INVICTUS

Invictus is latin for unconquerable and was the title of a poem.

INVICTUS

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY

Out of the night that covers me,

      Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

      I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

      Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

      How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

      I am the captain of my soul.


Captain of your soul, paddling down the River Styx? Is that despair or pride?

The real question is conquered by who?

  • Unconquered by God?
  • Unconquered by Lucifer?
  • Unconquered by humans?
  • Unconquered by self?
  • Unconquered by death?

Unconquered by who?

Without Jesus all humans are conquered by death. Pretending to be captain of one’s soul is true in one sense, only a human can choose to accept or reject Jesus. But false in another sense in that without Jesus you indeed are conquered by death and are left with no hope of eternal life. Such pretense is a pretense of narcissism and self deceit. The poem relies on “whatever gods there may be” who have granted unconquerability, but without bowing the knee to the one who actually rose from the dead is just empty bluster, and is actually self contradictory. So it becomes a study in stubborn pride. How very Roman is Invictus.

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