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To what brave chiefs
Of Argos didst thou give thy Daughters' hands?
My family in wedlock I with those
Of our own nation join'd not.
Didst thou yield Those Argive damsels to some foreign bridegrooms?
To Tydeus; and to Polynices sprung
From Theban sires.
What dotage could induce thee To form alliances like these?
Phoebus propounded, which my judgement sway’d.
Such union for the virgins to prescribe,
What said Apollo?
That I must bestow
My Daughters on the lion and the boar.
But how didst thou interpret this response
Of the prophetic God?
By night two exiles Came to my door.
Say, who and who: thou speak'st Of both at once.
Together Tydeus fought And Polynices.
Hence didst thou on them
As on ferocious beasts bestow thy Daughters ?
ir Their combat that of savages I deem'd.
Why did they leave their native land?
Thence fled Tydeus polluted with his (4) Brother's gore.
But why did Oedipus's son forsake
The Theban realm ?
1 The curses of his Sire
Thence drove him, lest his Brother he should slay.
A prudent cause for this spontaneous exile
Hast thou assign’d.
But they who staid at home Oppress’d the absent.
Did his Brother rob him Of the inheritance?
I to decide
This contest went, and hence am I undone.
(4) The Scholiast (commonly called Didymus) on Homer Il. L. xiv. V. 120, says, “ Tydeus, born in Ætolia, was the most valiant of Oeneus'
While yet a youth, he saw his father driven from his throne on account of his old age, by the sons of his brother Agrius : upon “ which he slew his Cousins, and with them involuntarily his own Brother “ Menalippus: flying to Adrastus, king of Argos, he obtained purifica-, " tion from him, and married his Daughter Deipule. Brodæus hath “ already made these observations,"
Didst thou consult the Seers, and from the altar
Behold the flames of sacrifice ascend?
Alas you urge me on that very point
Where most I fail'd,
Thou led'st thy troops, it seems,
Altho' the Gods approv'd not, to the field.
Yet more, Amphiareus oppos'd our march.
Didst thou thus lightly thwart the will of Heaven?
I by the clamorous zeal of younger men
Was hurried on.
Regardless of discretion,
Thy courage thou didst follow.
Many a chief
Hath such misconduct utterly destroy'd.
But O most dauntless of the Grecian race,
Monarch of the Athenian realm; I blush
Thus prostrate on the ground, to clasp your knees
Grown grey with age, and once a happy king !
But I to my calamities must yield.
Redeem the dead, in pity to my woes,
And to these Mothers of their Sons bereft,
To whom the burdens which on hoary age
Attend, are added to their childless state.
Yet hither they endur'd to come, and tread
A foreign soil, tho' their decrepid feet
Could hardly move: the embassy they bring
Hath no connection with the mystic rites
Of Ceres; all they crave is to inter
The slain, as they at their mature decease
Would from their sons such honors have obtain'd.
?Tis wiedom in the opulent to look
With pity on the sorrows of the poor,
And in the poor man to look up to those
Who have abundant riches, as examples
For him to imitate, and thence acquire
A wish his own possessions to improve.
They too who are with prosperous fortunes blest
Should feel a prudent dread of future woes;
And let the bard who frames th' harmonious strain
Exert his genius in a cheerful hour,
For if his own sensations are unlike
Those which he speaks of, never can the wretch
Who by affliction is at home opprest,
Give joy to others; there's no ground for this.
But you perhaps will ask me; “ Passing o'er
“ The land of (5) Pelops, why would you impose
« Such toil on the Athenians ?” This reply
Have I a right to make ; · The Spartan realm
? Is prone (6) to cruelty, and in its manners
! Too variable, its other states are small
And destitute of strength; your city only
To this emprise is equal, for 'tis wont « To pity the distress'd, and hath in you • A yaliant king; for want of such a chief ? Have many cities perish’d.?
I address thee
In the same language, to our woes, 0 Theseus,
Extend thy pity.
I with others erst
(5) The Peloponesus.
(6) Reiskius observes that the antient reading of niten must be cor. rupt, Adrastus being King of Argos, and not of Sparta, but has sug. gested nothing in its stead; Heath, Markland, and Musgrave, concur in substituting when sæva or immitis ; which removes the objection.
Have on this subject held a strong (7) dispute;
For some there are who say the ills which 'wait
On man exceed hiş joys; but I maintain
The contrary opinion, that our lives
More bliss than woe experience. For if this
Were not the fact, we could not still continue
To view the sun. That God, whoe'er he was
I praise, who sever'd mortals from a life
Of wild confusion, and of brutal force,
Implanting reason first, and then a tongue
That might by sounds articulate proclaim
Our thoughts, bestowing fruit for food, and drops
Of rain descending from the skies, to nourish
Earth's products, and refresh the thirst of man,
Yet more, fit coverings, from the wintry cold
To guard us, and Hyperion's scorching rays;
The art of sailing o'er the briny deep,
That we by commerce may supply the wants
Of distant regions, to these gifts by Heaven
Is added ; things the most obscure, and plac'd
Beyond our knowledge, can the Seer foretell,
By gazing on the flames which from the altar
Ascend the skies, the entrails of the victims,
And flight of birds. Are we not then puffe'd up
With vanity, if when the Gods bestow
Conveniencies like these on life, we deem
Their bounty insufficient? our conceit
Is such, we aim to be more strong than Jove:
Tho'pride of soul be all that we pussess,
We in our own opinion are more wise
Than the immortal Powers. To me thou seem'st
One of this number, O thou wretch devoid
Of reason, to Apollo's mystic voice
(7) “ This disputation of Theseus is beautiful, though it may seem to
some rather abruptly introduced. To the same purport was the oration
6 of Themistocles before the sea fight at Salamis. Herodotus, L. 8. c. 83.''