Prometheus: I was born in 352 AD… Damn… very old.
Gregorios: Ah, another son of Byzantium. I apologize for not being able to call it Rhomania as you might prefer, and I may have done before 1453, but I can't anymore. I am so old that when I was born, the true Roman Empire still existed. It wasn't until I was three years old that the Western Empire fell. I don't remember much of that time, but I do remember a lot of people at the palace feeling very sad when I was around that age. I asked them why, and they said that something terrible had happened in Rome. They never told me more than that. But that's really all in can remember about the Roman Empire.
I am sorry I cannot introduce myself in person, dear boy, as I'm still on Mars. But things are going well, and we are getting ready fort the first Ephemeral arrivals in a couple years. Providing Fitzroy gives us the go-ahead.
Prometheus: Not many of us from that time. I served in the last legions, and first died at the hands of the Visigoths, and Emperor Valens I'm told died soon after I did at the battle of Adrianople. It was also my first life, the life of a legionnaire. Actually completed my terms of service and got some land in Northern Italy, but the Ostragoths didn't exactly acknowledge property claims of Romans, without good reason.
Honestly I am quite surprised we didn't communicate before now. I kept a residence in Constantinople for a few centuries and I still have a few estates in Italy, and I met quite a few Emperors, perhaps we just didn't notice one another for whatever reason.
My father was a General of the Emperor Constantine, so we were comparatively well off compared to most in those days. Our family had a long history, my father even told a story of one of our ancestors getting our land from Sulla. Siding with the man that would be Emperor got him a lot on influence, and quite a bit of wealth. There was a problem though. My father was a pagan. He followed Constantine's orders to fight for God, but in his heart he still prayed for Mars' aid.
Our family was convinced that we were too prominent to be persecuted. For a while we were right. The Emperor Julian gave him hope for a while, but it didn't last.
Instead of joining the legions as a general myself, I started out considerably lower. Although not the rank of my father I was a Centurion, given my young age, and my father's muted influence, it was the best I could hope for. My men and I followed orders, and I was beginning to make a name for myself. Getting my century into shape took quite a bit of work but I accomplished it. My age always hurt my reputation with the men, but one thing they always respected was coin. Lead a few raids into Dacia and the booty would keep the men happy.
In the final two years of my first life we were engaged against the Goths. It was a harsh campaign, but my Century was victorious in most engagements. Until Adrianople… Wish I could say that was the only time I fought at Adrianople but it was the first. I've already talked to some military historians of that battle so I won't bore you with the details.
Our unit was in retreat until word reached us that the Emperor had been left behind. Oh the follies of my youth. I gathered up a unit of Cavalrymen to come with me in a charge to save the Emperor. To my glory addled mind, what greater way to advance your career than by saving the Emperor, and the glory you would get from that. Perhaps I'd be the General in the Eastern Campaign when it happened. No it didn't happen of course. I saw the house that the Emperor was holed up in but The Goth Cavalry men killed us before we got much closer. I remember that first death very clearly.
The last three of our 20 man volunteer group, had rounded the corner in a full gallop towards the Emperor's Villa, I heard a gallop coming. I thought it was from behind, but it was in front of us clouded by the smoke. One of my lieutenants got a spear through his chest, another had his horse shot out from under him. I… was sliced open by a passing sword. My horse dragged me for a while. I heard the laughs of the Goths as I died. They found it funny. I was too dazed to realize I had died. My horse was apparently allowed to drag me away. Eventually she had dragged me back to a Roman camp where I was nursed back to health. It had taken me a full month to recover, and I was one of the lucky ones. The medics didn't notice that I had died, and I was one of the few who walked out. For the next few years I just wandered without a name… Saw a parade honoring the lives lost and the bravery of my men in Constantinople. It wasn't much of a life… but it was a life.
One of my lieutenants recognized me on that and tried to pursue but I fled… Not sure why I did but I'd have rather died a hero, then lived as a coward. I left that name behind.
By the time I was ready to try a new life it had been 4 years, I thought myself wiser. I had my coin purse… Time to start a new life, I still had no idea I was an Eternal just a lucky bastard that cheated Mors and Pluto.
My next life of any consequence developed as a bit of a happenstance. I had found some work as a Architech's assistant in Constantinople. I could have rejoined the legion but the Empire was changing… The Christians were spreading faster than the clap in a brothel… What?! Despite the modern world perceptions of the past, I can say this with conviction the more things change the more they stay the same.
Regardless I had a head for numbers. My experience handling the booty distribution as a centurion, and my Greek tutors from childhood served me well. Of course that “Architech's assistant” wasn't much of a life. I don't even count it as one. Sure I had friends, a residence, even some gold, but I don't really consider it a life. It was just something… in between. Had some odd requests for work but nothing too remarkable. However one day a visiting scholar from Alexandria took notice of my work and convinced me that my talents were wasted in Constantinople. Working for an architech, barely scratched the deeper world of mathematics and philosophy he said, even took the time to write a letter of introduction for me.
