"Wanderer, if you come to Sparta, announce there that you have seen us lying here, as the law demanded."
1.) Sit down by the fireside, Leonidas, my friend.
We have prayed here so many times before.
Outside the temple the daylightís almost spent,
and the gods know: weíll see it just once more.
Down in the agora the rising sound of horns
and the laughter of children still at play,
and somewhere a woman cries, as if thereís cause to mourn.
But thereís only law, and we will obey.
2.) The darkness creeps closer, and silence in her wake,
and you sit with your head bowed so low.
Thereís none of the youthfulness left in your face
that has been there as long as I know.
But your beauty, Leonidas, did never come from youth,
but from courage, from constancy and care,
and youíre beautiful now like the image of a god
and Iím faithful, in glory and despair.
3.) And finally you whisper: "Must we really go this way,
must we perish as I have decreed?
Must I tread on the path that leads up and away,
and trust they will follow my lead?
Iíve seen the slaughter, Iíve seen the betrayal,
Iíve seen the bones slowly dry on the field.
But weíve nothing left than our law and our prayers
and an enemy to whom we canít yield."
4.) Iím restless and doubtful, Iím feeling like a fool
to tell you: all people must die,
that death can be glorious as much as itís cruel
for weíll rise up like gods to the sky.
For the last time, Leonidas, I take your hand,
the hand of a leader of men,
and I say: "Iíll make sure weíll be remembered in the end,
Iíll make sure as well as I can."
5.) So, stranger, if ever you come to the state
of Sparta, where once we did live,
then tell there: weíre gone, far away we met our fate,
in battle like we prayed for on the eve.
Determined and fearless Leonidas, my friend,
made his sacrifice so others would be spared.
As itís written in our law: the most glorious end
is the one of someone who cared.