while part the weeping ploughman bears.

[86] But see! rallying to the battle-cry of Eteocles a chosen band of warriors advances, who neither Tritonia would have despised in the fray nor Mavors in the encounter with the lance: against them, when he had set his protecting shield before his breast and thrust forth his long spear tall Hippomedon stands his ground: even as a rock that fronts the waves, and hath no fear from heaven, and the waters are broken and give way before it: firm it stands, unmoved by threats; the very sea flees from its stark face, and from afar the troubled4 barks recognize it. Then first the Aonian – choosing withal a stalwart spear: “Hast thou no shame in the presence of the gods and with heaven as witness to guard this ghost, this corpse that defames our warfare? Surely ‘tis a glorious task and a memorable exploit to compass burial for this wild beast, in fear he go not to Argos to win his meed of tears and obsequies, nor on the soft bier spew out his cursed gore! Dismiss your care; him no birds nor foul monsters will devour, not even the sacred fire itself, were we to grant it.”

[103] No more he spake, but hurled a huge javelin, that, checked by the hard bronze, yet passing through, is stayed in the second layer of the shield. Then Pheres aims, and vigorous Lycus; but the dart of Pheres falls vainly to earth, while Lycus cleaves the casque with its terrible streaming plume; torn by the lance-point the crest is scattered far, and lays bare the inglorious helm. He himself neither retires, nor leaps out to attack the foeman, but ever turning in his own ground to every side now advances and now draws back, nor ever for long gives his right arm play, but in all his movements keeps nigh the body, keeps the body in view, hovering over and around it. Not so jealously does its mother shield and protect a helpless calf, her first-born, when a wolf is threatening, and wheel round in perplexity with lowered horns; for herself she has no fear, but foregetful of her weaker sex foams at the mouth, and, female as she is, imitates mighty bulls. At last he cloud of darts grew less, and they could hurl weapons back again; and by now Alcon of Sicyon had come in succour, and the Pisaean squadron of fleet Idas arrives, and they reinforce the phalanx. Rejoicing thereat he flings a Lernaean shaft against the foe: it flies with all an arrow’s speed, and tarrying not a whit pierces Polites through the middle, and still persistent passes through the shield of Mopsus his close comrade. Then he transfixes Cydon the Phocian, and Phalanthus of Tanagra, and Eryx, the latter as he turns rearward in search of weapons, with no thought of death, through the long tresses of his head; the other expiring marvels that he has received the lance not in his face but in his hollow throat, and therewith the blood gushes forth, full of his dying wail, and the teeth that the spear-point has dislodged. Leonteus, lurking behind the battle of the heroes, stealthily dared to put forth his right hand, and pulled at the prostrate corpse, seizing its hair: Hippomedon spied him, though faced by many a threat on every side, and with his grim blade lopped off the impudent hand, taunting him withal: “’Tis Tydeus, Tydeus himself who robs thee of it! Have fear of heroes even when they are slain and touch not, miserable man, the mighty dead!” Thrice did the Cadmean phalanx pull away the dreadful corpse, thrice do the Danaans drag it back again: just as an anxious vessel strays in a lawless tumult of the Sicilian sea, despite the helmsman’s fruitless efforts, and then returns on her path with canvas backward-blown.

[144] No Sidonian forces would there have availed to drive Hippomedon from his purpose, no engine-hurled missiles were like to move his stout resistance, and the blows that proud battlements dreaded had fallen baffled from the buckler they assailed. But, mindful of the Elysian monarch,5 and recounting the crimes of Tydeus, impious Tisiphone craftily draws nigh to the middle of the field: the armies felt her presence, and horses and men alike were seized by a sudden sweat, although, laying aside her own aspect, she counterfeited Halys the Inachian; absent was the unhallowed torch and the scourge, while her locks at her command held their peace.6 As warrior, and with flattering looks and voice, she comes near to fierce Hippomedon, yet he feared her countenance as she spoke, and marvelled at his fear. Weeping she says: “In vain, O man of renown, thou guardest thy dead comrades and the unburied bodies of the Greeks – is that then our fear, do we yet care for a sepulchre? – Lo! Adrastus is being dragged along, the captive of a Tyrian band, and to thee before all else, to thee he cries and beckons. Alas! in what plight I saw him slip and fall in blood, his diadem torn and the white locks streaming free! Nor far from here, look! where all that cloud of dust is, all that mass of men.”

[164] Awhile the hero stood perplexed, balancing his fears; the ruthless maid urges him: “Why dost thou hesitate? Shall we go forward? Or does this dead body keep us back, and is he more worthless who survives?” 7 To his comrades he entrusts the forlorn task and the fight that should be his, and strides away, deserting his loyal friend, yet looking behind him, and ready, should they perchance recall him. Then following the impetuous footsteps of the relentless goddess he rushes here and there in aimless, pathless course, till the wicked Fury, casting her shield behind her, vanishes darkly from his sight, and snakes innumerable break forth from her helmet. The cloud disperses, and the unhappy man beholds the Inachidae unperturbed, and Adrastus in his chariot, fearing nought.

[177] And now the Tyrians possess the body, and by loud cries attest their joy; the triumphant shout steals upon the ear and strikes the heart with secret dismay. He is dragged on hostile soil – alas! fate’s cruel power! – that very Tydeus for whom of late a mighty space on either hand was left as he pursued the ranks of Thebes, whether on foot or shaking out his chariot-reins; never still are hands or weapons or any savagery of man: they delight to wound with impunity those features rigid in death and that visage that they feared. This is their passion, by this deed they strive, both brave and cowards, to gain ennoblement, and they keep the blood-stained weapons to display to their young children and their wives. So when weary troops of shepherds have warred down a lion that has long devastated Moorish fields, and caused flocks to be penned up and guardians to be watchful, the countryside exults, the husbandmen come with loud cries of joy, and pluck at the mane and open the mighty jaws and tell of all their losses, whether he now keeps vigil nailed up beneath the roof, or hangs the glory of some ancient grove.

