The Persian Version: Conflict Poem by Robert Graves (1895-1985)

The first casualty of war is truth‘ Hiram Johnson to US Senate in 1917

The Persian Version

Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon

The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.

As for the Greek theatrical tradition

Which represents that summer’s expedition

Not as a mere reconnaissance in force

By three brigades of foot and one of horse

(The left flank covered by some obsolete 

Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)

But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt

To conquer Greece – they treat it with contempt;

And only incidentally refute

Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute

The Persian Monarch and the Persian nation

Won by this salutary demonstration:

Despite strong defence and adverse weather

All arms combined magnificently together.

Robert Graves 1945

(Footnote: this poem refers to the battle of Marathon (490 BCE), a catastrophic defeat of the Persians by the Greeks, and was written by Robert Graves during World War 2. It is a satire on the  contemporary official comments on British military defeats by British military authorities, though it could equally well be applied to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq….and of course in ancient times too)

See also:

The battle ground today:


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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