“Dulce et Decorum est” by Wilfred Owen

“Dulce et Decorum est” is a well-known anti-war poem by Wilfred Owen, In this poem, Owen describes the shock of a gas attack and the effects they had on soldiers who were lucky enough to survive them. From a glance at the poem, you can see that the poem is broken into 4 verses and structured around three disturbing images. The poem itself is written in two parts (14 lines each); the first part is written in present tense, as if he’s one of the soldiers, and the second part is written as if he’s watching what’s happening from a distance. Owen’s effort to convey the horrors of war was successful because the imagery he used throughout the poem was solid.

Here is the poem:

In the first stanza, a group of soldiers are in no man’s land, trying to go back into the trenches. During the first few lines, the reader can easily picture the horrible conditions of the trenches; the soldiers were compared to beggars because of their physical and mental conditions. The second image, in the second stanza, is more disturbing; Owen writes about a soldier who fails to put his gas mask on, in a timely manner, during a gas attack. And last but not least, the third image Owen depicts is in the fourth stanza. In it, Owen illustrates how that dying soldier, and other dead soldiers, was/were treated by writing, “Behind the wagon that we flung him in,” (18). This shows that they were all tossed into a wagon and buried together, without a proper burial.

In the last two lines of the poem (28 and 29), Owen writes, “the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori”. The last two lines are important because the title of the poem comes from it, and he rejects Horace’s beliefs. Horace was an Ancient Roman poet who wrote, in the Odes, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (III.2.13). “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” can be translated as “It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland”. Wilfred calls Horace’s glorification an old lie and tries to prove how choking, and dying, from a gas attack is neither sweet nor proper. He ends the poem with that, for a deeper effect, which worked.

Is It Sinister To Be Sinistra?

Throughout history, people did not consider being left-handed a good thing. In fact, some lefties were forced to start writing with their right hand. For example, one of my parent’s family friends is ambidextrous because the school he went to forced him to write with his right hand even though he was left-handed. Even today, some cultures view being left-handed as an unfortunate thing. In Europe, people used to call homosexuals left-handed. This transformed the word’s definition into something offensive. In Latin, the word sinistra, sinistrae (feminine) means left handed. Sinistra has the same root as sinister, which means inauspicious. In Ancient Rome, left-handed people were considered to be unreliable. However, surprisingly, left-handed soldiers in the Roman Legion were considered to be special because they could fight with different methods.

This is definitely still true today. When I serve in tennis, my ball normally ends up going around 40mph and deep into the service box. I also hit fast, flat returns with my forehand because my left-hand is strong and dominant. This helps me win most matches because it’s easier for me to aim at their backhand while they’re lost over which hand my forehand is.

Las Vegas Shooting

On October 1, 2017, one of the worst mass shootings occurred in the United States of America. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, killed himself after injuring, and killing, over 550 people during the finale of a concert in Las Vegas. In the aftermath, many people had things to say about the gunman. Mayor Carolyn Goodman described the gunman as “a crazed lunatic full of hate” (CNN.com). News stations reported that Paddock acted alone and was not a terrorist. In the following days, social medias exploded, saying that he was a terrorist. Below is a screenshot from Snoopdogg’s Instagram page as one example.fullsizeoutput_31e

However, this leads to me asking myself what a terrorist truly is. A terrorist is someone who uses violence and targets civilians, according to a few dictionaries. So, doesn’t that make Stephen Paddock a terrorist? In my opinion, it does. How does this reference back to Latin? The word terrorist comes from the French word terroriste. The word terroriste was used for people in the French Revolution who used violence to strive towards gaining independence from the monarch and setting up a democracy. And where does terroriste come from? It comes from the Latin word terrorem. The definition for terrorem means cause of fear or object of fear, which comes from the Latin verb terrere. Terrere means to frighten. And boom, that’s a connection from our Modern world to the Ancient.

References:

Oxford Dictionary

Las Vegas Shooting Timeline

CNN

Online Etymology Dictionary

Religious Persecution

Wherever there has been more than one religion, religious persecution has existed. From the Ancient Romans up to today, 2017, a lot of religious groups have been targeted, hated upon, and persecuted. The Ancient Romans persecuted Christians, and we’re slowly beginning to persecute Muslims, or people who have Islamic beliefs. However, the way we persecute Muslims is completely different from the way the Ancient Romans persecuted Christians.

In Ancient Rome, followers of Christianity were often prosecuted and punished; death was often their punishment. The first emperor who targeted them was Emperor Nero. Emperor Nero ordered Christians to be rounded up and killed. Some ways Christians were killed were: being torn apart by dogs, being burnt alive as human torches, hung by their hands, using hooks, with weights fastened to their feet, hunted like wild animals, and many more disturbing ways.

Today, the way we ‘prosecute’ is different. Recently, there have been terrorist attacks in the U.S. Many people are starting to have a misconception that Muslims are terrorists. This makes them Islamophobic, or scared of followers of Islam. Along with this, hate on Muslims has been increasing. There have been a lot of shootings at mosques. It doesn’t help that our current president, Donald Trump, is contributing by making generalizations and accusing them of doing unbelievable and inhumane things. One thing some Islamophobic people do is accuse a woman of hiding a bomb underneath her hijab; which is disrespectful and insulting to Islam itself, because Islam means peace.

Even though we don’t physically torture Muslims, our hate against them is much stronger than the Ancient Romans’ hate for Christians (thus making it mental harassment). In fact, what most people don’t understand is that we are all victims of this. Most Muslims aren’t bad people and segregating them, accusing one religious group of being the cause and source of a problem is a pretty dumb thing to do.

Just look at history.

References:
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_589347b9e4b0af07cb6bc406/amp

http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/roman-empire/persecution-of-christians.htm

https://newsone.com/750315/why-does-america-hate-islam/