[196] But fierce Hippomedon, although he sees now his help is of no avail and he is too late to fight for the stolen corpse, nevertheless goes on and blindly whirls his relentless sword, scarce knowing friend from foe, so that nought delay his advance; but the ground now slippery with recent slaughter, and arms and dying men and shattered chariots impede him, and his left thigh, which the spear-point of the Echionian monarch pierced, but in his fury he had dissembled the wound or known not of it. At length he sees Hopleus sorrowing: he, the trustly comrade of great Tydeus and lately, but all in vain, his squire, was holding the wing-footed steed, who, with bowed neck and ignorant of his master’s fate, was impatient only of his idleness, and because his lord was more adventurous in the fray of infantry. Him, though he scorns a new weight on his proud back – for since his taming he knew but one hand only – the hero seizes and thus bespeaks: “Why refusest thou thy new destiny, unhappy charger? Never more for thee is the burden of thy haughty lord; nor more shalt thou sate thy hunger on the Aetolian meads, or shake free thy exultant mane about the streams of Achelous. This remains for thee – go and at least avenge thy dear master’s death, or come with me, lest thou too in captivity vex his vanished shade, and after Tydeus bear some boastful rider.” One would have said he heard and was enkindled: so violently8 does he whirl him away in wild career, resenting the less the similar reins. Even so the half-brute Centaur leaps down into the vale from the airy height of Ossa: at himself9 the lofty forests quake in fear, at the horse the plain shakes. Alarmed and breathless the sons of Labdacus flock together, on them Hippomedon bears down, and shearing with the sword their unwitting necks leaves behind their falling trunks.

[225] They had reached the river: with channel fuller than of wont Ismenos was running then in mighty spate, an omen of disaster. There a short respite was given, thither the columns urged their weary flight in terror from the field; the waves, their refuge from the fray, are spellbound at the warriors, and are lit up by the bright sheen10 of armour. Into the water they leapt, and with a great crash the bank gave way and the opposite shores lay hid in dust. He too with mightier leap plunges through the hostile stream against the astonished foe, just as he was – no time for dismounting –, only his javelins, fixed in the green turf, he entrusts for a while to a poplar tree. Then, indeed in deadly terror, of their own accord they fling their weapons on the waves that carry them away; some doff their helms and lie basely hid, so long as they can maintain their lives beneath the waters; many tried to swim the river, but their fastenings grip them, the belts impede their breathing, and the soaked11 corslets weigh down their bodies. Even as beneath the swelling flood the dark blue fishes are afraid, whenso’er they see a dolphin probing the secret lairs of the deep; the whole swarm flees to the lowest pools and huddles frightened in the green seaweed: nor come they forth till through the surface waves he darts his curving body and prefers to race the ships that meet his sight: even so he hero drives them pell-mell before him, and in mid-stream both guides the rein and aims the shaft, upheld by his swimming horse, whose nimble hoof, accustomed to the plain, now treads the wave and seeks the deep-sunk sands.

[252] Chromis lays Ion low, Antiphos Chromis, and Hypseus Antiphos, Hypseus also Astyages, and Linus, who is about to leave the river and flee away, were it not that the Fates forbid, and early in his life’s thread he is doomed to watery death.12 Hippomedon presses hard the ranks of Thebes, Asopian Hypseus throws the Danaans into confusion; on either side the river is affrighted, each stains the waters thick with blood, from that stream each is fated never to return. And now mangled limbs are rolled down on the flowing current, and heads and severed arms rejoin their bodies, and now the wave bears lances and light targes and slackened bows, and plumes suffer not their casques to sink. Far and wide the surface of the stream is strewn with floating weapons, and its depths with men; there bodies wrestle with death, and the confronting stream chokes back their forth-issuing breath.

[266] The lad Argipus had grasped a river-side elm-tree in the rushing flood; savage Menoeceus with his sword shears through those comely shoulders; he, as he falls, still striving, gazes, a trunk, at his own arms on the high boughs. The spear of Hypseus sank Tages with a mighty wound: he remains at the bottom, and in place of his body his blood returns. To rescue his brother Agenor leapt down from the bank, and grasped him – alas! poor wretch! – but the wounded man weighs him down in his embrace, as he tries to lift him. Agenor could have freed himself and come forth from the water, but liked not to return without his brother. Capetus rises to his right and threatens a blow, but is sucked down by the entangling eddies of the rapid current; now his face goes under, now his hair, now his right arm is gone, last of all his sword sinks beneath the headlong waters. One death in a thousand shapes of dying torments the wretches. A Mycalesian spear-point sheathes itself in Agyrtes’ back: he looks round, but there was none who hurled it; urged by the torrent’s flow the spear had sped and found his blood.

[284] The Aetolian charger13 too is pierced in his strong shoulders, and at the deadly shock rears up and prances, beating the air: yet he chief is no white upset by the plunge,14 but pities the horse, and groaning pulls the dart from the deep wound with his own hand, and of his own accord lets go the reins. Then he rejoins the fray afoot, surer both in step and hand, and, one after the other, slays tardy Nomius and valiant Mimas and Lichas of Thebes and Lycetus of Anthedon and Thespiades, one of twin brothers; to Panemus begging a like fate he cries: “Live on, and to the walls of accursed Thebes depart alone, no more to deceive thy unhappy parents.15 Thanks be to Heaven that Bellona’s gory hand has driven the fight in to the rapid stream; the wave sweeps away the cowards on their native flood, and the naked ghost of unburied Tydeus shall not moan and shriek around your pyres; ye shall go down to feed the cruel monsters of the deep, but him the earth doth carry and shall resolve into her own elements.” So harries he the foe, and with taunts adds bitterness to his blows; and now he rages with the sword, now snatches up floating javelins and flings them back; Theron he slays, the friend of chaste Diana, and Gyas, dweller in the country, and wave-wandering Erginus, and unshorn Herses, and Cretheus, contemner of the deep, who oft in a tiny craft had weathered Caphareus’ stormy promontory and the Euboean squalls. Behold the power of fate! a lance pierces his breast, and he is carried on the stream, alas on what waters shipwrecked! Thee too Pharsalus, crossing the river in thy lofty care to join thy companions, the Doric spear-point overturns the slays they horses: the violence of the angry flood engulfs them, and the ill-starred union of the yoke.

