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THE FIRST BOOK OF
STATIUS HIS THEBAIS.
Translated in the Year 1703.
Edipus king of Thebes, having by mistake slain his father Laïus, and married his mother Jocasta, put out his own eyes, and resigned the realm to his sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes his prayer to the fury Tisi. phone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers. They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first lot is obtained by Eteocles. Jupiter, in a council of the gods, declares his resolution of punishing the Thebans, and Argives also, by means of a marriage betwixt Polynices and one of the daughters of Adrastus, king of Argos. Juno opposes, but to no effect; and Mercury is sent on a message to the Shades, to the ghost of Laïus, who is to appear to Eteocles, and provoke him to break the agreement. Polynices in the mean time departs from Thebes by night, is overtaken by a storm, and arrives at Argos; where he meets with Tydeus, who had fled from Calydon, having killed his brother. Adrastus entertains them, having received an oracle from Apollo, that his daughter should be married to a boar and a lion,
which he understands to be meant of these strangers, by whom the hides of those beasts were worn, and who arrived at the time when he kept an annual feast in honour of that god. The rise of this solemnity he relates to his guests, the loves of Phoebus and Psamathe, and the story of Chorabus. He inquires, and is made acquainted with their deseent and quality. The sacrifice is renewed, and the book concludes with a hymn to Apollo. The translator hopeshe needs not apologise for his choice of this piece, which was made almost in his childhood; but, finding the version better than he expected, he gave it some correction a few years afterwards.
STATIUS HIS THEBAIS.
FRATERNAL rage, the guilty Thebes alarms,
The alternate reign destroy'd by impious arms, Demand our song; a sacred fury fires
My ravish'd breast, and all the muse inspires.
And Cadmus searching round the spacious sea?
But wave whate'er to Cadmus may belong, And fix, O muse! the barrier of thy song At Edipus-from his disasters trace The long confusions of his guilty race: Nor yet attempt to stretch thy bolder wing, And mighty Cæsar's conquering eagles sing; How twice he tam'd proud Ister's rapid flood, While Dacian mountains stream'd with barbarous
Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll,
O bless thy Rome with an eternal reign,
What though the stars contract their heavenly space,
Though Jove himself no less content would be
The time will come, when a diviner flame
When Dirce's fountain blush'd with Grecian blood,
While from his breast these dreadful accents broke: Ye gods! that o'er the gloomy regions reign,
Where guilty spirits feel eternal pain;
Thou, sable Styx! whose livid streams are roll'd Through dreary coasts, which I, though blind, beTisiphone, that oft has heard my prayer,
Assist, if Edipus deserve thy care!
receiv'd me from Jocasta's womb,
And nurs'd the hope of mischiefs yet to come:
If leaving Polybus, I took my way
To Cyrrha's temple, on that fatal day,
When by the son the trembling father died,
Where the three roads the Phocian fields divide:
If wretched I, by baleful Furies led,
With monstrous mixture stain'd my mother's bed,
If worthy thee, and what thou mightst inspire!
And sleeps thy thunder in the realms above?
Which these dire hands from my slain father tore;
Break all the bonds of Nature, and prepare
Soon shalt thou fin d, if thou but arm their hards,
Her snakes, untied, sulphureous waters drink;
The gliding lightning, or descending star.
And dark dominions of the silent night;