Banjo Paterson

(17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941 / New South Wales)

"Ave Ceasar"


Long ago the Gladiators,
When the call to combat came,
Marching past the massed spectators,
Hailed the Emp'ror with acclaim!
Voices ringing with the fury
Of the strife so soon to be,
Cried, "O Caesar, morituri
salutamus te!"

Nowadays the massed spectators
See the unaccustomed sight --
Legislative gladiators
Marching to their last great fight;
Young and old, obscure and famous,
Hand to hand and knee to knee --
Hear the war-cry, "Salutamus
morituri te!"

Fight! Nor be the fight suspended
Till the corpses strew the plain.
Ere the grisly strife be ended
Five and thirty must be slain.
Slay and spare not, lest another
Haply may discomfit thee:
Brother now must war with brother --
"Salutamus te!"

War-torn vet'ran, skilled debater,
Trickster famed of bridge and road,
Now for each grim gladiator
Gapes Oblivion's drear abode.
Should the last great final jury
Turn their thumbs down -- it must be!
"Ave, Caesar, morituri
salutamus te!"

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Freshman - 1,642 Points John Richter (1/21/2015 7:38:00 AM)

    I don't know the story he is telling here. I get that he is comparing gladiators of old to the politicians of his day. But I don't understand the crowds gesture of thumbs down in the last stanza. Isn't that what the crowd showed the gladiator when wanting the gladiator to kill his fallen foe? Was he speaking of Germany? After the first World War? Or on the eve of the 2nd World War? I don't understand. Can anyone explain this? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Seluc Rynardley (2/3/2005 1:30:00 PM)

    Well done an excellent written poem I have been looking for!

    keep writting,
    Seluc (Report) Reply

    Silver Star - 8,357 Points Kim Barney (1/21/2015 10:17:00 AM)

    Sorry, but he's not going to keep writing, since he died in 1941.

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