[315] Come now, ye learned Sisters, grant me to know what toil laid low Hippomedon in the heaving billows, and why Ismenos himself was roused to join the fray; for your task it is to search out the past, and let not fame grow old. Crenaeus, the youthful son of Faunus and the nymph Ismenis, rejoiced to fight in his mother’s waters – Crenaeus, who first saw the light in the trusted stream and was cradled in the green banks of his native river. So thinking that there the Elysian Sisters had no power, merrily, now from this bank now from that, he crosses his caressing grandsire: the wave supports his footsteps, whether he go downstream or athwart the flood; nor when he goes counter does the river one whit delay him, but flows backward likewise. No more winningly does the sea cover the waist of the stranger from Anthedon,16 nor Triton rise higher from the summer waves, nor yet Palaemon,17 when he hastes back to his darling mother’s kisses, and smites his tardy dolphin. Gay harness decks his shoulders, and his splendid buckler gleaming with gold is engraved with the ancient tale of the Aonian race. Here the Sidonian maid18 rides on the white back of the enticing steer; now fears she not the sea, now clings not to the horns with tender hands; around the margin of her feet the waves play sportively; one would think that he bull moved upon the shield, and cleft the billows. The river-waves, of the same colour as the sea,19 assist belief. Then bold alike with weapons and saucy speech he challenges Hippomedon: “This is no poisonous Lerna, no Herculean Hydras drink these waters, ‘tis a sacred river that thou art defiling, ay, sacred, - so shalt thou find it to thy cost, thou wretch! – and gods have been nourished by its streams.” Nought said the other, but advanced upon him; in a denser mass the flood resisted him, and checked his hand, but yet he drave home the wound for all his hindering, and pierced utterly life’s secret chambers. The river shuddered at the horrid deed, ye woods on either shore lamented, and deeper groans resounded from the hollow banks. From his dying lips came the last cry: “Mother!” As he uttered it, the waters choked the poor lad’s voice.

[351] But his mother, amid her company of silvery-gleaming sisters, leapt up straightway from the sea-green valley at the shock of doom, frenzied, with loosened hair, and in wild grief rent with many a blow her face and bosom and green robe. Forth from the waves she burst, and with trembling voice again and again cries out “Crenaeus”: nowhere was he to be seen, but on the flood there floats his shield, a mark, alas! his unhappy parent must recognize too well; he himself lies far off, where on the bounds of mingling sea and river Ismenos suffers his last charge. Often thus does Alcyone deserted make lament for her wave-wandering, spray-drenched home, when savage Auster and envious Thetis have scattered her darlings and their shivering nests. Once more the bereaved mother sinks, and hidden in the watery depths she searches in vain for her dead son by many a track, where the path shines clear before her as she goes – searches and yet bewails; oftimes the bristling river checks her, and a bloody haze obscures her vision. Yet in mad haste she flings herself on weapons and swords, and thrusts her hand into helmets and turns over prostrate corpses; nor drawing nigh the deep did she enter the bitter brine of Doris, until a band of Nereids pitying her wafted his body, now in the keeping of the ocean-billows, to his mother’s breast. Embracing him on the sloping bank and with soft tresses dries his wet face and cries amid loud lament:

[376] “Is this the gift thy half-divine parents and thy immortal grandsire have given thee? Is it thus thou reignest in our flood? Unhappy boy! gentler was the discordant alien earth, gentler the ocean wave, which brought back thy body to the river and seemed to await thy hapless mother’s coming. Are these my lineaments? Are these the eyes of thy fierce sire? Are these thy billowy grandsire’s tresses? Once wert thou the pride and glory of wave and woodland, and while thou livedst I was held a greater goddess and the queen of Nymphs. Where alas! is that late crowd of courtiers round thy mother’s halls, where are the Maidens of the Glen (Napaeae) that prayed to serve thee? Why do I now bring thee home, Crenaeus, in my sad embrace, not for myself but for thy burial, who hadst better remained there in the cruel deep? Hard-hearted father, hast thou not pity nor shame for such a death? What lake profound and inescapable hath engulfed thee in the river’s depths, so that nor thy grandson’s cruel fate nor my own weeping can reach thee there? Lo! Hippomedon rages and boasts himself the master in thy flood, and banks and waves tremble before him; his was the stroke that made the water drink our blood; but thou art sluggish, and the fierce Pelasgians’ acquiescent slave! Come at least, cruel sire, to the ashes and last obsequies of thy own, for ‘tis not thy grandson only whose pyre thou shalt kindle here.” With her words she mingles wailing, and stains with blood her innocent bosom, while the caerulean sisters re-echo her lament; so, men say, did Leucothea,20 not yet a Nereid, wail in Isthmus’ haven, when her cold babe with gasping breast spewed out upon his mother the angry sea.

[404] But father Ismenos, reclining in that secret cavern whence winds and clouds do drink and the rain-bringing bow is nourished, and whence comes a fuller harvest to the Tyrian fields, when from afar, spite of his own waters’ roar, he caught the sound of lamentations and his daughter’s earliest groans, uplifted his moss-grown neck and his ice-weighted hair; the tall pine fell from his loosened grasp, and the urn dropped and rolled away. Along the banks the woods and lesser rivers marvel at him as he thrusts forth his face encrusted with age-long mire; so majestically he rises from the flood, lifting his foamy head and his breast astream with echoing fall of rivulets from his dark-blue beard. One of the Nymphs meets her father and tells him of his daughtes’s tears and his grandson’s fate, and shows him the blood-stained author of the deed and seizes his right hand; high he stands in the deep river, and smiting his face and horns entwined with green sedge, thus begins sore troubled with deep-mouthed utterance: “Is this thy reward, O ruler of the gods above, for that so oft I played the accomplice-friend to thy adventures, and saw – I fear not to recall it – the shameless horns on thy false visage, then Phoebe forbidden to unyoke her care, or the dowry-gift of a funeral-pyre and the lightning’s trickery?21 And hat I have nurtured the foremost of thy sons? Do they too feel so mean a gratitude? Of a truth the Tirynthian crawled an infant by this river; with these waters I quenched thy Bromios as he burned. See the carnage the corpses a I carry on my stream, choked utterly with weapons as it is and hidden beneath unwonted heaps. Continuous warfare besets my channel, every wave breathes horror, and souls new-slain wander above me and beneath, and join bank to bank in darkness. Yet I, that river invoked with holy cries, I, whose praise it is to lave in my pure fount the soft wands and horns of Bacchus, am blocked with dead, and seek a difficult passage to the sea; so great a stream of gore fills not the impious meres of Strymon, and foaming Hebrus reddens not so deeply when Gradivus is at war. Does not thy fostering wave rebuke thee and thy violence, O Liber, who hast long forgotten thy parents? Is Eastern Hydaspes more easily subdued?22 But thou who boastfully exultest in the spoils and slaughter of an innocent lad, thou shalt not return in triumph from this stream to mighty Inachus of fierce Mycenae, unless it be that I am mortal and thou of heavenly race.”

