Croesus of the Western Empire
Plutocrat of the Republic
Why seek ye glory in the East?
Was the crucifying of Spartacists
along the Appian Way
not enough to ensure your name
forever carved in Memory’s stone?
Crossing the Euphrates
not heeding Cicero’s words
were not the omens filled with dread
entrails slipping from your fingers
Jupiter’s bolts striking the camp
the freed eagle wheeling home
When did your arrogance fly?
When the barbarians took the field
with cataphracts glistening in the sun
among the mounted archers?
Did glory fade at the first light of day
when gleaming coats of mail
appeared on man and horse
amidst the Army of the Parthians?
When tens of thousands of horsed archers
showered clouds of arrows
on seven Roman Legions
forced to yield their Eagle Standards?
Perhaps you knew the day was lost
when you saw the head
of your son
on a Parthian pike.
Mighty Roman Crassus
you would die that day
mouth filled with molten gold
your head presented to the King.
And Cassius, loyal friend to Brutus
would lead the Legions westward in defeat
to a place where, like us,
Romans were still exceptional
and later, on reflection, it would seem
the Republic died with Crassus on that day
though Cassius would strike a blow
but fail to save it.
Oh Crassus, after lo these many years
soldiers of the Western Empire
still bleed and die
in the Sands of Parthia.