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From The Silvae of Statius translated with Introduction and Notes, by D. A. Slater; Oxford: The Clarendon Press; 1908; pp. 163-165.



VII    Iam diu lato

In honour of Maximus.

LONG since thou hast had thy fill, bold Erato, of the broad plain; take truce awhile now with the travail of heroes, and within narrower circles confine thy high emprise. And thou, O Pindar, prince of the lyric throng, grant me for a brief space the charter of a new measure, if in Latin numbers I have hallowed thy Thebes. It is for Maximus that I would refine my song. Now I must gather a chaplet of the virgin myrtle, and now a deeper thirst craves a purer draught. When wilt thou come back to thy loved Latium from the Dalmatian hills, where the miner 164 returns to the light pale from the sight of Dis and sallow as the gold that he has unearthed? See, I that am the child of a nearer clime yet linger not in slothful Baiae’s languorous haven, nor with the bugler known to Hector’s battles. Without thee a numbness takes my song. Even Thymbra’s lord comes slower than is his wont: and lo, at the first turning-point in the race my Achilles stands still. For it is through thy faithful counsel that my Thebaid, kept long under the discipline of the file, now with ambitious string aspires to prove the joys of the Mantuan’s fame. Still we pardon thee for lingering, inasmuch as with a goodly scion thou hast stablished thy lonely hearth. O day of gladness! we hail the advent of a second Maximus. Childlessness we must shun with every effort. Close in pursuit presses the heir with hostile vows, and (fie upon him, fie!) prays that an early death may overtake his kind friend. The childless man is laid in earth without a tear, while his greedy survivor, the usurper of the home, stands ready to pounce upon the spoils of death, counting the cost even of the funeral fire. Long live the noble babe! Be it his to tread the path open to few, that he may grow up like his sire and challenge his grandsire’s doughty deeds. Thou shalt tell thy child how thou didst carry thy sword to Orient Orontes, leading the eagles of thy squadron under favour of Castor; he, how he followed Caesar’s lightning course and laid upon the fugitive Sarmatae the bitter terms that they should live beneath one clime and one only. But first let him learn in boyhood 165 the arts whereby thou dost trace back all the world’s antiquity and dost give us again the style of terse Sallust and the foster-son of the Timavus.

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