[446] So spake he, gnashing his teeth, and gave the sign to his already raging waters: cold Cithaeron sends succour from the hills, and bids his ancient snows and stores of frost be moving; to the flood his brother Asopos unites his secret stores, and supplies streams from wide-open veins.23 He himself explores the hollow earth’s recesses, and tries torpid lakes and pools and lazy fens, and lifting skyward his greedy countenance sucks down the moisture of the clouds and drains dry the air. Already he flowed with a tide that rose above either lofty bank, already Hippomedon, who of late stood higher than mid-channel’s depth, with unmoistened arms and shoulders, is marvelling that the stream has grown above his stature. All round him the billows swell and the angry tempest rises high, like the sea when it drains the Pleiads or flings darkened Orion against trembling mariners.24 Not otherwise does the Teumesian river batter Hippomedon with its seething flood and ever is hurled back by the shield on his left arm, and anon the dark tide in its foaming onslaught surges over his buckler, pours back with shattered wave and returns in greater volume; moreover, not content with the watery mass, its plucks at the trees that support the crumbling banks and whirls along aged boughs and stones torn from its bed. River and hero are locked in unequal combat, and furious grows the god; for the other retreats not, nor is weakened by any threats, but advancing attacks the oncoming billows, and holding out his shield divides the stream. His feet stand firm though the ground recedes, and with straining sinews he holds fast to slippery rocks, and by struggling and clinging with his knees he maintains the foothold that the treacherous mud undermines, and thus he taunts besides: “Whence, Ismenos, this sudden wrath? Or from what deeps hast thou drawn these forces, slave of an unwarlike god, who knowest nought of blood save in women’s revels, when the Bacchic pipe is bleating, and frenzied matrons defile the three-yearly festival?” He spoke, and on the instant the god assailed him, his visage a welter of rain and clouded by floating sand; nor was he fierce in speech, but with an oak-trunk thrice and four times smote his adversary’s breast with all the might of a god’s wrath, rising to the blow; he at last turned his steps, the buckler stricken from his arm, and beat a slow retreat. The waters press after him, and the river follows in triumph as he gives ground; the Tyrians too vex him from above with stones and iron hail, and drive him back from either bank. What can he do, beset by flood and battle? No flight is there now for the unhappy man, no room for a glorious death.

[492] Rising from the grassy brim there stood an ash-tree, on the doubtful verge of land and waters but more friendly to the waters, and held the stream in the dominion of its mighty shadow. The succour of this tree – for where could he attempt the land? – he grasped with clutching fingers, nor did it endure the strain, but, overcome by a weight too great for its hold, gave way, and, torn from the roots whereby it entered the river and gripped the thirsty ground, dropped from on high and hurled itself and the bank together on the dismayed hero, nor brooking him further, bridged and damned the stream with sudden downfall.25 Hither all the waves comes surging, and an inescapable whirlpool of mud and hollow eddies rises and falls. And now the tortuous flood surrounds the shoulders, now the neck of the warrior; compelled at last to confess despair he exclaims: “For shame! great Mars! wilt thou drown this life of mine in a river? Must I then sink beneath sluggish lakes and meres like a shepherd caught in the cruel waters of a sudden torrent? Have I verily not deserved to fall by the sword?” Moved by his prayers Juno at length accosts the Thunderer: “How long, glorious sire of gods, how long wilt thou press the hapless sons of Inachus? Already Pallas holds Tydeus in detestation, already Delphi is silent, its prophet slain; lo! my Hippomedon, whose home is Argos and Mycenae the cradle of his race, who worships Juno before all other gods – is it thus I am faithful to my own? – shall my Hippomedon go to feed the cruel monsters of the deep? Surely thou didst once allow the conquered to have the last rites of the tomb? Where are the flames that followed the Cecropian fray?26 Where is Theseus’ fire?” He spurns not his consort’s righteous plea, but lightly glanced towards Cadmus’ walls: the waters beheld his nod and sank to rest. The shoulders and breast of the hero are revealed, those drained of blood, that pierced with wounds: as when a stormy sea, made mountainous by the winds, abates, the rocks and the land the sailors sought for rise into view, and the waters subside from the threatening crags.

[526] What avails it to have gained the bank? The Phoenican host presses him on every side with a storm of darts, his limbs are without covering, all exposed is he to death; then his wounds stream, and the blood that was staunched beneath the waters flows in the open air and breaks the tender apertures of the veins, and the cold of the river makes him reel and stagger in his gait. He falls, even as on Getic Haemus, whether from Boreas’ rage or its own strength’s decay, an oak that blended its foliage with the sky falls forward and leaves a void in the wide air; as it totters, the forest and the very mountain tremble, for fear where it may fall, what stretch of woodland it may shatter. Yet none dares touch his sword or helmet; scarce believe they their eyes, but shudder at the monstrous corpse, and approach it with drawn swords.

