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A solemn sadness o'er the camp. A hedge That probity, that wisdom, which the teil
Nor splendid pow'r seduce? O Xerxes, born The Sacian drops. The Caspian savage feels To more than mortal greatness, canst thou find His heart transpierc'd, and wonders at the pain. Through thy unbounded sway no dazzling gift, In Xerxes' presence are the bodies plac'd,
Which may allure Leonidas ? Dispel
The cloud of sadness from those sacred eyes.
What may thy own magnificence declare,
He scarce had finish'd, when in haste approach'd His kingly pride, the parent of disdain,
Artuchus. Startled at the ghastly stage And cold indifference to human woes.
Of death, that guardian of the Persian fair Not ev'n beside his sister's nobler corse
Thus in a groan.
“Thou deity malign, Her humble lover could awake his scorn.
O Arimanius, what a bitter draught
Is this the flow'r of women, to my charge Those traces vanish'd from the tyrant's breast. So lately giv’n? Oh! princess, I have rang'd His former gloom redoubles. For himself
The whole Sperchean valley, woods, and caves, His anxious bosom heaves, oppress'd by fear In quest of thee, found here a lifeless corse. Lest he with all his splendour should be cast Astonishment and horrour lock my tongue." À prey to Fortune. Thoughtful near the throne Pride now, reviving in the monarch's breasts Laconia's exile waits, to whom the king.
Dispelled his black despondency awhile, “ O Demaratus, what will Fate ordain?
With gall more black effacing from his heart Lo! Fortune turns against me. What shall check Each merciful impression. Stern he spake. Her farther malice, when her daring stride
“ Remove her, satrap, to the female train. Invades my house with ravage, and profanes Let them the due solemnities perform. The blood of great Darius. I have sent
But never she, by Mithra's light I swear, From my unguarded side the chosen band,
Shall sleep in Susa with her kindred dust; My bravest chiefs, to pass the desert hill; Who by ignoble passions hath debas'd Have to the conduct of a Malian spy
The blood of Xerxes. Greece beheld her shame; My hopes entrusted. May not there the Greeks, Let Greece behold her tomb. The low-born slave In opposition more tremendons still,
Who dar'd to Xerxes' sister lift his hopes, More ruinous than yester Sun beheld,
On some bare crag expose.” The Spartan here. Maintain their post invincible, renew
“My royal patron, let me speak—and die, Their stony thunder in augmented rage,
If such thy will. This cold, disfigur'd clay And send whole quarries down the craggy steeps Was late thy soldier, gallantly who fought, Again to crush my army! Oh! unfold
Who nobly perish’d, long the dearest friend Thy secret thoughts, nor hide the harshest truth. Of Hyperanthes, hazarding his life Say, what remains to hope ?” The exile here. Now in thy cause. ('er Persians thou dost reign;
ii Too well, O monarch, do thy fears presage, None more, than Persians, venerate the brave." What may befall thy army. If the Greeks,
“Well hath he spoke," Atruchus firm subjoins Arrang'd within Thermopylæ, a pass
“ But if the king his rigour will inflict Accessible and practis'd, could repel
On this dead warrior-Heav'n o'erlook the deed, With such destruction their unnumber'd foes ; Nor on our heads accumulate fresh woes! What scenes of havoc may introdden paths, The shatter'd ficet, th’intimidated camp, Confin'd among the craggy hills, afford ?”
The band select, through Eta's dang'rous wilds Lost in despair, the monarch silent sat.
At this dread crisis struggling, must obtain Not less unmam'd than Xerxes, from his place Support from Heav'n, or Asia's glory falls.” Uprose Argestes; but concealing fear,
Fell pride, recoiling at these awful words These artful words deliver'd. “If the king In Xerxes' frozen bosom, yields to fear, Propitious wills to spare his faithful bands, Resuming there the sway. He grants the corse Nor spread at large the terrours of his pow'r; To Demaratus. Forth Artuchus moves More gentle means of conquest than by arms, Behind the bier, uplifted by his train. Nor less secure, may artifice supply.
Argestes, parted from his master's side, Regown'd Darius, thy immortal sire,
Ascends a car; and, speeding o'er the beach, Bright in the spoil of kingdoms, long in vain Sees Artemisia. She the ashes pale The fields of proud Euphrates with his host
Of slaughter'd Carians, on the pure consum'd, O'erspread. At length, confiding in the wiles Was then collecting for the fun'ral vase Of Zopyrus, the mighty prince subdu'd
In exclamation thus. My subjects, lost The Babylonian ramparts. Who shall count On Earth, descend to happier clines belowThe thrones and states, by stratagem o'erturn'd ? The fawning, dastard counsellors, who left But if Corruption join her pow'rful aid,
Your worth deserted in the hour of need, Not one can stand. What race of men possess May kites disfigure, may the wolf devour
Shade of my husband, thou salute in smiles To summon all the Grecians. He obeys.
