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This webpage reproduces Book III of
On the Consulship of Stilicho


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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,
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Claudian, On Stilicho's Consulship (A.D. 400)



[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The elder Scipio, who single-handed turned the Punic wars back from Italy's coasts to their own home, fought not his battles unmindful of the Muse's art; poets were ever the hero's special care. For valour is always fain to seek alliance with the Muses that they may bear witness to her deeds; he loves song whose exploits deserve the meed of song. Therefore, whether to avenge his sire's​1 death the young warrior brought into subjection the Spanish seas or embarked upon the Libyan wave his dreadful standards, resolved to break with sure spear the strength of Carthage, the poet Ennius was ever at his side and in all his campaigns followed the trumpet's call into the midst of the fray. Him after the battle the soldiers loved to hear sing, and the trooper, still dripping with blood, would applaud his verses. When Scipio had triumphed over either Carthage — over the one to avenge his sire, over the other his fatherland — and when at last, after the  p41 disasters of a long war, he drove weeping Libya a captive before his chariot wheel, Victory brought back the Muses in her train and Mars' laurel crowned the poet's brow.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Thee, Stilicho, our new Scipio, conqueror of a second Hannibal more terrible than the first, — thee after five long years Rome has given back to me and bidden me celebrate the completion of her vows.  p43 


