Waiting For The Barbarians
Came across this seemingly contemporary but 1904 poem by a Greek poet Cavafy : Not difficult to figure out contemporary parallels : particularly on a night of frantic political events & non-events triggered by a certain chieftain from the East .
-What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
-Why isn’t anything going on in the senate? Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today. What’s the point of senators making laws now? Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
-Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
-Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion? (How serious people’s faces have become.) Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly, everyone going home lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come. Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution.