“Once he had settled in his mind that the buck was best used as part of the Lughnasadh feast, Tod turned and sped west across the wooded plateau, towards where he knew his people were. The little bonds with the Aeturni kept him warm, no, not warm, warm in his body but warm in his mind. Or at least not alone. Like being in an inhabited house.
“Hunkering down at the top of the cliff he took the time to test the air – what news was carried on the moist updraft, what sounds reached his acute hearing.
“All was as it should be, even that annoying peacock Brandr’s scent was threaded in with the rest of the Aeturni, but neither blood nor fear piqued his senses. There was a whisper of something though, something that was almost obscured by the complex odors rising from the river.
“Tod climbed a little higher and retreated further from the edge, nothing yet,he wanted to catch more than just the hints borne on the updraft from the sun warmed stones, he needed to be higher to find the scents from yesterday that had risen and drifted over the plateau. He rose upwards, a bit at a time, his nostrils flaring, his lips parted, inhaling deeply, swirling the air past the membranes of his mouth, as he turned his head from side to side. The upper currents tonight were shifting from the prevailing west to the southwest and back again. Dragar (plural of dragur) and dragar blood came faintly. Young dragar. Hunh! Not good. Overlain with the blood of an old one. Abruptlyhe cleared his nose in a mighty snort. He’d have to warn his people.
“Shouldering the huge buck, Tod ghosted down the mountain neither cracking a branch nor rustling a leaf. From above, dwarfed by the huge carcass, he seemed to scuttle across the moonlit clearing like a beetle. He ducked within the stone structure nearest the waterfall for a moment; when he appeared again it was without the deer.
“What was left of his clothing was soon removed and a cloud of brittle deer hair snapped out to drift in the bright night. After vigorously rubbing his head and scratching at his arms and torso, Itchy stuff, his figure ducked under the water for relief. In a blur he was out again, sluicing the water from his arms and tossing his head to send the droplets flying.
“When he slipped in the back way the gloom of the hall was no bar to Tod’s vision. He let his eyes drift up one side and down the other. Scent thickly whispered a name for each lump.
“On the side closest to him, Verna’s heart beat slowly as she lay protectively in front of Cunorix who in turn was surrounded by bolsters supporting his crippled side. She had fallen asleep resting her hand on his shoulder. On the wall next to them hung their favorite tools, Verna’s best staff and drop spindle, both smooth with long use. The hound-king had hooks to support his carved walking staff.
“Then Billia, curled on her side, her topmost arm propped over the baby. The infant’s heart fluttered quickly like a bird’s wings. Addy seemed to have gotten herself turned around and all the way down to the opposite end of the bed. Baskets ranged beneath the platform were stuffed with clouts for the baby and winter covers.
“Aia and Bird were indistinguishable from each other. They had gotten closer, good. There were cases for his flutes on the back shelf and his stringed instruments hung from the wall.
“The other side followed the same pattern. The eldest taking pride of place closest to the great box bed and the fire, counting down until the least in age and power were closest to the entrance.
“Aged Nemeta’s sluggish heart rhythm was to the fore with her unfortunate son Quintilius warming her old bones and serving as an aide if she needed to relieve herself during the night. Their staffs were racked above them waiting for the day.
“Brandr snored a bit on the next bench down from Nemeta. Soon he shifted to his side – so no lasting damage done from the blow. Good.
“‘Mara lay on the next bench, occasionally flinching when her toddler thrashed around.
“Tod snorted as the little girl flung her arm up and into her mother’s face. Ivor seemed to have rolled over to the back wall to get away from his little sister.
“As the youngest, Honey was on the furthest bench tucked around Andy and Buck, the tangle of bodies lightly covered by a linsey-woolsey throw.
“The draugr moved into the nimbus of Honey’s sweet scent, led by the strands of their bond.
“Inhale, woman, exhale; inhale, sweet woman, exhale. Tod savored the rich scent. Richer than he remembered. Inhale, rich ripe woman, exhale. If he could get dizzy or drunk he would be falling over right now.
“His back bowed forward as he drew himself up, mine! Inhale, ripeness, sweetness, mine, exhale. What?
“What was different? Honey, the one that cared for him, the one that fed him, the one that played with him, accepted him. One of his people, yes. Why did he feel so protective?
