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They now proceed. So mov'd the host of Heav'n Five hundred spears; nor less from Tegea's walls
Along Parrhasius, or Cyllene's brow;
Expect thy presence. Most is Clonius fam'd, The multitude, exulting. On he treads
Of stature huge, unshaken rock of war. Reverd. Unsated, their enraptur'd sight
Four hundred warriors brave Alcmæon draws Pursues his graceful stature, and their tongues From stately Corinth's tow'rs. Two hundred march Extol and hail him as their guardian god.
From Phlius. Them Eupalamus commands. Firm in his nervous hand he gripes the spear. An equal number of Mycenæ's race Low, as the ankles, from his shoulders hangs Aristobulus heads. Through fear alone The massy shield; and o'er his burnish'd helm Of thee, and threat’ning Greece, the Thebans arm. The purple plumage nods. Harmonious youths, A few in Thebes authority and rule Around whose brows entwining laurels play, Usurp. Corrupted with Barbarian gold, In lofty-sounding strains his praise record; They quench the gen'rous, eleutherian fiame While snowy-finger'd virgins all the way
In ev'ry heart. The eloquent they bribe. Bestrew with od'rous garlands. Now his breast By specious tales the multitude they cheat, Is all possess'd by glory, which dispellid
Establishing base measures on the plea Whate'er of grief remain'd, or vain regret
Of public safety. Others are immers'd For those he left behind. The rev'rend train In all the sloth of plenty, who, unmovid Of Lacedæmon's senate last appear
lu shameful ease, behold the state betray'd. To take their final, solemn leave, and grace Aw'd by thy name, four hundred took the field. Their hero's parting steps. Around him flow The wily Anaxander is their chief In civil pomp their venerable robes,
With Leontiades. To see their march Mix'd with the blaze of arms. The shining troop I staid, then hasten'd to survey the straits, Of warriors press behind him, Maron here
Which thou shalt render sacred to renown. With Menalippus warm in flow'ry prime,
“ For ever mingled with a crumbling soil, There Agis, there Megistias, and the chief, Which moulders round th' indented Malian coast, Dieneces. Laconia's dames ascend
The sea rolls slimy. On a solid rock,
It measures threescore paces, bounded here
Of woody'd (Eta overlook the pass,
And far beyond o'er half the surge below By Greece entrusted with her chosen sons
Their horrid umbrage cast. Across the mouth For high adventures on the Colchian shore.
An ancient bulwark of the Phocians stands, Swift on his course Leonidas proceeds.
A wall with gates and tow'rs. The Locrian force Soon is Eurotas pass'd, and Lerna's bank,
Was marching forward. Them I pass'd to greet Where his victorious ancestor subdu'd
Demophilus of Thespia, who had pitch'd The many-headed Hydra, and the lake
Seven hundred spears before th' important fence. To endless fame consign'd. Th' unweary'd bands His brother's son attends the rev'rend chief, Next through the pipes of Mænalus he led, Young Dithyrambus. He for noble deeds, And down Parthenius urg'd the rapid toil.
Yet more for temperance of mind renown'd, Six days incessant was their march pursu'd, In early bloom with brightest honours shines When to their ear the hoarse-resounding waves Nor wantons in the blaze.” Here Agis spake. Beat on the isthmus. Here the tents are spread. “ Well hast thou painted that illustrious youth, Below the wide horizon then the Sun
He is my host at Thespia. Though adorn'd Had dipp'd his beamy locks. The queen of night With various wreaths, by Fame, by Fortune bless'd, Gleam'd from the centre of th' ethereal vault, His gentle virtues take from Envy's lips And o'er the raven plumes of darkness shed Their blasting venom; and her baneful eye Her placid light. Leonidas detains
Strives on his worth to smile." In silence all Dieneces and Agis. Open stands
Again remain, when Alpheus thus proceeds. The tall pavilion, and admits the Moon.
“ Platæa's chosen veterans I saw, As here they sit conversing, from the hill,
Small in their number, matchless in their fame, Which rose before them, one of noble port
Diomedon the leader. Keen his sword Is seen descending. Lightly down the slope At Marathon was felt, where Asia bled. He treads. He calls aloud. "They heard, they knew These guard Thermopylæ. Among the hills, The voice of Alpheus, whom the king address'd. Unknown to strangers, winds an upper strait,
“O thou, with swiftness by the gods endu'd Which by a thousand Phocians is secur'd. To match the ardour of thy daring soul,
“ Ere these brave Greeks I quitted, in the bay What froin the isthmus draws thee? Do the Greeks A stately chieftain of th' Athenian fleet Neglect to arm and face the public foe?"
