Gathelus (pronounced 'Gath-ell-us') was Melville's contribution to John Johnston's (c. 1565-1611) Inscriptiones Historicae Regum Scotorum (Amsterdam, 1602), a series of Latin verse tableaus on the Scottish monarchs from Fergus to James VI drawn from the king lists used by Hector Boece and George Buchanan in their respective histories of Scotland. Melville recounts the origin myth of Scotland that had been circulating since the Wars of Independence - the journey of Gathelus, son of Cecrops, and Scota, daughter of the Pharaoh Amunhotep, to Scotland from the lands of Old Testament-era Egypt with 'Jacob's Pillow', or, as it is more commonly known, the Stone of Destiny. Fleeing religious persecution under Busiris (whom Boece had identified as the persecuting pharaoh of the Old Testament) and divine plagues, these two had set sail for the west while the Jews sailed east to establish the kingdom of the Israelites. This fact no doubt suggested to Melville that Gathelus and his band were a lost tribe of God's chosen people. Melville adds a crucial twist to this well-worn tale in his reinterpretation of the story of Gathelus' sons - Hemecus and Hiber, who founded Ireland and Spain respectively - which takes into account his providential understanding of the unfolding destinies of Britain and Spain as apocalyptic combatants. Melville personifies Hemecus (and by extension his people) as the true inheritor of the classical and Mosaic wisdom of Gathelus, and his land, carefully managed in accordance with nature, is overflowing with abundance. Meanwhile, Hiber, father of Spain, is obsessed with war and lives for gold obtained by any means and the subjugation of other races. The contrast between the two races, led by a model of good kingship and a tyrant respectively, could not be clearer. Another edition of the poem can be found in Buchanan, Political Poetry, pp. 286-297, 330-332. Metre: hexameter
1Fama est Cecropiden pubenti, in flore juventae,
confisum validique manu primaque juventa,
et Macetum populatum oras, et Achaica rura.
Cumque omnis foret impatiens moniti, atque parentis
5omine converso peregrina ad vota Gathelum,
ausum aptare trabes, validisque incumbere remis 1
finibus egressum patriis. Pharia arma sequutum 2
Æthiopum vexasse acies, Meroenque superbam 3
debellasse manu, et regis meruisse Amenophis
10Memphitici prolem, qua non magis altera praestans
artibus aut animis, vinclo sociare jugali.
Ast illaudati saevas Busiridis aras, 4
Germanam 5 cujus thalamo sociatus habebat
infames caede Isacidum, vitare volentem,
15turbatumque novis monstris, monitisque Deorum 6
deseruisse Pharon, tenuisse per aequora cursum 7
Syrtibus elapsum dubiis, Nomadumque tyrannis 8
infestum, Herculeique emensum extrema laboris,
oceanique ingressum imo maria alta profundo,
20audacique trabe expertum commercia caeli, 9
ausum et vitam undis, et ventis credere vota. 10
Iactatumque diu, variisque erroribus actum, 11
hesperium late littus lustrasse carina,
amnis et ad ripam Mundae nova mœnia terris
25imposuisse novis: Bracharam cognomine dicunt 12
scriptores. Sed longa valet mutare vetustas 13
res interdum ipsas, et saepe vocabula rerum.
Haud procul amne, fluit fulvis qui flavus arenis 14
ramentisque auri nitidis, ditissima tellus 15
30fonte scatet gemino, multum pugnantibus undis.
Alter in abruptum absorbet fons cuncta voratque,
alter in apricum se eructans respuit omnia.
Hoc compertum adeo primum pastoribus, inde
in nemore umbroso, frondatori ilicis altae.
[p68] 35Nec quadrupes non ulla suo subducta periclo
tentamenta dedit, tetigit simul ungula lymphas. 16
Saepe Gathelus et huc se matutinus agebat, 17
lymphae utriusque vices multum, caelique solique
naturam et genium demirans; Scotaque conjunx
40cum saepe illimi faciem spectaret in unda,
saepe lavens niveasque manus niveosque pedes, et 18
saepe sitim nunc hoc, nunc illo fonte levaret. 19
Sic tum Cecropides fertur secum ore loquutus:
'natura omnipotens, tot, tantorum, una creatrix
45diversorum operum, da pulcram ex conjuge prolem:
da genus, et mansuram urbem.' Nec plura loquutus, 20
cum vox fonte sacro et vicino reddita luco est:
'Cecropida, Scotae thalamo dignate superbo, 21
en geminos fontes tellus creat alma, nec unus
50amborum est genius. Gravidae tibi conjugis alvus
mox pariet geminos, verum haud una indole fratres.
