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I

This webpage reproduces Poem II of
Against Rufinus

by
Claudian

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1922

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

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Claudian, Against Rufinus

p57 Second Poem

Preface
(IV)

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Return, ye Muses, and throw open rescued Helicon; now again may your company gather there. Nowhere now in Italy does the hostile trumpet forbid song with its viler bray. Do thou too, Delian Apollo, now that Delphi is safe and fear has been dispelled, wreath thy avenger's head with flowers. No savage foes sets profane lips to Castalia's spring or those prophetic streams. Alpheus'1 flood ran all his length red with slaughter and the waves bore the bloody marks of war across the Sicilian sea; whereby Arethusa, though herself not present, recognized the triumphs freshly won and knew of the slaughter of the Getae, to which that blood bore witness.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Let peace, Stilicho, succeed these age-long labours and ease thine heart by graciously listening to my song. Think it no shame to interrupt thy long toil and to consecrate a few moments to the Muses. Even unwearying Mars is said to have stretched his tired limbs on the snowy Thracian plain when at last the battle was ended, and, unmindful of his wonted fierceness, to have laid aside his spear in gentler mood, soothing his ear with the Muses' melody.

p59 BOOK II
(V)

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] After the subjugation of the Alpine tribes and the salvation of the kingdoms of Italy the heavens welcomed the Emperor Theodosius2 to the place of honour due to his worth, and so shone the brighter by the addition of another star. Then was the power of Rome entrusted to thy care, Stilicho; in thy hands was placed the governance of the world. The brothers' twin majesty and the armies of either royal court were given into thy charge. But Rufinus (for cruelty and crime brook not peace, and a tainted mouth will not forgo its draughts of blood), Rufinus, I say, began once more to inflame the world with wicked wars and to disturb peace with accursed sedition. Thus to himself: "How shall I assure my slender hopes for survival? By what means beat back the rising storm? On all sides are hate and the threat of arms. What am I to do? No help can I find in soldier's weapon or emperor's favour. Instant dangers ring me round and a gleaming sword hangs above my head. What is left but to plunge the world into fresh troubles and draw down innocent peoples in my ruin? Gladly will I perish if the world does too; general destruction shall console me for p61mine own death, nor will I die (for I am no coward) till I have accomplished this. I will not lay down my power before my life."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] So spake he, and as if Aeolus unchained the winds so he, breaking their bonds, let loose the nations, clearing the way for war; and, that no land should be free therefrom, apportioned ruin throughout the world, parcelling out destruction. Some pour across the frozen surface of quick-flowing Danube and break with the chariot wheel what erstwhile knew but the oar; others invade the wealthy East, led through the Caspian Gates and over the Armenian snows by a newly-discovered pass. The fields of Cappadocia reek with slaughter; Argaeus, father of swift horses, is laid waste. Halys' deep waters run red and the Cilician cannot defend himself in his precipitous mountains. The pleasant plains of Syria are devastated, and the enemy's cavalry thunders along the banks of Orontes, home hitherto of the dance and of a happy people's song. Hence comes mourning to Asia, while Europe is left to be the sport and prey of Getic hordes even to the borders of fertile Dalmatia. All that tract of land lying between the stormy Euxine and the Adriatic is laid waste and plundered, no inhabitants dwell there; 'tis like torrid Africa whose sun-scorched plains never grow kindlier through human tillage. Thessaly is afire; Pelion silent, his shepherds put to flight; flames bring destruction on Macedonia's crops. For Pannonia's plain, the Thracians' helpless cities, the fields of Mysia were ruined but now none wept; year by year came the invader, unsheltered was the countryside from havoc and custom had robbed suffering of its sting. Alas, in how swift ruin perish p63even the greatest things! An empire won and kept at the expense of so much bloodshed, born from the toils of countless leaders, knit together through so many years by Roman hands, one coward traitor overthrew in the twinkling of an eye.