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Next morn from the chase an old hunter came back,
And reported, in faltering words,
By the screaming of carrion birds :
The cheerful effulgence of day,
The corse of a warrior lay.
We went forth in haste to the desolate glen,
And the loved of Tewanna we found
And marks of red strife were around :
His visage yet fearfully wore-,
Was dyed to the feather in gore.
On a litter, with leaves of the forest bespread,
We mournfully placed the young chief;
With faces bent downward in grief:
And were met by the youthful and old,
On the sleeper unbreathing and cold.
Make room for the maid whom in life he loved well!'
Said a voice, as Tewanna drew near;
An inanimate corse by the bier.
The warrior-chief, in his gore,
At the foot of yon old sycamore.
W. H. C. HosMER.
OF LUCIUS M. PISO, FROM PALMYRA, TO HIS FRIEND MARCUS CURTIUS, AT ROME: NOW
TRANSLATED AND PUBLISHED.
Many days have passed, my Curtius, since I last wrote, each bringing its own pleasures, and leaving its ineffaceable impressions upon the soul. But though all have been in many things delightful, none has equalled that day and evening at the palace of the queen. I have now mingled largely with the best society in Palmyra. The doors of the noble and the rich have been opened to me with a liberal hospitality. As the friend of Gracchus and Fausta — and now I may add, I believe, without presumption of Zenobia also, of Julia, and Longinus, I have been received with attentions of which Aurelian himself might with reason have been proud. More and more do I love this people, more and more fervently do I beg of the Being or Beings who rule over the affairs of men, to interpose and defend them from any threatening danger. I grieve that the rumors still reaching us from Rome tend so much to confirm the belief that our emperor is making preparations for an eastern expedition. Yet I cannot bring myself to think that he
aims at Zenobia. If it were so, would there be first no communication with the queen ? Is it like Aurelian to plan and move so secretly? And against a woman too? and that woman Zenobia ? I'll not believe it. Your letters would not be what they are, if there were any real purpose like that which is attributed to Aurelian. But time will make its revelations. Meanwhile, let me tell you where I now am, and what pleasures I am enjoying. This will be written under various dates.
I write to you from what is called the Queen's Mountain Palace, being her summer residence – occasionally either to avoid the greater heats of the city, or that she may divert herself with athletic sports, or hunting, of which she is excessively fond, and in which she has few equals of her own or even of our sex. Roman women of the present day would be amazed, perhaps, shocked, to be told what the sports and exercises are in which this great eastern queen finds her pleasures. She is not more exalted above the women of Rome by genius, and the severer studies of the closet, than she is, in my judgment, by the manner and fashion of her recreations. Let not the dear Lucilia be offended. Were she here with me, her fair and generous mind would rest, I am sure, after due comparisons, in the very same conclusions. Fausta is in these respects too, as in others, but her second self. There is not a feat of horsemanship or archery, or an enterprise in the chase, but she will dare all and do all that is dared or done by Zenobia. Not in the spirit of imitation or even rivalry, but from the native impulses of a soul that reaches at all things great and difficult. And even Julia, that being who seems too ethereal for earth, and as if by some strange chance she were misplaced, being here, even Julia has been trained in the same school; and, as I shall show you, can join in the chase, and draw the bow, with scarcely less of vigor and skill — with no less courage — than either her mother or Fausta. Although I have now seen it
, I still can hardly associate such excess of beauty a beauty both of form and face so truly belonging to this soft
, Syrian clime — with a strength and skill in manly exercises that might put to shame many a Roman who wears both a beard and the manly gown. But this, I need not say, is not after Julia's heart. She loves more the gentler encounters of social intercourse, where wit, and sense, and the affections, have their full play, and the god-like that is within us asserts its supremacy.
But my purpose now is, to tell you how and why it is I am here, and describe to you, as well as I can, this new Elysium: and how it is the happy spirits, whom the gods have permitted to dwell here, pass their hours.