“Over the past two centuries he had learned to depend on his nose as his most reliable informant. Inhale, richly ripe, mouth-wateringly sweet woman smell, exhale. Why was it familiar? He knew what it was…it was what?
“Tod crept closer, close enough to steal a sip of the warm air rising from between her breasts. Goddess! She smelled like the beginning of the world. He couldn’t resist slipping in behind her.
“Tod?” She snuggled back into him. “Mmmmm.”
“You are pregnant,” he whispered.
“I am? I wondered, but I wasn’t sure. That’s good then.” Honey turned a little and rubbed her face on his chest.
“You are distracting me, woman. I need to talk to you.”
“Awww, I was dreaming about you and me together.”
“Later, Honey. First, I brought back a stag for the feast and hung him in the bathhouse. It’ll be cool enough in there. I put the liver in there too.” Tod sucked his teeth a bit. “I’m afraid that the hunt tore up my tunic, so I used that to wrap the liver.”
“Don’t worry about the tunic, there’s an even better one of my father’s you can wear for Lugh’s feast. The venison will be wonderful, everyone will love that!” Excited, Honey thoroughly kissed his face.
“Wait, wait,” Tod tried unsuccessfully to gain some space between their faces. “That was the good news.” He lowered his voice back to a whisper.
“On the way back to the hall I encountered something untoward. There are young draugar on the other side of the mountain and the river, to the south; from what was on the wind it seemed as though there was a battle between them and an old one.”
“Honey sat up so abruptly that he was almost dumped out of bed. “We know of the old one, we have respect for each other but she is a loner. She will not easily give up what is hers.” Frowning, “I’d best tell Nemeta, Cunorix and Verna …will you fight?”
“Fight? Fight who?”
“The incomers. They will be careless and hungry and ravage our area. They have no respect for the old one’s territory nor ours. They will raid all the farms around here. We have met roving bands before, they will reeve until the region is bled dry and then move on, leaving devastation. Another reason we have so few people here, we have fought their kind before.”
“Old hope swelled within Tod’s chest. This time. Could he make a difference?
“Who will fight? You are not many.”
“Tod, we will all fight, excepting the babies.” Honey rested her hand on his arm “ We are fighting for our lives. Even the littlest will play their part. Old Nemeta is still wicked good with darts.”
“Wide eyed, the dragur looked at Honey. “Darts could be very effective….are they tipped?”
“Nah, just fire hardened, but very effective against vandals like these. I was nine when I took down my first rogue, idiot charged me.”
“Nine, you were only nine?”
“Oh, ya. The young ones all had spears, well kind of. Long ash poles, with fire hardened tips. We made our own. I was very proud when the rogue ran right at me. I braced the butt and got the angle just right. Went right through him.” Honey’s voice hardened.
“They had killed my father that night. I was very happy I had gotten revenge.”
“I’m sure your father’s shade was very proud, he could boast of his daughter’s bravery in the underworld.”
“Honey sat up a little straighter at that and wiggled. “I hope he was pleased, he was a wonderfully clever man and I adored him.”
Groggily Honey’s neighbor said, “Boooph! Elder, why don’t you and Honey finish your conversation outside. You might wake the children with your whispering.”
Abashed and in the habit of obeying the older woman Honey agreed, “Yes, Auntie, that is a good idea,” and tugged Tod out the back door while swinging a shawl over her shoulders.
“Have you fed tonight, love? You shouldn’t go to your rest hungry, it will spoil your mood tomorrow. Besides, I want you to be at your best no matter what happens. There is the festival to complete too.”
Honey continued to chatter as she drew him across the yard to the weaving shed. Finally, once seated in the dark interior she stroked his arms. “Feed, love, be strong for us tomorrow.”
They cared for each other gently until they were both satisfied.
“I will not rest with you this day, Brandr is there and after last night I do not trust him with my existence.”
Honey knew what a huge thing it was for Tod to trust them with his resting place. When they came upon him it was almost as though he had no idea where to turn and had just had tossed his shattered hope up into the air to drift down as it may. It had settled on them – what a gift.
The woman rubbed her face on Tod’s shoulder. “So, you think I am pregnant? If the babe is strong will you sponsor it? It would be a great honor.”
