David Lewis Paget
The Gladiators Revenge - Poem by David Lewis Paget
He vows to endure to be burned,
To be bound, to be beaten and killed,
The gladiatorial vow,
He lives by his sword and his skill.
With sentence of death on each head,
Whether woman or man, none escaped,
If one raised his sword against Rome,
The arena and death was his fate.
The brothers Aurinus and Severus
Were shamed in the army's defeat,
They fled from the Battle of Cannae,
And Hannibal saw their retreat,
They were stripped with their Legion, of honour,
Arrested and sold then as slaves,
They were sentenced ‘damnati ad ludum',
A dishonour they'd take to their graves.
They were branded and marked with stigmata,
On their foreheads that they'd not escape,
And their wives, Lucadina and Julia
Were sentenced to share the same fate,
They were owned by a wealthy Lanista,
Marcelus, the scum of the earth,
With a stable of Bestiarii
That he'd raised and he'd trained from birth.
‘You will fight in the great Colloseum,
And your women will fight there as well,
They will bare their breasts for the Legion,
And so may be spared for a spell.
You will be matched with my favourite sons,
Put on a show, and choose,
If you wish to receive manumission,
You will hold yourself back, and lose! '
The quaestor, Septius, scheduled the games
For the Saturnalian week,
Hoping to head off the revels outside
By drawing them in from the street,
The Bestiarii, first on the bill
Fought lions and boars in style,
But cowered back at the first attack
From a bevy of crocodiles.
Aurinus and Severus, with their wives
Were thrust in front of the crowd,
The plebes already baying for blood,
Four secutores stood, and bowed,
They flew at the brothers to take them out,
They flew at the brother's wives,
The brothers could possibly take them, but
Had thoughts for preserving their lives.
They backed and they turned to fend each blow,
The wives acquitted them well,
They wouldn't go down while their husbands stood
They'd hold them off for a spell.
Then Severus caught a glancing blow
That felled him, there at their feet,
And Aurinus put his finger up
To signal a dismal defeat.
They waited to see what the quaestor did,
They expected missio,
But the crowd had wanted a show of blood
And he signed sine missione
Severus leapt to his feet at that
Ran his sword through a secutore,
While the women thrust their lances through
And two more fell to the floor.
The secutore that was left, he turned
But Aurinus took his head,
Slashed his sword through the fighter's throat
‘Til the floor was running red,
Then Aurinus took a javelin
That had fallen beneath his foe,
Swung round, and aimed at the quaestor, then
He let his arrow go.
The quaestor barely raised in his seat
When the javelin pinned him low.
The blank surprise at his fearful eyes
Was the last thing he would know.
The women got the Lanista, chased him
Dealt with him as he feared,
They cut his throat, to the baying note
Of the crowd, who stood and cheered.
Then they chanted ‘Saturnalia'
Where the low become the high,
And the roar from the Colloseum rose
Into a cloudless sky.
They sheltered the foursome in the crowd
And they changed clothes at the gates,
And never were seen in Rome again
Though they may have been found in Thrace!
29 January 2013
Glossary - damnati ad ludum - sentenced to the arena
Lanista - a keeper of gladiators
Bestiarii - gladiators who fought wild beasts
Manumission - freedom from slavery
Quaestor - (pron. Kwestor) - magistrate
Saturnalia - December festival where the low become high,
The Lord of Misrule. A forerunner of Christmas.
Plebes - plebeians - ordinary people, citizens of Rome
Secutores - gladiators
Missio - life spared - thumbs up
Sine Missione - death - thumbs down.
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