Rome 56 BC - the time of the Republic and some great men: Caesar, Cato and Cicero. This poem tells the story of a priestess, a senator and a poet.
For the priestess, a vault of brick,
Once a holy Vestal Virgin,
Now an unchaste, shameful creature,
Broken vows and broken spirit.
She is buried alive, walled in.
No man, no weapon may touch her.
She dies of ‘natural’ causes,
Rotting in a hellish chamber.
For the senator, who raped her,
A sharp-edged dagger in the throat,
Taken by surprise, off his guard,
Too drunk to resist and fight back,
His tunic of Chinese silk torn,
Stained with vintage wine and vomit,
Splattered with gouts of blackish blood.
His state funeral is splendid.
For the youth, the love-lorn poet,
Owner of the lethal dagger,
An unlovely death, a dire fate.
The silty Tiber awaits him.
Sewn alive in a leather sack,
With a monkey and a wild dog,
He is tossed into the river.
The penalty for patricide.