“I will stand for the father, if you like. Since Marten was kin.”
Honey beamed at him, “That makes me happy, this child will honor you as father and patron..” Honey bowed her head and kissed Tod’s hand.
“Nah, nah; after all you did when I was damaged. I am the one who is indebted. .”
“Well, let us see how the encounter with the rogues plays out.”
“Honey, do you know the old one you spoke of before? Could we act in concert?” Tod had learned something of alliances from his time around the Romans.
“She might agree, she’s probably madder than a wet hen right now. She doesn’t like being messed with. I only saw her once by chance.
“It was late and I was the last to finish tying up the grape vines down near the road. I had taken a moment to sit and rewind the cord I’d been using. One of the Roman messengers was jogging along trying to make Confluentes that night. Ha! Suddenly it looked as though he had a child clinging to his back before he staggered and went down. Very quick, she was. When she stood up, fussing with her tunic, I saw she was no child, just a small woman with dark tightly curled hair most of the way down her back. Those curls were so tangled that the mass of them moved as one thing.
“She looked me right in the eyes as I stood there. I bowed respectfully and she nodded back.”
“Whooo, Honey, it is a wonder she didn’t kill you.”
“I think she already knew of us, or at least our reputation. She just turned and pitched the man out into the river.”
“I guess he got to Confluentes eventually.” Tod laughed and slapped his knee. “Eventually”
“Plllbt, Tod, your sense of humor….you, you are such a dragur!”
One thing led to another, a nudge led to a tickle, and a tickle led to some friendly wrestling, which led to other things. Which was all very satisfying and left Honey drowsy.
Tod stared off into the darkness, he thought that he should take the opportunity to have a quick look around and even introduce himself to the old one. Cautiously.
He’d see what he could find before he went to ground. “I’ll be back in time to help with the closing ceremony, my sweet.”
Tod rose a little until he could catch the whispered tale of fear and death on the air, then he turned and sped across the river.
Scents of dead things were borne on the currents coming from the west, he had to move downwind to read the whole story and then jog west to see what had happened. One ravaged farmstead – thankfully not burned – strewn with drained and dismembered bodies. Tcha! As bad as wolves.
He had to quarter the area before he picked up a trace of the old one. Goddess bless these negotiations, he prayed, lay your cloak of calm and certitude over us.
Dawn was close, a few birds rustled in the trees, he could hear their wing feathers rasp as they stretched. He didn’t want to rush the old one,that would be dangerous, maybe he should just wait until she noticed him and introduce himself?
Straightening his back he walked decisively into the small clearing where the old one had crouched on a prominent root, bracketed by her knobby knees, to untangle the battle-trash from her hair. Her fingers moved in a blur as bits of leaves, twigs and body parts rained down around her. While she nimbly worked on the disorder she stared directly at Tod and hissed, her fangs were so prominent they dominated her face. Actually her fangs and her tangled hair appeared to be her face.
Tod, taking the wisest course, stopped and gravely bowed. “Old One, I am Tod, once of Raetia, now of the Aeturni. We would offer an alliance in order to cleanse this area of vermin, an annoyance for all of us.”
One moment she was perched on the gnarled tree root like an elf the next she had flashed to her feet and was much closer than she had been. Frighteningly close.
She was tiny, her head just came up to Tod’s shoulder, but wiry strong. Neither the dirt smudges nor her creamy skin could hide her bunched muscles nor her ready stance. Her eyes were huge and dark, her nose proud. As deadly as a caltrop1.
“Gamoroi, Thalia Gamoroi. One of the Syrakousai.2” Her accent carried something of Corbulo’s, it was heavier on the ear, but it rolled like waves. Greek?
Very old, three times my age – at least. Tod bowed again. “My people said that you know of them and that they have always respected your ways. We anticipate that the rogues might turn towards our side of the river once they have picked the bones of your territory.”
“They are a pestilence and an infestation of fleas. I understand why you want to join with me but why should I join with you?”
“Because it is better that your neighbor is an ally rather than an enemy, less time consuming at any rate.
“This new dark we will celebrate the Lugnasad, would you join us?”
Thalia’s eyes gleamed and she licked her chops. “You have enough minions that you can afford to share?”
