Leonidas: a poem.
Glover, Richard, 1712-1785.

BOOK I.

The argument.

Xerxes king of Persia having drawn together the whole force of his empire, and pass'd over the Hellespont into Thrace with a design to conquer Greece; the deputies from the several states of that country, who had some time before assembled themselves at the Isthmus of Corinth to deliberate on proper measures for resisting the invader, were no sooner appris'd of his march into Thrace, than they determin'd without further delay to dispute his passage at the straits of Thermopylae, the most accessible part of Greece on the side of Thrace and Thessaly. Alpheus, one of the deputies from Sparta, repairs to that city, and communicates this resolution to his countrymen; who chanced that day to be assembled in expectation of receiving an answer from Apollo, to whom they had sent a messenger to consult about the event of the war. Leotychides, one of their two kings, counsels the people to advance no further, than the Isthmus of Corinth, which separates the Peloponnesus, where Lacedaemon was situated, from the rest of Greece; but Leonidas, the other king, dissuades them from it. Agis, the messenger, who had Page  2 been deputed to Delphi, and brother to the queen of Leonidas, returns with the oracle; which denounces ruin to the Lacedaemonians, unless one of their kings lays down his life for the publick. Leonidas offers himself for the victim. Three hundred Spartans are chosen to accompany him to Thermopylae, and Alpheus returns to the Isthmus. Leonidas, after an interview with his queen, departs from Lacedaemon. At the end of six days, he encamps near the Isthmus, when he is join'd by Alpheus; who describes the auxiliaries, that wait at the Isthmus, those, who are already possess'd of Thermopylae, as also the pass itself; and concludes with a relation of the captivity of his brother Polydorus in Persia.

REHEARSE, O Muse, the deeds and glorious death
Of that fam'd Spartan, who withstood the pow'r
Of Xerxes near Thermopylae, and fell
To save his country. When from Asia's coast
With half the nations of the peopled globe
     5
The Persian king the Hellespont had pass'd,
And now in Thrace his boundless camp was spread;
Soon to the Isthmus, where th'assembled chiefs
Of Greece in anxious council long had sat,
How best their menac'd liberties to guard,
     10
Page  3 The dreadful tidings reach'd. The near approach
Of Asia's lord determines their resolves.
These they convey to all the Grecian states.
Back to Eurotas' shores, where Sparta rose,
Laconian Alpheus speeds: in council there
     15
He finds the Spartan people with their kings;
Their kings, who boast an origin divine,
From Hercules descended. They the sons
Of Lacedaemon had conven'd to learn
The sacred mandates of th' immortal Gods,
     20
That morn expected from the Delphian dome;
But in their presence Alpheus first appear'd,
And thus address'd them. For immediate war
Prepare, O Spartans. Xerxes' num'rous pow'rs
Already fill the trembling bounds of Thrace.
     25
The Isthmian council hath decreed to guard
The strait and rocky entrance into Greece,
Page  4 Thermopylae; where ev'n a slender force
May stem the torrent of unnumber'd foes.
HE said, when Leotychides, who shar'd
     30
The rule with great Leonidas, bespake
The Spartans thus. My countrymen give ear.
Why from her bosom should Laconia send
Her valiant sons to wage a distant war
For others' safety; why exhaust her strength
     35
And thin her numbers in defence of those,
Who far remote from Lacedaemon dwell
Beyond the Isthmus? there the Gods have plac'd
Our native ramparts, there our empire's bound;
And there alone our country claims our swords.
     40
HE ceas'd. The people with assenting shouts
Replied, when thus Leonidas began.
Page  5
O MOST ungen'rous counsel! most unjust,
And base desertion of the Grecian weal!
What! shall th'Athenians, whose assiduous fleets
     45
Undaunted watch th' innumerable foes,
Where'er they menace our affrighted shores,
And trust th' impending dangers of the field
To Sparta's well-known valour; shall they hear,
That we, disowning thus the gen'ral cause,
     50
Maintain the Isthmus only, and expose
The rest of Greece, ev'n Athens, while she guards
Our naked coasts, to all the waste of war,
Her walls to ruin, and her fields to flames,
Her sons, her matrons, and her hoary sires
     55
To violation, servitude, and shame?
