Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Trojan War

Double Threat

Double Threat

 
A skinny kid who’d just passed for a girl,
You quickly earned a deadly reputation.
The Trojans saw your character unfurl
Before their eyes, less flag than conflagration.
Now many lives would face the arbitration
Offered, O Hidden One, by your long spear.
Your prowess would exceed all expectation.
Your actions would inspire unbounded fear.
And hearts would curse the one who brought you here,
The one who also brought his cleverness.
Who would have then predicted in this sphere
That you would prove the threat that threatened less?
Achilles was a force of nature. Still,
Ulysses’ art would make the final kill.

 
–Tom Riley

 

 

C61D8BE8-5D36-4001-9C31-D25FF5414850Niccolò Bambini, Achilles at Skyros

At the Gates

At the Gates

 
Here at the gates of storied Ilium,
We wait inside the belly of the beast.
When will the time for liberation come?
Here at the gates of storied Ilium,
Fury is eager and the conscience numb.
Impending slaughter almost seems a feast
Here at the gates of storied Ilium.
We wait inside the belly of the beast.

 
–Tom Riley

 

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Pretty Boy

Pretty Boy

 

Why must Helen,

chosen for beauty, be condemned

for choosing beauty?

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

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De Virtute Ulixis

De Virtute Ulixis

 

“Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy….”

 

Some impertinent latter-day priest

Has declared you a coward – and ceased

Not at all from the lies

That might make him look wise.

On his corpse may serene buzzards feast!

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

Spelling Lesson

Spelling Lesson

 

Hector, you know you didn’t stand a chance

Even if gods had failed to intervene.

While we’re admiring your courageous stance,

We’re sneering at your foolishness.  I mean,

Come on!  What were you thinking?  You had seen

That force of nature some took for a man

Before.  Son, did the concept of “machine”

Enter your head?  I know it did.  You ran—

You who of timely flight were not a fan!

But then you had to go and turn around.

What should I say?  We all do what we can,

And perfect sense is very rarely found.

I’ll make one point that you will not enjoy.

Your courage, Hector, spelt the end of Troy.

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

Hero’s Death

A Hero’s Death

“Some punk with a shotgun just killed young Danny Bailey….”

–Elton John

Paris shot you, poor lad, in the heel.
Our contempt we sought not to conceal.
Were you god-like? Oh, sure.
But no flesh is secure.
This you knew. Gutless punk made it real.

–Tom Riley

Restoration

Restoration

Hector’s body you deigned to restore.
Well, you had to. Unwise to ignore
Jove’s command from on high.
You relented. No lie.
After that, you got on with the war.

–Tom Riley

Priam Pleading with Achilles, by Gavin Hamilton

Winner Ulysses

The Winner Ulysses

It’s been 3,000 years, yet still I hate
To hear the partisans of Troy attack your name.
Losers who simply can’t accept their fate
Demean the winners and, from Hell’s heart, claim
They themselves should have triumphed. They take aim
At virtues that they lack and call them flaws.
Inordinate, their pleading stems from shame.
They’re hot to push an idiotic cause.
Yes, it’s ridiculous that they make laws
For such as you – and retroactive, too.
Hard at your image their resentment gnaws.
They never take a bite, though, out of you.
You’re serene in your soul as in your brain.
The suitors in your royal hall lie slain.

–Tom Riley

Odium et Amor

Odium et Amor

“Nor oath nor pact Achilles plights with thee.”

Iliad, Book 22.

As pure and spotless as Minerva’s state,
Your hatred was a model to us all.
Yes, Hector learned exactly how you hate.
On imitation, though, he couldn’t call.
Trojan excuses couldn’t make it stall,
The engine that was beating in your chest.
Ulysses’ wisdom overcame the wall—
But I still think your boundless wrath was best.
And nowadays I’m thoroughly distressed
To hear vile, gutless cowards call you brute.
What never stirred in them can know no rest.
What never grew in them can take no root.
O noble mind, your vengeance wasn’t shoddy.
I cheered when you were dragging Hector’s body.

–Tom Riley

Wrath of Achilles

The Wrath of Achilles

You could, of course, have let your comrade lie.
You could have gone on living in great ease.
Instead, you rose in wrath. I don’t ask why.
You could, of course, have let your comrade lie
In dust. Unmoved by Hector’s battle cry,
You could have shown restraint. This world agrees:
You could, of course, have let your comrade lie.
You could have gone in living in great ease.

–Tom Riley