Clarus uterque geret regali fronte coronam:
vi major, virtute minor; fraude ille, fide hic.
Ille triumphales maculabit sanguine lauros,
55atque cruentatis insurget in aethera terris.
Hic Phœbi lauru et foliis pacalis olivae, 22
atque umbrata geret civili tempora quercu.' 23
Oscula telluri libans prono ore, Gathelus
respondet: 'quodcunque geris de numine nomen,
60sive sacros Nais fontes, seu Nympha recessus
sylvarum virides colis, et nemora avia lustras, 24
sive loci genius, terraeque feracis alumnus, 25
seu cœlo altipotens delapsum es numen ab alto;
quod spondes praesta augurium atque haec omina firma.' 26
70Dixit, et uxori laetus sua gaudia miscet:
spemque datam sobilis praesenti pignore firmat. 27
Ad majora tamen fatis ducentibus, ajunt
expulsum indigenarum odiis, aut fata sequentem
sponte sua tumidas Neptuni ivisse per undas
75horriferum contra Boream, interque Trileucen, 28
Cantabricumque sinum, quem pone Galetica tellus;
ipsa Gathelitia est de nomine dicta Gatheli.
Unde Gatheletum, et curtata voce Galetum: 29
[p69] unde Caletum urbem, et populos dixere Caletes.
80Perpetuae hinc atque hinc diverso in cardine terrae, 30
quam mediam incingunt strictae juga celsa Pyrenae, et 31
in duo regna vetus dirimunt confinia regnum;
quod tenuere diu reges de stirpe Gatheli;
more Gatheli omnes, et cultu jugiter omni:
85atque arte atque armis, et lingua et legibus usi.
Huc memorant tandem subducta classe, Gathelum 32
sedibus optatis extremo in limite mundi 33
occidui hic posuisse lares, urbemque Brigantum,
atque Brigantinas arces, immania templa: 34
90nunc ubi barbarico ritu, sacrisque profanis
osse asinino orbis stolide Romanus adorat
nobilitato urbis cognomine Compostellae.
Hic primum augustos titulos, et regia jura
marmorea exceptus cathedrâ in fatalibus arvis, 35
95caeteraque a populo delati insignia regni,
et gemmis stellatum ensem, spectrumque coronamque
accipit; et Scotam uxoris de nomine gentem
dicit, et aeternos aris instaurat honores. 36
Nec minus existit Scota de conjuge faelix
prole pater. Nam regnat Iber jam grandior aevo: 40
et patria virtute cluens nitet acer Imecus.
105Ille quidem nomenque suum regnumque paternum
qua vi, qua virtute parat protendere, quanto
longius, hoc tanto credit manifestius aura
se tolli divina, alto et succedere caelo. 41
Hinc tellus clarescit Iberia flumen Iberum:
110transque mare hinc crebrescit Ibernia, nomen Iberum, et
quodquod Iberi auctum ingentis de nomine nomen.
Tantus amor famae et dominandi insana cupido. 42
Hic vero, quanquam natu minor, haud minor oris
laude verecundi, et liquidas sub pectore flammas
115acer alit, sancteque studet bene parta tueri.
Nec sibi, sed fratri, carisque parentibus ambit
nomen, et illustrem ventura in saecula famam.
[p70] Hinc longe fraternum ostentat Ibernia nomen.
Hinc et maternam ostentat gens Scotica laudem.
120Hinc et lingua patris de nomine clara (Gatheli) est.
Ergo elatus Iber, quem jactat Iberia regem,
et, cui cedit Ierna, animis mansuetus Imecus;
sunt duo fatales Pharia de virgine fontes,
indole diversa et studiis pugnantibus, olim
125aurifluo stupuit quos non procul amne Gathelus.
Ille Gatheliades virtute, et lege paterna
defendit partum imperium pacatus Imecus.
Impacatus Iber protendit Iberica regna 43
trans Minium, et Mundam, et Bœtin, trans flumen Iberum
130atque Pyrenaeos scopulos, atque aequore Gades
oceani in vasto: Calpe qua spectat Abilen,
internique maris tractum: qua littora late
caeruleas longis sinuant anfractibus undas.
Et nunc dirus Iber auri sitibundus, et Orco
135iejunus magis, effraeni rapit omnia bello:
caedibus et vastat populos, et regna ruinis
evertit, scelere ante alios immanior omnes. 44
Heu genus invisum Ditis de matre Megaera! 45
Quod jam orbem occiduum dudum, et populatur Eoum.
140Sanguine Maurorum commistus sanguis Ibero,
Punica Cerbereo fastu quem dextera tollit,
et violata ultra divina humanaque jura.
Mitis Imecum autem sequitur clementia caeli,
ubere dives agri: et cunctarum opulentia rerum, 46
145atque greges atque armenta, adque haec pascua passim
pinguia. Serpentum sine morsu, et dente luporum
terra, venenata re et peste immunis ab omni est:
nec gignit, nec fert illatum aliunde venenum,
flumina sed lactis, sed flumina mellis inundat. 47
150Ore Gatheli omnes, quotquot dictata magistri
omnia, quaeque domi patriis audivit Athenis,
quaeque arcana hausit sacris Memphitica biblis, 48
quaeque pio didicit Mosis dum pendet ab ore, 49
quo duce bellaci meruit decora alta triumpho,
155assueti Grajisque notis Phariisque figuris
excipere, aut menti mandare excepta tenaci;
[p71] Cantabria secum in regnum perduxit Imecus.
Quid memorem Cadmaeam arcem, viridemque Helicona,
et clarum antiqua doctrinae luce Lycaeum, et
160ordine tradendae disciplinae Cynosarges? 50
Cum Lebratemis, Gephyreis, et Tanagraeis,
et Thanais, fandi, et faciendi magna magistris? 51
Quid Sigam, Cyrramque, Hermonthida, Deucalodumem,
164unde Caledoniis Druidum dictamen in oris?
1Tradition has it that an Athenian offspring of Cecrops, a in the bloom of youth, having put his trust in his mighty strength and youthful vigor, plundered the lands of the Macedonians, b and the Achaian c countryside. Although he would usually not tolerate any guidance, even from his father, when a divine omen prophesized foreign rites, Gathelus ventured to fit out a wooden ship, and having set out from native lands, he applied himself to the mighty oars. He then joined the Egyptian army and tormented the battlelines of the Ethiopians, and crushed by his hand proud Meroe, d and thus he earned the daughter of Amenophis the king of Egypt, e whom no other surpassed in skill or spirit, and he joined with her in the bond of marriage.
12However he wanted to escape the barbarous altars of hated Busiris, f whose sister he was joined to in marriage, those altars notorious for the ritual sacrifice of the sons of Isaac. g So, while also disturbed by fresh omens, and warnings from the Gods, he left Egypt, and made a course across the calm seas, having evaded the eddying Syrtian tides. h He clashed with the tyrants of the Numidians, i and went beyond the far-off boundaries where Hercules laboured. j He set out across the deep seas, through the deepest depths of the ocean, and in his bold boat he tried to converse with heaven, and dared entrust his life to the waves, and his prayers to the wind. For a long time driven this way and that, and led astray by various wrong turns, he wandered far and wide along the western shore in his boat, and then on the banks of the river Munda he established new fortifications on this new land: writers call it Brachara. k However, the long-drawn-out span of time can sometimes alter objects themselves, and often alters their names. Not far from the river, which rolls along golden yellow with its golden sands and glittering shavings of gold, a most rich land gushes forth in twin springs, and greatly clashing tides. One sucks everything down into the abyss and devours it, the other, throwing itself up into the light, expels all.
33This place was first discovered by the grazers of sheep, and then, when a shady grove, by the pruner of the high oak tree. [p68] And any flock that ventured here, as it touched the edge of the spring with its foot, was led away from peril. Often Gathelus would get up early and go to this place, wondering greatly at the condition of both springs, and at the nature and divinely-inspired essence of the surrounding sky and earth; while Scota his wife would often inspect her image in the clear water, and, while cleaning her snowy hands and snowy feet, she would also often relieve her thirst firstly at one spring, and then at the other.
43It is said that the Athenian then spoke aloud to himself thus: 'almighty Nature, the one and only creator of so many, and so great, and such diverse works, give to me a beautiful offspring from my wife: give to me a tribe, and a city that will last.' He spoke no more, when a voice came back from the sacred spring and the adjacent sacred grove:
48'Cecrops' son, deemed worthy of a distinguished marriage with Scota, behold this nourishing land produces twin fountains, and there is no single innate nature for both. The womb of your pregnant wife soon will produce twins, but yet not brothers with the same nature. Each illustrious son will bear a crown on their royal brow: the older one will have strength, the younger virtue; the former fraud, the latter honesty. The former will stain his triumphal garlands with blood, and from the blood-stained earth he will rise in power towards heaven. The latter will be decked in Apollo's garland and the leaves of the peaceful olive-branch, and have a head shaded by a civic crown of oak.'
