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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, Bin 'Hex-batants ride astride on their horses, instead of κληείη, περικλύτες ̓Αμφιγυήεις, διάκτορος ̓Αργειφόντης, TáTunes Onen, “Exévns över” hüxópea. Thus, too, in our own national songs, Douglas is almost always the doughty Douglas: England is merry England: all the gold is red; and all the ladies are gay.
driving chariots. The mass of fighting men is hardly mentioned. The leaders single each other out, and engage hand to hand. The great object of the warriors on both sides is, as in the Iliad, to obtain possession of the spoils and bodies of the slain; and several circumstances are related which forcibly remind us of the great slaughter round the corpses of Sarpedon and Patroclus.
But there is one circumstance which de serves especial notice. Both the war of Troy and the war of Regillus were caused by the licentious passions of young princes, who were therefore peculiarly bound not to be sparing of their own persons in the day of battle. Now the conduct of Sextus at Regillus, as described by Livy, so exactly resembles that of Paris, as described at the beginning of the third book of the Iliad, that it is difficult to believe the resemblance accidental. Paris appears before the Trojan ranks, defying the bravest Greek to
Τρωσὶν μὲν προμάχιζεν 'Αλέξανδρος θεοειδής,
The principal distinction between the lay of Horatius and the lay of the Lake Regillus is, that the former is meant to be purely Roman, while the latter, though national in its general spirit, has a slight tincture of Greek learning and of Greek superstition. The story of the Tarquins, as it has come down to us, appears to have been compiled from the works of several popular poets; and one, at least, of those poets appears to have visited the Greek colonies in Italy, if not Greece itself, and to have had some acquaintance with the works of Homer and Herodotus. Many of the most striking adventures of the house of Tarquin, till Lucretia makes her appearance, have a Greek character. The Tarquins themselves are re-encounter him: presented as Corinthian nobles of the great house of the Bacchiada, driven from their · 'Αργείων προκαλίζετο πάντας ἀρίστους, country by the tyranny of that Cypselus, the ἀντίβιον μαχέσασθαι ἐν αἰνῇ δηϊοτῆτι. tale of whose strange escape Herodotus has related 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 best mode of governing a conquered city, he replied only by beating down with his staff all the tallest poppies in his garden. This is exactly what Herodotus, in the passage to which reference has already been made, relates of the counsel given to Periander, the son of Cypselus. The stratagem by which the town of Gabii is brought under the power of the Tarquins is, again, obviously copied from Herodotus. The embassy of the young Tarquins to the oracle at Delphi is just such a story as would be told by a poet whose head was full of the Greek mythology; and the ambiguous answer returned by Apollo is in the exact style of the prophecies which, according to Hethe character of the narrative changes. From
rodotus, lured Croesus to destruction. Then
the first mention of Lucretia to the retreat of
*Herodotus, v. 92. Livy, 1. 34. Dionysius, iii. 46.
se in primâ exsulum acie." Menelaus rushes
Τὸν δ ̓ ὡς οὖν ἐνόησεν 'Αλέξανδρος θεοειδής,
«Tarquinius," says Livy, "retro in agmen
In the following poem, therefore, images and incidents have been borrowed, not merely without scruple, but on principle, from the in comparable battle-pieces of Homer.
* M. de Pouilly attempted, a hundred and twenty years ago, to prove that the story of Mucius was of Greek origin; but he was signally confuted by the Abbé Sallier. See the Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscrip· tione, vi. 27, 66.
the celestial horsemen bear the tidings of vic
The popular belief at Rome, from an early period, seems to have been that the event of Many years after the temple of the Twin the great day of Regillus was decided by supernatural 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 PubIt had become absolutely with 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. 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 dethe 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 Regillus was regarded during many ages with A mark, resembling in superstitious awe. shape a horse's hoof, was discernible in the volcanic rock; and this mark was believed to have been made by one of the celestial chargers.
either of a narrow oligarchy or of an ignorant and headstrong rabble. Under such circumstances, the most illustrious patrician and the most illustrious plebeian of the age were intrusted with the office of arbitrating between the angry factions; and they performed their arduous task to the satisfaction of all honest and reasonable men.
One of their reforms was a remodelling of the equestrian order; and, having effected this reform, they determined to give to their work a sanction derived from religion. In the chivalrous societies of modern times, societies which have much more than may at first sight appear in common with the equestrian order of Rome, it has been usual to invoke the special protection of some Saint, and to observe his day with peculiar solemnity. Thus the Companions of the Garter wear the image of St. George depending from their collars, and meet, on great occasions, in St. George's Chapel. Thus, when Louis the Fourteenth instituted a new order of chivalry for the rewarding of military merit, he commended it to the favour of his own glorified ancestor and patron, and decreed that all the members of the fraternity should meet at the royal palace on the Feast of St. Louis, should attend the king to chapel, should hear mass, and should subsequently
How the legend originated, cannot now be ascertained: but we may easily imagine several ways in which it might have originated: nor is it at all necessary to suppose, with Julius Frontinus, that two young men were dressed up by the Dictator to personate the sons of Leda. It is probable that Livy is correct when he says that the Roman general, in the hour of peril, If so, nothing vowed a temple to Castor. could be more natural than that the multitude should ascribe the victory to the favour of the Twin Gods. When such was the prevailing sentiment, any man who chose to declare that, in the midst of the confusion and slaughter, he had seen two godlike forms on white horses scattering the Latines, would find ready credence. We know, indeed, that, in modern times, a very similar story actually found credence among a people much more civilized than the Romans of the fifth century before Christ. A chaplain of Cortes, writing about thirty years after the conquest of Mexico, in 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 iving 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 state 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 centhinking, Francesco de Morla, and not the ever-turies, considered as one of the most splendid sights of Rome. In the time of Dionysius the blessed apostle St. James. cavalcade sometimes consisted of five thousand horsemen, all persons of fair repute and easy fortune.*
Nevertheless," he adds, "it may be that the person on the gray horse was the glorious apostle St. James, and that I, sinner that I am, was unworthy to see There can be no doubt that the Censors who nim." The Romans of the age of Cincinnatus were probably quite as credulous as the Spa-instituted this magnificent ceremony atted 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 faith before the generation which had fought at Regillus had passed away. Nor could any thing he more natural than that the poets of thein next age should embellish this story, and make
Val. Max., ii. 2.