[540] At length Hypseus went near and wrenched the sword-hilt from his deathly grip, and freed the grim visage of its casque: then he goes through the Aonian ranks, displaying the helmet balanced aloft on his glittering blade, and crying exultantly: “Behold the fierce Hippomedon, behold the dread avenger of impious Tydeus, and the subduer of the gory flood!” Great-hearted Capaneus27 knew him from afar, and mastered his rage, and poising a huge javelin with his arm thus prays: “Help me now, right arm of mine, my only present aid in battle and deity irresistible! On thee I call, thee only I adore, despising the gods above.” So he speaks, and himself fulfils his own prayer, The quivering fir-shaft flies through shield and corslet’s brazen mail, and finds out at last he life deep in the mighty breast; he falls with the thunderous crash of a lofty tower when pierced and shaken with innumerable blows it sinks in ruin, and opens the breached city to the conquerors. Then standing over him: “We deny thee not,” says he, “thy death’s renown; look hither, ‘twas I that dealt the wound. Depart in joy, and boast thee far beyond the other shades!” Then he seizes the sword and casque of Hypseus, and tears away the shield; and holding them over the dead Hippomedon: “Receive, O mighty chief,” he cries, “thy own and thy enemy’s spoils together; thy ashes shall have their glory and thy shade its rightful rank. Meanwhile, till we pay thee the flame that is thy due, Capaneus thy avenger hides thy limbs in this sepulchre.” Thus impartial Mars in the cruel vicissitudes of war gave interchange of mutual slaughter to Greeks and Sidonians alike: here they mourn fierce Hippomedon, there Hypseus, no slower to the fray, and each gain solace from their foes’ distress.

[570] Meanwhile the stern-eyed mother of the Tegean archer-lad,28 troubled in her sleep by gloomy dreams, with flying hair and feet duly unsandalled was going before day-break to Ladon’s chilly stream, that she might cleanse her tainted slumbers in its living waters. For throughout many a distracted, care-worn night she would often see spoils that she herself had dedicated fallen from the shrines, and herself, a fugitive from the woodlands and chased away by Dryad folk, wandering by unknown tombs, and often new-won triumphs of her son brought home form the war, his armour, his well-known steed, his comrades, but himself never; or again she would see her quiver fallen from her shoulders, and her own images and familiar likenesses aflame. But that night seemed to the unhappy woman to portend surpassing terrors, and disturbed all her mother’s heart. Well-known throughout the forests of Arcadia was an oak of fertile growth, which she herself had chosen from a multitude of groves and made sacred to Diana, and by her worship endued with power divine; here she would lay by her bow and weary shafts, and fasten the curved weapons of boars and the flayed skins of lions, and antlers huge as woodland boughs. Scarce have the branches room, so closely set is it with spoils of the country-side, and the sheen of steal mingles29 with the green shade. This oak-tree, when once she was returning from the uplands tried with long chase, and carrying in proud triumph the head late-severed of an Erymanthian bear, she beheld all hacked and torn with many a wound, its foliage fallen, and its branches dripping blood and dying on the ground; in answer to her question a Nymph told of the violence of cruel Maenads and her foe Lyaeus.30 While she moaned and beat her breast with imaginary blows, her eyes cast off their darkness; from her sorrowing couch she leaps, and searches o’er her cheeks for the phantom tears.

[602] So when by dipping thrice her hair in the river she had atoned the sacrilege, and added words that comfort a mother’s troubled heart, she hastened to armed Diana’s shrine while the morning dew was falling, and rejoiced to see the familiar woodland and the oak-tree all unharmed. Then standing at the threshold of the goddess she prays thus, to no avail: “Maiden Queen of the forests, whose ungentle standards and ruthless warfare I follow, scorning my sex, in no Grecian manner – nor are the barbarous-fashioned Colchians or troops of Amazons more truly thy votaries – if I have never joined revelling bands or the wanton nightly sport,31 if, although stained by a hated union, I have nevertheless handled not the smooth wands nor the soft skeins, but even after wedlock remained in the rough wilds, a huntress still and in my heart a virgin; if I took no thought to hide my fault in some secret cave, but showed my child and confessed and laid him trembling at thy feet – no puny weakling was he, but straightway crawled to my bow, and as a babe he cried for arrows in his first tearful accents: for him I pray – ah! what mean these nights of terror, these threatening dreams? – for him, who now in confident hope, trusting overmuch, alas, in thee, is gone to battle; grant me to see him victorious in the war, or if I ask too much, grant me but to see him! Here let him labour and bear thy arms. Make the dire signs of ill to cease; what power, O Diana of the woods, have Maenads and Theban deities in our glades? Woe is me! – why in my own heart do I find a dreadful omen in the oak? But if sleep sends true presagings to my unhappy mind, I beseech thee, merciful Dictynna, by thy mother’s travail and thy brother’s splendour, pierce with all thine arrows this unblest womb! Let him first hear of his wretched mother’s death!” She spoke, and beheld even cold Diana’s marble moist with falling tears.

[637] The stern goddess leaves her still stretched upon the sacred doorway and brushing the cold altar with her tresses, and with a bound crosses the leafy summit of Maenalos in mid-air and directs her steps to Cadmus’ walls, where the inner path of heaven32 shines for gods alone, and high uplifted views all the earth together. And now, near half-way on her road, she was passing the forest-clad ridges of Parnassus, when in a glittering cloud she saw her brother not as she was wont to see him: for he was returning sadly from the Echionian fray, mourning the death of the engulfed augur. The region of the sky glowed red as their rays mingled; at the divine conjunction the beams of each shone out, their bows met, and quiver rang to quiver.33 He first began: “I know, my sister, ‘tis the Labdacian ranks thou seekest, and the Arcadian who dares to fight too valiant for him. His faithful mother begs thee: would that the Fates might grant her prayer! Lo! I myself have availed not – ah! for shame! – but seen my votary’s arms and consecrated laurels go down to the void of Tartarus, and his face turned toward me as he went, nor did I check his car or close the chasm of the earth, heartless that I am and unworthy to be worshipped. Thou seest how my caverns mourn, O sister, and the silence of my shrine; this is my sole recompense to my loyal friend. Nor do thou continue to summon aid that can but fail, nor pursue thy sad task in vain; the youth is near his end, ‘tis fate immutable, nor do thy brother’s oracles deceive thee on a doubtful matter.” “But I may surely obtain glory for him at the last,” the maiden in dismay replies, “and find a colace for his death, if indeed it so must be, nor shall that man escape unpunished, whoever shall impiously stain his guilty hand with the blood of an innocent boy, and may my shafts wreak dire revenge!” With these words she moved upon her way, and suffering her brother but a scant embrace sought Thebes in hostile mood.