58Gathelus, pouring forth kisses to the ground from his downturned mouth, answers thus: 'whatever divinity's title you bear, whether you are a Naiad who dwells in the holy springs, or a Nymph who dwells in the green depths of the forest, and haunts the pathless woods, or the genius of the place, l the nourisher of the fruit-bearing earth, or else you are a very mighty deity flown down from high heaven; fulfill the prophecy which you are promising and ratify this omen.'
70Thus he spoke, and happily shared his joy with his wife: he declared the hope given them of an offspring by the present promise.
72However, with the fates pointing toward greater things, they say that he was expelled by the hatred of the natives, or rather that, following the fates by his own will, he journeyed through the billowing waves of Neptune against the terrifying Northern Wind, and between the Trileucan and Cantabrian gulf, beyond which is the Galician region; Gathelitia itself was called after the name of Gathelus. m From this is Gatheletum, and in abbreviated pronunciation Galetum: [p69] hence also they named the city of Caletus, and the Caletan people. n On each side of the opposing border the land stretches on uninterrupted, the middle of which the lofty peaks of the severe Pyrenees surround, and they separate the ancient kingdom into two adjoining kingdoms; which kings from the line of Gathelus for a long time held; all followed industriously the customs of Gathelus, and followed every refinement: both art and war, and language and laws.
86Here finally, they relate, with fleet anchored in their longed-for home in the farthest extreme of the western world, Gathelus set down the household gods, and the city of the Brigantes, and also the Brigantian citadels, o those vast temple complexes: where now, known by the name of Compostella, the Roman world with profane religious rites and criminal impiety stupidly worships with the bone of an ass. p
93Here first, mounted on the marble seat in the predestined land, he accepts the venerable titles and royal rights and the other regalia of the kingdom granted by the people, both the gem-studded sword, and the crown and sceptre; and he calls the nation Scotia, after his wife, and instituted perpetual honours for their altars.
99He then sets out not just to impart the arts of war and peace, and also the law: delivering justice to the people, and giving laws to the convoked elders; and then he steers the equitable government of the state.
102Not less fortunate in his children from his wife Scota did this father appear to be. For Iber now rules in advancing years: and Imecus, famous for his native virtue, stands out in brilliance.
105The first son intends to extend his name and ancestral kingdom as much by might as by valour, so far as he believes that manifestly he is supported by divine favour, and also is getting closer to high heaven. Because of him is the Iberian kingdom and River Iber famous: q from him Hibernia rises, from the name Iberus, across the sea, r and also whatever reknown has risen from the reknown of great Iber. So great was his love of fame and crazed his desire for domination.
113The second son, s although junior by birth, though not the junior in the praise earned by his modest speech, passionately maintains his bright fire within his soul, and piously and judiciously strives to protect what he has inherited. Not for himself, but for his brother and dear parents does he seek to gain a name, and an honourable reputation in ages to come. [p70] For this reason does Hibernia bear a brother's name perpetually. For this reason also does the Scottish nation bear a mother's renown. And for this reason is a language taken from a father's name (Gathelus) famous.
121Consequently, Iber, whom Iberia boasts of as king, is proud, and Imecus, to whom Eire falls, is modest at heart; they are the two fated springs sprung from an Egyptian maiden, with differing natures and clashing motivations, whom Gathelus once marvelled at not far from the gold-flowing river. t That son of Gathelus, peace-loving Imecus, maintains his realm, inherited through virtue and ancestral law. The warlike Iber extends the Iberian kingdoms across the Minius, and both the Munda and Boetin, and across the River Iber: and also the peaks of the Pyrenees, and beyond Gades u on the vast stretch of the ocean: where Calpe gazes on Abyla, v and the expanse of the inner sea: where the shores bend the blue waves on its long winding coast.
134And now the ill-omened Iber grasping for gold, and more ravenous than Orcus, snatches everything through unrestrained warfare: and cutting to ribbons the people in slaughter, and reducing kingdoms to ruins, he is more monstrous in wickedness than all others.
