agrigentum

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Song for Cleomenes 

Seventy-three years before the advent of the Christian era
As Rome was taking over any land within reach
Setting up proxy governmnents in the conquered lands
There lived one such man given just such a job
Gaius Verres, go

A praetor held a position which operated on trust
He was to govern in the stead of the emperor himself
It was an easy, easy privilege to abuse
And Verres did so

He was the governor of Agrigentum, which we now know as Sicily
And he stole everything that wasn’t nailed down
Took improper advantage of other men’s wives
The list goes on, trust me
Cicero wrote it all down

At Syracuse, Verres welcomed a band of pirates
They all drank and danced and sang on the shore
And when the husband of one of Verres’s paramours came
Bringing a fleet of boats with him
Verres, clever if diabolical, gave him a job
And enlisted the pirates to burn the whole fleet down

The boats burned in the Sicilian harbor
The flames rose hundreds of feet into the air
We stood on the shore, watching them burn
we stood on the shore, we heard the old songs
Hey

from Beautiful Rat Sunset (1994)

Sculpture of a a warrior, found at the Temple of Zeus (head) and Temple of Heracles (torso), Agrigento (ancient Akragas/Agrigentum), Sicily.  Artist unknown; ca. 480-475 BCE.  Now in the Museo Archeologico Regionale, Agrigento.  Photo credit: Clemensfranz/Wikimedia Commons.