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Dinner at Sempronia's

PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:16 am
by Aldus Marius
Salve, Sempronii of all origins and stripes!

My host is too kind, always referring to me as 'that nice young drill sergeant'. Mehercule, I've done my twenty--reupped for ten more--and they finally got me to retire some other way besides in a casket! And 'nice'?? --Not unless you're in the habit of befriending thunderstorms. I'm like that; I go where I will, unimpeded by borders, mostly minding my own business...but when it's your turn to be rained on, I'll make sure you won't forget it! A delirious man, reeling from only a mild Marian reproof, once compared the experience to being hit a...I give up; quod significat "pregnant bomber-jet"? Anyhoo, the rains benefit the real things while washing pretensions away. That's Marius. Surviving a long acquaintance with a force of nature like him is one of the better ways of demonstrating one's fitness to breed.

But it's been too long; you're a little hazy on the details of my career. For one, I never served in the Ninth; never even knew anyone from the Ninth; my turn on the Wall came when my Legion, the VI Victrix Pia Fidelis, was shipped over to Britannia to take their place. And a 'turn on the Wall' it was; the first ever--or did you know that the Victrix helped build the damn thing? --Ita; re vera, or I've not got callouses on my feet: We built the whole eastern third of it. Best, worst job I ever had.

The Victrix had all my love and all my efforts for as long as I had any to give. After my bones began to creak a little, they put me in the Cavalry, and issued me the finest mount there ever was to carry my gear: my buckskinned Peregrinus. Aye, smartest and sturdiest horse in the Western Empire, and I'm counting that little bit in Africa with its much-vaunted Moorish ponies. And the best thing was--he refused to stay stolen! The Picts, you know, are outrageous horse-thieves; but as many times as they thought they had Pere', he'd let them get good and comfortable with the idea...and then come walking back home on his own, with tales to tell. Vae, I miss him--!

Ita, that's a tear. There'll be more of them. I am passionate equally in my joys, my angers, and my griefs. That's my Celtiberian side showing through, and I am not ashamed of it. Roma taught me discipline; Hispania Baetica taught me love of life and how to tell a story. Both peoples pursue life with vigor and intensity, and I have found that, in most things, the distance between a Roman and a Celt is not too far to walk.

Heh...I sound so certain of things. Things were anything but certain after I left the Legions. I'd been a signifer for a time; there were men who thought I might actually be the numen of the Victrix; but, in piety, I didn't let them believe it for long. After the Legions, though...well, think about it: from the time I reported to the recruiting-station until only several years ago I'd never known any other life. I believe the sudden idleness, the lack of purpose, the not having anything to devote myself to utterly...I do believe I lost myself for a time. Anyone who spoke to me, the few times I ventured into town, would have taken me for one of the quieter sort of madman... For three years, give or take, I mostly wandered about in the woods searching for the shards of my being. I think I've gathered up all that might have survived the period; but I'm not what I was. And in that time I was convinced that, should I ever go to Rome, She would reject me utterly.

So I dwelt among the Belgae. I fell in with a small circle of Roman Gauls who liked the same sorts of things I did; in particular, we discussed, long into the night, why Rome called to us, and what it meant to be a Roman. These talks, whether our little Society knew it or not, did more than anything to bring me back to some semblance of myself. I searched like everybody else there; and found that, while I was no longer of the Legions, I was still a Roman and rather happy with that.

I'm still allergic to the big-wigs of the City. Don't let the tunic-stripe fool you; I earned that in the Cavalry--no nobleman at all, just a jumped-up Spaniard who became an eques in the original sense, and who still doesn't know how to behave in company!

Now: if those birds don't taste as good as they smell from here, I'm an armadillo, and you'll just have to roast me in my shell! (Yes, I'll tell you what an armadillo is later; it's quite a tale.)

Mistaken Identity?

PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:38 pm
by Aldus Marius
Pace, mi Formose, pace already! Of course I knew Tacitus Hibernicus, if I wrote that I did! (That's one thing about my previous life: I don't remember much, but I took good notes.) He, a centurio (and, yes, drillmaster) of the Ninth, in a Province where there are stranger things than armadillos, trust me! And I, a Legionary of the Sixth, in Teiana regio where the jackalopes roam. I'll have to tell you about those, too won't I?

Pu├ęs, Hibernicus: I wrote him shortly after arriving at my new duty-station. I am something that gets called a "historical cultural anthropologist" in...I think it was the Karankawa language, though it might have been Lipan Apache--or, hell, even the bloody Brits; they get their noses into every decent language and foul it up until the spelling's unrecognisable. Anyhoo, I like watching people and societies...and taking good notes. I like to compare them, the different ways each tribe and nation goes about answering the universal questions: What is the best way to be a human being in the land and among the peoples in which we find ourselves? How do different cultures relate to their gods, their ancestors, their lands, and each other? How does a good idea or an invention spread between peoples who live very far apart and have no common language? ...That sort of thing. The Divine Hadrian did the same thing. Every society must come up with its own answers. I, of course, am faithful to the Roman Way; but it is not the *only* Way, and (now you're not going to believe a soldier said this!) it may not even be the best way for a particular people.

...Aahh, I'm rambling. Next time I do that, please yell "Tangent Alert! Tangent Alert! Beep eep eep eep!" What's any of that got to do with Tacitus' drill manual, you say? Only that he had one of the only two drill manuals to ever actually be set down in writing. I said I was a cultural anthropologist. The particular culture I have studied the most is that of the Roman army. All the comforts of home; I didn't have to go to Mauritania or some such, and I already knew the lingo. So I participated, and I watched...and the legatus had no idea! "There's Marius, in a brown study again..."; if they'd only known, they might have behaved themselves.

