“Gladiator”

Miller's historical narrative poem features a Roman gladiator fighting in the Colosseum

A Gladiator is forced into the Colosseum. How will he fare? Photo cred Flickr CC: Seb Neox. Photo rendered in Sims.

By Eric Miller

 

Ropes bind my hands, chains grasp my shins,
The chariot rides down the streets of Rome,
From the murky prison into the lethal sun,
Traveling even further from home.

Once I was a nobleman, serving my fellow Romans,
Revered by all whom the gods chose me to lead,
But jealousy corrupted the ignorant hearts
And they accused me of fatal greed.

Tried for treason falsely was a pain worse than death,
Yet the torment ceased to end. They turned me into bait,
A tool for their own self-elation, branded me a pawn,
And the Colosseum’s devilry would seal my very fate.

Romans jeered as my captors forced my armor on,
My hands shook when they bestowed my sword and shield,
I prayed that Minerva would aid me amidst my fears,
That a thick skin would protect from the blades they wield.

The vast mobs of my people mocked me overhead.
Though flanked by an audience, I stood alone.
I heard the heavy gate close shut, locking me in the arena,
And the sound of my challengers scared me to the bone.

Three fierce warriors emerged from the caves within,
Armed with deadly weapons used in the days of old;
And a mighty lion leapt out of an ironclad cage
His bloodthirsty eyes gleaming a pale gold.

I heard my foes laugh at their latest threat,
And the beast seemed indignant of the duel,
The audience was eager to see my blood spill,
The great city of Rome had fallen to the cruel.

I looked up above to the highest balcony,
Where I stared into the General’s eyes,
He was the wisest elder who knew my innocence
I begged him to prevent my demise.

But the General turned away his wise head,
And he chimed the ancient bell of Mars,
Choosing to indulge the forces of hate,
The battle begun beneath the torches and the stars.

I began strong and repelled the barbarians,
My sword whistling through the air swift,
And the audience cheered as my logic
Disarmed the men and sent them adrift.

I turned to the lion, and was shocked to see,
That the giant beast stood still by his trap,
Watching us fight to the death,
Beholding our civilization snap.

Then abruptly the advantage was lost,
With a loud flash that cut through the air,
The audience gasped, the arrow striking my calf,
I saw his unruly bow, the short trooper’s snare.

All three marched forth, kicking, spitting, stabbing,
The audience silenced as my blood proceeded to drop,
My pain and humiliation were now more real than ever
Yet my trial of suffering refused to stop.

The eternity was broken by the dormant lion,
Whose roar echoed across the land,
And the three mercenaries fled before him,
As he made the final stand.

The lion prowled for challengers, but none appeared.
The audience celebrated the heroic beast,
He pranced across the arena in a victory lap,
As a dismal cloud of dust enveloped me in the east.

I had survived so much, and endured more than most,
I walk out of the Colosseum with my own life.
But the lion ended up stealing the day,
And for naught was all my selfless strife.

I lived to see the Roman Empire fall.
Though the Coliseum still rises high,
Yet I could never make peace with the people
Who sent me off to die.

My mission was to serve my nation.
They took for granted my charitable heart,
And though a few bright spots remained,
The memory shoots back like a cyclical dart.

Rome, how I loved ye;
But how quickly thou betrayed me,
And now to your fate, I abandon thee

 

Eric Miller is a freshman History Major at Worcester State. Contact him at emiller6@worcester.edu.

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