Home > Uncategorized > Lycophron: Ares, who banquets in gory battles

Lycophron: Ares, who banquets in gory battles

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Lycophron
From Alexandra
Translated by A.W. Mair

And now Ares, the dancer, fires the land, with his conch leading the chant of blood. And all the land lies ravaged before my eyes and, as it were fields of corn, bristle the fields of the gleaming spears. And in my ears seems a voice of lamentation from the tower tops reaching to the windless seats of air, with groaning women and rending of robes, awaiting sorrow upon sorrow.

That woe, O my poor heart, that woe shall wound thee as a crowning sorrow, when the dusky, sworded, bright-eyed eagle shall rage, with his wings marking out the land – the track traced by bandied crooked steps – and, crying with his mouth his dissonant and chilly cry, shall carry aloft the dearest nursling of all thy brothers, dearest to thee and to his sire the Lord of Ptoön, and, bloodying his body with talon and beak, shall stain with gore the land, both swamp and plain, a ploughman cleaving a smooth furrow in the earth.

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And many woes, on this side and that alternately, shall be taken as an offering by Candaeus or Mamertus – or what name should be given to him [Ares] who banquets in gory battles?

And many contests and slaughters in between shall solve the struggles of men, contending for dread empire, now on land, now on the plough-turned backs of earth…

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