[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Behold, O Rome, the hero whose presence the cries of thy people and the voice of thy nobles has long demanded. Cease now to count the stages of his long journey and to rise as though to greet him at the sight of every storm of dust; no further shall uncertainty torment thee. Full before thine eye is he who was long before thy mind, greater than thy hopes, more glorious than his fame. Honour thou the consul who has restored its dignity to the consul­ship; grasp the hand which has made the Carthaginians pass once more under the Roman yoke. Welcome the noble heart that directs the reins of empire and secures by its providence the equipoise of the world. Look with joy upon the sacred face thou worshippest cast in bronze and adorest in gold. Behold the warrior success­ful in every field, the defender of Africa, the conqueror of Rhine and Danube.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Should he wish in accordance with ancient custom to display the picture of his labours and show to the people the tribes he has subdued, crowns of laurel from north and south would contend in equally matched rivalry. Here is a triumph rich with the spoils of the Germans, there with those of the South; here would pass the Sygambri with their yellow  p45 locks, there the black-haired Moors. He himself would be drawn in a laurel-decked chariot by white horses, and followed by his soldiers chanting their festive songs. Some would lead captive kings, others carry conquered towns wrought in bronze or mountains or rivers. Here would opening in sad procession the river-gods of Libya, their horns broken, there Germany and the Rhine god in chains. Yet is not thy consul, O Rome, an unbridled boaster of his own prowess. 'Tis not the rewards of toil but the toil itself that he loves. He scorns empty applause and celebrates a happier triumph in the hearts of his fellow-citizens.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Of a surety the citadel of Rome has never welcomed home any of her generals with greater magnificence, no, not even Fabricius when he returned after the surrender of Pyrrhus, nor Aemilius Paulus, conqueror of Pella's king, when he ascended the Capitol in his chariot. No such triumph as this threw open the gates of Rome to Marius after his conquest of Numidia or to Pompey after his victories in the East. Each of these suffered from a rival faction that murmured uneasily against their success, and envy pursued their actions, no matter how noble, with spiteful stings. Stilicho alone was raised above the range of envy and the measure of mankind. For who could be jealous of the stars' eternity, of Jove's ancient rule in heaven, of Phoebus' omniscience?​2 There are some merits so transcendent that furious envy's bounds cannot contain them. Moreover, those other heroes owed a divided allegiance: one gained the favour of the nobles, but was hated of the people, one, supported by the suffrage of the commons, enjoyed but faintly the favour of the  p47 senate. In Stilicho's case alone class rivalry has not raised its head: the knights welcome him with joy, the senate with enthusiasm, while the people's prayers rival the goodwill of the nobles.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Blessed mortal, whom the Rome that thou hast saved calls her father; darling of the world to whose banner flocks the whole of Gaul, whom Spain connects by marriage with the imperial house, for whose advent the citizens cried with ceaseless prayer, and whose presence the senate owed to thine illustrious son-in‑law. Not such a girl's delight in flowers, not such the desire of the crops for rain, or of weary sailors for a prosperous breeze as is the longing of thy people for the sight of thee. Under no such influence as this do the prophetic laurels wave on Delos' coast when the brightness of Apollo's bow announces the deity's approach. Never did Pactolus' golden wave so swell in pride when Bacchus from conquered Ind visited his banks. Markest thou not how the roads cannot be seen for the people, the roofs for the matrons? Thanks to thy victories, Stilicho, salvation has dawned on all beyond their hopes. Look round on Rome's seven hills whose sheen of gold rivals the very sun's rays; see the arches decked with spoil, the temples towering to the sky, and all the buildings that celebrate this signal triumph. Let thine astonished glance measure the magnitude of the city thou hast saved and the immensity of thy services. All this would live but in the memory were the African still master of the south.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It was the custom in campaigns of olden time to crown with oak the brow of him who by his valour had put the enemy to flight and succeeded in rescuing a fellow-citizen from imminent death.  p49 But to thee what civic crown can we give for the salvation of so many cities? Or what honours can recompense thy deeds? Nor is it only for her people's life that Rome owns herself a debtor to thine arms, but that so she might have sweeter enjoyment of this glorious dawn she has won back her ancient burden of renown, her lost strength and her conquered kingdoms. No longer do her ambassadors kneel suppliant before the proud East and beg that Libya may be given back to her; gone the shameful spectacle of our city a suitor to her own slaves. No, relying now on her native Latin vigour, Rome under thy leader­ship fights her own battles with Roman spirit. She herself bids the standards advance; the toga-clad consul directs the future conqueror, and the eagles wait upon the orders of the senate. Of her own free choice hath Rome bestowed on thee the consul's robe, offered thee, her avenger, the curule chair and compelled thee to adorn her annals.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Nothing of her ancient dignity has she lost, no regret has she for the age of republican freedom, since it is she who bestows the consular honour, she who gives the order for battle. Nay, she sees the growth of her power. Whose memory can recall a time when the fields of Gaul and the hoes of the Senones were at our service? Has it ever happened before that Tiber's wave has carried grain from the fertile north over the ploughing of whose fields the Lingones have toiled? Such a harvest not only fulfilled Rome's needs but also demonstrated the greatness of her power; it reminded the peoples who was their mistress and brought in triumph from those chill climes a tribute never before paid.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] This, too, augments the majesty of Rome that the  p51 chiefs of Libya tremble before the judgement-throne of our people, and that, his office ended, each governor must account under pain of death for all the cornº the Carthaginian farmer has brought in, all that the rainy south-wind has dispatched to Rome. Those who of late uttered their proud judgements to broad domains here are cowed and tremble; those whom Africa held in dread Rome's forum sees accused.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Stilicho gives hope for the virtues of a bygone age and rouses a people, forget­ful of their former glory, to resume their accustomed sovereignty, to make themselves feared, to tread power­ful magistrates beneath their heel, to mete out to crime its due reward, to show mercy toward the erring, favour to the innocent, punishment to the guilty, and to exercise once more their native virtue of clemency.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He errs who thinks that submission to a noble prince is slavery; never does liberty show more fair than beneath a good king. Those he himself appoints to rule he in turn brings before the judgement-seat of people and senate, and gladly yields whether they claim reward for merit or seek for punishment. Now the purple lays aside its pride and disdains not to have judgement passed upon itself. Such were the principles of rule taught by Stilicho to his son-in‑law, Honorius; 'twas thus he guided his youth with the reins of prudence, and with precepts such as these directed his tender years, a truer father to the emperor than Theodosius, his stay in war, his adviser in peace. Thanks to him dishonour is banished and our age blossoms with Rome's ancient virtues; thanks to him power, long degraded and all but transferred,​3 no longer, forget­ful  p53 of itself, is exiled in lands of servitude but, returned to its rightful home, restores to Italy its victorious destiny, enjoys the promised auspices of its foundation and gives back its scattered limbs to the head of the empire.