Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lars Porsena of Clusium

Lars Porsena of Clusium
By the nine gods he swore
That the mighty house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.

This is the beginning of a poem by Thomas Babington Macauley entitled Horatius: A Lay Made About the Year if the City CCCLX. In our eighth grade literature book, entitled Prose and Poetry, we not only had to read this poem but also had to memorize a portion of it. The above lines are what I remember some sixty years later. Do any teachers demand that some memorizing of poems by done by upper grade and high school students? I doubt it. My granddaughter has not had to memorize. Nor, for that matter, as a junior has she yet to read a play by Shakespeare or a novel. We had one of each from the freshman year on. Woe to the education system. But I digress. As I recall the poem in our literature book was simply entitled Horatius at the Bridge. What brings all this to mind was an article on the Discovery website entitled Fabled Etruscan Kingdom Emerging? In the Tuscan hills near Florence the fabled kingdom of the Etruscan king Lars Porsena is being uncovered. Known as Chamars, it is thought to be the place where Porsena reigned in the 6th C. B.C. He is said to have launched an attack on Rome to restore the exiled Tarquinus to the throne. He laid seige to the city, but accepted a peaceful settlement and withdrew. Macauley’s poem has Horatius and two companions defending a bridge while the Roman army behind them dismantled the bridge. When it was nearly dismantled and would leave the Etruscan army stranded Horatius threw himself into the river and swam to safety, armor and all. By serendipity I am also reading a mystery novel by Marvin Albert entitled The Last Smile. It has Etruscan art at the heart of the novel. Not much is known about Etruscan history and it is hoped that this discovery and excavation will add substantially to what is known about this pre-Roman civilization.


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11:26 AM  
Blogger Marcia said...

Arrived here pursuing links to the excavation of Porsena's tomb, and I thank you for the reference to the Discovery website.

Sadly, your memory is playing you false on the opening stanza of Macauley's poem. "The mighty house of Tarquin" has the wrong number of syllables and rhythm - Macauley actually wrote "great house of Tarquin".

You'll be interested to know that my mother, who grew up in the early part of the last century, was memorizing this poem as girl of about six. It won't be any news to you that our linguistic standards are slipping.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Richard Calhoun said...

I found this poem after much searching and once I had learnt a little refinement on google was able to locate it.
My father always used to recite it

9:48 AM  

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