Claudian, On Stilicho’s Consulship (A.D. 400)

Claudian, On Stilicho’s Consulship (A.D. 400), BOOK I

Ceaseless are the blessings the gods shower with full bounty upon Rome, crowning success with new successes. Scarce had the happy songs of marriage ceased to echo in the palace when the defeat of Gildo brought material for a hymn of triumph. Hard upon the garlands of passionate love followed the crown of laurel, so that the emperor won alike the name of husband and the fame of conqueror. After the war in Africa eastern sedition waned; the Orient once more was laid low and, guarded by the consul Stilicho the axes rose in triumph. In due order are vows fulfilled. Should I hope to roll into one poem all my lofty themes, more easily should I pile Pelion on frozen Ossa. Were I silent anent a part, what I leave unsung will prove the greater. Am I to recall his deeds of old and earliest manhood? His present deeds lure away my mind. Am I to tell of his justice? His military glory outshines it. Shall I mention his prowess in war? He has done more in peace. Shall I relate how Latium flourishes, how Africa has returned to her allegiance and service, how Spain knows no more the Moor as her neighbour, how Gaul has now nought to fear from a disarmed Germany?​ Or shall I sing of wintry Thrace and those fierce struggles whereof Hebrus was witness? Limitless is the expanse that opens before me and even on the slopes of Helicon this weight of praise retards my muse’s chariot.

For truly since man inhabited this globe never has one mortal been granted all earth’s blessings without alloy. This man’s face is fair but his character is evil; another has a beauteous soul but an ugly body. One is renowned in war but makes peace hideous with his vices. This man is happy in his public but unhappy in his private life. Each takes a part; each owes his fame to some one gift, to bodily beauty, to martial prowess, to strength, to uprightness of life, to knowledge of law, to his offspring and a virtuous wife. To all men else blessings come scattered, to thee they flow commingled, and gifts that separately make happy are all together thine.

I will not unfold the tale of thy sire’s​ warlike deeds. Had he done nothing of note, had he in loyalty to Valens never led to battle those yellow-haired companies, yet to be the father of Stilicho would have spread abroad his fame. Ever from thy cradle did thy soul aspire, and in the tender years of childhood shone forth the signs of loftier estate. Lofty in spirit and eager, nothing paltry didst thou essay; never didst thou haunt any rich man’s doorstep; thy speech was such as to befit thy future dignities. A mark wert thou even then for all eyes, even then an object of reverence; the fiery brightness of thy noble countenance, the very mould of thy limbs, greater even than poets feign of demi-gods, marked thee out for a leader of men. Whithersoever thy proud form went in the city thou didst see men rise and give place to thee; yet thou wast then but a soldier. The silent suffrage of the people had already offered thee all the honours the court was soon to owe.

Scarce hadst thou reached man’s estate when thou wast sent to negotiate peace with Assyria;​ to make a treaty with so great a people was the charge entrusted to thy youth. Crossing the Tigris and the deep Euphrates thou cam’st to Babylon. The grave lords of Parthia looked at thee in amaze and the quiver-bearing mob burned with desire to behold, while the daughters of Persia gazing on their beauteous guest sighed out their hidden love. The peace is sworn at altars sweet with the fragrance of incense and the harvests of Saba. Fire is brought forth from the innermost sanctuary and the Magi sacrifice heifers according to the Chaldean ritual. The king himself dips the jewelled bowl of sacrifice and swears by the mysteries of Bel and by Mithras who guides the errant stars of heaven. Whenever they made thee sharer of their hunting, whose sword struck down the lion in close combat before that of Stilicho, whose arrow pierced the striped tiger afar before thine? When thou didst guide the easy rein the Mede gave way to thee, and the Parthian marvelled at the bow thou didst discharge in flight.

Meanwhile a maiden of years full ripe for marriage troubled a father’s heart, and the emperor doubted whom to select as her husband and as future ruler of the world; right anxiously did he search east and west for a son-in‑law worthy of being wedded to Serena. Merit alone had to decide; through camps, through cities, through nations roamed his poised and hesitating thoughts. But thou wast chosen, thus in the opinion and judgement of him who selected thee surpassing all the candidates of the whole world and becoming a son-in‑law in the imperial family where thou wast shortly to become a father-in‑law. The marriage-bed was ablaze with flashing gold and regal purple. The maiden steps forth accompanied by her parents clad in scarlet. On one side stood her sire, famed for his triumphs, on the other was the queen, fulfilling a mother’s loving office and ordering the bridal veil beneath a weight of jewels. Then, so men say, the horses of the sun and the stars of heaven danced for joy, pools of honey and rivers of milk welled forth from the earth. Bosporus decked his banks with vernal flowers, and Europe, entwined with rose garlands, uplifted the torches in rivalry with Asia.

Happy our emperor in his choice; he judges and the world agrees; he is the first to value what we all see. Ay, for he has allied to his children and to his palace one who never preferred ease to war nor the pleasures of peace to danger, nor yet his life to his honour. Who but he could have driven back the savage Visigoths to their wagons or overwhelmed in one huge slaughter the Bastarnae puffed up with the slaying of Promotus?​ Aeneas avenged the slaughter of Pallas with the death of Turnus, Hector, dragged behind the chariot-wheels, was to wrathful Achilles either revenge or gain; thou dost not carry off in mad chariot dead bodies for ransom nor plot idle savagery against a single corpse; thou slayest at thy friend’s tomb whole squadrons of horse, companies of foot, and hordes of enemies. To his ghost a whole nation is offered up. Neither Vulcan’s fabulous shield nor such armour as that of which poets sing the forging assisted thine efforts. Single-handed thou didst succeed in penning within the narrow confines of a single valley the vast army of barbarians that were long since ravaging the land of Thrace. For thee the fearful shriek of the onrushing Alan had no terrors nor the fierceness of the nomad Hun nor the scimitar of the Geloni, nor the Getae’s bow or Sarmatian’s club. These nations would have been destroyed root and branch had not a traitor by a perfidious trick abused the emperor’s ear and caused him to withhold his hand; hence the sheathing of the sword, the raising of the siege, and the granting of a treaty to the prisoners.

He was always with the army, seldom in Rome, and then only when the young emperor’s anxious love summoned him thither. Scarce had he greeted the gods of his home, scarce seen his wife when, still stained with the blood of his enemies, he hastened back to the battle. He did not stay to catch at least a kiss from Eucherius through his vizor; the anxieties of a general o’ercame a father’s yearning and a husband’s love. How often has he bivouacked through the Thracian winter and endured beneath the open sky the blasts that slow Boötes sends from mount Riphaeus. When others, huddled over the fire, could scarce brook the cold, he would ride his horse across the frozen Danube and climb Athos deep in snow, his helmet on his head, thrusting aside the frozen branches of the ice-laden trees with his far gleaming targe. Now he pitched his tent by the shores of Cimmerian Pontus, now misty Rhodope afforded him a winter’s bed. I call you to witness, cold valleys of Haemus, that Stilicho has often filled with bloody slaughter; and you, rivers of Thrace, your waters turned to blood; say, ye Bisaltae, or you whose oxen plough Pangaeus’ slopes, how many a rotting helm has not your share shattered neath the soil, how oft have not your mattocks rung against the giant bones of slaughtered kings.

Fain would I embrace each separate one; but thine exploits press on in too close array, and I am overwhelmed by the pursuing flood of glorious deeds. When Theodosius had warred against, and slain, the tyrant​ he ascended into heaven, leaving the governance of the world to thee. With a strength equal to his thou dost bear up the tottering structure of the empire that threatens each moment to collapse. Thus, when once Hercules upheld the world, the universal frame hung more surely poised, the Standard-bearer did not reel with tottering stars, and old Atlas, relieved for a moment of the eternal load, was confounded as he gazed upon his own burden.