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Consul, all but peer of the gods, protector of a city greater than any that upon earth the air encompasseth, whose amplitude no eye can measure, whose beauty no imagination can picture, whose praise no voice can sound, who raises a golden head amid the neighbouring stars and with her seven hills imitates the seven regions of heaven, mother of arms and law, who extends her sway o'er all the earth and was the earliest cradle of justice, this is the city which, sprung from humble beginnings, has stretched to either pole, and from one small place extended its power so as to be co-terminous with the sun's light. Open to the blows of fate while at one and the same time she fought a thousand battles, conquered Spain, laid siege to the cities of Sicily, subdued Gaul by land and Carthage by sea, never did she yield to her losses nor show fear at any blow, but rose to greater heights of courage after the disasters of Cannae and Trebia, and, while the enemy's fire threatened her, and her foe​4 smote upon her walls, sent an army against the furthest Iberians. Nor did Ocean bar her way; launching upon the deep, she sought in another world for Britons to be vanquished. 'Tis she alone who has received the conquered into her bosom and like a mother, not an empress, protected the human race with a common name, summoning those whom she has defeated to share her citizen­ship and drawing together distant races with bonds of  p55 affection. To her rule of peace we owe it that the world is our home, that we can live where we please, and that to visit Thule and explore its once dread wilds is but a sport; thanks to her all and sundry may drink the waters of the Rhone and quaff Orontes' stream, thanks to her we are all one people. Nor will there ever be a limit to the empire of Rome, for luxury and its attendant vices, and pride with sequent hate have brought ruin all kingdoms else. 'Twas thus that Sparta laid low the foolish pride of Athens but to fall herself a victim to Thebes; thus that the Mede deprived the Assyrian of either and the Persian the Mede. Macedonia subdued Persia and was herself to yield to Rome. But Rome found her strength in the oracles of the Sibyl, her vigour in the hallowed laws of Numa. For her Jove brandishes his thunderbolts; 'tis she to whom Minerva offers the full protection of her shield; to her Vesta brought her sacred flame, Bacchus his rites, and the turret-crowned mother of the gods her Phrygian lions. Hither to keep disease at bay came, gliding with steady motion, the snake whose home was Epidaurus, and Tiber's isle gave shelter to the Paeonian​5 serpent from beyond the sea.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] This is the city whom thou, Stilicho, and heaven guard, her thou protectest, mother of kings and generals, mother, above all, of thee. Here Eucherius first beheld the light, here the queen his mother showed the babe to his imperial grandsire who rejoiced to lift a grandson upon his knee and to let him crawl upon his purple robes.​a Rome had foreknowledge of his destined glory and was glad, for so dear a pledge would keep thee ever her faithful citizen.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But think not this people ungrateful nor such as  p57 knows not how to repay benefits. Turn but the pages of history and thou wilt find how often it has faced war for an ally's sake, how often bestowed as a gift on friendly monarchs lands won at the expense of Italian blood. Yet never were public thanks poured forth with such consent. For what prince has not sought with every blandishment to be called lord and father — titles which the amphitheatres echo back to thee day after day? Hail, consul, to thy new titles! Mars' people calls thee lord and Brutus gainsays them not; what till now no terror could compel Rome's free citizens to endure, they freely offered to their love for Stilicho. Wheresoever thy shining form is seen they haste to greet thee and raise to heaven thy name; nor is their wandering gaze ever sated with looking upon thee whom they love when thou enterest the Circus in thy shining robes of gold or art present at the games or, seated on thine ivory throne, dispensest justice in the forum or, with thine attendant lictors, mountest the rostrum thronged with the dense and surging crowd.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But what were the acclamations of the great, how unfeigned their rejoicings when Victory, soaring aloft with outspread wings, herself threw open her holy temple to the hero? Maiden that rejoicest in the green bay and lovest the tokens of triumphant fight, guardian of our empire, sole healer of our wounds, that makest our toils as though they were not, whether it pleaseth thee to dwell amid the stars of Ariadne's crown or nearer to the fervid Lion, whether thou art seated on the lofty sceptre of Jove or Pallas' shield or calmest the sighs of weary Mars, be ever present to Latium and grant, goddess, the prayers of thy senate. May Stilicho often crown thy portals  p59 and bear thee back with him to his armies. Accompany and bless him in war and give him back in robes of peace to our council-chambers. Always has he brought thee home in a spirit of mercy and kept thee kindly to the vanquished nor ever stained thy laurels with cruelty. He neither looks with disdain on his fellow-citizens nor harries the anxious city with his legionaries; but true consul now that the war is ended he comes accompanied only by his lictors nor seeks the useless protection of the sword, guarded only by a people's love.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Handling his great wealth in no niggard spirit he does not hesitate to double his lavish expenses and after giving wondrous games in honour of his soldiery and of Honorius reserves yet greater for Rome. They say that Jove at Minerva's birth showed gold upon lucky Rhodes; that while Bacchus forced an egress from his father's thigh Hermus grew pale and turned to that same metal; that Midas, fated to suffer hunger as a punishment for his greed, converted to shining gold everything that he touched. Be these stories true or false thy liberality exceeds the waters of Hermus, the touch of Midas, the Thunderer's shower. Thy hands, as prodigal of gifts as of daring deeds, o'ershadow the past and will o'ershadow the future. Should fire have melted the countless mass of silver thou bestowest as though it were the cheapest of metals, lakes and rivers of silver might have been formed.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Thou too, Latonia, queen alike of the woods and of the stars, art moved by no small care for Stilicho; thou toilest to distinguish our spectacles with the forest's noblest denizens, and on the dizzy summits of Alpine rocks layest aside thy bow and summonest  p61 thy virgin companions and the chaste band of thy quiver-bearing followers. Thither they come, their shoulders and arms bare, spears in their hands and arrows slung across their backs, beautiful though unadorned; red their cheeks, dusty and suffused with sweat; their fierce virginity betrays not their sex; disordered their hair; girdles twain prevent their dresses from flowing down below their knees. Golden-haired Leontodame precedes her comrades, Nebrophone, foster child of Mount Lycaeus, follows her, and Thero whose arrows hold Maenalus in subjection. Fiery Britomartis hastens from Cretan Ida and Lycaste, peer of the western winds in flight. There join them the twin sisters Hecaërge, terror of beasts, and Opis, deity beloved of hunters, Scythian maids; their preference for Delos​6 over the frosts of the north made them goddesses and queens of the woods. These were the seven chiefs who came; there followed them a second band of Nymphs, Diana's lovely company, a hundred from Taygetus, a hundred from Cynthus' summit, a hundred more whose first home was beside the chaste waters of Ladon. When she saw these gathered together Delia thus began:

