This text is enacted as a live-action
presentation by Sir Richard Wadd:
The earth moves; Poseidon rages offshore,
And the shock of his anger -- the rumbling
Blast of it -- the wave of liquid boulders
Knocking and knuckling in search of live bone --
Passes beneath my feet and crumples me.
There, a man is swallowed up by the soil;
There, a woman is crushed beneath her home.
And there, a moment later, am I, alive,
The ground upon which I climb to daylight
Suddenly stable and silent again.
So whispers to me in my ear the One,
"Thou art summoned now and boldly to lead,
To speak the voice of sympathetic Rome
And act in the service of Hadrian."
Hadrian. How shall I jump to please him?
How shall my conduct best honour his rule?
Some the think the wolf has a tail twixt her legs,
But I see solid sense in Hadrian.
I see a king who lusts not for glory,
And swift to end fruitless hostilities.
True, I chuckled, sneered, disdained: I disdained him --
That day the story touched me of his row
With Trajan for the favour of a boy,
But only because such scandals are brooked
Among cousins too smart to forget themselves.
Yet his coronation, the army's nod,
And a slow, glorious westward parade
Through that very square -- whereupon he touched
My shoulder, the hearts about it, and smiled,
And said to my face, "Epolonius,
Be good to the people and thus to me."
We must feed and shelter the homeless!
Commi(n)t the purse of Claudiopolis
And reassure the stricken multitudes!
This we did; this I proudly directed.
Hadrian arrived -- a breathless gesture --
To see for himself the devastation,
(And, no doubt, to be seen surveying it)
Yet genuine, nonetheless, in his grief.
And I, by a good grace, thrust into high favour
For acting by Hadrian's heart's command.
Strange how the Fates our story spins to us:
Trajan, I trow, nursed for me a reticence,
And now his heir rewards me with esteem!
I like Hadrian. I choose to honour him.
I envy your sacred office, Gryllus,
And the mission to which it be tethered:
To scout for future athletes of the court;
For boys of imminent worth and design.
Mark -- I have a pair of good candidates.
There, a man is crushed beneath a temple.
There, a mother drowns in decadent mud.
And there, a fortnight from Hadrian's leave,
Am I, dazzled! For there presents at council
That very man and mother's orphaned boy,
Besotted by the son of Niraemius,
In whose house he now has found a new home.
Antinous and Lysicles in love;
The glow of Arkamedes between them!
O Gryllus! O, my most fortunate friend!
Go and seek for glorious Lysicles,
And find upon his arm Antinous,
And trot them proudly into Hadrian's court
To serve and sanctify his warm desire!