Barbary was quiet, no revolution troubled the empire’s peace and though so great a prince was dead the world knew not that the reins had passed into another’s hands. No company in the two armies​ dared aught as though set loose from control. Yet surely never had such diversities of language and arms met together to form one united people. Theodosius had unified the whole East beneath his rule. Here were mingled Colchian and Iberian, mitred Arab, beautifully coifed Armenian; here the Sacian had pitched his painted tent, the Mede his stained tent, the dusky Indian his embroidered tent: here were the tall company of warriors from the Rhone and the warlike children of Ocean. Stilicho and Stilicho alone commanded all the nations looked on by the rising and the setting sun. Amid this company so diverse in blood and speech such peace reigned beneath thy rule, so did fear of justice secure right, that not a single vineyard was robbed, nor did a single field cheat the husbandman of its plundered crop; rage incited to no violence, passion to no deeds of shame; the peaceful sword was obedient to law. Of a truth their leaders’ pattern passes to the crowd, and the soldier follows not only the standards but also the example of his general.

Whithersoever thou didst lead thy victorious eagles there rivers grew dry, drunk up by so many thousands of men. Didst thou march towards Illyria, plain and mountain were hidden; didst thou give the signal to thy fleet, the Ionian main was lost beneath thy ships. Cloud-girt Ceraunia, the storms that dash the waves in foam on Leucas’ promontory — these could not affright any. Shouldst thou bid them explore some frozen sea, thy untroubled soldiers would shatter the congealed waters with countervailing oar; had they to seek the deserts of the south, to search out the sources of the Nile, their sails would penetrate into Ethiopia’s midmost heat.

Thee mindful Eurotas, thee Lycaeus’ rustic muse, thee Maenalus celebrates in pastoral song, and therewith the woods of Parthenius, where, thanks to thy victorious arms, weary Greece has raised once more her head from amid the flames. Then did Ladon, river of Arcadia, stay his course amid the countless bodies, and Alphaeus, choked with heaps of slaughtered Getae, won his way more slowly to his Sicilian love.

Do we wonder that the foe so swiftly yields in battle when they fall before the sole terror of his name? We did not declare war on the Franks; yet they were overthrown. We did not crush in battle the Suebi on whom we now impose our laws. Who could believe it? Fierce Germany was our slave or ever the trumpets rang out. Where are now thy wars, Drusus, or thine, Trajan? All that your hands wrought after doubtful conflict that Stilicho did as he passed along, and o’ercame the Rhine in as many days as you could do in years; you conquered with the sword, he with a word; you with an army; he single-handed. Descending from the river’s source to where it splits in twain and to the marshes that connect its mouths he flashed his lightning way. The speed of the general outstripped the river’s swift course, grew as grew Rhine’s waters. Chieftains whose names were once so well known, flaxen-haired warrior-kings whom neither gifts nor prayers could win over to obedience to Rome’s emperors, hasten at his command and fear to offend by dull delay. Crossing the river in boats they meet him wheresoever he will. The fame of his justice did not play them false: they found him merci­ful, they found him trustworthy. Him whom at his coming the German feared, at his departure he loved. Those dread tribes whose wont it was ever to set their price on peace and let us purchase repose by shameful tribute, offered their children as hostages and begged for peace with such suppliant looks that one would have thought them captives, their hands bound behind their backs, and they mounting the Tarpeian rock with the chain of slavery upon their necks. All those lands that lie between Ocean and the Danube trembled at the approach of one man. Boreas was brought into servitude without a blow; the Great Bear was disarmed.

In so short a time didst thou win so many battles without loss of blood, and, setting out with the moon yet new, thou didst return or ever it was full; so didst thou compel the threatening Rhine to learn gentleness with shattered horns, that the Salian now tills his fields, the Sygambrian beats his straight sword into a curved sickle, and the traveller, as he looks at the two banks, asks over which Rome rules. The Belgian, too, pastures his flock across the river and the Chauci heed it not; Gallic herds cross the mid Elbe and wander over the hills of the Franks. Safe it is to hunt amid the vast silence of the distant Hercynian forest, and in the woods that old-established superstition has rendered awful our axes fell the trees the barbarian once worshipped and nought is said.​

Nay more, devoted to their conqueror this people offers its arms in his defence. How oft has Germany begged to add her troops to thine and to join her forces with those of Rome! Nor yet was she angered when her offer was rejected, for though her aid was refused her loyalty came off with praise. Provence will sooner drive out the governor thou sendest than will the land of the Franks expel the ruler thou hast given them. Not to rout rebels in the field but to punish them with chains is now the law; under our judge a Roman prison holds inquest on the crimes of kings. Marcomeres and Sunno​ give proof: the one underwent exile in Etruria, the other, proclaiming himself the exile’s avenger, fell beneath the swords of his own soldiers. Both were eager to arouse rebellion, both hated peace — true brothers in character and in a common love of crime.

After the conquest of the north arose a fresh storm in another quarter. The trumpets of war rang out in the south that there might be no part of the world untouched by thy victories. Gildo stirred up all the Moorish tribes living beneath mount Atlas and those whom the excessive heat of the sun cuts off from us in the interior of Africa, those too whom Cinyps’ wandering stream waters, and Triton, neighbour of the garden of the Hesperides; those who dwell beside the waters of Gir, most famous of the rivers of Ethiopia, that overflows its banks as it had been another Nile. There came at his summons the Nubian with his head-dress of short arrows, the fleet Garamantian, the Nasamonian​ whose impetuous ardour not even the sinister predictions of Ammon could restrain. The plain of Numidia was overrun, their dust covered the Gaetulian Syrtes; the sky of Carthage was darkened with their arrows. Some, mounted, guide their horses with sticks, others are clad in tawny lion-skins and pelts of the nameless animals that range the vast deserts of Meroë. Severed heads of serpents with gaping jaws serve them for helmets, the bright sealy skin of the viper fashions their quivers. Simois trembled not so violently when swart Memnon led his dusky troops o’er Ida’s summit. Not so fearful was Ganges when Porus approached, mounted on his towering elephant and surrounded with his far-shooting Indian soldiery. Yet Porus was defeated by Alexander, Memnon by Achilles, and Gildo by thee.

It was not, however, only the South that fierce Mars aroused but also the East. Though loyalty cried out against it Gildo had transferred the nominal rule of Libya to the Eastern empire, cloaking his base treason under the name of legitimate government.​ Thus with diverse terror a twofold war arose; here were arms, there were wiles. Africa supported the one with her savage tribes, the other the conspiring East nurtured with treachery. From Byzantium came edicts to subvert the loyalty of governors; from Africa that refused her crops black famine pressed and had beleaguered trembling Rome. Libya openly meditated our destruction; over the civic strife shame had laid her veil of silence.

Though such storms raged on either hand, though the twofold tempest buffeted the torn empire on this side and on that, no whit did our consul’s courage yield to weariness, but ever watchful against threatening doom and soon to win prosperous issue, shone greater amid dangers: as the ship’s pilot, tossed in mid Aegean by the storms of rainy Orion,​ eludes the waves’ buffeting by the least turn of the tiller, skilfully guiding his vessel now on straight, now on slanting course, and struggles successfully against the conjoint fury of sea and sky.

At what, Stilicho, shall I first marvel? At the providence that resisted all intrigues, whereby no treacherous missive, no bribe-fraught hand escaped thy notice? Or because that amid the general terror thou spakest no word unworthy of Latium? Or because thou didst ever give haughty answer to the East and later made that answer good? They held thy goods, thy lands, thy houses, yet wast thou unmoved. This thou didst account a trifling loss nor ever preferred private to public interest. Thy mighty task thou dost parcel out, yet dost thou face it all alone, debating the problems that must needs be thought out, acting where deeds are called for, ever ready to dictate where aught is to be accomplished by writing. What hundred-handed monster, what Briareus, whose arms ever grew more numerous as they were lopped off, could cope with all these things at once? To avoid the snares of treachery, to strengthen existing regiments and enroll new ones, to equip two fleets, one of corn-ships, one of men-of‑war, to quell the tumult of the court and alleviate the hunger of the Roman populace — what eyes, never visited by the veil of sleep, have had the strength to turn their gaze in so many directions and over so many lands or to pierce so far? Fame tells how Argus girt with a hundred eyes could guard but one heifer with his body’s watch.

