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of the facking of Thebes. After the fall of those heroes celebrated by Statius, their fons, and among the rest Diomede, undertook the siege of that city, and were so fortunate as to succeed in their enterprize, and to revenge on the Thebans and the tyrant Creon, the death of their fathers. These young heroes were known to the Greeks under the title of the Epigoni, or the Descendants; and for this reason the author has given to his poem the title of Epigoniad; a name, it must be confessed, fomewhat unfortunately chosen : for as this particular was known only to a very few of the learned, the public were not able to conjecture what could be the subject of the poem, and were apt to neglect what it was impossible for them to understand.

There remained a tradition among the Greeks, that Homer had taken this second fiege of Thebes for the subject of a poem, which is loft; and our author seems to have pleased himself with the thoughts of reviving the work, as well as of treading in the footsteps of his favourite author. The actors are mostly the same with those of the Iliad; Diomede is the hero; Ulysses, Agamemnon, Me. nelaus, Neftor, Idomeneus, Merion, even Therfites, all appear in different passages of the poem ; and act parts suitable to the lively characters drawn of them by that great master. The whole turn of this new poem would almost lead us to imagine, that the Scottifh baru had found the lost manuscript of that father of poetry, and had made a faithful translation of it into English. Longinus imagines, that the Odyssey was executed by Ho. mer in his old age; we shall allow the Iliad to be the work of his middle age ; and we shall suppose that the Epigoniad was the essay of his youth, where his noble and sublime genius breaks forth by frequent intervals, and gives strong symptoms of that constant flame which distinguished its meridian.

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The poem consists of nine books. We shall open the subject of it in the author's own words.

Ye pow'rs of fong! with whose immortal fire
Your bard inraptur'd sung Pelide s’ire,
To Greece fo fatal, when in evil hour,
He brav'd, in ftern debate, the fovereign power ;
By like example teach me now to show
From love no less, what dire disasters flow.
For when the youth of Greece, by Theseus led,
Returned to conquer where their fathers bled,
And punith'd guilty Thebes, by heav'n ordained
For perfidy to fall, and oaths profan'd;
Venus, still partial to the Theban arms,
Tydeus' son seduced by female charms;
Who, from his plighted faith by paffion sway'd,
The chiefs, the army, and himself betray’d.

This theme did once your favourite bard employ,
Whose verse immortalized the fall of Troy ?
But Time's oblivious gulf, whose circle draws
All mortal ihings by Fate's eternal laws,
In whose wide vortex worlds themselves are toft,
And rounding swift succeflively are loft,
This fong hath snatch'd. I now resume the strain,
Not from proud hope and emulation vain,

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By

By this attempt to merit equal praise
With worth heroic, born in happier days.
Sooner the weed, that with the spring appears,
And in the summer's heat its blossom bears,
But, shriv'ling at the touch of winter hoar,
Sinks to its native earth, and is no more ;
Might match the lofty oak, which long has stood,
From age to age, the monarch of the wood.
But love excites me, and desire to trace
His glorious steps, though with unequal pace.
Before me still I fee his awful shade,
With garlands crown’d of leaves which never fade;
He points the path to fame, and bids me scale
Parnassus' Nippery height, where thousands fail :
I follow trembling, for the cliffs are high,
And hov'ring round them watchful harpies fly,
To snatch the poet's wreath with envious claws,
And hiss contempt for merited applause.

The poet supposes that Cassandra, the daughter of the king of Pelignium in Italy, was pursued by the love of Echetus, a barbarous tyrant in the neighbourhood; and as her father rejected his addresses, 'he drew on himself the resentment of the tyrant, who made' war upon him, and forced him to retire into Etolia, where Diomede gave him pro- . tection. This hero falls himself in love with Carsandra, and is so fortunate as to make equal impressions on her heart; but before the completion of his marriage, he is called to the fiege of Thebes, and leaves, as he supposes, Cassandra in Etolia with her father. But Cafsandra, anxious for her lover's safety, and unwilling to part from the object of her affections, had secretly put on a man's habit, had attended him in the camp, and had fought by his fide in all his battles. Meanwhile the fiege of Thebes is drawn out to some length; and Venus, who favours that city, in opposition to Jung and Pallas, who seek its destruction, deliberates concerning the proper method of raising the fiege. The fittest expedient seems to be the exciting in Diomede a jealousy of Cassandra, and persuading him, that her affections were secretly engaged to Echetus, and that the tyrant had invaded Etolia in pursuit of his mistress : for this purpose Venus sends down Jealousy, whom the author personifies under the name of Zelotype. Her person and flight are painted in the most fplendid colours that

poetry affords.

First to her feet the winged shoes the binds,
Which tread the air, and mount the rapid winds ;
Aloft they bear her through th' etherial plain,
Above the solid earth and liquid main.
Her arrows next she takes of pointed steel,
For fight too small, but terrible to feel;
Rous'd by their smart, the favage lion roars,
And mad to combat rush the tusky boars ;
Of wounds secure ; for where their venom lights,
What feels their pow'r all other torment sights.
A figur’d zone, mysteriously design'd,
Around her waist her yellow robe confin'd:
There dark Sufpicion Jurk’d, of fable hue ;
There hasty Rage his deadly dagger drew;
Pale Envy inly pined; and by her side
Stood Phrenzy, raging with his chains unty'd.
Affronted Pride with thirst of

vengeance

burn'd,
And Love's excess to deepest hatred turn’d.
All these the artist's curious hand express'd,
The work divine his matchless skill confess’d.

The

The virgin laft, around her shoulders flung
The bow ; and by her side the quiver hung:
Then, springing up, her airy course she bends
For Thebes ; and lightly o'er the tents descends.
The fon of Tydeus, 'midit his bands, she found
In arms complete, reposing on the ground;
And, as he slept, the hero thus address’d,
Her form to fancy's waking eye express’d.

Diomede, moved by the instigations of jealousy, and eager to defend his mistress and his country, calls an assembly of the princes, and proposes to raise the siege of Thebes, on account of the difficulty of the enterprize and dangers which surround the army. Theseus, the general, breaks out into a passion at this proposal; but is pacified by Nestor. Homeneus rises, and reproaches Diomede for his dishonourable counsel; and among other topics upbraids him with his degeneracy from his father's bravery

Should now, from hence arriv’d, fome warrior's ghost,
Greet valiant Tydeus on the Stygian coast,
And tell when danger or distress is near,
That Diomede persuades the rest to fear;
He'd fun the fynod of the mighty dead,
And hide his anguish in the deepest shade :
Nature in all an equal course maintains;
The lion's whelp succeeds to awe the plains ;
Pards gender pards, from tygers tygers spring ;
No doves are hatch'd beneath a vulture's wing :
Iach parent's image in his offspring lives;
But nought of Tydeus in his fun survives.

The debate is closed by Ulysses, who informs the

princes

1

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