Wednesday, February 29, 2012

54. Alexander the Great

Years later
During King Philip’s reign
A prince was born.
“This boy will be great,”
The soothsayer said,
“He shall be called a lion”
“The he-goat king of Javan.”
“Macedonia is too small for his ambitions.”
A horse came from Thessaly
He tamed it
His father was amazed.
Aristotle came to teach him
In the palace of Nymphs.
The lion gave the book that guided
The Macedonian lion to his destiny.
The young cub grew.
His father sent him off to hunt
When a new prospect came for love and other things.
“My son,”
He said to the boy,
“Macedonia is too small for your ambitions.”
“Leave this country.”
“Fulfill your destiny.”
With that he went back to his new concubine.
From out of the shadows
Philip died.
Called from his wilderness
He took the throne.
His attacks to east and west
Brought a final peace to his Balkan homeland.
Athena, Ares and their friends
Fell to their knees
When they saw him in their land.
Zeus adopted him at Olympus
Handing him his lightning fury.
“Greece is too small for you my boy,”
Zeus whispered in his ear.
He pointed eastward
Where the sleeping dragon lay.
“You have a duty to your people”
“To slay that evil dragon.”
“Go out.”
“Conquer the world.”
Racing eastward on his trusty ox-head-steed he cut the dragon to pieces
Eagerly thrashing at Gordium’s famous knot.
From Anatolia to Egypt
He raced
Where he gave the Nile a thinker’s light.
He pushed the dreaded serpent back.
Charging the ram in great rage
Hunting the dragon’s dreaded servant.
From Pella to the Indus
Shattering Media and Persia’s horns
Proclaiming himself the king of these mighty kings.
When his conquered people stood up out of the dust
They asked who it was that came
So that he can be properly worshipped as a god.
“Alexander,” was the reply
From the lion in all his armored glory
Then he collapsed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

53. The Rise of Macedon

After the war
Greece fell into turmoil.
All of their allies
Fought for dominance.
Brother against brother.
Greek against Greek.
Ares sold out his countrymen
For a small victory.
Athena was angry for that.
Zeus did nothing to help.
He knew what was coming.
Fate told him a great man would come
To settle everything.
For years the gods made war
As people in the north
They called themselves Greeks too
But they looked down on the barbarian southerners.
They had problems of their own.
There was fighting in their land.
Their neighbors gave them problems
While they were in the midst of a civil war.
They were in trouble
A king named Phil arose
To fulfill the prophecy Fate bestowed on Zeus.
Climbing over the fighting and paranoia
Raising his own army
Defeating his neighbors
Uniting the people.
When his work was done in his own land
He looked to the barbarians to the south.
“These stupid men,” he said.
“They need to be taught a lesson.”
“They know nothing about civilized life.”
So pointing his sword he said “Onward!”
Marching south to still the warring gods.

Monday, February 27, 2012

52. The Peloponnesian War

Athena became powerful in her golden age.
Her reach extended across the Mediterranean.
Ares didn’t appreciate her power.
He started grumbling
Jealous of the goddess’s power.
Suspecting a war she told Pericles.
He gathered his people
Ordered walls to be built.
The fortifications were strong.
Rivaling the Cyclopian walls of Troy.
He ordered ships to be built.
Athena’s powerful trireme navy
Became a force to be reckoned with.
Then Ares made his move.
A spear was thrust right into Athena’s heart.
She protected her people
With Pericles’ impenetrable shield.
For a time Ares was kept at bay.
He only got angrier.
He went to Apollo
Asking for help.
Apollo complied by sending a great plague.
The plague that killed Athena’s lion.
She continued to fight on
Despite the plague and military losses.
Abandoning old strategies
With more aggressive ones
She went on the attack.
The small island of Melos was the first target.
Then she directed her spear toward Sicily.
Trying to capture Syracuse
She was mortally wounded
Ares seized the opportunity
Raiding the countryside.
Athena’s democracy voted themselves out
In favor of oligarchy.
The people restored their freedom and continued the fight.
If Athena was going to die, she’d rather be free.
Ares went east
Talking to the once proud dragon.
“I offer you the cities of Anatolia,”
He said,
“In exchange for a little help.”
The dragon smiled in his coils.
Coughing up gold to fund a navy.
Once the ships were built
Ares squeezed Athena until she gave up.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

51. The Athenian Golden Age

With the dragon defeated
Athens was left to grow and prosper.
It turned into a great and shining polis.
A flame of democracy to light the rest of the world
With Athena smiling down
In her golden temple.
Many other poets
Came to the land of Athena
Singing her praises.
Greece grew rich in trade
They grew rich in freedom
They grew rich in culture
They grew rich in thought
Aeschylus begot Sophocles
Who begot Euripides
Who begot Aristophanes.
People came to Athens to speak their minds
Discussing their world and all things in it.
Socrates who drank the hemlock
Begot Plato who wrote the Republic
Plato begot Aristotle who taught the man who punished of Persia.
History gave Herodotus his muse.
Pericles, the statesman,
The great orator
Came to Athens
Standing among his people for forty years
Speaking like a lion.
Preaching Pan-Hellenism
Showing off his Apennine son to the west
Inviting others to come help raise him.
Bringing peace for thirty years.
He reformed his government
Molding it like a lump of clay.
Leading the infant
To new political maturity.
He helped Athena’s imperial grasp to spread out into the Aegean.
Becoming a pillar in the temple of democracy.
Pericles was exalted by the people.
Elected many times.
He became the embodiment of the Athenian Golden Age
As Delean gold was moved to his “high city”
Stored in Athena’s house
He heard the rumblings of war to the south.
When he died
Peace died with him.