Whence comes this mass of corn? What forest fashioned all those vessels? Whence has sprung this untutored army with all its young recruits? Whence has Gaul, its age once more at the spring, won back the strength that Alpine blows twice shattered?​ Methinks ’tis no levy but the ploughshare of the Phoenician Cadmus that has raised up thus suddenly a host sprung from the sowing of the dragon’s teeth; ’tis like the crop that in the fields of Thebes drew the sword of kin in threatened battle with its own sower when, the seed once sown, the earth-born giants clave the earth, their mother’s womb, with their springing helms and a harvest of young soldiery burgeoned along the armèd furrows. This too must not be passed over without full meed of praise, that the avenging expedition did not embark until the senate had, in accordance with antique usage, declared war. Stilicho re-established this custom, neglected for so many ages, that the Fathers should give generals charge to fight, and by decree of the toga-clad Senate the battle-token pass auspiciously among the legions. We acknowledge that the laws of Romulus have now returned when we see arms obedient to our ministers.

Thou couldst have filled the Tyrrhene sea with all thy standards, the Syrtes with thy fleet and Libya with thy battalions, but wrath was stayed o’ercome by prudent fear lest Gildo, terrified at the thought that thou wast in arms against him and suspecting that thy forces were of overwhelming strength, might retire into the hot desert and the torrid zone, or travel east in flight or, to console him for the certainty of death, might destroy his cities with fire. Marvellous it is to tell: thou wast fearful of being feared and forbade him to despair whom thy vengeance awaited. How greatly was his confidence our gain! Safe are the towers of hostile Carthage, and the Phoenician fields rejoice in their unharmed husbandmen, fields he might have laid waste in his flight. Deluded by a vain hope he spared what was ours without escaping chastisement for himself. Madman, to measure Rome by the numbers instead of the valour of her soldiers! He advanced as though he would ride them all down by means of his fleet cavalry and, as he often boasted, would overwhelm in the dust the Gauls enervated by the sun’s heat. But he soon learned that neither wounds made more deadly by the poisoned arrow of Ethiopia nor thick hail of javelins nor clouds of horsemen can withstand Latin spears. The cowardly Nasamonian troops are scattered, the Garamantian hurls not his spears but begs for mercy, the swift-footed Autololes fly to the desert, the terror-stricken Mazacian flings away his arms, in vain the Moor urges on his flagging steed. The brigand flees in a small boat and driven back by the winds met with his just fate in the harbour of Tabraca, discovering that no element offered refuge, Stilicho, to thine enemies. There he was destined to undergo the insults of the overjoyed populace and to bow his guilty head before a lowly judgement-seat.

Let not Fortune claim aught for herself. Let her ever be favourable; but we trusted not the issue to a single fight, nor was the hazard set with all our force to be lost at a single throw. Had hard chance at all prevailed, a second fleet pressed on behind, a greater leader was yet to come.

Never was a more famous victory nor one that was the object of more heart-felt prayers. Will anyone compare with this the defeat of Tigranes, of the king of Pontus, the flight of Pyrrhus or Antiochus, the capture of Jugurtha, the overthrow of Perses or Philip? Their fall meant but the enlargement of the empire’s bounds; on Gildo’s depended the very existence of Rome. In those cases delay entailed no ill; in this a late-won victory was all but a defeat. On this supreme issue, while leanness racked her people, hung the fate of Rome; and to win back Libya was a greater gain than its first conquest, even as to lose a possession stirs a heavier pain than never to have had it. Who would now be telling of the Punic wars, of you, ye Scipios, or of thee, Regulus; who would sing of cautious Fabius, if, destroying right, the fierce Moor were trampling on an enslaved Carthage? This victory, Rome, has revived the laurels of thy heroes of old; Stilicho has restored to thee all thy triumphs.

Claudian, On Stilicho’s Consulship (A.D. 400), BOOK II

Thus far the warrior’s praise! Now let my gentler Muse relax the strings and tell by what virtues he governs the world, tempering fear with love, say what counsel moved him at last to assume those consular robes that cried out to him, and bestowed on our annals a year named after himself.

In the beginning Love​ was the guardian of this vast universe, she who dwelt in the sphere of Jove, who attempers the sky ‘twixt cold and heat, who is eldest of the immortals. For Love, pitying the elemental confusion, first disentangled Chaos; with a smile she scattered the darkness and bathed the world in light. She dwelleth now not in temples nor by altars warm with incense but in thy heart wherein she has made her home. Taught by her thou accountest it cruel and barbarous to batten on suffering and human slaughter; the sword that drips blood in war thou wearest unstained in peace; though angered thou feedest with no fuel the flame of hatred; thou forgivest the guilty even before they ask, thou layest aside thy wrath more readily than thou art moved to wrath, thou never turnest a deaf ear to prayers, all who oppose thee thou overthrowest, but deignest not to touch them when overthrown, like a lion who lusts to rend in pieces the fierce bull, but passes by the cowering prey. At her bidding thou extendest pardon to the conquered; at her prayer thou refrainest the dread fires of thine anger and those threats, not the less terrible for being unfulfilled; it is enough for thee to inspire awe, even as the heavenly Father who, shaking the world with his loud thunder, hurls the bolts of the Cyclopes upon rocks and sea-monsters and, sparing the blood of man, expends his lightnings on the forests of Oeta.

Good Faith too, Love’s sister, has made her shrine in thy heart and joins herself to all thine actions. She has taught thee to practise no hypocrisy, never to speak falsehood, never to postpone the fulfilment of thy promises; to hate openly those thou hatest, and not to hide the poison of resentment in thy heart nor let a false smile mask treachery but to make thy countenance the sure mirror of thy mind. She gainsayeth secret vengeance but encourageth secret benefits. She strengthens friendships also, that grow more firm by lapse of time and binds them with chains of lasting adamant; not hers is the fickle change of mood, nor does she permit close ties to be broken by the rumour of some petty injury, nor is she lured to scorn the old friend when a new one comes. Mindful of past benefits, quick to forget wrongs, she remembers services alike small or great and strives to outdo them, overcoming friends with devotion as an enemy with arms. She safeguards the absent and is the sole protector of those far away; she opens not a greedy ear to rumours, so that never does the stealthy whisper that would injure some unsuspecting client estrange thy sympathies.

Nor does the love that clings to the living forget the dead, and the gratitude a father earned is paid to his children. This kept thee loyal to Theodosius while yet he wielded the sceptre, loyal, too, after his death; nor carest thou more for thine own offspring than for the sons he entrusted to thy guidance and protection. Just and most faithful does Fame account those, who, though they might deny a trust, have chosen rather to fulfil it, unpolluted by greed of gain; but it is not riches, not a huge heritage of gold that Stilicho holds in trust for the young heirs, but two hemispheres and all that is embraced within the sun’s fiery orbit. What wouldst thou not fearlessly entrust to him to whom a kingdom is entrusted safely?

Defended by this buckler Honorius did not mourn his noble sire, and on life’s very threshold, ne’er scorned by any, he dictates laws to conquered races and sees his triumphs increase with his years. Him thou dost seek to shape as with kindly so with severe mind; neither to sloth dost thou deliver him by a ready yielding to all his wishes, nor by opposing dost thou crush his eager spirit: as a youth thou teachest him in secret a king’s lesson — his duty to his people; as a reverend senior thou payest him honour and governest the empire at a father’s bidding; to thy lord thou givest humble worship; thou guidest thy master with obedience, thy sire with over. Hence it was that he knew not passion before matrimony and preferred to vindicate his manhood not in a youth of debauchery, but in the chaste bonds of legal wedlock. Blessed art thou in having an emperor for a son-in‑law; more blessed he with thee for father.​

Care no less tender watched over Honorius’ brother, Arcadius. Rightly thou ascribest not to that youth the outrages of the feeble, vicious mob that seeks to screen its own mad folly behind the name of a king. Nay, even when discord raged never did Stilicho so burn with anger, though oft assailed by insult, oft attacked with the sword, that he sought to avenge the frenzy he endured by unholy war and give a handle to strife; stayed on his loyalty, mid all the factions of a court, the hallowed friendship of those brothers stood inviolate. Nay more, thou dividedst equally with him Sidonian cloaks, belts studded with pearls, jewelled togas, breastplates thick with green emeralds, helmets flashing with sapphires, swords with gleaming handles thy sire had wielded, crowns bright with the glint of manifold jewels, that both might be equal heirs of their imperial sire’s rich furniture and apparel. Thou didst send soldiers to Byzantium also, though civil strife was already raising its head. Rather wouldst thou reinforce a foe than fail thy pledge; all that he fairly asks thou grantest and refusest only that the withholding of which he himself will shortly approve, and that to obtain which were shameful.