Arriv'd. I joiu'd him. Copious in thy praise “Good news give wings," said Alpheus. “Greece He utter'd rapture, but austerely blam'd is arm'd.
Laconia's tardy counsels ; while the ships The neighb'ring isthmus bolds th’ Arcadian bands. Of Athens long had stemm'd Eubean tides, From Mantinea, Diophantus leads
Which flow not distant from our future poste
This was the far-fam'd Æschylus, by Mars,
THE ARGUMENT. A gen'rous banner. In Laconian strains
Leonidas on his approach to the isthmus is met by Of Aleman and Terpander lives the fame
the leaders of the troops, sent from other GreOf our forefatbers. Let our deeds attract
cian states, and by the deputies who composed The brighter Muse of Athens in the song
the isthmian council. He harangues them; Of Æschylus divine. Now frame thy choice. then proceeds in conjunction with these forces Share in our fate; or, hast'ning home, report, towards Thermopylae. On the first day he is How much already thy discerning mind,
joined by Dithyrambus ; on the third he reaches Thy active limbs have merited from me,
a valley in Locris, where he is entertained by How serv'd thy country.” From th' impatient lips Oileus, the public host, of the Lacedæmonian Of Alpheus swift these fervid accents troke.
state ; and the next morning is accompanied “ I have not measur'd such a tract of land, by him in a car to the temple of Pan: he finds Have not, untir'd, beheld the setting Sun,
Medon there, the son of Oileus, and commander Nor through the shade of midnight urg'd my steps of two thousand Locrians, already posted at To animate the Grecians, that myself
Thermopylæ, and by him is informed, that the Might be exempt from warlike toil, or death.
army of Xerxes is in sight of the pass.
Aurora spreads her purple beams around,
When move the Spartans. Their approach is known. May feel a private sorrow, fierce revenge
The isthmian council, and the diff'rent chiefs, I seek not only for th' insulted state,
Who lead th' auxiliar bands, advance to meet But for a brother's wrongs. A younger hope Leonidas; Eupalamus the strong, Than I, and Maron, bless'd our father's years, Alemæon, Clonius, Diophantus brave Child of his age, and Polydorus nam’d.
With Hegesander. At their head is seen His mind, while tender in his op'ning prime, Aristobulus, whom Mycenæ's ranks Was bent to strenuous virtue. Gen'rous scorn Obey, Mycenæ once august in pow'r, Of pain or danger, taught his early strength In splendid wealth, and vaunting still the name To struggle patient with severest toils.
Of Agamemnon. To Laconia's king
The chieftain spake. “ Leonidas, survey
Believe not, we can fear, derivd from those,
Who once conducted o'er the foaming surge A savage corsair of the Persian king
The strength of Greece; who desert left the fields My brother naked and defenceless bore,
Of ravag'd Asia, and her proudest walls Er'n in my sight, to Asia; there to waste
From their foundations levell'd to the ground.” With all the promise of its growing worth
Leonidas replies not, but his voice His youth in bondage. Todions were the tale, Directs to all. “ Illustrious warriors, hail! Should I recount my pains, my father's woes, Who thus undaunted signalize your faith, The days he wept, the sleepless nights he beat Your gen'rous ardour in the common cause. His aged bosom. And shall Alpheus' spear But you, whose counsels prop the Grecian state, Be absent from Thermopylæ, nor claim,
O venerable synod, who consign O Polydorus, vengeance for thy wrongs
To our protecting sword the gate of Greece, In that first slaughter of the barb'rous foe?" Thrice hail! Whate'er by valour we obtain,
Here interpos'd Dieneces. Their hands Your wisdom must preserve. With piercing eyes He grasp'd, and cordial transport thus express'd. Contemplate ev'ry city, and discern
“O that Lycurgus from the shades might rise Their various tempers. Some with partial care To praise the virtue, which his laws inspire !” To guard their own, neglect the public weal.
Thus till the dead of night these heroes pass'd Unmov'd and cold are others. Terrour here, The hours in friendly converse, and enjoy'd, Corruption there presides. O fire the brave Each other's virtue. Happiest of men !
