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She hath risen like a queen !- a pause — a moment's
pause! — and now One word hath torn the golden badge from off her
royal brow; The
prows are turned to Egypt, and the flying sails un
furled, And the western breeze hath borne from him the for
tunes of the world.
Emilio CASTELAR. ARRANGED.
They were born in the mountains, in the desert, among the caresses of Nature, breathing the pure air of the fields and of sacred liberty. War and war only has torn them from their country. Rome has fed them for the sake of their blood, — blood to be offered in sacrifice to the majesty of the Roman people.
Already they lie in ambush; they search; they threaten and persist in the bloody strife. If any one, moved by terror for himself, or compassion for his opponent, draws back or seems to shrink, the master of the circus tortures him with a red-hot iron button on his naked shoulder. The crimson blood flows and smokes in the circus.
One man has slipped and fallen! The people shout, they believe him dead! When he rises they hiss! He loses heart after vain and desperate efforts to keep on foot. Here a man falls, felled by a single wound
through the buckler. There another writhes in insupportable anguish.
Two are mortally wounded, but in falling, fling away their swords and embrace each other for support and help in the death agony. Mutilated limbs, torn intestines, groans of anguish; the death rattle of the dying ; faces drawn and set; last sighs and lamentations ; shrieks of rage and despair, — all this is a grand spectacle for the Roman people, who shout, clap their hands, become intoxicated, infuriated !
They follow the combat with keen anxiety; they strain their eyes from the sockets to see more of the slaughter; they open their lungs and nostrils to inhale the bloody vapor.
Who, who, can turn aside Rome's punishment ? All her power, all her majesty, all her greatness have been destroyed for an idea !
Now emperors have died and prætors are dispersed, and the stones of the Coliseum have fallen and a new idea has replaced the ancient belief, converted the persecuted into persecutors, and attempted in its return to destroy new sects, to stifle new opinions. It has not been able, with all its excommunications, its inquisition, or its tortures, to grasp the immortal idea of the human spirit that shines eternally among gods and ruins, among those who die and those who suffer, among creeds and dogmas, perpetual as the sun in the choirs of the universe.
SPARTACUS TO THE GLADIATORS AT CAPUA.
It had been a day of triumph at Capua. Lentulus, returning with victorious eagles, had amused the populace with the sports of the amphitheatre to an extent hitherto unknown even in that luxurious city. The shouts of revelry had died away; the roar of the lion had ceased; the last loiterer had retired from the banquet; and the lights in the palace of the victor were extinguished. The moon, piercing the tissue of fleecy clouds, silvered the dewdrops on the corselet of the Roman sentinel, and tipped the dark waters of the Vulturnus with a wavy, tremulous light. No sound was heard save the last sob of some retiring wave, telling its story to the smooth pebbles of the beach; and then all was still as the breast when the spirit has departed. In the deep recesses of the amphitheatre, a band of gladiators were assembled, their muscles still knotted with the agony of conflict, the foam upon their lips, the scowl of battle yet lingering on their brows, when Spartacus, starting forth from amid the throng, thus addressed them :
“ Ye call me chief; and ye do well to call him chief who, for twelve long years has met upon the arena every shape of man or beast the broad empire of Rome could furnish, and who never yet lowered his arm. If there be one among you who can say that ever, in public fight or private brawl, my actions did belie my tongue, let him stand forth and say it. If there be
three in all your company dare face me on the bloody sands, let them come on. And yet I was not always thus, –a hired butcher, a savage chief of still more savage men! My ancestors came from old Sparta, and settled among the vine-clad rocks and citron groves of Syrasella. My early life ran quiet as the brooks by which I sported; and when, at noon, I gathered the sheep beneath the shade, and played upon the shepherd's flute, there was a friend, the son of a neighbor, to join me in the pastime. We led our flocks to the same pasture, and partook together our rustic meal. One evening, after the sheep were folded, and we were all seated beneath the myrtle which shaded our cottage, my grandsire, an old man, was telling of Marathon and Leuctra ; and how, in ancient times, a little band of Spartans, in a defile of the mountains, had withstood a whole army. I did not then know what war was; but my cheeks burned, I knew not why, and I clasped the knees of that venerable man, until my mother, parting the hair from off my forehead, kissed my throbbing temples, and bade me go to rest, and think no more of those old tales and savage wars.
That very night, the Romans landed on our coast. I saw the breast that had nourished me trampled by the hoof of the war horse; the bleeding body of my father flung amidst the blazing rafters of our dwelling!
To-day I killed a man in the arena ; and when I broke his helmet clasps, behold! he was my friend. He knew me, smiled faintly, gasped and died ; — the same sweet smile upon his lips that I had marked, when, in
adventurous boyhood, we scaled the lofty cliff to pluck the first ripe grapes, and bear them home in childish triumph! I told the prætor that the dead man had been my friend, generous and brave; and I begged that I might bear away the body to burn it at a funeral pile and mourn over its ashes. Ay! upon my knees amid the dust and blood of the arena I begged that poor boon, while all the assembled maids and matrons, and the holy virgins they call Vestals, and the rabble, shouted in derision, deeming it rare sport, forsooth, to see Rome's fiercest gladiator turn pale and tremble at sight of that piece of bleeding clay! And the prætor drew back as if I were pollution, and sternly said, “Let the carrion rot; there are no noble men but Romans !' And so, fellow gladiators, must you, and so must I, die like dogs. O Rome, Rome! thou hast been a tender nurse to me. Ay, thou hast given to that poor, gentle, timid shepherd lad, who never knew a harsher tone than a flute-note, muscles of iron and a heart of flint; taught him to drive the sword through plated mail and links of brass, and warm it in the marrow of his foe; — to gaze into the glaring eyeballs of the fierce Numidian lion even as a boy upon a laughing girl! And he shall pay thee back, until the yellow Tiber is red as flowing wine, and in its deepest ooze thy life-blood lies curdled !
“Ye stand here now like giants, as ye are ! The strength of brass is in your tightened sinews; but tomorrow some Roman Adonis, breathing sweet perfume from his curly locks, shall with his lily fingers pat your red brawn, and bet his sesterces upon your blood.