Horatius

A LAY MADE ABOUT THE YEAR OF THE CITY CCCLX.
4    Should suffer wrong no more.
5By the Nine Gods he swore it,
7And bade his messengers ride forth,
8East and west and south and north,
9    To summon his array.
##
10East and west and south and north
11    The messengers ride fast,
12And tower and town and cottage
13    Have heard the trumpet's blast.
14Shame on the false Etruscan
15    Who lingers in his home,
16When Porsena of Clusium
17    Is on the march for Rome.
##
18The horsemen and the footmen
19    Are pouring in amain
20From many a stately market-place;
21    From many a fruitful plain;
22From many a lonely hamlet,
23    Which, hid by beech and pine,
24Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest
27    Where scowls the far-famed hold
28Piled by the hands of giants
29    For godlike kings of old;
31    Whose sentinels descry
33    Fringing the southern sky;
35    Queen of the western waves,
37    Heavy with fair-haired slaves;
39    Through corn and vines and flowers;
41    Her diadem of towers.
##
42Tall are the oaks whose acorns
44Fat are the stags that champ the boughs
47    Is to the herdsman dear,
48Best of all pools the fowler loves
##
50But now no stroke of woodman
51    Is heard by Auser's rill;
52No hunter tracks the stag's green path
53    Up the Ciminian hill;
54Unwatched along Clitumnus
55    Grazes the milk-white steer;
56Unharmed the water fowl may dip
57    In the Volsinian mere.
59    This year, old men shall reap;
61    Shall plunge the struggling sheep;
63    This year, the must shall foam
64Round the white feet of laughing girls,
65    Whose sires have marched to Rome.
##
66There be thirty chosen prophets,
67    The wisest of the land,
68Who alway by Lars Porsena
69    Both morn and evening stand:
70Evening and morn the Thirty
71    Have turned the verses o'er,
72Traced from the right on linen white
73    By mighty seers of yore.
##
74And with one voice the Thirty
75    Have their glad answer given:
76"Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena;
77    Go forth, beloved of Heaven;
78Go, and return in glory
79    To Clusium's royal dome;
81    The golden shields of Rome."
##
82And now hath every city
83    Sent up her tale of men;
84The foot are fourscore thousand,
85    The horse are thousands ten.
87    Is met the great array.
88A proud man was Lars Porsena
89    Upon the trysting day.
##
90For all the Etruscan armies
91    Were ranged beneath his eye,
92And many a banished Roman,
93    And many a stout ally;
94And with a mighty following
95    To join the muster came
##
98But by the yellow Tiber
99    Was tumult and affright:
101    To Rome men took their flight.
102A mile around the city,
103    The throng stopped up the ways;
104A fearful sight it was to see
105    Through two long nights and days.
##
106For aged folk on crutches,
107    And women great with child,
108And mothers sobbing over babes
109    That clung to them and smiled,
110And sick men borne in litters
111    High on the necks of slaves,
112And troops of sun-burned husbandmen
113    With reaping-hooks and staves,
##
114And droves of mules and asses
115    Laden with skins of wine,
116And endless flocks of goats and sheep,
117    And endless herds of kine,
118And endless trains of waggons
119    That creaked beneath the weight
120Of corn-sacks and of household goods,
121    Choked every roaring gate.
124The line of blazing villages
125    Red in the midnight sky.
126The Fathers of the City,
127    They sat all night and day,
128For every hour some horseman came
129    With tidings of dismay.
##
130To eastward and to westward
131    Have spread the Tuscan bands;
132Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote,
135    Hath wasted all the plain;
137    And the stout guards are slain.
##
138I wis, in all the Senate,
139    There was no heart so bold,
140But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
141    When that ill news was told.
142Forthwith up rose the Consul,
143    Up rose the Fathers all;
144In haste they girded up their gowns,
145    And hied them to the wall.
##
146They held a council standing,
147    Before the River-gate;
148Short time was there, ye well may guess,
149    For musing or debate.
150Out spake the Consul roundly:
151    "The bridge must straight go down;
152For, since Janiculum is lost,
153    Nought else can save the town."
##
154Just then a scout came flying,
155    All wild with haste and fear:
156"To arms! to arms! Sir Consul;
