March 26, 2006

Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

Returning to Bella Pervalidia

By Douglas E Gogerty

"You were just a child," replied the magistrate. "You did not know what it was like to have things."

"I was not yet your age, and I had lost two families."

"Bah! They were not Romans! They may count as half families in front of the Senate."

"My story is clearly more tragic than what may happen to you if Pompey loses. The fates can be cruel or kind."

"Curse the fates! I will not concede that a slave's losses could equal a high-born Roman's losses."

"My story is not yet complete. There are the years in gladiatorial service..."

"Freedman, you were a slave. In gladiatorial service, the Roman citizens lavished you with great wealth and fame. You achieved wealth and fame that I could never match in any service for Rome. Thousands of Romans cheered your name. I was one such Roman."

"In the arena I killed many men. Some I knew."

"Gladiatorial combat was a show! Rarely was anyone killed. You traveled from town to town with the same group. It was all staged!"

"The fight you mentioned earlier when I fought three men, that was not staged. The patron of the festival wanted me dead."

"I am guessing his wife wanted to bed you! That is the tragedy of your life! Many women lusting after you, yet you could have none of it without risking crucifixion."

"Still..."

"I doubt that you did not bed your share of wealthy women. You were one of the most popular gladiators in all of Rome. The crowd cheered 'Validus Maximus -- Validus Maximus!' at many contests. I shouted that myself! Roman's knew you throughout the republic. You retired wealthy and -- more importantly -- healthy. You are wealthy enough to purchase slaves yourself! They likely have tragic stories similar to yours, but you care not one whit for their stories. If you lost that wealth now, that would come close to what I will lose."

"No doubt you would suggest we both back the same chariot. We both put all we have on Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus -- the pretender to the victory against my second father Spartacus."

"Uh..."

"Tempt the fates with a general who in many instances was simply at the right place at the right time. A general who defeated only outnumbered and weaker forces, and has let his hubris lead where an army must follow."

"Er..."

"No! I will not place my wealth in his hands for I have no confidence in his ability to lead his legions against well-trained legions. This conflict will play itself out, and I will retain my livelihood by staying clear."

"I ought to kill you ... What ho -- a rider approaches. He is one of my messengers. What news?"

"Sir," replied the messenger taking one knee in front of the two men. "There is news from Brundisium. The forces of Caesar and Pompey have clashed. Caesar was victorious, yet Pompey lives. The great general managed to escape. There is more conflict ahead."

"Tell my men I shall join them!"

"Yes sir," replied the messenger. He arose, mounted his horse, and rode off.

"You have not heard the last from me freedman!" shouted the magistrate as he rushed to his horse.

"May the fates be kind to you," replied Pervalidus who walked back to his house at a leisurely pace.

"Is all well with the magistrate?" asked Pervalidus's wife, Bella Pervalidia, as he approached the house.

"There was no difficulty with the course of events last night," replied the freed gladiator. "However, he tried to recruit me to join him in the fight against Gaius Julius Caesar."

"You are not joining him are you?"

"I have done my duty for the Republic, I owe them nothing further. Nonetheless, the magistrate made me recount much of my life story. It got me thinking about the slaves I own."

"What about them?"

"The magistrate reminded me, that I was once a slave, but now I am a slave owner. I detested my slavery..."

"Your household could not run without help," started Bella. "You treat your staff quite fairly. They do have to work for their meals and place to sleep, but you are not harsh like some have recommended. Free life does not guarantee ease, in fact, ease can only occur on the backs of others."

"You are wise. How did you get so?"

"Your words are kind."

"Do you ever wish to return to your home?"

"Like you, my home is no more. War has torn my home apart, and I am grateful that you purchased me and took me away from all that."

"You were well worth the 75,000 sesterces I paid for you!"

"I was a bargain! The bidding was slow on that day."

"Your words are true again!"

"If you wish, we can query the slaves on their situations."

"You have put my mind at ease, and I thank you. There is no need for any further conversation in this regard. Now, on a different subject, with the defeat of the highwaymen, we have some goods that we should be redistribute. We should feast in honor of Neptune tomorrow."

"It will be arranged."

"There will be much talk of Caesar and his victory at Brundisium. We have been fortunate not to be involved in this civil war. It is good to being a freeman rather than a citizen at times."

"What does this victory mean to us?"

"I think it is inevitable that Caesar will defeat Pompey, but what his plans for the Republic are anyone's guess. He may have himself voted dictator for life. If that should happen, we may have to offer some allegiance. We shall wait and see."

Posted by deg at March 26, 2006 7:48 PM

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