11. The Spartan Creed [elegies] by Tyrtaeus, c. 650 BC

Plot : Poems glorifying war to the native Spartans from an unprepossessing yet effective source
My thoughts : By ancient reports, the Spartans were given a sign that they needed to recruit a general from the Athenians to support their war with the Messenians. The candidate selected was an old lame teacher called Trytaeus who, despite appearances, marshalled the Spartan forces by means of stirring war poetry which was read to the army leaders and troops before battles and led to their victory.
Only three sizable poems remain, but they are alike in gloryifing the brave warrior and berating the coward. I read the Tyrtaeus chapter from the Loeb Classical Library’s Greek Elegiac Poetry (0674995821) but at least one of the poems is included in The Norton Book of Classical Literature.
Personal rating 4/10
Next : Make love, not war (particularly with other women) according to Sappho of Lesbos.

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