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Those ancients whose resistless eloquence
By LORD BYRON.
(“Childe Harold," Canto II., 87, 88.)
Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild ;
Still in his beam Mendeli’s marbles glare :
Where'er we tread 'tis haunted, holy ground;
Defies the power which crushed thy temples gone : Age shakes Athenæ's tower, but spares grey Marathon.
ENCOMIUM ON FLIES.
BY LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA.
(For biographical sketch, see page 578.]
The fly has as much the advantage in its size over the gnat and such like insects, as it wants in competition with the bee. And as it may be reckoned among the kingdom of birds, so the beauty and delicacy of its wings as far excels those of other
irds as linen or woolen is inferior to silk. It is not covered with feathers, like other fowls, but has a fine lawn, like the grasshopper; and when you see it in the sunshine, there is as great a variety of curious colors as in a peacock's tail or a pigeon's neck. It does not fly by the strength of its wings, as birds do, nor by skips, as the grasshopper, but turns in a moment. The sound of its flight is not so rough as that of wasps or drones, but bears the same disproportion thereto as the pipe to the trumpet. Its eye is large, and even with the head, which is hard and shines like horn; being not fastened to the body as the grasshopper's is, but continued by a neck that moves every way. Its body is joined together; its legs long — though the wasp's are short; several shining divisions cover the belly like plates of a coat of armor. It does not hurt, like bees, with a sting, but has a small trunk that does the office of a mouth, having at the end of it a sort of tooth; and it is with this that it wounds or draws up blood or milk, though without any great pain. It has six legs in all; the two foremost supply the want of hands. With these he scours and dresses himself, and feeds himself besides. With the other four it executes the same offices as men employ theirs to. Its original is base, being engendered by putrefaction ; it is at first but a worm, then, by little and little, it turns to a bird, shooting out its legs and wings.
It is in man's company as long as it lives, and takes the freedom to taste of all his food - oil only excepted, because it is poison to him. And though its life is but short, — for the fates have allowed him but a very little line, - it seems to live only in the light, and is seen flying about only in that ; for it rests all night, when it neither flies, nor sings, nor moves.
I might say that his prudence is not small, when he flies his ambushed enemy, the spider. For he discovers him in ambus
cade, and observes him, declining his force, lest he be caught in his net, and fall into the meshes of the little beast.
I need not say much as to his strength or courage : since Homer, the greatest of all the poets, when he considered how he should praise the most excellent of heroes, compares not his strength and vigor to a lion, pard, or boar, but to the constant and intrepid mind and boldness of a fly. For he says that he is not rash, but bold and confident ; for though you remove and drive him away, he yet will not be gone, but hovers about, seeking the means of giving his bite. But Homer is so large in the praise of the fly, and is so very fond of him, that he mentions him, not once or seldom, but frequently, and in many places, so much does the speaking of him adorn his verse. For here he describes his gregarious flight to the milk; and when he compares Minerva declining the dart from any mortal part of Menelaus to a mother careful of her sleeping child, a fly is again brought for an example. Besides, he adorns them with a very pretty epithet-calling them sweet, and their flock, nations.
But he is so strong, and of such force, that by his bite he inflicts a wound ; not only in a man's skin, but in that of an ox and a horse. They say that he is likewise troublesome to the elephant, when he gets into his wrinkles and, with his little proboscis, makes an incision in proportion to his bigness.
Though the fly be a sort of idle lazy creature, yet he reaps the fruit of the labor of others, and everywhere finds a full table. For him are goats milked, and the bees make honey for the flies as well as for men. For him do the confectioners make their sweetmeats, and he tastes them before the kings themselves, with whom he feasts, marching about the table, and eating with them in all things.
He builds his nest or house not always in one place, but, taking a wandering flight, like the journeys of the Scythians, he makes his house and his bed wherever night overtakes him. But in the dark, as I have already observed, he does nothing; for he will do nothing secretly; nor does he think anything done by him base, which done in the light would not be a dishonor to him.
The fable tells us that the fly was originally a very beautiful but very loquacious woman, a perpetual tattler, and a singer into the bargain. She was rival to the Moon in her love with Endymion; and the Moon, being in a rage with her, turned her into a fly. And for this reason shu siill seems to envy everybody's sleep, especially the tender and young, retaining in her memory the sleep of Endymion. But her bites and thirst of blood proceed not from her cruelty, but humanity and love. For she enjoys beauty the way she is capable of, and crops some balmy particles from it.
There was besides a certain woman among the ancients whose name was Musca (i.e. a fly), a very learned and beautiful poetess. Nor did parents disdain to give their children this
For this reason Tragedy itself has with a just praise mentioned the fly, to this purpose —
That the fly may be with dreadful slaughter filled,
I have a great deal to say of a fly from Pythagoras, were not that known to everybody. There are a sort of flies which the vulgar call militant, others dog flies, making a sharp sound with a swift wing. These flies are of a very long life, and subsist all the winter without food, contracting and hiding themselves, chiefly under the roofs of houses. many more things on this head; but I will put an end to my oration, lest I should verify the old proverb, making an elephant of a fly.
I could say
ODES OF HORACE.
TRANSLATED BY CHARLES STUART CALVERLEY.
(Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the most popular of Roman poets, was born B.C. 65; superbly educated; at eighteen joined Brutus' army, and fought at Philippi ; had his estate confiscated, but through Virgil's intercession with Mæcenas received it again, and gained Augustus' friendship as well as that of Mæcenas, who presented him with the immortal - Sabine Farm." He died B.c. 8. His odes are enduringly valued for their charm of style and genial Epicureanism of philosophy.]
BOOK I., ODE 9.
Pile on great fagots and break up
The ice: let influence more benign
Enter with four-years-treasured wine,
Over the passionate seas, no more
Count to-day gain, whate'er it chance
To be: nor, young man, scorn the dance,
To sourness. Park and public walk
Attract thee now, and whispered talk
In what dim corner lurks thy love;
And snatch a bracelet or a glove
Seek not, for thou shalt not find it, what my end, what thine shall
be; Ask not of Chaldæa's science what God wills, Leuconöe : Better far, what comes, to bear it. Haply many a wintry blast Waits thee still; and this, it may be, Jove ordains to be thy last, Which flings now the flagging sea wave on the obstinate sandstone
reef. Be thou wise: fill up the wine cup; shortening, since the time is
brief, Hopes that reach into the future. While I speak, hath stolen away Jealous Time. Mistrust To-morrow, catch the blossom of To-day.
Book III., ODE 1.
I scorn and shun the rabble's noise.
Abstain from idle talk. A thing
That ear hath not yet heard, I sing,