The Persian follow. He, amaz'd, attends,
Surrounded soon by each assembling band; May wretches like Argestes never clasp
When thus at length the godlike Spartan spake. Their wives, their offspring! Never greet their homes! “ Here, Persian, tell thy embassy. Repeat, May their unbury'd limbs dismiss their ghosts That to obtain my friendship Asia's prince To wail for ever on the banks of Styx !"
To me hath proffer'd sov'reignty o'er Greece. Then, turning tow'rd her son. “ Come, vir- Then view these bands, whose valour shall preserve tuous boy,
That Greece unconquer'd, which your king bestows; Let us transport these relics of our friends Shall strew your bodies on ber crimson'd plains : To yon tall bark, in pendent sable clad.
The indignation painted on their looks, They, if her keel be destin'd to return,
Their gen'rous scorn, may answer for their chief. Shall in paternal monuments repose.
Yet from Leonidas, thou wretch, inur'd let us embark. Till Xerxes shuts bis ear To vassalage and baseness, hear. The pomp, To false Argestes ; in her vessel hid,
The arts of pleasure in despotic courts
I spurn abhorrent. Iu a spotless heart
Derive my splendour. No adoring crowd,
No purpled slaves, no mercenary spears But keep in covert from the blaze of courts; My state embarrass. I in Sparta rule Where fatt'ry's guile in oily words profuse, By laws, my rulers, with a guard unknown In action tardy, o'er th' ingenuous tongue, To Xerxes,-public confidence and love. The arm of valour, and the faithful heart, No pale suspicion of th' empoison'd bowl, Will erer triumph. Yet my soul enjoys
Th' assassin's poniard, or provok'd revolt Her own presage, that Destiny reserves
Chase from my decent couch the peace, deny'd An hour for my revenge.” Concluding here, To his resplendent canopy. Thy king, She gains the fleet. Argestes sweeps along
Who hath profan'd by proffer'd bribes my ear, On rapid wheels from Artemisia's view,
Dares not to meet my arm. Thee, trembling slave, Like Night, protectress foul of heinous deeds, Whose embassy was treason, I despise, With treason, rape, and murder at her heel, And therefore spare.” Diomedon subjoins. Before the eye of Moro retreating swift
“ Our marble temples these barbarians waste, To hide her loathsome visage. Soon he reach'd
A crime less impious than a bare attempt Thermopylæ; descending from his car,
Of sacrilege on virtue. Grant my suit, Was led by Dithyrambus to the tent
Thou living temple, where the goddess dwells. Of Sparta's ruler. Since the fatal news
To me consign the caitiff. Soon the winds By Mycon late deliver'd, he apart
Shall parch his limbs on ta's tallest pine." With Polydorus had consulted long
Amidst his fury suddenly return'd On bigh attempts; and, now sequester’d, sat
The speed of Alpheus. All, suspended, fix'd To ruminate on vengeance. At his feet
On him their eyes impatient. He began. Prone fell the satrap, and began.
“ The will
“ I am return'd a messenger of ill.
* Join my arms;
O'erhangs a bushy cliff. A station there Thy recompense is Greece. Her fruitful plains, Behind the shrubs by dead of night I took, Her gen'rous steeds, her flocks, her num'rous towns, Though not in darkness. Purple was the face Her sons I render to thy sov'reign hand.'
Of Heav'n. Beneath my feet the valleys glow'd. And, O illustrious warrior, heed my words. A range immense of wood-invested hills, Think on the bliss of royalty, the pomp
The boundaries of Greece, were clad in flames; Of courts, their endless pleasures, trains of slaves, An act of froward chanoe, or crafty foes Who restless watch for thee, and thy delights: To cast dismay. The crackling pines I heard; Think on the glories of unrivall'd sway.
Their branches sparkled, and the thickets blaz'd, Look on th’ lonio, on th' Æolian Greeks.