Tod was ready to kick himself, he was young in the ways of the dragur, ‘Tura was never around and Corbulo just laughed at his questions.
“Errm, perhaps I misspoke, our relationship is not the traditional dragur/minion but companionate. We take our sustenance at the same board. We are bonded.
“The Ancient Semni began the tradition somewhere around the time the Keltoi began moving westward. The bonding became the fabric of our clan around the time the Julian, Caesar was skirmishing with the Chatti.”
“What? You are bonded to how many? Doesn’t that make you crazy?” Thalia was appalled.
“No problem, their eldest showed me how to muffle it, the Semni worked it out. They are all taught not to rile up the bond.
“They are also taught how to deal with dragar. They could be formidable enemies if they chose. My favorite ended her first dragur when she was but nine years.”
“Aaaand, you have a favorite. Your days as dragur are numbered. Humans can be a weakness for us, boy. ”
“You know, Thalia, come to think about it, their bard might be willing to swap blood in exchange for tales of your travels. He is a good audience.”
“I would love to hear the story of how you met up with these marvels, but it is very close to dawn and I wish to go to ground. I will meet you here with the new dark!”
Tod blinked and she was gone, he shook his head. Old, old, old. Back across the river to find his own place to rest.
Honey woke sprawled across the wool sacks, disturbed by the cacophony of clanking cowbells; in counter point was the ching, ching, ka ching of the goat bells. The ka-ching was from one of the sedate older does sidestepping the antics of the kids. Then came the muted thunder of small hooves crossing the bridge. It always sounded like a vast horde since it took at least three bounces for the kids to get across, sometimes they did it twice since it had been so much fun.
“Hon-eee, Hon-eeee! Can we have some of the eggy bread to break our fast?”
She rolled off the sacks and scrambled to her feet before rubbing her face to chase the sleep away.
“Hai, I’ll be right there, don’t you dare touch the eggy bread that is for Lugh.”
So the day went, a day of building excitement for the children and scolding from the adults. Don’t touch that it’s for Lugh’s feast. Meanwhile soft cheeses were turned out and salted, berries were picked, new wheat had been ground and now baked into loaves, flowers were cut.
Honey took an opportunity to whisper to Verna that Tod had warned her about the young dragar on the other side of the river. She in turn took Cunorix aside to give him the news. Both sat for a while with Nemeta to put their heads together. They agreed that it had been really clever of Tod to co-opt the old one’s help.
Under Nemeta’s eye the children made corn dollies from barley straw. They would be burnt to symbolize the end and the new beginning for the corn king.
Central to the hive of activity was the great fire tended by Brandr and the browning disjointed deer. The skull and antlers were prominently displayed on a post for Lugh-protecting-the-harvest to admire.
All the regular chores had to be done too – although some were surely put off or skimped. The milch beasts had to be tended, that could not wait. Children had to be caught, fed and washed. No one wanted to dress in their best until all the preparations were done for fear of spotting the clean laboriously embroidered linen; so most worked in their subligacula or breech clouts and the women bound their breasts to protect them from hot spatters.
Traditionally the Lughnasadh was held during the day and the feasting lingered on through the night but because they wanted to include Tod in the final ceremony the beginning was put back and the Aeturni wouldn’t begin to feast until the sun was well on its way to the horizon.
Still abashed from the tongue lashing he had gotten from the elders of the clan, Brandr almost wished that Cunorix had taken his drovers whip to him. It might have been less painful.
So all day he moved benches and tended fires, helped Bird skin the deer – which he had to admit was a fine animal. All he really wanted was to get back to his smithing and arranging his future. It didn’t sit right with him to have a boy lording it over him. Even if he was a dragur he just couldn’t get past his stripling’s appearance. While he tended to his chores, once in a while he would stop in thought then shake his head. Nope couldn’t get his head around it.
Generous stoops of ale sped the work of setting up the trestle tables, the precious mead would be saved for the toasts and final offerings to Lugh.
The fruits of the season were laid out on the tables, heaps of golden plums glowed in the westering light, bowls of bramble berries and bilberries glistened with honey and pots of preserved currants offered themselves with small wooden spoons. Discs of Lugh’s eggy bread were stacked in crenelations along the center of the table punctuated with the polished tools of the harvest. The smaller children stood guard, chasing the bugs with tansy fronds; although the chance to swat at passers by was not to be missed.
