Thursday, February 28, 2008

Interim (4)

First things first, however! Upon arrival at the Beneventum
camp we had to fork out our money to pay for not only our
training, but also our military clothing and equipment. Of
course these retired centurions looked to make a profit from
us Patrician and Equestrian fellows. Considering, I think
they did rather well adding this additional compensation
to their army pensions.

If we passed muster at the training camp, then we would be
alloted our military clothing that consisted of body armor, a
metal helmet with crest, a metal apron to protect our lower
body, as well as heavy studded shoes. We would also
wear shorter tunics than civilians, though as tribunes we
would wear white tunics with the purple stripe at the edge.

But for training we had to wear undyed tunics, like the common
legionaries. Harsh to the skin, but we endured. The Roman
short sword was a deadly two-edged weapon, though it was
mainly for thrusting. The dagger we wore close to our body,
learning to slip it out quickly. As for the javelin (or spear), it
actually was the hardest to master. Nearly as tall as the
average man, at first it was utterly unwieldly. With lots and
lots of practice, we finally mastered this deadly weapon.

Surprisingly, my best talent was in military horsemanship.
One old centurion laughingly said that I must have *true*
equestrian blood in my veins. Looking back, sitting the
horse turned out to be a godsend for the rest of my life.

Struggling through those three months of training, I felt
proud of myself. I not only learned to manage the weaponry,
but I also learned how to march and salute! Not trivial things,
actually. All through this training, both the large and small
aspects of it, we were taught discipline--not only honing
our bodies, but sharpening our minds.

At last we were sent off with a box of equipment and military
dress, pointed back in the direction of Rome where we would
receive our assignments. I dreamed of adventure, traversing
the sands of Egypt or being billeted in Asia. I was to be
disappointed. I was assigned to one of the Augusta Legions
situated along the Rhine Frontier.

I was told that this would be a severe posting--one located
alongside the Rhine River, nestled in the midst of the tall
Alps. Along with Britain, this post served as the far frontier
of Rome. It bordered the land of roving Germanic tribes, who
once savagely fought our legions . In our own time, these
attacks had quieted down and mostly now the Augusta Legion
served as a border guard. I was also told that being located
in the the Alps, the climate conditions would be harsh--as
compared to "sunny" Italy.

Well, I asked for it. I got a head-on lesson that being a military
tribune might involve some serious consequences! Still I
remained determined to follow through. I tried hard to look at
this assignment with the Augusta as a special experience,
wherein I might mature and become a seasoned military man.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interim (3)

Following my application, the Roman Military Tribunal system
started clanking its wheels. I was called in for an interview.
Standing before a small committee, I was told that they had
reviewed my family and friends. They also took note of my
work at the new Port of Ostia. All in all, I got good marks!

However, some of the committee members did question my
age. It seems that I was still rather young to put in my bid
as a military tribune. One member laughingly said that most
young Patricians and Equestrians "sew their oats" for awhile,
before applying.

Somewhat embarrassed by this, I mumbled around trying
to get a grip on this. Much to my relief the committee went
on to some other topics. Had I any semblance of military
training? Was I a decent horseman? I could ride astride
a horse fairly well, but I surely could learn more about
horsemanship. As for military training, I had zero experience.

Fortunately it turned out that my lack in all this was actually
commonplace amongst applicants. Continuing, the
committee members mentioned that there was pre-training
before one is attached to a legion. At this point I started to
feel more positive that just maybe I might be accepted as a
military tribune.

Joy, joy! The committee gave me a contract, in which I would
dedicate two-to-three years assigned to a legion. The time
put in would depend on that legion's particular needs. But,
first, I had to spend three months at a pre-training school
where I would learn the skills of the sword, the dagger, and
the javelin--as well as military horsemanship.

There were a small number of these pre-training schools
situated around Italy. In my case I was assigned to train
at Beneventum, a very old town in Southern Italy. By
caravan I made my way down the Via Appia. I was much
surprised by the sophistication of this town. It even had
a beautiful amphitheatre! But I soon found out that that I
would have very little spare time to engage in "culture."

Reporting to the training school, I found myself amongst
a new class of candidates. All of them were just as
ragged around the edges as me! But I was the youngest;
and, right then, I was determined that I was not going to
be the brunt of jokes. I would keep up in my training,
trying even to surpass my training if possible.