Moreover, all the virtues whose pure aspect puts all wickedness to flight live conjoined in thee and, dwelling within thine heart, aid thee in the manifold businesses of life. Justice teaches thee to prefer the right to the useful, to obey the general laws of mankind and never to enrich thy friends at others’ cost. Patience strengthens thy body so that it seeks never to yield to toil. Temperance guides thee to chaste desires. Prudence will have thee do nought without forethought, Constancy nought without decision and firm purpose. The deadly vices which Tartarus sends up from his monstrous abyss fly far from thee; but first and foremost thou banishest Avarice, mother of crimes, greedy for more the more she possesses, searching ever open-mouthed for gold; with her thou drivest out her most foul nurse, Ambition, who watches at the gate of the power­ful and haunts their dwelling-places, cherishing the sale of honours for gold. This age’s more turbid stream of corruption has not drawn thee to follow its examples — corruption which had with lapse of time established crime and turned the custom of rapine into a law. Beneath thy rule the rich tremble not for the safety of ancestral lands or houses; no informer stalks the world set on making no matter whom his victim. Virtue suffers no eclipse by poverty. Thou exaltest men of all countries, asking what are their merits not their place of birth, what their character not whence their origin. A generous prince takes note of our life; rewards allure into the ways of virtue. Hence it comes that the arts of old flourish once more; the path to fortune is open to genius, while poesy again raises her despised head. Rich and poor strive with equal zeal towards their ends, for both see that, as poverty cannot depress merit, so riches cannot elevate incapacity.

Fair-fronted wantonness deceives thee not, wantonness, that sweet curse, which surrendering to the arbitrament of the body dulls the wits with darkness, enervating the limbs with bane more deadly than that of Circe. Fair, indeed, is her face but none is fouler within; dyed are her cheeks; clothed about is she with treacherous lures, and deadly vipers hide them in her golden hair. Many hath she caught with the bait of pleasure, thee, though often she has tried, she has never ensnared. No lust bids thee wake for adultery’s sake, nor does sleep cheat the hours of toil. Neither the strains of the lyre nor the wanton song of boys accompany thy repast. Has any seen thee free from care, thy mind entirely at rest, or indulging in the banquet unless some public rejoicing commanded? No shameful expenditure strains the resources of the treasury, no pitiless missive in a tiny roll disposes of the property of the absent. Though thrifty thou art beloved of the army, for thou neglectest not thy soldiers in peace, and dost not only enrich them when war is toward. Thou knowest that belated gifts, offered in fear to those hitherto scorned, earn no gratitude: ’tis but a useless flinging away of gold as uselessly hoarded. Thou preventest thy soldiers’ needs and art generous over and above their expectations; thou callest them to thy board and addressest each by his name, mindful of all the brave deeds ever done by each beneath thy banners. To thy gifts thou addest praises that will ever be remembered, whereby the grace of your close bond is doubled.

When bounti­ful though dost not also turn the bounty into a reproach, nor dost thou address those whom thou hast advanced with the language of disdainful patronage; nor yet does prosperity make thee puffed up. Nay, pride itself is far removed from thee, pride, a vice so familiar in success, ungracious attendant on the virtues. All, no matter when or where, may meet and address thee. Talk over the wine is not watched, but each guest, at liberty to say just what he pleases, mingles grave converse with gay and fears not his words. Each marvels to find an equal in the emperor’s father-in‑law and the father of his country, when one so power­ful acts the citizen so graciously. With the learned thou discoursest of antiquity, with the aged of experience, with the soldier of valiant deeds, and dost mingle thy talk with such pleasant wit that none would rather hear the strains whereby Amphion built the walls of Thebes or Orpheus’ lute drew the woods to follow him.

Hence all love thee, all anxiously pray heaven for thee with no feigned intercession, all shout applause at the mention of thy name and reproduce thy form in gilded statues. What anvil should not ring, what forge be idle, from what vast furnaces should bronze not flow that is to shape thine image? What corner of the world, what region so remote but should worship thy beloved countenance as divine, — hadst thou not always refused such honour? Nay, let him snatch at such glory whom hollow gifts inspired by fear can beguile and who despairs of a people’s love. He who in truth deserves can alone afford to despise them.

Embassies arrive from every quarter and in the presence of thy son-in‑law pray for a hundred voices to herald thy renown. The Gallic envoys gives thee thanks for that, safe from attack though no legion guards his frontier, and fearing no hostile incursion, he builds new dwelling-places along the banks of the Rhine and fringes the river, famed once for the savagery of its tribes, with houses as pleasant as those by Tiber’s stream. Here Carthaginians crown thy praise, because they possess their lands delivered from the tyrant’s rule; there the Pannonian, freed from the blockade, and he who drinks the Save, grateful because he now dare throw open the gates of cities closed for so many years. Such sharpen once more upon the whetstone their sickles dark with rust and cause their mattocks, foul with want of use, to shine as of old. Each sees again his well-remembered cottage, kisses his native hills, and can scarce believe real the furrows cut by his heavy plough. He hews down the forests and renders again fit for cultivation fields which generations had let run wild. Once more he covers the banks of the Danube with vineyards and rejoices to pay the taxes his forefathers paid, for it was bloodshed that brought immunity. While thou art safe, heaven allows the harassed body of our distracted empire to regain its youthful vigour. Thou dost restore all that we have lost of old under so many princes. Only when Stilicho’s hand brings remedy can grow a scar to hide Roman wounds, and when at last the husbandman of Illyria returns to his farms the treasury will again be enriched with Illyrian tribute.

But heaven’s judgement is not a whit behind man’s favour. The gods unite for thine especial protection and deliver thine enemy into thy hands upon the sea shore or hinder his flight by the ocean’s immense barrier or make him turn his arms madly against himself; and so, a second Pentheus, he is hewn in pieces by his own soldiers’ frenzied blades. The gods discover for thee plots against thy life and lead thee to the very lair of treason, even as Molossan hounds guide the huntsman with their subtle scent. They show forth the future by omens or by birds or they deign to give thee clear warning in dreams.

For which things’ sake countless lands in rivalry have sought for thee the consul’s robe, but thou thyself didst oppose their desire, and thy mind, so ready to grant favour to another, so rigorous a critic of itself, kindling with the torch of modesty, with bashful pleading deprecates that late reward. And so, anxious to see accomplished the hopes, vainly conceived through so many years, of seeing in thee their new consul, they hasten to the gates of royal Rome, determined, should she not listen to their entreaties, to constrain her hesitation, and prepared to sweep away all hindrances that delay their prayer. They meet at the temple of the goddess that shines bright upon the Palatine.​ First to speak was Spain, her head crowned with a grey-leaved garland from Minerva’s olive and golden Tagus woven into her shining robe: “Everything that I have ever asked of Stilicho he has granted me, and has begrudged only honour for himself. Once he found it in his heart to refuse the consul­ship at the hands of an emperor, his father-in‑law; he now refuses it also from his son-in‑law. If not as a guardian from the world he rules, at least let him receive it as a kinsman from his emperor. Counts he it a small thing that, taking my offspring to his arms, he so upholds my grandsons​ in their undisturbed rule, that the purple ennobles their native Baetis? That by means of fair Maria he dowers Rome with a dynasty? That he is looked to as the ancestor of kings?”

