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This poem is taken from PN Review 139, Volume 27 Number 5, May - June 2001.

In a Picture Gallery; Two Encounters (translated by Frederic Raphael) Petronius

1


EUMOLPUS: 'Even our Betters, our instructors in what is right and good, vote solid gold subsidies to Public Works. God and Mammon use the same credit cards. So what's to be ashamed of in craving cash? It's no surprise if art is in decline. Gods and men agree: money is much more beautiful than anything ever made by little Greek nutters like your Apelles or your Pheidias.

'I notice you're totally taken with one particular picture, showing the Fall of Troy. I'll try and elucidate the said work in verse form:

'Ten harvests had there passed, whilst they besieged
The Phrygians, grim-faced with fear and dread.
Calchas the prophet dreaded failing fame
When, at Apollo's orders, high Ida's trees
Were felled and heaps of timber dragged and sawn
To build that terrifying wooden horse.
Within all hollow, with a cavity
To house a garrison. By ten years' war
Enraged, they cowered there, the tight-packed Greeks.
A poisoned gift. The Trojans? We all thought
The Greeks had boarded their one thousand ships
And sailed away and now our soil was free
...


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