I am here by the invitation of the queen. A few days after that which we had so highly enjoyed at the palace of the queen, she expressed her desire that Gracchus, Fausta, and myself would accompany her, with others of her select friends, to her retreat among the hills, there to indulge in perfect repose, or engage in the rural sports of the place, according to our pleasure. I was not slow, neither were Gracchus and Fausta, to accept so agreeable an invitation. I feared,' said Fausta, “lest the troubled state of affairs would prevent the
from taking her usual vacation, where she loves best to be. But to say the truth, Lucius, I do not think the prospect of a rupture with Rome does give her very serious thought. The vision of a trial of arms with so
renowned a soldier as Aurelian, is, I doubt, not wholly displeasing to her; there being especially so good reason to believe that what befell Heraclianus might befall' Aurelian. Nay, do not look so grave. Rome is not fallen — yet.'
• Your tongue, Fausta, is lighter than your heart. Yet if Rome must fall, why, truly I know not at whose feet it could fall so worthily as those of Zenobia and Fausta. But I trust its destiny is never to fall. Other kingdoms as great, or almost as great, I know you will say, have fallen, and Rome must in its turn. It seems, however, I must say, to possess a principle of vitality which never before belonged to any nation. Its very vastness, too, seems to protect it. as soon believe that shoals of sea-carp may overcome the whole, or an army
of emmets the elephant or rhinoceros, as that one nation, or many banded together, can break down the power of Rome.' 1
How very, very naturally and easily is that said. Who can doubt that you are a Roman, born upon the Cælian Hill! Pity but that we Palmyrenes could copy that high way you Romans have. Do you not think that strength and success lie much in confidence? Were every Roman such as you, I can believe you were then omnipotent. But then we have some like you. Here are Zenobia and I, you cannot deny that we have something of the Roman about us.'
· I confess it would be a drawn battle, at least, were you a nation of Zenobias. How Fausta is at the lance, I cannot yet tell.'
• That you shall see as soon as we are among the mountains. Is not this charming, now, in the queen, to bring us all together again so soon, under her own of? And such a place too, Lucius! We shall there, indeed; each day will, at least, be doubled. For I suppose life is to be measured, not by its hours, but its sensations. Are you ready for the morning start ? ...Oh, that Solon were here ! — what exquisite mirth should we have! Milois, something; but Solon were more.'
· Fausta, Fausta, cried Gracchus, 'when will you be a woman ?
• Never, I trust,' replied Fausta ; 'if I may then neither laugh nor cry, nor vex a Roman, nor fight for our queen. These are my vocations, and if I must renounce them, then I will be a man.'
• Either sex may be proud to gain you, my noble girl,' said Gracchus.
Early in the morning of the following day, all at the house of Gracchus gave note of preparation. We were to meet the queen and her party a few miles from the walls of the eity, at an appointed place, whence we were to make the rest of the journey in company. We were first at the place of meeting, which was a rising ground, shadowed by a few cedars with their huge branching tops. We reined up our horses, and stood with our faces toward the road, over which we had just passed, looking to catch the first view of the queen. The sun was just rising above the horizon, and touching with its golden color the higher objects of the scene -the tall cedars — the gray crags, which here juited out into the plain the towers, and columns, and obelisks of the still slumbering city.
• How beautiful! exclaimed Fausta: "but look! that is more beautiful still — that moving troop of horse! See! even at this distance you can distinguish the form and bearing of the queen. How the slant
beams of this ruddy sun make her dress, and the harness of her gallant steed, to sparkle! Is it not a fair sight, Lucius ?'
It was beautiful, indeed. The queen was conspicuous above all, not more for her form and bearing, than for the more than imperial magnificence of her appointments. It is thus she is always seen by her people, dazzling them equally by her beauties and her state. As she drew nearer, I felt that I had never before seen aught on earth so glorious. The fiëry Arabian that bore her knew, as well as I, who it was that sat upon him; and the pride of his carriage was visible in a thousand expressive movements. Julia was at her side, differing from her only as one sun differs from another. She, like Zenobia, seemed almost a part of the animal that bounded beneath her, so perfect was the art with which she rode.
*A fair morning to you all,' cried the queen, accompanying the words with a glance that was reward enough for a life of service. • The day smiles upon our enterprise. Fausta, if you will join me, Piso will take care of Julia; as for our Zabdas and Longinus, they are sad loiterers.'
Saying these things — scarcely checking her steed — and before the rest of the party had quite come up – we darted on, the queen leading the way, and, as is her wont, almost at the top of her horse's speed.
Zenobia,' said Julia, is in fine spirits this morning, as you may judge from her beaming countenance, and the rate at which she travels. But we can hardly converse while we are going so fast.'
