Pompey and Caesar

Lucan Bellum civile 1.126-157

It is wrong to know who more jusdy put on arms. Each defends himself with a mighty judge. The victorious side pleased the gods, but the conquered [side pleased] Cato. Nor did they come together [as] equals.

The one (i.e., Pompey), on the threshold of (lit., [his] years declining into) old age and [made] more peaceful through long use of the toga, now forgot the [role of] leader through peace, and as a seeker of popularity gave much to the common people; he was wholly swayed by the breath of popular favor and delighted in the applause of his own theater; and he did not acquire (lit., rebuild) fresh power, and he trusted much in [his] earlier fortune. He stood, the shadow of a mighty name; just as a lofty oak tree in a fertile field, bearing the ancient trophies of a people and the consecrated gifts of leaders but no longer clinging [to the earth] with strong roots, is held by its own weight; and spreading [its] naked branches through the air, it creates shade with [its] trunk, not with [its] leaves; and although it sways and is going to fall under the first east wind, [and] so many trees round about rise with solid growth, nevertheless it alone is revered.

But in Caesar there was not only a name and a reputation as a [military] leader, but vigor that did not know how to stand in [one] place, and the only thing that caused him shame (lit., his only shame) was not to conquer by war. Energetic and headstrong, he fought wherever hope and anger had summoned [him] and never refrained from violating his sword (i.e., using his sword unjustly). He made the most of (lit., pressed) his successes and pursued the favor of a divinity, overcoming whatever stood in [his] way as he sought supreme power (lit., for him seeking highest things), and rejoicing to make a path by devastation; just as lightning, driven forth by winds through clouds, flashes with the sound of the smitten sky and the crash of the heavens, and breaks the light of day and terrifies frightened peoples, dazzling eyes with [its] zigzag flame; it rushes to its own area [of the sky] and, with no material preventing [it] from leaving, it causes great devastation over a wide area in falling and great [devastation] returning, and it gathers up [its] scattered fires again.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment