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THE BATTLE OF THE LAKE REGILLUS.
THE following poem is supposed to have zeen produced ninety years after the lay of Horatius. Some persons mentioned in the lay of Horatius make their appearance again, and some appellations and epithets used in the lay of Horatius have been purposely repeated; for, in an age of ballad-poetry, it scarcely ever fails to happen, that certain phrases come to be appropriated to certain men and things, and are regularly applied to those men and things by every minstrel. Thus we find both in the Homeric poems and in Hesiod, Bin 'Hgaκληείη, περικλύτες Αμφιγυήεις, διάκτορος Αργειφόντης, Επτάπυλος Θήβη, Ἑλένης ένεκ' ηυκόμοιο. 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.
Porsena nothing seems to be borrowed from foreign sources. The villany of Sextus, the suicide of his victim, the revolution, the death of the sons of Brutus, the defence of the bridge, Mucius burning his hand, Clelia swimming through Tiber, seem to be all strictly Roman. But when we have done with the Tuscan war, and enter upon the war with the Latines, we are again struck by the Greek air of the story. The Battle of the Lake Regillus is in all respects a Homeric battle, except that the combatants ride astride on their horses, instead of driving chariots. The mass of Aghting 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.
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 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 country by the tyranny of that Cypselus, the tale of whose strange escape Herodotus has related with incomparable simplicity and liveliness. Livy and Dionysius tell us that, when 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.t 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 Herodotus, lured Croesus to destruction. Then the character of the narrative changes. From the first mention of Lucretia to the retreat of
Herodotus, v. 92. Livy, i. 34. Dionysius, iii. 46. + Livy, i. 54. Dionysius, iv. 56. Herudotus, iii. 154. Livy, i. 53.
'Αργείων προκαλίζετο πάντας αρίστους, ἀντίβιον μαχέσασθαι ἐν αἰνῇ δηϊοτῆτι. Livy introduces Sextus in a similar manner: "Ferocem juvenem Tarquinium, ostentantem se in primâ exsulum acie." Menelaus rushes to meet Paris. A Roman noble, eager for vengeance, spurs his horse towards Sextus. Both the guilty princes are instantly terrorstricken:
Τὸν δ' ὡς οὖν ἐνόησεν 'Αλέξανδρος θεοειδής, ἐν προμάχοισι φανέντα, κατεπλήγη φίλον ήτορ, ἂψ δ' ἑτάρων εἰς ἔθνος ἐχάζετο κῆς ἀλεείνων. «Tarquinius," says Livy, "retro in agmen suorum infenso cessit hosti." If this be a fortuitous coincidence, it is one of the most extraordinary in literature.
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 Inscrietions, vi. 27, 66.
The popular belief at Rome, from an early period, seems to have been that the event of the great day of Regillus was decided by supernatural agency. Castor and Pollux, it was said, had fought, armed and mounted, at the head of the legions of the commonwealth, and had afterwards carried the news of the victory with incredible speed to the city. The well in the Forum at which they had alighted was pointed out. Near the well rose their ancient temple. A great festival was kept to their honour on the Ides of Quintilis, supposed to be the anniversary of the battle; and on that day sumptuous sacrifices were offered to them at the public charge. One spot on the margin of Lake Regillus was regarded during many ages with superstitious awe. A mark, resembling in 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.
the celestial horsemen bear the tidings of vic tory to Rome.
Many years after the temple of the Twin Gods had been built in the Forum, an import ant addition was made to the ceremonial by which the state annually testified its gratitude for their protection. Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius were elected Censors at a momentous crisis. It had become absolutely necessary that the classification of the citizens should be revised. On that classification depended the distribution of political power. Party spirit ran high; and the republic seemed to be in danger of falling under the dominion 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.
How the legend originated, cannot now be 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 temple 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 patron, and dence among 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 iving when this lie was printed. One of them, be part of the ceremonial performed, on the nonest 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 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 thou horse was the glorious apostle St. James, and sand horsemen, all persons of fair repute and that I, sinner that I am, was unworthy to see easy fortune.* him." The Romans of the age of Cincinnatus were probably quite as credulous as the Spanish subjects of Charles the Fifth. It is therefore conceivable that the appearance of Castor and Pollux may have become an article of fait before the generation which had fought at Regillus had passed away. Nor could any thing he more natural than that the poets of the next age should embellish this story, and make
public worship belonged; and it is probable | holy Pontiff enjoining the magnificent ceremo
The following poem is supposed to have
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 pur posely introduced.
BATTLE OF THE LAKE REGILLUS.
LAY SUNG at the FEAST OF CASTOR AND POLLUX ON THE IDES OF QUINTILIS, IN THE YEAR
Ho, trumpets, sound a war-note!
Ho, lictors, clear the way!
OF THE CITY CCCCLI.
The Knights will ride, in all their pride,
To Mars without the wall.
While stands the Sacred Hill,
Shall have such honour still.
December's Nones are gay..
Unto the Great Twin Brethren
Lávy, xxvii. 37.
+ Hor. Carmen Seculare.
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
Are cots and sheepfolds seen,
And rows of vines, and fields of wheat
The swine crush the big acorns
That fall from Corne's oaks:
The hunter twangs his bow,