III – Journal Of A Depressed And Nervous Roman

Dear Journal:

Things started out a bit differently today. Instead of just walking out of the door, I carefully opened it – peeked out to see if anything really strange was happening – then, cautiously, started out on my daily walk. There had been rain in the early morning hours and everything smelled clean and fresh. Even the paving stones had a slight sheen to them that said to me “It’s a new day!”. Thus, with heart lightened, and humming a little tune, I went forward to do my errands.

I had purchased a fish at my old market stall (lunch) and a handsome Grecian vase down the row. It seemed that the morning was going along as it used to. Then I reached the Forum. As I entered the square I walked into a riot zone. People were running everywhere and squads of grim faced Praetorians were rounding up anyone they could catch. At one end of the court there stood a group of men huddled together as if for mutual protection. I recognized some Senators in the group. They seemed safe enough as the Praetorians left them alone. Then it struck me. What, and why, was the Praetorian Guard doing playing round up? That was bully work, normally a task appointed to the City Watch. Also, why were people being corralled in the first place?

My thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a HUGE Praetorian looming in front of yours truly.

“Papers, citizen?” This fellow didn’t talk, he rumbled.

I quickly fished out my I.D. and handed it to him. He looked at the paper, grunted in a Gallic sort of way, and gave it back to me.

“No trouble or out ya’ go!” I gulped a yes sir and the guard lumbered on his merry way.

As I stood in that square trying to decide what to do, what occurred next froze me in my spot. With the ringing of trumpets and the thunder of drums, who should appear but Caesar himself. Dressed in the height of imperial fashion, he still looked rumpled. The rumor was that his mother still dressed him in the morning. Cruel slander, of course. Caesar strode to the podium, grabbed the sides of it with both hands, and proceeded to give his morning oration.

“My fellow Romans. I come before you with grim tidings. Our Intelligence operatives in Parthia have uncovered a new weapon being built in secret and without our knowledge. It appears to be a newer, larger catapult with an incredible throwing range. Because of this discovery, and because I say so, my administration has had no choice but to declare this catapult a weapon of mass destruction. Although no one has actually SEEN this horrible weapon, nonetheless I am forced to take direct action against the Parthians. Today, I have sent off orders to the legions on the borders of that terrorist state to begin the invasion of Parthia IMMEDIATELY! This operation will be known as “Crush and Mangle”. We will make the world safe for Romans everywhere, whether anybody else likes it or not. There will be no questions today as I didn’t have time to be properly coached. Until tomorrow, good day.”

As the last shouts of “Ave Imperator” died down, I stood rooted to my spot in horrified disbelief. What had just happened? What was his inner circle telling our fearless leader? Surely, it had to be them. Caesar would NEVER do such a thing on his own! At least, I hope he wouldn’t. As the square began to empty, I shook myself free of shock and got the Hades out of there. I ran home and slammed and locked the door behind me. I may never go out again. What is Rome coming to? I’m going to bed. I feel safe there. Your friend, a depressed and SCARED Roman.

Chapter IV

Published in: on July 29, 2009 at 6:18 AM  Comments (3)  

II – Journal Of A Depressed Roman

Dear Journal:

I thought yesterday was strange, today’s walk was very peculiar in itself. As I walked down my favorite streets to do my morning errands, the subdued tone of the day before had been augmented by a strange new development. People were abuzz about an incident that had occurred during the early morning hours.

It seems a prominent critic and playwright of the lower city had been arrested and hauled off to prison. His door had been broken down and he was grabbed without so much as a by your leave. I had read his last commentary blasting the Senate for being wishy washy under pressure from certain highly placed government officials. I thought intellectual dissent was tolerated in Rome. Come to think of it, this chap had been thrown out of a gathering at the Forum last week. Seems he wasn’t on the officially approved list of those allowed to be present at the Emperor’s speeches. It is of interesting note to some that our current Caesar does like to make speeches. One a day, as a matter of record. I think that our Emperor is a good and just man. I hope. It must be those of his inner circle who are urging him to make these constant speeches. I wonder. Is somebody hiding something?

As I continued my errands, I came upon a highly disturbing scene. A group of people were being taken away by the City Watch. When I asked someone near me, why, I received a strange reply. It seems these people had been pointed out by loyal citizens as conspiring to interrupt the Emperor’s daily speech. Conjecture seems to be the order of the day, as there was not apparent proof that such a demonstration was going to take place. As I watched this scene in confusion, one of the officers looked my way with a scowl on his face. Time to leave. Being arrested was not part of my plan for the day.

Somewhat shaken and unnerved, I continued my errands and then headed back home by the shortest route. I have to ask myself, what is this change that is occurring in my beloved city? I am confused. I’ve always believed that our Caesar is a paragon of Roman virtue and ideals. Why then these arrests and the aura of fear which hangs over the city? I’d better find out more, but carefully. I’m worried and a little confused.

Chapter III

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 3:23 AM  Comments (1)  

I – Journal of a Roman Citizen

Dear Journal:

I just got back from my usual morning walk through the streets of Rome. The air has a fresh spring crispness to it that makes me glad I am alive.


What do I mean by almost? Well, usually on my walks, people are talking and laughing as they go about their business. Not today. All of the people I met on my walk were strangely subdued, as if a radical, disturbing change was in the air. As I stopped in the Marketplace to buy my dinner for tonight, something felt out of place. Then I realized what was bothering me. It was too quiet. Everyone was doing business in near silence. Oh, everyone was talking and conducting business as usual, but it was done in low voices with very little laughter.

What had changed?

No one would tell me. The buyers and merchants kept their heads down and tended strictly to business. No excess banter. As they did their business, people would glance furtively over their shoulders as if to see if they were being watched. It was as though the people of Rome had lost their will to free speech. I say will, not right, because, as far as I know, freedom of discourse still exists in the Empire.

I walked to the toga shop to pick up some new clothes, and things were the same there. The clerk was happy to see me as usual, but he wasn’t his old talkative self. He seemed afraid to say too much, as though too much gossip would land him in trouble. He was polite, but kept his topics on simple subjects or the Games. He stayed away from politics and religion. I know because, every time I mentioned either one, my friend would steer back to a non-committal topic. Finally, I was getting depressed myself, so I headed straight home. I wonder what tomorrow’s walk will bring? I know one thing. Something has definitely gone wrong in Rome.

Chapter II

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM  Comments (4)  

The Roman View

Make a wish upon tomorrow
One simple step will change the day
Empires rise and
Empires fall
One Caesar chosen to alter the way

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 8:57 PM  Comments (1)