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THE BATTLE OF THE LAKE REGILLUS.
The following poem is supposed to have Porsena nothing seems to be borrowed from ceen produced ninety years after the lay of foreign sources. The villany of Sextus, the Horatius. Some persons mentioned in the lay suicide of his victim, the revolution, the death of Horatius make their appearance again, and of the sons of Brutus, the defence of the bridge, some appellations and epithets used in the lay Mucius burning his hand,* Clelia swimming of Horatius have been purposely repeated; for, through Tiber, seem to be all strictly Roman. in an age of ballad-poetry, it scarcely ever But when we have done with the Tuscan war, fails to happen, that certain phrases come to and enter upon the war with the Latines, we be appropriated to certain men and things, are again struck by the Greek air of the story. and are regularly applied to those men and The Battle of the Lake Regillus is in all rethings by every minstrel. Thus we find both spects a Homeric battle, except that the comin the Homeric poems and in Hesiod, Zin 'Hee- batants ride astride on their horses, instead of κλεί», περικλύτος 'Αμφιγυής, διάκτορος 'Aργειφόντης, driving chariots. The mass of fighting men is ÉTTÁTUAOS EM &n, 'Erémns évex' nüxbuco. Thus, too, in hardly mentioned. The leaders single each our own national songs, Douglas is almost other out, and engage hand to hand. The great always the doughty Douglas: England is object of the warriors on both sides is, as in merry England: all the gold is red; and all the Iliad, to obtain possession of the spoils and the ladies are gay.
bodies of the slain; and several circumstances The principal distinction between the lay of are related which forcibly remind us of the Horatius and the lay of the Lake Regillus is, great slaughter round the corpses of Sarpedon that the former is meant to be purely Roman, and Patroclus. while the latter, though national in its general But there is one circumstance which despirit, has a slight tincture of Greek learning serves especial notice. Both the war of Troy and of Greek superstition. The story of the and the war of Regillus were caused by the Tarquins, as it has come down to us, appears licentious passions of young princes, who were to have been compiled from the works of seve- therefore peculiarly bound not to be sparing of ral popular poets; and one, at least, of those their own persons in the day of battle. Now poets appears to have visited the Greek colo- the conduct of Sextus at Regillus, as described nies in Italy, if not Greece itself, and to have by Livy, so exactly resembles that of Paris, as had some acquaintance with the works of Ho- described at the beginning of the third book of mer and Herodotus. Many of the most strik- the Iliad, that it is difficult to believe the reing adventures of the house of Tarquin, till semblance accidental. Paris appears before Lucretia makes her appearance, have a Greek the Trojan ranks, defying the bravest Greek to character. The Tarquins themselves are re-encounter him: presented as Corinthian nobles of the great house of the Bacchiadæ, driven from their
Τρωσιν μεν προμάχιζεν 'Αλέξανδρος θεοειδής,
'Αργείων προκαλίζετο πάντας αρίστους, country by the tyranny of that Cypselus, the tale of whose strange escape Herodotus has re
αντίβιον μαχέσασθαι εν αινη δηϊοτήτι. lated with incomparable simplicity and liveli- Livy introduces Sextus in a similar manner: ness.* Livy and Dionysius tell us that, when“ Ferocem juvenem Tarquinium, ostentantem Tarquin the Proud was asked what was the se in prima exsulum acie.” Menelaus rushes best mode of governing a conquered city, he to meet Paris. A Roman noble, eager for replied only by beating down with his staff all vengeance, spurs his horse towards Sextus. the tallest poppies in his garden.f This is ex. Both the guilty princes are instantly terror. actly what Herodotus, in the passage to which stricken: reference has already been made, relates of the counsel given to Periander, the son of Cypse
Τον δ' ώς oύν ένόησεν 'Αλέξανδρος θεοειδής, lus. The stratagem by which the town of
εν προμάχοισι φανέντα, κατεπλήγη φίλον ήτορ, Gabii is brought under the power of the Tar
άψ δ' έτάρων είς έθνος εχάζετο κήρ αλεείνων. quins is, again, obviously copied from Herodo
“ Tarquinius,” says Livy, “retro in agmen tus. The embassy of the young Tarquins to
suorum infenso cessit hosti."
If this be a the oracle at Delphi is just such a story as fortuitous coincidence, it is one of the most exwould be told by a poet whose head was full
traordinary in literature. of the Greek mythology; and the ambiguous
In the following poem, therefore, images answer returned by Apollo is in the exact and incidents have been borrowed, not merely style of the prophecies which, according to He- without scruple, but on principle, from the in rodotus, lured Cresus to destruction. Then
comparable battle-pieces of Homer. the character of the narrative changes. From the first mention of Lucretia to the retreat of
* M. de Pouilly attempted, a hundred and twenty
years ago, to prove that the story of Mucius was of •Herodotus, v. 92. Livy, i. 34. Dionysius, ili. 46. Greek origin; but he was signally confuted by the Abbe Livy, i. 54. Dionysius, iv. 56.
Sallier. See the Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscrips. Herodotus, iij. 154. Livy, i. 53.
tions, vi. 27, 66.
The popular belief at Rome, from an early the celestial horsemen bear the tidings of vic period, seems to have been that the event of tory to Rome. the great day of Regillus was decided by su- Many years after the temple of the Twin pernatural agency. Castor and Pollux, it was Gods had been built in the Forum, an importsaid, had fought, armed and mounted, at the ant addition was made to the ceremonial by head of the legions of the commonwealth, and which the state annually testified its gratitude had afterwards carried the news of the victory for their protection. Quintus Fabius and Pubwith incredible speed to the city. The well in lius Decius were elected Censors at a mothe Forum at which they had alighted was point- mentous crisis. It had become absolutely ed out. Near the well rose their ancient temple. necessary that the classification of the citizens A great festival was kept to their honour on should be revised. On that classification de the Ides of Quintilis, supposed to be the anni- pended the distribution of political power. versary of the battle; and on that day sumptu- Party spirit ran high; and the republic seemed ous sacrifices were offered to them at the pub- to be in danger of falling under the dominion lic charge. One spot on the margin of Lake either of a narrow oligarchy or of an ignorant Regillus was regarded during many ages with and headstrong rabble. Under such circumsuperstitious awe. A mark, resembling in stances, the most illustrious patrician and the shape a horse's hoof, was discernible in the most illustrious plebeian of the age were involcanic rock; and this mark was believed trusted with the office of arbitrating between to have been made by one of the celestial the angry factions; and they performed their chargers.
arduous task to the satisfaction of all honest How the legend originated, cannot now be and reasonable men. ascertained: but we may easily imagine seve- One of their reforms was a remodelling of ral ways in which it might have originated: the equestrian order; and, having effected this nor is it at all necessary to suppose, with Julius reform, they determined to give to their work Frontinus, that two young men were dressed up a sanction derived from religion. In the chiby the Dictator to personate the sons of Leda. valrous societies of modern times, societies It is probable that Livy is correct when he says which have much more than may at first sight that the Roman general, in the hour of peril, appear in common with the equestrian order vowed a teinple to Castor. If so, nothing of Rome, it has been usual to invoke the special could be more natural than that the multitude protection of some Saint, and to observe his should ascribe the victory to the favour of the day with peculiar solemnity. Thus the ComTwin Gods. When such was the prevailing panions of the Garter wear the image of St. sentiment, any man who chose to declare that, George depending from their collars, and meet, in the midst of the confusion and slaughter, he on great occasions, in St. George's Chapel. had seen two godlike forms on white horses Thus, when Louis the Fourteenth instituted a scattering the Latines, would find ready cre- new order of chivalry for the rewarding of midence. We know, indeed, that, in modern litary merit, he commended it to the favour of times, a very similar story actually found cre- his own glorified ancestor and patrou, and dence ainong a people much more civilized decreed that all the members of the fraternity than the Romans of the fifth century before should meet at the royal palace on the Feast Christ. A chaplain of Cortes, writing about of St. Louis, should attend the king to chapel, thirty years after the conquest of Mexico, in should hear mass, and should subsequently an age of printing-presses, libraries, universi. hold their great annual assembly. There is a ties, scholars, logicians, jurists, and statesmen, considerable resemblance between this rule of had the face to assert that, in one engagement the Order