It is a beautiful thing when a good man
falls and dies fighting for
The worst pain is leaving one's city and fertile fields for the life
of a beggar,
wandering with mother, old father, little children, and wedded wife.
The man beaten by need and odious poverty is detested everywhere he
a disgrace to his family and noble appearance, trailed by dishonor
If no one takes care of the wanderer or gives him honor, respect, or
we must fight to the death for our land and children, giving no thought
to lengthening life.
Fight in a stubborn, close array, my boys! Never waver or retreat!
Feel your anger swell. There is no place in combat for love of life.
Older soldiers, whose knees are not so light, need you to stand and
An aging warrior cut down in the vanguard of battle disgraces the
is white, his beard is grey, and now he is spilling his powerful spirit
naked, clutching his bloody groin: a sight for shame and anger. But
warriors always look good, until the blossom withers. Men gape
at them and women sigh, and dying in combat they are handsome still.
Now is the time for a man to stand, planting his feet and biting his
From Tyrtaeus of Sparta. As reproduced
in Early Greek Lyric Poetry,
trans. David Mulroy (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press,