The soldier's life

Full summary: Marcus is a soldier in the Roman army, serving under general Maximus. When Marcus Aurelius dies and Commodus takes his place, he wonders where is general had gone to, why he has disappeared. Later on, when he saves the new emperor's life, he is promoted to praetorian and bodyguard of Commodus (yes, I know, the emperor wouldn't just promote someone who's barely had a few years of experience in the army, but let's just keep it to 'Commodus is crazy'.) Anyway, when Maximus becomes a gladiator in Rome and decides to get his troops and drive Commodus from the throne, Marcus wants to help (mainly because of a series of events, eg, count on MarcusxOc). What if Maximus succeeds in escaping Rome...?

Names and their explanations:

Marcus Aelius Nerva: Marcus is derived from 'Mars', God of War; Aelius is derived from the Greek word 'Helios' ('sun'). Nerva is a Roman Cognomen derived from 'nervus' ('strength'). (Yes, I know, the name Marcus is used very often – but I thought it would fit since he's a soldier and the name is derived from Mars.) Gaius is a praenomen (given name) of Etruscan origin. Meaning unknown. Valeria is the feminine form of Valerius, which in turn was derived from 'valere', 'to be strong'. Augusta is the feminine form of Augustus, meaning 'great', 'venerable', derived from 'augere', 'to increase'. Secundus is a Latin praenomen meaning 'second'. Edwin means 'rich friend', from the Old English elements 'ead', 'rich, blessed, noble' and 'wine', 'friend'. Claudius comes from a Roman family name which was derived from Latin 'claudus' meaning 'lame, crippled'. Vitus is derived from 'vita', 'life'. Publius means 'public'.

Other explanations, see *

Storylines belong to anyone who made this film, of course, only Marcus, Gaius, Valeria, Augusta, Secundus, Edwin, Claudius, Euphemia,... are mine.

Special thanks to Bernard Van Daele, whose books and Quintus Project taught me so much about the Roman army!


Dreams

Inevitably, his fears became the fears of his fellow soldiers. They did not know what to expect of the new emperor's reign. Would he be the same patient man his father had been? Or a dominant ruler? Would he occasionally command the army himself or would he leave it to the other leaders?

As was to be expected, Claudius was the last person in the world to worry about such things. So his discussion partner just looked uninterested at Marcus while he uttered his distress.

"Listen, Marcus," he said, "Commodus will do whatever he wants. His father did that as well. If we're lucky we can get home once in a while. If not…" He grinned. "I won't cudgel my brains over it, friend. Period."

"I don't really worry about it," Marcus shrugged. "But it still is something you should be thinking about."

"Of course."

"Marcus! Claudius!" the voice of Edwin sounded, just before his head honoured them with its presence. "You've got work to do, you lazy rats! And Commodus has decided to give us the pleasure of hearing his sweet voice… divine, isn't is?"

"Of course," Claudius laughed. "Our emperor received his might from the Gods."

"At least not by the hands of my Gods," Edwin mocked. "I could hardly care less about yours."

Marcus straightened up and grasped his sword. With an almost elegant swing the lethal object disappeared in its sheath. "Right. Let's go and hear what our emperor has to say."


"My brave Romans," that was what their emperor had to say.

"Seems like he forgot about us 'strangers'," Edwin barked under his breath.

"Shut up," Marcus said poking him.

"… and even though my father has died," Commodus continued, "I do hope that I can make the stability in our country last. Make the stability in this army last, so that we can ward off our enemies. Make you keep the faith in your leaders, as you had faith in my father and his father. I hope that this faith will continue on. That you will believe in me. I will need all of you support, and you strong arms to carry on the great empire my father built. I will need your swords to keep my people safe. Let every streak of blood staining your sword be your guide to liberty and freedom. Let every step your enemies take back under your force be your accomplishment and yours alone. Let your shoulders touch those of your brothers gathered here, and form one united front against the enemies of Rome! Your blood and your strength are the very foundations of this beautiful empire that Rome has become. Your blood and your strength will even expand my empire even more! Let us be grateful for the opportunities the Gods grant us, and grateful for a new light that will shine on Rome: my light. My light, only to be expanded by you, my brothers in arms! Ave atque vale!" *

"My light," Edwin's voice sounded again. "My light! The egocentric –"

"Egocentric! Really, Edwin, hold your tongue! I've told you before that you shouldn't insult him."

"He wouldn't hear it unless been given the ears of your Iupiter! Or which God is it that you gave superior hearing?" "Shht!"

"I salute you!" Commodus continued. "And I most gladly announce that we all leave for Rome. You, my loyal legionaries, will join me in my glorious in Rome. Ave atque vale!"

The soldiers burst out in a roaring noise. Marcus felt his heart jump at the thought of Rome. His home.

"Well, boy, looks like we're visiting your country again," Edwin grinned.

"Boy!" Marcus laughed. "You seem years younger than me. How old are you anyway?"

"Twenty-six. And you, boy?"

"Twenty-four, I fear."

"Boy it is then."

"Yes, boy it is. But you – you look so fragile… so young."

"Good for me. If I looked older, I would look fifty when I turn forty."

"Yes, good for you." Marcus suddenly thought of his father, who looked older than he was. With greying hair and fading eyes, starting to turn from the darkest blue to a more light, even greyish blue. That is, last time he had seen his father.

He longed to see them again, Gaius and Valeria. It had been too long. These six years spent far away seemed even longer and almost dreadful now that they would soon return.

He dreamed about them that very night. His mother begged him to come home. His father held her; it was almost as if he had to stop her before she would run to her son. Then then changed, because of a sudden wind bringing dark clouds, and began to fade. Rain dropped from their faces and bodies, until they seemed to turn into rain themselves. Their images – or they themselves, maybe – melted and mixed with water. A huge lake on the verge of freezing had formed. The winter of Germania could be felt in the ice-cold wind. Marcus stood up to his waist in the icy liquid. Everything turned to a mixture of blue and grey. The sound of thunder made the water shiver. And Marcus with it. Then the dark colours turned to some sort of green, that became lighter and lighter until it faded into yellow. That yellow changed into gold. There was a shadow in the distance, in front of him, but he could not see what it was. Then everything went black and he woke up.

Edwin's green eyes were the first things he saw. His friend's hand on his shoulder. "You had a bad dream," he stated.

"Yes."

Silence.

"We leave for Rome."

"I'm coming."

Rome. His city would shine in the night sky again, with the the lights in the houses lit and the warmth of the people and buildings spreading out. Marcus smiled inwardly thinking of how it would feel like to be there again.


'Ave atque vale!': 'Hail and Farewell'. From Catullus 101 by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus. It's a poem dedicated to his dead brother; but I was searching for a Roman sentence and thought this was quite nice as 'last words' in Commodus' speech.