A Spider Hunt
Hadrian, head of the Legio Minervia,
bore the face of Medusa upon his lorica.
In later years, Antinous’ face would be below it,
closer to his loins, girding his waist.
The goddess Minerva, patroness of Athens–
Athena’s city, the Emperor’s favorite.
The Greek culture always in Rome’s shadow,
the Greekling Hadrian the shadow made ruler.
See the web the goddess spins
like a spider, though without punishment:
her shield with the Gorgon upon it,
won from Perseus after his victory;
but not just the face of the Gorgon
did she gain from the hero of Argos–
the shield itself, curved and reflective,
forever against the hosts was it turned.
Medusa’s face paralyzed, turned to stone,
but the reflective surface did not face out,
instead it was turned toward the goddess,
who saw into it plainly at every glance.
Only those without fear can stare such
into that curved mirror every moment of the day.
Perseus did not give it to her as a gift,
he gave it to her to be free of it,
for even he could not bear to look longer
into such a surface and see what looked back.
The truth, the shadow, the fear far greater
than the face that turns all to stone.
That is the charge of the goddess of war wisdom,
of battle strategies and the laying of victories:
Do not avoid the gaze of the mirror,
and become immune to the bite of the spider.
A clever web, a dangerous trap,
the quarry of a difficult hunt.
O heroes, take this message to heart,
as Hadrian covered his heart with Medusa,
but, like Antinous, saw the mirror surface
inside his armor, closer to his skin.