Then warlike Gaul, her hair combed back, a rich necklace about her neck, and javelins twain in her hands, thus spake with kindling heart: “Why is his title not yet read in the annals of Rome, who by his own might o’ercame for me the Germans and the Franks? Why is the page of history still ignorant of a name that by now should have been inscribed therein so often? Is, then, bringing peace to the Rhine so light a title to fame?”

Next spake Britain clothed in the skin of some Caledonian beast, her cheeks tattooed, and an azure cloak, rivalling the swell of ocean, sweeping to her feet: “Stilicho gave aid to me also when at the mercy of neighbouring tribes, what time the Scots roused all Hibernia against me and the sea foamed to the beat of hostile oars. Thanks to his care I had no need to fear the Scottish arms or tremble at the Pict, or keep watch along all my coasts for the Saxon who would come whatever wind might blow.”

Then up spake Africa, her hair gay with wheat ears and an ivory comb and her face all sun-burned: “I hoped that after Gildo’s death no obstacle could prevent Stilicho’s acceptance of the consul­ship. Does he even yet refuse and hesitate to honour with the fasces so great a triumph — he who has enabled me utterly to forget the tearful name of Moor?”

After these came Italy, pliant vine and ivy interlacing on her head, pressing the wine from plenti­ful ripe grapes. Said she: “If you are thus eager that Stilicho should augment the dignity of the curule chair, you to whom the mere report can bring delight, how much more rightly does a longing inspire me to enjoy his presence, to attend him as he mounts his seat and to salute his opening of the new year’s course?”

One after another they pour forth these entreaties and beg Rome to approach Stilicho in the name of them all. Right swiftly she obeyed their behest and seizing at once her arms winged her way quicker than a shooting star through the clouds of heaven. Over Etruria she flew, grazed the Apennines in her flight, and lit Eridanus’ wave with the reflexion of her shield. She stood before the general, imposing as mighty Pallas, terrible as Mars. The palace trembled at the glitter of her aegis and her helmet plumes brushed the pannelled ceiling. Then as he stood astonished she first addressed him flattering reproaches: “I acknowledge, revered Stilicho, that thou hast saved but not yet brought honour to the curule chair. Of what avail to have rid the year of the brand of slavery? Dost thou defend a dignity thou shunnest? Scorn what with all thy might thou madest? reject when offered what thou didst save when falling? Why dost thou hold back? Why disappoint my prayers? No danger threatens from the north, the south is quiet; the Moors have been subdued, Germany has yielded, profound peace holds fast the doors of Janus’ temple. Am I not yet worthy to have thee for my consul? Can we believe that office unimportant and of slender dignity to hold which emperors think themselves honoured, that office by means of which I have caused conquered peoples and captive kings to pass beneath the yoke?

“If nature by her portents foreshadow coming ills I am not besmirched therewith. Nay, that thou countest ill omen was for the East. Yet no facts confirm the tale I have heard; Rumour’s self scarce smiled at such a tale of guilt.​ The disgrace has no proof; no letter came to divulge the wicked secret. In this lies thine especial virtue, that, while consulting the senate on every question, thou hast not mentioned this portent. No decree for the suppression of this scandal has impaired the dignity of this august assembly, nor has that ill-omened name been heard in my senate. To have hesitated would have been to share his guilt. All letters telling of this profanation that came from the far East were destroyed e’er they could cross the sea, that fortune’s shameful turn should not offend the chaste ears of Italy. That infatuation of a people was best rewarded with silence — and how strenuous were thine endeavours that it should so be! Joy should be his who needs no longer pen the annals of the East. Our Latin story knows no such blot: let others take pains to conceal their own disgrace. Why should I applaud the downfall of one of whose elevation I never heard nor knew? ‘Tis for the guilty to repent; we have never even believed.

“Yet had the good of all been one and this pollution stained our axes, all the more shouldst thou have taken the high office thou dost shun lest that ancient dignity — ever the goal of all dignities — should be destroyed. No consul, save Stilicho alone, can repair that ruin. With what foreknowledge had thy soul led the hour: once it would have added lustre unto thee, now thou dost add lustre unto it. Do thou as consul wipe out the insult offered to all consuls that have been and yet shall be. Give thy name to the year that posterity may dwell thereafter securely, and that antiquity, thus vindicated, may case from her complaints. Brutus was the founder of the office, let Stilicho be its avenger. Brutus, the first consul, won liberty for the Roman people by means of the consular fasces: Stilicho banished the taint of slavery from those fasces. Brutus instituted this supreme dignity; Stilicho saved it; and it is greater to preserve what already is than to create that which is not. Why do thy blushes grant so tardy an acceptance of our prayers? Why does the accustomed flush o’erspread thy brow? World-conqueror, conquer now thine own diffidence.

“Full well I know that no gift can seduce thee, yet be pleased to admire and receive this cloak, woven for thee on no mortal loom by Minerva and myself. Twice together have we dipped the thread that goes to make the cloth in purple dye and interwoven therewith that same gold of which Lachesis has woven the golden centuries that are to be mine beneath thy rule. See here I have prefigured thy destined progeny, those thy children for whom the world prays; soon shalt thou confess me a true prophet and coming fate prove that my embroidery is true.”

She spake and drew from her bosom the gift, a consul’s cloak, stiff and heavy with gold. The glorious woof breathes Minerva’s skill. Here is depicted a palace with columns of red marble and Maria’s sacred travail. Lucina eases her labour. On a splendid couch lies the young mother, by her side sits her own mother, pale with anxiety yet happy withal. The flower-crowned Nymphs take up the babe and wash him in a golden basin. Almost could one hear rising from the embroidery the little child’s mingled laughter and wailing. And now the babe had grown up, recalling his father in countenance; Stilicho, riper in years, teaches his grandson, the emperor that is to be,​ the science of war. In another part Eucherius, the down of early manhood on his cheeks, rode his horse that flecked its silken reins with bloody foam. Woven himself of gold he smites with javelin or arrow the purple stags that raise their golden horn. Here Venus, borne in her dove-drawn chariot, unites for the third time the hero’s family with princely house​ and the winged Loves throng the affianced bride, daughter and sister of an emperor. Eucherius now lifts the veil from the bashful maiden’s face; Thermantia smiles upon her brother’s joy. This house now seeks the crown in the person of either sex, it gives birth to queens and the husbands of queens.

Such are the gifts wherewith the goddess sought to win Stilicho, handing to him at the same time the ivory staff.​ She shook the urn to obtain the customary signs and confirmed the beginning of his task by favourable auspices. Then she clothed with the vesture of Romulus those shoulders better accustomed to armour. The garb of Latium covers his breast and the toga graces what erstwhile the cuirass protected. Thus Mars, returning victorious from the Danube or the Scythian clime, a god of peace now his shield is laid aside, enters the city wearing the consul’s cloak and in a chariot drawn by white horses; Quirinus directs the ample reins and Bellona marches before her father’s car holding aloft the bloody oak-branch decked with the spoils won in single combat; Fear and his brother Terror are the lictors and cast chains of iron on the necks of captive barbarians, their helmets wreathed with laurel, while Panic, her robe up-girt, walks by the yoke-horses, brandishing a mighty battle-axe.

When Rome saw herself possessed of the consul for whom she had prayed, “Now,” she said, “fain would I hasten to the fields and woods of Elysium to bear the news of this wondrous answer to our universal prayer to the Curii and Fabricii who have wept for the dignity of the consul’s toga so lately outraged. Let them now tread the meads in joyous dance and the austere Catos not blush to join their sport. Let the elder Brutus hear the news and the Scipios, terror of Carthage, learn that by one man’s help I have been rescued from a double danger and have recovered both Libya and the fasces. One thing only is left, and do thou, brave consul, add it to my prayers — bestow awhile that presence she entreats upon the city which thou hast rescued from war and famine, and restored to the overlord­ship of the world. Let our famous rostrum welcome a second Camillus and our citizens look upon their avenger and saviour, ay, and the common people whom thou, their leader, lovest, the people to whom Africa, because of thee, offers her harvests and the Rhone her crops till now unheard of, whereby Libyan fields and Gallic abundance are at my service and now the rainy south-wind and now the north wafts grain to my shores and my granaries are full whatever breeze may blow.

