( “Ostia” [plur. of “ostium“] is a derivation of “os”, the Latin word for “mouth”. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was ancient Rome’s seaport.)
The road to Ostia
had been paved with stone
smoothed by slave labor
to bear into Rome wagons
wide with Indian spices, silks,
Egyptian grain and flesh
from every sea and farm; timber
from the Atlas range, gold, ivory,
Asian marble to adorn the City.
All rumbled up this road from Ostia.
Down this road to Ostia each day Rome sent carts
piled with dung, the refuse of the City
and legions. Shit and legions were the industry of Rome.
And then the barbarians came on the road to Ostia.