Nero and Epicurus walked into a bar


Pyrofani Poems - by Roger Green, October 2015



Nero and Epicurus walked into a bar.
Not really a bar, but posher by far,
A sort of Greek restaurant with a Michelin star
Or maybe not; but it was not beyond
Belief that it had been praised in La Monde.

It was call The Pyrofani, tucked away
Behind a pretty Saronic bay,
Which is completely by the way
Because all I’m really trying to say
Is that Epicurus and Nero walked into a bar.


Said Epicurus: “I know who you are,
You’re the Emperor who played his violin
While Rome was burning and turning to cinders.
All right. All Right. All right. Please don’t get cross.
You behaved correctly. You were the boss
And a city in flames is a beautiful sight
Especially when it happens at night,
Unless you’re a fireman, there’s not much you can do,
So why not play your fiddle and relish the view?
By my philosophy you did the right thing
As you seraped away and tried to sing.
(Maybe the singing was over the top,
It’s very important to know when to stop.)
Ataraxia is what I’ve always taught,
Which means detachment without being caught
By either depressions or despair
Not like the Stoies with their apathetic air.
Not getting upset doesn’t mean you don’t care.


”Thank you,” said Nero, “let me buy you a drink.
After two thousand years, for the first time, I think,
I’ve met a perceptive chap who can see
The magnificent artist hidden inside me.
But now that we’re out on day-release
And find ourselves in modern Greece,
Tell me, what do you think of memoranda,
Of Tsipras and his referenda,
Of the refugee problem or capital controls
And all the other fol-de-rols?
If I were in charge, I’d send for the lions,
Or slap a few troublemakers in irons.
Threatened with gladiators with axes
The Greeks would queue to pay their taxes.


”No, no, Nero, you don’t understand,
That way the fires of unrest are fanned.
You had the right idea with your fiddle.
People like us should just sit in the middle
And maybe listen to a string quartet
If we haven’t learnt how to play music yet.
Don’t go on marches, don’t play the hero,
We’re not Charlie, we’re Epicurus and Nero.
And by the way, it it makes you feel good,
You’re not the only one who’s misunderstood.
People have portrayed my thinking
As promoting luxurious eating and drinking.
I wouldn’t be in this dump if that were the case.
No, the reason I settled on this place
Was because its customers go home to bed
Feeling satisfied, happy and well-fed.
That sums up my philosophy:
Contentment, but never luxury.
Oh, and the restaurateur is a bit like me:
He doesn’t take life too seriously,
He’s never pompous or sententious,
He’s unflappable, never pretentious.
He personifies my creed of ‘ataraxy’


Theo: Please order us a water-taxi.
Good night, gentlemen: Good night, ladies:
And Theo, just send the bill to … Hades.”


© Studio Viriditas Productions, 2015
Roger Green Ydra 23/9 & 3-4/10/15

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