It wasn't a hard decision to make. In Constantinople, I had the risk of being recognized. In Alexandria, who knew me there? So I booked passage on a boat bound for Alexandria, there were some difficulties with the crew, who thought it's passengers could be sold, but they didn't contend that a prospective student of Alexandria, would know how to handle a gladius. Suffice to say the crew was glad to be rid of me when I got off at Alexandria, and they were so nice in donating their gold to me. <laughs>
As a new student of Philosophy and Mathematics, one either came from the noble families, or charity. Many considered me a charity case even though I paid my way, at the time I was still working through my Dacian booty.
Six years later in 391 was when Theodosius made paganism illegal, my fellow students and the teachers were flabbergasted at such a decision. Even more so when the Patriarch of Alexandria issued that decree, that “all Pagan temples should burn”. To this day I have no idea why the Patriarch thought mob enforcement was an effective method of carrying out that decree. I think the Governor getting the booty of the temples stayed his hand.
As a result, all of the students were gathered in the Serapeum of the Library. We could hear the city burning in the the distance as the Temple to Apollo burned. The Pharos kept the city illuminated at night, so we could see just where the city was burning and how much time we had.
“The Christian Mob will soon be here.” said the Librarian “The Governor assures me that the Library will be safe, but I have my doubts about that mob.” he looked at us and I could tell he was weeping. “Students… You are our hope for the future. Not just for this library but for all. Don't let this shroud of willful ignorance change that. Their false god will be revealed and they will perish because of their arrogance… But we must protect the legacy of our ancestors. Take all the texts you can… Hide them for a better age.”
According to Wikipedia there are still many lost works from antiquity. The burning of Alexandria and countless other events did lots of damage. Combined with the fact that reprinting a book was a nightmarishly tedious process. You think it's bad now when a book is out of print? Try when the only copy in existence gets burned because of a careless transcriber. That's what happened to that Lost Dialogue of Plato. Wasn't me but a friend was assigned to transcribe it (I got Archimedes' Palimpsest if you are curious… Yes, I am talking to historians about that too.) Anyway he was behind schedule and mead addled he knocked over the candle, causing the old parchment to catch fire. It was gone in seconds. The Librarians were furious and flogged him publically, his hand never quite healed. However this was something else, we were being ordered to safeguard these texts. How do you choose? Euripides' Plays or Callisthenes' History of Alexander? Archimedes Palimpsest or some of Virgil's copy of the Aeneid?
I'd estimate that we got some 25% of the collection out that night. I had put most of Pliny's History of Rome in my knapsack, before the Librarian found me
“You there! Atticus”
I turned and saw the Librarian standing with a man leaning on a cane. The librarian continued “You good with a gladius I hear?”
“Yes Sir!” I responded, my centurion days rang true. The students thought it funny I carried at Gladius around but it brooked no complaints after I defended the lot of them from an angry Christian group in my first year in Alexandria.
The man with the cane nodded, “Good. You will escort my daughter”
“Sir. I can't…” I paused when the woman appeared, she was the most beautiful woman I had seen.
She huffed, and shook her head, “Father, I can handle myself well enough. I don't need an escort.”
The old man with the cane picked it up and slammed it down on the tiled floor “Dammit Hypatia! I am your father and that's final. If it's a choice between saving the legacy of our ancestors, or saving you. I choose the future.”
You know it's a shame that none of Theon's works survived, or maybe it's a blessing. He was a gifted orator, not a writer. Nevertheless Theon of Alexandria entrusted me with his daughter's life. She was not happy about it. She refused to comply, and we made multiple trips, with the mob coming closer and closer and it was on the third trip that we got trapped in the library, with the main building surrounded. It was a harrowing battle getting out of the library, but I did it. In response for my acts of bravery in keeping her alive, my beloved stalked up to me as I leaned against the wall catching my breath at her father's estate, looked at me and promptly slapped me across the face.
Did I mention I also consider her my first wife? Theon had seen it, and was in hysterics over it.
After that I noticed that despite being a very hard class to get into, I got into Theon's class, and I think the old coot was trying to set us up. It took about 6 months before our courtship officially began.
Those first few years after the Library's destruction were tense. The Patriarch had apparently used up his leverage on the governor and the city was not a place of mob rule. It was definitely tense, but one you got used to. The library was rebuilt but the Patriarch had a damn censor installed, but thankfully a bribable one.