In hillocks embers rose. Embody'd fire, From them their phantom liberty is flown ;
As from unnumber'd furnaces, I saw While in each province, rais’d by Xerxes' pow'r,
Mount high, through vacant trunks of headless Some favour'd chief presides; exalted state,
oaks, Ne'er giv'n by envions freedom. On his head Broad-bas'd, and dry with age. Barbarian helms, He bears the gorgeous diadem; he sees
Shields, javelins, sabres, gleaming from below, His equals once in adoration stoop
Full soon discover'd to my tortur'd sight Beneath his footstool. What superior beams The straits in Persia's pow'r. The Phocian chief, Will from thy temples blaze, when gen’ral Greece, Whate'er the cause, relinquishing his post, In noblest states abounding, calls thee lord, Was to a neighb'ring eminence remov’d; Thee only worthy. How will each rejoice There, by the foe neglected, or contemn'd, Around thy throne, and hail th' auspicious day,
Remain'd in arms, and neither fled, nor fought. When thou, distinguish'd by the Persian king, I stay'd for day-spring. Then the Persians mov'da Didst in thy sway consenting nations bless, To morrow's sun will see their pumbers here." Didst calm the fury of unsparing war,
He said no more. Unutterable fear Which else had delug'd all with blood and fames.” In horrid silence wraps the listning crowd, Leonidas replies not, but commands
Aghast, confounded. Silent are the chiefs, The Thespian youth, still watchful near the tent, Who fcel no terrour; yet in wonder fix'd,
Thick-wedg'd, enclose Leonidas around,
Thy gen'rous thoughts. Decided is thy choice Who thus in calmest elocution spake.
Come then, attendants on a godlike shade, "I now behold the oracle fulfill'd.
When to th' Elysian ancestry of Greece
To Harmatides an illustrious son,
Still undivided in the arms of death,
So if th' attentive traveller we draw
O wise old man,' exclaim, the hour of fate
Well didst thou choose; and, O unequall'd youth, Invincible Diomedon, to thee,
Who for thy country didst thy bloom devote,
May'st thou remain for ever dear to fame!
A stream of duty, gratitude, and love,
Flow'd from the heart of Harmatides' son, By_your avenging spears himself shall fall.” Addressing straight Leonidas, whose looks
Forth from the assembly strides Platæa's chief. Declar'd unspeakable applause. “O king “ By the twelve gods, enthron'd in Heav'n supreme; Of Lacedæmon, now distribute praise By my fair name, unsully'd yet, I swear,
From thy accustom'd justice, small to me, Thine eye, Leonidas, shall ne'er behold
To him a portion large. His guardian care, Diomedon forsake thee. First let strength
His kind instruction, his example train'd Desert my limbs, and fortitude my heart.
My infancy, my youth. From him I learn'd
To live, unspotted. Could I less, than learn
By such example high. In dubious state
The rudder labours, and requires a hand
Of firm, delib'rate skill. The gen'rous king
There to have died was useless. We return
Will render more illustrious to ourselves, But to die well? Demophilus shall close
And to the foe more terrible our fall."
Megistias last accosts Laconja's king.
Above mankind in virtue and renown,
O call not me presumptuous, who implore With this most dear, this venerable man,
Among these heroes thy regardful ear. For ever honour'd from my tend'rest age,
To Lacedæmon I a stranger came, Ev'n till on life's extremity we part.
There found protection. There to honours rais'd, Nor too aspiring let my hopes be deem'd;
I have not yet the benefit repaid.
In me their large beneficence not vain,
“ Not so, Megistias,” interpos'd the king. To whom the flow'r, the blooming joys of life, Tho! and thy son retire.” Again the seer. Are less alluring than a noble death.”
“ Forbid it, thou eternally ador'd, To him his second parent. “ Wilt thou bleed, O Jove, confirm my persevering soul! My Dithyrambus? But I here withhold
Nor let me these auspicious moments lose, All counsel from thee, who art wise as brave. When to my bounteous patrons I may show, I know thy magnanimity. I read
That I deserved their favour. Thou, my child,
Dear Menalippus, heed the king's command, Their lissing sérpents. All the Greeks assent And my paternal tenderness revere.
In clamours, echoing through the concave rock. Thou from these ranks withdraw thee, to my use Porth Anaxander in th' assembly stood, Thy arms surrend'ring. Fortune will supply Which he address'd with indignation feign'd. New proofs of valour. Vanquish then, or find “ If yet your clamours, Grecians, are allay'd, A glorious grave; but spare thy father's eye Lo! I appear before you to demand, The bitter anguish to behold thy youth
Why these my brave companions, who alone Untimely bleed before him.” Grief suspends Among the Thebans through dissuading crowds His speech, and interchangeably their arms Their passage forc'd to join your camp, should bear Impart the last embraces. Either weeps,
The name of traitors? By an exil'd wretch The noary parent, and the blooming son.