Then "reality" hit me in the face. The school was run by
three retired centurions, who were really rugged fellows.
Of course we knew that the Centurion was literally the
backbone of the Roman Army. Non-commissioned officers
who put in twenty years, sometimes up to forty years, of
service, the centurions ran the legions. They trained the
legionary recruits; and it has been said it was the best
training in the world! So our eyes were opened, and we
knew that we were in for one of the biggest challenges
of our young lives!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Interim (2)

Having returned from my journey, my first morning home I
allowed myself the luxury to sleep late. Comfortably ensconced
in my own bed, I woke-up looking out at sunbeams flittering
about our atrium. Laying there I wondered "what next?" I knew
that my father would be making inquiries of me. At this point,
all that I might muster was something vague but yet determined.
I wanted a military life!

When I made mention of this to father, he was naturally
disappointed. He wanted me to go into a commercial career,
preferably working for our family's corporation. Yet, he was
not surprised over my choice. All my life I had been disposed
towards the military, what with my fantasies about Rome's
legions and their great victories.

But father had to "educate" me on the facts of life, when it
came to this decision of mine.

As an adult member of the Equestrian Order, I was expected
to serve Rome in either of three capacities: commercial service,
the civil bureaucracy, or the military. And, usually, over time an
*eques* would probably serve in more than one of these

Immediately I snorted that I didn't want to be a bureaucrat. As
for the commercial world, well I grew-up in it and never felt
comfortable. But when it came to the military, well it turned
out that I didn't have the first idea about how to move into such
a role. So father had to enlighten me.

Both young Patricians and Equestrians had the opportunity
to serve as military tribunes, attached to a legion for several
years. During this period they retained their civilian status, if
in case they were simply awful they could be fired on the spot.
But one didn't become a military tribune over night. First, for
each legion there were only six tribunal spots, rotating every
several years so as to allow for ever fresh candidates. So
right off this limited the field.

The earliest step towards becoming a military tribune was to
apply. Then there was the selection process. It would take
some time, in that candidate tribunes earlier had to show
administrative abilities by serving their municipalities in a
responsible capacity. Also an unswerving allegiance to the
Emperor was an absolute necessity. There were physical
requirements, too!

So it would seem that nothing comes easy in this world. My
father asked if I wanted to work through this process. Thinking
minimally, I instinctively said "yes!"

With that I went to work. My father arranged for me a minor
supervisory position at the new Port near Ostia. Mainly I
worked at the granaries as an overseer; and, eventually, I
took charge of some of the transportation barges that took
the grain into the city of Rome. It was a perfunctory kind of
work, but it was important. Grain was a major food source
for Rome--and there's not much more important than food!

Jesting aside, this work gave me at least some small experience
managing other people. Happily I got along with the workers,
who were mostly freedmen. As for the imperial slaves, the
few I met I tried to treat kindly.

Also, working on the barges allowed me to visit my Aunt Eleana
and my cousins occasionally. She had three sons--two slightly
older than me--and a daughter, Sybil, who was near my age.
Indeed, I was born exactly one month before her. Almost from
the beginning I adored Sybil; and as for two of my male cousins,
they were Roman roustabouts who kept wanting to take me off
on their adventures into the city.

Of course I was too *busy* to engage in such jocularity. But
to be truthful, I was actually afraid to venture much into the
innards of this vast city. Over time I would overcome this fear,
but not yet. In the meanwhile, with my "tribune" target in mind,
I stayed the course working at the granaries. And when I was
moving into my twenty-third year, I applied to become a military

Now I only had to wait.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Interim (1)

Chapter Two. AN INTERIM

Returning to Athens I continued my studies, only now we younger
students were invited to attend lectures presented at the Academy
and the Stoa. At this point we had enough background to make
sense of what was being taught at these higher levels. Anyway,
I dutifully sat through these presentations and, occasionally,
something would seep into my dull mind and stay put for a few

Poor Quint! I think he was a little disappointed in me. But he was
ever forgiving. Finally we reached the beginning of spring weather,
after shivering and shaking through the winter. It was time to go
home. The plan was to return by the same route that brought us
here, only I would be going alone. At the port near Corinth, Quint
made arrangements with one of father's Greek shipper friends.
He owned the passenger ship that I would take for the major leg
of my return journey. As it turned out father had already negotiated
with this shipper, who assigned one of the sailors to take care of my
needs--including securing my food and water at various port stops.