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] That city,3 too, called of men the rival of great Rome, that looks across to Chalcedon's strand, is stricken now with terror at no neighbouring war; nearer home it observes the flash of torches, the trumpet's call, and its own roofs the target for an enemy's artillery. Some guard the walls with watchful outposts, others hasten to fortify the harbour with a chain of ships. But fierce Rufinus is full of joy in the leaguered city and exults in its misfortunes, gazing at the awful spectacle of the surrounding country from the summit of a lofty tower. He watches the procession of women in chains, sees one poor half-dead wretch drowned in the water hard by, another, stricken as he fled, sink down beneath the sudden wound, another breathe out his life at the tower's very gates; he rejoices that no respect is shown to grey hairs and that mother's breasts are drenched with their children's blood. Great is his pleasure thereat; from time to time he laughs and knows but one regret — that it is not his own hand that strikes. He sees the whole countryside (except for his own lands) ablaze, and has joy of his great wickedness, making no secret of the fact that the city's foes are his friends. It is his boast, moreover, that to him alone the enemy camp opened its gates, and that there was allowed right of parley between them. Whene'er he issued forth to arrange some wondrous truce his companions thronged him round and an armed band of dependents p65danced attendance on a civilian's standards. Rufinus himself in their midst drapes tawny skins of beasts about his breast (thorough in his barbarity), and uses harness and huge quivers and twanging bows like those of the Getae — his dress openly showing the temper of his mind. One who drives a consul's chariot and enjoys a consul's powers has no shame to adopt the manners and dress of barbarians; Roman law, obliged to change her noble garment, mourns her slavery to a skin-clad judge.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] What looks then on men's faces! What furtive murmurs! For, poor wretches, they could not even weep nor, without risk, ease their grief in converse. "How long shall we bear this deadly yoke? What end shall there ever be to our hard lot? Who will free us from this death-fraught anarchy, this day of tears? On this side the barbarian hems us in, on that Rufinus oppresses us; land and sea are alike denied us. A pestilence stalks through the country: yes, but a deadlier terror haunts our houses. Stilicho, delay no more but succour thy dying land; of a truth here are thy children, here thy home, here were taken those first auspices for thy marriage, so blessed with children, here the palace was illumined with the torches of happy wedlock. Nay, come even though alone, thou for whom we long; wars will perish at thy sight and the ravening monster's rage subside."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Such were the tempests that vexed the turbulent East. But so soon as ever winter had given place to the winds of spring and the hills began to lose their covering of snow, Stilicho, leaving the fields of Italy in peace and safety, set in motion his two armies and hastened to the lands of the sunrise, combining p67the so different squadrons of Gaul and of the East. Never before did there meet together under one command such numerous bands, never in one army such a babel of tongues. Here were curly-haired Armenian cavalry, their green cloaks fastened with a loose knot, fierce Gauls with golden locks accompanied them, some from the banks of the swift-flowing Rhone, or the more sluggish Saône, some whose infant bodies Rhine's flood had laved, or who had been washed by the waves of the Garonne that flow more rapidly towards, than from, their source, whenever they are driven back by Ocean's full tide. One common purpose inspires them all; grudges lately harboured are laid aside; the vanquished feels no hate, the victor shows no pride. And despite of present unrest, of the trumpet's late challenge to civil strife, and of warlike rage still aglow, yet were all at one in their support of their great leader. So it is said that the army that followed Xerxes, gathered into one from all quarters of the world, drank up whole rivers in their courses, obscured the sun with the rain of their arrows, passed through mountains on board ship, and walked the bridged sea with contemptuous foot.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Scarce had Stilicho crossed the Alps when the barbarian hordes began to restrict their forays and for fear of his approach gathered together in the plain and enclosed their pasture lands within a defensive ring. They then built an impregnable fortification with a double moat, planted stakes two deep at intervals along its summit and set wagons rigged with ox-hide all round like a wall.