Aurel. Vict. Do
public worship belonged; and it is probable | holy Pontiff enjoining the magnificent ceremohat 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 innovation.
persons would commit it to memory. Parts of it would be sung to the pipe at banquets. It would be peculiarly interesting to the great Posthumian house, which numbered among its many images that of the Dictator Aulus, the hero of Regillus. The orator who, in the fol lowing generation, pronounced the funeral panegyric over the remains of Lucius Posthumius Megellus, thrice Consul, would borrow largely from the lay; and thus some passages, much disfigured, would probably find their way into the chronicles which were afterwards in the hands of Dionysius and Livy.
The following poem is supposed to have been made for this great occasion. Songs, we know, were chanted at the religious festivals of Rome from an early period, indeed from so carly a period that some of the sacred verses were popularly ascribed to Numa, and were utterly unintelligible in the age of Augustus. In the Second Punic War a great feast was held in honour of Juno, and a song was sung in her praise. This song was extant when Livy wrote; and, though exceedingly rugged and uncouth, seemed to him not wholly destitute of merit. A song, as we learn from Horace, was part of the established ritual at the great Secular Jubilee. It is therefore likely that the Censors and Pontiffs, when they had resolved to add a grand procession of knights 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 Greek learning which he had himself acquired. He would probably introduce some wise and
Antiquaries differ widely as to the situation of the field of battle. The opinion of those who suppose that the armies met near Cornufelle, between Frascati and the Monte Porzio, is, at least, plausible, and has been followed in the poem.
It is unnecessary to point out the obvious imitations of the Iliad, which have been purposely introduced.
BATTLE OF THE LAKE REGILLUS.
▲ LAY SUNG AT THE FEAST OF CASTOR AND POLLUX ON THE IDES OF QUINTILIS, IN THE YEAR OF THE CITY CCCCLI.
Ho, trumpets, sound a war-note!
Ho, lictors, clear the way!
The Knights will ride, in all their pride,
To Mars without the wall.
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.
But the proud Ides, when the squadron
Shall be Rome's whitest day.
Swift, swift, the Great Twin Brethren
They came o'er wild Parthenius
O'er Cirrha's dome, o'er Adria's foam,
From where with flutes and dances
In lordly Lacedæmon,
The City of two kings,
Under the Porcian height,
Now on the place of slaughter
And rows of vines, and fields of whea
The swine crush the big acorns
That fall from Corne's oaks:
Little they think on those strong limbs
That day the trumpets pealed;
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.
But, Roman, when thou standest
Look thou with heed on the dark rock
Since last the Great Twin Brethren
Was Consul first in place;
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.
"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."
Then spake the Consul Aulus,
He spake a bitter jest;
Or come forth valiantly, and face
Forth looked in wrath the eagle;
Aud carrion-kite and jay, Soon as they saw his beak and claw, Fled screaming far away."
The Herald of the Latines
Are met in high debate.
"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."
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.
Up rose the golden morning
Marked evermore with white.
Our bravest saw the foes,
For, girt by threescore thousand spears,
That boasts the Latian name,
From where the Witch's Fortress
From the still glassy lake that sleeps
Those trees in wnose dim shadow
Through the hot summer's day;
The wild hog's reedy home,
From the green steps whence Anio leaps
In floods of snow-white foam.
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;
Of red gold shone like flame:
A vest of purple flowed,
By Syria's dark-browed daughters, And by the sails of Carthage brought Far o'er the southern waters.
Lavinium and Circeium
Had on the left their post,
That wrought the deed of shame:
Which none beside might see;
And that strange sounds were in his ears, Which none might hear but he.
A woman fair and stately,
But pale as are the dead,
Oft through the watches of the night
Until the east was gray;
But in the centre thickest
Were ranged the shields of foes, And from the centre loudest
The cry of battle rose. There Tibur marched and Pedum Beneath proud Tarquin's rule, And Ferentinum of the rock, And Gabii of the pool.
There rode the Volscian succours There, in a dark, stein 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 bell,
Still flashed forth quenchless rage.
On an Apulian steed,
Now on each side the leaders
Strode on with lance and targe;
And under that great battle
Rose from the darkened field
And screeching of the slain.
False Sextus rode out foremost:
As glares the famished eagle
From the Digentian rock,
On a choice lamb that bounds alone
When through the reeds gleams the wund