Why does Owen use a Latin quote to end the poem Dulce et Decorum Est?

QuestionsWhy does Owen use a Latin quote to end the poem Dulce et Decorum Est?
megha asked 6 years ago

The poem ends in a quote – Dulce et Decorum EST. Why do you think the poet ends with a Latin quote? Would an English quote have been more effective? if you were the poet and had to write the last line in English, how would you write it?

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1 Answers
Staff answered 6 years ago

Well, the Latin quote “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (in English “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”) was originally a part of the Roman Poet Horace’s Ode 3.2. And it was a popular saying at that time. The warmongers used this to indoctrinate their propaganda of heroism and patriotism in war. Owen ends the poem with these lines ironically to accentuate the fact that participation in war may not at all be decorous. So using this Latin quote in the title of the poem and to end the poem is actually sweet and fitting.
I don’t think using an English quote would have been so effective in conveying the sarcasm and irony the poet successfully delivers here as a protest against war and more so against the false propaganda regarding war. 
Well, if I really had to finish the poem with English lines, it might have been like this —

My friend, you would then warn with high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
That no bastard ever won a war fest
By dying for his country.

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