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Panic fear seized upon Rufinus as he saw this from afar, and his cheeks grew pale. He stood with ice-cold face, not knowing whether to fly, to own himself p69beaten and sue for mercy, or go over to an enemy whose good faith his treachery had assured. Of what use now were his riches, his vast stores of golden ore, his halls upheld with red marble pillars, his sky-towering palace? He hears of Stilicho's march and counts the days, measuring his term of life according to the distance of his enemy from him. He is troubled with thoughts of coming peace and cannot sleep, often starts up distraught from his bed and suffers as punishment the fear of punishment. But his fury repossesses him and, regaining his genius for crime, he enters the sacred portal of the rich palace and addresses Arcadius with prayers and threats: "By thy brother's royal star, by the deeds of thy divine sire and the flower of thine own age, I beg thee deliver me from the edge of the sword; let me escape the cruel threatenings of Stilicho. All Gaul is sworn to my destruction. Tethys' extreme coasts, the wandering tribes beyond the farthest Britons are stirred up against me. Am I thought fit prey for all those armies? Are so many standards advanced against a solitary man? Whence comes this lust for blood? Stilicho lays claim to either hemisphere and will brook no equal. The world forsooth must lie at his feet. Italy is his kingdom, Libya his dominion, Spain and Gaul his empire. The sun's path circumscribes him not, no nor the whole universe. All the wealth collected here by Theodosius or received by him after the war is Stilicho's alone, and he has small mind to restore what he has once acquired. Is he to enjoy his gains in peace and quietness while 'tis mine to stand a siege? Why should he encroach on thy share? Let him leave Illyria, send back his Eastern troops, divide the p71hosts fairly between the two brothers, and do thou not be heir to the sceptre only but to thy forces. But if thou neglect to come to mine aid and make not ready to prevent my death, this head of mine shall not fall alone — by the dead and the stars I swear it. The blood of another shall be mingled with mine. I will not go unaccompanied to the waters of Styx nor shall the victor be free to exult in my death."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] So saying he dictates a treasonable letter and sends therewith an emissary to bear the message extorted from the emperor's unwilling lips.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Meanwhile Stilicho, exulting in the thought of advancing upon the foe and of the narrow stretch of country that separated him from the fortifications, inflames with his words the hearts of his troops already thirsting for battle. On the left wing are posted the Armenians, farther to the right the Gauls. A beholder might have seen bits covered with warm foam, clouds of dust uprising, and on all sides waving banners bearing the device of a scarlet dragon; the very air seemed to teem with these fierce flying monsters. The glint of steel fills all Thessaly and the cave of the wise Centaur; the river whose banks supported Achilles' baby footsteps and the forests of Oeta are agleam with arms, snowy Ossa re-echoes to the sound and Olympus smitten therewith sends it back twofold. Neither precipice nor deep river could check their advance: their headlong speed would have overthrown all barriers.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] If the two armies had then joined battle in this temper ruined Greece would not have witnessed such disaster as she did, the cities of the Peloponnese would still have been flourishing untouched by the hand p73of war, Arcadia and Sparta's citadel would have remained unravaged. Burning Corinth would not have heated the waves of her two seas, nor would cruel chains have led in captivity the matrons of Athens. That day might have set an end to our disasters and destroyed the seeds of future calamities. For shame, envious Fortune, of what a triumph didst thou rob us! The kingly mandate came to Stilicho in arms amid the cavalry and the trumpets' din.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He stood amazed; anger and great grief o'erwhelm the hero and he wonders that such power for ill is allowed a coward. His wavering mind ponders the uncertain issue: shall he continue his advance or fail his brave beginnings? He longs to stem Illyria's ruin but fears to disobey orders. Loyalty annuls the prickings-on of valour. The public good urges him one way, fear of the emperor's displeasure another. At length in his distress he raises his hands to heaven and speaks from deep within his heart: "Ye gods not yet glutted with Rome's destruction, if ye will that our empire be utterly uprooted, if ye have resolved to blot out all the centuries with one blow, if ye repent you of the race of man, then let the sea's unrestrained fury burst forth upon the land or let Phaëthon, deviating from his ordained course, drive his straying chariot at random. Shall Rufinus be your tool? 