[670] But on either side after the slaying of the chiefs the fight waxed fiercer, and the lust of vengeance aroused mutual rage. Here the squadrons of Hypseus shout and the troop that has lost its leader, there with deeper roar the bereft cohort of the dead Hippomedon; fiercely struggling they expose their bodies to the sword, and with equal ardour drain the foe’s blood and shed their own, nor do they budge a step: the lines stand locked, column against column, and they yield their lives, but will not turn their backs, to the cruel foe – when gliding through the air the swift Latonian takes her stand on the Dircaean height; the hills know her, and the forest trembles at the well-known goddess, where once bare-breasted with cruel arrows she had slain Niobe and all her brood, out-wearying her bow.

[683] But the land, exultant now that the slaughter has begun, was darting between the lines on a hunter steed, untrained to war and suffering then his earliest bridle; about him was cast a striped tiger-skin, and the gilded talons beat upon his shoulders: his knotted mane in controlled luxuriance lies close against his neck, and upon his breast tosses a crescent chain of snow-white tusks, tokens of the woodland. The boy wore a cloak twice steeped in Oebalian dye,34 and a glittering gold-embroidered tunic – only this had his mother woven – gathered about his waist by a slender girdle, and, burdened by a huge sword, he had let drop his shield on the left shoulder of his horse; the golden buckle of the belt that hangs by his armed side delights him with its polished clasp, and he joys to hear the rattle of the scabbard and the chains that fall behind him from his crest; sometimes he gaily tosses his flowing plume and his glancing jewel-studded casque. But when his panting helm grows hot in the fight, he frees him of the covering and appears bare-headed; then sweetly shine his locks and his countenance, all a-quiver in the sunbeams, and the cheeks whose tardiness he himself laments, not yet changed by rosy down. Nor does he find pleasure in the praise of his own fairness, but puts on a harsh severity of look; yet anger becomes him and preserves the beauty of his brow. Freely do the Theban warriors yield him place, remembering their own sons, and relax their straining bows, but he pursues and plies them with ruthless javelins, for all their pity. Even the Sidonian Nymphs along Teumesian ridges praise him as he fights; his very dust and sweat are in favour, and sighing they breathe unspoken prayers.

[712] Tender sorrow steals to the depth of Diana’s heart as she beholds this sight, and staining her cheeks with tears she cries: “What escape from approaching death can thy faithful goddess find thee now? Was it to battles such as these thou hastenedst, fierce, ill-fated lad? Alas! thy rash and untried spirit drove thee, and the love of fame that prompts to a glorious death. Too scant already, forsooth, was the Maenalian forest for thy impetuous years, and the paths that lay through lairs of beasts, scarce safe for thee, child, without thy mother, to whose bow and woodland spears, impudent boy, thy strength was yet unequal. And she now is making loud and bitter complaint about my altars, and wearies the unhearing doors and thresholds; in the well-loved clarions and the battle’s outcry thou art rejoicing, happy thou, and thou shalt die making but thy mother wretched.” 35 Yet lest as he dies she fail to bring him her last honour, she advances into the midst of the array, hemmed about with dusky mist, and first stealing the light shafts from the back of the bold lad, she fill his quiver with celestial arrows, whereof none falls unstained with blood; then she sprinkles his limbs with ambrosial liquor, and his steed also, lest their bodies be profaned by any wound before his death, and murmurs many a sacred charm and conscious spell, which she herself teaches the Colchian maids at night in secret caves, and as they search shows them cruel herbs.

[736] Then indeed uncovering his bow he darts in fiery course about the field, nor is controlled by caution, forgetful of his native land, his mother and himself, and uses overmuch his heavenly weapons: just as a lion, whose Gaetulian dam brings him herself in his infancy gory food, as soon as he feels his neck swell with muscles and grimly looks at his new talons, scorns to be fed, and at last breaks forth to freedom and loves the open plains, and can no more return to his cave. Whom now slayest thou, ruthless boy, with thy Parrhasian horn? Coroebus of Tanagra, did thy first shaft lay low, sped on a narrow path between the lowest margin of the helm and the uppermost of the shield; the blood wells up into his throat, and his face glows red with the sacred fiery venom. More cruelly Eurytion falls, in the orb of whose left eye the cunning point buries itself with triple barb. Pulling out the arrow that brings the melting eyeball with it, he dashes at his assailant; but what cannot the brave weapons of the gods perform? A second wound in the other orb makes his darkness complete; yet he yields not but pursues the foe by memory’s aid, until he trips and falls o’er prostrate Idas: there wretchedly he lies gasping amid the victims of the cruel fight, and entreats friend and foe to slay him. To these he adds the sons of Abas, Argus of the noble locks, and Cydon, guiltily loved by his unhappy sister. Him did he pierce through both his temples with transverse-flying shaft: from one temple the point protrudes, at the other the feathers’ flight was stayed, from both the blood came flowing. None do his angry darts excuse from death, Lamus is not shielded by his beauty, nor Lygdus by his fillet, nor Aeolus by his budding manhood. Lamus is pierced in the face, Lygdus bewails a wounded groin, thou, Aeolus, dost bemoan the dart that transfixed thy snow-white brow. Thee rocky Euboea bore, thee Thisbe shining white had sent, this warrior, green Erythrae, thou wilt not receive again. No blow but tells, no missile flies unfavoured of heaven, his right hand rests not, and the next arrow’s twang follows hard upon the last. Who could believe that one bow, one arm was dealing death? Now aims he forward, now shifts from side to side in bewildering change of attack, now flees when they assail and turns nought but his bow to face them.

