I admit, dear and valuable reader, that it has been quite some time since I last opened this tome and decided to write down anything of worth or value. So much so, that when I finally recovered this document from a pile of similar ones scattered about my home, I was forced to blow thick layers of dust from it before I could once more take up my writings implements and trace the angular Latin script.
From thoughts, to motions, to the written word, to immortality.
What to tell you first, what indeed?
In my fifty-ninth year, 600 Ab Urbe Condita by Romani reckoning, six centuries of the existence of Roma and her domination over others was celebrated both in the streets of the capital itself, and, in some way, in almost every city and hamlet in the empire. Six hundred years of spreading the light of 'civilisation' to every corner of the known world, for there was not a people who had not been affected in some way or another by the oncoming tidal wave that was Roma and her mighty armies, bringing with them deities, laws, technology and force of arms, the cult of the Emperor and much more than I could possibly write here.
The celebrations in Roma were something I had never before seen in my life, and will in all probability never see again, at least not in this lifetime. Even more moving was the fact that I experienced the parade from amongst the ranks of my soldiers, my friends, and my brothers.
Gazing out at the adoring and cheering crowds from beneath the peak of my parade-crested helmet, every spot of my armour gleaming in the summer sunshine and my cloak, torc and sica all present as myself and my century trotted alongside the Nervian Guard nearby the Emperor's ceremonial chariot. To his front, and our own, rode the faceless horsemen that were his personal cataphracta, leading the way at a brisk trot to be mirrored by the barbaric-looking Germani Singulares riding behind my own century.
Behind all of us came the rest of the Corporis Custodes Peregrinorum, walking in tightly packed ranks with their faces covered by masks and weapons sheathed for the moment, each man leant a uniform of parade armour which looked formidable enough but would truly be useless in an actual battle.
Then, even further behind, yet no less splendidly clad, came the rather ousted men of the Praetorian Guard and the Equites Singulares that provided horsemen on the battlefield for every important legatus and politician in the empire. I had no idea how these men, removed from their own venerable castra by a gathering of Emperor-assigned provincials, felt as they walked along staring at our backs...but I could imagine, even at my old age.
As we marched through the well-trodden streets of Roma toward the Capitoline Hill, then from there back toward the Imperial Palace, my eyes went from one face in the crowd to another and then back again. All around us, kept back by men of the Urban Cohorts and Praetorian Guard, pressed vast masses of the cities plebeian populace who honoured our Caesar even if they did not love him as they had Tiberius. No senators, hating Publius and all he stood for, made an appearance that day, not even those who swore that they were his comrades and allies.
Everything, as I remember it, was a swirling mass of colour, noise and smells, from the scent of freshly baked bread and unwashed masses, to the tramping of our hob-nailed sandals and light clinking of weapons on armoured thighs. Ribbons and shreds of coloured material, flowers and even whole items of clothing, were thrown full pelt into the path of or even straight toward the Emperors chariot as he passed along the streets and roadways.
The day was only elated further by news of another two victories in Syria and Judea, the takings of further Seleucid territories, those Hellenistic fools clearly no match for Roman superiority at arms. Hierosolyma was made the 'capital' of Syria and Judea and frontiers were fortified and garrisoned by auxiliary cohorts and alae, only the beginning of a process that would bring us to the present day.
In the winter, not nearly as chilled and nigh frozen as I stood guard at the door to the Emperors chamber, I heard the great man practising his address to the people which he was to make in the afternoon. It was a speech that would be copied and sent all over the Roman Empire, proclaiming the Pax Publius and the words of Caesar to thank all his faithful subjects and soldiers who kept the peace along our borders and within them. Nor was he wrong, it is a peace that has so far lasted for five years and is likely to last well after my natural death.
On a sun-filled day a year later, my only daughter, Arzas of the shining mane, married into the family of the Scipiones. She looked radiant beside her virtuous husband, her flowing gown and her glimmering hair, flawless white skin and intelligent eyes certainly making her the most beautiful woman there...except my wife, of course.
The family into which she married, oddly for a Scipio being a marriage of no political advantage really, were a sturdy family with lands both in Africa which had been wrenched from the Carthaginians, as well as lands in Hispania taken during Roman expansion into the Iberian peninsula all those decades ago. They were accurately feared in Roma, by senate and people alike, for their monopoly on the men and riches of both aforementioned provinces, yet Publius saw that they had ruled both justly and in fair terms, and so saw no need to bow down to senatorial wishes and replace them with others.
On the night of the wedding, which had taken place in Roma, the couple removed themselves to Tuscia and the city of Arretium where Lucius Scipio presided over a number of businesses and a rather large estate. Now she, and her heirs, my grandchildren, would be members of one of the oldest patrician families in Roman history. I could not have been happier, but I swore that if Lucius mistreated her in any way that there would be an execution detail at his villa door before nightfall.