Everyone took a moment to cruise around the edges of the table sniffing the bounty. Soon pots of fresh beans seasoned with dill and bowls of a festive sallat decked with blue borage flowers, dressed with the best oil and their own vinegar were brought out. Everyone filled their mugs with ale and set to.
The buck had been fat since he had not yet started the rut. The crackly bits were shared out equally, in the warm light of afternoon everyone’s face shone with grease and happiness. The high point for the children was the honeyed slices of yellow bread smeared with berries.
Old Nemeta took her honey and berries on soft cheese after she grew tired of cutting the meat into the small pieces that her few broken teeth could manage.
Near dusk the benches were drawn in around the fire and the tables put by.
Amongst the Aeturni the whispers grew more frequent. After the shadows had settled and the firelight flickered and danced amongst them, people got restless, looking for Tod.
Impatient, Andy burst out with “My Tod, where my Tod? I want sit my Tod!!!!” she was overwhelmed and tired from the day and wanted her comfort.
Some of the children had already fallen asleep in a tumble of light and shadow. They’d be woken when Tod arrived.
One the guard dogs rose and spun out a growl that shivered every one’s hair. Muzzles swung towards the south their growls quickly transmuted into a cacophony of thunderous barks. The force of the threat driving the dogs backwards and then aggressively catapulting them forward.
The hound king, Cunorix rose to stand between the girthy canines, hushing them. “Stand forward so we may see our guests this feast night. I will hold the dogs.”
Tod moved into the firelight Thalia stepped silently beside him. They had tidied themselves as best they could, Thalia had even bound her hair up in a traditional style.
“Greetings, Aeturni, this is Gamoroi, Thalia Gamoroi, one of the Syrakousai. Thalia is a neighbor. Would you welcome her this Lughnasadh?”
The maiden, mother and crone drew together, their energies hummed. As one they turned to their counselor and nodded.
Head high the figure stepped forward, “As counselor I bid you welcome Thalia Gamoroi. I am Aeturnos Aðalráðr.” He extended his arm dramatically – he was very good at his role. “These are the Lady’s representatives: Nemeta, who speaks for the crone; Verna, the voice of the mother; Disa as the maiden with her acolyte Andala,” who had been edging in Tod’s direction and was promptly snatched back to stand beside Honey.
Standing like one of the Imperial statues in the forum3, palm upwards, Bird indicated Brandr with his tattered crown of last year’s barley. “Our blacksmith represents Lugh4 the complement to the Lady, the three faced god of blacksmiths, Lugh of the skilled hand, Lugh the corn king, whom we honor tonight.”
As one the Aeturni rose and bowed their heads to the representative of Lugh, then turned and bowed more deeply to Tod and his guest.
“Well mannered, I’ll give you that,” Thalia whispered rapidly, “you have taught your companions well,” she nodded sketchily towards the humans.
“Nah, ’twas their first dragur, the Ancient Semni, who taught them. I was fortunate to have them find me.”
“Augh, sounds like a story in itself.”
“Thalia Gamoroi, be welcome. Gamli Tod would you like us to offer hospitality to your guest?”
Not at all sure what that might entail Tod thought that he’d better find out. “Could you explain what that means Counselor?”
“Erm, would you like us to offer some blood to your guest?”
“By knife or by fang?”
“Oh, by knife. Your part of the ceremony, as Lugh’s aspect of death, is to symbolically isacrifice the corn king. That will be by fang.”
Thalia appeared intrigued; she was old but this was something she’d never heard of. Dragur would sometimes share pets, but these were not pets. As equals, the Aeturni were offering hospitality. This was serious business, she well understood what xenia5 guest-friend hospitality entailed.
As a human girl millenia ago she would stand on the rocky shoreline of her beloved Syrakousa and wait for the dolphins. They seemed to recognize her and several would stop and chatter. Intuitively Thalia knew that they were intelligent but that their world was so different than hers that they could never be equal. That was how she felt about the Aeturni. Water did not equal air.
She tried to measure these people from the wizened elder to the smallest babe. They looked at her unafraid, all marked with Tod’s scent, all!