'Twere shame that such an one should be the author of the world's destruction. O the grief of it! recalled in mid fight; forced to lay down the swords we have drawn! Cities marked out for the flames, walls doomed to destruction, I call you to witness: see, I retire; I leave the unhappy world to its fate. Turn your banners, captains; to your homes, soldiers of the east. Needs must we obey. p75Silence, ye clarions; men, forbear to shoot. The foe is at hand, spare him; 'tis Rufinus' command."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] At these words an unanimous roar went up from all the companies. With less din are the cliffs of Ceraunia buffeted by the Italian sea or the thunders evoked from the western winds' wet storm-clouds. They will not separate, and demand the battle of which they have been defrauded. East and west claim the leadership of that illustrious chief. It is a contest of affection; insubordination that none can blame threatens to sap the loyalty of both armies who thus utter their common complaint: "Who is it robs us of our drawn swords? Who strikes the lance from our hand and bids us unstring the bent bow? Who dares dictate to an army under arms? Valour once roused knows no abatement. Spears thirsting for barbarian blood cast themselves from out our hands; our headlong blades force our vengeful arms to follow them; our very scabbards refuse to sheath an unblooded sword. I will not bear it. Shall the Getae ever profit by our dissension? Behold once more the shadow of civil war. Why dost thou seek to separate armies whose blood is one, standards of immemorial alliance? We are a body one and indivisible. Thee will we follow whithersoever thou goest; thee will we accompany even as far as Thule lying icebound beneath the pole-star, or to the burning sands of Libya. Should thy path be by the waters of Ind, or the bays of the Red Sea,4 I would go drink Hydaspes' golden stream. Shouldst thou bid me fare south and search out the hidden sources of the stripling Nile, I would leave behind me the world p77I know. Wheresoever Stilicho plants his tent there is my fatherland."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But Stilicho said them nay: "Cease, I beg you," he cried, "stay your eager hands. Suffer to disperse the mountain of hatred that towers over me. I hold not victory so dear that I would fain seem to win it for myself. Loyal gentlemen, so long my fellow-soldiers, get you gone." He said no more but turned away, as a lion loath to retire makes off with empty maw when the serried spears and the burning branches in the hands of the shepherd band drive him back and he droops his mane and closes his downcast eyes and with a disappointed roar pushes his way through the trembling forest.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When the armies saw that they had been parted and left, they groaned deeply and bedewed their helmets with a stream of tears. The sighs that refused egress to their smothered words shook the strong fastenings of their breastplates. "We are betrayed," they cried, "and forbidden to follow him we love so well. Dost thou despise, matchless chief, thine own right hands which have so often won thee the victory? Are we thus vile? Is the Western sky to be the happier which has won the right to enjoy thy rule? What boots it to return to our country, to see once more our children dear after so long an absence, to live again in the home we love? Without thee is no joy. Now must I face the tyrant's dread wrath; mayhap e'en now he is making ready against me some wicked snare and will make me a slave to the foul Huns or restless Alans. Yet is not my strength altogether perished nor so complete my powerlessness to wield the sword. Rest thou beneath the sun's westering course, Stilicho, thou art still p79ever our general, and though we be not together thou shalt still know our loyalty. Long has a victim been owed thee; he shall be sacrificed and thou placated by an immolation promised of old."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Sad at heart the army left Thessaly, reached the borders of Macedon, and arrived before the walls of Thessalonica. Indignation deep hid in their hearts prepares the silent wrath of revenge. They look for a place where they may wreak their vengeance and a moment propitious for the blow, and of all that vast army not one is found to divulge with incautious speech his heart's intent. What succeeding age and time but will marvel that a plot so widespread could be kept hid, a deed of such vast import concealed; that the ardour of their minds was not rendered of no avail by the chance word of a soldier on the march or a drunkard's babbling? But discretion ruled all alike and the people's secret was kept. The army crossed the Hebrus, left Rhodope behind, and struck across the uplands of Thrace until it came to the city called after Hercules.5