Much to my surprise, father also had made financial arrangements
for Quint. Presumably out of gratitude over how Quint had served
me as both a tutor and companion, father granted him enough
money for his studies over a three-year period. I was so happy
for Quint. And years later my father's investment in Quint proved
fruitful for me. But now I sadly said farewell to my good teacher.

The return cruise was fortunately very relaxing. I decided that I
might take this leisurely time to think about what I might decide
to do with my life. Seemingly my "official" education had come
to an end. But, looking back, my "life" education was about to

Aboard the ship, I encountered an old Greek. He, too, was a
teacher--yet none like I had met in Athens. He called himself a
"metaphysical" teacher. He included both Platonism and
Stoicism within his teaching, but he also injected religious
imagery into his thinking as well. Mainly he was interested in
Reality in terms of cause, being, and knowing in relation to God.

Frankly I was a total novice when it came to the issue of God.
Back in Ostia we had several religious temples, one I believe to
Jove (or Zeus) and one to Mithras. But my family ignored these
religions, particularly the state-controlled rituals which could bore
one into paralysis. They simply did not connect with the outlook
of our family.

The old Greek laughed when I told him my situation. He noted
that, yes, at a more primitive level these religious cults provided
a certain religious sustenance to the rustics and the unsophisticated.
They were more inclined to take the legends and myths of the
pantheon of the gods more literally. However, metaphysical
teachers realized that behind these stories there was symbolic
imagery that perhaps sprang from humanity's deep intuition about
the nature of God.

For the old Greek this imagery reflected the different aspects of God.
An example might be Apollo, whose imagery stressed harmony
and unity. As for Pallas Athena, well she was the epitome of both
power and wisdom. I could understand, at least superficially, what
this Greek metaphysical teacher was telling me. He had inserted a
"seed" in my mind that I managed never to lose. Many years later
I would grow that seed into a tree.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Youth (4)

Quint and I quickly settled into an apartment located near the
various philosophical schools where I would attend. There
was the proper Academy that taught the philosophy of Plato,
and there was the Stoa that conveyed the concepts of Stoicism.
Both these great ancient schools were still in existence, in
that both actually began their course in the city of Athens.

Plato lived nearly five centuries before I was born. He was
a student of Socrates. And Zeno of Citium first expressed his
philosophical ideas even earlier than Plato. He taught in
Athens' ancient Stoa Poikile--a walkway of columns and
frescos. Hence the school of Stoic philosophy became
known as the "Stoa."

However, the schools--designed to teach us young students--
were mainly a conglomerate that evolved to teach the *basics*
of these major philosophies. Beside Plato and Stoicism, there
were also other conglomerate schools that represented the
philosophy of Epicurus and the mysticism of Pythagoras.

Right off I knew that I was in for some pretty "heady" lessons.
I would have rather enjoyed my stay in Athens otherwise than
listening to lectures, studying, but I felt obliged to try in the face
of father's investment sending me here. At least I wasn't alone
with my scruples, in that I found a goodly number of my fellow
students felt similarly pressured.

Nonetheless, at least some small exposure to these great
philosophies was better than none. In my more mature years
I would come to appreciate this year's experience in Athens.

Right off I was exposed to Pythagoras' concept that the entire
physical world could be explained in terms of numbers. Alas,
I would start with "numbers." I had a hard enough time putting
to memory Roman numerals when younger, so all this number
business was not my forte.

As for Plato, he felt that the world in which we lived was no
more than a "reflection" of the Real World, which consisted
of abstractions and forms (or ideas). At my age, at the time,
I had a difficult time coming to terms with these somewhat
ethereal ideas. And when it came to Plato's emphasis on
Socrates, I was completely lost when it came to applying the
Socratic method of questions and answers in order to arrive
at truth.

I was more comfortable with Stoicism. This philosophy focused
on "virtue." It was about living honorably, doing one's duty,
living bravely in the midst of challenges. This seemed to me
to be an understandable approach to life. It was practical,
though many years later I would come to understand Stoicism
in a deeper, spiritual sense.

Epicurus' philosophy boiled down to "pleasure and pain." He
believed that we need take care of our soul. Pain was a negative,
something to be avoided; and pleasure was a positive, a good to
be pursued. I didn't disagree with the basics; however, many
followers of this school of philosophy advocated hedonism. It
could boil down to no fear of death, so go out there and engage
in sensual self-indulgence! As of yet I hadn't been exposed much
to "wine and women," so maybe it was just as well I didn't know
what I was missing.

After all the study at this conglomerate of schools, I guess I came
away more in tune with the Stoics. Essentially I still "lived in my
head." I paid more attention to my own inner voice, my own
personal proclivities. And back then, in my later youth, the
teachings of the Stoa connected better with who I felt to be.

Even so, at this point in my life, I was not inclined to be a
philosopher. However, Quint was! During the two months
during mid-summer--when our lessons were curtailed--I went
with Quint to Corinth, where he made arrangements to study
as a "serious student" at the Stoa in that city.

Much to my surprise Corinth was far larger than Athens. No
wonder it was the capitol of the Province of Greece! On holiday,
I took my leisure visiting some of the attractions in this huge
city. One that I found fascinating was Corinth's Temple of Apollo.
And I found it equally fascinating that I actually was interested in
this religious cult.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Youth (3)

Need I say that I was both excited and a little afraid over this
upcoming adventure to Athens. But there were the practicalities
of making travel arrangements as well as packing for the stay.
Happily my father attended to our travel needs. He was adept
in these manners, in that he was a well known shipper. Alas,
it was left to me to pack, to figure what I need take for a year
away from home.

Of course clothing is the first priority. There was my toga, which
I received as the symbol of manhood on my fourteenth birthday.
Actually I had two, one made of wool for cold temperatures and
another lighter weight toga for when it was hot. As a member of
the Equestrian Order, from the shoulder of my toga on down
there was a narrow purple stripe. And my tunics had the narrow
purple stripe on their bottom edges. (Senatorial patricians wore
a wide purple stripe on their clothing.)

Class distinctions not only were reflected in our clothing, but
also we *equites* wore a distinctive gold ring that allowed for
certain imperial privileges. My father had the artisan make a
simple gold ring with our family seal imprinted upon it. This way
we could identify ourself, whether engaging in contractural
agreements or other types of affairs. Father made sure I had
my ring before I embarked on this trip to Athens.

Financially we prepared to take some money with us, but
beforehand my father made promissory financial arrangements
with friendly Greek shippers he knew from business encounters.
So at last we were about to embark. We left almost immediately
following winter's rainy season, because we needed to reach
Athens by the spring solstice. The special schools that we
youngsters were to attend started early, in order to beat the
heat of the really hot mid-summer in Athens.

Quint and I boarded a small passenger ship at the Port of Ostia.
Loaded down with several trunks, plus a handy food and water
supply, we were told that for the most part we would stay out on
deck. Interestingly, there were spaces with hooks that marked
our living quarters. We were given folding tents that we could
attach to the hooks. They provided shelter from the sun as well
as from any inclemency in the weather. Father had wisely
suggested we rush for a space astern the ship, in that this would
protect us from the wind always present on the forward side of
the ship. Good advice!

At last we were on our way. The first leg of our journey was to
reach the port of Naples, where we would board a second, larger
passenger ship that would take us on to Greece. We clung close
to the Italian coast, and at one point we sailed between the coast
and the Island of Capri. As I gazed at its beauty, little did I know
then how much time I would spend on that island later.

Mainly I was simply enthralled looking out towards Southern
Italy. Full of tropical greenery, one could peer further and
see the great mountains looming more inland. We had hills
around Rome, but nothing like these gorgeous mountains.
At last we entered the port of Naples.

We spent a few days in Naples. We had already unloaded our
trunks and secured our space on the larger passenger ship
taking us to Greece--but we had two days before it was
scheduled to leave. The first day we did some sightseeing.
A big polyglot of a town, Naples was both fascinating and smelled
of the sea. Fishermen had their stalls everywhere. In all my
few years I finally felt that I was entering a different, unfamiliar
world. The thought invigorated me! However, we had to get
down to business--so Quint and I had to spend our second day
acquiring more food and water. And on the early morn of the
third day, we set sail.

A short time after we left port both the former sites of Pompeii
and Herculaneum were pointed out to us. Even I knew about
their destruction by the volcano Vesuvius six years before my birth.
Reaching the Strait of Messina we made a stop at a Sicilian port
for more supplies; but, soon we were off again, rounding the boot
and heel of Italy. Again, another port stop for supplies. However,
it was at this point where our ship would be entering what some
call the "danger zone." We had to sail across some seventy miles
of open waters.

In our case we had to traverse the Strait of Otranto that would
lead us into the Ionian Sea and a Greek port. One could only
pray that we would not be beset by a storm or strong waves.
Everyone aboard gave a great sigh of relief when, at last, we
approached the coastline of Greece. We stopped at more
ports along the way as we headed south. When we reached
the entrance into the Gulf of Corinth, we entered sailing east
towards the direction of Athens.