138Alas what a hated tribe of Hell, sprung from the mother Megaera the Fury! Which for a long time now has devastated both western and eastern world. The race of the Moors has mixed with Iber's stock, which Punic w might destroys with Cerberus' pride, and divine and human laws have been broken. However, the kindly mercy of heaven, generous with the bounty of the field, is bequeathed to Imecus: there is an abundance of all things, both flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and for these, rich grazing land everywhere. His land is without the bite of snakes or the tooth of wolves, x it is devoid of all plague and all dangerous things: it neither produces such poisons, nor supports those imported from elsewhere, rather the land abounds in both rivers of milk and rivers of honey.
150Whatever he heard at home from the Athenian fathers, or whatever Egyptian secrets he drew from their sacred books, and whatever he learned while hanging on Moses' every pious word, under whose leadership he earned lofty honours in martial victory, each and every one of these stories, told from the mouth of their teacher Gathelus, all the people regularly wrote down in Greek characters and Egyptian symbols or committed them to their keen memory; [p71] from Cantabria, Imecus brought this with himself into his kingdom. Why should I mention Cadmus' city, or inspiring Helicon, and both the Lyceum, illustrious with the ancient light of learning, and Cynosarges, next in order to be mentioned when it comes to the transmission of knowledge? When the great achievements of acting and speaking well came from the Tanagrean, Gephyrian, Lebratemian and Tanaian masters? y What of Siga, Cirrha, Hermonthida, and Deucalion's offspring, from whence the prophecy of the Druids came true on Caledonian shores? z
1: Virgil, Aeneid V.15
2: cf. Virgil, Aeneid I.620
3: cf. Virgil, Aeneid VI.853
4: Virgil, Georgics III.5
5: Melville's narrative follows both Hector Boece and John Leslie, De origine, moribus et rebus gestis Scotorum. The son of Amenophis, and thus brother of Scota, is called Boccharis in both Leslie (I.44) and Boece (also I.44); and is also identified as the persecutor of the Iraelites. It would seem that Melville has identified this Boccharis with Busiris.
6: Vegius, 239
7: cf. Lucan, VIII.184 ff
8: Virgil, Aeneid IV.320-321
9: Ovid, Ars Amatoria III.549
10: Manilius, Astronomica I.77
11: Virgil, Aeneid VI.532
12: Virgil, Aeneid I.530
13: Virgil, Aeneid III.415
14: Virgil, Aeneid VII.31
15: Virgil, Georgics II.136
16: cf. Virgil, Aeneid VIII.596; and Virgil, Eclogues V.25-6
17: Virgil, Aeneid VIII.465
18: Textual problem: should read 'lavans' for 'lavens'
19: This passage is a paraphrase of Ovid, Metamorphoses III.407-417
20: Virgil, Aeneid III.86
21: Virgil, Aeneid III.475
22: Virgil, Aeneid V.774
23: Virgil, Aeneid VI.772
24: Virgil, Georgics II.21; and Virgil, Aeneid VII.580
25: Virgil, Aeneid VII.136; and Virgil, Aeneid VI.595
26: Virgil, Aeneid II.691
27: Virgil, Aeneid III.611
28: Ovid, Metamorphoses I.65
29: cf. Quintilian, Inst. Orat. XI.26
30: Statius, Thebaid XI.114
31: Seneca, Phaedra 69
32: cf. Silius Italicus, Punica II.407; and Virgil, Aeneid I.551
33: Virgil, Aeneid VI.203
34: Virgil, Aeneid VI.19
35: Virgil, Aeneid IV.355
36: Virgil, Aeneid III.118; and V.94
37: Manilius, Astronomica I.89
38: Virgil, Aeneid V.758
39: Virgil, Aeneid XII.327
40: Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.321
41: Virgil, Georgics IV.227
42: Virgil, Aeneid IX.760; and Georgics III.112
43: cf. Virgil, Georgics III.408
44: Virgil, Aeneid I.347
45: Virgil, Aeneid I.28
46: Virgil, Aeneid VII.262
47: Perhaps a textual problem here. This phrase is used by Melville in 'Carmen Mosis' (d2_MelA_005) 99, with the more grammatically sound 'inundant'. Melville takes the phrase from Ovid, Metamorphoses I.111
48: Lucan, III.220-4
49: Virgil, Aeneid IV.79, though Melville is drawing this general idea from Hector Boece.
