Seventh century BC
Rise up, warriors, take your stand at one another's sides,
your feet set wide and rooted like oaks in the ground.
Then bide your time, biting your lip, for you were born
from the blood of Heracles, unbeatable by mortal men,
and the god of gods has never turned his back on you.
So cast off whatever fears arise at the armored legions
they'll muster before you, hedge yourself round
with hollow shields, and learn to love death's ink-black
shadow as much as you love the light of dawn.
So that when the hour comes, the battle lines drawn,
you won't hang back beyond javelin and stone but,
marshaled into ranks, advance as one to engage your enemy
hand to hand. Then hefting your bronze-tipped
spears and raking the air with your broadswords,
set foot to foot, battle dress to weaponry,
horsehair crest to polished mail, and --- helmet to helmet,
eye to eye --- mangle their gear, hack off limbs, lay open
the organs that warm their chests, then beat them down
until the plain runs red with enemy blood and you
still stand, breathlessly gripping your wet sword's hilt.