c. 300 | Rome

We Who Are About to Die Salute You

Lord Byron observes a dying gladiator.

I see before me the Gladiator lie: 
He leans upon his hand—his manly brow 
Consents to death, but conquers agony, 
And his droop’d head sinks gradually low— 
And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow 
From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one, 
Like the first of a thunder shower; and now 
The arena swims around him—he is gone, 
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hail’d the wretch who won.

He heard it, but he heeded not—his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away;
He reck’d not of the life he lost nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—he, their sire,
Butcher’d to make a Roman holiday—
All this rush’d with his blood—Shall he expire,
And unavenged?—Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire!


Lord Byron

From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Called by Lady Caroline Lamb “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Byron boasted of having slept with two hundred women in as many nights while in Venice. The great Romantic poet joined independence movements in Italy and Greece, where he died at the age of thirty-six on Easter Monday in 1824.