O should they hear such counsels guide our state,
Would they not court the first propitious gale
Page  6 To waft them far from such perfidious friends,
And raise new seats in other climes remote,
     60
Safe from insulting foes, and false allies?
Then should we soon behold the proud array
Of Xerxes' navy with their hostile beaks
Affront our shores, and deluge all our fields
With inexhausted numbers. Half the Greeks,
     65
By us betray'd to bondage, would support
The Persian king, and lift th' avenging spear
For our destruction. But my friends reject
Such mean and dang'rous counsels, which will blast
Your long establish'd glories, and assist
     70
The proud invader. O eternal king
Of Gods and mortals elevate our minds!
Each low and partial passion thence dispel!
Till this great truth in ev'ry heart be known,
That none, but those, who aid the publick cause,
     75
Page  7 Can shield their countries, or themselves from chains.
HE said, by shame suppress'd each clam'rous voice
Was lost in silence; till a gen'ral shout
Proclaim'd th' approach of Agis from the fane,
Where, taught by Phoebus on the Delphic hill,
     80
The Pythian maid his oracles reveal'd.
He came; but discontent and grief o'ercast
His anxious brow. Reluctant he advanc'd,
And now prepar'd to speak. Th' impatient throng
Was gather'd round him; motionless they stood
     85
With expectation; not a whisper told
The silent fear, but all on Agis gaze;
And still as death attend the solemn tale.
As o'er the western waves, when ev'ry storm
Is hush'd within its cavern, and a breeze
     90
Soft-breathing lightly with its wings along
Page  8 The slacken'd cordage glides, the sailor's ear
Perceives no sound throughout the vast expanse;
None, but the murmurs of the sliding prowe,
Which slowly parts the smooth and yielding main:
     95
So through the wide and listning croud no sound,
No voice, but thine, O Agis, broke the air,
Declaring thus the oracle divine.
I WENT to Delphi; I enquir'd what fate
Was doom'd to Sparta from th'impending war;
     100
When thus th' all-seeing deity replied.
"Inhabitants of Sparta, Persia's arms
"Shall lay your proud and ancient seat in dust;
"Unless a king from Hercules deriv'd
"Cause Lacedaemon for his death to mourn."
     105
AS, when the hand of Perseus had disclos'd
The snakes of dirc Medusa; all, who view'd
Page  9 The Gorgon features, were congeal'd to stone,
With ghastly eye-balls on the hero bent,
And horrour living in their marble form:
     110
Thus with amazement rooted, where they stood,
And froze with speechless terrour, on their kings
The Spartans gaz'd: but soon their anxious looks
All on the great Leonidas unite,
Long known his country's refuge. He alone
     115
Remains unshaken. Rising, he displays
His godlike presence. Dignity and grace
Adorn his frame, and manly beauty join'd
With strength Herculean. On his aspect shines
Sublimest virtue, and desire of fame,
     120
Where justice gives the laurel; in his eye
The inextinguishable spark, which fires
The souls of patriots: while his brow supports
Page  10 Undaunted valour, and contempt of death.
Serene he rose, and thus address'd the throng.
     125
WHY this astonishment on ev'ry face,
Ye men of Sparta? Does the name of death
Create this fear and wonder? O my friends!
Why do we labour through the arduous paths,
Which lead to virtue? Fruitless were the toil,
     130
Above the reach of human feet were plac'd
The distant summit, if the fear of death
Could intercept our passage. But in vain
His blackest frowns and terrours he assumes
To shake the firmness of the mind, which knows,
     135
That wanting virtue life is pain and woe,
That wanting liberty ev'n virtue mourns,
And looks around for happiness in vain.
Then speak, O Sparta, and demand my life;
Page  11 My heart exulting answers to thy call,
     140
And smiles on glorious fate. To live with fame
The Gods allow to many; but to die
With equal lustre, is a blessing, Heav'n
Selects from all the choicest boons of fate,
And with a sparing hand on few bestows.
