Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Fallen Heroes

Kenneth Rexroth, On a Military Graveyard:
Stranger, when you come to Washington
Tell them that we lie here
Obedient to their orders.

      after Simonides
Rexroth modified slightly the epigram by Simonides recorded by Herodotus 7.228:
ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
  κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
Rexroth also translated the original in his Poems from the Greek Anthology:
Stranger, when you come to
Lakedaimon, tell them we lie
Here, obedient to their will.
Here is a more literal translation:
O stranger, announce to the Lacedaemonians that here
we lie, obedient to their words.
Liddell & Scott, s.v. ῥήμα, suggest that the word here means ῥήτρα, referring to the laws of Lycurgus.

"We" are the Spartans who fell at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., defending Greece against invasion by the Persians.

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