157    Lars Porsena is here."
158On the low hills to westward
159    The Consul fixed his eye,
160And saw the swarthy storm of dust
161    Rise fast along the sky.
##
162And nearer fast and nearer
163    Doth the red whirlwind come;
164And louder still and still more loud,
165From underneath that rolling cloud,
166Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
167    The trampling, and the hum.
168And plainly and more plainly
169    Now through the gloom appears,
170Far to left and far to right,
171In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
172The long array of helmets bright,
173    The long array of spears.
##
174And plainly and more plainly,
175    Above that glimmering line,
176Now might ye see the banners
177    Of twelve fair cities shine;
178But the banner of proud Clusium
179    Was highest of them all,
##
182And plainly and more plainly
183    Now might the burghers know,
184By port and vest, by horse and crest,
186There Cilnius of Arretium
187    On his fleet roan was seen;
188And Astur of the four-fold shield,
189Girt with the brand none else may wield,
190Tolumnius with the belt of gold,
191And dark Verbenna from the hold
##
193Fast by the royal standard,
194    O'erlooking all the war,
195Lars Porsena of Clusium
196    Sat in his ivory car.
197By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
198    Prince of the Latian name;
199And by the left false Sextus,
200    That wrought the deed of shame.
##
201But when the face of Sextus
202    Was seen among the foes,
203A yell that rent the firmament
204    From all the town arose.
205On the house-tops was no woman
206    But spat towards him and hissed;
207No child but screamed out curses,
208    And shook its little flst.
##
209But the Consul's brow was sad,
210    And the Consul's speech was low,
211And darkly looked he at the wall,
212    And darkly at the foe.
213"Their van will be upon us
214    Before the bridge goes down;
215And if they once may win the bridge,
216    What hope to save the town?"
##
217Then out spake brave Horatius,
218    The Captain of the gate:
219"To every man upon this earth
220    Death cometh soon or late.
221And how can man die better
222    Than facing fearful odds,
223For the ashes of his fathers,
224    And the temples of his Gods,
##
225"And for the tender mother
226    Who dandled him to rest,
227And for the wife who nurses
228    His baby at her breast,
229And for the holy maidens
230    Who feed the eternal flame,
231To save them from false Sextus
232    That wrought the deed of shame?
##
233"Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
234    With all the speed ye may;
235I, with two more to help me,
236    Will hold the foe in play.
237In yon strait path a thousand
238    May well be stopped by three.
239Now who will stand on either hand,
240    And keep the bridge with me?"
##
241Then out spake Spurius Lartius;
243"Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
244    And keep the bridge with thee."
245And out spake strong Herminius;
247"I will abide on thy left side,
248    And keep the bridge with thee."
##
249"Horatius," quoth the Consul,
250    "As thou sayest, so let it be."
251And straight against that great array
252    Forth went the dauntless Three.
253For Romans in Rome's quarrel
254    Spared neither land nor gold,
255Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
256    In the brave days of old.
##
257Then none was for a party;
258    Then all were for the state;
259Then the great man helped the poor,
260    And the poor man loved the great:
261Then lands were fairly portioned;
262    Then spoils were fairly sold:
263The Romans were like brothers
264    In the brave days of old.
##
265Now Roman is to Roman
266    More hateful than a foe,
267And the Tribunes beard the high,
268    And the Fathers grind the low.
269As we wax hot in faction,
270    In battle we wax cold:
271Wherefore men fight not as they fought
272    In the brave days of old.
##
273Now while the Three were tightening
274    Their harness on their backs,
275The Consul was the foremost man
276    To take in hand an axe:
277And Fathers mixed with Commons
278    Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
279And smote upon the planks above,
280    And loosed the props below.
##
281Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
282    Right glorious to behold,
283Came flashing back the noonday light,
284Rank behind rank, like surges bright
285    Of a broad sea of gold.
286Four hundred trumpets sounded
287    A peal of warlike glee,
288As that great host, with measured tread,
289And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
290Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,
291    Where stood the dauntless Three.
##
292The Three stood calm and silent
293    And looked upon the foes,
294And a great shout of laughter
295    From all the vanguard rose:
296And forth three chiefs came spurring
298To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
299And lifted high their shields, and flew
302    Lord of the Hill of Vines;
303And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves
305And Picus, long to Clusium
306    Vassal in peace and war,
307Who led to fight his Umbrian powers
308From that grey crag where, girt with towers,
##
311Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
312    Into the stream beneath:
313Herminius struck at Seius,
314    And clove him to the teeth:
315At Picus brave Horatius
316    Darted one fiery thrust;
317And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
318    Clashed in the bloody dust.
320    Rushed on the Roman Three;
322    The rover of the sea;
324    Who slew the great wild boar,
325The great wild boar that had his den
326Amidst the reeds of Cosa's fen,
327And wasted fields, and slaughtered men,
##
329Herminius smote down Aruns:
330    Lartius laid Ocnus low:
331Right to the heart of Lausulus
332    Horatius sent a blow.
333"Lie there," he cried, "fell pirate!
