Abbildungen der Seite


I wis,1 in all the Senate,

There was no heart so bold,
But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
When that ill news was told.
Forthwith up rose the Consul,2
Up rose the Fathers all;

In haste they girded up their gowns,3
And hied them to the wall.


They held a council standing
Before the River-Gate;

Short time was there, ye well may guess,

For musing or debate.

Out spake the Consul roundly:

"The bridge must straight go down;

For, since Janiculum is lost,

Nought else can save the town."


Just then a scout came flying,

All wild with haste and fear:

"To arms! to arms! Sir Consul:

Lars Porsena is here."


connected with the city by the only bridge then existing on the river,a wooden structure built on piles (the Pons Sublicius). If the enemy succeeded in getting possession of the bridge, they would probably soon effect an entrance into Rome. 1 I wis: an adverb, meaning certainly.

2 Consul: one of the two chief magistrates or governors of Rome who took the place of the expelled kings.

3 Gowns: the toga or gown, a loose, shawl-like garment, was the national dress of the Romans.

4 Hied: hastened.

5 Sir Consul: Sir, a title of respect.

On the low hills to westward
The Consul fixed his eye,
And saw the swarthy storm of dust
Rise fast along the sky.


And nearer fast and nearer

Doth the red whirlwind come;
And louder still and still more loud,
From underneath that rolling cloud,
Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
The trampling and the hum.
And plainly and more plainly

Now through the gloom appears,
Far to left and far to right,

In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
The long array of helmets bright,
The long array of spears.


And plainly and more plainly,
Above that glimmering line,
Now might ye see the banners
Of twelve fair cities 1 shine;
But the banner of proud Clusium
Was highest of them all,

The terror of the Umbrian,2

The terror of the Gaul.3

1 Twelve fair cities: the twelve chief cities of Etruria.

2 Umbrian: the people of Umbria east of Etruria.

3 Gaul: a barbarous people that had conquered part of Northern Italy.


And plainly and more plainly

Now might the burghers know,
By port1 and vest,2 by horse and crest,3
Each warlike Lucumo.4

There Cilnius 5 of Arretium

On his fleet roan was seen;
And Astur of the fourfold shield,"
Girt with the brand none else may wield,
Tolumnius with the belt of gold,

And dark Verbenna from the hold
By reedy Thrasymene.10


Fast by the royal standard,
O'erlooking all the war,

Lars Porsena of Clusium
Sat in his ivory car.11

By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
Prince of the Latian name;

And by the left false Sextus,12

That wrought the deed of shame.

1 Port: mien or bearing.

2 Vest: an outer garment or vestment.

3 Crest: a plume or ornament surmounting a helmet.

4 Lu'cumo: the Etruscan name for a ruler or chief. 5 Cil'nius.

6 As'tur: who had stormed Janiculum; see p. 7.

7 Fourfold shield: a shield made of hide of four thicknesses. 8 Brand: a sword.

9 Tolum'nius.

10 Thrasyme'ne: but here pronounced Thras-i-meen'; it is a lake of Etruria; on its shores there was the fortification or stronghold of the chief Verbenna.

11 Ivory car: a war-chariot ornamented with ivory; it was usually drawn by four horses abreast.

12 Sextus: the son of Tarquin the Proud; see note 3, p. 1. He caused


But when the face of Sextus
Was seen among the foes,
A yell that rent the firmament
From all the town arose.
On the house-tops was no woman
But spat towards him and hissed,
No child but screamed out curses,
And shook its little fist.


But the Consul's brow was sad,
And the Consul's speech was low,

And darkly looked he at the wall,
And darkly at the foe.

the death of Lucrece, a noble Roman matron. Macaulay thus refers to Sextus in his "Battle of Lake Regillus":

"Their leader was false Sextus,

That wrought the deed of shame;
With restless pace and haggard face
To his last field he came.

Men said he had strange visions,
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
Sat spinning by his bed.

And as she plied the distaff,

In a sweet voice and low,
She sang of great old houses,

And fights fought long ago.

So spun she, and so sang she,

Until the east was gray,

Then pointed to her bleeding heart,

And shrieked, and fled away."

"Battle of Lake Regillus," XII. (Lays of Ancient Rome)

"Their van 1 will be upon us

Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge,
What hope to save the town?"


Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate: 2
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods,


"And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens 3
Who feed the eternal flame,

To save them from false Sextus

That wrought the deed of shame?

1 Van: the advance guard of an army.

2 The Captain of the Gate: Horatius had charge of the city gate at the entrance of the bridge leading to Janiculum.

3 The holy maidens: six maiden priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home. On her altar, representing not only the domestic hearth, but also the city of Rome as the common home, a perpetual fire - the emblem of love and of patriotism - was kept burning. It was the duty of these "maidens" to feed and watch this sacred fire.

« ZurückWeiter »