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Martial: So have fallen men


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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Martial: Let the mad be eager for wars and fierce Mars


Translated by Walter C.A. Ker

See that your valor be wary; let no rash ardor bear you into the midmost fray of swords and savage spears. Let those who lack sense be eager for wars and fierce Mars….

Albeit the goddess of civil strife wavered yet, and effeminate Otho belike might win, he cursed war that should cost so much blood, and with unflinching hand pierced deep his breast. Certes let Cato in life be greater even than Caesar; was he in death greater than Otho?


Book IV

With opposing brows we have seen gentle does meet in fight, and lie stricken by an equal fate of death. Dogs have gazed upon the quarry, and the proud huntsman has stood amazed that no task remained for his knife. Whence have gentle spirits drawn such furious heat? So battle bulls, so have fallen men.

Frontibus adversis molles concurrere dammas
vidimus et fati sorte iacere pan.
spectavere canes praedam, stupuitque superbus
venator cultro nil superesse suo.
unde leves animi tanto caluere furore?
sic pugnant tauri, sic cecidere viri.

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