The rest of the decade was passed by blissfully enough. Hypatia and I didn't marry as her father passed on and couldn't approve of the marriage. Yes there were ways around that but I had just finished being a student and became a teacher. While students came from all across the Med to learn at Hypatia's feet, I was content to a more local fame, Hypatia's studies and my own rarely conflicted. By that point, both Hypatia and I were deliriously in love. Hypatia was famous, and at the time we both laughed off the graffiti calling her a succubus, or whatever the Christians called her…
Wish I paid more attention to that, perhaps it could have been prevented… Any student of classical antiquity knows what happened to Hypatia…
The governor Orestes asked my wife's counsel. She had taken the carriage and on her way back from the Governor's Estate…
I'm sorry… Even after 1500 years it's still difficult.
After… Hypatia's death. I was looking for revenge… I had made an iron mask and I looked to kill those that had ended Hypatia's life… Every last one of them.
I still worked at the School but at night I was driven by my vengeance. The church where they tortured her? I torched it while a service was in session. Cyril? Found him, put a knife on his throat, and told him I'd be there to end him when he least expected it. He died always checking his back. The monks that came down from the hills to 'participate'? I went up to the hills and killed them all. Part of me wonders sometimes if my rampage wound up affecting Christian demonology development, but it was during this time, that I learned what I was… A monk had stabbed me in the heart. He thought I was dead until I woke up and then killed him with the knife he stabbed me with… I didn't even realize it until about half an hour later. Sounds like something that belongs in a Tarantino flick…
The response in Alexandria was not much notice, although I do remember one scout report to Orestes which was curious how “The Goths had attacked the Monks residence in the Mountains” and I remember at the time taking joy in spreading terror amongst those that did the terrifying.
Fifteeen years after Hypatia's death I was in the library looking over some old texts before I made the decision… I had tried to commit suicide previously, but failed. Couldn't think of a method to decapitate myself easily enough. Drowning didn't work, Fire didn't work (captured by zealots and tortured… long story). I simply realized that I just couldn't stay in Alexandria anymore, too many bad memories. So I packed and left… I'd always remember Hypatia, but I couldn't stay in this city… when I boarded the boat I was glad to see it disappear over the horizon.
The ship I boarded was bound for Hippo Regius. My ship never made it there. We came under attack by Vandals and the captain attempted to make a deal. Many feared being sold into slavery but the Vandals apparently were having none of that and opened fire upon us. We ran aground a few miles east of Hippo Regius, and the survivors made their way on foot. I chose the less common option. Faced with a choice of going east or west I chose to go west, perhaps it was time to join whatever military was there. All I had with me was an empty wine cask, and my knapsack.
Recently I had been back to Hippo Regius, now Annaba, and the region is unrecognizable. Heh… so old that I can remember a time when inland North Africa wasn't a desert.
In my quest, I had found the camp of King Genseric. Such a hodge podge of factions. Genseric and his officers bore more in common with the Germans, than they did with the Numidians, which they had picked up. Anti-Imperial sentiment was high, and my loyalty was not to an Empire that condoned zealous idolatry. When I got to the camp it was in the fourth month of the siege. The siege was going fine, but tensions were rising between the Numidians and Vandals.
Outside the town at the inn I made the acquaintance of one of Genseric's lieutenants. A likeable enough fellow, died of dysentery on the way to Carthage, but that's getting ahead of ourselves. When I mentioned that I received schooling in Alexandria, he asked some follow up questions. Did I know how to make siege equipment, and other such things. I had a bit too much wine, and told him I could. That night I was taken in my sleep to Genseric's tent. We… worked out an arrangement. I worked for Genseric as an advisor/trainer, and I got to live… Wasn't really in an opportunity to say no. Over the next few months, I was working with a restless army. The Numidians wanted to go on, but Genseric wanted Hippo Regius to fall, and his hot-headed Numidian commmander was one of the worst of the lot.
At about the Ninth month of the siege, things were coming to a head. The Numidian Cavalry was attacking the supply train. In the last five months I had whipped up Vandal and Numidian crews to be able to work the trebuchets, and in the process I became just about the only person that was trusted by both sides. Genseric was concerned, the last thing this siege needed was a fight between both armies. He offered a prize to the man who could rid him of the Numidian Commander. I won that prize, my freedom and a prime position of the prizes of Hippo Regius. How'd I do it? I convinced the Numidian Commander that Genseric was planning a glorious charge into the city, and that he had already made a deal with someone inside, taking first take of the war prize… All that's needed to win a war. Play well enough and wait for the other guys to make a mistake.
When the city fell Genseric was quite careful in his conquest. He knew that it would only hurt his people. I told him just about the only thing for certain he could take from without recrimination was from the churches. Genseric was an Arianist, and the city was full of some conflicting ideology, all sorts of raiding was possible.
