. . . . . . . .
“I thought I saw it all when I went to Phrygia and saw thousands of soldiers and gleaming
horses … that fated day when the Amazons swept down to fight against men.”
King Priam (The Iliad)
The Romans were experts in the art of warfare.
They waged war against the Sabines,
the Gauls, the Macedonians,
the Carthaginians, the Amazons –
not the one-breasted warrior goddesses of Hellenic myth
who maimed their bodies to become better fighters –
but real, flesh-and-blood women:
Queen Boudicca of ancient Britain,
who is flogged, her daughters raped by their Roman captors;
Queen Zenobia of Palmyra,
who, once defeated, is taken to Rome as a spoil of war.
Here they are immortalized –
both the Romans and the Amazons –
locked in perpetual mortal combat
in the smooth silence of the stony sarcophagus.
Standing in the museum, admiring the piece in hushed awe,
we cannot hear the valiant war ...