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AR G U M E N T.
EDIPUS King of Thebes having by mistake
Nain his father Laius, and marry'd his mother Jocasta ; put out his own eyes, and relign’d the realm to his sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Being neglected by them, he makes his prayer to the fury Tisiphone, to sow debate betwixt the brothers. They agree at last to reign singly, each a year by turns, and the first lot is obtain’d 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 Laius, 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 fed from Calydon, having kill'd his brother. Adrastus entertains them, having receiv'd an oracle from Apollo that his daughters should be marry'd 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 arriv’d at the time when he kept an annual feast in honour of that God. The rise of this folemnity he relates to his guests, the loves of Phæbus and Psamathe, and the story of Choræbus. He enquires, and is made acquainted with their descent and quality : The sacrifice is renew'd, and the book concludes with a Hymn to Apollo.
The Translator hopes he needs not apologize for his Choice of this piece, which was made almost in his Childhood. But finding the Version better than he expeeted, he gave it some Correction a few years afterwards.
LIBER PRI MU S.
Raternas acies, alternaque regna profanis
Decertata odiis, fontesque evolvere Thebas, Pierius menti calor incidit.
Unde jubetis, Ire Deae ? gentisne canam primordia dirae ? Sidonios raptus, et inexorabile pactum Legis. Agenoreae? scrutantemque aequora Cad
mum? Longa retro series, trepidum fi Martis operti Agricolam infandis condentem praelia sulcis Expediam, penitusque sequar quo carmine muris Jufferit Amphion Tyrios accedere montes,
Raternal Rage the guilty Thebes alarms,
Th’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
5 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, 10 And reap'd an Iron harvest of his toil ? Or how from joining stones the city sprung, While to his harp divine Amphion sung?
Unde graves cognata in moenia Baccho,
Or shall I Juno’s hate to Thebes resound,
blood; Twice taught the Rhine beneath his laws to roll, And stretch'd his empire to the frozen Pole, Or long before, with early valour strove, In youthful arms t’affert the cause of Jove.
30 And Thou, great Heir of all thy father's fame, Encrease of glory to the Latian name! Oh bless thy Rome with an eternal reign, Nor let defiring worlds entreat in vain. 34 What tho’ the stars contract their heav'nly space, And croud their shining ranks to yield thee place;