The Athenaid: Volume II: Book the Seventeenth

Sicinus, long by unpropitious winds
Lock'd in Geræstus, to their fickle breath,
Half-adverse still, impatient spread the sail.
Six revolutions of the sun he spent
To gain Phaleron. To his lord's abode
He swiftly pass'd, when chance his wond'ring eyes
On Aristides fix'd. An open space
Reveal'd the hero, issuing sage commands.
Th' omnipotent artificer of worlds
From chaos seem'd with delegated pow'r
To have entrusted that selected man.
From ashes, lo! a city new ascends,
One winter's indefatigable toil
Of citizens, whose spirit unsubdu'd
Subdues calamity. Each visage wears
A cheerful hue, yet solemn. Through the streets
Successive numbers from adjacent fields
Drive odorif'rous loads of plants and flow'rs,
Which please the manes. Amaranth and rose,
Fresh parsley, myrtle, and whate'er the sun,
Now not remote from Aries in his course,
Call'd from the quick and vegetating womb
Of nature green or florid, from their seats
Of growth are borne for pious hands to weave
In fun'ral chaplets. From the Grecian states,
To honour Athens, their deputed chiefs,
Cleander foremost, throng the public place;
Whence Aristides with advancing speed
Salutes Sicinus: Welcome is thy face,
Good man, thou know'st; from Athens long estrang'd,
Now doubly welcome. In thy looks I read
Important news. Retiring from the crowd,
Swift in discourse, but full, Sicinus ran
Through all the series of his lord's exploits,
Which drew this question: Has thy patron ought
To ask of Aristides? Silent bow'd
Sicinus. Smiling then, the chief pursu'd:

Do thou attend the ceremonial pomp
Of obsequies to morrow; when the slain
At Salamis receive their just reward
From us, survivors by their glorious fall.
I have detain'd thee from Timothea long,
The first entitled to thy grateful news.

Now to that matron, whom beyond himself
He priz'd, Sicinus hastens. At her loom
He finds her placid o'er a web, whose glow
Of colours rivall'd Iris, where intent
She wove th' atchievements of her lord. Her skill
Had just portray'd Sandauce in the arms
Of Artamanes, when her children's doom
Congeal'd her breast. Themistocles in look
Expresses all that subtlety humane,
Which cozen'd superstition of her prey;
His godlike figure dignifies the work.
Two boys, two lovely little maids, surround
Th' illustrious artist, while their eyes pursue
Their mother's flying fingers in delight
Attentive. But their tutor once in view,
From absence long regretted, light with joy
To him they bound. Sicinus melts in tears
Of soft affection. They around him lift
Their gratulating voices, on his neck
Cling, and contend for kisses from those lips
Approv'd in kindness; as a flutt'ring brood
With chirping fondness, nature's sweetest note,
Inclose their feather'd parent, who attunes
Her tender pipe, and spreads endearing plumes.

Sicinus, cries Timothea, thou dost bring
Auspicious tidings; from my hero I
Expect no less. Unaided by the state,
A private man, like Hercules he went,
In his own pow'rs confiding, and secure.
Sit down, thou witness of my husband's worth,
Thyself a proof of his discerning choice
In thee, good man, by me and mine rever'd,
Discreet and faithful. No, Sicinus spake,
Thou art that proof, most faithful, most discreet,
Most excellent of women. Come, she said,
Suppress my praises; let me hear of none,
But his; and copious let thy story flow.

Glad through his whole heroic theme the sage,
By time to Attic eloquence inur'd,
Expatiates large; where loftiness of plan
Sustain'd by counsel, with exhaustless art
Pursu'd, now brought to valour's final proof,
Must end in sure success. His lord's commands
Observing strict, Acanthè's precious worth,
In talents, form and manners, he describes;
How she the aid of Chalcis had procur'd,
Her favour how Themistocles had won.

If he pursue to victory his plan,
Timothea said, and borrow from her hand
The means of glory, and the gen'ral good,
Tell him, that I can imitate with joy
Andromachè, who foster'd on her breast
Her Hector's offspring by a stol'n embrace.

Not such thy lot, sole mistress of a form
Match'd by perfection of the mind alone,
Sicinus cheerful answer'd. I attest
To this my firm belief th' all-ruling sire,
Let Horomazes be his name, or Jove.

Thou giv'st me transport-Thou hast leave to smile,
My good Sicinus, she replies-But heav'n
I too attest, that transport I conceive
Less for my own, than fair Acanthè's sake.
So amiably endow'd, so clear in fame,
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"The Athenaid: Volume II: Book the Seventeenth" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 26 May 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/43399/the-athenaid:-volume-ii:-book-the-seventeenth>.

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