Pablius Papinius Statius

Here you will find the Long Poem Thebais - Book One - part IV of poet Pablius Papinius Statius

Thebais - Book One - part IV

For by the black infernal Styx I swear, 
(That dreadful oath which binds the thunderer) 
`Tis fixed; th? irrevocable doom of Jove; 
No force can bend me, no persuasion move. 
haste then, Cyllenius, through the liquid air;
Go, mount the winds, and to the shades repair; 
Bid hell?s black monarch my commands obey, 
And give up Laius to the realms of day, 
Whose ghost yet shiv?ring on Cocytus? sand, 
Expects its passage to thc further strand:
Let the pale sire revisit Thebes, and bear 
These pleasing orders to the tyrant?s ear; 
That from his exiled brother, swelled with pride 
Of foreign forces, and his Argive bride, 
Almighty Jove commands him to detain 
The promised empire, and alternate reign: 
Be this the cause of more than mortal hate: 
The rest, succeeding times shall ripen into fate.? 
The god obeys, and to his feet applies 
Those golden wings that cut the yielding skies.
His ample hat his beamy locks o?erspread, 
And veiled the starry glories of his head. 
He seized the wand that causes sleep to fly, 
Or in soft slumbers seals the wakeful eye; 
That drives the dead to dark Tartarcan coasts,
Or back to life compels the wand?ring ghosts. 
Thus, through the parting clouds, the son of May 
Wings on the whistling winds his rapid way; 
Now smoothly steers through air his equal flight, 
Now springs aloft, and tow?rs th? ethereal height; 
Then wheeling down the steep of heav?n he flies, 
And draws a radiant circle o?er the skies. 
Meantime the banished Polynices roves 
(his Thebes abandoned through th? Aonian groves, 
While future realms his wand?ring thoughts delight, 
His daily vision and his dream by night; 
Forbidden Thebes appears before his eye, 
From whence he sees his absent brother fly, 
With transport views the airy rule his own, 
And swells on an imaginary throne. 
Fain would he cast a tedious age away, 
And live out all in one triumphant day. 
He chides the lazy progress of the sun, 
And bids the year with swifter motion run. 
With anxious hopes his craving mind is tost,
And all his joys in length of wishes lost. 
The hero then resolves his course to bend 
Where ancient Danaus? fruitful fields extend, 
And famed Mycene?s lofty towers ascend, 
(Where late the sun did Atreus? crimes detest, 
And disappeared in horror of the feast.) 
And now by chance, by fate, or furies led, 
From Bacehus? consecrated caves he fled, 
Where the shrill cries of frantic matrons sound, 
And Pentheus? blood enriched the rising ground. 
Then sees Cithaeron tow?ring o?er the plain, 
And thence declining gently to the main. 
Next to the bounds of Nisus? realm repairs, 
Where treach?rous Scylla cut the purple hairs : 
The hanging cliffs of Sciron?s rock explores, 
And hears the murmurs of the diff?rent shores: 
Passes the strait that parts the foaming seas, 
And stately Corinth?s pleasing site surveys. 
`Twas now the time when Ph?bus yields to night, 
And rising Cynthia sheds her silver light, 
Wide o?er the world in solemn pomp she drew 
Her airy chariot hung with pearly dew; 
All birds and beasts lie hushed; sleep steals away 
The wild desires of men, and toils of day, 
And brings, descending through the silent air,
A sweet forgetfulness of human care. 
Yet no red clouds, with golden borders gay, 
Promise the skies the bright return of day; 
No faint reflections of the distant light 
Streak with long gleams the scatt?ring shades of night: 
From the damp earth impervious vapours rise, 
Encrease the darkness, and involve the skies. 
At once the rushing winds with roaring sound 
Burst from th? Æolian caves, and rend the ground, 
With equal rage their airy quarrel try, 
And win by turns the kingdom of the sky: 
But with a thicker night black Auster shrouds 
The heav?ns, and drives on heaps the rolling clouds, 
From whose dark womb a rattling tempest pours, 
Which the cold north congeals to haily show?rs.
From pole to pole the thunder roars aloud, 
And broken lightnings flash from ev?ry cloud. 
Now smoaks with show?rs the misty mountain-ground, 
And floated fields lie undistinguished round. 
Th? Inachian streams with headlong fury run, 
And Erasmus rolls a deluge on: 
The foaming Lerna swells above its bounds, 
And spreads its ancient poisons o?er the grounds: 
Where late was dust, now rapid torrents play, 
Rush through the mounds, and bear the dams away:
Old limbs of trees from crackling forests torn, 
Are whirled in air, and on the winds are borne: 
The storm the dark Lycæan groves displayed, 
And first to light exposed the sacred shade. 
Th? intrepid Theban hears the bursting sky,
Sees yawning rocks in massy fragments fly, 
And views astonished, from the hills afar, 
The floods descending, and the wat?ry war,? 
That, driv