The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 3/Part 5

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

V.

Cœlo tonantem.

JOVE rules in heaven, his thunder shows;
Henceforth Augustus earth shall own
Her present god, now Briton foes
And Persians bow before his throne.
Has Crassus' soldier ta'en to wife
A base barbarian, and grown grey
(Woe, for a nation's tainted life!)
Earning his foemen-kinsmen's pay,
His king, forsooth, a Mede, his sire
A Marsian? can he name forget,
Gown, sacred shield, undying fire,
And Jove and Rome are standing yet?
'Twas this that Regulus foresaw,
What time he spurn'd the foul disgrace
Of peace, whose precedent would draw
Destruction on an unborn race,
Should aught but death the prisoner's chain
Unrivet. "I have seen," he said,
"Rome's eagle in a Punic fane,
And armour, ne'er a blood-drop shed,
Stripp'd from the soldier; I have seen
Free sons of Rome with arms fast tied;

The fields we spoil'd with corn are green,
And Carthage opes her portals wide.
The warrior, sure, redeem'd by gold,
Will fight the bolder! Aye, you heap
On baseness loss. The hues of old
Revisit not the wool we steep;
And genuine worth, expell'd by fear,
Returns not to the worthless slave.
Break but her meshes, will the deer
Assail you? then will he be brave
Who once to faithless foes has knelt;
Yes, Carthage yet his spear will fly,
Who with bound arms the cord has felt,
The coward, and has fear'd to die.
He knows not, he, how life is won;
Thinks war, like peace, a thing of trade!
Great art thou, Carthage! mate the sun,
While Italy in dust is laid!"
His wife's pure kiss he waved aside,
And prattling boys, as one disgraced,
They tell us, and with manly pride
Stern on the ground his visage placed.
With counsel thus ne'er else aread
He nerved the fathers' weak intent,
And, girt by friends that mourn'd him, sped
Into illustrious banishment.
Well witting what the torturer's art
Design'd him, with like unconcern
The press of kin he push'd apart

And crowds encumbering his return,

As though, some tedious business o'er
Of clients' court, his journey lay
Towards Venafrum's grassy floor.
Or Sparta-built Tarentum's bay.