And the third came ... the cry was, "Flight, or Death!"
Flight left they not for them who'd make them slaves —
Men who stab children! — flight for them! ... no! graves
"'T was their last day."
Yet spared they messengers: — they came to Rome -
How drooped the plume — the lance was left to trail
Down in the dust behind — their cheek was pale —
So came the messengers to Rome.
High in his hall the imperator sate —
Octavianus Cæsar Augustus sate.
They filled up wine-cups, wine-cups filled they up
For him the highest — wine-cups filled they up
For him the highest, Jove of all their state.
The flutes of Lydia hushed before their voice,
Before the messengers — the "Highest" sprung—
The god against the marble pillars, wrung
By the dread words, striking his brow, and thrice
Cried he aloud in anguish — "Varus! Varus!
Give back my legions, Varus!" —
And now the world-wide conquerors shrunk and feared
For fatherland and home,
The lance to raise; and 'mongst those false to Rome
The death-lot rolled, and still they shrunk and feared;
"For she her face hath turned
The victor goddess," cried those cowards— (for aye
Be it!) — "from Rome and Romans, and her day
Is done," — and still he mourned,
- Augustus was worshipped as a deity in hie lifetime.
- See supra, p. 234.