Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Spartan Supply, Sixth Century B.C.

Richmond Lattimore writes that Alcaeus of Mytilene (620 B.C.-- 6th Century B.C.)  lived a turbulent life, 'first fighting tyranny and then resisting social reform' in his city. He also notes that this famed politician of his day has left only a more personal poetry behind.
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The Armory
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.
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A greave is shin armor. Chalkis was a town on the Greek island of Euboea. The name derives from the Greek word for bronze, so probably it was a town with considerable reputation for manufacturing weaponry and armor.

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