Days of prosperity and glory, temple built for
Bel at Palmyra, gathering of men, minds, and
Families, beauty of fluted columns, marble
Gleaming, brightly painted, master-builders,
Artisans and stonemasons, slabs of veined
Stone from mountain quarries, designed by
Greek architect Alexandras.
Employed as skilled workers, Greeks compled
Their tasks, grand designs few realized, yet
In labours for Palmyrenes they were united,
Temple of worship constructed for faith of
Others, by hammer and chisel, living stone
Took shape, wonders of human endeavors,
Desert-dwelling fathers, sons, daughters.
First, architects arrived, those understadning
Mathematical formulae, dimension, proportion,
And aspect. Once priests blessed holy Bel site,
Below-ground foundation, sterobate, was pre-
Pared, stone-block reinforcement raised to level
Perfection forming the stylobate, polished temple
Floors on which stately columns stood.
Alexandras excelled in column work, cutting and
Carving, fluted segments turned until narrow
Seams meshed, tapered as designed, strength
And beauty were his words, by sweat and blood,
Each column united by crane-lifted entablatures.
How he loved ornate friezes, each an expression
Of faith, praise to Bel and ancient Syrian gods.
Sequestered from sight within the temple, Bel
Was sculpted from finest marble. Syrian sunlight
Ushered life into Bel’s divine likeness, adoration
Of skilled hands, polishing and painting. Once
Moved to naos, ancient rituals performed, his
Statue attained illumination, image of Syrian
Living god, prayers and offerings made.
Thus was Alexandras’ life, decades dedicated to
Serving deities, providing marble sanctuaries,
Earthly domiciles for immortal gods. For those
Who built Temple of Bel, this poem relates their
Service of faith and labour. Since antiquity, Bel
Temple withstood tumult of time, until destroyed
This year by cultural ravages of war
Whilst I have not studied Syrian religions, this poem is dedicated
to those who built this desert temple, including Greek architect
Alexandras. For more on Temple of Bel, click here.