of St. Louis and the rule which Faagainst the Indians, St. James had appeared bius and Decius made respecting the Roman on a gray horse at the head of the Castilian knights. It was ordained that a grand muster adventurers. Many of these adventurers were and inspection of the equestrian body should siving when this lie was printed. One of them, be part of the ceremonial performed, on the honest Bernal Diaz, wrote an account of the anniversary of the battle of Regillus, in honour expedition. He had the evidence of his own of Castor and Pollux, the two equestrian Gods. senses against the chaplain's legend; but he all the knights, clad in purple and crowned seems to have distrusted even the evidence of with olive, were to meet at a temple of Mars in his own senses. He says that he was in the the suburbs. Thence they were to ride in slate battle, and that he saw a gray horse with a to the Forum, where the temple of the Twins man on his back, but that the man was, to his stood. This pageant was, during several centhinkiny, Francesco de Morla, and not the ever-turies, considered as one of the most splendid blessed apostle St. James. “Nevertheless," sights of Rome. In the time of Dionysius the he adds, " it may be that the person on the gray cavalcade sometimes consisted of five thouhorse was the glorious apostle St. James, and sand horsemen, all persons of fair repute and thai I, sinner that I am, was unworthy to see easy fortune.* nim." The Romans of the age of Cincinnatus There can be no doubt that the Censors who were probably quite as credulous as the Spa- instituted this magnificent ceremony acted in nish subjects of Charles the Fifth. It is there- concert with the Pontiff's to whom, by the confore conceivable that the appearance of Castor stitution of Rome, the superintendence of the and Pollux may have become an article of faitis before the generation which had fought * See Livy, ix. 46, Val. Max., ii. 2. Aurel. Vict De at Regillus had passed away. Nor could any Viris Illustribus, 32. Dionysius, vi. 13. thing he more natural than that the poets of the in Niebuhr's posthumous volume, Die Consur des e
Nat. xv. 5. See also the singularly ingenious chapter next age should embellish this story, and make Fabius und P. Decius.
public worship belonged ; and it is probable holy Pontiff enjoining the magnificent ceremothat those high religious functionaries were, nial which, after a long interval, had at length as usual, fortunate enough to find in their been adopted. If the poem succeeded, many books or traditions some warrant for the inno- persons would commit it to memory. Parts of vation.
it would be sung to the pipe at banquets. It The following poem is supposed to have would be peculiarly interesting to the great been made for this great occasion. Songs, we Posthumian house, which numbered among know, were chanted at the religious festivals its many images that of the Dictator Aulus, the of Rome from an early period, indeed from so hero of Regillus. The orator who, in the fol. carly a period that some of the sacred verses lowing generation, pronounced the funeral were popularly ascribed to Numa, and were panegyric over the remains of Lucius Posthuutterly unintelligible in the age of Augustus. mius Megellus, thrice Consul, would borrow In the Second Punic War a great feast was largely from the lay; and thus some passages, held in honour of Juno, and a song was sung much disfigured, would probably find their in her praise. This song was extant when way into the chronicles which were afterwards Livy wrote; and, though exceedingly rugged in the hands of Dionysius and Livy. and uncouth, seemed to him not wholly desti- Antiquaries differ widely as to the situation tute of merit.* A song, as we learn from Ho- of the field of battle. The opinion of those who race, was part of the established ritual at the suppose that the armies met near Cornufelle, great Secular Jubilee. It is therefore likely between Frascati and the Monte Porzio, is, at that the Censors and Pontiffs, when they had least, plausible, and has been followed in the resolved to add a grand procession of knights poem. to the other solemnities annually performed on As to the details of the battle, it has not been the Ides of Quintilis, would call in the aid of a thought desirable to adhere minutely to the acpoet. Such a poet would naturally take for counts which have come down to us. Those his subject the battle of Regillus, the appear- accounts, indeed, differ widely from each other, ance of the Twin Gods, and the institution of and, in all probability, differ as widely from the their festival. He would find abundant mate- ancient poem from which they were originally rials in the ballads of his predecessors; and he derived. would make free use of the scanty stock of It is unnecessary to point out the obvious Greek learning which he had himself acquired. imitations of the Iliad, which have been pur. He would probably introduce some wise and i posely introduced.