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When Rufinus learned that Stilicho had retired and that his troops were approaching he held his head high in triumph, believing everything safe, and, anxious to seize the power, inflamed his traitorous minions with this speech: "We have conquered; have driven off our enemy; empire is within my grasp, nor have we anything to fear from the foe. Will one who dared not approach me when I stood alone defeat me now that I am strengthened by the addition of so great a force? Who could stand against him armed whom unarmed he could not conquer? Plot my destruction in exile, friend p81Stilicho. What harm can that do so long as a vast stretch of country divide us and Nereus' waves thunder between? Thou shalt have no chance of crossing the rocky Alps while I live. Transfix me from thence with thine arrows, if thou canst. Seek in thy fury a sword that from Italy shall reach my city's walls. Does not the experience and the example of those who have tried before deter thee? Who that has dared approach can boast escape from my hands? I have driven thee from the centre of the civilized world and at the same time deprived thee of thy great army. Now, my friends, is come the time for feasting and making ready bountiful gifts and bestowing gold upon these new legions. To‑morrow's light dawns prosperously for my purpose. Needs must the emperor will what he would not and bid a portion of his empire to be given to me. Mine alone be the happy fortune to rise above a private estate and yet escape the charge of tyranny."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] To such words they shout acclaim — that vile band of traitors, waxed fat on plunder, whom one principle makes fellows with Rufinus, the holding nothing unlawful, and whose bond of friendship is to guard guilt in silence. Straightway they joyfully promise themselves foreign wives and all to no purpose forecast the booty they will win and the cities they will sack.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Night had begun to soothe human toils in her deep bosom and sleep had spread his black wings when Rufinus, whose mind had long been a prey to anxiety, sank into a troubled slumber. Scarce had quiet fastened on his heart when, lo, he sees flit before his eyes the dread ghosts of those whom he p83had killed. Of them one, more distinct than the rest, seemed thus to address him: "Up from thy couch! why schemes thine anxious mind further? This coming day shall bring thee rest and end thy toils. High above the people shalt thou be raised, and happy crowds shall carry thee in their arms." Such was the ambiguous prophecy of the ghost, but Rufinus observed not the hidden omen and saw not it foretold the elevation of his severed head upon a spear.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now Lucifer touched the peak of Haemus with his rays and Titan urged his hastening wheel quicker than his wont, so soon to see at last the death of Rufinus. Rufinus himself leapt from his bed and bade make ready the capacious palace with regal splendour in preparation for the feast; the gold to be given in largesse he ordered to be stamped with his own fateful image. Himself went to welcome the troops returning from the battle in kingly pride and arrogance above a prince's. Sure now of empire he wore a woman's raiment about his neck; as though the purple already clothed his limbs and the jewelled crown blazed upon his brow.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Hard by a crowded quarter of the city of Constantinople, towards the south, there lies a plain. The rest is surrounded by the sea which here allows itself to be parted by a narrow way. Here the avenging army, bright with the panoply of the war god, disposes its squadrons. On the left stands the infantry. Over against them the cavalry seek to restrain their eager steeds by holding tight the reins. Here nod the savage waving plumes whose wearers rejoice to shake the flashing colours of their shoulder-armour; for steel clothes them on and gives them their shape; the limbs within p85give life to the armour's pliant scales so artfully conjoined, and strike terror into the beholder. 'Tis as though iron statues moved and men lived cast from that same metal. The horses are armed in the same way; their heads are encased in threatening iron, their forequarters move beneath steel plates protecting them from wounds; each stands alone, a pleasure yet a dread to behold, beautiful, yet terrible, and as the wind drops the parti-coloured dragons6 sink with relaxing coils into repose.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The emperor first salutes the hallowed standards; Rufinus follows him, speaking with that crafty voice wherewith he deceived all, praising their devoted arms and addressing each by name. He tells those who have returned that their sons and fathers are still alive. The soldiers, observing a feigned rivalry in asking questions, begin to extend their long lines behind his back and to join up the ends so as to form a circle unnoticed by Rufinus. The space in the centre grows smaller and the wings meeting with serried shields gradually form into one lessening circle. Even so the huntsman surrounds the grassy glades with his widespread snares: so the spoiler of the ocean drives to land the frightened fish, narrowing the circuit of his nets and closing up all possible ways of egress. All others they exclude. In his eagerness he notes not yet that he is being surrounded and, strongly seizing his robe, chides the hesitating emperor: let him mount the lofty platform and declare him sharer in his sceptre, partaker in his dignities — when suddenly they draw their swords and above the rest there rang out a mighty voice: "Basest of the base, didst p87thou hope to cast upon us the yoke of slavery? Knowest thou not whence I return? Shall I allow myself to be called another's servant, I who gave laws to others and restored the reign of liberty? Two civil wars have I quenched, twice forced the barrier of the Alps. These many battles have taught me to serve no tyrant."