“What thousands will then throng the Flaminian Way! How often will the deceptive dust disappoint the loving expectation of those who trust to see thee arrive every minute! Anxiously our mothers watch for thee; every road will be strewn with flowers while the consul, true image of Rome’s ancient senate, climbs the steep summit of the Pincian hill. What applause from the theatre of Pompey! How often will the Murcian valley raise to heaven thy name re-echoed by Aventine and Palatine! Leave the camp and let me behold thee now, soon to see thee, consul for a second time, along with thy son-in‑law.”

While Rome so spake, Fame, on wings of rumour, flies over the sea and with thousand tongues bids the chiefs speed to the capital. Not one can age hold back, nor the long journey, nor the Alps’ wintry blasts; Love wins the victory. Veterans whom the fasces ennobled long since hasten to greet the year of their colleague and avenger. So when by that birth in death the Phoenix renews its youth and gathers its father’s ashes and carries them lovingly in its talons, winging its way, sole of its kind, from the extreme east to Nile’s coasts, the eagles gather together and all the fowls from every quarter to marvel at the bird of the sun; afar its living plumage shines, itself redolent of the spices of its father’s fragrant pyre.

There is like joy in heaven: the two Theodosii and thine own protecting deities are glad; the Sun himself, decking his chariot with spring flowers, prepares a year worthy of thee.

Far away, all unknown, beyond the range of mortal minds, scarce to be approached by the gods, is a cavern of immense age, hoary mother of the years, her vast breast at once the cradle and the tomb of time. A serpent​ surrounds this cave, engulfing everything with slow but all-devouring jaws; never ceases the glint of his green scales. His mouth devours the back-bending tail as with silent movement he traces his own beginning. Before the entrance sits Nature, guardian of the threshold, of age immense yet ever lovely, around whom throng and flit spirits on every side. A venerable old man writes down immutable laws: he fixes the number of stars in each constellation and causes these to move and those to be at rest, whereby everything lives or dies by pre-ordained laws. ‘Tis he decides Mars’ uncertain orbit, Jupiter’s fixed course through the heaven, the swift path of the moon, and the slow march of Saturn; he limits the wanderings of Venus’ bright chariot and of Mercury, Phoebus’ companion.​

When the Sun rested upon the spacious threshold of this cavern dame Nature ran to meet him and the old man bent a hoary head before his proud rays. The adamantine door swung open of its own accord and revealed the vast interior, displaying the house and the secrets of Time. Here in their appointed places dwell the ages, their aspect marked by varying metals: there are piled those of brass; here those of iron stand stiff; there the silver ones gleam bright. In a fairer part of the cave, shy of contact with the earth, stood the group of golden years; of these Phoebus chooses the one of richest substance to be marked with the name of Stilicho. Then, bidding the rest follow behind him, he addresses them thus as they pass. “Lo! the consul is at hand for whom we have delayed an age of nobler ore. Go ye, years long prayed for by man, bring back virtue; let genius flourish once more; may Bacchus give you joy and fruitful Ceres bless you. Let not the constellation of the Serpent breathe forth too icy an air from between the two Ploughing Oxen nor the Bear vent his excessive cold; let not the Lion rage with his gaping maw nor pitiless summer inflame the claws of Cancer. Let not Aquarius, too prodigal of his rainy urn, flood the young seedlings with sudden storms. Let Phrixus’ ram, his horns twined with roses, extend the fertile spring and let not the Scorpion beat down the ripe olives with his hail. Let the Virgin mature the fruits of Autumn and the Dog-star, more gentle than his wont, refrain from barking at the heavy grape-clusters.”

So saying he entered his garden starred with fiery dew, the valley round which runs a river of flame feeding with its bounteous rays the dripping weeds whereon the horses of the sun do pasture. Here he gathers flaming flowers wherewith he decks the heads, the golden reins, and manes of his steeds. With leaves from hence Lucifer and Aurora entwine their oozy locks. Hard by the golden year, displaying the consul’s name, smiles upon his chariot, and the stars, recommencing their courses, inscribe the name of Stilicho in the annals of the sky.

Claudian, On Stilicho’s Consulship (A.D. 400), BOOK III


The elder Scipio, who single-handed turned the Punic wars back from Italy’s coasts to their own home, fought not his battles unmindful of the Muse’s art; poets were ever the hero’s special care. For valour is always fain to seek alliance with the Muses that they may bear witness to her deeds; he loves song whose exploits deserve the meed of song. Therefore, whether to avenge his sire’s​ death the young warrior brought into subjection the Spanish seas or embarked upon the Libyan wave his dreadful standards, resolved to break with sure spear the strength of Carthage, the poet Ennius was ever at his side and in all his campaigns followed the trumpet’s call into the midst of the fray. Him after the battle the soldiers loved to hear sing, and the trooper, still dripping with blood, would applaud his verses. When Scipio had triumphed over either Carthage — over the one to avenge his sire, over the other his fatherland — and when at last, after the disasters of a long war, he drove weeping Libya a captive before his chariot wheel, Victory brought back the Muses in her train and Mars’ laurel crowned the poet’s brow.

Thee, Stilicho, our new Scipio, conqueror of a second Hannibal more terrible than the first, — thee after five long years Rome has given back to me and bidden me celebrate the completion of her vows.



Behold, O Rome, the hero whose presence the cries of thy people and the voice of thy nobles has long demanded. Cease now to count the stages of his long journey and to rise as though to greet him at the sight of every storm of dust; no further shall uncertainty torment thee. Full before thine eye is he who was long before thy mind, greater than thy hopes, more glorious than his fame. Honour thou the consul who has restored its dignity to the consul­ship; grasp the hand which has made the Carthaginians pass once more under the Roman yoke. Welcome the noble heart that directs the reins of empire and secures by its providence the equipoise of the world. Look with joy upon the sacred face thou worshippest cast in bronze and adorest in gold. Behold the warrior success­ful in every field, the defender of Africa, the conqueror of Rhine and Danube.

Should he wish in accordance with ancient custom to display the picture of his labours and show to the people the tribes he has subdued, crowns of laurel from north and south would contend in equally matched rivalry. Here is a triumph rich with the spoils of the Germans, there with those of the South; here would pass the Sygambri with their yellow locks, there the black-haired Moors. He himself would be drawn in a laurel-decked chariot by white horses, and followed by his soldiers chanting their festive songs. Some would lead captive kings, others carry conquered towns wrought in bronze or mountains or rivers. Here would opening in sad procession the river-gods of Libya, their horns broken, there Germany and the Rhine god in chains. Yet is not thy consul, O Rome, an unbridled boaster of his own prowess. ‘Tis not the rewards of toil but the toil itself that he loves. He scorns empty applause and celebrates a happier triumph in the hearts of his fellow-citizens.

Of a surety the citadel of Rome has never welcomed home any of her generals with greater magnificence, no, not even Fabricius when he returned after the surrender of Pyrrhus, nor Aemilius Paulus, conqueror of Pella’s king, when he ascended the Capitol in his chariot. No such triumph as this threw open the gates of Rome to Marius after his conquest of Numidia or to Pompey after his victories in the East. Each of these suffered from a rival faction that murmured uneasily against their success, and envy pursued their actions, no matter how noble, with spiteful stings. Stilicho alone was raised above the range of envy and the measure of mankind. For who could be jealous of the stars’ eternity, of Jove’s ancient rule in heaven, of Phoebus’ omniscience?​ There are some merits so transcendent that furious envy’s bounds cannot contain them. Moreover, those other heroes owed a divided allegiance: one gained the favour of the nobles, but was hated of the people, one, supported by the suffrage of the commons, enjoyed but faintly the favour of the senate. In Stilicho’s case alone class rivalry has not raised its head: the knights welcome him with joy, the senate with enthusiasm, while the people’s prayers rival the goodwill of the nobles.