     145
HE said. New wonder fix'd the gazing throng.
In silence Joy and Admiration sat,
Suspending praise. At length with high acclaim
The arch of heav'n resounded, when amid
Th' assembly stood Dieneces, and spake.
     150
SO from Thermopylae may Sparta's shouts
Affright the ear of Asia! Haste, my friends,
To guard the gates of Greece, which open stand
To Tyranny and Rapine. They with dread
Page  12 Will shrink before your standards, and again
     155
In servile Persia seek their native seats.
Your wives, your sons, your parents, general Greece
Forbid delay; and equal to the cause
A chief behold: can Spartans ask for more?
HE ceas'd; when Alpheus thus. It well becomes
     160
The Spartans held the chiefs of Greece, and fam'd
For dauntless courage, and unyielding hearts,
Which neither want, nor pain, nor death, can bend,
To lead the rest to battle. Then with speed
From all your number form a chosen band,
     165
While I returning, will my seat resume
Among the Isthmian council, and declare
Your instant march. Our brave allies, I deem,
Now on the Isthmus wait the Spartan king;
All but the Locrian and Boeotian force,
     170
Page  13 With Phocis' youth, appointed to secure
Thermopylae. This said, not long he paus'd,
But with unwearied steps his course renews.
NOW from th' assembly with majestic steps
Forth moves their godlike king, with conscious worth
     175
His gen'rous bosom glowing; like his sire,
Th' invincible Alcides, when he trod
With ardent speed to face in horrid war
The triple form of Geryon, or against
The bulk of huge Antaeus match his strength.
     180
SAY, Muse, who next present their dauntless breasts
To meet all danger in their country's cause?
Dieneces advances sage, and brave,
And skill'd along the martial field to range
The order'd ranks of battle; Maron next,
     185
Page  14 To Alpheus dear, his brother, and his friend.
Then rose Megistias with his blooming heir,
Joy of his age, and Menalippus call'd;
Megistias, wise and venerable seer,
Whose penetrating mind, as fame records,
     190
Could from the entrails of the victim slain
Before the altar, and the mystic flight
Of birds foresee the dark events of time.
Though sprung a stranger on the distant shore
Of Acarnania, for his worth receiv'd,
     195
And hospitably cherish'd; he the wreath
Pontific bore amid the Spartan camp;
Serene in danger, nor his sacred arm
From warlike toils secluding, nor unskill'd
To wield the sword, or poize the weighty spear.
     200
Him Agis follow'd, brother to the queen
Of great Leonidas; his friend, in war
Page  15 His tried companion. Graceful were his steps,
And gentle his demeanour. Still his soul
Preserv'd its rigid virtue, though refin'd
     205
With arts unknown to Lacedaemon's race.
High was his office. He, when Sparta's weal
Their aid and counsel from the Gods requir'd,
Was sent the sacred messenger to learn
Their mystic will in oracles declar'd
     210
From rocky Delphi, and Dodona's shade,
Or sea-incircled Delos, or the cell
Of dark Trophonius round Boeotia known.
Three hundred more compleat th' intrepid band.
BUT to his home Leonidas retir'd.
     215
There calm in secret thought he thus explor'd
His mighty soul, while nature to his breast
A short-liv'd terrour call'd. What sudden grief,
Page  16 What cold reluctance thus unmans my heart,
And whispers, that I fear?—Can death dismay
     220
Leonidas, so often seen and scorn'd,
When clad most dreadful in the battle's front?—
Or to relinquish life in all its pride,
With all my honours blooming round my head,
Repines my soul? or rather to forsake,
     225
Eternally forsake my weeping wife,
My infant offspring, and my faithful friends?—
Leonidas awake! Shall these withstand
The public safety? Lo! thy country calls.
O sacred voice, I hear thee! At that sound
     230
Returning virtue brightens in my heart;
Fear vanishes before her; Death receive
My unreluctant hand, and lead me on.
Thou too, O Fame, attendant on my fall,
Page  17 With wings unwearied shalt protect my tomb,
     235
Nor Time himself shall violate my praise.