334    No more, aghast and pale,
335From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
336The track of thy destroying bark.
338To woods and caverns when they spy
339    Thy thrice accursed sail."
##
340But now no sound of laughter
341    Was heard amongst the foes.
342A wild and wrathful clamour
343    From all the vanguard rose.
344Six spears' lengths from the entrance
346And for a space no man came forth
##
348But hark! the cry is Astur:
349    And lo! the ranks divide;
350And the great Lord of Luna
351    Comes with his stately stride.
352Upon his ample shoulders
353    Clangs loud the four-fold shield,
354And in his hand he shakes the brand
355    Which none but he can wield.
##
356He smiled on those bold Romans
357    A smile serene and high;
358He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
359    And scorn was in his eye.
361    Stand savagely at bay:
362But will ye dare to follow,
363    If Astur clears the way?"
##
364Then, whirling up his broadsword
365    With both hands to the height,
366He rushed against Horatius,
367    And smote with all his might.
368With shield and blade Horatius
369    Right deftly turned the blow.
370The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
371It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh:
372The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
373    To see the red blood flow.
##
374He reeled, and on Herminius
375    He leaned one breathing-space;
376Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds,
377    Sprang right at Astur's face.
378Through teeth, and skull, and helmet,
379    So fierce a thrust he sped,
380The good sword stood a hand-breadth out
381    Behind the Tuscan's head.
##
382And the great Lord of Luna
383    Fell at that deadly stroke,
385    A thunder-smitten oak.
386Far o'er the crashing forest
387    The giant arms lie spread;
389    Gaze on the blasted head.
##
390On Astur's throat Horatius
391    Right firmly pressed his heel,
392And thrice and four times tugged amain,
393    Ere he wrenched out the steel.
394"And see," he cried, "the welcome,
395    Fair guests, that waits you here!
396What noble Lucumo comes next
397    To taste our Roman cheer?"
##
398But at his haughty challenge
399    A sullen murmur ran,
400Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,
402There lacked not men of prowess,
403    Nor men of lordly race;
404For all Etruria's noblest
405    Were round the fatal place.
##
406But all Etruria's noblest
407    Felt their hearts sink to see
408On the earth the bloody corpses,
409    In the path the dauntless Three:
410And, from the ghastly entrance
411    Where those bold Romans stood,
412All shrank, like boys who unaware,
413Ranging the woods to start a hare,
414Come to the mouth of the dark lair
415Where, growling low, a fierce old bear
416    Lies amidst bones and blood.
##
417Was none who would be foremost
418    To lead such dire attack:
419But those behind cried "Forward!"
420And those before cried "Back!"
421And backward now and forward
422    Wavers the deep array;
423And on the tossing sea of steel,
424To and fro the standards reel;
425And the victorious trumpet-peal
426    Dies fitfully away.
##
427Yet one man for one moment
428    Strode out before the crowd;
429Well known was he to all the Three,
430    And they gave him greeting loud.
431"Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!
432    Now welcome to thy home!
433Why dost thou stay, and turn away?
434    Here lies the road to Rome."
##
435Thrice looked he at the city;
436    Thrice looked he at the dead;
437And thrice came on in fury,
438    And thrice turned back in dread:
439And, white with fear and hatred,
440    Scowled at the narrow way
441Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,
442    The bravest Tuscans lay.
##
443But meanwhile axe and lever
444    Have manfully been plied;
445And now the bridge hangs tottering
446    Above the boiling tide.
447"Come back, come back, Horatius!"
448    Loud cried the Fathers all.
449"Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!
