« PreviousContinue »
All hearing, with close-ordered ranks, direct
9. HECTOR SLAIN BY ACHILLES.-Cowper's Homer.
BRIGHT as among the stars the star of all, Most radiant Hesperus, at midnight moves, So in the right hand of Achilles beamed His brandished spear, while, meditating woe To Hector, he explored his noble form, Seeking where he was vulnerable most. But every part, his dazzling armor, torn From brave Patroclus' body, well secured, Save where the circling key-bone from the neck Disjoins the shoulder; there his throat appeared,
Whence injured life with swiftest flight escapes.
But Hector! thou had'st once far other hopes,
And he hath slain thee. Thee the dogs shall rend Dishonorably, and the fowls of air,
But all Achaia's host shall him entomb!
To whom the Trojan Chief languid replied: By thy own life-by theirs who gave thee birth — And by thy knees-O! let not Grecian dogs Rend and devour me; but in gold accept And brass a ransom at my father's hands, And at my mother's an illustrious price. Send home my body!-grant me burial rites Among the daughters and the sons of Troy!
To whom, with aspect stern, Achilles thus:
That she who bare should place thee on thy bier,
Then, dying, warlike Hector thus replied:
He ceased; and death involved him dark around. His spirit, from his limbs dismissed, the house Of Adés sought, mourning, in her descent, Youth's prime and vigor lost, disastrous doom'
But him, though dead, Achilles thus bespake:
TELEMACHUS TO THE ALLIED CHIEFS.-Fenelon. Born, 1651; died, 1715
FELLOW-SOLDIERS and confederated chiefs! I grant you, if ever man deserved to have the weapon of stratagem and deceit turned against him, it is he who has used it himself so often, - the faithless Adrastus! But shall it be said that we, who have united to punish the perfidy of this man, - that we are ourselves perfidious? Shall fraud be counteracted by fraud? If we can adopt the practices of Adrastus without guilt, Adrastus himself is innocent, and our present attempt to punish him is unwarrantable. You have sworn, by all that is most sacred, to leave Venusium a deposit in the hands of the Lucanians. The Lucanian garrison, you say, is corrupted by Adrastus. I do not doubt it. But this garrison is still Lucanian It receives the pay of the Lucanians, and has not yet refused to obey them. It has preserved, at least, an appearance of neutrality. Neither Adrastus nor his people have yet entered it. The treaty is still subsisting; and the Gods have not forgotten your oath.
Is a promise never to be kept but when a plausible pretence to break it is wanting? Shall an oath be sacred only when nothing is to be gained by its violation? If you are insensible to the love of virtue, and the fear of the Gods, have you no regard to your interest and reputation? If, to terminate a war, you violate your oath, how many wars will this impious conduct excite? Who will hereafter trust you? What security can you ever give for your good faith? A solemn treaty?—You have trampled one under foot! An oath ?You have committed perjury when perjury was profitable, and have defied the Gods! In peace, you will be regarded as treacherously preparing for war. Every affair, based on a confidence in your probity, will become impracticable. Your promises will not be believed. Nay, the very league which now constitutes your strength will lose its cohesive principle. Your perjury will be the triumph of Adrastus! He will not need to attack you himself. Your own dissensions, your own mistrusts, your own duplicity, will be your ruin.
Ye mighty chiefs, renowned for magnanimity and wisdom, expe rienced and brave, governing uncounted thousands, despise not the counsel of a youth! To whatever extremity war may reduce you, let your resources be diligence and virtue. True fortitude can never despair. But, if you once pass the barrier of honor and integrity, the ruin of your cause is irreparable. You can neither reestablish that confidence without which no affair of importance can succeed, nor can you bring men back to the reverence of that virtue which you have taught them to despise. What have you to fear? Is not your courage equal to victory, without the aid of fraud? Your own power,
joined to that of the many under your command, Let us fight, let us die, if we must, but let us thily. Adrastus, the impious Adrastus, is in our provided we disdain to imitate the cowardice and treachery which have sealed his ruin!