To gen'ral efforts in the gen'ral cause. At length with gentle heaviness the pow'r
Confirm the wav'ring. Animate the cold, Of sleep invades their eyelids, and constrains The timid. Watch the faithless. Some betray Their magnanimity and zeal to rest :
Themselves and Greece. Their perfidy prevent, When, sliding down the bemisphere, the Moon Or call them back to honour. Let us all Iminers'd in midnight shade her silver head. Be link'd in sacred union, and this land
May face the world's whole multitude in arms.
To stop th' invading tyrant. Till we fall, By zeal enforc'd, till ev'ning shadows fall,
His gallant Thespian host. The centre boasts Before the sage assembly one supreme
Leonidas the leader, who retains
The good Megistias near him. In the rear
For these instructions.“ Let thine eye, young man, Go then, O first of mortals, go, impress
Dwel} on the order of our varying march; Amaze and terrour on the barb'rous host;
As champaign, valley, mountain, or defile The free-born Greeks instructing life to deem Require a change. The eastern tyrant thus Less dear than honour, and their country's cause." Conducts not his barbarians, like the sands This heard, Leonidas, thy secret soul,
In number. Yet the discipline of Greece Exulting, tasted of the sweet reward
They will encounter feeble, as the sands, Due to thy name through endless time. Once more Dash'd on a rock, and scatter'd in their fall." His eyes he turn'd, and viewid in rapt'rous thought To him th' inquiring youth. “The martial tread, His native land, which he alone can save;
The flute's slow warble, both in just accord,
Entrance my senses; but let wonder ask,
To more sonorous music rush in fight.”
“Son of my friend,” Dieneces rejoins, Of some proud navy, bounding from the port “Well dost thou note. I praise thee. Sparta's law To bear the vengeance of a mighty state
With human passions, source of human woes, Against a tyrant's walls. Till sultry noon Maintains perpetual strife. She sternly curbs They march; :vhen halting, as they take repast, Our infant hearts, till passion yields its seat Across the plain before them they descry
To principle and order. Music too, A troop of Thespians. One above the rest
By Spartans lov'd, is temper'd by the law; In eminence precedes. His glittring shield, Still to her plan subservient melts in notes, Whose gold-emblazon'd orb collects the beams, Which cool and soothe, not irritate and warm. Cast by meridian Phoebus from his throne, Thus by habitual abstinence, apply'd Flames like another Sun. A snowy plume, To ev'ry sense, suppressing Nature's fire, With wanton curls disporting in the breeze, By modes of duty, not by ardour sway'd, Floats o'er his dazzling casque. On nearer view, O'er each impetuous enemy abroad, Beneath the radiant honours of his crest
At home o'er vice and pleasure we prevail.” A countenance of youth in rosy prime,
“O might I merit a Laconian name!" And manly sweetness, won the fix'd regard
The Arcanian answer'd. “ But explain, Of each beholder. With a modest grace
What is the land we traverse? What the hill, He came respectful tow'rd the king, and show'd, Whose parted sumınit in a spacious void That all ideas of his own desert
Admits a bed of clouds? And gracious tell, Were sunk in veneration. So the god
Whose are those suits of armour, which I see Of light salutes his empyreal sire ;
Borne by two Helots ?" At the questions pleas'd, When from his altar in th' embow'ring grove
Dieneces continues. “ Those belong Of palmy Delos, or the hallow'd bound
To Alpheus and his brother. Light of foot Of Tenedos, or Claros, where he hears
They, disencumber'd, all at large precede In hymns his praises from the sons of men, , This pond'rous band. They guide a troop of slaves, He reascends the high Olympian seats:
Our missile-weapon'd Helots, to observe, Such reverential homage on his brow,
Provide, forewarn, and obstacles remove.
This tract is Phocis. That divided hill
A crop will spring of victory to Greece."
“And these three hundred high in birth and rank, Thy birth, thy charge. Whoe'er thou art, my soul All citizens of Sparta'' cries the youth. Desires to know thee, and would call thee friend." They all must bleed,” Dieneces subjoins,
To him the youth. “O bulwark of our weal, “ All with their leader. So the law decrees." My name is Dithyrambus; which the lips
To him with earnest looks the gen'rous youth. Of some benevolent, some gen'rous friend
“ Wilt thou not place me in that glorious hour To thee have sounded in a partial strain,
Close to thy buckler? Gratitude will brace
Of thy instruction,"_" Menalippus, no,"
Nor call'd to perish. Thou unwedded too Three days will bring the hostile pow'rs in view." Wouldst leave no race behind thee. Live to praise,
He said. The ready standards are apreard. Live to enjoy our salutary fall.