450    Back, ere the ruin fall!"
##
451Back darted Spurius Lartius;
452    Herminius darted back:
453And, as they passed, beneath their feet
454    They felt the timbers crack.
455But when they turned their faces,
456    And on the farther shore
457Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
458    They would have crossed once more.
##
459But with a crash like thunder
460    Fell every loosened beam,
461And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
462    Lay right athwart the stream:
463And a long shout of triumph
464    Rose from the walls of Rome,
465As to the highest turret-tops
466    Was splashed the yellow foam.
##
467And, like a horse unbroken
468    When first he feels the rein,
469The furious river struggled hard,
470    And tossed his tawny mane;
471And burst the curb and bounded,
472    Rejoicing to be free;
473And whirling down, in fierce career,
474Battlement, and plank, and pier,
475    Rushed headlong to the sea.
##
476Alone stood brave Horatius,
477    But constant still in mind;
478Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
479    And the broad flood behind.
480"Down with him!" cried false Sextus,
481    With a smile on his pale face.
482"Now yield thee," cried Lars Porsena,
483    "Now yield thee to our grace."
##
484Round turned he, as not deigning
485    Those craven ranks to see;
486Nought spake he to Lars Porsena,
487    To Sextus nought spake he;
489    The white porch of his home;
490And he spake to the noble river
491    That rolls by the towers of Rome.
##
492"Oh, Tiber! father Tiber!
493    To whom the Romans pray,
494A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
495    Take thou in charge this day!"
496So he spake, and speaking sheathed
497    The good sword by his side,
498And, with his harness on his back,
499    Plunged headlong in the tide.
##
500No sound of joy or sorrow
501    Was heard from either bank;
502But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
503With parted lips and straining eyes,
504    Stood gazing where he sank;
505And when above the surges
506    They saw his crest appear,
507All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
508And even the ranks of Tuscany
509    Could scarce forbear to cheer.
##
510But fiercely ran the current,
511    Swollen high by months of rain:
512And fast his blood was flowing;
513    And he was sore in pain,
514And heavy with his armour,
515    And spent with changing blows:
516And oft they thought him sinking,
517    But still again he rose.
##
518Never, I ween, did swimmer,
519    In such an evil case,
520Struggle through such a raging flood
521    Safe to the landing place:
522But his limbs were borne up bravely
523    By the brave heart within,
524And our good father Tiber
##
526"Curse on him!" quoth false Sextus;
527    "Will not the villain drown?
528But for this stay, ere close of day
529    We should have sacked the town!"
530"Heaven help him!" quoth Lars Porsena,
531    "And bring him safe to shore;
532For such a gallant feat of arms
533    Was never seen before."
##
534And now he feels the bottom;
535    Now on dry earth he stands;
536Now round him throng the Fathers
537    To press his gory hands;
538And now with shouts and clapping,
539    And noise of weeping loud,
540He enters through the River-gate,
541    Borne by the joyous crowd.
##
542They gave him of the corn-land,
543    That was of public right,
544As much as two strong oxen
545    Could plough from morn till night;
546And they made a molten image,
547    And set it up on high,
548And there it stands unto this day
549    To witness if I lie.
551    Plain for all folk to see;
552Horatius in his harness,
553    Halting upon one knee:
554And underneath is written,
555    In letters all of gold,
556How valiantly he kept the bridge
557    In the brave days of old.
##
558And still his name sounds stirring
559    Unto the men of Rome,
560As the trumpet-blast that cries to them
561    To charge the Volscian home;
563    For boys with hearts as bold
564As his who kept the bridge so well
565    In the brave days of old.
##
566And in the nights of winter,
567    When the cold north winds blow,
568And the long howling of the wolves
569    Is heard amidst the snow;
570When round the lonely cottage
571    Roars loud the tempest's din,
573    Roar louder yet within;
##
574When the oldest cask is opened,
575    And the largest lamp is lit,
576When the chesnuts glow in the embers,
577    And the kid turns on the spit;
578When young and old in circle
579    Around the firebrands close;
580When the girls are weaving baskets,
581    And the lads are shaping bows;
##
582When the goodman mends his armour,
583    And trims his helmet's plume;
584When the goodwife's shuttle merrily
585    Goes flashing through the loom;
586With weeping and with laughter
587    Still is the story told,
588How well Horatius kept the bridge
589    In the brave days of old.

Notes

1] Macaulay introduces the poem as follows:
"There can be little doubt that among those parts of early Roman history which had a poetical origin was the legend of Horatius Cocles. We have several versions of the story, and these versions differ from each other in points of no small importance. Polybius, there is reason to believe, heard the tale recited over the remains of some Consul or Prætor descended from the old Horatian patricians; for he introduces it as a specimen of the narratives with which the Romans were in the habit of embellishing their funeral oratory. It is remarkable that, according to him, Horatius defended the bridge alone, and perished in the waters. According to the chronicles which Livy and Dionysius followed, Horatius had two companions, swam safe to shore and was loaded with honours and rewards.

