NaPoWriMo Day 12 – The Story Of Pertinax- a lesson in alternate history

The prompt – “I’m calling this one “Past and Future.” This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. A hat tip to Cathy Park Hong for a tweet that pointed me to the science fiction dictionary and to Hoa Nguyen for introducing me to the Classical Dictionary.”

I chose the story of the Emperor Pertinax from the Classical Dictionary and from the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction I chose the words ‘Warp Speed’ and ‘Alternate History

On the 1st January 193 A.D when the sun rose

Over the Roman empire,

the bloody night after the murder of


by his concubine, Marcia and his trainer,


the Senate chose-

a man who was ready to retire,

the prudent Pertinax Pubius Helvius

Known for his popularity, his economy

and his mildness

The hardworking slave’s son

got to work on day one

He forbade the inscription of his name

and melted the silver statues

of the emperors bygone

the money he used for his people and his


He rid himself of the objects granted to him for fun

and once they were gone-

the concubines, the horses and arms of

his predecessors he was left with none,

Much to the dismay of the Praetorian

army and its ire

On the 28th March 193

Eighty seven days after he’d begun

to fix the unruly soldiers

Three hundred of them rushed across

the palace gate

The guards on duty did not desist

The brave Pertinax refused to flee

and leave his people, his country or his


He waited in his chamber, he did not


Undaunted he stood before them

those that came for his blood

and spoke to them like they were his


Seeing the courage of their Emperor the

men retreated-

All, but one

who knocked the good King dead

with a poisoned javelin that he flung

piercing Pertinax in his head, it made

him fall

And he lay in a spool of red, defeated

Some call the Emperor noble for

standing his ground

Some call him mad for believing he

could fix things so soon

A lesson it is for all the future- boon or


changes made using warp speed* can

only go the wrong way

For nobody said, ‘Rome could be fixed in

a day’

But what they all agree on is that

if ever there was an upright leader


it was the benevolent King Pertinax,

And the murder atrociously bad

But before I end my narrative of the

man who was King

for eighty-seven days- the kind but naive

Emperor Pertinax

I ask you, had he listened to his friend

that day

and run away before the soldiers came

Do you wonder how history may have


– He may have well remained King,

Emperor Pertinax

and Rome an empire until now

That for you is an example of ‘alternate


*Warp speed- an extraordinarily high speed capable of manipulating space time

**Alternate history – a timeline that is different from our own world usually extrapolated by changing a single event All Rights Reserved


4 responses to “NaPoWriMo Day 12 – The Story Of Pertinax- a lesson in alternate history”

  1. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    This is a great poem, Smitha. A bit like an epic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Robbie I thought of you after I published it. I was hoping you read it especially since I know how much you love history. So happy you read it and liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. robbiesinspiration Avatar

        I did like it very much. I’m reading as many of your posts as I can manage.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Smitha V Avatar

          Thanks so much Robbie. I know you have your hands full but do read ‘letter to Stan lee’ and day 13s when you can…I think you’ll enjoy reading those too.


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