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] "Friends who hate the rites of wedlock even as I hate them, who scour the snowy mountains in virgin companies, mark you how the gods with unanimous favour glorify this year for Latium? How many herds of horses Neptune provides from every quarter of the world? How that none of my brother Apollo's lyres can refrain from sounding the praises of Stilicho? From us too let Stilicho receive the favour we justly owe him; the task needs no javelin; let our arrows remain bloodless in our unopened quivers. Let every blow refrain from its  p63 wonted hunting and the blood of our prey be spilled but in the arena. Not for now their death; close the glades with net and cages and lead the beasts captive; withhold your impatient arrows; spare the monsters of the forest whose death shall win applause for our consul. Divide and haste in every direction; my breathless course is towards the Syrtes; do you, Cretan Lycaste and Opis, bear me company. My purpose is to traverse the unfruitful desert; Mauretania has given ere now her animals to other consuls as a gift, to this consul alone she owes them as a conquered land owes tribute. While we track out the dread progeny of Libya do you hunt the glades and rocks of Europe. Let joy banish fear from the shepherd's breast and his pipe hymn Stilicho in the dreadless forests. As his laws have given peace to the cities so let his shows give peace to the mountains."

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] She spake and straightway is borne from the leafy Alps across the sea. Hinds bow their necks to her chariot's yoke, hinds whom the dewy moon conceived in her fertile caverns beneath the threshold of the morning sky to be the glory of the goddess. White their skins as driven snow; gold marks their foreheads whence spring branching golden horns lofty as the tallest beech-trees. Opis holds the reins. Lycaste carries the fine-wrought nets and golden snares, and deathless Molossian hounds run barking about the chariot amid the clouds. Five others thus equipped (such were Diana's orders) hasten this way and that, each at the head of her own company; there follow them dogs of various shape, breed and character; some whose heavy jowls fit them for big game, some swift of foot,  p65 some keen of scent; shaggy Cretans bay, splendid Spartans, and Britons that can break the backs of mighty bulls. Britomartis scours the woods of Dalmatia and the precipitous ridges of Pindus, her hair flying in the wind. Thou, Leontodame, surroundest the glades of Gaul and huntest the marshes of Germany, tracking out any huge boar, his tusks flexed with age, that may have taken shelter among the sedges that flank the Rhine. Swift Hecaërge tires the cloud-capped Alps, the valleys of the Apennines, and the snows of Garganus. Thero with her dogs explores the caves of Spain and from their recesses ousts the horrid bears of whose bloody jaws full oft Tagus' flood has failed to quench the thirst, and whose bodies, numbed with cold, the holm-oak of the Pyrenees o'ershadows with its leaves. The manlike maiden Nebrophone hunts the mountains of Corsica and Sicily and captures deer and other harmless beasts, beasts that are the joy of the rich amphitheatre and the glory of the woods.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Whatsoever inspires fear with its teeth, wonder with its mane, awe with its horns and bristling coat — all the beauty, all the terror of the forest is taken. Guile protects them not; neither strength nor weight avails them; their speed saves not the fleet of foot. Some roar enmeshed in snares; some are thrust into wooden cages and carried off. There are not carpenters enough to fashion the wood; leafy prisons are constructed of unhewn beech and ash. Boats laden with some of the animals traverse seas and rivers; bloodless from terror the rower's hand is stayed, for the sailor fears the merchandise he carries. Others are transported over land in wagons that block the roads with the long procession,  p67 bearing the spoils of the mountains. The wild beast is borne a captive by those troubled cattle on whom in times past he sated his hunger, and each time that the oxen turned and looked at their burden they pull away in terror from the pole.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] By now Phoebus' sister had wandered o'er the torrid plains of Libya and chosen out superb lions who had often put the Hesperides to flight, filled Atlas with alarm at their wind-tossed manes, and plundered far and wide the flocks of Ethiopia, lions whose terrible cries had never struck upon the herdsmen's ears but as heralding their destruction. To catch them had been used no blazing torches, no twigs strewn over turf undermined; the voice of a tethered kid had not allured their hunger nor had a diggèd pit ensnared them: of their own free will they gave themselves up to capture and rejoiced at being seen the prey of so great a goddess. At length the countryside breathes again and the Moorish farmers unbar their now safe huts. Then Latonia collected grey-spotted7 leopards and other marvels of the south and huge ivory tusks which, carved with iron into plaques and inlaid with gold to form the glistening inscription of the consul's name, should pass in procession among lords and commons. All India stood in speechless amaze to see many an elephant go shorn of the glory of his tusks. Seated upon their black necks despite their cries the goddess shook the fixèd ivory and tearing it up from its bloody roots disarmed the monstrous mouths. Nay, she fain would have brought the elephants themselves as a spectacle but feared that their vast weight would retard the ships.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Fiercely o'er the Tyrrhene wave echoes the fleet  p69 that holds the Libyan breed, and, as he coils his tail upon the stern, a lion stretches to the prow; that single beast the labouring bark can scarce uplift; deep down below the waters is heard the roaring. Out rushes the leviathan. Neptune compares these land prodigies to his and admits that his are not their equal. So whene'er victorious Bacchus ploughs the Red Sea's waves, Silenus sways the helm, the urgent Satyrs sweat upon their oars and the oxhide drums, smitten by the Bacchants, summon the rowers of Bromius to toil at the thwarts; ivy-wreaths deck the benches, the pliant vine entwines the mast; a drunken snake glides out upon the yardarms; lynxes run and leap along the sheets that drip with wine, and unaccustomed tigers stare in amaze at the canvas.

The Translator's Notes:

1 P. Cornelius Scipio (cos. 218 B.C.) was defeated and killed by Hasdrubal in Spain in 211 B.C. The famous P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus was the younger of his two sons.

2 Phoebus is said to "know everything" because, as the sun, he is the all-beholding (πανόπτης).

3 i.e. (apparently) to Constantinople. Throughout this confused passage Claudian seems to be labouring the point that now the capital of the West (Rome) is restored to an equal importance with that of the East (Constantinople).

4 Hannibal.

5 i.e. Aesculapius. "Paeonian" from the Greek Παιών, the Healer.

6 i.e. they became goddesses through association with Diana whose chosen island was Delos.

7 Literally "green." Latin (and Greek) colour epithets are often strangely at variance with ours.

Thayer's Note: True to an extent, but in this case, I don't believe it for a minute. I'll grant that the edge between black and bright yellow can appear as bright green, since I myself vividly remember such an emerald-green border around the blazing night launch of Apollo XVII — but no, I don't believe this note: there must surely be a manuscript corruption here; although what word really belongs in place of virides, I have no idea.

Thayer's Note:

a to lift a grandson upon his knee and to let him crawl upon his purple robes: Theodosius' grandson, therefore nephew to Honorius, but roughly the same age as he. When Honorius was 23, he had him murdered.

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