Poems of the Week

Old Campaigner

by Eddie Aderne

“Archaeologists Discover Electoral Campaign Inscription Inside Pompeii House:
The Latin text reads, in part: ‘I beseech you to make Aulus Rustius [Verus] a true
worthy of the state’ … Researchers aren’t sure what happened to Verus when Mount Vesuvius erupted
in 79 C.E. and buried Pompeii and several surrounding towns in volcanic rock and ash. However, because
he later [gained a higher office], they suspect he won the election for aedile referenced in the inscription.”
Smithsonian Magazine

Vote for Aulus Rustius Verus,
Aedile worthy of the state!
We’re divided—he’ll repair us!
Get in line and do not wait!

So implored an old graffito,
Scratched on some Pompeian wall.
Like a just-revived mosquito,
It’s provocative though small.

Vote for Aulus Rustius Verus!
Seems Pompeii did as bid;
Fate, however, chose to spare us
News of what he later did.

As the air became volcanic—
Ashy, red, and very hot—
Did he try to calm the panic?
Maybe yes and maybe not;

No one knows. But this I’m sure of:
Ancient stumpers rule once more,
So this blurb we just need more of:
Vote for Verus—’24!