Imperator

 
Perhaps you know this story

Of the Emperor Hadrian,

That most remarkable man.

On one occasion

He was travelling at a very rapid pace

When a woman cried

From the roadside:

‘Give me justice!’

He said: ‘I have no time.’

And she replied:

‘Then give up being Emperor.’

Hadrian stopped

And heard her case.

 

Another:

At Athens once

He disputed about philosophy

With Fronto and some other sophists.

One by one

They became silent.

At the end

Even Fronto grew still -

All apparently convinced

By Hadrian's arguments

But the Emperor was not deceived.

‘Why,’ he asked,

‘Do you pretend

When you do not really agree

With what I say?’

Fronto answered:

‘Who would dare to differ

With the Master of thirty legions?’

Not a graceful reply.

But the Emperor did not take it ill.

 

October,1974