[Marsyas] stumbled upon the flute, which he had no sooner put to his lips than it played of itself, inspired by the memory of Athene’s music; and he went about Phrygia in Cybele’s train, delighting the ignorant peasants. They cried out that Apollo himself could not have made better music, even on his lyre, and Marsyas was foolish enough not to contradict them. This, of course, provoked the anger of Apollo, who invited him to a contest, the winner of which should inflict whatever punishment he pleased on the loser. Marsyas consented, and Apollo empanelled the Muses as a jury. The contest proved an equal one, the Muses being charmed by both instruments, until Apollo cried out to Marsyas: ‘I challenge you to do with your instrument as much as I can do with mine. Turn it upside down, and both play and sing at the same time.’
This, with a flute, was manifestly impossible, and Marsyas failed to meet the challenge. But Apollo reversed his lyre and sang such delightful hymns in honour of the Olympian gods that the Muses could not do less than give the verdict in his favour. Then, for all his pretended sweetness, Apollo took a most cruel revenge on Marsyas: flaying him alive and nailing his skin to a pine (or, some say. to a plane-tree). It now hangs in the cavern whence the Marsyas River rises.
-Apollo's Nature and Deeds, 1700 BC??
Egil was matched to play against a boy named Grim, son of Hegg, of Hegg-stead. Grim was ten or eleven years old, and strong for his age. But when they played together Egil got the worst of it. And Grim made all he could of his advantage. Then Egil got angry and lifted up the bat and struck Grim, whereupon Grim seized him and threw him down with a heavy fall, and handled him rather roughly, and said he would thrash him if he did not behave. But when Egil got to his feet, he went out of the game, and the boys hooted at him.
Egil went to Thord and told him what had been done.
Thord said: 'I will go with you, and we will be avenged on them.'
He gave into his hands a halberd that he had been carrying. Such weapons were then customary. They went where the boys' game was. Grim had now got the ball and was running away with it, and the other boys after him. Then Egil bounded upon Grim, and drove the axe into his head, so that it at once pierced his brain. After this Egil and Thord went away to their own people.
- Egil's Saga, 1240 AD
Thenne launcelot vnbarred the dore / and with his lyfte hand he held it open a lytel / so that but one man myghte come in attones / and soo there came strydyng a good knyghte a moche man and large / and his name was Colgreuaunce / of Gore / and he with a swerd strake at syr launcelot myȝtely and he put asyde the stroke / and gaf hym suche a buffett vpon the helmet / that he felle grouelynge dede within the chamber dore / and thenne syre Launcelot with grete myghte drewe that dede knyght within the chamber dore / and syr Launcelot with helpe of the Quene and her ladyes was lyghtely armed in syr Colgreuaunce armour
-Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory, 1485
Some time toward midnight Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face discussing, in impassioned voices, whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy’s name.
“Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!” shouted Mrs. Wilson. “I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai ——”
Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
The F. Scott Fitzgerald scene may be the most affecting of all of them. Not just because it's a man hitting a woman, which is quite rightly something that retains its capacity to shock, but also because of the efficiency of the description: Tom is quite deliberate in his brutality, and you understand that in just a dozen words.
It would be wrong to say I "like" violence in an RPG session to be presented in that sort of fashion, because that's the wrong word, but I think violence which is sudden, quick and matter-of-fact (even casual) is the most interesting kind. It is more realistic, but it also makes you reflect on the consequences. Not as in "Ooh, isn't it awful?" But as in, "Okay, the person is dead. Now what is going to happen, and also what did it mean?"