Wednesday, 20 May 2009

MULTIPLY Visual Aid #10: The Roman Road


Marius, my feet are aching, these leather sandals are not the best for long walks.”

“Stop complaining Julius, we have only been walking since the sunrise. Our centurion said it is just over the hills and then we are there.”

“Yes but Marius did he say how many hills. I seem to have been walking up and down hills all morning. I mean it is nice to take a journey at the state’s cost, but I wish they had said how far. Up to now I have frozen going over ice clad mountains and was so glad at last to reach the valley. Now I hear we have even more leagues to march until we reach the target of our walk. I just hope those Helvetians are a bit friendlier that the lot in Germania, they didn’t like us at all, not to mention what I have heard about some of those tribes in Gaul.”

“Attention Julius, the centurion is coming.”

“Men, do I hear a little bit of complaining?”

“No, sir not at all, we are all looking forward to our conquest over the Helvetia. We heard they are a quiet obliging folk. It seems just a few more mountain ranges and we are there.”

“That’s the spirit Marius, you are one of my best. Julius you do not look very happy. Not a very good influence on the Roman moral; any problem?”

No sir, not really.”

“Please tell me your problem, I only want happy Romans in my troop.”

“I was wondering if I could borrow one of the horses for a while, these leather sandals are not very comfortable. Someone said that the town of Solus was just over the hill, but we seemed to have crossed many hills today.”

“Julius, I have one hundred Roman soldiers in my group, but only twenty horses, that would not be fair on the other men. There are only seven ranges of hills to cross and we are at our end station. Our job is to enter the town of Solus and to take it over. The Helvetians did have big ideas of running from us but with some friendly persuasion we Romans pushed them back into their own country. After all you cannot have Helvetians doing what they want. Before you know it they would be taking over the Roman banking system and who knows what else. Take an example from Marius, he is proud to be a Roman soldier and does not complain.”

So the brave troop of Romans crossed the Jura mountain chain and entered the town of Solus. They were not really welcomed from the Helvetians, but Roman soldiers were not looking for a warm welcome, just a place to rest their tired bodies after the long march and Julius just wanted to soak his feet . A few years later we find Marius and Julius in a work troop building some Roman streets in the town of Solus.

“Marius, if I had wanted to be a road builder, I could have stayed in my little village in the hills surrounding Rome and built a few roads in Rome. Can you tell me why we have to travel hundreds of kilometres through countries I had never heard of to do the same work here. Even my wife is complaining about the working hours.”

“Julius, be satisfied. You have a reliable job, a nice wife and children and the pay is not bad. You know how reliable those Helvetian women are, the ideal wife and mother. I am sure the roads we are building will one day be famous throughout our part of the world.”

“That might be the case Marius, but I don’t really want to be famous. At least I don’t have to wear those uncomfortable Roman sandals any more. The Helvetian product is much better than the Roman one, I am sure that this country will become famous for their good footwear one day.”

“And I am sure that we Romans will become famous for our roads one day.”

Frau Heidi Schweizer climbed the slope to her little house at the end of the alley with its neat red door. It was a well kept street and was even paved with stones resembling the original Roman stones, although they had been replaced throughout the years. The town was proud of its Roman history and looked after the original architecture, the Roman arena still standing outside the town walls being an attraction for tourists. Heidi Schweizer’s family had lived many years in the town, and indeed her son, Marius Schweizer, was now town president. The name Marius was a common name in her family being handed down from father to son over many years, how many years she did not know, but in the records kept in the town hall there were documents mentioning the family in the middle ages.

This year was a special year in Soldorf. A pageant was being organised, showing the beginnings of the town through the ages. Heidi Schweizer was proud that her son would be playing the part of Julius Cesar, although there was no record of him ever putting foot in the little market town, and her grandson, Marius Junior would be one of the Roman soldiers.

On the day of the pageant the whole town was assembled for the show which took place in the Roman arena of course. The pageant began with a fanfare of trumpets played by the town orchestra and the Roman soldiers marched into the arena being lead by Marius Schweizer, Heidi’s son and president of the town. The weather was perfect, not too warm and a sunny day.

“Julius, just look at that. I always said we would be famous one day.”

and Julius looked down from the cloud he was sitting on.

“Well I never, tell Jupiter to come and have a look.”

So Marius ran to Jupiter, the chief of the Roman Gods, and there were Marius, Julius and Jupiter watching the pageant from their own little corner of the Roman heaven.

“Brings water to my eyes, Marius and to think all I was doing was making a fuss about my feet and our Roman sandals. Just look at the town, it might have another name, but all our architectural wonder works are still standing, they are even celebrating in the arena.”

“I told you Julius, and all you could do was complain. That might even be one of my descendants leading the group with the Roman costumes” said Marius.

That night Heidi Schweizer went home to her little house with the red door in the old part of the town. She had trouble sleeping that night, she kept hearing the sound of feet marching past her door, as if an army was on it way.

Visual Aid #10 The Roman Roads

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