Ferimur per devia vastae
urbis et ingentem nocturnae caedis acervum
passim, ut quosque sacris crudelis vespera lucis
straverat, occulta speculamur nube latentes.
hic impressa toris ora exstantesque reclusis
pectoribus capulos magnarum et fragmina trunca
hastarum et ferro laceras per corpora vestes,
crateras pronos epulasque in caede natantes
cernere erat, iugulisque modo torrentis apertis
sanguine commixto redeuntem in pocula Bacchum.
hic iuvenum manus et nullis violabilis armis
turba senes, positique patrum super ora gementum
semineces pueri trepidas in limine vitae
(Statius, Theb. 5.248-261)
We take our way through byways of the deserted city, hiding in secret darkness, descrying everywhere a huge pile of the night’s massacre, as the cruel evening had laid them low in the sacred groves. Here could be seen faces pressed down on couches, sword hilts standing out from opened breasts, broken fragments of large spears and knife-torn clothes among the bodies, mixing bowls overturned, victuals swimming in gore, and Bacchus mixed with blood returning in torrents from severed throats into the wine cups. Here is a company of young men, here a gathering whom no weapons should violate, the old; and half-dead boys, placed on the faces of their moaning parents, sob out their trembling spirits on the threshold of life. (tr. David Roy Shackleton-Bailey)