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And Hecatompylos her hundred gates;
There Susa by Choaspes' amber stream,
The drink of none but kings; of later fame,
Built by Emathian or by Parthian hands,
The Great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
· Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye, thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthian (now some ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire) under his dominion holds,.
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou comest to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon, hath gather'd all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to ber aid
He marches now in haste; see, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit;
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings.”
He look’d, and saw what numbers numberless 310 The city gates out-pour'd, light-armed troops In coats of mail and military pride ; In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong, Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice Of many provinces from bound to bound; From Arachosia, from Candaor east, And Margiana, to the Hyrcanian cliffs Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales; From Atropatia, and the neighbouring plains Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheel'd, and, flying, behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown:
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots, or elephants indorsed with towers
Of archers ; nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude, with spades and axes arm’d,
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or, where plain was, raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke:
Mules after these, camels and dromedaries,
And wagons, fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican, with all his northern powers,
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her sex, Angelica,
His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
Both Paynim, and the peers of Charlemain.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry:
At sight whereof the fiend yet more presumed,
And to our Saviour thus his words renew'd:
“That thou may’st know I seek not to engage
Thy virtue, and not every way secure
On no slight grounds thy safety, hear, and mark,
To what end I have brought thee hither, and shown.
All this fair sight; thy kingdom, though foretold 351
By prophet or by angel, unless thou
Endeavour, as thy father David did,
Thou never shalt obtain ; prediction still
In all things, and all men, supposes means ;
Without means used, what it predicts revokes.
But, say thou wert possess'd of David's throne,
By free consent of all, none opposite,
Samaritan or Jew; how couldst thou hope
Long to enjoy it, quiet and secure,
Between too such enclosing enemies,
Roman and Parthian? Therefore one of these
Thou must make sure thy own; the Parthian first,
By my advice, as nearer, and of late
Found able by invasion to annoy
Thy country, and captive lead away her kings,
Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus, bound,
Maugre the Roman: it shall be my task
To render thee the Parthian at dispose ;
Choose which thou wilt, by conquest or by league:3.0
By him thou shalt regain, without him not,
That which alone can truly reinstal thee
In David's royal seat, his true successor,
Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten tribes,
Whose offspring in his territory yet serve,
In Habor, and among the Medes, dispersed :
Ten sons of Jacob, two of Joseph, lost
Thus long from Israel, serving, as of old
Their fathers in the land of Egypt served,
This offer sets before thee to deliver.
These if from servitude thou shalt restore
To their inheritance, then, nor till then,
Thou on the throne of David in full glory,
From Egypt to Euphrates, and beyond,
Shalt reign, and Rome or Cæsar not need fear."
To whom our Saviour answer'd thus, unmoved : “ Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm And fragile arms, much instrument of war,
Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,
Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my ear 390
Vented much policy, and projects deep
Of enemies, of aids, battles, and leagues,
Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.
Means I must use, thou say’st, prediction else
Will unpredict, and fail me of the throne:
My time, I told thee (and that time for thee
Were better farthest off), is not yet come:
When that comes, think not thou to find me slack
On my part aught endeavouring, or to need
Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome
Luggage of war there shown me, argument
Of human weakness rather, than of strength.
My brethren, as thou call'st them, those ten tribes,
I must deliver, if I mean to reign
David's true heir, and his full sceptre sway
To just extent over all Israel's sons.
But whence to thee this zeal? Where was it then
For Israel, or for David, or his throne,
When thou stood’st up his tempter to the pride
Of numbering Israel, which cost the lives
Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites
By three days' pestilence ? Such was thy zeal
To Israel then; the same that now to me.
As for those captive tribes, themselves were they
Who wrought their own captivity, fell off
From God to worship calves, the deities
Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,
And all the idolatries of Heathen round,
Besides their other worse than beathenish crimes :
Nor in the land of their captivity
Humbled themselves, or penitent besought
The God of their forefathers; but so died
Impenitent, and left a race behind
Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce
From Gentiles, but by circumcision vain;
And God with idols in their worship join'd.
Should I of these the liberty regard,
Who, freed as to their ancient patrimony,
Unhumbled, unrepentant, unreform’d,
Headlong would follow, and to their gods, perhaps,430
Of Bethel and of Dan? No; let them serve
Their enemies, who serve idols with God.
Yet he at length (time to himself best known)
.Remembering Abraham, by some wondrous call
May bring them back, repentant and sincere,
And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,
While to their native land with joy they haste;
As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,
When to the Promised Land their fathers pass'd:
To his due time and providence I leave them.” 446
So spake Israel's true King, and to the fiend
Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.
So fares it, when with truth falsehood contends.