“The Parilia is done too late!” the Romans might say,
but this is not Rome, it is Cisalpine Gaul,
and these are not goats being protected, but cattle.
The god was tired of hearing himself called “Gaulish Apollo,”
for he preferred his own name: Belenus,
a bright appellation that meant healing and warmth…
and, for warriors, the frenzy brought on by henbane,
making him even more like Apollon Lykeios in Greece,
though the tendency to confuse disturbed him.
He watched as, on this day, an Emperor and a boy
brought down a mighty boar of the forest,
the bulk of the task taken by the boy.
He was no Gaul, but nonetheless he was a champion
deserving of his portion on this day, the season
when going between two fires was the blessing
and purification appropriate to both human and beast.
Flowers blossomed all around, and the god walked on earth
to touch the boy’s shoulder himself, and when he turned
the boy recognized the god, and the god recognized
that the boy, too, would one day become divine.
Their eyes were mirrors of divinity.
The boar was divided up, and its bristles
made needles, and were singed in the fires.
Its blood was fragrant in offering for the gods.
Ave Belene! Ave Ave Antinoe!