Reply is needless. See, the Sun descends. To guide its travel o'er the landscape wide
Rose to their gods through consecrated shades.
Must be endur'd, as incidental ills. The fated warriors soon in slumber lose
Suffice it, these invaders, soon or late, The memory of toil. His watchful round
Will leave this soil more fertile by their blood Dieneces with Menalippus takes.
With spoils abundant to rebuild the fanes.
No foe can spoil, and lasting to the grave.'
The army halted, and their hollow casques O'er smoothest pebbles rippling just to wake, Dipp'd in the limpid stream. Behind it rose Not startle Silence, and the ear of Night
An edifice, compos'd of native roots, Entice to listen undisturb’d. Around,
And oaken trunks of knotted girth uniwrought. The grass was cover'd by reposing sheep,
Within were beds of moss. Old, batter'd arms Whose drowsy guard no longer bar'd the Moon. Hung from the roof. The curious chiefs approach.
The warriors stopp'd, contemplating the seat These words, engraven on a tablet rude, Of rural quiet. Suddenly a swain
Megistias reads; the rest in silence hear.
To thirsty lips in living water flows;
O passenger, if born to noble deeds
Devote thy vigour to heroic toils, The ground was holy, and the central spot And thy decline to hospitable cares. An altar bore to Pan. Beyond the orb
Rest here; then seck Oileus in his vale." Of skreening trees th' external circuit swarm'd “ O Jove," burst forth Leonidas, “thy grace With sheep and beeves, each neighb’ring hamlet's Is large and various. Length of days and bliss wealth
To him thon giv'st, to me a shorten'd term, Collected. Thither soon the swain arriv'd, Nor yet less happy. Grateful we confess Whom, hy the name of Melibæus hail'd,
Thy diff'rent bounties, measur’d full to both. A peasant throng surrounded. As their chief, Come let us seek Oilens in his vale." He nigh the altar to his rural friends
The word is giv'n. The heavy phalanx moves. Address'd these words. “O sent from diff'rent lords | The light-pac'd Helots long, ere inorning dawn'd, With contribution to the public wants,
Had recommenc'd their progress. They o’ertook Time presses. God of peasants, bless our course! Blithe Melibæus in a spacious vale, Speed to the slow-pac'd ox, for once impart ! The fruitfullest in Locris, ere the Sun That o'er these vallies, cool'd by dewy night, Shot forth his noontide beams. On either side We to our summons true, ere noontide blaze, A surface scarce perceptibly ascends. May join Oileus, and his praise obtain."
Luxuriant vegetation crowds the soil He ceas'd. To rustic madrigals and pipes, With trees close-rang'd and mingling. Rich the loads Combin'd with bleating notes, and tinkling bells, Of native fruitage to the sight reveal With clamour shrill from busy tongues of dogs, Their vig'rous nurture. There the flushing peach, Or hollow-sounding from the deep-mouth'd ox, The apple, citron, almond, pear, and date, Along the valley herd and flock are driv'n
Pomegranates, purple mulberry, and fig, Successive, halting oft to harmless spoil
From interlacing branches mix their hues Of flow'rs and herbage, springing in their sight. And scents, the passenger's delight; but leave While Melibaus marshall'd with address
In the mid-vale a pasture long and large, The inoffensive host, unseen in shades
Exuberant in vivid verdure cropp'd Dieneces applauded, and the youth
By herds, by flocks innum'rous. Neighb'ring knolls Of Menalippus caution'd. “ Let no word
Are speckled o'er with cots, whose humble roofs Impede the careful peasant. On his charge To herdsmen, shepherds, and laborious hinds Depends our welfare. Diligent and staid
Once yielded rest unbroken, till the name He suits his godlike master. Thou wilt see Of Xerxes shook their quiet. Yet this day That righteous hero soon. Now sleep demands Was festive. Swains and damsels, youth and age, Our debt to nature. On a carpet dry
From toil, from home enlarg'd, disporting, fillid Of moss beneath a wholesome beech they lay, Th’enliven'd meadow. Under ev'ry shade Arma'd as they were. Their slumber short retires A hoary minstrel sat; the maidens danc'd; With night's last shadow. At their warning rous'd, Plocks bleated; oxen low'd; the horses neigh'd; The troops proceed. Th' admiring eye of youth With joy the vale resounded; terrour fled; In Menalippus caught the morning rays
Leonidas was uigh. The welcome news
By Melibeus, hast'ning to his lord,
“ Thrice bail! Oileus, Sparta's poble host. Was loudly told. The Helots too appear'd. Thou art of old acquainted with her sons, While with his brother Alpheus thus discours'd. Their laws, their manners. Musical, as brave, “ In this fair valley old Oileus dwells,
Train'd to delight in smooth Terpander's lay,
In Alcman's Dorian measure, we enjoy
Subsisting, where thou governst. Still these tones
Still may this plenty, unmolested, crown
The favour'd district ! May thy rev'rend dust
These fruits from spoil, these hoary locks from “ We come from Lacedæmon, of our king Permit thy weary'd soldiers to partake (shame, Leonidas forerunners.”_" Is he nigh?”
