In Sparta (A True Story)

In Sparta, in general,
lived men of few words.
However, whenever they used one,
it burned.

One day a tyrant,
fresh conquests in tow,
sent Sparta a threat:
“Will I come friend or foe?”

Unamused, Sparta’s leader said:


That’s when the conqueror’s patience wore thin.

“If I ride in,” he warned,
“with my brothers in arms,
they will ravish your women
and ravage your farms.
Surrender! I might leave
your children unharmed.”

Once more, the reply came, pithy and swift:


With that, the invader
gulped down his pride,
spun ‘round and feared Spartans
till the day he died.


Story sourced from Plutarch here and here. It’s also told on Wikipedia.
Painting: “This is Sparta” by Andrea Mazzocchetti