Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pramila Khadun writes

And today I weep

Today, I weep
I weep for myself
And I weep for humanity.
I succumb to my own weaknesses
Allowing misery to engulf me
While hailstones larger than golf balls 
Obliterate my heart writhing in pain.

I weep over the whims and wishes
Of a most avaricious and contentious world
Where callousness and indifference
Make a perfect blend for uncanny
Loathsome thoughts which keep me
Transfixed for hours in my mundane routine.

I think about the beaten and the battered,
The abducted and the missing,
The shooting and the killing,
The drug addicts and the lunatics,
The debilitating agony of humanity,
The world crucified upside down,
And I weep.

I come not with Antony's oratorical powers
On Caesar's funeral,
I come not with Cleopatra's charms
To be cynosure of all eyes,
I come not even as the perfect epitome
Of the modern woman in glitz and glamour,
I come here as a simple poetess
And have an empire of my own
Deep within my heart.
My whole empire is weeping
And it will every hour of the day
Until peace will be established
On planet earth
And all men live like brothers,
Loving, caring and compassionate with no nationality.


  1. Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated on 15 March 44 BCE and buried a few days later. His fellow consul, Marcus Antonius Marci filius Marci nepos, who was also related to him through his mother, Julia, delivered an oration that turned public opinion against the murderers; their houses were set on fire and they were forced to flee. Before 165 CE, Appianos Alexandreus, the former procurator of Egypt, wrote in Greek the 24-volume “Rhomaika,” which included an account of Antonius’ speech: "It is not right, my fellow-citizens, for the funeral oration in praise of so great a man to be delivered by me, a single individual, instead of by his whole country. The honors that all of you alike, first Senate and then People, decreed for him in admiration of his qualities when he was still alive, these I shall read aloud and regard my voice as being not mine, but yours…. The victim is not some other person seeking refuge with him, but the sacrosanct and inviolate Caesar himself, who did not snatch these honors by force like a despot, indeed did not even ask for them. Evidently we are the most unfree of people because we give such things unasked to those who do not deserve them. But you, my loyal citizens, by showing him such honor at this moment, although he is no more, are defending us against the accusation of having lost our freedom…. O Jupiter, god of our ancestors, and ye other gods, for my own part I am prepared to defend Caesar according to my oath and the terms of the curse I called down on myself, but since it is the view of my equals that what we have decided will be for the best, I pray that it is for the best…. It seems, fellow-citizens, that what has happened is the work not of any man, but of some spirit. We must attend to the present instead of the past, because our future, and indeed our present, is poised on a knife-edge above great dangers and we risk being dragged back into our previous state of civil war, with the complete extinction of our city's remaining noble families. Let us then conduct this sacrosanct person to join the blest, and sing over him the customary hymn and dirge.” According to Appianos,“In this inspired frenzy he said much else, altering his voice from clarion-clear to dirge-like, grieving for Caesar as for a friend who had suffered injustice, weeping, and vowing that he desired to give his life for Caesar's. Then, swept very easily on to passionate emotion, he stripped the clothes from Caesar's body, raised them on a pole and waved them about, rent as they were by the stabs and befouled with the dictator's blood. At this the people, like a chorus, joined him in the most sorrowful lamentation and after this expression of emotion were again filled with anger.”

  2. Based on this account, William Shakespeare rewrote Antonius’speech in a well-known passage from his play, “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar”:
    Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
    I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
    The evil that men do lives after them;
    The good is oft interred with their bones;
    So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
    Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
    If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
    And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
    Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
    For Brutus is an honourable man;
    So are they all, all honourable men–
    Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
    He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
    But Brutus says he was ambitious;
    And Brutus is an honourable man.
    He hath brought many captives home to Rome
    Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
    Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
    When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
    Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
    Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
    And Brutus is an honourable man.
    You all did see that on the Lupercal
    I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
    Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
    Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
    And, sure, he is an honourable man.
    I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
    But here I am to speak what I do know.
    You all did love him once, not without cause:
    What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
    O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
    And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
    My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
    And I must pause till it come back to me.

  3. In 47 BCE, Caesar had deposed Ptolemaios XIII and planned to annex Egypt, but Cleopatra VII Philopator managed to smuggle herself into his quarters rolled up in a carpet carried by Apollodorus the Sicilian; she was 21 and he was 52 when she became Caesar’s mistress, and he installed her as queen instead of her half-sister Arsinoe, who was granted sanctuary at the temple of Artemis in Ephesus; later, after a victorious campaign in North Africa, he summoned Cleopatra and their three-year-old son Ptolemaios XV Philopator Philometor Kaisar (”Caesarion”) to Roma, housing them in one of one or his country houses; as a foreign head of state, she was not allowed inside Roma itself. Despite his marriage to Calpurnia, he caused a public scandal by erecting a golden statue of Cleopatra (“Isis”) in the temple of his mythical ancestress Venus Genetrix at the Forum Julium. After the assassination Cleopatra quickly returned home. Antonius formed a joint dictatorship with Caesar’s 19-year-old great-nephew Gaius Octavius; as part of the agreement, Octavianus married Antonius' step-daughter Clodia Pulchra. They defeated the Liberatores (Caesar’s assassins) in 42 BCE; then Antonius took command of Gaul and the eastern provinces, including Egypt. In 41 he summoned Cleopatra to Tarsus in Cilicia; at her request, Antonius ordered the execution of Arsinoe; then Antonius and Cleopatra spent the winter together in Alexandria. (In 55 BCE, as the commander of cavalry for proconsul Aulus Gabinius of Syria, 28-year-old Antonius had persuaded his commander to restore Ptolemaios XII Auletes to the throne of Egypt and then became smitten by the pharoah’s 14-year-old daughter Cleopatra.) In Italy, Antonius’ wife Fulvia orhanized opposition against her son-in-law Octavianus; Octavianus divorced Clodia Pulchra, Fulvia's daughter from her first husband Publius Clodius Pulcher, and Fulvia marched on Roma to demand sole rule by Antonius. But Octavianus forced her to withdraw to Perusia in Etruria, which Octavianus besieged.When she surrendered in 40 BCE, she fled and died in Sicyon; to avert a new civil war, Antonius married Octavianus' sister, Octavia, but maintained his relationship with Cleopatra, who bore him three children. Nevertheless, the civil war erupted in 31 BCE when Antonius proclaimed Cleopatra “queen of kings and queen of Egypt” and Caesarion “king of kings and king of Egypt” as well as the legitimate son and heir of Caesar; he also made his son by Cleopatra king of Armenia, Media and Parthia, with his twin sister Selene the ruler of Cyrenaica and Libya, and their younger brother Ptolemaios Philadelphus ruler of Syria and Cilicia. In response, the Roman Senate declared war on Cleopatra and proclaimed Antonius a traitor. Later that year, Octavianus defeated Antonius at Actium and invaded Egypt; Antonius and Cleopatra killed themselves, and Octavianus had Caesarion murdered. Egypt lost its independence and became a province of Roma. In 27 BCE Octavianus became the first Roman emperor. However, through his youngest daughters, Antonius would become the ancestor to most of Octavianus’ Julio-Claudian dynasty; through his eldest daughter, he would become the ancestor to the kings of the Bosporan Kingdom, the longest-living Roman client kingdom, as well as the rulers of several other Roman client states. Through Selena, he would become the ancestor to the rulers of Mauretania, another Roman client kingdom; and through his only surviving son, Iullus, he would be the ancestor of many Roman statesmen.


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