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Rufinus stood rooted to earth. There is no hope of escape, for a forest of flashing spears hems him in. Shut in on the right hand and on the left he stood and gazed in wonder on the drawn blades of the armed throng; as a beast who has lately left his native hills, driven in exile from the wooded mountains and condemned to the gladiatorial shows, rushes into the arena while over against him the gladiator, heartened by the crowd's applause kneels and holds out his spear. The beast, alarmed at the noise, gazes with head erect upon the rows of seats in the amphitheatre and hears with amazement the murmuring of the crowd.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Then one more daring than the rest drew his sword and leapt forward from the crowd and with fierce words and flashing eye rushed upon Rufinus crying: "It is the hand of Stilicho whom thou vauntest that thou didst expel that smites thee; his sword, which thou thoughtest far away, that pierces thy heart." So spake he and transfixed Rufinus' side with a well-deserved thrust.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Happy the hand that first spilt such vile blood and poured out vengeance for a world made weary. Straightway all pierce him with their spears and tear quivering limb from limb; one single body warms all these weapons with its blood; shame to him whose sword returns unstained therewith. p89They stamp on that face of greed and while yet he lives pluck out his eyes; others seize and carry off his severed arms. One cuts off the foot, another wrenches a shoulder from the torn sinews; one lays bare the ribs of the cleft spine, another his liver, his heart, his still panting lungs. There is not space enough to satisfy their anger nor room to wreak their hate. Scarce when death had been accomplished do they leave him; his body is hacked in pieces and the fragments borne on the soldiers' spears. Thus red with blood ran the Boeotian mountain when the Maenads caused Pentheus' destruction or when Latona's daughter seen by Actaeon betrayed the huntsman, suddenly transformed into a stag, to the fury of her Molossian hounds. Dost thou hope, Fortune, thus to right thy wrongs? seekest thou to atone by this meting out of punishment for favour ill bestowed? Dost thou with one death make payment for ten thousand murders? Come, portion out Rufinus' corpse among the lands he has wronged. Give the Thracians his head; let Greece have as her due his body. What shall be given the rest? Give but a limb apiece, there are not enough for the peoples he has ruined.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The citizens leave the town and hasten exulting to the spot from every quarter, old men and girls among them whom nor age nor sex could keep at home. Widows whose husbands he had killed, mothers whose children he had murdered hurry to the joyful scene with eager steps. They are fain to trample the torn limbs and stain their deep pressed feet with the blood. So, too, they eagerly hurl a shower of stones at the monstrous head, nodding from the summit of the spear that transfixed it as it p91was carried back in merited splendour to the city. Nay his hand too, made over to their mockery, goes a-begging for alms, and with its awful gains pays the penalty for his greedy soul, while forced, in mimicry of its living clutch, to draw up the fingers by their sinews.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Put not now your trust in prosperity; learn that the gods are inconstant and heaven untrustworthy. That hand which sought to wield a sceptre, which a humbled nobility stooped so often to kiss, now torn from its wretched trunk and left long unburied begs after death a baneful alms. Let him gaze on this whoso carries his head high in pride of prosperity, see trodden under foot at the cross-roads him who built pyramids for himself and a tomb, large as a temple, to the glory of his own ghost. He who trusted to be clothed in Tyrian purple is now a naked corpse and food for birds. See, he who owns the world lies denied six foot of earth, half covered with a sprinkling of dust, given no grave yet given so many.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Heaven knew of his death and earth is freed of her hated burden, now that the stars can breathe again. His shade oppresses the rivers of Hell. Old Aeacus shudders and Cerberus bays to stop, in this case, the entry of a ghost. Then those shades which he had sent to death beneath his cruel laws flock round him and hale him away with horrid shoutings to the tribunal of the gloomy judge: even as bees whom a shepherd has disturbed swarm round his head when he would rob them of their sweet honey, and flutter their wings and put forth their stings, making them ready for battle in the fastnesses of their little rock, and seek to defend the p93crevices of their home, their beloved pumice-stone cave, swarming over the honeycombs therein.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] There is a place where the unhallowed rivers of Cocytus and Phlegethon mingle their dread streams of tears and fire. Between the rivers yet nearer to that of Phlegethon there juts a tower stiff with solid adamant that bathes its left side in the flames; its right hand wall extends into Cocytus' stream and echoes the lamentation of the river of tears. Hither come all the children of men whose life is ended; here there abide no marks of earthly fortune; no reverence is shown; the common beggar ousts the king, now stripped of his empty tittle. Seen afar on his lofty throne the judge Minos examines the charges and separates the wicked from the righteous. Those whom he sees unwilling to confess their sins he remits to the lash of his stern brother; for he, Rhadamanthus, is busy close at hand. When he has closely examined the deeds of their earthly life and all that they did therein, he suits the punishment to their crimes and makes them undergo the bonds of dumb animals. The spirits of the cruel enter into bears, of the rapacious into wolves, of the treacherous into foxes. Those, on the other hand, who were ever sunk in sloth, sodden with wine, given to venery, sluggish from excesses, he compelled to enter the fat bodies of filthy swine. Was any above measure talkative, a betrayer of secrets, he was carried off, a fish, to live in the waters amid his kind, that in eternal silence he might atone for his garrulity. When for thrice a thousand years he had forced these through countless diverse shapes, he sends them back once more to the beginnings of human form purged at last with Lethe's stream.