“Why do you not fear me?”
Nemeta, as was proper, answered. “Our Semni was far older than you, she taught us well; training our strengths and explaining your weaknesses. We protected her day death, she watched our sleep; for long generations we led parallel lives, our worlds keeping pace with each other. We are fortunate now to have found our Tod.”
All right, mutual respect she could do. She could follow the rules of xenia.
Nemeta turned to whisper to Verna, Verna bent to speak softly to Honey, Honey took Andala’s hand and quietly instructed: “This next bit will be your part in the ceremony since you are the youngest maiden. I’ll show you what to do.”
Bird piped wild skirling notesii while Aia wove and twisted words around the melody. The Aeturni began to sway and their eyes turned inward in the spirit of the ceremony.
Glancing over her shoulder at Tod and the enthralled people, Andy stumbled along behind Honey and into the house. Quickly the woman lit one of the lamps with a spills she had seized on the way in. When the flames were full, Honey carried it over to the chest at the foot of the carved bed. Andy held the lamp while Honey prised up the heavy lid. The top flipped back against the bed with a thunk, her swift hands began moving exquisitely embroidered fabrics to one side.
“Andy, remember where these are, I will ask you to help me air and refold them soon and lay them by with new herbs. These are for ceremonies, vestments for Tod. On the bottom here are special vessels; luckily Nemeta keeps them polished.
“When I was your age I began playing my part as a maiden, You will hold the ceremonial cup, just as I did. You have a strong soul and I know you will do well.
“My job has always been the cultivation of herbs and compounding various remedies, Verna is the best weaver that we have ever had, her finest work is stored in here, layered with my herbs. to honor our dragur. Nemeta tends these objects. There are ancient cups, bowls and cauldrons of bronze, even beautiful lamps of alabaster. You and I will have a look through soon.”
Honey carefully lifted a padded leather bag before replacing the layers of fabric. Once she had closed the chest she unknotted the bag and removed a shallow, two handled, black glazed bowl with the fanged face of the Gorgoneia incised into the tondo at the center.
“Now Andy, since you are to be the maiden cup bearer, you and Tod will gather the blood for our guest. Come.”
Pausing next to Tod, Honey softly advised: ”Andy will carry the cup, start with the eldest, they will use their knives, then you heal the cuts.” She looked expectantly at him.
He nodded, then rested his hand on Andy’s back to guide her to stand before Nemeta. The eldest priestess turned sideways to the fire so all could witness the bloodletting.
Thalia was startled. The cup that the child carried was very like some of the ceremonial pieces her family had brought from Corinth, those were old even before her people had emigrated.
Startled enough to step forward, startled enough to interrupt a ceremony.
“Where did that cup come from?”
Entranced by the familiar ceremony the oldest stared at her with her smoke reddened eyes, her wrinkles seamed with shadow, Nemeta slowly answered: “Our Ancient Semni retrieved it from the stone halls where she once lived.”
Still in her sacrificial trance Nemeta turned back towards Tod. Suddenly her blood knife flashed out and cut deeply into her forearm which Tod held extended over the cup.
A slow count of one, two, three and Tod quickly pressed two fingers over the cut before he bent down to lick the withered forearm, cleaning and healing it.
Andy carefully moved sideways to stand before Cunorix who unsheathed his blood knife and passed it to Tod. Managing his sacrifice with only one good hand was almost impossible. So the ritual went around the circle, even to the children who didn’t have their knives yet. Instead they pressed their fingertips onto Tod’s fang and counted out three drops before the dragur healed it for them.
Concentrating with all her might Andala stepped carefully over to Thalia, Honey right behind her. Bending close, Honey whispered, “Accept our blood as a sign of our good faith … Share our blood as a sign of your good faith … With this blood Thalia Gamoroi we name you friend of the Aeturni …” Andala repeated each phrase faithfully.
Thalia’s eyes were as wide as a pursuivant lemures6. Tod understood that it was his part to drink first as though he were assuring the purity. For a moment he closed his eyes to savor the blend then passed the cup to Thalia who sipped cautiously, then drained it. Tipping the cup back and forth to examine the Gorgoneia in the bowl. Murmuring: it might have come from the same potter’s hand as the one in my family’s shrine.