THE hero thus confirm'd his virtuous soul,
When Agis enter'd. If till now my tongue
(He thus began) O brother, has delay'd
To pay its grateful off'ring of the praise,
     240
Thy merit claims, and only fill'd the cries
Of general applause, forgive thy friend;
Since her distresses, hers, whom most you love,
Detain'd me from thee. O unequall'd man!
Though Lacedaemon call thy first regard,
     245
Forget not her, who now for thee laments
In sorrows, which fraternal love in vain
Hath strove to sooth. Leonidas embrac'd
His gen'rous friend, and thus replied. Most dear
And best of men! conceive not, but my heart
     250
Page  18 Must still remember her, from whom my life
Its largest share of happiness derives.
Can I, who yield my breath, lest others mourn,
Lest thousands should be wretched; when she pines,
More lov'd than any, though less dear than all,
     255
Can I neglect her griefs! In future days
If thou with grateful memory record
My name and fate, O Sparta, pass not this
Unheeded by. The life, I gave for thee,
Knew not a painful hour to tire my soul,
     260
Nor were they common joys, I left behind.
SO spake the patriot, and his heart o'erflow'd
With fondest passion; then in eager haste
The faithful partner of his bed he sought.
Amid her weeping children sat the queen,
     265
Immoveable and mute; her swimming eyes
Page  19 Fix'd on the earth. Her arms were folded o'er
Her lab'ring bosom blotted with her tears.
As, when a dusky mist involves the sky,
The moon through all the dreary vapours spreads
     270
The radiant vesture of its silver light
O'er the dull face of nature; so her charms
Divinely graceful shone upon her grief,
Bright'ning the cloud of woe. The chief approach'd.
Soon as in gentlest phrase his well-known voice
     275
Her drooping mind awaken'd, for a time
Its cares were hush'd: she lifts her languid head,
And thus gives utt'rance to her tender thoughts.
O THOU, whose presence is my only joy,
If thus, Leonidas, thy looks and voice
     280
Can dissipate at once the sharpest pangs,
How greatly am I wretched; who no more
Page  20 Must hear that voice, which lulls my anguish thus,
Nor see that face, which makes affliction smile!
THIS said, returning grief her breast invades.
     285
Her orphan children, her devoted lord
Pale, bleeding, breathless on the field of death,
Her ever-during solitude of woe,
All rise in mingled horrour to her sight,
When thus in bitt'rest agony she spoke.
     290
O WHITHER art thou going from my arms!
Shall I no more behold thee! Oh! no more
In conquest clad, and wrapt in glorious dust
Wilt thou return to greet thy native soil,
And make thy dwelling joyfull Yet, too brave,
     295
Why wouldst thou hasten to the dreary gates
Of death, uncall'd? Another might have fall'n,
Page  21 Like thee a victim of Alcides' race,
Less dear to all, and Sparta been secure.
Now ev'ry eye with mine is drown'd in tears,
     300
All with these babes lament their father lost.
But oh! how heavy is our lot of pain!
Our sighs must last, when ev'ry other breast
Exults with transport, and the public joy
Will but increase our anguish. Yet unmov'd,
     305
Thou didst not heed our sorrows, didst not seek
A moment's pause, to teach us how to bear
Thy endless absence, or like thee to die.
UNUTTERABLE sorrow here confin'd
Her voice. These words Leonidas return'd.
     310
I SEE, I feel thy anguish, nor my soul
Has ever known the prevalence of love,
E'er prov'd a father's fondness, as this hour;
Page  22 Nor, when most ardent to assert my fame,
Was once my heart insensible to thee.
     315
How had it stain'd the honours of my name
To hesitate a moment, and suspend
My country's fate, till shameful life prefer'd
By my inglorious colleague left no choice,
But what in me were infamy to shun,
     320
Not virtue to accept? Then deem no more,
That of thy love regardless, or thy tears,
I haste uncall'd to death. The voice of Fate,
The Gods, my fame, my country bid me bleed.
—Oh! thou dear mourner! wherefore streams afresh
     325
That flood of woe? Why heaves with sighs renew'd
That tender breast? Leonidas must fall.
