"Dead?" enquired former gladiator, Pervalidus. "What happened?"
"Caesar was assassinated by the Senate in the Hall of Pompey," a town official answered.
"Why did not his friend Marcus Junius Brutus stop the plot?"
"He was in on it."
"You to Brutus?" Pervalidus said under his breath.
"There were probably sixty involved. Caesar suffered a great many stab wounds. The Senate did not wish to give up their power."
"Certainly they did not think this through. A group of sixty cannot fend off Consul Marc Antony and his men."
"The sixty are to meet with Marc Antony tomorrow. They will probably make a deal with Marc Antony and go unpunished. You know how these things go."
"The gods will see to justice."
"True words friend. Rumor has it that Caesar left every resident of Rome a large sum of money. They will be hard pressed to keep the outrage from overflowing at the funeral pyre on the 20th."
"What other words from his testament?"
"He probably gave some land to the city for a park. I have not heard any real specifics other than the money."
"Thank you friend."
"Were you a friend of Caesars?"
"I obtained much wealth when he was Pontifex Maximus, I just wished to congratulate him for his victory with a gift."
"You should pay your respects at the funeral."
"Perhaps I will."
The former gladiator silently paid his respects to Gaius Julius Caesar as the crowd erupted with fury. The angry citizens chased the conspirators out of town. However, Pervalidus did not join them. The civil war was not over. More bloodshed was ahead of Rome. He thanked the gods for everything he had and left town with his horses.
He did not know Marc Antony. The speech he gave at the funeral was a shrewd move. Antony appeared to be playing both sides. He appeased the Senators with one move, and turned the crowd against them in the next. "He may be the next dictator," thought Pervalidus. "I wonder what Gaius Octavius will do..."
As Pervalidus returned home, he heard many rumors of the events in Rome. Some people supported what the Senate had done, and some wanted Rome to be at peace. There was much anxiety about the future. Everyone seemed to agree, the fighting was not over.
A few days before he reached his estate, three bandits attempted to rob him. He attempted to scare them away, but they were too desperate. Thus, they insisted on fighting him.
"Three more dead men," prayed the former gladiator to his patron god Neptune. "When will the killing stop? I thought that by paying for my freedom, my fighting days would be over. Does the fighting never end?"
He finally reached his estate and embraced his wife.
"Why the sad face?" she asked.
"The civil war continues," Pervalidus replied.
"We will be fine. With fighting, comes the need for horses."
"I'm not worried that."
"Then what is it?"
"I received an omen on the road."
"All my life I have fought. I have fought for and against Romans. I have killed scores of men. I have never gone very long without killing a man. On this short trip to Rome I killed seven men."
"Our former magistrate caught up to me at an inn. He would not let me go unless we fought. I killed him and three of his men."
"Thank the gods you were not hurt."
"It was difficult not to kill more of his men."
"How many were there?"
"I do not remember -- seven or eight -- I did not count them."
"I did hear a rumor about a giant taking on one hundred..."
"Okay, it was twelve men. I had a good defensive position."
"Neptune has granted you great skills to take on so many."
"I have thanked him at every turn. I am very grateful. Needless to say, Mars keeps testing those skills."
"Oh yes -- the omen -- please continue."
"After learning the news of Caesar, I stayed quiet in Rome. A mob formed at the funeral and still I resisted the fight. However, on my way home three bandits attacked me. Nothing I said or did frightened them. They would not leave me. Thus, I left them dead beside the road. As I gave thanks to Neptune, a wolf came and scavenged on one of the corpses. It was Mars. He wants me to join Gaius Octavius in the upcoming battles."
"There is going to be war?"
"A civil war has been ongoing for quite some time. I have stayed out. I have not taken sides, but my fighting will never cease unless I do this."
"What of your family?"
"My dearest, I am getting up in age. I cannot continue in fighting three, four, five, or more at a time. I must take a stand now and fight for peace. I am sure that is what we will get in a united Rome. Marc Antony is not to be trusted. He is ambitious and will say and do anything. Only Octavius can bring peace to Rome."
"As you wish. I cannot argue with the gods."
"Octavius is recruiting a force in Apollonia. I will join him there. We will march on Rome."Posted by deg at July 23, 2006 8:04 PM