Home > Uncategorized > Quintus Smyrnaeus: In his talons bore a gasping dove. Where never ceased Ares from hideous slaughter.

Quintus Smyrnaeus: In his talons bore a gasping dove. Where never ceased Ares from hideous slaughter.


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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Quintus Smyrnaeus
From The Fall of Troy
Translated by Arthur S. Way

All through the tangle of that desperate fray
Stalked slaughter and doom. The incarnate Onset-shout
Raved through the rolling battle; at her side
Paced Death the ruthless, and the Fearful Faces,
The Fates beside them strode, and in red hands
Bare murder and the groans of dying men.


“…Let us know
From ghastly slaughter and strife one breathing-space!”
In passionate prayer he spake: – lo, with shrill scream
Swiftly to left an eagle darted by
And in his talons bare a gasping dove.


…Hector, panting all
The hot-breath of the War-god from their breasts,
All slaying Danaans with the ashen spear,
Who fell as frost-touched leaves in autumn fall
One after another, or as drops of rain.
And aye went up a moaning from earth’s breast
All blood-drenched, and heaped with corpse on corpse.
Horses pierced through with arrows, or impaled
On spears, were snorting forth their last of strength
With screaming neighings. Men, with gnashing teeth
Biting the dust, lay gasping, while the steeds
Of Trojan charioteers stormed in pursuit,
Trampling the dying mingled with the dead
As oxen trample corn in threshing floors.


…and the gods saw
The deadly Fates hurling the charging lines
Together, in the unending wrestle locked
Of that grim conflict, saw where never ceased
Ares from hideous slaughter, saw the earth
Crimsoned all around with rushing streams of blood,
Saw where dark Havoc gloated o’er the scene,
Saw the wide plain with corpses heaped…

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