A Roman Confession

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A Roman Confession

Postby Aulus Flavius on Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:46 pm

This is the confession of an old and foolish man. One who had the world in the palm of his hand and let it die because of his own shortsighted fear. I, Honorius, an Augustus of the Western Roman Empire, or what is left of it, now confess to posterity if not to a priest.

What was once the most powerful empire on earth is now a broken ruin. What was once the light of all civilisations has been drowned in the blood of her citizens and the battle cries of barbarians.

There can be no excuse for my Great Sin. For the life of me even now I can hardly comprehend my actions. What devil from hell possessed me and forced such dark and wicked indecision on me? It is true what they say about me and more. I cowered in Ravenna while the centre of the world was destroyed, looted of her countless treasures and her women were rapped.

I, Augustus of the West, hid while Rome burned.

The Visigoths, under the command of that wretched demon Alaric, took from the world that which mattered most. The pain of this loss is made more so by the fact that the Visigoths were let in. I should condemn and rail against such a thing, but I am as guilty of Rome’s destruction as the pathetic soul that opened the gates of the Eternal City for a horde of wild and murderous barbarians.

The warnings were all there. Stilicho tried to warn me. My valiant general tried to defend the realm I had set him, but I let my own fear cloud what little wisdom I now realise I possess. I saw daggers in the dark or imagined the soft caress of the strangler’s tool. Silk of course, for the imperial neck.

Illusions, all of them. Paranoia crippled me and Stilicho swung from the gallows for it. I killed the one man who could have saved Rome. God forgive me and keep Stilicho safe. Truly a great Roman, and possibly the last.

I walked among the ruins of Rome after the Visigoths had their way with her. By the grace of God the Holy Father Pope Leo had pleaded with the barbarians to spare Rome the full horrors of a true sacking. But still many were killed or taken as slaves. Many of those that survived fled into the countryside leaving Rome behind.

The damage is not really all that bad, or so the generals told me. But there is no one there. The greatest city in the world is almost deserted. I stood in the middle of the Roman Forum, the hub around which the world turns, and found myself entirely alone.

Never in my life have I felt such pain as when I stood there in the Forum, turning and looking for someone, anyone. How I wept when I collapsed there, nearly broken by the surrounding silence. I ran amongst the streets. Up and down the Seven Hills I searched, but no one. Even in the depths of the densely packed Subura all I found were charred buildings and abandoned homes. Empty. Oh God what have I done?

I hear them now, the dead. I hear Rome herself questioning me in the dead of night when all things holy have retired from night’s sweet shadow.

Where were you? Rome asks me. Where was our Augustus when the barbarians were at the gates? Why did you leave us? Why did you let Rome die?

The voices won’t stop. God, why won’t they stop? Is it Your divine punishment? Am I to suffer the constant pleas of Rome until I die? To be plagued by unanswerable questions? Dear God let the voices pass. Let Rome’s battered spirit find the rest it so rightfully deserves. God let it end and soon.

I have no answers for the questioning dead because I have no answers for myself. I simply sat back and let Rome die. It is because of me that the light of the West has gone out. I see the end coming, and I speak not of my own death. Rome is now a battered husk I can barely keep moving. Like an old man half in the grave, Rome totters onwards only half alive with no soul to give her strength.

And now here I stand at the end of my own life. A failure and a fool in all my endeavours. Never has so much power been invested in such an impotent vessel. I see an evil time coming. A dark age draws near. And I could have stopped it. I will die soon. God forgive me.

Flavius Honorius Augustus

Augustus of the Western Roman Empire
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Aulus Flavius
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Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:45 am

Salve, mi Flavi...

That...was...beautiful. It was plainly written with great depth of feeling, and has considerable merit.

Perhaps, when I am feeling especially brave, I will compose a reply. Perhaps others might do the same, each with a different message or from a different point of view. But even if we do not, your composition stands on its own as one of the most affecting fictional pieces I have come across in five years with the SVR.

Profundas gratias tibi ago, Aule Flavi. You have elected to share this with us; and I, for one, am honored.

In amicitia et fide,
Aldus Marius Peregrinus.
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