A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening by Mário de Carvalho

A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening by Mário de Carvalho

Author:Mário de Carvalho [de Carvalho, Mário]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Published: 1997-03-15T05:00:00+00:00

Very early in the morning I’d overseen the sacrifices in the temple, with the attendance of all the notables and many of the common people out on the square. Calpurnius’ absence hadn’t caused me any worry, given his illness and the special status he enjoyed. I was more puzzled by the absence of Maximus Cantaber, who was missing an occasion to show his piety. Later on I supervised the noisy beginning of the mobilization for a few moments. Every recruit who didn’t have weapons was issued a pair of spears—or a bag of clay balls if he preferred. As they were being taken care of, the men sat on the ground in groups. Rufus Cardilius, in a gleaming toga, appeared at the head of a throng of slaves, all dressed alike and armed with javelins and short lances. He greeted me from a distance, ostentatiously laid some coins on a table, and gave the names of the slaves one by one. Then he withdrew, with only a few companions.

Immediately after that I ran to the house of Maximus Cantaber to speak to Iunia, far from suspecting that Rufus was aware of everything that happened in that garden as viewed from the rear of his place. And once again, and with additional reasons, I considered my conversation with Iunia ill-advised.

When I returned to the platform, the training in arms was beginning amid a certain unconcerned confusion into which Aulus was energetically trying to instill some discipline. In the center of the square they’d set up stakes holding strips of cork bark. The men lined up and ran by with great merriment, throwing their spears against the bark. Nearby, in the pomerium, the enormous new war machine was being assembled and tested: it vibrated, clattered, buzzed, and banged.

The slingers were practicing in the fields outside the walls under the command of Aulus’ subalterns. Mingling in the air were laughter, joy, and a lack of care, as if it were a matter of games or festivities.

There was nothing more for me to do there. No sooner did my bearers lift me than a clamor arose on one side of the square. Calpurnius’ lictors were approaching grimly, violently pushing aside the knots of gawkers. Immediately behind, swaying slowly, came the senator’s sumptuous litter, decorated with silver and purple, on the shoulders of eight slaves, who carried it to the center of the square. Behind was a retinue of expensively dressed slaves and freedmen. Applause broke out. Attention was divided between Calpurnius and the duumvir, with the people curious to see how I would react to the presence of Tarcisis’ most important citizen. I approached the litter, but Calpurnius, in a toga, was already getting out with some difficulty, held up by two slaves. A third picked up a spear and put it in his master’s hand. The slaves ran with Calpurnius as if he were in the saddle, and it looked as if they were carrying death itself, pale, skeletal, and bent, dragging his flapping white shroud.


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