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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book VIII Chapter 27: The shield of Aeneas (cont.)
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Encircled by these pictures ran the waves |
of vast, unrestful seas in flowing gold,
where seemed along the azure crests to fly
the hoary foam, and in a silver ring
the tails of swift, emerging dolphins lashed
the waters bright, and clove the tumbling brine.
For the shield's central glory could be seen
great fleets of brazen galleys, and the fight
at Actium; where, ablaze with war's array,
Leucate's peak glowed o'er the golden tide.
Caesar Augustus led Italia's sons
to battle: at his side concordant moved
Senate and Roman People, with their gods
of hearth and home, and all Olympian Powers.
Uplifted on his ship he stands; his brows
beneath a double glory smile, and bright
over his forehead beams the Julian star.
In neighboring region great Agrippa leads,
by favor of fair winds and friendly Heaven,
his squadron forth: upon his brows he wears
the peerless emblem of his rostral crown.
Opposing, in barbaric splendor shine
the arms of Antony: in victor's garb
from nations in the land of morn he rides,
and from the Red Sea, bringing in his train
Egypt and Syria, utmost Bactria's horde,
and last -- O shameless! -- his Egyptian spouse [Note 1].
All to the fight make haste; the slanted oars
and triple beaks of brass uptear the waves
to angry foam, as to the deep they speed
like hills on hill-tops hurled, or Cyclades
drifting and clashing in the sea: so vast
that shock of castled ships and mighty men!
Swift, arrowy steel and balls of blazing tow
rain o'er the waters, till the sea-god's world
flows red with slaughter. In the midst, the Queen,
sounding her native timbrel, wildly calls
her minions to the fight, nor yet can see
two fatal asps behind. Her monster-gods,
barking Anubis, and his mongrel crew,
on Neptune, Venus, and Minerva fling
their impious arms; the face of angry Mars,
carved out of iron, in the centre frowns,
grim Furies fill the air; Discordia strides
in rent robe, mad with joy; and at her side,
Bellona waves her sanguinary scourge.
There Actian Apollo watched the war,
and o'er it stretched his bow; which when they knew,
Egyptian, Arab, and swart Indian slave,
and all the sons of Saba fled away
in terror of his arm. The vanquished Queen
made prayer to all the winds, and more and more
flung out the swelling sail: on wind-swept wave
she fled through dead and dying; her white brow
the Lord of Fire [Note 1] had cunningly portrayed
blanched with approaching doom. Beyond her lay
the large-limbed picture of the mournful Nile,
who from his bosom spread his garments wide,
and offered refuge in his sheltering streams
and broad, blue breast, to all her fallen power.
But Caesar in his triple triumph passed
the gates of Rome, and gave Italia's gods,
for grateful offering and immortal praise,
three hundred temples; all the city streets
with game and revel and applauding song
rang loud; in all the temples altars burned
and Roman matrons prayed; the slaughtered herds
strewed well the sacred ground. The hero, throned
at snow-white marble threshold of the fane
to radiant Phoebus, views the gift and spoil
the nations bring, and on the portals proud
hangs a perpetual garland: in long file
the vanquished peoples pass, of alien tongues,
of arms and vesture strange. Here Vulcan showed
ungirdled Afric chiefs and Nomads bold,
Gelonian bowmen, men of Caria,
and Leleges. Euphrates seemed to flow
with humbler wave; the world's remotest men,
Morini came, with double-horned Rhine,
and Dahae, little wont to bend the knee,
and swift Araxes, for a bridge too proud.
haec inter tumidi late maris ibat imago
aurea, sed fluctu spumabant caerula cano,
et circum argento clari delphines in orbem
aequora uerrebant caudis aestumque secabant.
in medio classis aeratas, Actia bella,
cernere erat, totumque instructo Marte uideres
feruere Leucaten auroque effulgere fluctus.
hinc Augustus agens Italos in proelia Caesar
cum patribus populoque, penatibus et magnis dis,
stans celsa in puppi, geminas cui tempora flammas
laeta uomunt patriumque aperitur uertice sidus.
parte alia uentis et dis Agrippa secundis
arduus agmen agens, cui, belli insigne superbum,
tempora nauali fulgent rostrata corona.
hinc ope barbarica uariisque Antonius armis,
uictor ab Aurorae populis et litore rubro,
Aegyptum uirisque Orientis et ultima secum
Bactra uehit, sequiturque (nefas) Aegyptia coniunx.
una omnes ruere ac totum spumare reductis
conuulsum remis rostrisque tridentibus aequor.
alta petunt; pelago credas innare reuulsas
Cycladas aut montis concurrere montibus altos,
tanta mole uiri turritis puppibus instant.
stuppea flamma manu telisque uolatile ferrum
spargitur, arua noua Neptunia caede rubescunt.
regina in mediis patrio uocat agmina sistro,
necdum etiam geminos a tergo respicit anguis.
omnigenumque deum monstra et latrator Anubis
contra Neptunum et Venerem contraque Mineruam
tela tenent. saeuit medio in certamine Mauors
caelatus ferro, tristesque ex aethere Dirae,
et scissa gaudens uadit Discordia palla,
quam cum sanguineo sequitur Bellona flagello.
Actius haec cernens arcum intendebat Apollo
desuper; omnis eo terrore Aegyptus et Indi,
omnis Arabs, omnes uertebant terga Sabaei.
ipsa uidebatur uentis regina uocatis
uela dare et laxos iam iamque immittere funis.
illam inter caedes pallentem morte futura
fecerat ignipotens undis et Iapyge ferri,
contra autem magno maerentem corpore Nilum
pandentemque sinus et tota ueste uocantem
caeruleum in gremium latebrosaque flumina uictos.
at Caesar, triplici inuectus Romana triumpho
moenia, dis Italis uotum immortale sacrabat,
maxima ter centum totam delubra per urbem.
laetitia ludisque uiae plausuque fremebant;
omnibus in templis matrum chorus, omnibus arae;
ante aras terram caesi strauere iuuenci.
ipse sedens niueo candentis limine Phoebi
dona recognoscit populorum aptatque superbis
postibus; incedunt uictae longo ordine gentes,
quam uariae linguis, habitu tam uestis et armis.
hic Nomadum genus et discinctos Mulciber Afros,
hic Lelegas Carasque sagittiferosque Gelonos
finxerat; Euphrates ibat iam mollior undis,
extremique hominum Morini, Rhenusque bicornis,
indomitique Dahae, et pontem indignatus Araxes.