"These discrepancies are easily explained. Our own literature, indeed, will furnish an exact parallel to what may have taken place at Rome. It is highly probable that the memory of the war of Porsena was preserved by compositions much resembling the two ballads which stand first in the Relics of Ancient English Poetry. In both those ballads the English, commanded by the Percy, fight with the Scots, commanded by the Douglas. In one of the ballads the Douglas is killed by a nameless English archer, and the Percy by a Scottish spearman; in the other, the Percy slays the Douglas in single combat, and is himself made prisoner. In the former, Sir Hugh Montgomery is shot through the heart by a Northumbrian bowman ; in the latter he is taken and exchanged for the Percy. Yet both the ballads relate to the same event, and that an event which probably took place within the memory of persons who were alive when both the ballads were made. One of the minstrels says:

"Old men that knowen the grounde well yenoughe
Call it the battell of Otterburn:
At Otterburn began this spurne
Upon a monnyn day.
Ther was the dougghte Doglas slean:
The Perse never went away."
The other poet sums up the event in the following lines:
"Thys fraye bygan at Otterborne
Bytwene the nyghte and the day:
Ther the Dowglas lost hys lyfe,
And the Percy was lede away."
"It is by no means unlikely that there were two old Roman lays about the defence of the bridge; and that, while the story which Livy has transmitted to us was preferred by the multitude, the other, which ascribed the whole glory to Horatius alone, may have been the favourite with the Horatian house.

"The following ballad is supposed to have been made about a hundred and twenty years after the war which it celebrates, and just before the talking of Rome by the Gauls. The author seems to have, been an honest citizen, proud of the military glory of his country, sick of the disputes of factions, and much given to pining after good old times which had never really existed. The allusion, however, to the partial manner in which the public lands were allotted could proceed only from a plebeian; and the allusion to the fraudulent sale of spoils marks the date of the poem, and shows that the poet shared in the general discontent with which the proceedings of Camillus, after the taking of Veii, were regarded.

"The penultimate syllable of the name Porsena has been shortened in spite of the authority of Niebuhr, who pronounces, without assigning any ground for his opinion, that Martial was guilty of a decided blunder in the line,

"Hane spectate manum Porsena non potuit."
It is not easy to understand how any modern scholar, whatever his attainments may be, -- and those of Niebuhr were undoubtedly immense, -- can venture to pronounce that Martial did not know the quantity of a word which he must have uttered and heard uttered a hundred times before he left school. Niebuhr seems also to have forgotten that Martial has fellow-culprits to keep him in countenance. Horace has committed the same decided blunder; for he gives us, as a pure iambic line,
"Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenæ manus."
Silius Italicus has repeatedly offended in the same way, as when he says,
"Cernitur effugiens ardentem Porsena dextram:"
and again,
"Clusinum vulgus, cum, Porsena magne, jubebas."
A modern writer may be content to err. in such Company.

"Niebuhr's supposition that each of the three defenders of the bridge was the representative of three patrician tribes is both ingenious and probably, and has been adopted in the following poem." (Miscellaneous Writings [1880]: IV, 223-25)

Macaulay's ultimate source, the famous account in Livy's history of Rome, II.ix-x, is as follows:
"IX. Next Publius Valerius (for the second time) and Titus Lucretius were made consuls. By this time the Tarquinii had sought refuge with Lars Porsinna, king of Clusium. There they mingled advice and entreaty, now imploring him not to permit them, Etruseans by birth and of the same blood and the same name as himself, to suffer the privations of exile, and again even warning him not to allow the growing custom of expelling kings to go unpunished. Liberty was sweet enough in itself. Unless the energy with which nations sought to obtain it were matched by the efforts which kings put forth to defend their power, the highest would be reduced to the level of the lowest; there would be nothing lofty, nothing that stood out above the rest of the state; there was the end of monarchy, the noblest institution known to gods or men. Porsinna, believing that it was not only a safe thing for the Etruscans that there should be a king at Rome, but an Honour to have that king of Etruscan stock, invaded Roman territory with a hostile army. Never before had such fear seized the senate, so powerful was Clusium in those days, and so great Porsinna's fame. And they feared not only the enemy but their own citizens, lest the plebs should be terror-stricken and, admitting the princes into the City, should even submit to enslavement, for the sake of peace. Hence the senate at this time granted many favours to the plebs. The question of subsistence received special attention, and some were sent to the Volsci and others to Cumae to buy up corn. Again, the monopoly of salt, the price of which was very high, was taken out of the hands of individuals and wholly assumed by the government. Imposts and taxes were removed from the plebs that they might be borne by the well-to-do, who were equal to the burden: the poor paid dues enough if they reared children. Thanks to this liberality on the part of the Fathers, the distress which attended the subsequent blockade and famine was powerless to destroy the harmony of the state, which was such that the name of king was not more abhorrent to the highest than to the lowest; nor was there ever a man in after years whose demagogic arts made him so popular as its wise governing at that time made the whole senate.

