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Plautus: Military braggadocio


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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace


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

What do you remember?

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.

What is the sum total of those men?

Seven thousand.

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

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

By my troth, you have a right good memory.


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

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

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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