The Poetry Corner

"Ave Caesar"

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

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!"