The Great Sacrifice of the Romans on Undertaking a War
after the engraving in A Dictionary of All Religions, 1753
Not to be dismissive, but the Romans aren’t sacrificing much. A pig, a ram, some flasks of wine, one guy’s holding what might be a pie but it’s token more than tribute. The scene: festive and homoerotic with bare-chested men twirling axes so butch they count double. Ankle bracelets, strappy sandals, well-muscled legs. Of course this is before the war, bench-pressing babes contemplating a win. Even the giving feels good, the extra ox feeding luscious men like themselves. Someone’s pulled out a curvy instrument and is blowing that thing. Two others raise the long horns to their lips. The music so upbeat a conga line of animals is posing hooves and shanks and the men dig it, banners in the distance, a little antebellum bump and grind. No women, no surprise: no joie de la guerre from the ladies, and besides their sons, what would the women have to give? In poems I count the years until my son registers for the draft. I know him: He’ll boogie to the post office, sign his card. He’s down to six years, a number which, in Roman numerals, looks like one not-quite man beside the V for victory.