Poems of the Week

Pride of the Academy

by Julia Griffin

For Maria; without permission

“Researchers this week claimed to have found the final resting place of [Plato], a patch in the garden
of his Athens Academy, after scanning [with broadband infrared light] an ancient papyrus scroll
from the library of a Herculaneum villa that was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79.”
The Guardian

We’ve traced him, then: close to the Muses’ shrine,
Inside a private garden—with his friends,
But not quite of them. A recovered line
From a long-scorched papyrus scroll extends
Our knowledge: it’s a method (Plato’s word)
None of those Old Academicians could
Have dreamed. With nothing to be disinterred,
This can’t affect him now, for bad or good.
Here once his pupils mourned: Demetrius,
Erastus, Aristotle, the cross-dressed
Axiotheia; did they weep and fuss?
Or did they, following his old behest,
Focus their minds on vital matters—not
The body but beyond: *Then what? Then what ..?*