Lynn W. Petty
A-11-Postscript - Poem by Lynn W. Petty
Betrayed! The Spartan troops had been betrayed!
Encamped at Malian Trachis, the King
Of Persia, Xerxes, had his troops arrayed
To fight. Leonidas could hear the ring
Of war; the clamor of a million men
Resound across the countryside; could smell
Death's stench upon the air. Xerxes' spearmen
Led the frontal charge. Bowmen's arrows fell
Like locusts on a field of ripened grain.
The Spartans feigned retreat, pretending fear,
Then turned and struck the Persians down. The slain,
Three thousand men within three days. Each tier
Of men would fall until the sea was red
With blood. The pass was blocked with death and still
The column came. They trampled over dead
And dying pushed by those beyond the hill.
Behind the scarp, along a small crevasse,
A Malian, Ephialtes, revealed
The ridge Anopea, the sole bypass,
Which led behind the Spartan force. Concealed
The Persian troops attacked at break of dawn.
Surrounded now, the Spartans fought until
Their weapons were destroyed. With hands and brawn
They battled till their deaths. The conflict still,
The Persians mutilated Sparta's dead.
Leonidas was slain, his head impaled
Upon a pole, reminding those with dread,
Resistance to the Persian march had failed.
But, had it failed, defeat was their disgrace?
Disgrace lies in betrayal, perhaps his gain,
For on his polished, marble statue base
The words recite, and to this day remain:
"Stranger, go tell the Spartans that here
We lie, obedient to their commands."
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