For Caesar the Sibyl had two words. “Choose empire,” she said. And explained: “The republic has failed.” No, really? Why golly, what whatsoever would ever Make anyone say that? Or, what’s worse, Abstract so seditious a converse? Caesar was a man of few words, Not in any way a dimwit. What, Was he wrong? And Cicero right? Octavian lived and Cicero died; Octavian might die, Cicero live, Him and time restore a real Senate, Rome republican as snow, that cast Out kings and never whined them back, Abhorring to its last scheduled meeting The seducing sins of monarchy— To the Antonine age, and beyond? Ha! As any fool once knew, that second Rome (Bigger, if not greater, than Numa’s hill), Died not by murder but of cancer. Brick? Marble? Euphemisms here. Augustus found Rome graffiti, sumac, Bandits, drones, and professional liars. A Rome of zombies! A zombie republic, That the Caesars burned, and in whose ash Was found: Rome. What Augustus did: He slew the zombies. He saved the world. Time indeed might well have preserved A zombie Senate. The Quadi would not. What has time to say to the Quadi? The Quadi, men, not zombies like us, Wield metal bars, ugly but effective. A zombie has no chance with the Quadi. They take our heads. They cart off Our women. They must have some Special or Quadi time of their own. Surely our story is not their own, Terrible and now just beginning. Indeed the real mystery of the fall Is that as Rome fell soft, all around Her enemies weakened too—the Vandals Being mere pussies, next to the Quadi. And weakness is blood, terror, death: The boy to be Gildas is already born. Did “Rome die laughing”? Absolutely— Though by then, others laughed too. Choose empire! We can say one thing For our old republic: where Cicero Chose wrong, Sidonius had not the Choice. The Sibyl grants it just once.