—Why did our two consuls and the praetors
come out today in their crimson embroidered togas;
why did they don bracelets with so many amethysts
and rings resplendent with glittering emeralds;
why do they hold precious staffs today,
beautifully wrought in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are arriving today,
and such things dazzle barbarians.
— From Waiting for the Barbarians by Constantine P. Cavafy
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