Excidium

Bayeux tapestry

Mars deus o belli, gladiis qui sceptra coerces,
corpora qui iuvenum sanguinolenta placent
et cruor effusus permulta cede virorum,
quis tibi tunc animus, quanta cupido mali,
cum medius saevas acies miscere iubebas!
quo pocius nullum te iuvat excidium
ex quo Pompeium superavit Iulius armis,
et Romana sibi moenia subripuit,
compulit atque metu Nili transire per amnem,
nulla reor caedes tam tibi grata fuit.
nec iuvenile decus nec te reverenda senectus,
nec peditum vilis et miseranda manus,
flectere nec valuit te nobilitudo parentum,
quin ageres quicquid mens tua torva cupit.
caecatos miseros radiantia trudis in arma,
et veluti ludum cogis adire necem.
quid moror in verbis cum iam furor exstat in armis?
exple velle tuum, Mars, age mortis opus!
(Guy of Amiens, Carmen de Hastingae Proelio 345-362)

O Mars, god of war, who punishes kingdoms with swords and rejoices in the bloody corpses of the young and men’s gore spilled in mass slaughter: how great then was your ardour, how strong your thirst for evil, when, standing in the midst, you ordered the savage ranks to join battle! No carnage delighted you more since Julius Caesar overcame Pompey in war, deprived him of Rome and compelled him in fear to cross the river Nile. No bloodshed, I think, gave you greater joy. Neither the beauty of youth, nor the reverence due to old age, nor the mean and pitiful throng of infantry, nor nobility of birth could deflect you from doing whatever your savage mind desired. You forced those deluded wretches into shining mail and sent them to death as though to a game. But why do I toy with words when already Fury appears in arms? Do what you will, O Mars. Do the work of death! (tr. Frank Barlow)

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