Inimitable Livers

We swore a sacred oath before Mark Antony

that we would guard and keep watch on young Ptolemy

now and hereafter, for his life's entirety;

recruiting and training replacements as need be;

loyal until the last blooddrop or final breath,

deterred by neither fear, nor wish, nor even death.

Disguised as a large, foreign merchants' caravan,

we took him safely from the Alexandrian

palace before that upstart runt, Octavian

(who likes to be called Caesar but lacks his grand style)

could enter through the royal gates and order done

to Ptolemy the several tortures that his guile

had shaped obsessively into a master plan

(Octavian the clown thinks himself a great man).

On our long journey's many stops, Prince Ptolemy

often told us how he believed Astronomy

disclosed the nights' sky as a kind of poetry.




Author's Notes/Comments: 

The title is a phrase taken from Plutarch's essay on Mark Antony's biography.  The phrase "Neither fear nor wish," was the heraldic motto of a branch of my family's arms, in England, circa the sixteenth century.


I do not believe that the son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, and stepson of Mark Antony, was murdered by Octavian (who claimed to have done so) when Egypt capitulated to its Roman conquerors.  Octvaian never produced, or put on his funeral, according to Egyptian ritual.  I have stated elsewhere that I believe Ptolemy, along with Vergil and the poet and imperial administrator Gallus, prefect of Egypt (whose suicide was ordered by Octavian) were actually the Magi who visited the Christ Child in the second chapter of the Gospel of the Apostle Saint Matthew.

The writings of Plutarch and the motto on my family's arms are in the public domain.

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