Revising the Old Lie
An ancient man bowed his head, but his words rose like ghosts, “‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.’”
A nearby pilgrim couldn’t bear it. “How many times are you gonna repeat that old lie?”
“But it’s true.” His eyes became grave as his knurled hands glossed the gabbro. “I missed my chance.”
“Life isn’t issued out by your country. It springs from struggle and from death.” The ancient man lifted his head and looked at the scar the monument made into the earth, then the bare trees beside it. “Want the truth? Revise it. Dulce et decorum est mori.”
**Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is Latin for “It is sweet and glorious/right to die for one’s country/fatherland.” It was originally used by the Roman poet Horace in his Odes, but became known as “the old lie” after Wilfred Owen’s World War I poem “Dulce et Decorum est” about the tragedies he witnessed (particularly the use of chlorine gas). Pro patria, which is omitted in the “revision,” means “for one’s country/fatherland.”
If anyone is willing to submit constructive criticism, I’m most interested in how the conclusion reads. I fear that a reader’s experience may be wildly different than what I experienced writing this, though that surely can have its benefits. (Also, if anyone knows Latin, could you inform me of any grammatical error(s) at the end? I tried to verify its accuracy, but my knowledge is limited.) Of course, any constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated.