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Richard's Writings > The Birth of Rome > Chapter 6: Birth of a City

Synopsis of Chapter 6: Birth of a City

The canals are lined with stone and roofed over, forming great sewers. The paving over the main sewer is extended across the valley and becomes the central meeting place, the Forum. Work begins on a meeting house modeled after the House of Hostilius with its famous black and white tiled floor. Marcus and Cneve receive honors for their leadership on the construction project. Cneve and Tanaquil are married in Etruria at the Festival of Voltumna. Marcus convinces the Roman council of elders to build an army, after speaking with Demaratus about slavery.

Excerpt from Chapter 6: Birth of a City

The wedding was a lavish affair, and Lucumo came in for a great deal of praise. He had the most beautiful bride in the world, he had advanced the cause of the entire Etruscan people, and he had a bright future ahead of him. Marcus, too, was the object of much attention, especially from the young ladies. He had a great deal more confidence now, and was eager to learn about everything. He and Demaratus talked long into the evening, every evening, discussing the make-up of the world, how bath water was kept hot, working with different metals, how to strip cork without killing the tree, and the morality of slavery, along with any other subject that came to mind.

"It must be in man's nature," Demaratus said, sipping a cup of mint tea while staring into the campfire. "There is not a race on earth that does not enslave other people. We are only as safe as our leaders are strong. I don't like it either, Marcus, but that seems to be the way the world has been fashioned. When talk fails, and talk usually does seem to fail most of the time, there is nothing left but war. Power against power. Take or be taken."

"I think people would advance faster, and surer, by leaving each other alone."

"Yes, but many people prefer the easy way to gain, by taking it away from someone else. And when you have their land and their goods, you might as well take the people as well."

"But I thought most slaves were criminals, or prisoners of war." Marcus ran his hand over his face, uncomfortable with the discussion, but unable to leave it alone.

"Here, that is true. But where I was born, you had to be constantly on your guard. Sometimes pirates would come from the sea and take away a whole city's population. One can always find a buyer."

"So we must be strong." Marcus determined.

"Yes. A strong king, supported by a strong army, using the best weapons - that is only way to ensure that your family will be safe, ultimately. It will cost the people to feed and equip such an army, but that is price we pay for safety, I'm afraid. Think about it, Marcus. Is not a widow dependent upon the kindness of her family and neighbors? The moment her husband dies, she becomes vulnerable. Without a strong protector, we are at the mercy of our surroundings."

"Thank you, Demaratus. My father died of the fever when I was young and never explained these things to me. My mother often said she depended on me to be the man of the family, but she always had a touch of fear about her, and now I know why. But she taught me something else, too. She said a friend is always stronger than an enemy."

"Your mother is very wise, Marcus. You will never fight a friend, and so you will never lose. You cannot be so sure with an enemy. Let us always be friends, Marcus."

"As long as I live. Your family is my family. Don't worry about Cneve, Demaratus. I will always be there for him."

"May Zeus protect you and bless you, Marcus."


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