[776] And now in wonder and indignation the sons of Labdacus were rallying, and first Amphion, of Jove’s famous seed, ignorant still what deaths the lad was dealing on the battle-field: “How long shalt thou still make profit of death’s delaying, thou boy that shalt be a sore loss to thy goodly parents? Nay, even yet thy spirit swells high and thy rashness grows, while none deigns to meet thy onset and thy too feeble might, and thou art left as beneath their wrath. Go, return to thy Arcadia and mingling with thy equals there, while fierce Mars exhausts his fury here in the real dust of war, play thy soldier games at home! But if the melancholy glory of the tomb doth more thee, we will grant thee to die a hero’s death.” Long had the truculent son of Atalanta raged with yet bitterer taunts against him, and ere yet the other had ended thus begins: “Nay, I am even late in making war on Thebes, if this is all your host! What boy so tender as to refuse to fight with such as these? No Theban offspring seest thou here, but the warlike stock of the Arcadian race; no Thyiad mother, slave to Echionian Lyaeus, bore me in the silence of night, never have we put unsightly turbans on our heads, nor brandished dishonourable spears. From childhood I learnt to crawl on frozen streams, and to enter the dread lairs of monsters, and – but why should I say more? My mother has ever the sword and bow, your fathers beat hollow drums!” Amphion brooked this not, but hurled a mighty spear at his face while he spoke; but his charger, affrighted by the terrible gleam of the steel, swung round with his master to one side, and swerving sent the greedy javelin flying wide of the mark. Amphion was attacking the youth with drawn sword the more fiercely, when the Latonian36 leapt down into mid-plain, and stood clear to see before the eyes of all.

[808] Dorceus of Maenalus, bound by the ties of chaste affection, was keeping close to the lad’s side: to him the queen had entrusted her son’s rash youth and her own fears and all the chances of war. Disguised in his features the goddess then addressed the boy: “Enough, Parthenopaeus, to have routed the Ogygian bands so far; enough, now spare thy unhappy mother, spare the gods who favour thee.” But he unterrified: “Suffer me, faithless Dorceus – no more will I ask – to slay this man who bears weapons that rival mine, and boasts like apparel and resounding reins. These reins I will handle, the apparel shall hang on Trivia’s lofty door, and his captured quiver shall be a present to my mother.” The Latonian heard him, and smiled amid her tears.

[821] Long time from a distant quarter of the sky had Venus, in the embrace of Mars, beheld her, and while she anxiously commended Thebes and Cadmus and her dear Harmonia’s progeny to her lord, she stirred with timely utterance the grief that lay hidden in his silent breast: “Seest thou not, O Gradivus, yonder wanton maid who goes to and fro among the troops of warriors? And with what boldness she is ordering the lines and the Martial standards? Lo! she even presents and offers to the slaughter all these men of our own race! Hath she then valour? Hath she the rage of battle? Nought then remains for thee but to hunt the woodland deer!” Moved by these just complaints the lord of war sprang down into the fight: as he sped through the paths of air Anger alone was his companion: the other Madnesses were busy in the sweat of war. Without delay he stands by Lato’s sorrowing daughter and chides her with harsh reproof: “Not such battles as these does the Father of the gods allow thee: leave forthwith the field of arms, thou shameless one, or thou shalt learn that not even Pallas is a match for this right hand.” What can she do against him? On one side the spear of Mavors threatens her, on the other, child, is thy distaff, full already, yonder the stern countenance of Jove: then she departs, yielding to reverence alone.

[841] But father Mavors looks round upon the Ogygian ranks, and rouses up the terrible Dryas, who had turbulent Orion as the author of his blood, and an inherited37 hatred of Diana’s followers – hence came his fury. Sword in hand he leaps upon the disheartened Arcadians, and robs their leader of his arms: in long lines fall the folk that dwell in Cyllene and shady Tegea, and the Aepytian chieftains and the Telphusian cohorts. Their prince himself he is confident to slay, though his arm be tired, nor does he husband his strength; for the other, already weary, was wheeling his squadrons here and there: a thousand presentiments of doom crowd on him, and the black clouds of death float before his eyes. And now the wretched lad could see but few companions and the true Dorceus,38 now he felt his force ebb little by little, and his shoulder lighten as the shafts diminished; already less and less can he support his armour, and even to himself he seems now but a boy, when Dryas blazed terribly before him with fiercely-flashing shield; a sudden tremor shook the countenance and the frame of the Arcadian, and, just as when a white swan sees above him the bearer of the angry thunderbolt he wishes that Strymon’s bank would gape and gathers his trembling wings about his breast, so the youth, perceiving the great bulk of savage Dryas, felt wrath no longer, but a thrill that heralded death. Yet he plies his weapons, pale-faced and praying vainly to Trivia and the gods, and makes ready the bow that will not answer. Already he is on the point to shoot, and with both elbows held aslant he is touching the bow with the arrow-head and his breast with the string – when, mightily whirled, the Aonian chieftain’s spear flies straight upon him, and cuts the slanted fastenings of the echoing bowstring: the shot is lost, his hands relax, and the arrow falls fruitless from the backward falling39 bow. Then in confusion and distress he drops both reins and weapons, reckless of the wound that had pierced the harness and the soft skin of his right shoulder; another javelin follows and checks the charger’s flight, cutting the tendons of his leg. Then Dryas himself falls – strange! – nor ever knows who wounds him; one day the author of the deed and its cause will be revealed.