Blessed mortal, whom the Rome that thou hast saved calls her father; darling of the world to whose banner flocks the whole of Gaul, whom Spain connects by marriage with the imperial house, for whose advent the citizens cried with ceaseless prayer, and whose presence the senate owed to thine illustrious son-in‑law. Not such a girl’s delight in flowers, not such the desire of the crops for rain, or of weary sailors for a prosperous breeze as is the longing of thy people for the sight of thee. Under no such influence as this do the prophetic laurels wave on Delos’ coast when the brightness of Apollo’s bow announces the deity’s approach. Never did Pactolus’ golden wave so swell in pride when Bacchus from conquered Ind visited his banks. Markest thou not how the roads cannot be seen for the people, the roofs for the matrons? Thanks to thy victories, Stilicho, salvation has dawned on all beyond their hopes. Look round on Rome’s seven hills whose sheen of gold rivals the very sun’s rays; see the arches decked with spoil, the temples towering to the sky, and all the buildings that celebrate this signal triumph. Let thine astonished glance measure the magnitude of the city thou hast saved and the immensity of thy services. All this would live but in the memory were the African still master of the south.

It was the custom in campaigns of olden time to crown with oak the brow of him who by his valour had put the enemy to flight and succeeded in rescuing a fellow-citizen from imminent death. But to thee what civic crown can we give for the salvation of so many cities? Or what honours can recompense thy deeds? Nor is it only for her people’s life that Rome owns herself a debtor to thine arms, but that so she might have sweeter enjoyment of this glorious dawn she has won back her ancient burden of renown, her lost strength and her conquered kingdoms. No longer do her ambassadors kneel suppliant before the proud East and beg that Libya may be given back to her; gone the shameful spectacle of our city a suitor to her own slaves. No, relying now on her native Latin vigour, Rome under thy leader­ship fights her own battles with Roman spirit. She herself bids the standards advance; the toga-clad consul directs the future conqueror, and the eagles wait upon the orders of the senate. Of her own free choice hath Rome bestowed on thee the consul’s robe, offered thee, her avenger, the curule chair and compelled thee to adorn her annals.

Nothing of her ancient dignity has she lost, no regret has she for the age of republican freedom, since it is she who bestows the consular honour, she who gives the order for battle. Nay, she sees the growth of her power. Whose memory can recall a time when the fields of Gaul and the hoes of the Senones were at our service? Has it ever happened before that Tiber’s wave has carried grain from the fertile north over the ploughing of whose fields the Lingones have toiled? Such a harvest not only fulfilled Rome’s needs but also demonstrated the greatness of her power; it reminded the peoples who was their mistress and brought in triumph from those chill climes a tribute never before paid.

This, too, augments the majesty of Rome that the chiefs of Libya tremble before the judgement-throne of our people, and that, his office ended, each governor must account under pain of death for all the corn the Carthaginian farmer has brought in, all that the rainy south-wind has dispatched to Rome. Those who of late uttered their proud judgements to broad domains here are cowed and tremble; those whom Africa held in dread Rome’s forum sees accused.

Stilicho gives hope for the virtues of a bygone age and rouses a people, forget­ful of their former glory, to resume their accustomed sovereignty, to make themselves feared, to tread power­ful magistrates beneath their heel, to mete out to crime its due reward, to show mercy toward the erring, favour to the innocent, punishment to the guilty, and to exercise once more their native virtue of clemency.

He errs who thinks that submission to a noble prince is slavery; never does liberty show more fair than beneath a good king. Those he himself appoints to rule he in turn brings before the judgement-seat of people and senate, and gladly yields whether they claim reward for merit or seek for punishment. Now the purple lays aside its pride and disdains not to have judgement passed upon itself. Such were the principles of rule taught by Stilicho to his son-in‑law, Honorius; ’twas thus he guided his youth with the reins of prudence, and with precepts such as these directed his tender years, a truer father to the emperor than Theodosius, his stay in war, his adviser in peace. Thanks to him dishonour is banished and our age blossoms with Rome’s ancient virtues; thanks to him power, long degraded and all but transferred,​ no longer, forget­ful of itself, is exiled in lands of servitude but, returned to its rightful home, restores to Italy its victorious destiny, enjoys the promised auspices of its foundation and gives back its scattered limbs to the head of the empire.

Consul, all but peer of the gods, protector of a city greater than any that upon earth the air encompasseth, whose amplitude no eye can measure, whose beauty no imagination can picture, whose praise no voice can sound, who raises a golden head amid the neighbouring stars and with her seven hills imitates the seven regions of heaven, mother of arms and law, who extends her sway o’er all the earth and was the earliest cradle of justice, this is the city which, sprung from humble beginnings, has stretched to either pole, and from one small place extended its power so as to be co-terminous with the sun’s light. Open to the blows of fate while at one and the same time she fought a thousand battles, conquered Spain, laid siege to the cities of Sicily, subdued Gaul by land and Carthage by sea, never did she yield to her losses nor show fear at any blow, but rose to greater heights of courage after the disasters of Cannae and Trebia, and, while the enemy’s fire threatened her, and her foe​ smote upon her walls, sent an army against the furthest Iberians. Nor did Ocean bar her way; launching upon the deep, she sought in another world for Britons to be vanquished. ‘Tis she alone who has received the conquered into her bosom and like a mother, not an empress, protected the human race with a common name, summoning those whom she has defeated to share her citizen­ship and drawing together distant races with bonds of affection. To her rule of peace we owe it that the world is our home, that we can live where we please, and that to visit Thule and explore its once dread wilds is but a sport; thanks to her all and sundry may drink the waters of the Rhone and quaff Orontes’ stream, thanks to her we are all one people. Nor will there ever be a limit to the empire of Rome, for luxury and its attendant vices, and pride with sequent hate have brought ruin all kingdoms else. ‘Twas thus that Sparta laid low the foolish pride of Athens but to fall herself a victim to Thebes; thus that the Mede deprived the Assyrian of either and the Persian the Mede. Macedonia subdued Persia and was herself to yield to Rome. But Rome found her strength in the oracles of the Sibyl, her vigour in the hallowed laws of Numa. For her Jove brandishes his thunderbolts; ’tis she to whom Minerva offers the full protection of her shield; to her Vesta brought her sacred flame, Bacchus his rites, and the turret-crowned mother of the gods her Phrygian lions. Hither to keep disease at bay came, gliding with steady motion, the snake whose home was Epidaurus, and Tiber’s isle gave shelter to the Paeonian​ serpent from beyond the sea.

This is the city whom thou, Stilicho, and heaven guard, her thou protectest, mother of kings and generals, mother, above all, of thee. Here Eucherius first beheld the light, here the queen his mother showed the babe to his imperial grandsire who rejoiced to lift a grandson upon his knee and to let him crawl upon his purple robes.​ Rome had foreknowledge of his destined glory and was glad, for so dear a pledge would keep thee ever her faithful citizen.

But think not this people ungrateful nor such as knows not how to repay benefits. Turn but the pages of history and thou wilt find how often it has faced war for an ally’s sake, how often bestowed as a gift on friendly monarchs lands won at the expense of Italian blood. Yet never were public thanks poured forth with such consent. For what prince has not sought with every blandishment to be called lord and father — titles which the amphitheatres echo back to thee day after day? Hail, consul, to thy new titles! Mars’ people calls thee lord and Brutus gainsays them not; what till now no terror could compel Rome’s free citizens to endure, they freely offered to their love for Stilicho. Wheresoever thy shining form is seen they haste to greet thee and raise to heaven thy name; nor is their wandering gaze ever sated with looking upon thee whom they love when thou enterest the Circus in thy shining robes of gold or art present at the games or, seated on thine ivory throne, dispensest justice in the forum or, with thine attendant lictors, mountest the rostrum thronged with the dense and surging crowd.

But what were the acclamations of the great, how unfeigned their rejoicings when Victory, soaring aloft with outspread wings, herself threw open her holy temple to the hero? Maiden that rejoicest in the green bay and lovest the tokens of triumphant fight, guardian of our empire, sole healer of our wounds, that makest our toils as though they were not, whether it pleaseth thee to dwell amid the stars of Ariadne’s crown or nearer to the fervid Lion, whether thou art seated on the lofty sceptre of Jove or Pallas’ shield or calmest the sighs of weary Mars, be ever present to Latium and grant, goddess, the prayers of thy senate. May Stilicho often crown thy portals and bear thee back with him to his armies. Accompany and bless him in war and give him back in robes of peace to our council-chambers. Always has he brought thee home in a spirit of mercy and kept thee kindly to the vanquished nor ever stained thy laurels with cruelty. He neither looks with disdain on his fellow-citizens nor harries the anxious city with his legionaries; but true consul now that the war is ended he comes accompanied only by his lictors nor seeks the useless protection of the sword, guarded only by a people’s love.

Handling his great wealth in no niggard spirit he does not hesitate to double his lavish expenses and after giving wondrous games in honour of his soldiery and of Honorius reserves yet greater for Rome. They say that Jove at Minerva’s birth showed gold upon lucky Rhodes; that while Bacchus forced an egress from his father’s thigh Hermus grew pale and turned to that same metal; that Midas, fated to suffer hunger as a punishment for his greed, converted to shining gold everything that he touched. Be these stories true or false thy liberality exceeds the waters of Hermus, the touch of Midas, the Thunderer’s shower. Thy hands, as prodigal of gifts as of daring deeds, o’ershadow the past and will o’ershadow the future. Should fire have melted the countless mass of silver thou bestowest as though it were the cheapest of metals, lakes and rivers of silver might have been formed.

Thou too, Latonia, queen alike of the woods and of the stars, art moved by no small care for Stilicho; thou toilest to distinguish our spectacles with the forest’s noblest denizens, and on the dizzy summits of Alpine rocks layest aside thy bow and summonest thy virgin companions and the chaste band of thy quiver-bearing followers. Thither they come, their shoulders and arms bare, spears in their hands and arrows slung across their backs, beautiful though unadorned; red their cheeks, dusty and suffused with sweat; their fierce virginity betrays not their sex; disordered their hair; girdles twain prevent their dresses from flowing down below their knees. Golden-haired Leontodame precedes her comrades, Nebrophone, foster child of Mount Lycaeus, follows her, and Thero whose arrows hold Maenalus in subjection. Fiery Britomartis hastens from Cretan Ida and Lycaste, peer of the western winds in flight. There join them the twin sisters Hecaërge, terror of beasts, and Opis, deity beloved of hunters, Scythian maids; their preference for Delos​ over the frosts of the north made them goddesses and queens of the woods. These were the seven chiefs who came; there followed them a second band of Nymphs, Diana’s lovely company, a hundred from Taygetus, a hundred from Cynthus’ summit, a hundred more whose first home was beside the chaste waters of Ladon. When she saw these gathered together Delia thus began:

“Friends who hate the rites of wedlock even as I hate them, who scour the snowy mountains in virgin companies, mark you how the gods with unanimous favour glorify this year for Latium? How many herds of horses Neptune provides from every quarter of the world? How that none of my brother Apollo’s lyres can refrain from sounding the praises of Stilicho? From us too let Stilicho receive the favour we justly owe him; the task needs no javelin; let our arrows remain bloodless in our unopened quivers. Let every blow refrain from its wonted hunting and the blood of our prey be spilled but in the arena. Not for now their death; close the glades with net and cages and lead the beasts captive; withhold your impatient arrows; spare the monsters of the forest whose death shall win applause for our consul. Divide and haste in every direction; my breathless course is towards the Syrtes; do you, Cretan Lycaste and Opis, bear me company. My purpose is to traverse the unfruitful desert; Mauretania has given ere now her animals to other consuls as a gift, to this consul alone she owes them as a conquered land owes tribute. While we track out the dread progeny of Libya do you hunt the glades and rocks of Europe. Let joy banish fear from the shepherd’s breast and his pipe hymn Stilicho in the dreadless forests. As his laws have given peace to the cities so let his shows give peace to the mountains.”

She spake and straightway is borne from the leafy Alps across the sea. Hinds bow their necks to her chariot’s yoke, hinds whom the dewy moon conceived in her fertile caverns beneath the threshold of the morning sky to be the glory of the goddess. White their skins as driven snow; gold marks their foreheads whence spring branching golden horns lofty as the tallest beech-trees. Opis holds the reins. Lycaste carries the fine-wrought nets and golden snares, and deathless Molossian hounds run barking about the chariot amid the clouds. Five others thus equipped (such were Diana’s orders) hasten this way and that, each at the head of her own company; there follow them dogs of various shape, breed and character; some whose heavy jowls fit them for big game, some swift of foot, some keen of scent; shaggy Cretans bay, splendid Spartans, and Britons that can break the backs of mighty bulls. Britomartis scours the woods of Dalmatia and the precipitous ridges of Pindus, her hair flying in the wind. Thou, Leontodame, surroundest the glades of Gaul and huntest the marshes of Germany, tracking out any huge boar, his tusks flexed with age, that may have taken shelter among the sedges that flank the Rhine. Swift Hecaërge tires the cloud-capped Alps, the valleys of the Apennines, and the snows of Garganus. Thero with her dogs explores the caves of Spain and from their recesses ousts the horrid bears of whose bloody jaws full oft Tagus’ flood has failed to quench the thirst, and whose bodies, numbed with cold, the holm-oak of the Pyrenees o’ershadows with its leaves. The manlike maiden Nebrophone hunts the mountains of Corsica and Sicily and captures deer and other harmless beasts, beasts that are the joy of the rich amphitheatre and the glory of the woods.

Whatsoever inspires fear with its teeth, wonder with its mane, awe with its horns and bristling coat — all the beauty, all the terror of the forest is taken. Guile protects them not; neither strength nor weight avails them; their speed saves not the fleet of foot. Some roar enmeshed in snares; some are thrust into wooden cages and carried off. There are not carpenters enough to fashion the wood; leafy prisons are constructed of unhewn beech and ash. Boats laden with some of the animals traverse seas and rivers; bloodless from terror the rower’s hand is stayed, for the sailor fears the merchandise he carries. Others are transported over land in wagons that block the roads with the long procession, bearing the spoils of the mountains. The wild beast is borne a captive by those troubled cattle on whom in times past he sated his hunger, and each time that the oxen turned and looked at their burden they pull away in terror from the pole.

By now Phoebus’ sister had wandered o’er the torrid plains of Libya and chosen out superb lions who had often put the Hesperides to flight, filled Atlas with alarm at their wind-tossed manes, and plundered far and wide the flocks of Ethiopia, lions whose terrible cries had never struck upon the herdsmen’s ears but as heralding their destruction. To catch them had been used no blazing torches, no twigs strewn over turf undermined; the voice of a tethered kid had not allured their hunger nor had a diggèd pit ensnared them: of their own free will they gave themselves up to capture and rejoiced at being seen the prey of so great a goddess. At length the countryside breathes again and the Moorish farmers unbar their now safe huts. Then Latonia collected grey-spotted​ leopards and other marvels of the south and huge ivory tusks which, carved with iron into plaques and inlaid with gold to form the glistening inscription of the consul’s name, should pass in procession among lords and commons. All India stood in speechless amaze to see many an elephant go shorn of the glory of his tusks. Seated upon their black necks despite their cries the goddess shook the fixèd ivory and tearing it up from its bloody roots disarmed the monstrous mouths. Nay, she fain would have brought the elephants themselves as a spectacle but feared that their vast weight would retard the ships.

Fiercely o’er the Tyrrhene wave echoes the fleet that holds the Libyan breed, and, as he coils his tail upon the stern, a lion stretches to the prow; that single beast the labouring bark can scarce uplift; deep down below the waters is heard the roaring. Out rushes the leviathan. Neptune compares these land prodigies to his and admits that his are not their equal. So whene’er victorious Bacchus ploughs the Red Sea’s waves, Silenus sways the helm, the urgent Satyrs sweat upon their oars and the oxhide drums, smitten by the Bacchants, summon the rowers of Bromius to toil at the thwarts; ivy-wreaths deck the benches, the pliant vine entwines the mast; a drunken snake glides out upon the yardarms; lynxes run and leap along the sheets that drip with wine, and unaccustomed tigers stare in amaze at the canvas.