Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/266

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


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[1] 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,[2] 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,

  1. Augustus was worshipped as a deity in hie lifetime.
  2. See supra, p. 234.