Plotius, You Bastard

By
Michael Lepori
Michael Lepori is a member of the Class of 2020.

Curse tablet, Rome, ca. 1st century BCE, Lead Alloy, 29 cm (L) x 11.4 cm (W), The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, 2011.01.

Poet’s Statement

My poem was inspired by the Curse Tablet. The poem sought to humanize/demystify the lives of ancient people by creating a narrative where the ancient characters have deep, but relatable character flaws.

Plotius, You Bastard

I, Caligula

(not that Caligula)

third son of Domitius,

seventh-best craftsman,

in the sixth-largest regio

of the greatest empire

known to Gods and man.

 

Am about to end this man’s

whole career

 

Plotius, the vile.

 

First son of Caligula,

(yes, that Caligula)

so-called finest of soldiers.

A man without peers,

a man without flaw,

a man without good taste.

 

Plotius, the doomed.

 

Prosperina’s my weapon,

if she heeds my prayers.

Though I lie awake nervous,

For it’s equally likely

That she be smitten

As he be smote.

 

Plotius, you bastard.

 

What causes my anguish?

This boundless rage?

I’ll tell you young Roman,

If I can bear to say.

 

He entered my storefront,

One fine sunny day.

Took one look at my wares,

Scoffed, and walked away!