I have been cleaning out my office and found this item among some papers I had inherited when I became chair. It is poem about Statius’ Thebaid by my former colleague and well-loved Sewanee Classics professor, Bill Bonds. It is scrawled on the torn-off corner of an old mimeographed quiz.
Naked we stand on the naked ground
Under the naked sky.
Shining with naked sword in hand,
No one but you and I.
Naked they lie on the naked earth;
The heavens are naked of gods.
Naked at last, their armor gone
Clutching the naked clods.
If you don’t know the Thebaid, let me just say it is a rhetorically sophisticated and completely bleak epic from the time of the tyrannical emperor Domitian. Bill spelled out his thoughts more fully in a scholarly article (“Two Combats in the Thebaid,” Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol. 115 , pp. 225-235). In fact, I found Bill’s poem among his notes for this article. If you knew Bill, you will understand why this brilliant and unsentimental work appealed to him.