Codex Atlanticus, Chapter 4 by wheatpenny ()
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** The image was done in Daz Studio. I made the room and shrine in Shade3d. Tim's tunic is from Poserworld, with a texture I made myself, and Gaius' tunic is the one from Xurge3d's "Imperator" set, with some tweaking by me, including changing the colour to purple.
The shrine is inspired by one found at Herculaneum, and Gaius is based on a minor character from the Bible. **
Over the next few months my knowledge of Greek increased, and I began to learn more about this place. I found out that Gaius’ name was actually Gaius Julius Aurelius and he was a centurion in the Praetorian Guard which was an elite military unit that served as a sort of government police force. This caused me no little concern as I had developed a bit of a phobia of Roman soldiers after my treatment at the hands of the ones who had captured me. He was widowed and had two children, a fourteen year old son named Pius and his twin sister named Pia. Surprisingly he only had five slaves, which comes as a bit of a surprise since Melissa told me that most Romans had more than that, and the more wealthy Romans had dozens of slaves. In addition to Melissa, myself and the boy who was bought with me, there were two others, named Chrestus and Helena. Chrestus was Gaius’s personal attendant and doubled as a butler when needed. Helena, Chrestus’ older sister, was cook and serving maid. They were both about the same age as Gaius and had been in his family since Gaius was a teenager. I also found out that the boy was named Volbix. He was 12 years old, as I had originally thought, and was a Gaul from the Roman province of Galatia, which surprised me a little because I never knew there were Gauls there. I guess it never occurred to me to notice the similarity of the words “Gaul” and “Galatia”. Apparently there had been a minor uprising in Volbix’s home town, and the Galatians who participated were captured. Some were killed and the survivors were brought to Alexandria (the hometown of the Legate - the man I had previously referred to as the “general” ) where they would be forced to fight in the arena. The wives and children of the soldiers, as well as a few innocent bystanders who were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, were taken captive and brought here as slaves.
Volbix was not as fast to learn Greek as I was, probably because I had previous experience with the language from my classes at church back home. But my knowledge of Modern Greek was only a small help at times, and at other times no help at all, since there were lots of differences between Modern and Koine Greek. For example, Modern Greek has three grammatical cases, and Koine has four. There are three declensions for nouns in Koine and only one in Modern Greek. Additionally, several of the letters make different sounds in Modern and Koine Greek.
I learned that Volbix and I, as soon as we became fluent in Greek, were going to be Pius’ pedagogues (a pedagogue is a sort of live-in 24-hour babysitter). Melissa was Pia’s pedagogue. Girls didn’t usually have pedagogues since they were taught everything they needed to know by their mothers and sometimes older sisters, but Pia had neither, so Gaius got her a pedagogue.
Gaius had called in a doctor to treat the injuries I had sustained in being captured. I was surprised to learn that the doctor was himself a slave, but Melissa told me that most doctors here were slaves. Gaius didn’t own him though, he just “rented” his services as needed. His owner was one of the wealthy Romans I mentioned earlier with a lot of slaves. From what I understood, the doctor and his owner split the money Gaius paid him for his services half-and-half
I was also beginning to learn my way around Alexandria, as Melissa and I went out every day to walk Argo and as we went she continued teaching me Greek.
One day Gaius walked into the peristylium (as the garden in the centre of the house was called), where I was sitting with Pius and Volbix. When I saw Gaius in his military tunic I got up to leave, as the sight of a military uniform made me nervous.
“Timothy”, he said. I stopped. And looked at him. “Yes, sir?” I said. “Come over here”, he said. I walked over to him slowly. “Are you afraid of me or something?” he asked. “A little” I said. I then explained to him about my experience with the soldiers on the ship.
“Well, I’m not like that”, he said. “Come with me, I want to show you something. Perhaps it will explain why I’m not like most of the other military men you’ve seen”.
He led me into his tablinium where he opened a trap-door in the floor. Inside was a ladder. He lit a small lamp and started down the ladder. I followed him nervously. (Besides my fear of soldiers I was also a bit phobic of the dark). We made our way around some crates to the front of the basement where there was a cabinet on the wall. I remember thinking at the time that this was a strange place to put a cabinet. He set the lamp on a nearby crate then opened the cabinet. The top shelves were empty but the ones on the bottom contained some scrolls.. He removed the empty shelves and set them on the crate, then he removed a panel from the back of the cabinet. There, set into the wall, was a wooden cross.
