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:

Neither.

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:

If.

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

 

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