Alas! far heavier misery impends
O'er thee and these, if soften'd by thy tears
I shamefully refuse to yield that breath,
     330
Page  23 Which justice, glory, liberty, and heav'n
Claim for my country, for my sons, and thee.
Think on my long unalter'd love. Reflect
On my paternal fondness. Has my heart
E'er known a pause of love, or pious care?
     335
Now shall that care, that tenderness be prov'd
Most warm and faithful. When thy husband dies.
For Lacedaemon's safety, thou wilt share,
Thou and thy children, the diffusive good.
Should I, thus singled from the rest of men,
     340
Alone intrusted by th 'immortal Gods
With pow'r to save a people, should my soul
Desert that sacred cause, thee too I yield
To sorrow, and to shame; for thou must weep
With Lacedaemon, must with her sustain
     345
Thy painful portion of oppression's weight.
Thy sons behold now worthy of their names,
Page  24 And Spartan birth. Their growing bloom must pine
In shame and bondage, and their youthful hearts
Beat at the sound of liberty no more.
     350
On their own virtue, and their father's fame,
When he the Spartan freedom hath confirm'd,
Before the world illustrious shall they rise,
Their country's bulwark, and their mother's joy.
HERE paus'd the patriot. With religious awe
     355
Grief heard the voice of Virtue. No complaint
The solemn silence broke. Tears ceas'd to flow:
Ceas'd for a moment; soon again to stream.
For now in arms before the palace rang'd
His brave companions of the war demand
     360
Their leader's presence; then her griefs renew'd,
Too great for utt'rance, intercept her sighs,
And freeze each accent on her falt'ring tongue.
Page  25 In speechless anguish on the hero's breast
She sinks. On ev'ry side his children press,
     365
Hang on his knees, and kiss his honour'd hand.
His soul no longer struggles to confine
Its strong compunction. Down the hero's cheek,
Down flows the manly sorrow. Great in woe
Amid his children, who inclose him round,
     370
He stands indulging tenderness and love
In graceful tears; when thus with lifted eyes
Address'd to heav'n: Thou ever-living pow'r
Look down propitious, sire of Gods and men!
And to this faithful woman, whose desert
     375
May claim thy favour, grant the hours of peace.
And thou, my great forefather, son of Jove,
O Hercules, neglect not these thy race!
But since that spirit, I from thee derive,
Now bears me from them to resistless fate,
     380
Page  26 Do thou support their virtue! be they taught,
Like thee, with glorious labour life to grace,
And from their father let them learn to die!
SO saying, forth he issues, and assumes
Before the band his station of command.
     385
They now proceed. So mov'd the host of heav'n
Down from Olympus in majestic march,
On Jove attendant to the flaming plains
Of Phlegra, there to face the giant sons
Of Earth and Titan: he before them tow'r'd.
     390
Thus through the streets of Lacedaemon pass'd
Leonidas. Before his footsteps bow
The multitude exulting. On he treads
Rever'd and honour'd. Their inraptur'd sight
Pursues his graceful stature, and their tongues
     395
Extol and hail him as their guardian God.
Page  27 Firm in his nervous hand he grasps his spear.
Down from his shoulders to his ankles hangs
The massy shield, and o'er his burnish'd helm
The purple plumage nods. Harmonious youths,
     400
Around whose brows entwining laurels play'd,
In lofty-sounding strains his praise record;
While snowy-finger'd virgins all the ways
With od'rous garlands strew'd. His bosom now
Was all possess'd with glory, which dispell'd
     405
Whate'er of grief remain'd, or fond regret
For those, he left behind. The rev'rend train
Of Lacedaemon's senate now approach'd
To give their solemn, last farewel, and grace
Their hero's parting steps. Around him flow'd
     410
In civil pomp their venerable robes
Mix'd with the blaze of arms. The radiant troop
Of warriours press'd behind him. Maron here,
Page  28 With Menalippus warm in flow'ry prime,
And Agis there with manly grace advanc'd,
     415
Dieneces, and Acarnania's seer,
Megistias sage. The Spartan dames ascend
The loftiest domes, and thronging o'er the roofs
Gaze on their sons and husbands, as they march.