"X. When the enemy appeared, the Romans all, with one accord, withdrew from their fields into the City, which they surrounded with guards. Some parts appeared to be rendered safe by their walls, others by the barrier formed by the river Tiber. The bridge of piles almost afforded an entrance to the enemy, had it not been for one man, Horatius Cocles; he was the bulwark of defence on which that day depended the fortune of the City of Rome. He chanced to be on guard at the bridge when Janiculum was captured by a sudden attack of the enemy. He saw them as they charged down on the run from Janiculum, while his own people behaved like a frightened mob, throwing away their arms and quitting their ranks. Catching hold first of one and then of another, blocking their way and conjuring them to listen, he called on gods and men to witness that if they forsook their post it was vain to flee; once they had left a passage in their rear by the bridge, there would soon be more of the enemy on the Palatine and the Capitol than on Janiculum. He therefore warned and commanded them to break down the bridge with steel, with fire, with any instrument at their disposal; and promised that he would himself receive the onset of the enemy, so far as it could be withstood by a single body. Then, striding to the head of the bridge, conspicuous amongst the fugitives who were clearly seen to be shirking the fight, he covered himself with his sword and buckler and made ready to do battle at close quarters, confounding the Etruscans with amazement at his audacity. Yet were there two who were prevented by shame from leaving him. These were Spurius Larcius and Titus Herminius, both famous for their birth and their deeds. With these he endured the peril of the first rush and the stormiest moment of the battle. But after a while he forced even these two to leave him and save themselves, for there was scarcely anything left of the bridge, and those who were cutting it down called to them to come back. Then, darting glances of defiance around at the Etruscan nobles, he now challenged them in turn to fight, now railed at them collectively as slaves of haughty kings, who, heedless of their own liberty, were come to overthrow the liberty of others. They hesitated for a moment, each looking to his neigbbour to begin the fight. Then shame made them attack, and with a shout they cast their javelins from every side against their solitary foe. But he caught them all upon his shield, and, resolute as ever, bestrode the bridge and held his ground; and now they were trying to dislodge him by a charge, when the crash of the falling bridge and the cheer which burst from the throats of the Romans, exulting in the completion of their task, checked them in mid-career with a sudden dismay. Then Cocles cried, "O Father Tiberinus, I solemnly invoke thee; receive these arms and this soldier with propitious stream!" So praying, all armed as he was, he leaped down into the river, and under a shower of missiles swam across unhurt to his fellows, having given a proof of valour which was destined to obtain more fame than credence with posterity. The state was grateful for so brave a deed: a statue of Cocles was set up in the comitium, and he was given as much land as he could plough around in one day. Private citizens showed their gratitude in a striking fashion, in the midst of his official honours, for notwithstanding their great distress everybody made him some gift proportionate to his means, though he robbed himself of his own ration" (Livy, I, translated by B. O. Foster [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967]: 245-49; PA 6452 A2 Robarts Library).

