The Greeks, did they see it in the stars?
Feel it in the tremblers within the earth?
Read it in dark omens of the gods?
These Hellenes, after conquering and ruling
all the world that mattered for a thousand years,
sailors of the wine dark sea, philosophers, traders,
warriors, singers and story-tellers, craftsmen,
these Greeks, did they know, any of them, even one,
that their day was over, their empire undone?
Did the oracles tell them?
Delphi: did the priests of Apollo prophesy,
in epigrams and obscurities and shadowy apothegms,
power and wealth humbled, the Parthenon hollowed?
Playwrights of hubris and nemesis, did they sense their own?
Did some solon say, “This doom is of our own making”?
Did others say, “This is the will of the gods”?
The merchants, did they say, “As long as business is good…”?
Did the farmers have their say? The prostitutes? The slaves?
When the orderly Greek world went mad, did the Greeks?
Did the hundred Hellenic tribes melded into democracy
huddle again as tribes and revile the other, kill the other?
Did the Greeks do this? The Persians? The Egyptians?
The Mongols? The Mauryan? The Hittites? The Romans? The Celts?
The Huns? The Manchu? The Inca? The Aztecs? The Iroquois?
The world turned and their moment passed.
Did they wonder, “How did it come to this?”