Waiting for the Barbarians, CP Cavafy

What is it that we are waiting for, gathered in the square?
 The barbarians are supposed to arrive today.
Why is there such great idleness inside the Senate house?
Why are the Senators sitting there, not passing any laws?
 Because the barbarians will arrive today.
 Why should the Senators still be making laws?
 The barbarians, when they come, will legislate.
Why is it that our Emperor awoke so early today,
and has taken his position at the greatest of the city’s gates
sitting on his throne, in solemn state, and wearing the crown?
 Because the barbarians will arrive today.
 And the emperor is waiting to receive
 their leader. Indeed he is prepared
 to present him with a parchment scroll. In it
 he’s conferred on him many titles and honorifics.
Why is it that our consuls and our praetors have come out today
wearing their scarlet togas with their rich embroidery,
why have they donned their armlets with all their amethysts,
and rings with their magnificent, glistening emeralds;
why is it that they’re carrying such precious staves today,
maces chased exquisitely with silver and with gold?
 Because the barbarians will arrive today;
 and things like that bedazzle the barbarians.
Why do our worthy orators not come today as usual
to deliver their addresses, each to say his piece?
 Because the barbarians will arrive today;
 and they’re bored by eloquence and public speaking.
Why is it that such uneasiness has seized us all at once,
and such confusion? (How serious the faces have become.)
Why is it that the streets and squares are emptying so quickly,
and everyone’s returning home in such deep contemplation?
 Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
 And some people have arrived from the borderlands,
 and said there are no barbarians any more.
And now what’s to become of us without barbarians.
Those people were a solution of a sort.