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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Rimini (Ariminum)

Cxsar at Rimini

By Lucan (39–65 A.D.)

(From Pharsalia)
Translated by Nicholas Rowe

HE spoke; and on the dreadful task intent,

Speedy to near Ariminum he bent;

To him the Balearic sling is slow,

And the shaft loiters from the Parthian bow.

With eager marches swift he reached the town,

As the shades fled, the sinking stars were gone,

And Lucifer the last was left alone.

At length the morn, the dreadful morn arose,

Whose beams the first tumultuous rage disclose:

Whether the stormy south prolonged the night,

Or the good gods abhorred the impious sight,

The clouds awhile withheld the mournful light.

To the mid Forum on the soldier passed,

There halted, and his victor ensigns placed:

With dire alarms from band to band around,

The fife, hoarse horn, and rattling trumpets sound.

The starting citizens uprear their heads;

The lustier youth at once forsake their beds;

Hasty they snatch the weapons, which among

Their household gods in peace had rested long;

Old bucklers of the covering hides bereft,

The mouldering frames disjoined and barely left;

Swords with foul rust indented deep they take,

And useless spears with points inverted shake.

Soon as their crests the Roman eagles reared,

And Cæsar high above the rest appeared,

Each trembling heart with secret horror shook,

And silent thus within themselves they spoke.

O hapless city! O ill-fated walls!

Reared for a curse so near the neighboring Gauls!

By us destruction ever takes its way,

We first become each bold invader’s prey;

O that by fate we rather had been placed

Upon the confines of the utmost east!

The frozen north much better might we know,

Mountains of ice, and everlasting snow.

Better with wandering Scythians choose to roam,

Than fix in fruitful Italy our home,

And guard these dreadful passages to Rome.

Through these the Cimbrians laid Hesperia waste;

Through these the swarthy Carthaginian passed;

Whenever fortune threats the Latian states,

War, death, and ruin enter at these gates.