Home > Uncategorized > Juvenal: Mighty warriors and their tombs are circumscribed by Fate

Juvenal: Mighty warriors and their tombs are circumscribed by Fate

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Juvenal: The spoils of war and the price thereof

Juvenal: War and violence, baser than the beasts

Juvenal: Weigh the greatest military commanders in the balance

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Juvenal
From Satire X
Rendered into English by William Popple

There are whom Martial Glory only charms,
Who place their chief felicity in Arms.
The blood-stain’d Casque, the Chariot arm’d with Steel,
The waving Pendant, and the broken Keel,
The shatter’d Breastplate and the blunted Spear,
The mournful Captive foll’wing in the rear,
Inspire with Joy – By these urg’d on to Fame,
Greek, Roman, and Barbarian gain’d a Name.
But let unbiass’d reason trace the cause,
Why Thirst of Glory more than Virtue draws;
The wonder ceases when the cause is shown,
“Glory gives recompense, but Virtue none.”
For from the virtuous act, the Palm but take,
And who will follow Virtue for its sake?
Yet let this Passion in the Hero reign,
And ev’ry Hero proves his Country’s Bane.
But what’s the recompense which Virtue gives?
The mighty Warrior on a Tomb-stone lives;
The pompous Epitaph his Toil rewards,
The Sculptur’d Stone his sacred ashes guards;
The stately Monument attracts all Eyes,
And the vain Hero thinks he never dyes.
But let some barren Fig-tree’s ample root
Beneath the Base its spreading branches shoot,
(For Tombs, like Heroes, have their certain date,
Their periods both are circumscribed by Fate,)
Down drops the brittle Marble on the floor,
And the vain Hero dies to live no more.

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