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Plautus: Military braggadocio

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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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Plautus
From Miles Gloriosus, or The Braggart Captain
Translated by Henry Thomas Riley

PYRGOPOLINICES
What do you remember?

ARTOTROGUS
I do remember this. In Cilicia there were a hundred and fifty men, a hundred in Cryphiolathronia, thirty at Sardis, sixty men of Macedon, whom you slaughtered altogether in one day.

PYRGOPOLINICES
What is the sum total of those men?

ARTOTROGUS
Seven thousand.

PYRGOPOLINICES
It must be as much: you keep the reckoning well.

ARTOTROGUS
Yet I have none of them written down; still, so I remember it was.

PYRGOPOLINICES
By my troth, you have a right good memory.

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ARTOTROGUS
Besides, in Cappadocia, you would have killed five hundred men altogether at one blow, had not your sabre been blunt.

PYRGOPOLINICES
I let them live, because I was quite sick of fighting.

ARTOTROGUS
Why should I tell you what all mortals know, that you, Pyrgopolinices, live alone upon the earth, with valour, beauty, and achievements most unsurpassed? All the women are in love with you, and that not without reason, since you are so handsome…

This city is Ephesus; then, the Captain, my master, who has gone off hence to the Forum, a bragging, impudent, stinking fellow, brimful of lying and lasciviousness, says that all the women are following him of their own accord. Wherever he goes, he is the laughing-stock of all…

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