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But see! the stars begin to steal away,
And shine more faintly at approaching day;
pour the wine; and in your tuneful lays
Once more resound the great Apollo's praise.
Oh father Phoebus! whether Lycia's coast
And snowy mountain, thy bright presence boast!
Whether to sweet Castalia thou repair,
And bathe in silver dews thy yellow hair;
Or pleas'd to find fair Delos float no more,
Delight in Cynthus, and the shady shore;
Or choose thy seat in Ilion's proud abodes,
The shining structures rais'd by lab'ring Gods;
By thee the bow and mortal shafts are borne;
Eternal charms thy blooming youth adorn;
Skill'd in the laws of secret fate above,
And the dark counsels of almighty Jove,
'Tis thine the seeds of future war to know,
The change of Sceptres, and impending woe;
When direful meteors spread through glowing air
Long trails of light, and shake their blazing hair.
Thy rage the Phrygian felt, who durst aspire 845
T'excel the music of thy heav'nly lyre;
Thy shafts aveng'd lewd Tityus' guilty flame,
Th' immortal victim of my mother's fame;
Ver. 829. Some of the most finished lines he has ever written, down to verse 854.
Ver. 841. 'Tis thine] Far superior to the original are these four lines; and how mean is the Tityus of Statius, compared with the tremendous picture in Virgil! May I venture to add, that we have our language some translations that have excelled the originals; perhaps they are, Rowe's Lucan, Pitt's Vida, Hampton's Polybius, Melmoth's Pliny, and Carter's Epic
Te viridis Python, Thebanaque mater ovantem
Horruit in pharetris. ultrix tibi torva Megæra 850
Jejunum Phlegyam subter cava saxa jacentem
Æterno premit accubitu, dapibusque profanis
Instimulat: sed mista famem fastidia vincunt.
Adsis o, memor hospitii, Junoniaque arva
Dexter ames; seu te roseum Titana vocari
Gentis Achæmeniæ ritu, seu præstat Osirin
Frugiferum, seu Persei sub rupibus antri
Indignata sequi torquentem cornua Mitram.
Ver. 850. torva Megara] This expression, and premit and instimulat, are weakened in the translation; but mista fastidia is a harsh expression; as also is a line above, 842, Tu Phryga submittis citharœ.
Thy hand slew Python, and the dame who lost
Her num'rous offspring for a fatal boast.
In Phlegyas' doom thy just revenge appears,
Condemn'd to Furies and eternal fears;
He views his food, but dreads, with lifted eye,
The mould'ring rock that trembles from on high.
Propitious hear our pray'r, O Pow'r divine! 855
And on thy hospitable Argos shine,
Whether the stile of Titan please thee more,
Whose purple rays th' Achæmenes adore;
Or great Osiris, who first taught the swain
In Pharian fields to sow the golden grain;
Or Mitra, to whose beams the Persian bows,
And pays, in hollow rocks, his awful vows;
Mitra, whose head the blaze of light adorns,
Who grasps the struggling heifer's lunar horns.
In order to give young readers a just notion of chasteness and simplicity of style, I have seen it of use to let them compare the mild majesty of Virgil and the violent exuberance of Statius, by reading ten lines of each immediately after one another. The motto for the style of the age of Augustus may be the "Simplex Munditiis" of Horace; for the age of Domitian and the succeeding ages, the “Cultuque laborat Multiplici" of Lucan. After this censure of Statius's manner, it is but justice to add, that in the Thebais there are many strokes of a strong imagination; and indeed the picture of Amphiaraus, swallowed up suddenly by a chasm that opened in the ground, is truly sublime :
"Illum ingens haurit specus, et transire parantes
Mergit equos; non arma manu, non frena remisit.
Sicut erat, rectos defert in Tartara currus,
Respexitque cadens cœlum, campumque coire
B. vii. v. 817.