• No bond has been signed,' said I, that we should ride like couriers. Suppose, princess, we slacken our pace.'
That will we,' she replied, “and leave it to the queen to announce our approach. Here now, alas ! are Zabdas and Longinus overtaking
The queen wonders at your delay,' said she, addressing them; put spurs to your horses, and you may easily overtake her.'
• Is it required?' asked the Egyptian, evidently willing to linger.
* Not so, indeed,' answered Julia, but it would be gallant; the queen, save Fausta, is alone. How can we answer it, if evil befall her ? ' Her girth may break. '
At which alarming suggestion, taking it as merrily as it was given, the two councillors quickened their pace, and, bidding us good morning, soon, as we saw, at the ascent of a little hill, overtook Zenobia.
For the rest of us, we were passing and repassing each other, mingling and separating all the remainder of the way. Our road lay through a rather rough and hilly country, but here and there sprinkled with bright spots of the richest beauty, and highest cultivation. The valleys, whenever we descended into them, we found well watered and tilled, and peopled by an apparently happy peasantry. And as we saw them from first one eminence and then another, stretching away and winding among the hills, we agreed that they presented delicious retreats for those who, weary of the world, wished to taste, toward the close of life, the sweets of a repose which the world never knows. As we drew toward the end of our·ride — a ride of quite twenty Roman miles — we found ourselves forsaken of all the rest of the company, owing either to our horses not being equal to the others, or rather, perhaps - to the frequent pauses which we made at all those points where the scenery presented any thing beautiful or uncommon.
Every thing now at last indicated that we were not far from the royal demesne. All around were marks of the hand and eye of taste having been there, and of the outlay of enormous wealth. It was not, however, till we had, for a mile and more, ridden through lawns and fields covered with grains and fruits, laid out in divisions of tillage or of wood, that, emerging from a dark grove, we came within sight of the palace. We could just discern, by the glittering of the sun upon the jewelry of their horses, that the last of the company were wheeling into the grounds in front of what seemed the principal part of the vast structure. That we might not be too much in the rear of all, we put spurs to our horses, which then, with the fleetness of wind, bore us to the outer gates of the palace. Passing these, we were in a moment in the midst of those who had preceded us, the grooms and slaves of the palace surrounding us, and taking charge of our horses. Zenobia was still standing in the great central portico, where she had dismounted, he face glowing with the excitement of the ride, and engaged in free discourse with the group around her. Soon as Julia reined up her horse, and quicker than any other could approach, she sprang to her daughter's side, and assisted her to dismount, holding with a strong hand the while, the fiëry and restless animal she rode.
Welcome in safety, Julia,' said the queen, and thanks, noble Piso, for
your care of your charge. But perhaps we owe your safety more to the strength of your Arab's girth, than to any care of Piso.'
Julia's laugh rang merrily through the arches of the portico.
• Truly,' said she, 'I was glad to use any sudden conceit by which to gain a more solitary ride than I was like to have. It was my ambition to be Piso's companion, that I might enjoy the pleasure of pointing out to new eyes the beauties of the country. I trust I was rightly comprehended by our grave councillors.'
Assure yourself of it,' said Longinus; and though we could not but part from you with some unwillingness, yet seeing whom we were to join, we bore the loss with such philosophy as we were able to summon on the sudden.'
Zenobia now led the way to the banqueting hall, where tables loaded with meats, fruits, and ivines, offered themselves most temptingly and seasonably, to those who had ridden, post as it were, twenty Roman miles.
This villa of the queen's, for its beauty and extent unrivalled in all the East, I would that I could set before you, so that you might form some conception of its greatness and variety. The palace stands at the northern extremity of a vast plain, just where the wild and mountainous region ends, and the more level and cultivated begins. To the North stretches a savage country, little inhabited, and filled with the wild animals which make the forests of Asia so terrible. This is the queen's hunting-ground. It was here that, with Odenathus, she pursued the wild boar, the tiger, the panther, with a daring and a skill that astonished the boldest huntsmen. It was in these forests, that the wretch Mæonius, insolently throwing his javelin at the game, just as he saw his uncle was about to strike, incurred that just rebuke, which, however, his revengeful nature never forgave, and was appeased only with the blood of the noble Palmyrene. Zenobia is never more herself than when, mounted upon her fleex Arabian, and aroused to all her