Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero
The Storyteller and the Brother
By Douglas E Gogerty
The civil war was over, and Marc Antony had been defeated. He and his lover Cleopatra had committed suicide. Any challenger to Julius Caesar's adopted son, now calling himself Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus, was eliminated. Politics in Rome was now different. The power in Rome was now concentrated in one man, Caesar Augustus. Thus, Marius Batiatus Pervalidus could return home.
As was his habit when traveling, he would visit the local public bath. These were the gathering places for Roman citizens. It was a place to exchange news and hear stories. As the former gladiator was relaxing, he overheard some men telling stories.
"I guess we now have a tyrant for life in Augustus," started one citizen.
"He is lucky to be in this position," replied another. " Marcus Junius Brutus had him to rights, if it was not for his dream. He escaped his tent before they could get to him."
"That is not what I heard," interrupted a third.
"Tell us," responded the men.
"Gaius Octavius, had a giant guarding his tent. The man was as wide as he was tall. He was an enormous man."
"Was he naked and painted blue like the Gauls?" asked one of the citizens.
"No this man was no barbarian. He was a freedman and a member of the Equestrian Order, although it is said he was formerly a gladiator. His name was Marius Batiatus Pervalidus."
"Batiatus? He was a freed gladiator all right," one man added.
"Pervalidus? I wonder if it was Validus Maximus... He was an enormous man that I saw fight at the games as a child."
"This could all be true," continued the storyteller. "He was armed with only a spear, but a master with the spear he was. When the alarm rang, Octavian's camp erupted in confusion. Brutus's forces completely surprised them. Octavian had to gather his things and go, but it would take some time. He asked Pervalidus to protect his retreat.
"Pervalidus being strong and true stood his ground. Whenever a soldier from the opposing side would get near the tent, Pervalidus would quickly defeat him. Soldier after soldier came and they all had the same fate. The Brutus's soldiers were stacking up pretty high as the mighty Pervalidus dispatched them one by one.
"Soon, they would come in small groups as more forces arrived at the camp. One, two, a dozen made no difference to Pervalidus. Every group ended the same way -- dead. His job was to protect the Consul, and that he did.
"He had been fighting for hours giving Octavian plenty of time to make his escape. He was beginning to tire and the men kept coming. Soon, he found himself surrounded by 30 soldiers. It looked like he had taken too long to make his own escape. However, before anyone could flinch, he killed three more and was gone.
"Brutus found the tent empty, but did not press the issue any further knowing that 153 of his men died at the hands of one man."
"It was just 53," injected the former gladiator.
"What?" asked the storyteller.
"Only 53 of Brutus's soldiers were killed by Pervalidus," returned Pervalidus.
"53 -- 153? Both are preposterous," interjected another citizen.
"The omen seems much more likely," included another.
"How do you know the number old timer?" inquired the storyteller.
"Let us just say that I am intimately familiar with the story and its subject."
"You were at Philippi?" asked one man.
"I did not know they let geezers into battle..." added another.
"They will let anyone willing to fight in the army," responded Pervalidus.
"The story is true!" a young man in the back of the room exclaimed. "My brother died at the hands of that freedman."
"So which is it citizen, 53 or 153?" asked the storyteller.
"The only number that matters to me is one," replied the man.
"I concede the point," responded Pervalidus. "I must prepare to continue my journey. Thank you all."
"Not so fast citizen," interrupted the young man. "What is your name?"
"My name is unimportant. I am here for a relaxing time -- not trouble."
"I say your name is Marius Batiatus Pervalidus!"
The group erupted with noise. "No he can't be," said one man.
"He would have to be bigger," stated another.
"He is way too old," added a third.
"Think about it kid," started the storyteller. "Caesar offered him a position in his newly created Praetorian Guards. Would he do that to an old man like this? I do not think he would."
"Listen to them citizen," added Pervalidus. "No one wants any trouble here."