So parted Argo from th' Iolchian strand,
     420
And plough'd the foaming surge. Thessalia's nymphs
Their hills forsaking, and their hallow'd groves,
Rang'd on the cliffs, which overshade the deep,
Still on the distant vessel fix'd their sight;
Where Greece her chosen heroes had embark'd
     425
To seek the dangers of the Cholchian shore.
SWIFT on his course Leonidas proceeds.
Soon is Eurotas pass'd, and Lerna's banks,
Where his unconquer'd ancestor subdu'd
Page  29 The many-headed Hydra, and with fame
     430
Immortaliz'd the lake. Th'unwearied bands
Next through the pines of Maenalus he led,
And down Parthenius urg'd the rapid toil.
Six days incessant thus the Spartans march,
When now they hear the hoarse-resounding tide
     435
Beat on the Isthmus. Here their tents they spread.
Below the wide horizon then the sun
Had sunk his beamy head. The queen of night
Gleam'd from the center of th'ethereal vault,
And o'er the dusky robe of darkness shed
     440
Her silver light. Leonidas detains
Dieneces and Agis. Open stands
The tall pavilion, and admits the moon.
As here they sat conversing, from the hill,
Which rose before them, one of noble port
     445
Appears with speed descending. Lightly down
Page  30 The slope he treads, and calls aloud. They heard,
And knew the voice of Alpheus. From their seats
They rose, and thus Leonidas began.
O THOU, whom heav'n with swiftness hath endu'd
To match the ardour of thy daring soul,
     451
What calls thee from the Isthmus? Do the Greeks
Neglect to arm, nor face the public foe?
I COME to meet thee (Alpheus thus return'd)
A messenger, who gladsome tidings bears.
     455
Through Greece the voice of liberty is heard,
And all unfold their banners in her cause;
The Thebans only with reluctant hands.
Arcadia's sons with morning shalt thou join,
Who on the Isthmus wait thy great command.
     460
With Diophantus Mantinéa sends
Five hundred spears; nor less from Tegea's walls
Page  31 With Hegesander move. A thousand more,
Who in Orchomenus reside, who range
Along Parrhasius, and Cyllene's brow,
     465
Or near the foot of Erymanthus dwell,
Or on Alphéus' banks, with various chiefs,
Attend thy call; but most is Clonius fam'd
Of stature huge: unshaken as a rock,
His giant bulk the line of war sustains.
     470
Four hundred warriours brave Alcmaeon draws
From stately Corinth's tow'rs. Two hundred march
From Phlius, whom Eupalamus commands.
An equal number of Mycenae's race
Aristobulus heads. Through fear alone
     475
Of thee, and threatning Greece the Thebans arm.
To these inglorious Greeks my self repair'd
Their dying sense of honour to recal.
A few corrupted by the Persian gold,
Page  32 Unjust dominion have usurp'd in Thebes.
     480
These in each bosom quell the gen'rous flame
Of liberty. The eloquent they bribe;
With specious tales the multitude they cheat;
And prostitute the name of public good
To veil oppression. Others are immers'd
     485
In all the sloth of riches, and unmov'd
In shameful ease behold their country fall.
I first implor'd their senate's instant aid,
But they with artful wiles demanding time
For consultation, I address'd them thus.
     490
The shortest moment may suffice to know,
If to die free be better than to serve;
But if, deluding Greece by vain delays,
You mean to shew your friendship to the foe,
You cannot then deliberate too long,
     495
How to withstand her swift-avenging wrath,
Page  33 Approaching with Leonidas. This heard,
Four hundred warriours they appoint to march.
The wily Anaxander is their chief,
With Leontiades. I saw their march
     500
Begun, then hasten'd to survey the straits,
Which thou shalt render sacred to renown.
