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Page 14 text:
14 THE IGNATIAN
When in the sixth book Virgil describes the noble achieve-
ments of famous Romans, he selects almost exclusively, the
achievements of battle, the Gracchi are set before us, and
the Scipios, those thunderbolts of war.
In fact, the gentle Virgil seems to prefer battle to the
fine arts. He is willing that Rome should yield in every-
thing except in prowess.
"Let others better mold the running mass
Of metal, and inform the breathing brass,
And soften into flesh a marble faceg
Plead better at the barg describe the skies,
Tell when the stars descend and when they rise.
But, Rome, be it thine alone with awful sway
To rule mankind and make the world obey!"
Enough of Virgil. Other Latin masterpieces have the
same theme. The greatest speech of Cicero, Pro Lege
Manilia, is a war speech. The annals of Tacitus are annals
of war. Pliny is a war correspondent. Caesar's commen-
taries are war notes of a skilled general. A
Coming down the centuries we find the same ,glorification
of war in the world's literature. Dante, it is true, is not a
war poet in the strict sense of the word, but he had in
view a war that is far more prevalent and far more im-
portant than the conflict of nations. He describes with elo-
quence the war of the soul against the triple alliance, the
world, the flesh and the devil. In his Inferno he describes
the condition of the prisoners of warg in his Purgatorio he
tells of those who were wounded in the battle, but not unto
deathg and in his Paradiso he depicts the glories of those
who triumph over the enemies.
Tasso was not satisfied with this mystic warfareg his
genius led him to seek a theme that had to do with the grim
reality and he found it in the Crusades. Jerusalem Deliv-
ered is a glorification of a war that is worthy of the heroes,
who led the soldiers of the Cross to victory.
A ,-,,,,,.,,,,..f M
Page 13 text:
THE GLAMOUR OF WAR 13
If from the war-laden atmosphere of ancient Greece we
turn our thoughts to the fair land of Italy, we look, not
without reason, for milder themes. Surely in that land of
sunshine and of flowers men must have caught the spirit
of love, of peace, and of the gentler sentiments. This is
true. They find inspiration in the brooks, in the flowers of
the field, and in the grandeur of home life. Even Virgil,
Rome's greatest poet, glorifies the beauties of nature. How
often we find such expressions in his poems:
"Now wears the juniper its leafy pride
And the rough chestnut throws its branches wide."
He exalts the labor of men who cultivate the land:
"Ah! happy swain! ah! race beloved of heaven,
For thee just earth from her prolific beds
Far from wild war, spontaneous plenty sheds."
Nay, Virgil seems even to have caught the idea of uni-
versal peace. In his wonderful fourth Eclogue he strikes a
note that seems prophetic of the Prince of Peace.
And yet when we turn to his masterpiece, we are greeted
with the familiar words: "Arma virumque cano!" "Of arms
and a hero I sing!" The very first word of his mighty poem,
which for grandeur is not surpassed in human literature,
the very keynote of the organ-like Aeneid is "Arrna--Arms I"
Nor does he sing of arms in a half-hearted way. Virgil is
no pacifist. His hero Aeneas is bold in arms.
"Brave souls! he cries to his men of Troy,
We feeble few conspire
To save a sinking town involved in fire.
If we must fall, we'll fall amid our foes."
Death has no horrors for Aeneas.
"Haste, gird on my sword, though I be spent and overcomeg
'Tis the last summons to receive our doom.
Restore me to the yet unfinished fight,
My death is wanting to conclude the night."
Page 15 text:
THE GLAMOUR OF WAR 15
But be it always remembered that within the narrow lim-
its of this paper we cannot touch upon the hundreds of
smaller works. Nay, more, lest we exceed the limits as-
signed us, we shall delay no longer on the masterpieces of
other languages, but shall come to those of our own tongue.
Were we to look for war literature of excelling worth
in the English tongue, we should have no difficulty in finding
it. Shakespeare revels in the clash of arms. But for the
sake of sublimity let us choose Milton. His gloriiication of
war and of a war hero, though it is hardly Christian, is yet
Let us fly with Milton on the wings of imagination
through boundless space to the battlements of Heaven, to
the realms of eternal peace and harmony. On this day the
grand monotony of Heaven is disturbed. By imperial com-
mand angelic hosts from all the ends of heaven assemble
innumerably before the throne of God. He himself gives
forth a decree: "Here is my Son, Who in ages yet to come
will assume a lowly form. Him I appoint as your head.
Let every knee in Heaven bow to Himf' Satan quickly
moves among his friends and says: "Shall we leave aside all
noble deeds to cringe before the Messiah's throne and hymn
His everlasting praise? We are princes, not slaves. We are
unused to the yoke. Yet soon we shall be forced to draw
with servile strength His chariot through the star-paved
road of Heaven." With the battle-cry, "We are not slaves,"
one-third of the countless hosts rebel. All day long the noise
of battle rolled. At last the Messiah armed with ten thou-
sand thunders rides forth in His chariot of power. Right
on He drives through the rebel ranks trampling them into
one indiscriminate flock. Underneath their feet the founda-
tions of Heaven open wide disclosing a spacious gap into
the dark abyss. Headlong they fling themselves down, eternal
wrath burning after them, and driving them down, down
through chaos, down to the place prepared for them.
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