Unfortunately we soon discovered we couldn't actually sail
into Athens directly from this route. By caravan we had to go
about fifty miles across land to reach Athens. Weary from all
the travel, my spirit suddenly soared when I saw the ancient
Acropolis in the distance. We had arrived, and I was more
than willing to let Quint make the lodging and schooling
arrangements. Me? I just collapsed and took my leisure.
Mine was a short respite, however, because my new
Greco-Roman education was about to begin!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Youth (2)

Turning me into a proper Roman citizen involved more than a
decade of learning. When I turned six, my father sent me to a
nearby school--a small building where about six of us students
were taught by a teacher, who tried his mightiest to help us
learn to read and write. We were given little wax-pads on which
we could pen our rudimentary efforts. No paper for us, until we
could properly write. Paper was hard to make, hard to come by,
and thus expensive. So we went with the wax.

Naturally we boys were not exactly paradigms of devoted
scholarship. So, like in most Roman primary schools, our
teacher usually tried to beat an education down on our heads.
It was only after my bruises started to show dramatically that
my father decided that it might be best to tutor me at home.
This was not an unusual educational route for Equestrian or
Patrician children. However, the main challenge was to find
an appropriate tutor for me--one who could provide me with
the necessities of a good Roman education.

The first priority was to find a reliable tutor, an educated slave
who could be brought into our household. Preferably, too, the
tutor should be a Greek. For centuries Rome educated its sons
both in Greek and Latin. In time I came to understand that Greek
was the language of commerce throughout the Empire. Studying
history, I learned how Alexander the Great had spread the Greek
culture--and its language--throughout many of the Provinces that
eventually were included in the Roman Empire. What with the
considerable diversity of all its peoples, Greek became the
lingual tool of communication.

It took some time finding a tutor that would meet our needs.
Eventually my aunt Eleana came to the rescue. She knew of
a Greek freedman who aspired to be a tutor. He was young
and totally inexperienced, but my father decided to take him
on and give him a chance. I was seven by the time I finally
had my very own tutor. He had a long and difficult Greek name,
but he cheerfully told us to call him "Quint." Good enough!
I liked him.

My schooling had already begun, when I first began learning
to read and write. When Quint stepped in I had already started
counting. However, memorizing Roman numerals was not a
true talent of mine. Father worried over this, considering how I
might do when it came time to bring me into our shipping
corporation. Keeping correct records, counting, would be an
absolute necessity on my part. In the end, with Quint struggling
magnificently, I finally managed to learn to count. It's just that
I hated it.

Eventually I was given scrolls and books to read. Those that
I read, my favorites, were about the exploits of our military heroes
and our Roman legions. Early on I seemed to be drawn into a
different direction from my brothers. It became obvious that I was
more militarily inclined than commercially inclined. This began
to alarm my father, so he decided to continue my education in a
far different way.

Dragging Quint along with me, we were put aboard one of my
father's ships. And father went with us, probably to make sure we
didn't jump ship! Like my brothers before me, father decided to
have me visit some of the major ports in Gaul and Hispania. It
would be an education in which I would meet merchants who
dealt with my father. I would visit their shops and small factories.
Also I would visit agricultural plantations that provided needed
products for Rome.

Virtually during this whole tour we clung to the coastline. It's
safer sailing. Happily I have never had the tendency to get
seasick, but Quint had his bouts. Still, whilst sailing, poor Quint
would try to teach me rhetoric. Again, public speaking was not
my forte--especially when I tried to lift my voice above the noise
of the wind flapping against the sails. Still, I have to give credit
where credit is due. Rhetoric instilled in me the good sense of
logic. To think and actually feel logically helps one stand above
the chaos, especially the chaos that always lurks in our own mind.

All these educational efforts lasted more than a decade. I survived
through it all, moving from childhood through my adolescence.
The next step in this educational process was a *big* step. At the
age of eighteen I was to be sent to Athens, ostensibly to spend a
year studying at the major philosophical schools located there.
Again, this special time at Athens was part and parcel when it
came to the education of the nobility.

