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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 froin 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 Phæbus and Psamathe, and the story of Chore. bus. 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. O goddess ! say, shall I deduce my rhymes From the dire nation in its early times, Europa's rape, Agenor's stern decree, And Cadmus searching round the spacious sea ? How with the serpent's teeth he sow'd the soil, And reap'd an iron harvest of his toil? Or how from joining stones the city sprung, While to his harp divine Amphion sung? Or shall I Juno's hate to Thebes resound, Whose fatal rage th' unhappy monarch found ? The sire against the son his arrows drew, Q'er the wide fields the furious mother few, And while her arms a second hope contain, Sprung from the rocks, and plung'd into the main.
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 food, While Dacian mountains stream'd with barbarous
The time will come, when a diviner fiame
When Dirce's fountain blush'd with Grecian blood,
What hero, Clio! wilt thou first relate ?
Now wretched (Edipus, depriv'd of sight,
strook, 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 rolld Through dreary coasts, which I, though blind, beTisiphone, that oft has heard my prayer, [hold: Assist, if dipus deserve thy care! If you receiv'd me from Jocasta's womb, Aud 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 I the Sphynx's riddles durst explain, Taught by thyself to win the promis'd reiga:
If wretched I, by baleful Furies led,
(came.' They'd prove the father from whose loins they
The Fury heard, while on Cocytus' brink Her snakes, untied, sulphureous waters drink; But at the summons rolld her eyes around, And snatch'd the starting serpents from the ground. Not half so swiftly shoots along in air The gliding lightning, or descending star. Through crowds of airy shades she wing'd her
flight, And dark dominions of the silent night;