Tale of Rome starts just before the start of the 2nd Punic War and will hopefully finish at the conclusion of the conflict.
It is the story of a young man and the adventures that he and other characters face at a time of tremendous upheaval and challenge for the Peoples of all of Italy. It is a work of historical fiction, but my aim is to try to follow the actual course of major historical events as closely as I am able. My inspirations are the works of people such as Ben Kane, Simon Scarrow and of course the father of them all Bernard Cornwell!
I hope you enjoy it.
Table of Contents (in spoiler)
Chapter One - Toilet Training
Roma, Subura Quarter 230 BC
Lucius pushed back hard, but the boys just laughed as they sat on top of the latrine cover. It was no fun in the dark, and the smell, by the Gods above! It was worse then the fuller’s that his Master made him work for all of last summer.
Lucius gagged as he felt himself go dizzy and almost fell back into the stinking effluent that reached up to his small waist. He tried his best not to think about what was floating all around him.
Manius teased him from above ‘Well slave boy, having fun are we? I thought you liked the smell of people’s leavings, thats what the fuller’s sons told me, and that you liked to play those ‘Greek games’ with their Major Domo?'
Lucius felt himself getting angry, ‘That’s not true and you know it! They’re liars and their Domus likes girls!’, with that Lucius pushed on the wooden trap seat yet again, but the combined weight of the two boys seated above was far too much for him.
Lucius realised that he was getting nowhere fast, and felt himself begin to panic, supposing Manius and that oaf Dextus decided not to let him out? Swallowing what little pride he had left, he pleaded with them to let him out. He never had liked confined spaces. In his best ‘slave voice’ he cried out to the boys above, ‘Please let me out, I’m late already, and the Master will punish me.’
‘Not yet’, snarled Manius, Lucius could almost picture Manius’s ferret like features, no wonder Manius was the natural leader of the local ‘Rat Boys’, what with that face he thought!
Once more he thought to himself that he must have been stupidly crazy to have crossed the Rat Boys, the best pick pockets and burglars in the roughest part of the Subura.
Lucius heard movement above him as Manius chuckled above his head, ‘We’ve got something a little extra, we want to give you’, Lucius could only guess it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Manius swiftly lifted the latrine cover, while Dextus poured the foul contents of the communal sponge bucket all over Lucius’s head.
Lucius looked up at the two older boys, and thought to himself scumbags! Did they really have to do that too! He already stunk to high heaven, and Aulus Livius Verres his Master, known as ‘the Pig’ was bound to get Leo the Major Domo and senior house slave to thrash him for getting so filthy and being late.
But with the two rats, laughing and mocking him, he tried his hardest not to cry, biting down on his bottom lip, drawing blood in the process, it hurt, but no way would he let these Subura scum break him, he might be a slave, but he still had some ‘dignitas’ left, not like the thieves guffawing at him.
‘Now you can get out little ‘Fool’, and next time do as we say. If we want something nicked, you do it, consider yourself lucky. Dex here wanted to break your jaw, for grassing.’
Lucuis hated the name given to him by his Master, most slaves only had one name, but his Master whose Cognomen Verres, meant Pig, had given Lucius the full name Lucius Ulpius Bucco. Lucius own Cognomen meant fool. Lucius figured it was just so that the pig could laugh at someone else for a change, ‘I didn’t grass, I just didn’t want to steal the Master’s silver, he would kill me!’
‘I still might you little snitch, Dexter seemed to be the meaner of the two, even if Manius was the so-called brains of the outfit.
All three boys looked to the door as it flew open as a tall man in uniform strode into the Latrines, ‘Oi, you two, what you up to, let the boy out of the crapper’, still laughing the Rats ran out of the doorway, leaving Lucius and the soldier staring at each other.
Wrinkling his nose in disgust the soldier addressed him ‘Can you get out by yourself?
'Yes, I think I can’ replied Lucius, ‘Good, then maybe you can clear off too and leave me to have a crap in peace. Bloody kids.’
Lucuis noticed that the solider looked relived that he didn’t need a hand, as he managed to clamber out using the slime covered iron rungs used by the fullers slaves when they emptied the communal latrines.
Thinking that as he was so late and dirty anyway, and a few more minutes dawdling wouldn’t matter; and that he had never seen a soldier up close before, well, not in the Subura anyway. He blurted out, ‘Have you killed lots of barbarians?’
Lucius realised it wasn’t the best question he could have asked as the soldier scowled back at him. ‘Only the ones, who disturbed me mid-dump…, yes, now go away and get yourself cleaned up, you smell worse than a green legionary staring down a giant hairy a***d Gaul for the first time.’
Lucius decided he had better leave after all. As he left he pondered for a moment, something about the soldier reminded him of someone, but the question was who?