Or thrust and parry in bright monostich, / Teaching Euripides to Syracuse

From Robert Browning’s Balaustion’s Adventure lines ~125-180- a sunnier version here of the fate of the remnants of the Athenian expedition against Sicily:

So were we at destruction’s very edge,
When those o’ the galley, as they had discussed
A point, a question raised by somebody,
A matter mooted in a moment, — “Wait!”
Cried they (and wait we did, you may be sure)
“That song was veritable Aischulos,
Familiar to the mouth of man and boy,
Old glory: how about Euripides?
The newer and not yet so famous bard,
He that was born upon the battle-day
While that song and the salpinx sounded him
Into the world, first sound, at Salamis —
Might you know any of his verses too?”

Now, some one of the Gods inspired this speech:
Since ourselves knew what happened but last year —
How, when Gulippos gained his victory ⁠
Over poor Nikias, poor Demosthenes,
And Syracuse condemned the conquered force
To dig and starve i’ the quarry, branded them —
Freeborn Athenians, brute-like in the front
With horse-head brands, — ah, “Region of the Steed”! —
Of all these men immersed in misery,
It was found none had been advantaged so
By aught in the past life he used to prize
And pride himself concerning, — no rich man
By riches, no wise man by wisdom, no ⁠
Wiser man still (as who loved more the Muse)
By storing, at brain’s edge and tip of tongue,
Old glory, great plays that had long ago
Made themselves wings to fly about the world, —
Not one such man was helped so at his need
As certain few that (wisest they of all)
Had, at first summons, oped heart, flung door wide
At the new knocking of Euripides,
Nor drawn the bolt with who cried “Decadence!
And, after Sophokles, be nature dumb!” ⁠
Such, — and I see in it God Bacchos’ boon
To souls that recognized his latest child,
He who himself, born latest of the Gods,
Was stoutly held impostor by mankind, —
Such were in safety: any who could speak
A chorus to the end, or prologize,
Roll out a rhesis, wield some golden length
Stiffened by wisdom out into a line.
Or thrust and parry in bright monostich,
Teaching Euripides to Syracuse — ⁠
Any such happy man had prompt reward:
If he lay bleeding on the battle-field
They staunched his wounds and gave him drink and food;
If he were slave i’ the house, for reverence
They rose up, bowed to who proved master now,
And bade him go free, thank Euripides!
Ay, and such did so: many such, he said,
Returning home to Athens, sought him out,
The old bard in the solitary house,
And thanked him ere they went to sacrifice. ⁠
I say, we knew that story of last year!