This 'journalistic' piece reveals that Rollock visited the Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle at some point shortly after the siege against the city, led by the Duc d'Anjou (and future Henri III), between 11 February and 6 July 1573. Rollock vividly describes the strong walled defences of the city which jut out into the sea, and savagely criticises Anjou as an 'adulterer' ('moechus') who tries and fails to rape the city. It is ironic, and not a little hypocritical, that within three years of this poem Rollock would be cheerfully writing poems celebrating the accession of Anjou as Henri III and his entry into Poitiers (see his Panegyris de pace in Gallia constituenda (Poitiers, 1576), and the lost Invictissimi Galliae et Poloniae regis Henrici III, Pictavium ingredientis pompa (Poitiers, 1577)), especially given the fact that Rollock also writes several poems condemning Henri, his brothers and his mother, Catherine de Medici, as sowers of discord in France (d2_RolH_015, d2_RolH_022). Metre: iambic strophe (couplets).
Hospes ad Repellam, obsidione solutam (after 6 July 1573)
Hospes ad Rupellam, obsidione solutam
1Circum frementis fota Neptuni sinu
urbs undique orbis hospita,
Rupella, clarum 'rupe' quae nomen trahis:
et masculi omen roboris:
5hinc inde fossis, et sali aestuariis,
munita vallis: molium objectu freta
quae frangis insultantia:
et triste si quid, objice arces Nereo.
10Tellus noverca parturit,
quam pecore Thetis almo squammigero beat,
mactatque merce exotica:
spumante cujus praela Bromio tument,
et Cerere turgent horrea:
15quae liquida ponti stagna subigis surgere
in salsae acervos grandinis:
aere redimendos hinc et inde convenis
ex orbe toto classibus:
utrinque dives, ipsa quae tecum ambigis
20solo an salo beatior:
alumna cœli, ocelle mundi, Europae honos,
flos Christiani climatis,
regina ponti, qua beatas alluit
oceanus ingens Gallias:
[p379] 25hiantibus mihi hausta toties auribus,
menti expetita pluries:
nunc visa ocellis: salve! Et hospes hospiti
fave faventi, suscipe
qui suspicit te, arctis vicissim amplectere
30tibi implicatum nexibus,
et hoc amanti amica primum edissere.
Quae dira clades arduas
prostravit arces? Quis profundis Æolus
terrae cavernis abditus
35erupit? Imum quae Tonantis flammea
concussit orbem machina?
Ut nisi ruinas, rudera, et rimas procul
stratasque saxorum strues
cernat viator. Vel Deorum Olympicis
40si quicquid ardet arcibus
habes amicum: ecquod Iapeti pignorum
tibi cladis auctor extitit?
Mortalium, inquam, quis tibi ausus virgini
vim machinari mœchus est?
45Taces pudica, et impudicum prodere
pudet procum, Lucretia:
quod quem patronum, principem, auctorem, patrem
tibi extitisse convenit,
hic vim pararit, erubescis, et taces.
50Sed euge! Festucariam
vim modo paravit, nec tibi solidam 1 intulit:
te collige, angi desine!
Vix ima vela, vixque talarem attigit
adulter audax simbriam.
55Pectore pudico, corpore illaeso viges;
sola laboras chlamyde.
Turres Gradivus glande percussit, globo
candente cautes contudit.
Sed obsidentum circulus frustra fuit,
60nixusque sensit irritos.
Cives supersunt et penetrales Dii,
Mavorte non dociles mori.
Vive ergo rupes, cui Tonantis militant
[p380] missae phalanges aethere:
65tecumque grato volve sospes pectore,
quantum potenti debeas
rerum architecto, qui voracis Cerberi
te vindicavit faucibus:
suamque rebus recipit angustis opem
70non defuturam, si fidem
servata serves, sponsa nec spondam Iovis
scelere nefando polluas.
Huic tu perennes laeta laudes concine!
Tibi ego canorus accinam,
75arcemque sancti te fatebor agminis,
76et impii obicem gregis.
A visitor to La Rochelle, freed from siege
Near the warmed lap of roaring Neptune is a town hostess to every part of the world, La Rochelle, you who draw your famous name from 'rock': and the sign of manly strength: fortified on every side with ditches, and sea inlets, and palisades competing with heaven: and you dash the seas as they splash over your sea walls: and whatever else is grim, you keep at a distance in the sea with your barrier. You whom stepmother earth labours to bring forth cattle for, which Thetis blesses with nourishing fish, and sacrifices for foreign commerce: whose presses burst for foaming Bacchus, and granaries swell for Ceres: you who forces the watery expanse of the sea to rise up in a heap of salted hail: you who brings together on every side goods to be redeemed for coin out of fleets from across the whole world: and wealth everywhere, which itself is more blessed than the salt alone which you gird yourself with: Nurseling of heaven, darling of the world, honour of Europe, flower of the Christian territory, queen of the sea, through whom the remarkable Ocean bathes the blessed French: [p379] as often as you have been drawn in to my ears, opening with admiration, you have been desired by my mind: now you have been seen by my eyes: hello! And be a welcoming host to the visitor who welcomes you, embrace he who embraces you, and in turn wrap up with close bonds the person tangled up in you. What dire calamity laid prostrate these steep towers? What Aeolus, previously hidden, now bursts forth from the deepest pits of the earth? What flaming device of the Thunderer shook the lower world? So that a visitor sees only ruins, fissures and cracks spread far and wide, and piles of rocks? Indeed if any of the Gods in Olympus burn with anger amid their citadels, you have an ally: and which, indeed, of the offspring of Iapetus stood out as the author of your slaughter? Which adulterer among mortals, a I say, dared to scheme violence against you, a virgin? Lucretia, b ashamed, you remain silent, and you blush to bring forth your shameless suitor: and because he arranged to catch your attention as patron, chief, author and father, c he orchestrated the violence, while you blush and remain silent. But well done! He has only prepared a purely political force, and has not raised a more solid force against you: d pull yourself together, and stop being suffocated! The bold adulterer barely touched your ankle hem, or your covered inner parts. You flourish with your bashful breast, with your body unharmed; you worry for your cloak alone. The Marcher struck the towers with cannonballs, and pounded the rocks with flaming globes. But the circle of the besiegers was in vain, and realised its attempts were useless. The citizens and gods of the inner house endure, and do not die easily before Mars. Thus live, rock, for whom the phalanxes of the Thunderer, [p380] sent from the heavens, perform military service: and safely ponder in your grateful breast how much you owe to the powerful maker of things, who liberated you from the ravenous throats of Cerberus: who holds in reserve his own aid in dire straits, which will never be absent, if, having been saved, you should keep the faith, and as his fiancée not defile the bed of Jove with unspeakable wickedness. To him, you, joyfully sing eternal praises! And to you I shall harmoniously sing, and will profess that you are the citadel of the sacred army, and the obstacle to the impious flock.
1: For the difference between 'vis festucaria' and 'vis solida' see Gellius, Noctes Atticae XX.10.10. As this is the only mention of the distinction in Latin Literature, we may safely assume that Rollock is following Gellius here.
a: The Duc d'Anjou.
b: The matron who was raped in 510BC by Sextus Tarquinius, and who committed suicide as a result. Popular outrage at her funeral was marshalled by Lucius Junius Brutus to overthrow the monarchy and found the Roman republic.
c: The entire siege was masterminded and executed by Anjou.
d: For the nature of this 'force', see note to Latin text above.