11. TITUS QUINTIUS AGAINST QUARRELS BETWEEN THE SENATE AND THE PEOPLE. Abridgment from Livy.
is it not sufficient? not conquer unworpower, provided
THOUGH I am conscious of no fault, O Romans, it is yet with the utmost shame I have come forward to your Assembly. You have seen it posterity will know it that, in my fourth consulate, the Equans and Volscians came in arms to the very gates of Rome, and went away unchastised! Had I foreseen that such an ignominy had been reserved for my official year, that Rome might have been taken while I was Consul, — I would have shunned the office, either by exile or by death. Yes; I have had honors enough,- of life more than enough! I should have died in my third consulate. Whom did these mnost dastardly enemies despise? - us, Consuls, or you, citizens? If we are in fault, depose us, - punish us as we deserve. If you, Romans, are to blame, may neither Gods nor men make you suffer for your offences!-only may you repent. No, Romans, the confidence of our enemies is not from a belief in their own courage, or in your cowardice. They have been too often vanquished, not to know both themselves and you. Discord, discord amongst ourselves, is the ruin of this city. The eternal disputes between the Senate and the People are the sole cause of our misfortunes.
In the name of Heaven, what is it, Romans, you would have? You desired Tribunes of the commons. For the sake of concord, we granted Tribunes. You were eager to have Decemvirs. We suffered them to be created. You grew weary of Decemvirs. We compelled them to abdicate. You insisted on the restoration of the Tribuneship. We yielded. You invaded our rights. We have borne, and still bear. What termination is there to be to these dissensions? When shall we have a united city? When one common country? With the enemy at our gates, with the Volscian foe scaling your ramthere is no one to hinder it. But against us you are valiant, against us you diligently take up arms! Come on, then. Besiege the Senate-house. Make a camp of the Forum. Fill the jails with our chief nobles. Then sally out with the same determined spirit against the enemy. Does your resolution fail? Look, then, to see your lands ravaged, your houses plundered and in flames, the whole country laid waste with fire and sword.
Extinguish, O Romans, these fatal divisions! Break the spell of this enchantment, which renders you powerless and inactive ' will but summon up the ancient Roman courage, and follow your Consuls to the field, I will submit to any punishment, if I do not rout and put to flight these ravagers of our territories, and transfer to their own cities the terror of war
12. CAIUS MARIUS TO THE ROMANS, ON THE OBJECTIONS TO MAKING HIM GENERAL. — Original Paraphrase from Sallust.
You have committed to my conduct, O Romans, the war against Jugurtha. The Patricians are offended at this. "He has no family statues," they exclaim. "He can point to no illustrious line of ancestors!" What then? Will dead ancestors, will motionless statues, help fight your battles? Will it avail your General to appeal to these, in the perilous hour? Rare wisdom would it be, my countrymen, to intrust the command of your army to one whose only qualification for it would be the virtue of his forefathers! to one untried and unexperienced, but of most unexceptionable family! who could not show a solitary scar, but any number of ancestral statues! who knew not the first rudiments of war, but was very perfect in pedigrees! Truly I have known of such holiday heroes,-raised, because of family considerations, to a command for which they were not fitted, who, when the moment for action arrived, were obliged, in their ignorance and trepidation, to give to some inferior officer - to some despised Plebeian- the ordering of every movement.
I submit it to you, Romans,-is Patrician pride or Plebeian experience the safer reliance? The actions of which my opponents have merely read, I have achieved or shared in. What they have seen written in books, I have seen written on battle-fields with steel and blood. They object to my humble birth. They sneer at my lowly origin. Impotent objection! Ignominious sneer! Where but in the spirit of a man (hear witness, Gods!), - where but in the spirit, can his nobility be lodged? and where his dishonor, but in his own cowardly inaction, or his unworthy deeds? Tell these railers at my obscure extraction, their haughty lineage could not make them noble- my humble birth could never make me base.
I profess no indifference to noble descent. It is a good thing to number great men among one's ancestry. But when a descendant is dwarfed in the comparison, it should be accounted a shame rather than a boast. These Patricians cannot despise me, if they would, since their titles of nobility date from ancestral services similar to those which I myself have rendered. And what if I can show no family statues? I can show the standards, the armor, and the spoils, which I myself have wrested from the vanquished. I can show the scars of many wounds received in combating the enemies of Rome. These are my statues! These the honors I can boast of! Not an accidental inheritance, like theirs; but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valor; amid clouds of dust and seas of blood; scenes of action, in which these effeminate Patricians, who would now depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to appear, no, not even as spectators! Here, Romans, are my credentials; here, my titles of nobility; here, my claims to the generalship of your army! Tell me, are they not as respectable, are they not as valid, are they not as deserving of your confidence and reward, as those which any Patrician of them all can offer?