He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. The misreporting of great Caesar’s death Errs by one gross omission. We’re not told That when conspirators bared blades to strike, Caesar’s well-practiced military eye Glimpsed the quick flash of metal. He reacted As any soldier would, and cried aloud “Why, this is violence!” Then with one swift stroke He pierced through the forearm of Servilius Casca, Wielding an iron stylus that he carried For taking notes in his waxed codicilli. The blow was fierce and savage, as one might Expect from a man who led the Roman legions; Killed unnumbered Gauls, Helvetians, Belgi; Left battlefields awash in blood and brains; And knew the source of all his luck and conquests Lay in the pilum, hasta, and the gladius. It did not save him. Caesar could not kill All the assembled and encircling traitors. The lesson of the man’s assassination Has nothing to do with omens or the croak Of baleful prophets on the Ides of March; Or politics, ambition, or the risk Of threatening an old, established order; None of that mindless chatter’s to the point. They say Servilius Casca’s wound was dire, And would have killed him even had he not Been torn asunder by a Roman mob. That is the lesson: Violence is the key. Strike back hard and fast and without pity. That is the only answer to one’s foes. And if the pen is mightier than the sword, It had better be a pointed iron stylus. Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide. He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.