At least I didn't have to go alone. Quint would go with me.
Knowing Athens, he would ease me into its routines. As for
Quint, he took the opportunity to engage these philosophical
schools at a deeper level. His hope was eventually to become
a philosophical teacher in one of these schools situated around
the Roman Empire.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Youth (1)

Chapter One: YOUTH

A child of an unhappy birth, I was born in the fourth year of the
reign of our Emperor Domitian. The last son of my father, my
mother unfortunately died at childbirth. She left my father bereft,
alone to raise three sons. My older brothers were in their teens,
one having already received the toga and the other soon to be
garbed in the toga. I was a late comer to my family, the one
that never seemed to fit as well. Perhaps there was always
the thought that somehow I had caused my mother's death,
though nothing was ever said. No doubt the wide disparity of
age between my brothers and me also caused some distance
amongst my siblings and me. And my father was growing old
as I was growing up.

I won't bother with all the Roman names attached to me. All
my life I have been called "Leonardo Felix" by everyone who
passed my way. It was a comfortable name. I liked it. As for
my family, my father was a wealthy merchant and shipper.
Over time my brothers worked for him. We lived in the midst
of Ostia, standing at the mouth of the Tiber River where it flows
into the Tyrrhenian Sea.

When I was old enough I came to learn that we were an
Equestrian family, a knightly order of the Roman Empire.
No longer horsemen, the equites were nobles who stood
between the plebians and the senatorial patricians. There
were all sorts of qualifications involved when it came to being
a member of the Equestrian Order; but, basically, it all pointed
to how much money you made. My father--and all our family
fathers before him--had done rather well, in that our corporation
owned a fleet of commercial ships that sailed to ports all over
the Empire, buying and selling products needed both by Rome
itself and its Provinces.

Ostia, itself, is located some twenty miles southwest of Rome.
By the time I arrived, it was a thriving city of nearly 100,000 people.
It was definitely not a village nor a backwater. Nearby, too, was
a new harbor and port as well as our older port. Consequently,
there were a lot of jobs that called for lots of people. We had our
ruling families, so to speak, who were either civically oriented or
commercially connected. The ports were mainly serviced by
freedmen and imperial-owned slaves. And the richer households,
of course, had their own personal slaves. Interestingly, many of
the slaves that came into our ports were often orphans. Though
I have never been comfortable with the institution of slavery, I had
to think that at least some of these orphans did come to live fairly
well in our homes. And when older, I came to realize that slavery
was labor's backbone of the Empire. Nonetheless, over time I
held serious doubts about this questionable institution. But that's
for later in my story.

Though I never felt I fit really well in my family, my childhood was
not at all unhappy. On one level I learned to live "in my head,"
enjoying my boyhood fantasies. And I loved our house. It boasted
of a large atrium, full of flowers and small trees and even a fountain.
Our house stood on one of the main streets of Ostia. The location
was very convenient to the baths, to the temples and commercial
district, and the theatre. It was hard to miss out on anything that
was going on in Ostia!

One of my earliest memories was riding in a big grain barge, pulled
up the river by lines attached to horses walking on either side of the
Tiber. My father always felt that this mode of transportation was the
most easy way to visit Rome, in that it was far more comfortable than
going by wagon.

Rome itself began as smells, from cooking, laundering, and sewage.
Even as a young boy I had my doubts about this huge, overwhelming
place that seemed to overcome you. The noise, too, seemed a constant
din. Too, too many people just everywhere, always busy, never stopping.
Quiet was lost in this city, whereas in Ostia I could always run through
meadows, sit under shade trees, and it would be so silent that I could
hear the small buzz of insects. That didn't seem so in Rome.

The occasion of our coming to Rome was to visit my aunt Eleana, my
father's only sister. A lovely cheerful woman, well married, still young,
with four children who I counted as cousins, she became most dear and
near in my heart. It was like I was her "boy" too! Happily she lived on
the far outskirts of Rome, in a large villa situated amongst lawns.
Goodness! She even had a swimming pool where we could frolic and
cool off. If having to endure going through Rome to reach my aunt, it
was worth the effort!

Alas, my frolicking didn't last very long. The little "barbarian" in me
was about to be introduced to a Roman education.


Long a student of Roman History as well as a devotee of
Spiritual Philosophies, I would like to present a story--an
"Ancient Journal," if you will--that focuses on the life trek
of a Roman *eques.* It follows this Roman knight from
his youth unto his old age. His journey takes him all over
the Roman Empire, far and near, into various occupations,
on into the Mysteries and Metaphysics. His experience
might actually sound familiar, in that his life is not that
so far removed from our own.