We are traduc'd, by Demaratus, driv'n But from his temples the pontific wreath From Spartan confines, who hath meanly sought Megistias now unloosens. He resigns
Barbarian courts for shelter. Hath he drawn His hallow'd vestments; wbile the youth in tears Such virtues thence, that Sparta, who before The helmet o'er his parent's snowy locks,
Held him unworthy of his native svay, O'er his broad chest adjusts the radiant mail. Should trust him now, and doubt auxiliar friends ?
Dieneces was nigh. Oppress'd by shame, Injurious men! We scorn the thoughts of flight. His downcast visage Menalippus hid [blush. Let Asia bring her numbers ; unconstrain’d, From him, who cheerful thus. “ Thou needst not We will confront them, and for Greece expire.” Thou hear'st thy father and the king command, Thus in the garb of virtue he adorn'd What I suggested, thy departure hence.
Necessity. Laconia's king perceiv'd Train'd by my care, a soldier thou return'st. Through all its fair disguise the traitor's heart. Go, practice my instructions. Oft in fields So, when at first mankind in science rude Of future conflict may thy prowess call
Rever'd the Moon, as bright in native beams, Me to reinembrance. Spare thy words. Farewell.” | Some sage, who walk'd with Nature through her While such contempt of life, such fervid zeal
By Wisdom led, discern'd the various orb, (works, To die with glory animate the Greeks,
Dark in itself, in foreign splendours clad. Far diff'rent thoughts possess Argestes' soul.
Leonidas concludes. “Ye Spartans, hear; Amaze and mingled terrour chill his blood. Hear you, O Grecians, in our lot by choice Cold drops, distill'd from ev'ry pore, bedew Partakers, destin'd to enrol your names His shiv'ring flesh. His bosom pants. His knees In time's eternal record, and enhance Yield to their burden. Ghastly pale his checks,
Your country's lustre: lo! the noontide blaze Pale are his lips and trembling. Such the minds
Inflames the broad horizon. Each retire; Of slaves corrupt; on them the beauteous face
Each in his tent invoke the pow'r of sleep Of virtue turns to horrour. But these words To brace his vigour, to enlarge his strength From Lacedæmon's chief the wretch relieve. For long endurance. When the Sun descends,
“ Return to Xerxes. Tell him, on this rock Let each appear in arms. You, brave allies The Grecians, faithful to their trust, await
Of Corinth, Phlius, and Mycenæ's tow'rs, His chosen myriads Tell bim, thou hast seen,
Arcadians, Locrians, must not yet depart.
While we repose, embattled wait. Retreat,
To great Oileus' son supreme commande
Expects thee. To Themistocles report, He said. The Persian hastens through the pass.
What thou hast seen and heard." _“O thrice fare Once more the stern Diomedon arose.
well!" Wrath overcast his forehead while he spake.
Th’Athenian answer'd. “To yourselves, my friends, “ Yet more must stay and bleed. Detested Your virtues immortality secure, Thebes
Your bright examples victory to Greece.” Ne'er shall receive her traitors back. This spot
Retaining these injunctions, all dispers'di
While in his tent Leonidas remain'd
“ Yet in our fall the pond'rous hand of Greece Ye vile deserters of the public weal,
Shall Asia feel. This Persian's welcome tale Ye coward slaves, that, mingled in the heaps
Of us, inextricably doom'd her prey, Of gen'rous victims to their country's good,
As by the force of sorcery will wrap
Security around her, will suppress
That soon as Cynthia from the vault of Heav'n His heart, though warm in rapturous applause,
Withdraws her shining lamp, through Asia's host Awhile shall curb the transport to repeat
Shall massacre and desolation rage. His execrations o'er such impious heads,
Yet not to base associates will I trust
My vast design. Their perfidy might warn
Of glory thus be wither'd. Ere we move,
While on the solemn sacrifice intent, Of judgment, which inexorably dooms
As Lacedæmon's ancient laws ordain, The guilty dead to ever-during pain;
Our prayers we offer to the tuneful Nine, While Phlegethon his flaming volumes rolls Thou whisper through the willing ranks of Thebus Before their sight, and ruthless furies shake
Siow and in silence to disperse and dy.".
Now left by Agis, on his couch reclin'd, The Spartan king thus meditates alone.
