Saturday, 23 July 2011

Chicks With Swords

Chief among the highlights of the July/August issue of Poetry (which includes a lovely poem by Amanda Jernigan and a ferocious essay by Joshua Mehigan) is A.E. Stalling's translation of Plutarch's anecdotes on Spartan women.
A woman who had sent her five sons to war waited anxiously outside the city and asked a man approaching which way the battle was going. When he replied that her sons had all perished, she retorted, “You sorry slave, that’s not what I asked.” When he said Sparta was winning, she said, “In that case, I gladly accept the death of my sons.”

Another gave her son a shield as he set out for war, saying, “Your father always saved this for you. Keep it safe, not yourself.”

Another, when her son complained his sword was too short, said, “Step forward: add a foot to it.”

(Painting by Edgar Degas, "Young Spartans Exercising.")

No comments: