Was he as vile as Tacitus makes out?
A lingering legend has him ask about
Christ, be baptized. Was this how God replied
To one whose servant had Him crucified?
They say, of course, that he had lost his mind
And could not be expected to be kind:
Yet hatefulness like his can still be had
In minor measure from the merely bad.
Historian, whose histories are lost;
Imperial coin, which gambling soldiers tossed;
‘A fool’, Augustus called him; yet he won
Britain, which wise Augustus had not done.
Much given to the arts, he, singing, tried
Even the patience of the terrified:
When he was killed, the whole world held its breath
For fear that he was only acting death.