Saturday, June 15, 2013

Children of Apollo - Excerpt

In Children of Apollo, we have the opportunity to visit many places about the Roman Empire. We see the deserts and cities of North Africa, Etruria, Cumae and, the caput mundi itself, Rome.

Today I thought I would share a short excerpt from Chapter XIV - Pater and Filius.

In this scene, Lucius has just returned to Rome and is walking through the Forum Romanum for the first time in many years, on his way to meet with the Emperor.

The Forum was the centre of social, political and religious life in Rome. It was also a place where Lucius Metellus Anguis spent a lot of time as a young boy.

Here is a bit of a taste of life in the Forum Romanum.

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It had been a long time since he had passed through the heart of Rome, seen politicians and priests and the massed mob milling about the paving slabs. As Lucius passed through the narrow street between the Temple of Saturn and the Basilica Julia he was greeted by the familiar play of sunlight and shadow cast by the towering white columns that reached to the sky, ornate pediments and godly statues.

       He stepped onto the Via Sacra, a gust of cool morning air rippling his cloak and the horsehair crest of his helmet. The crowd on the street parted for a procession of priests and augurs who were making their way to the Capitol for their daily sacrifices and readings of the omens. A beautiful lady accompanied them, obviously wealthy, not necessarily Roman, because of her dark complexion. She was veiled by a rich, yellow, hooded cloak over a white and purple stola. She held her head high as she walked alongside the priests and another gust of wind came rolling up the street behind them, like a divine breath urging them toward the temples.

       Once they had passed, everyone went back about their business and the street filled up again. Lucius however, kept watching, curious. As he peered over the tops of the crowd’s heads he spotted the Senate house, the Curia, where senators’ litters were parked, their slaves waiting patiently about, Nubians, Gauls and Germans, as their masters conversed on the steps before going inside to discuss the business of the Empire. One of the senators pointed at something large directly in front of the Senate, his hands waving madly in a fit of angry gestures. “It’s an outrage! Completely inappropriate!” he bawled. The structure was covered with scaffolding and leather sheets to restrict the public’s view. Only the sound of chiselling could be heard above the old man’s ranting just several paces from the numerous artisans’ carts at the base of the structure.

       The street grew more crowded and where before people avoided bumping into an armed tribune, they now pushed Lucius from every side in their efforts to get by. His reverie broken, he pressed on to his right where he spotted the new Temple of Vesta next to the house of the Vestal Virgins. The round temple was beautifully ornamented with pure white columns supporting elaborate friezes around the top. He remembered his mother mentioning that the Emperor’s wife, Julia Domna, had paid for its construction. She had spared no expense and it showed. What sort of woman was she?

            Farther down the street, Lucius came to the large paved ramp that led up onto the Palatine and the imperial complexes. As a child he used to marvel at the thought of the hill, the place where Rome was born, a small village. From huts hundreds of years ago, to this: ornate gardens, fountains, exotic orchards, baths and stadiums surrounding the most ornate, luxuriously marbled palaces. And to think, the Metelli used to live up here. The thought still took his breath away. It was quiet on the hill. All that could be heard was the splashing coming from tucked-away fountains and the song of birds singing in the approach of spring. Lucius enjoyed this as he walked, breathed it all in but he felt his nerves begin to take hold on him and his heart begin to pound as he came under the watchful eyes of the Praetorian guards lining the hedgerows above the street.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this short piece from Children of Apollo. I will be posting more as time goes by.

Cheers and thank you for reading!


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