Of Locrian plenty. Enter thou my tents, The cordial senior tenderly exclaims.
Thon and thy captains. I salute them all.” “ I am Oileus. Him a beardless boy
The hero full of dignity and years, I knew in Lacedæmon. Twenty years
Once bold in action, placed now in ease, Are since elaps'd. He scarce remembers me. Ev'n by his look, benignly cast around, But I will feast him, as becomes my zeal,
Gives lassitude relief. With native grace, Him and his army. You, my friends, repose.” With heart-effus'd complacency, the king
They sit. He still discourses. Spartan guests, Accepts the lib'ral welcome; while his troops, In me an aged soldier you behold.
To relaxation and repast dismiss'd, From Ajax, fam'd in Agamemnon's war,
Pitch on the wounded green their bristling spears. Oilean Ajax, flows my vital stream,
Still is the evening. Under chesnut shades Unmix'd with his presumption. I have borne With interweaviug poplars spacious stands The highest functions in the Locrian state,
A well-fram'd tent. There calm the heroes sit, Not with dishonour. Self-dismiss'd, my age The genial board enjoy, and feast the mind Hath in this valley on my own demesne
On sage discourse; which thus Oïleus clos'd.
That friendly god, who owns the drowsy wand.
All, but Oileus, who forsakes the tent.
Approach my faithful friend.” To him the Here bless'd, here blessing, we reside. These flocks, " Thy bondman hears thy call.” The chief replies These herds and pastures, these our num'rous hinds, Loud for the gath'ring peasantry to heed. And poverty, hence exil'd, may divulge
“ Come, Melibæus, it is surely time, Our generous abundance. We can spread That my repeated gift, the name of friend, A banquet for an army. By the state
Thou shouldst accept.
The name of bondman Once more entreated, we accept a charge,
wounds To age well-suited. By our watchful care
My ear. Be free. No longer, best of men, The goddess Plenty in your tents shall dwell." Reject that boon, nor let my feeble head,
He scarce had finish'd, when the ensigns broad To thee a debtor, as to gracious Heav'n,
Descend and sleep unthankful in the grave.
Pain from my pillow, have secur'd my breast
From weeds too oft in aged soils profuse, Hlis sprightly reed. The damsels show'd their hair, From self-tormenting petulance and pride, Diversify'd with flowrets. Garlands gay,
From jealousy and envy at the fame Rush-woven baskets, glowing with the dies
Of younger men. Leonidas will dim Of amaranths, of jasmin, roses, pinks,
My former lustre, as that silver orb And violets they carry, tripping light
Outshines the meanest star; and I rejoice. Before the steps of grimly-featur’d Mars
O Melibæus, these elect of Jove 'To blend the smiles of Flora with his frown. To certain death advance. Immortal pow'rs! Leonidas they chant in sylvan lays,
How social, how endearing is their speech! Him the defender of their meads and groves, How flow in lib'ral cheerfulness their hearts ! Ilim more than Pan a guardian to their flocks. To such a period verging men like these While Philomela, in her poplar shade
Age well may envy, and that envy take Awaken'd, strains her emulating throat,
The genuine shape of virtue. Let their span
Each earthly joy. Till bless'd Elysium spread
To their glad sight, be mine the grateful task