As a result I stayed with King Genseric, for quite a while, a trusted advisor. I'm sure the name Scorpio of Alexandria survived in some obscure text in Constantinople, but most of my time there's gone from history. Once Genseric had taken Carthage, (a move I cautioned against, and Genseric never let me forget it) I was an aristocrat, and I started to exploit it. I started a trading house that was quite successful. The Romans (of Constantinople, Mediolandum was useless then) made sure that Genseric and the Vandals couldn't deal in gold currency, they didn't want him making higher denominations. So I created a little business around that. Vandals did business with me because I had influence and the King's Favor. The Romans did business with me because I was an Italian that spoke Greek, Latin, Coptic, Punic and Germanic.
So that's how I became the Entrepenuer of the Vandals…
The modern world is very remarkable in one respect, there's a clear delineation between legal and illegal. The system of checks and balances keeps the two separate. In antiquity, the line was a bit murkier. I was an upstanding citizen of the Vandal Kingdom precisely because of two things: One, I was friends of the king. Two, I spent money not on audacious things, but on ensuring allies got a cut, and reinvesting.
Although I didn't realize it at the time I came upon the methods of banking that would serve the Medicis well. I had means of taking collateral, kept immaculate records, and charted interest rates. Within a few years I was one of the wealthiest men in Carthage.
In practice I would have called myself more a loan shark/mobster than a banker. The Imperial Court of Constantinople was leery of letting the Vandals do business with gold, and other high end currency… and the Vandals had trouble trusting the Greek or Roman merchant houses. Once I again I exploited my outsider status to my advantage. I made a fair share of enemies as Scorpio, some upstart band not knowing their place, or some manipulative merchant thinking he could cut me out, or a noble who didn't think he had to pay. Having enemies isn't the problem. The problem is having more enemies than allies.
I am ashamed to say that it was probably my influence that caused Genseric to do the unthinkable. I had mentioned at a feast that I was losing quite a bit of money to people lending money from me and then travelling to Rome. It was the closest place that I couldn't get my hands on people. Rome in those days was chaos, a few families fighting over it an paying lip service to the Emperor, they unified under one common goal, keep out foreign influences.
Before a few months had passed, Genseric informed me of his plans… A siege of Rome. The Eternal City, it was an audacious plan. One Genseric was sure would place his name in the history books. The sack of Rome… I wasn't some legionnaire doing a last stand in the city… No how times change. I was attached to King Genseric as he negotiated the terms for the Vandals leaving the city. It was more peaceful than one would expect. As Scorpio I remember taking pleasure in watching Pope Leo I whimper and kiss the boot of Genseric…
Numerous slaves were taken, whereas I was more concerned with the material wealth. I took the gold from the temple of Jupiter, tomes from the Imperial Library, statuary that was toppled by the Christians of the gods. We made out like bandits. Oh and the families protecting my debtors were more than happy to release them to me…
Scorpio, was not one of my nicer personas. He was ruthless, efficient, and lacked many scruples. After my life as Atticus… I honestly didn't care…
Eventually Scorpio had more enemies than friends. I had ruled the underworld of Carthage and the Vandals for over 20 years. People called me the devil, and like all empires, mine crumbled.
It was at a dinner party when a servant sliced my throat, and a rival took out my guests. I knew instantly who betrayed me, and the assassins died as well once I awoke. It gave rise to a legend, they had to body and so the legend of Scorpio of Alexandria, endured. Constantly fearing my return as if I was some super natural entity. That last night I buried three chests that I intended to find again some day, and took off with much gold. My allies and lieutenants dead… Fear of being left alive, and to endure torture forever did not appeal to me.
I was on the road, after Scorpio died, when I first met another Eternal. The African man presented himself as Africa. He spoke of a time when Sahara was more fertile, and although I didn't realize who they were, he mentioned meeting G'Len and Th'and. He called himself Africa. I asked why he took the name of the continent. To this day I will never forget that shit-eating grin he gave me. “Who's to say the Continent isn't named after me. Scorpio, Atticus, whatever name you take Prometheus, you think a hundred suns is bad? wait until you've seen a few thousand.” and laughed and left. Never saw him again, although I must say he was very good with that staff, he took on that band of thieves with one hand behind his back.
In a way he convinced me to enjoy a simpler life. I slipped aboard ship bound North from Tunisia. So ended Scorpio of Alexandria.
Birth Name: Not given by Eternal
Birth Date: 352 CE
Birth Place: Outside Florence, Italy
Status at Birth: Born into a wealthy family, with a strong military tradition
Relation to other Eternals:
Current Pseudonym: Prometheus
Past Pseudonyms: Prometheus, Atticus of Alexandria, Scorpio of Alexandria
Past Homes: Adrianople, Alexandria, Carthage
Skills: Centurion, Platonic Philosopher, Mathematician, Merchant, Capo,
Languages Spoken: Latin, Greek, Punic, Germanic