Time passed swiftly, as it does for one of elderly years, the time I spent with my wife on extended furlough being some of the most wonderful moments of my life. Just to be in her arms and feel her against me, truly the Gods had seen fit to bless me when I met her, all those decades ago in Greece as a much younger man. Neither of us were getting any younger, a realisation that struck us both, arguments and the like becoming much rarer as we both realised that such things would only waste what precious time we had left.
As for other things, the Roman province of Gaul over-the-Alps was becoming far more civilised, plans for auxiliary units to be recruited from the tribesmen there being signed by myself and the Emperor in turn, every report and request as interesting as the next. Being the Emperors personal eyes and ears was a dangerous occupation, but still one I could never become tired of.
Reports appeared on my desk, daily, of fortresses and cohorts both positioned to provide what would later become a solid frontier between Roman lands and those of other peoples. Already one such boundary was present between us and my own people, the Dacians, as well as between Syria-Judea and the Armenians to the north and the Seleucids and Parthians to the east.
The legions of Roma, her greatest fighters, were forced to billet in major cities or return to their 'home' settlements, their skills as killers no longer needed for the present. Other legions were stationed alongside the auxiliaries who manned the majority of the fortifications, ever vigilant and ever aware for the slightest sign of danger from without and within.
In Roma, it was up to myself, an overpaid and under-worked senior officer, to organise duty rosters, training exercises and the guard details for the Emperor as he went about his business. A separate command-structure of native chieftains existed amongst the Nervians and, if I was not deceived or mistaken, a further guard cohort of Chatti tribesmen, those who did not wish to live under Boii rule any longer or exiles of the tribe, was being assembled on the Rhine border for a march to Roma and the palace. How long the nobles would stand for the presence of more barbarians, until something drastic was done, I knew not.
The current date is 606 Ab Urbe Condita, I am sixty-five years of age, and all three of my wonderful children have gifted me with children of their own.
Arzas regularly comes to visit, bringing along her two sons Martinus and Avitus, truly marvellous children, to see their foreign grandfather and the one who helped to give life to their mother. Both my sons have daughters and sons of their own, Diuzenes also having become a military emissary to the current Dacian 'king' and Bolinthos rising to the rank of praefectus cohortis.
I say, truly, that all is going well for my prosperous family, but is it going well for myself and the emotions inside me? Yes...and no.
I have come to see what others, those who have never seen Roma, see. The glories and the monuments and the marketplaces and drinking holes of the Eternal City, and it is not beyond my understanding to see why people come and never leave again. They get sucked in, spend their coin, disappear and end up floating in the Tiber somewhere. Either this or they end up, as most foreigners here have, abandoning their old ways and putting them to rest so that they may become more Roman and therefore more than simple Gauls, Germans or Thracians. In their own eyes, at least.
As for myself, well, after setting up the promised altars to the Gods, I have devoted my life to service to the Emperor and to preserving what remains of my 'otherness' where others give in.
The whole idea, value, process of 'Romanisation' is like a living thing that infects your body, like a poison spreading through your limbs and infecting your mind, an oppressive force that forces one to bend the knee and accept what formerly you would not.
It has happened to the Greeks, to the Carthaginians, to the Spaniards and Iberians, to the Celts of both Gauls, the once savage tribes of Illyria, Dalmatia and Thrace and to those who visit Roma and remain. For Roma is the cause of this poison, yet I serve its ruler willingly because I believe that what the Roman Empire delivers is much greater than what it takes away.
In all of these lands, the Romans have not stopped the practice of foreign rituals, worshipping of alien Gods, or the practising of native forms of warfare.
What have they done then, that makes others hate them?
Massacring and enslaving entire nations, pressing tax, tribute and the kidnapping of young bodies on the defeated, creating nobility of these people in their own image and ruling over them.
For better, or worse, this is the nation that I now serve...though I shall return to Dacia before I die, by the bones and souls of my ancestors I swear it.
What, dear reader? What is that?
You ask me, though I can hear you not in my ears, what I believe will happen to green and prosperous Dacia in the future. What will happen to my homeland after I am gone from this world, to new nations and lands. Let me tell you, reader, that I believe it is only a matter of time until either Dacia or the Roman Empire makes a mistake and war ensues, what will happen then depends upon skill-at-arms and diplomacy, though Gods willing I will not be around to see the suffering of my people when Roman legions set foot on Dacian soil and Ares the blood-letter once more sweeps his cloak over another set of rivals.
For now, at least, peace reigns and all is good. What the future holds, only the priests and the seers know.