Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Africa (2)

Fortunately, before the sunset, my nephews at our company
office had found us lodging nearby. Marc had just returned
after an all day conference with his fellow gardener. He liked
what his friend told him--in that Carthage was ripe for the
taking, when it came to major garden projects.

The city was rife with temples, many still seeking a "sacred
garden" on their grounds. The same could be said of the
smaller towns around Carthage. And I had asked my Praetorian
friend if he had any advice in this respect. He said that the
Procounsel surely would be very impressed over Marc having
helped build a major garden at the Emperor's villa in Tivoli,
and likely would appreciate Marc taking a look at the Palace
gardens which seemed worse for wear.

All in all, it was a great day for Marc. He was really pleased
and was already making plans. He decided that the next day
he would like to travel out to one of the nearby towns; and,
naturally, he wanted me to come along. I bulked, because
I knew those camels were lurking about on the outskirts. But
not to worry, the legionaries had built an excellent road system
all around Carthage.

Indeed, they had built a major road that led through all the way to
Alexandria in Egypt. Of course this primary road was built for
military purposes. If ever a need arose, the Third Legion Augusta
could make speed on such a road. That's why there were major
road networks all over the Empire; but, additionally, these roads
also served civilian traffic.

So after a good night's sleep we headed out at sunrise. I could
still sit a horse, and we found a nearby town that probably was
representative of all of them in the farmlands. Marc was interested
in building gardens for the smaller towns as well. I was more
curious about the living conditions, the social arrangements
of these towns. While Marc talked horticulture, I talked with an old
centurion about how he liked living in Africa.

This old fellow was actually one of the earlier generations who
came to colonize the Africa Province. Like many others, he put
down roots and fathered a new generation. The children and
grandchildren of these colonists now called these Roman enclaves
"home." So what he was saying was that not everyone who currently
lives in the province once carried the short sword.

A lot of the younger generations make their living off the land or
as craftsmen or as shopkeepers. They worked in occupations
necessary for any community. And that was true in Carthage itself,
though it still possessed a strong military character. Yet the small
towns were growing, getting bigger and richer--and, yes, newly
retired legionaries were still coming, but there were all these others
who had different backgrounds and needs. It seemed there was
more variety to the province than what I first assumed.

We made it back just before dark, thank goodness! Over a late
dinner I told Marc that he could hike around on his own the next
day, because I planned to find Quint who--as far as I knew--was
still in Carthage and teaching at the Stoa.

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