50: cf. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita XXXI.24.18
51: This strained attempt to subsume Greek antiquity (the academy and the Lyceum) into a new narrative context is not unusual in this period. The protestant reformer Christian Bechmann, writing in the first decade of the 17th century, attempts a similar usurpation of the classical world in his Manducatio ad Linguam Latinam 176-181 (especially close to Melville's at 180-1). This is obviously a circulating discourse in scholarly circles at this point.
a: A mythical king of Athens, credited with the establishment of 'civil' Athenian society. He is recorded as having four sons - Aglaurus, Pandrosus, Herse, and Erysichthon, who died young.
b: The Macedonian plain stretched in antiquity from the Balkans to the Greek peninsula. Under Alexander the Great and his successors it became the centre of a Greek-based 'Hellenistic' society that reached to the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rome defeated Macdedonia in 167BC, and it became a Roman province in 146BC.
c: Official name for the Roman province of Greece.
d: A capital of Kush, on the east bank of the Nile, part of classical Ethiopia.
e: Greek version of Amenhotep, the name of four Egyptian pharaohs who ruled between c.1526BC and c.1334BC.
f: A legendary Egyptian king who according to Greek tradition sacrificed foreigners entering Egypt at the altar of Zeus.
g: In Genesis 22:1-19, Abraham is commanded by God to take his son Isaac to the 'land of Moriah' and sacrifice him as a test of his faith; God intercedes just as Abraham is about to kill his son and provides a ram to sacrifice in Isaac's place, while rewarding Abraham greatly for his faith.
h: The shallow waters around the Libyan continental shelf of north Africa, known for the grave danger they posed to ships.
i: The lands belonging to the african nomadic group known as the Numidae, lying between Mauretania and the African province.
j: Hercules (Greek: Heracles) was the greatest Greek hero, who undertook twelve 'labours' of strength, skill and cunning. The location of these labours ties the Hercules myth to the Peloponnese, the southern half of the Greek mainland. Melville is saying that Gathelus has travelled beyond the Pillars of Hercules.
k: Mundus: a river on the west coast of Lusitania. Bracharas: Bracare (Braga), a city in Gallaecia to the north of classical Lusitania, today a part of Portugal. Buchanan, Political Poetry, p. 311, n. 9.
l: The 'tutelar deity' or guiding spirit of a place or person.
m: All three references here - to Trileucum, Cantabria, and Galicia - refer to territories along the northern coast of Roman Spain.
n: Gathelus and his tribe are clearly moving north-east, as the Caletes or Caleti were a tribe of Gaul, based in the Normandy region.
o: Not the tribe of the Brigantes, the most populous tribe in the southern British isles, but Brigantium, a town in north-west Spain known today as La Coruña.
p: Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the remains of the apostle James are believed to rest. Compostella is a major site of Catholic pilgrimage, and Melville's caustic comments refer to what he sees as the idolatrous veneration of James' bones.
q: Iberia: Spain; Iber: today, the river Ebro.
r: Referencing the extension of the Habsburg empire.
t: Possibly a reference to the river Tajo, which in antiquity was gold-bearing.
u: Gades: now Cádiz, north-west of Gibraltar.
v: The pillars of Hercules: Calpe Mons (Gibraltar) and Abyla Mons (modern Jebel Musa in Africa). The rivers Minius: Miño; Munda: Mondego; Boetin: Guadalquivir; Iber: Ebro. Buchanan, Political Poetry, p. 331, n. 26.
w: The Carthaginians (Poeni) who engaged in a sequence of wars with Rome between 264 and 146BC. The implication is that the Spanish are both warlike and puffed up with the pride of the Roman church.
x: Melville seems to be suggesting that Ireland was snake-free from its foundation, and not as a result of Saint Patrick's divine intervention.
y: All references to sites of ancient learning and culture. Cadmus: founder of Boeotian Thebes; Helicon: mountain in Boeotia, and home of the Muses; Lyceum: Aristotle's school at Athens; Cynosarges: a public gymnasium just outside of Athens, and also a sanctuary of Hercules; Tanagra: in Boeotia, whose earliest inhabitants were the Gephyraioi (Gephyris), whom Herodotus equated with the Phoenician followers of Cadmus; Tanaïs: unclear, but possibly the river Don and a city at its estuary, at the modern village of Nedvigovka; the reference to the 'Lebratemis' is unknown.
z: Paul McGinnis and Arthur Williamson have argued that Melville is suggesting here that Gathelus is a druid, and that as a result he and the Scots are inheritors of the knowledge of Greece and Egypt. Buchanan, Political Poetry, pp. 331-2, n. 11, 33.