Pulling herself out out of her daze, Thalia thanked them all for their generosity and said that she was astounded that she could still detect the blood of their Ancient Semni. “Her blood lives on in you.”
Aðalráðr stepped forward, “Thalia, friend, well met. I am usually known as Bird, come sit with us so that we may speak of ancient times.”
1Iron caltrops were used as early as 331 BC at Gaugamela according to Quintus Curtius (IV.13.36). They were known to the Romans as tribulus or sometimes as Murex ferreus, the latter meaning ‘jagged iron’.
The armed chariots used in war by Antiochus and Mithridates at first terrified the Romans, but they afterwards made a jest of them. As a chariot of this sort does not always meet with plain and level ground, the least obstruction stops it. And if one of the horses be either killed or wounded, it falls into the enemy’s hands. The Roman soldiers rendered them useless chiefly by the following contrivance: at the instant the engagement began, they strewed the field of battle with caltrops, and the horses that drew the chariots, running full speed on them, were infallibly destroyed. A caltrop is a device composed of four spikes or points arranged so that in whatever manner it is thrown on the ground, it rests on three and presents the fourth upright. Wikipedia
2Founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek settlers from Corinth and Tenea, led by the oecist (colonizer) Archias.]The nucleus of the ancient city was the small island of Ortygia. The settlers found the land fertile and the native tribes to be reasonably well-disposed to their presence. The city grew and prospered, and for some time stood as the most powerful Greek city anywhere in the Mediterranean. Colonies were founded at Akrai (664 BC), Kasmenai (643 BC), Akrillai (7th century BC), Helorus (7th century BC) and Kamarina (598 BC).
The descendants of the first colonist, called Gamoroi, held power until they were expelled by the Killichiroi, the lower class of the city. The former, however, returned to power in 485 BC….Wikipedia
3The right hand (Lat. dextera, dextra; Gr. δεξιά – dexia) was commonly used in antiquity as a symbol of pledging trust, friendship or loyalty. For example, Cicero reported that Octavian pledged an oath to Julius Caesar while outstretching his right arm:
Lugh is the Celtic god honored for his skills and gifts as a craftsman. He is the god of blacksmiths, metal-workers and artisans. In his aspect as a harvest god, …
5Xenia (Greek: ξενία, xenía) is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home. It is often translated as “guest-friendship”. The rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host. See end note, Wikipedia.
i Hospitium (Gr. ξενία, xenia, προξενία) is the ancient Greco-Roman concept of hospitality as a divine right of the guest and a divine duty of the host. Similar or broadly equivalent customs were and are also known in other cultures, though not always by that name. Among the Greeks and Romans, hospitium was of a twofold character: private and public.
In Homeric times, all strangers, without exception, were regarded as being under the protection of Zeus Xenios, the god of strangers and suppliants, and had the right to hospitality. (It is doubtful whether, as is commonly assumed, they were considered as ipso facto enemies; they were rather guests.) Immediately on his arrival, the stranger was clothed and entertained, and no inquiry was made as to his name or antecedents until the duties of hospitality had been fulfilled. When the guest parted from his host he was often presented with gifts (ξένια), and sometimes a die (ἀστράγαλος) was broken between them. Each then took a part, a family connection was established, and the broken die served as a symbol of recognition; thus the members of each family found in the other hosts and protectors in case of need.
Violation by the host of the duties of hospitality was likely to provoke the wrath of the gods; but it does not appear that anything beyond this religious sanction existed to guard the rights of a traveler. Similar customs seem to have existed among the Italian races.[tone] Amongst the Romans, private hospitality, which had existed from the earliest times, was more accurately and legally defined than amongst the Greeks, the tie between host and guest being almost as strong as that between patron and client. It was of the nature of a contract, entered into by mutual promise, the clasping of hands, and exchange of an agreement in writing (tabula hospitalis) or of a token (tessera or symbolum), and was rendered hereditary by the division of the tessera. The advantages thus obtained by the guest were, the right of hospitality when traveling and, above all, the protection of his host (representing him as his patron) in a court of law. The contract was sacred and inviolable, undertaken in the name of Jupiter Hospitalis, and could only be dissolved by a formal act.