Caesar was too old, it seems to me, to set about amusing himself with conquering the world. Such sport was good for Augustus or Alexander. They were still young men, and thus difficult to restrain. But Caesar should have been more mature.
                                                                          – Pascal, Pensees, 132

From emperor to god, distinction’s blade
Has cut me loose from earthly care and set
My star within a diadem that made

My shade regret its bloody ways (forget
The fact that I refused the crown with three
Dismissive waves). So three were keen to set

Upon me – brute ambition, envy’s glee,
And tilting pride – my own to think success
A measure tallied by eternity….

I wept at Alexander’s feats no less
Than now I laugh at what Augustus wants –
To valuate the empire’s populace

A victory subtracting weal from chance
In one decisive sweep of columned sums.
I told the pirates I’d be back to dance

Before their crucifixions; Pompey’s drums
Resolved my mettle. “Let Catullus sing
Of plows and flowers,” I said, “Caesar comes

From Gaul and India with arms to bring
About hic novus ordo.” This head
Is wizened, iron-willed, the only thing

That raises me above them all. Include
Among them, by the way, my wretched son
Who counts his greatest triumph as a god

A forced retreat of numbers back to one.


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    I’m a fan for all things Roman, especially Julius & Augustus, and that last line is just a killer. As Auden wrote (close to it, anyway), What we want is not universal love, but to be loved alone. It’s enough to make one believe in Nietzsche.

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    That last line of mine is a killer non-sequitur, or at least a long leap: if Augustus were a god, he would be the once-living-embodiment of N’s amor fati. Of course he is not, and so we don’t believe he can be. But of of course we could be wrong, and perhaps that’s where the fun is.

    I trust I have now made myself clear.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    Re: the bust, see Beard, Mary:

  4. Quin Finnegan says
  5. Quin Finnegan says

    And perhaps Jobe, B, on a satirical version of his younger self:

    He was staring at the glowing white gure so intently that he
    forgot to start walking across the street. It was only when someone bumped him while walking past that he started across, stepping off the curb just as the orange hand began to blink again. He paused for a moment when he reached the opposite side, trying but failing to rewind his mind to three thoughts before. He passed a barbershop and took a moment to look at the pole. Hypnotized, he watched the stripes turn round and around while he went back to riding his favorite hobbyhorse.

    One among Many. Many within One.

    The One leads to Many, and Many return to the One, in a kind of balance.

    Balance. That’s the most important thing.

    (from Bird’s Nest in Your Hair)

  6. Quin,

    As always, perceptive and illustrative! And yes I had that philosophical quandary in mind and it skulks in the background of that very brief account in St. Luke which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, David’s hometown, dontchaknow?

    A…B…C… and thus, D.


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