“You’re a Christian?” I asked, surprised. He nodded his head.
“So am I”, I said., “but I was afraid to tell anyone, because I heard that it was illegal to be one.”
“No”, he said, “there’s not actually a law saying that you can’t be a Christian.”
“Then why are Christians persecuted by the government?”
“We’re not officially persecuted, but the problem is that most people think we’re unpatriotic, because we refuse to participate in the Emperor Cult” he said.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s a policy of giving a sort of symbolic act of worship to Caesar, usually by burning a pinch of incense in front of a statue of him. Nobody actually thinks the Emperor is a god, it’s purely symbolic, an expression of patriotism. But symbolic or not, we refuse on principle to participate. Worship, real or otherwise, is owed to God alone, not to anyone or anything else”.
I pointed at the scrolls “What are these?” I asked.
“Some of them are parts of the Jewish Scriptures; This one,” he said, picking up one of the scrolls, “is a letter from a man named Paul”. He put the scroll back and picked up another. “This one is an account of Jesus’ life and teachings.”
“If you don’t mind my asking,” I said, “How did you become a Christian?”
“Well”, he said, “about five or six years ago, before I joined the Praetorian Guard, I was stationed in Caesarea, the capital of Judaea. I was ordered to take charge of some prisoners being taken to Rome. One of those prisoners was Paul, the one who wrote the letter I just showed you. Well, we were shipwrecked on the island of Malta when something strange happened. I didn’t actually see what happened, but by the time the story reached me they were saying that a snake bit Paul, then the snake died. Some of the natives suspected that he might be one of the gods in human form. Intrigued by that possibility, I went to Paul for an explanation. We stayed up late talking, and by the time I went to sleep that night, I was a Christian.”
“You actually met the apostle Paul? Did he baptise you?” I asked, getting really interested.
“No”, he said, “Paul didn’t like baptising people. When we got to Rome I was baptised in the Tiber River by one of the believers there. When I returned to Alexandria my family were baptised.”
“So your whole family are Christians?” I asked.
All except Melissa and Volbix” he said. “Melissa worships Isis and I still don’t know what Volbix’s beliefs are”.
“But if it’s not illegal to be a Christian, then why all the secrecy, keeping your shrine down here?” I asked.
“Sometimes, if the wrong people find out,” he said, “they can make accusations of disloyalty and make trumped-up charges against me or my family. I’d rather not put my family at that kind of risk, so it’s best this way.”
We went back up to the house and Gaius told me to go back out to Pius.
“Did he tell you?” Pius asked.
“About the shrine? I said. Yes he did.
“So what do you think about it?” he continued. “A lot of people don’t like Christians.”
“I’m one too, “ I said.
Pius smiled. “That’s good to know”, he said.
One thing still bothered me. The more I got to know Alexandria, and Roman society in general, the more obvious it became that escaping would be extremely difficult, maybe even impossible without help, and I didn’t know anyone that could, or would, help. I figured I’d probably have to find a way to earn enough money to buy my freedom somehow. The advantage in doing it that way, in addition to saving myself all the trouble I’d be in if I were caught, was that slaves owned by Roman citizens, when they were freed, automatically became Roman citizens themselves, and since the time machine was destroyed and I was stuck here, Roman citizenship would be an invaluable advantage if I was to survive here. So now, the question was, how would I come up with the money it would cost? Although I was never that good with science back home, I still knew more than any Roman did about science and technology, so maybe I could invent something to make money with. But nothing too revolutionary because I didn’t want to mess up history or anything, I just wanted out of the situation I was in.
Image Comments (2)
Wolfenshire () 11:26PM | Mon, 09 November 2015
Oh my, there is such possibilities here. My mind first races to all the low tech devices the Romans used. The Romans became quite masterful at plumbing. They had working sewers, aqueducts, fountains, and in some homes, running water. My first thought, if I were in his position, would be to introduce some low technology that wouldn't draw too much attention to myself, but would ingratiate me as being valuable. Of course, he could go for a 'big bang' and invent gun powder. The ingredients were laying under their noses the whole time. Or... even become a doctor. Penicillin is fairly easy to make. Many of the wealthy Romans also had farms. Something as simple as crop rotation could make him valuable. So many possibilities.
auntietk () 10:36AM | Sun, 15 November 2015
What Wolf said! :) I remember the "light pictures" on the wall from the prologue, though. You've got a fascinating story premise here, and I'm thoroughly enjoying reading it!