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