[877] But the lad is carried from the field in his comrades’ arms – alas, for his tender years! – and dying bewails his fallen steed; relived of the helm his head sinks back, and a sickly charm plays about his quivering eyes; thrice and four times, grasping his hair, they shake the neck40 that refuses to stay upright, and – a horror whereat Thebes itself might weep – the purple blood came welling from the snow-white breast. At last he speaks, with sobs that break his utterance: “I am dying, Dorceus: go, solace my poor mother. Already, if care doth bring true presage, she hath seen this calamity in dream or omen. Yet do thou with loyal craft keep her fears in suspense, and long deceive her; nor come upon her of a sudden, nor when she holds a weapon in her hand; and when at last thou art forced to admit the truth, say this to her: Mother, I confess my fault; exact thy unwilling punishment; I rushed to arms, though a mere boy, nor, though thou didst hold me back, would I be still, nor, despite thy trouble, war once begun did I spare thee at the last. Live then thou and be angry rather at my impetuous spirit and now be done with fears. In vain dost thou look forth anxiously from Lycaeus’ hill, if perchance sound or dust of my cavalcade rise to thee through the air afar; cold on the bare earth I lie, and thou art nowhere near me, to hold my face and catch my parting breath. Yet take this tress, O mother bereaved,” and with his hand he offered it to be cut, ”take this tress in place of my whole body; once thou wert wont to trim it in spite of my vain scorn.41 To it give burial, and amid the rites remember to let none blunt my weapons with inexperienced hands, or lead my beloved hounds to the hunting-grounds any more. But burn these ill-fated arms of my first warfare, or hand them up as a reproach to ungrateful Diana.”

1. “virtus” in an unfavourable sense is found in Val. Flacc. ii. 647, “effera virtus”; cf. also Theb. xi. 1, “iniqua virtus”; but in both cases the epithet helps.
2. i.e., than Tydeus, whom he has “wasted” by allowing him to be slain.
3. See i. 401 sqq.
4. “troubled,” because they know their danger.
5. Pluto had given special commands to Tisiphone, cf. viii. 65 sqq.
6. i.e., the Fury puts off her torch and scourge and hissing snakes.
7. i.e., is Adrastus less worth rescuing than the dead body (“manes”) of Tydeus?
8. “hoc” here = “tali.” “fulmen” is occasionally used by Statius for a sudden shock or violent movement.
9. i.e., at that part of the Centaur which was human.
10. The word “umbra” is sometimes used by Statius in the sense of “reflection”; here of the light reflected from a thing: see n. on viii. 116.

11. Obviously not of metal, but the linen corselet (linothôrêx Hom. Il. ii. 529, 830), used sometimes by the Romans, e.g. Suet. Galba, xix. “loricam induit linteam.”
12. It is not clear whether “ablatum” governs “Stamine primo” or “illo” understood; in either case the sense is the same: “it was taken away from him,” i.e., forbidden him, “to die on land.”
13. i.e., of Tydeus, now ridden by Hippomedon.
14. See note on line 218 above.
15. Who could now no longer mistake him for his brother.
16. Glaucus, who was turned into a fish from the waist down, cf. vii. 337.
17. Often referred to by Statius; he was the infant son of Leucothea, a daughter of Cadmus, who with his mother was worshipped as a deity at the isthmus of Corinth; cf. i. 13, 121, vii. 421.
18. Europa.
19. Alton suggests “umbra” = reflection, for “unda”: cf. note on viii. 116.
20. Leucothea’s infant son Palaemon was drowned (cf. Theb. i. 14) and subsequently worshipped as Melicertes at the Isthmus of Corinth. Before his mother was made a Nymph, she was Ino, daughter of Cadmus.

21. Jupiter’s armours with Europa, Alcmene, and Semele are thus alluded to; Hercules and Bacchus were the sons of the two last-named.
22. i.e., so easily that you must needs fight here? References to the Eastern exploits of Bacchus are frequent.
23. The rivers have a common dwelling-place underground, whence they can secretly reinforce one another; “venis” refers to channels underground, “hiulcis” seems to imply that they are not closed by ready to connect with Ismenus’s stream.
24. The sea is described as (i) draining the Pleiads, i.e. of their rain, cf. iv. 120, (ii.) hurling Orion against the sailors (by inversion, for the sailors, i.e. ships, against Orion), a common hyperbole in storm-descriptions; cf. Lucan v. 625, 642. Both Orion and the Pleiades set in November, i.e., the stormy season.
25. Statius is here trying to concentrate his description into one effective phrase. He has in mind Hom. Il. xxi. 233 sqq., the battle between Achilles and Scamander, especially 242 sqq. where the elm-tree that Achilles grasps falls into the river, and “stemmed (gephurônsen, lit. bridged) the River himself falling all within him” (Lang, Leaf, and Myers).
26. Theseus, the champion of humanity, allowed his enemies to burn their dead after a battle; in Book XII. he compels Creon to give the Argives the same right.
27. Cf. Aesch. Sept. 422 sqq.
28. Atalanta, an Arcadian maiden, vowed to chastity, until, according to one legend, she became the mother of Parthenopaeus by Ares, according to another, by Milanino, who married her after defeating her in the famous footrace; other legends again make her of Boeotian origin. Tegea is in Arcadia. Statius seem to follow the first form of the story (cf. l. 613 and “culpam,” l. 617), but he speaks of “parents” in l. 780 without any allusion to Ares.
29. For this use of “impedit” may be compared to Hor. Od. i. 4. 9 “viridi nitidum caput impedire myrto.”
30. Ominous of her son’s fate in the Theban war.

31. i.e., of Theban Bacchanals.
32. Different regions of the sky were apportioned to different grades of supernatural beings; cf. Phars. ix. 5, where Lucan speaks of demigods (“semidei manes”) having the space between earth and moon allotted to them (also Silv. ii. 7. 109). The “interior semita” would refer to some loftier zone.
33. Some commentators think that Statius means to describe an eclipse of the sun in this meeting of Diana and Apollo.
34. i.e., Laconian (from Oebalus, once king of Sparta); cf. Hor. Od. ii. 18. 8. It was the purple dye from shell-fish.
35. i.e., he would die so nobly that only his mother would weep.
36. i.e., Diana (= Artemis, daughter of Latona).
37. For this use of “patrium” cf. Val. Fl. Ii. 157 “adde cruentis quod patrium saevire Dahis,” and Theb. xi. 33.
38. Diana in l. 811 is mentioned as having taken the shape of Dorceus.
39. The word is perhaps intended to refer to the ends of the bow that sprang back when the string was cut.
40. i.e., in their endeavour to rouse him.
41. Or taking “frustra” with “comere,” “which thou wert wont to trim, though I scorned it, in vain.”