BATTLE OF THE LAKE REGILLUS.
A LAY SUNG AT THE FEAST OF CASTOR AND POLLUX ON THE IDES OF QUINTILIS, IN THE YEAR
OF THE CITY CCCCLI.
Ho, lictors, clear the way!
Along the streets to-day.
Are hung with garlands all,
To Mars without the wall. Each Knight is robed in purple,
With olive each is crown'd; A gallant war-horse under each
Paws haughtily the ground. While flows the Yellow River,
While stands the Sacred Hill, The proud Ides of Quintilis
Shall have such honour still. Gay are the Martian Kalends :
December's Nones are gay: (rides, But the proud Ides, when the squadron Shall be Rome's whitest day.
2. Unto the Great Twin Brethren
We keep this solemn feast. * Livy, xxvii. 37. 4 Ilor. Carmen Seculare.
Swift, swift, the Great Twin Brethren
Came spurring from the east.
Tossing in waves of pine,
O’er purple Apennine,
Their ancient mansion rings,
The City of two kings,
Under the Porcian height,
Was fought the glorious fight.
Are cots and sheepfolds seen,
And apple-orchards green.
That fall from Corne's oaks :
The reaper's pottage smokes.
The hunter twangs his bow;
Forth looked in wrath the eagle;
And carrion-kite and jay, Soon as they saw his beak and clar,
Fled screaming far away."
Little they think on those strong limbs
That moulder deep below. Little they think how sternly
That day the trumpets pealed; How in the slippery swamp of blood
Warrior and war-horse reeled ; How wolves came with fierce gallop,
And crows on eager wings, To tear the flesh of captains,
And peck the eyes of kings; How thick the dead lay scattered
Under the Porcian height; How through the gates of Tusculum
Raved the wild stream of flight; And how the Lake Regillus
Bubbled with crimson foam, What time the Thirty Cities
Came forth to war with Rome.
8. The Herald of the Latines
Hath hied him back in state. The Fathers of the City
Are met in high debate. Then spake the elder Consul,
An ancient man and wise: “Now hearken, Conscript Fathers,
To that which I advise. In seasons of great peril
'Tis good that one bear sway; Then choose we a Dictator,
Whom all men shall obey. Camerium knows how deeply
The sword of Aulus bites; And all our city calls him
The man of seventy fights. Then let him be Dictator
For six months and no more, And have a Master of the Knights,
And axes twenty-four."
4. But, Roman, when thou standest
Upon that holy ground, Look thou with heed on the dark rock
That girds the dark lake round. So shalt thou see a hoof-mark
Stamped deep into the flint: It was no hoof of mortal steed
That made so strange a dint: There to the Great Twin Brethren
Vow thou thy vows, and pray That they, in tempest and in fight,
Will keep thy head alway.
5. Since last the Great Twin Brethren
Of mortal eyes were seen,' Have years gone by a hundred
And fourscore and thirteen. That summer a Virginius
Was Consul first in place The second was stout Aulus,
Of the Posthumian race. The Herald of the Latines,
From Gabii came in state: The Herald of the Latines
Passed through Rome's Eastern Ga.e: The Herald of the Latines
Did in our Forum stand; And there he did his office,
A sceptre in his hand.
9. So Aulus was Dictator,
The man of seventy fights; He made Æbutius Elva
His Master of the Knights. On the third morn thereafter,
At dawning of the day, Did Aulus and Æbutius
Set forth with their array. Sempronius Atratinus
Was left in charge at home. With boys and with gray-headed men,
To keep the walls of Rome. Hard by the Lake Regillus
Our camp was pitched at night; Eastward a mile the Latines lay,
Under the Porcian height. Far over hill and valley
Their mighty host was spread; And with their thousand watchfires
The midnight sky was red.