The day was closing. Agis left his tent. “My fate is now impending. O my soul, He sought his godlike brother. Him he found What more auspicious period couldst thou choose Stretch'd o'er his tranquil couch. His looks retain'd For death than now, when, beating high in joy, The cheerful tincture of his waking thoughts Thou tellist me I am happy? If to live,
To gladden sleep. So smile soft evening skies, Or die, as virtue dictates, be to know
Yet streak'd with ruddy light, when summer's suns The purest bliss; if she her charms displays Have veil'd their beaming foreheads. Transport fillid Still lovely, still unfading, still serene
The eye of Agis. Friendship swell'd his heart. To youth, to age, to death : wbatever be
His yielding knee in veneration bent.
“O excellence ineffable, receive
Yet longer seal thine eyelids, that, unblam'd, Must the unrighteous, must the tyrant prove ? I may fall down before thee.” He concludes What in the struggle of departing day,
In adoration of his friend divine, When life's last glimpse, extinguishing, presents Whose brow the sbades of slumber now forsake. Unknown, inextricable gloom? But how
So, when the rising Sun resumes his state, Can I explain the terrours of a breast,
Some white-rob’d magus on Euphrates side, Where guilt resides? Leonidas, forego
Or Indian seer on Ganges, prostrate falls The horrible conception, and again
Before th' emerging glory, to salute Within thy own felicity retire;
That radiant emblem of th’immortal mind. Bow grateful down to him, who form'd thy mind Uprise both heroes. From their tents in arms Of crimes unfruitful never to admit
Appear the bands elect. The other Greeks The black impression of a guilty thought.
Are filing homeward. Only Medon stops. Else could I fearless by delib'rate choice
Melissa's dictates he forgets awhile. Relinquish life? This calm from minds deprav'd All inattentive to the warning voice Is ever absent. Oft in them the force
Of Melibæus, earnest he surveys Of some prevailing passion for a time
Leonidas. Such constancy of zeal Suppresses fear. Precipitate they lose
Io good Oileus' offspring brings the sire The sense of danger; when dominion, wealth, To full remembrance in that solemn hour, Or purple pomp enchant the dazzled sight, And draws these cordial accents from the king. Pursuing still the joys of life alone.
Approach me, Locrian. In thy look I trace “ But he, who calmly seeks a certain death, Consummate faith and love. But, vers'd in arms, When duty only, and the general good
Against thy gen’ral's orders wouldst thou stay? Direct his courage, must a soul possess,
Go, prove to kind Oileus, that my heart Which, all content deducing from itself,
Of him was mindful, when the gates of death Can by unerring virtue's constant light
I barr'd against his son. Yon gallant Greeks, Discern, when death is worthy of his choice. To thy commanding care from mine transferr'd,
“ The man, thus great and happy, in the scope Remove from certain slaughter. Last repair Of his large mind is stretch'd beyond his date. To Lacedæmon. Thither lead thy sire. Ev'n on this shore of being he in thought,
Say to her senate, to her people tell, Supremely bless'd, anticipates the good,
Here didst thou leave their countrymen and king Which late posterity from him derives."
On death resolv'd, obedient to the laws." At length the hero's meditations close.
The Locrian chief, restraining tears, replies. The swelling transport of his heart subsides “My sire, left slumb'ring in the island-fane, In soft oblivion ; and the silken plumes
Awoke no more."-" Then joyful I shall meet Of sleep envelop his extended limbs.
Him soon,” the king made answer. “Let thy worth
By wisdom, leaves his long-suspended mind
To firm decision. He departs, prepard
For all the duties of a man, by deeds
The gen’rous victims of the public weal,
Assembled now, Leonidas salutes,
under the command of Medon ; but observing Surround me, Grecians; to my words attend. a reluctance in him to depart, reminds him of this evening's sleep no longer press'd my brows, his duty, and gives him an affectionate farewell. Than o'er my head the empyreal form He then relates to his own select band a dream, Of heav'n-enthron'd Alcides was display'd. which is interpreted by Megistias, arms himself, I saw his magnitude divine. His voice and marches in procession with his whole troop I heard, his solemn mandate to arise. to an altar, newly raised on a neighbouring ( rose. He bade me follow. I obey'd. meadow; there offers a sacrifice to the Muses: A mountain's summit, cleard from mist, or cloud, be invokes the assistance of those goddesses; he We reach'd in silence. Suddenly the howl animates his companions; then, placing him. Of wolves and dogs, the vulture's piereing shriek, self at their head, leads them against the enemy The yell of ev'ry beast and bird of prey is the dead of the night.
Discordant grated on my ear.