p95 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] So then while he settles these suits, dread business of that infernal court, while he examines in due order the criminals of old, he marks afar Rufinus, scans him with a stern scrutiny and speaks, shaking his throne to its foundation. "Hither, Rufinus, scourge of the world, bottomless sink of gold who wouldst dare aught for money; hither conscienceless seller of justice (that crime of crimes), faithless cause of that northern war whose thousand slaughtered victims now throng Hell's narrow entry and weigh down Charon's crowded barque. Madman, why deny what all know? The foul stains of wickedness are branded upon thy heart, thy crimes have made their impress on thy spirit and thy sins cannot be hid. Right glad I am to sentence thee to every kind of punishment. O'er thee shall hang the threatening rock the moment of whose fall thou knowest not. The circling wheel shall rack thee. Thy lips the stream's waves shall flee, thirst shall parch thee to whose chin its elusive waters mount. The vulture shall leave his former prey and feast for ever on thy heart. And yet all these, Rufinus, whom the like punishments torment, how paltry their wickedness compared with thine! Did bold Salmoneus' thunderbolt or Tantalus' tongue ever do like wrong or Tityos so offend with his mad love? Join all their crimes together yet wilt thou surpass them. What sufficient atonement can be found for such wickedness? What to match thy sum of crimes whose single misdeeds outmatch all punishment? Shades, remove from this our ghostly company that presence that disgraces it. To have seen once is enough. Have mercy now on our eyes, and cleanse the realm of Dis. Drive p97him with whips beyond the Styx, beyond Erebus; thrust him down into the empty pit beneath the lightless prison of the Titans, below the depths of Tartarus and Chaos' own realm, where lie the foundations of thickest midnight; deep hidden there let him live while ever the vault of heaven carries round the stars and the winds beat upon the land."


The Translator's Notes:

1 A reference to Stilicho's campaign against Alaric in the Peloponnese in 397 (see Introduction, p. x).

2 Theodosius died in January 395, not long after his defeat of Eugenius at the Frigidus River (near Aquileia), September 5‑6, 394 (see Introduction, p. ix).

3 Constantinople.

4 By the mare rubrum the ancients meant the Indian Ocean. The Hydaspes is the modern Jhylum.

5 Probably Heraclea, at the west end of the Propontis.

6 Claudian refers to the devices emblazoned upon the banners.


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