Alcaeus of Lesbos and War Imagery

My favorite Greek poems by Alcaeus of Lesbos, which I bring you forthwith:

The great hall is aglare with bronze armament and the whole inside
made fit for war
with helms glittering and hung high, crested over with white horse-
manes that nod and wave
and make splendid the heads of men who wear them.  Here are shining
greaves made out of bronze,
hung on hooks, and they cover all the house’s side.  They are strong
to stop arrows and spears.
Here are war-jackets quilted close of new linen, with hollow shields
stacked on the floor,
with broad swords of the Chalkis make, many tunics and many
belts heaped close beside.
These shall not lie neglected, now we have stood to our task and
have this work to do.

What imagery!  You can feel yourself inside the hall, waiting for the dogs of war to slip.

2 Replies to “Alcaeus of Lesbos and War Imagery”

  1. “standing to our task”: what nobility expressed in those words, in the way only the ancient Greeks could do. What a vision you have conjured here for us with this post today. Thank you.

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