Where, ever mingling with the crumbling soil,
Which moulders round the Malian bay, the sea
In slimy surges rolls; upon the rock,
     505
Which forms the utmost limit of the bay,
Thermopylae is stretch'd. Where broadest spread,
It measures threescore paces, bounded here
By the deep ooze, which underneath presents
Its dreary surface; there the lofty cliffs
     510
Of woody Oeta overlook the pass,
And far beyond o'er half the surge below
Their horrid umbrage cast. Across the straits
Page  34 An ancient bulwark of the Phocians stands,
A wall with turrets crown'd. In station here
     515
I found the Locrians, and from Thespia's gates
Sev'n hundred more Demophilus hath led.
His brother's son attends him to the camp,
Young Dithyrambus greatly fam'd in war,
But more for temperance of mind renown'd;
     520
Lov'd by his country, and with honours grac'd,
His early bloom with brightest glory shines,
Nor wantons in the blaze. Here Agis spake.
WELL hast thou painted that illustrious youth.
He was my host at Thespia. Though adorn'd
     525
With highest deeds, by fame and fortune crown'd,
His gentle virtues take from envy's mouth
Its blasting venom, and her baneful face
Page  35 Strives on his worth to smile. In silence all
Again remain, and Alpheus thus pursues.
     530
A CHOSEN troop hath bold Plataea sent,
Small in its numbers, but unmatch'd in arms.
Above the rest Diomedon their chief
Excels in prowess. Signal were his deeds
Upon that day of glory, when the fields
     535
Of Marathon were hid with Persian slain.
These guard Thermopylae. Among the hills
A winding path to stranger's feet unknown
Affords another entrance into Greece:
This by a thousand Phocians is secur'd.
     540
HERE Alpheus paus'd. Leonidas embrac'd
The noble Spartan, and rejoin'd. Thou know'st
What fate to me th' immortal Gods ordain.
Page  36 Frame now thy choice. Accompany our march,
Or go to Lacedaemon, and relate,
     545
How thy discerning mind, and active limbs
Have serv'd thy country. From th' impatient mouth
Of Alpheus streight these fervent accents broke.
I HAVE not measur'd such a tract of land,
Not look'd unwearied on the setting sun,
     550
And through the shade of midnight urg'd my steps
To rouse the Greeks to battle, that myself
Might be exempted from the glorious toil.
Return? Oh! no. A second time my feet
Shall visit thee, Thermopylae, and there
     555
With great Leonidas shall Alpheus find
An honourable grave. And oh! amid
His country's danger if a Spartan breast
May feel a private sorrow, not alone
Page  37 For injur'd Greece I hasten to revenge,
     560
But for a brother's wrongs. A younger hope
Than I, or Maron bless'd our father's years,
Child of his age, and Polydorus nam'd.
His mind, while tender in its op'ning prime,
Was bent to rigid virtue. Gen'rous scorn
     565
Of pain and danger taught his early strength
To struggle patient with severest toils.
Oft, when inclement winter chill'd the air,
And frozen show'rs had swoln Eurotas' stream,
Amid th' impetuous channel would he plunge,
     570
And breast the torrent. On a fatal day,
As in the sea his active limbs he bath'd,
A servile corsair of the Persian king
My brother, naked and defenceless, bore
Ev'n in my sight to Asia, there to waste,
     575
With all the promise of its growing worth,
Page  38 His youth in bondage. Never can my tongue
My pains recount, much less my father's woes,
The days he wept, the sleepless nights he beat
His aged bosom. And shall Alpheus' spear
     580
Be absent from Thermopylae, nor claim,
O Polydorus, vengeance for thy bonds
In that first slaughter of the barb'rous foe?
HERE interpos'd Dieneces. The hands
Of Alpheus and Leonidas he grasp'd,
     585
And joyful thus. Your glory wants no more,
Than that Lycurgus should himself arise
To praise the virtue, which his laws inspire.
THUS pass'd these heroes, till the dead of night,
The hours in friendly converse, and enjoy'd
     590
Each other's virtue; happiest of men!
Page  39 At length with gentle heaviness the hand
Of sleep invades their eyelids. On the ground,
Oppress'd with slumber, they extend their limbs;
When, sliding down the hemisphere, the moon
     595
Now plung'd in midnight gloom her silver head.
End of the First Book.