Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: gladiators

Barbarus in Roma

Barbarus in Roma



As captive taken to Eternal Rome,
As tall and ruddy slave amongst the free
And short and dark, he thirsted fearfully
For German beer and all the joys of home.

He saw no glory in the hippodrome
Nor on the sand where skilled slaves fought to see
Who would endure in vile utility
Under the unconcern of Heaven’s dome.

Civilization was, to him, disease–
Though the diseased were sure that they were fine
And gloried in their vain civilities.

In his lashed heart, he failed to fall in line.
In his fierce spirit, he was hard to please.
He was converted, finally, by wine.



–Tom Riley



(Second Place, Napa Town and Country Fair, 2017.)





Against his servile status, he rebelled.

His fellow gladiators joined the show.

They knew the Roman weapons that they held

Better than Romans did – and, in the know,

They forged ahead, barbaric souls aglow

With a vast, half-remembered liberty.

The victory they sought did not come slow.

Their fame spread – or their notoriety.

What a messiah Spartacus would be!

The young Kirk Douglas truly risked his all

So that all slaves could be forever free.

Then Crassus came and foully made him fall!

(Crassus was acted by Olivier.)

You don’t believe it?  What a thing to say!



–Tom Riley


The Possibility






The gods come in disguise, as well we know.

So maybe Jesus was a mighty god.

Maybe eventually he’ll bring them low,

His foes, and make his judges reck his rod.

To this as possibility we nod.

Helios knows that it would be a scene

Worth watching: golden-visaged, iron-shod

Angels advancing as vain courts convene!

What’s that you say?  This isn’t what you mean

At all?  No unexpected retribution

Visited on officialdom unclean?

Vengeance is not your deity’s solution?

Your revelation brings no satisfaction.

We like our slave shows filled with bloody action.






–Tom Riley