Home > Uncategorized > Quintus Smyrnaeus: While here all war’s marvels were portrayed, there were the works of lovely peace

Quintus Smyrnaeus: While here all war’s marvels were portrayed, there were the works of lovely peace

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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

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

Thetis the Goddess laid down in the midst
Great-souled Achilles’ arms divinely wrought;
And all around flashed out the cunning work
Wherewith the Fire-god overchased the shield…

Around them hovered the relentless Fates;
Beside them Battle incarnate onward pressed
Yelling, and from their limbs streamed blood and sweat.
There were the ruthless Gorgons: through their hair
Horribly serpents coiled with flickering tongues.
A measureless marvel was that cunning work
Of things that made men shudder to behold
Seeming as though they verily lived and moved.
And while here all war’s marvels were portrayed,
Yonder were the works of lovely peace.
The myriad tribes of much-enduring men
Dwelt in fair cities. Justice watched o’er all.
To diverse toils they set their hands; the fields
Were harvest-laden; earth her increase bore.
Most steeply rose on that god-laboured work
The rugged flanks of holy Honour’s mount,
And there upon a palm-tree throned she sat
Exalted, and her hands reached up to heaven.

***

Many were doomed to Hades to descend,
Whence there is no return, thrust down by hands
Of Aeacus’ son, who also was foredoomed
To perish that same day by Priam’s wall.
Swiftly met the fronts of conflict: all the tribes
Of Troy’s host, and the battle-biding Greeks,
Afire with that new-kindled fury of war.
Then through the foe the son of Peleus made
Wide havoc: all around the earth was drenched
With gore, and choked with corpses were the streams
Of Simois and Xanthus.

***

…he trod on dead men, arms, and blood;
For countless corpses lay o’er that wide stretch
Even from broad-wayed Troy to Hellespont,
Bodies of strong men slain, the spoils of Doom.
As when the dense stalks of sun-ripened corn
Fall ‘neath the reapers’ hands, and the long swaths,
Heavy with full ears, overspread the field,
And joys the heart of him who oversees
The toil, lord of the harvest; even so,
By baleful havoc overmastered, lay
All around face-downward men remembering not
The death-denouncing war shout.

***

Then by the those dark ships they thought
Of white-haired fathers left in halls afar,
Of wives new-wedded, who by couches cold
Mourned, waiting, waiting, with their tender babes
For husbands unreturning; and they groaned
In bitterness of soul.

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