"I know you're Pervalidus! My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die!"
"I am unarmed and naked Tiberius," replied Pervalidus. "Perhaps some other time..."
"You cannot stay in here forever -- Gaius," Tiberius said with hate. "We will meet outside whenever you are ready."
"Are you really Pervalidus?" asked one of the group.
"Were you really Validus Maxiums?" asked another.
"Is this true?" asked the storyteller.
"I suspect there is no reason to keep it hidden," responded a dejected Pervalidus. "It is true, I am the former gladiator known as Validus Maximus. My free name is Marius Batiatus Pervalidus. I did kill 53 men to give Caesar a chance to escape. One of them could have been a Montanus. Caesar offered me a position with the Praetorius, but I refused. I wish to live in peace with my wife and kids. I had hoped to be done fighting. I guess it is not to be the case."
"I thought he was taller," whispered one man.
"What are you going to do?" asked the storyteller.
"I will try to avoid the fight, but I will probably have to fight him."
"This I have to see!" exclaimed one man.
The room erupted in excitement and movement. The bath was quickly empty except for the former gladiator. Everyone at the bath rushed to gather his things and find a good spot to view the fight. Some even went to gather loved ones. The whole town was soon abuzz about the upcoming fight.
Pervalidus sat in the bath for a little while longer. Eventually, he gave a heavy sigh and went to gather his things. He slowly got dressed and reluctantly left the bath. A huge crowd had gathered and the young Tiberius was waiting. A huge roar erupted as the former gladiator entered the street.
The young Tiberius was wearing a helmet and was brandishing a sword. "Do you have a weapon old man?" he shouted to Pervalidus.
"My staff will serve me fine," responded Pervalidus. "We do not have to do this Tiberius."
"My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die!" he said as he slowly walked toward Pervalidus.
"I am sure your brother killed many friends of mine..." Pervalidus replied holding his ground.
"My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die!" he said as he continued to approach.
"Is there nothing that will prevent this?"
"It is what these people have gathered to see," he said looking around at the crowd.
The crowd cheered at the acknowledgement. The former gladiator stood there calmly with a frown on his face. Nothing he said was going to prevent the fight. He readied his staff and prepared for the fight.
Suddenly the young Tiberius gave a shout and charged Pervalidus. The young man rushed the waiting opponent and swung his sword as he neared. Pervalidus easily blocked the blow with his staff, and with a quick thrust from it, Tiberius was sprawled on the ground. The crowed roared at the first action.
Tiberius was stunned. His face was red. Perhaps it was because of embarrassment or perhaps it was because of fury. Once again he stated, "My name is Tiberius Eprius Montanus, you killed my brother, prepare to die."
"You are young and inexperienced young Montanus. It is not too late to stop this."
Tiberius got up and charged again. Pervalidus easily parried the blow, and once again, the young fighter was sprawled on the ground. Another cheer from the crowd erupted.
"Your death will not bring back your brother, and neither will mine," Pervalidus explained calmly. "You have your whole life ahead of you."
"I do not need your lecture freedman," responded Tiberius. "I will kill you."
"I do not..." started Pervalidus when another person emerged from the crowd wielding a sword. The two men rushed the former gladiator at the same time. When the two men were close to him, he hooked the sword of Tiberius with the horse head on his staff, and steered it into the new man's chest. The sword found its mark and the falling man wretched the sword from the young Montanus's hand. With the sword still in his chest, the new combatant fell to the ground. With a hop and a sweep of the staff, it found its target at the back of Tiberius's head. The young man fell on top of his compatriot and breathed his last breath.
The crowd was silent. What had happened? It was over too quickly. The two young men were motionless in the street. The former gladiator shook his head and walked to the inn.
About this Entry
This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on August 20, 2006 12:10 PM.
"1000 Word Friday" was the previous entry in this blog.
"Mac MacKinnon" - Chapter 12: Major Roger White is the next entry in this blog.
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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