6. “Hear, Senators and people
Of the good town of Rome: The Thirty Cities charge you
To bring the Tarquins home: And if ye still be stubborn,
To work the Tarquins wrong, The Thirty Cities warn you,
Look that your walls be strong."
10. Up rose the golden morning
Over the Porcian height, The proud ides of Quintilis
Marked evermore with white. Not without secret trouble
Our bravest saw the foes, For, girt by threescore thousand spears
The thirty standards rose. From every warlike city
That boasts the Latian name, Foredoomed to dogs and vultures,
That gallant army came;
From Norba's ancient wall,
The proudest town of all;
O’erhangs the dark-blue seas,
Beneath Aricia's trees
7. Then spake the Consul Aulus,
He spake a bitter jest;
Unto the eagle's nest :-
Unto the carrion-kite, (or come forth valiantly, and face
The jays in deadly fight
Those trees in woose dim shadow
The ghastly priest doth reign, The priest who slew the slayer,
And shall himself be slain ;From the drear banks of Ufens,
Where flights of marsh-fowl play, And buffaloes lie wallowing
Through the hot summer's day; From the gigantic watch-towers,
No work of earthly men, Whence Cora's sentinels o'erlook
The never-ending fen; From the Laurentian jungle,
The wild hog's reedy home, From the green steps whence Anio leaps
In floods of snow-white foam.
There rode the Volscian succours
There, in a dark, stern ring, The Roman exiles gathered close
Around the ancient king. Though white as Mount Soracte,
When winter nights are long, His beard flowed down o'er mail and be!
His heart and hand were strong: Under his hoary eyebrows
Still flashed forth quenchless rage. And if the lance shook in his gripe,
"Twas more with hate than age. Close at his side was Titus
On an Apulian steed, Titus, the youngest Tarquin,
Too good for such a breed.'
11. Aricia, Cora, Norba,
Velitræ, with the might Of Setia and of Tusculum,
Were marshalled on their right: Their leader was Mamilius,
Prince of the Latian name; Upon his head a helmet
Of red gold shone like flame: High on a gallant charger
Of dark-gray hue he rode; Over his gilded armour
A vest of purple flowed, Woven in the land of sunrise
By Syria's dark-browed daughters, And by the sails of Carthage brought
Far o'er the southern waters.
14. Now on each side the leaders
Gave signal for the charge; And on each side the footmen
Strode on with lance and targe; And on each side the horsemen
Struck their spurs deep in gore, And front to front the armies
Met with a mighty roar: And under that great battle
The earth with blood was red; And, like the Pomptine fog at morn,
The dust hung overhead; And louder still and louder
Rose from the darkened field The braying of the war-horns,
The clang of sword and shield, The rush of squadrons sweeping
Like whirlwinds o'er the plain, The shouting of the slayers,
And screeching of the slain.
12. Lavinium and Circeium
Had on the left their post,
And banners of the coast.
That wrought the deed of shame:
To his last field he came.
Which none beside might see;
Which none might hear but he.
But pale as are the dead,
Sate spinning by his bed.
In a sweet voice and low, She sang of great old houses,
Ind fights fought long ago.
Until the east was gray;
Were ranged the shields of foes,
Beneath proud Tarquin's rule, and Ferentinum of the rock,
And Gabii of the pool.
15. False Sextus rode out foremost :
His look was high and bold; His corslet was of bison's hide,
Plated with steel and gold.
From the Digentian rock,
Before Bandusia's flock,
And came with eagle speed; Herminius on black Auster,
Brave champion on brave sieed. In his right hand the broadsword
That kept the bridge so weli, And on his helm the crown he won
When proud Fidenæ fell. Wo to the maid whose lover
Shall cross his path to-day! False Sextus saw, and trembled,
And turned, and fled away. As turns, as flies, the woodman
In the Calabrian brake, When through the reeds gleams the w.and
eye Of that fell painted snake; So turned, so fled, false Sextus,
And hid him in the rear, Behind the dark Lavinian ranks,
Bristling with crest and spear