There are a lot of things that a long-serving soldier comes to take for granted. The drill, for example: You learn it in boot camp by oral transmission, and live with it for the rest of your career. It's a part of life as you know it; no one would ever think to write it down, let alone publish a book on the subject. Drill is drill, itane? But Tacitus has a drill manual. Quintus Darius Macro of the Twentieth has another. I wrote them both and asked them to send me copies. They did. And what do you know--they were different from each other, and both of them different from the Sixth's! Now, how does that work when many Legions are fielded together? (The simple answer: Nobody but the command group can actually hear the commands; everyone else relies on bugle-calls and the signals of the Standard-bearer, and those, thankfully, are universal.)

So I began collecting drills. Marching-songs too, and I'll sing them for you if you like. (Don't look at me like that! I actually can sing, I'm a good tenor!) I'd ask anyone who'd been transferred to my Outpost what commands they'd learned in boot camp, and for which moves. Praefectus castrorum or not, they all looked at me like I was crazy...well, now I am, so it hardly matters, does it? Heh heh...but I collected the things, or transcribed them myself from the verbal accounts, and Tacitus' and Macro's were the ones I posted on the wall so my recruits would know what *kind* of thing I was looking for. These things go a lot more smoothly if the men know what you have in mind.

Now: If you have spent any time at the Outpost at all, you must have seen the Victrix's footprint all over the place. Here, for instance: a bad case of Solo Soldier Syndrome, like anyone on such a remote frontier, but I have my loyalties.

So: Different Legion, different Wall, and...even by your reckoning, I'm not young. So stop calling me names! I'm 47 this year. Too old for the army anymore; but I take comfort in that I'm still too young to run for Consul, as if I would--I ain't THAT crazy!! >({|X-D

Oh, and hold the beer. Cream soda if I can get it, honey mead otherwise.

Now where's the meat???

Iohannes Stops Eating Long Enough to Speak

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:14 am
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
"I hope, Formose, your dear Xanthippe doesn't take me to task for the irregularities of our Kalendar. Like all organic things, it's rather imperfect. But it does what it's intended to: keep us on our toes with regards to the Religio, the Gods, and the State. I'm certainly in no position to defend or condemn the Kalendar! :oops: I'm just learning it myself.

"However, it occurs to me <slurp> - Ah! Hit is yesmaeclic, thin byrr, sothlice! - it occurs to me that if she grills me too severely, I'll simply refer my dear hostess to a much better scholar of Roman tradition, the formidable M. Hortensia Maior, of Nova Roma. But on second thought, perhaps that's an ungracious thing for a guest to do... :wink:

"In any event, plurimas ago gratias pro tanta cena, Formose! The beer is splendid, the chicken divine. 8) <chomp> And I'll admit, I think you did divine me correctly as a man for legs...."

Marius stalls out

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:15 am
by Aldus Marius
Wings. I like wings. Are we done discussing poultry parts now?

I don't make friends quickly, my dear host, and I don't throw myself at people who haven't approached me first. I've also never been comfortable talking to other peoples' wives; I hope Xanthippe understands. Give me a while (and a full belly), and I'll loosen up soon enough. And then you two won't be able to get rid of me!

(You know, I think I *do* like this beer! May I have some to take back home? My commilitones like the occasional "beer-bust", and I've always felt left out!)

Technical Question

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:21 am
by Aldus Marius
* munching away heartily *

...So what'd they call the Skeptic? *chuckles*

De Deis Deoque Inscito

PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:10 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Formosus wrote:And I do pay hommage occasionally at the shrine of the unknown god. It's always quiet there. It's seems few people believe in him, or her, anymore in these mad times where everybody seems so certain about his version of the Truth. I'd like to think he or she is the god or goddess of reason.

The Unknown God is dear to me, also, Formose. He, She, It, Logos -- the Unknown God is an honest God, whose worship reflects our ignorance, our limits, our uncertainty. Our human Nature prompts us to imagine or wish the Gods, but also limits us, since we cannot see them directly, but at best merely infer them, or argue for them. And this is the great argument for religious toleration: that none of us can prove that the Gods are definite or definable or exstant, let alone which one is Supreme. We must instead be content to live our lives here on Earth, among our stranger-peers, being the weeds with two feet that we are; and perhaps the Gods live among us, secret and subtle, never or rarely seen.

In the end, we must dress the Gods in borrowed clothes. But in observing rites of the Unknown God, we acknowledge that His, or Her, or Their realm is separate, unseen and untouched, and yet quite possibly immanent in all this Earth, and in a partial and defective manner in our own lives.

Forgive me if I'm being simple or platitudinous! And I say - Do you think your Sempronia has a bit more of that brew back there? :)


PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:21 am
by Aldus Marius
But, mi Formose--I held out as long as I could...! I finally took it because they asked so nicely, and I like the horse they gave me, and I try to humor my friends, and anyway they threatened to turn me into a Patrician otherwise. >({|8-]

In amicitia et fide (but not so much disciplina these days),

Re: Formosi Furiosi

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:43 am
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
[ You see, Mari, that's why his bronze statue (in his avatar) is afoot and walking. He'll have no truck with horses.]

Optime vale, Formose, fellow Plebeian!

Livestock Transport

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:58 am
by Aldus Marius
If he has a truck, he doesn't need a horse, nonne? (Unless it's a truck hauling horses.) >({|;-)

I have a graphic novel about a centaur who joins the army. Against all but military logic, he's assigned to an infantry unit. Why not the cavalry, his new commander asks? The response from HQ: "He can't ride, so he's walking. If he's walking, he's in the infantry." (Shows why I made the exception for military "logic", dunnit?)

Leviter every day,