Ancient Hoplites

Ancient Hoplites

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Of Those Who Died at Thermopylae…. Simonides on Leonidas

In his article “Simonides, Ephorus, and Herodotus on the Battle of Thermopylae” (The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 48, No. 2 (1998), pp. 365-379) Michael A. Flower quotes an excerpt of an apparently longer poem written by Simonides about the Battle of Thermopylae. It was the first time I had run across this poem and thought you, my readers, might also enjoy the fragment, incomplete as it is, and poor as this English translation may be:

Of those who died
at Thermopylae,
glorious is the fortune,
fair is the fate.

Their grave is an altar.
Instead of lamentation,
they have remembrance,
for pity they have praise.

Such a shroud
neither mold
nor all-subduing time
can make obscure.

This shrine of noble men
chose the good reputation
of Greece
as its inhabitant.

Leonidas also bears witness,
king of Sparta,
who left behind a great adornment
of valor and ever-flowing fame.

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