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2] the Nine Gods: those of the Etruscans were "Juno, Minerva, and Tinia (the three chief); to which add Vulcan, Mars, Saturn, Hercules,Summanus, and Vedius" ("The First Hypertext Edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" by E. Cobham Brewer [1894], [Bibliomania, Maytech Publishing Ltd.] Back to Line
3] Tarquin: the fifth and sixth Etruscan kings of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus, the second of whom was expelled from Rome for tyranny. Back to Line
6] trysting: meeting. Back to Line
25] Apennine: the Apennines are a chain of mountains up and down the length of Italy. Back to Line
26] Volaterræ: ancient town in Etruria, present-day Volterra. Back to Line
30] Populonia: ancient town in Etruria, now the ruins of Poplonia near Piombino. Back to Line
32] Sardinia: island off the coast of Italy near Corsica. Back to Line
34] Pisæ: ancient town of Etruria, now Pisa. Back to Line
36] Massilia's triremes: the old galleys of the seaport in Gallia Narbonensis, present-day Marseilles. Back to Line
38] Clanis: river in Etruria flowing into the Tiber, now the Chiana. Back to Line
40] Cortona: ancient town in Etruria. Back to Line
43] Auser: tributary stream of the river Arno in Etruria. Back to Line
45] Ciminian: the area around Lake Ciminus in Etruria, present-day Lago di Vico. Back to Line
46] Clitumnus: small river in Umbria, present-day Clitunno. Back to Line
49] Volsinian: of the Volsci, the people of Latium. Back to Line
58] Arretium: a large town in Etruria, present-day Arezzo. Back to Line
60] Umbro: unidentified. Back to Line
62] Luna: an ancient city in Etruria, present-day Luni. Back to Line
80] Nurscia: a Sabine city, present-day Norcia. Back to Line
86] Sutrium: an ancient town in Etruria, now Sutri. Back to Line
96] Tusculan: of the Etrusci, the people of Etruria, also called Tusci, Tuscans, and Etruscans. Back to Line
97] Latian: the region around Rome, present-day Campagna di Roma. Back to Line
100] champaign: countryside, i.e., the Campagnia di Roma. Back to Line
122] the rock Tarpeian: on Capitoline Hill in Rome, from which criminals were hurled to their deaths. Back to Line
123] wan burghers: pale citizens. Back to Line
133] Crustumerium: ancient town in the Sabine lands, present-day Monte Rotondo. Back to Line
134] Verbenna: unidentified.
Ostia: seaport in Latium. Back to Line
136] Janiculum: one of the hills of Rome. Back to Line
180] Umbrian: inhabitant of Umbria, a central district in the Apennines. Back to Line
181] the Gaul: inhabitant of present-day France. Back to Line
185] Lucumo: a name for Etruscan noblemen and priests. Back to Line
192] Thrasymene: present-day Lake Trasimeno or the Lake of Perugia. Back to Line
242] Ramnian: ancient Latin tribe whose warriors were instituted by Romulus himself. Back to Line
246] Titian: the name of a Roman people. Back to Line
297] mighty mass: 1842 (revised later to read "deep array"). Back to Line
300] pass: 1842 (revised later to read "way"). Back to Line
301] Tifernum: possibly the Umbrian town on the Tiber near present-day Cetta di Castello. Back to Line
304] Ilva: the present-day island of Elba. Back to Line
309] Nequinum: an Umbrian city, present-day Narnia. Back to Line
310] Nar: a river flowing into the Tiber from the Apennines, present-day Nera. Back to Line
319] Falerii: the capital of the Falisci, an Etrurian people. Back to Line
321] Urgo: unidentified. Back to Line
323] Volsinium: ancient town in Etruria, present-day Bolsena. Back to Line
328] Albinia: the region of the Albinius, a Roman people. Back to Line
337] Campania: a province in central Italy. Back to Line
345] mighty mass: 1842 (revised later to read "deep array"). Back to Line
347] pass: 1842 (revised later to read "way"). Back to Line
360] she-wolf's litter: the twin boys Romulus and Remus, thrown into the Tiber by their usurping uncle Amulius, were saved and suckled by a female wolf and went on to restore their father Numitor to the throne and found the city of Rome. Back to Line
384] Mount Alvernus: unidentified. Back to Line
388] pale augurs: whitefaced prophesiers. Back to Line
401] van: vanguard. Back to Line
488] Palatinus: the first of the seven hills of Rome to be built on. Back to Line
525] Macaulay annotates this line as follows:
"Our ladye bare upp her chinne."
            Ballad of Childe Waters.
"Never heavier man and horse
Stemmed a midnight torrent's force;
*       *       *       *       *
Yet, through good heart and our Lady's grace,
At length he gained the landing place."
            Lay of the Last Minstrel, I.
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550] Comitium: the public place in Rome, near the Forum, where citizens gathered to vote. Back to Line
562] Juno: the goddess of women. Back to Line
572] Algidus: a mountain near Rome, presentday Monte Compatri. Back to Line
Original Text: 
Lays of Ancient Rome (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1842): 47-76. Macaulay Collection M33 L38 1842 Fisher Rare Book Library.
Publication Start Year: 
1842
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1999.