Classics: Year 10 Term 2: Poetry of Tyrtaeus

Who Was Tyrtaeus?

  • Spartan war poet
  • Poems influenced by the societal structure & ideals
  • Propaganda for the warlike mindset of Spartans
  • Encouraged pride in those who died for the state, shame for those who demonstarted cowardice, commended the comradeship of warriors and propagated the concept of a younger man dying a beautiful death being less shameful than an older man being allowed to die first, which was in contrast an ugly death
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Fallen Warrior Poem Analysis pt 1

"To die is noble when a good man falls among fighters at the front while he defends his fatherland" - Dulce et Decorum Est vibes. A good pursuit of life is to die for the state on a battlefield in the brave front ranks of soldiers.

"To leave behind his city and its fertile fields and go begging is the most wretched thing of all" - The exile faced by those accused of cowardice or desertion in battle is the worst existence a man can have and is looked down upon and shamed by society.

"Let us fight for this land with spirit and die for our children, no longer being sparing with out lives" - 'All in this together' spirit of Sparta. Death is not to be feared, it is to be looked upon as a noble pursuit in battle which will allow for the free lives of the soldiers' famlies and of generations to come. Sparta never forgets the original fight for their land.

"Stand beside one another when you fight and do not start a shameful flight or panic, but make the spirit in your hearts mighty and steadfast" - Comradeship of the army; shielding of the man next to you and the mutual trust this requires. Bravery is required and it is shameful to be anything but steadfast in the face of the opposing army and potential death.

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Fallen Warrior Poem Analysis pt 2

"It is of course shameful for an older man fallen among fighters at the front to lie ahead of the young men...but for the young it is befitting, so long as one has the bloom of lovely youth, impressive for men to see and desirable for women while he is alive, and beautiful when he falls among fighters at the front." - The younger men should not allow an older man to be in the front ranks and fall before he does; he must be prepared to give his life in exchange for the older man's. Youth is beautiful in both life and death, and a young man lying dead is an honourable sight, in contrast to the disgusting and shameful sight of an older man bleeding on the ground, lacking the poetry and beauty of a young man's death and instead embodying the shame thrust upon a younger man for allowing him to die first.

"Let each man make a stand, legs well apart, both feet firmly planted on the ground, biting his lip with his teeth." - Despite the poem's emphasis of the young man's beautiful death, they must still fight the enemy stadfastly, just without the fear of death holding them back. The stance lends them courage and a fearful visage becomes of their ranks for the enemy. Their training and brutality should now empower their spirits and allow them to fight tooth and nail for their city-state and land, not holding back for any form of fear.

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