The Athenaid: Volume II: Book the Nineteenth

The morning breaks; Nicanor sudden greets
The gen'ral; welcome tidings in these words
He utters loud: The citadel is won,
The tyrant slaughter'd. With our sacred guide
A rugged, winding track, in brambles hid,
Half up a crag we climb'd; there, stooping low,
A narrow cleft we enter'd; mazy still
We trod through dusky bowels of a rock,
While our conductor gather'd, as he stepp'd,
A clue, which careful in his hand he coil'd.
Our spears we trail'd; each soldier held the skirt
Of his preceding comrade. We attain'd
An iron wicket, where the ending line
Was fasten'd; thence a long and steep ascent
Was hewn in steps; suspended on the sides,
Bright rows of tapers cheer'd our eyes with light.
We reach'd the top; there lifting o'er his head
A staff, against two horizontal valves
Our leader smote, which open'd at the sound.
Behind me Hyacinthus on the rock
Sunk sudden down, pronouncing in his fall
Cleora; I on Hyacinthus call'd.

Is this Cleora's husband? cried the priest;
Descend, my Pamphila, my wife, descend.

She came, a rev'rend priestess; tender both
With me assisting plac'd my speechless friend
Within a cleft by me unmark'd before,
Which seem'd a passage to some devious cell.
Me by the hand Elephenor remov'd
Precipitate; a grating door of brass
Clos'd on my parting steps. Ascend, he said,
Make no enquiry; but remain assur'd,
His absence now is best. I mount, I rise
Behind a massy basis which upheld
Jove grasping thunder, and Saturnia crown'd,
Who at his side outstretch'd her scepter'd hand.
The troops succeeding fill the spacious dome.
Last, unexpected, thence more welcome, rose,
Detach'd from Medon with five hundred spears,
Brave Haliartus, who repair'd the want
Of my disabled colleague. Now the priest:

Ye chiefs, auxiliar to the gods profan'd,
And men oppress'd, securely you have reach'd
The citadel of Oreus. The dark hour
Befriends your high attempt. Let one possess
The only entrance from the town below,
The other swift the palace must surprise,
Where Demonax lies slumb'ring, if his guilt
Admits of rest, and dreams not of your spears.

With small resistance from a drowsy guard
I seiz'd the gate; the palace soon was forc'd
By Haliartus. Demonax maintain'd,
From door to door fierce combat, till he sunk,
Blaspheming ev'ry pow'r of heav'n and hell,
On his own couch, beneath repeated wounds
Delv'd in his body by the Carian sword,
Whose point produc'd the sever'd head in view.

These news, Sicinus, to Eudora bear,
Themistocles began. Before her feet
Fall grateful, kiss for me her hallow'd robe;
My venerable friend Tisander hail,
To her, to him, this victory we owe.
Salute Timoxenus, my noble host,
Greet his excelling daughter; let them hear
Of brave Nicanor, and the Carian sword,
Which, closing at a blow this dang'rous war,
Preserves so many Greeks. Carystian chief,
Accept from me good tidings in return
For thine. Intelligence this hour hath brought,
That vigilant Cleander hath possess'd
The naval fort, an inlet to the town
For this whole army, pouring from our ships
Successive numbers, if the Persian bands
Yet meditate resistance. Not to give
Their consternation leisure to subside,
Against the walls each standard shall advance.

He said, and gave command. The diff'rent chiefs
Head their battalions. Oreus trembling sees
Encircling danger; heralds in their pomp,
Dread summoners, are nigh. Her foreign guard,
Depriv'd of wonted leaders, at the fall
Of Demonax aghast, in thought behold
Death in the conquer'd citadel extend
His hideous arms to beckon from the fleet
Cleander's valour, and from swarming tents
Themistocles. On his approach the gates
Are thrown abroad. From all the Persian bands
Their javelins, shields, and banners on the ground
Pale fear deposits. Thus the yielding masts
Of all their canvass mariners divest,
When Æolus is riding on a storm
To overwhelm the vessel, which would drive
In full apparel to resist his ire.

Th' Athenian, though triumphant, in his joy
Omits no care. To Æschylus awhile
The charge supreme transferring, he ascends
The citadel; the Catian victor there
Conducts him o'er the palace, shews the corse
Of Demonax, his treasury unspoil'd,
By chosen Locrians guarded. Pleas'd, the chief
Embraces Haliartus: Friend, he said,
Though late acquir'd, inestimable friend,
How shall I praise thee? but my bosom wrapt
In long concealment, now to thee alone
Disclos'd, shall warrant my profess'd regard.
Know, that
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"The Athenaid: Volume II: Book the Nineteenth" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 21 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/43398/the-athenaid:-volume-ii:-book-the-nineteenth>.

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