Res Gestae

( Things Done )

How does a Poet become
An upholder of the Moral Arc of the Universe
Tending towards goodness?

By recording history , things that happen
In the outer world and in the world within

The world of the mind : ideas, reason
The world of the imagination : images , myths
The world of the soul : faith and hope

Seeing the great lawgiver Solon
trying to copy his nephew
who was singing a song by Sappho
Someone asked him :

“Why , Solon ,
should you waste your time on it?”

Solon replied,
“So that I may learn it before I die.”

Ammianus Marcellinus,
He who professed to have been
“a former soldier and a Greek”
(miles quondam et graecus),
In his Res Gestae
(Rerum gestarum Libri XXXI)
in thirty-one volumes

recording the history and traditions of his time
in Rome in the Fourth Century before Christ
speaks of Socrates labouring day and night
at reading and debating ,
and when asked why , saying simply this :

“in order to leave life knowing a little more”
( “ut aliquid sciens amplius e vita discedam” )

Knowledge and Imagination
Weaving tales , narratives, songs
enter our genes
help us evolve

Take heart .
Makers of Poetry !
No poem is futile

( Inspired by a reading of Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary )

( ASA)

4 thoughts on “Res Gestae

    1. amitapaul Post author

      Thank you , Vijay Nair.
      I’m glad you forged past the hoary allusions to actually enjoy and like the poem .

    1. amitapaul Post author

      Thank you , Louis Kasatkin , for reading and appreciating this somewhat esoteric poem . I’m glad you were not put off by the classical allusions which many readers today might find tedious.


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