Aristides The Just


Here’s the story of Aristides:
‘Twas a man. A myth. An ancient Greek
who was nicknamed “The Just” by his peers
and commanded the Antiochis
at the Battle of Marathon, the
one way back in 490 B.C.
one decade before Thermopylae.
Remember that one? Spartans? Xerxes?
Of course you remember. It’s all in
that movie with Michael Fassbender
and the lovely Ms. Lena Headey
A.K.A., from Game of Thrones, Cersei.
Where was I? Oh that’s right. Marathon.

After the battle of Marathon
a man known as Pheidippides
ran for 26 miles before
screaming, “Nike! Nike!” and dying.
Let’s pause the poem for a moment
‘cause the stanza above isn’t true.
It’s a mix of several stories
and advertising for Air Jordans.
Dear Phil Knight … Please send money … Love, Me.
Anyway, back to Aristides.
After returning from the war, he
settled in to life in Athens as
the Noble Archon Eponymos.
Eventually, conflict with a
salty rival named Themistocles
resulted in his Ostrakismos.
That’s Ostracism to you and me.
Citizens of Athens could banish
anyone they wanted for ten years,
provided the Assembly, or the
Ekklasia, if you can speak Greek,
voted that one should be ostracized.
It worked thusly: A Greek citizen
would approach a scribe and name a man
to be boot-heel kicked out of Athens.
If a man received six thousand votes
he was drummed out of the city while
Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More”
blared through the Acropolis’ speakers.

A man once approached Aristides.
You remember Aristides, right?
He the one who fought in Marathon.
He’s the reason this poem exists.
He’s the one who had a man tell him,
“I want to vote for Aristides.
I don’t know him, but it irritates
me greatly to hear him everywhere
called ‘The Just.'” After a long moment
of frustration passed, Aristides
autographed the fool’s pottery shard
and left the city ten days later.


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