My profound gratitude goes to penpractice, every single time she hauls me straight out of the muck and the mire and helps me produce something readable.
I realize these chapters have taken a long time to produce, but my readers deserve the very best and I spit and shine until it is up to my (and your) standards.
Bemusedly Thalia stared alternately into the flames and at the shadowed people moving in and out of the firelight. It had been long and long since she had been part of a group surrounding a hearth. Long and long and long lifetimes ago, it might even have been so far back that she was still human and taken refuge with the other rebels amongst the smoking mountains1 of her home. There had been yellow flowers blooming the last time she had stood in the sun.
It had been child’s play for her maker to snatch her from life and draw her into his world. Metis2 had guided her hand and kept her from even greater harm. The Goddess counseled patience and cunning until she could bring her Master’s final death. Ha! Scrofulous dog’s turd of a night walker, he thought her a born slave! Plllbt!
Bright eyed, Thalia looked over at Tod balancing the girl child on his knee.
Andy played with his fingers whilst he talked to his favorite (Honey they called her). Indeed her hair was honey colored, her broad forehead and strong jaw spoke of intelligence and determination. So unlike Thalia’s own wiry figure and tangled dark-wood curls – but still – if she had the choosing of a bride for her brother, she would have chosen Honey. The Maiden’s priestess would bear strong children and rule the house with an iron fist. Good hips.
Honey seemed to realize that Thalia’s thoughtful gaze was on her; turning her head she smiled and her hazel eyes crinkled at the corners. That’s a surprise, but no more surprising than what Thalia’d learned about the rest of this group.
Deciding to talk to Bird for a while, she shifted over to sit on the bench with him. Aia, who had been a little weirded out by the blood thing, shyly drew aside to make room.
“So tell me, Bird, how often do you form these alliances? Metis knows, I’ve never heard tell of them before.”
“Semni knew many of the Ancients, although she wouldn’t share knowledge of our relationship often, occasionally she would ask us to swear friendship and share blood with others. Especially if our territories overlapped. Then they would come together when there was a problem with wolves or rogues or ambitious old ones looking ‘to feather their nests’. Once there was a real problem with the wolves and three of the ancients rested together while we guarded their day-death. We were many then.
“But that oath, ‘By Metis’, our Semni used it frequently! A kinship perhaps? That would be interesting….” Bird’s words trailed off. They were both lost in thought, before Bird roused himself .
“No matter, permit us to do our dutyi towards you, our guest/friend. The bath house is still warm and we’ve sent to freshen the water. You and Tod can relax together in the soaking tub. Please, Elder Thalia, in the name of Jupiter hospitalis3, honor us.” Thalia nodded in understanding.
“Afterwards I hope you’ll accept our gift of clothing for the ceremony. We owe thanks to Lugh for his generosity.”
“Ya, Bird we follow the same laws and own the same Gods, no matter that the names are different. Under the shield of Zeus xenia I accept the obligation.”
Honey moved up along side Thalia and Bird as they walked toward the bathhouse. “I have several compounded oils you can choose from, would you prefer lavender, rose, cedar, arnica or plain almond?”
Tod and Verna caught up to the group.
“I can vouch for their skills with scent.” With a respectful nod towards Verna and a wink for Honey he praised the Aeturnae “They both have excellent noses for the blending of ingredients.”
Tod tipped his head to smile fondly at Honey. “Do you have more of that moss and lavender blend?”
“Tcha, Tod” Honey shook her head, “of course, you said it was your favorite. And it’s not just oak moss and lavender – it’s got sweet woodruff too.”
Thalia watched Tod and Honey’s expressions as they gently teased one another. Honey remained respectful and Tod still held himself a little apart but it was a warm relationship. Tod would be shattered when she died. All humans died.
The Syracusean had almost five hundred years longer than Tod to learn that painful truth. Not once, but many times. It was better not to get too attached, even when there was a tactical advantage or an alliance.
‘Mara jogged a little to catch up. “Here, you need another set of hands to do this properly, let me help.”
Honey turned and bowed a little in Thalia’s direction. “Respectfully, Ancient One, might I introduce to you my cousin Dark Iomara, descended from Eporedorix, the Horse King and fierce Dumnabarra the Dark, a Celt.”
Expressions flickered amongst the group Thalia’s full brows knotted, “How then are you cousins? I thought I’d gotten your lineage straight.” 4
Tod seemed clueless, in contrast the corners of Honey’s mouth curled upward and her pale eyebrows seemed as though they were about to dart off her face. “Oh, our great grandfathers were brothers, both sons of Artevalos, hero of the Battle of Teutoberg.”
Verna tried to appear stern and Bird bit his lower lip realizing that he had forgotten to use the proper diplomatic form for the introductions.
Their Semni had always led the ritual with her guest/friends and her Aeturni were introduced as equals not pets. Bird had gotten the sharing part right, he’d remembered that much. Tod should have made the introductions, but they hadn’t talked about it and he was two centuries away from his human roots, where those formalities would have been part of his every day life as the Priest and Chief’s son. Or could it have been that different where Tod came from?
That stinker Honey had him wrong-footed, and then distracted everybody with talk of kinship. Sly, sly, sly. He caught her eyes twinkling and a smothered giggle. They’d both kicked against their training as priestess and bard and took every opportunity to catch each other out. At least this way the humor in the situation softened the lack of respect he’d shown Thalia and allowed him to retrieve their dignity.
Bird reluctantly turned back towards Thalia, “My apologies, Ancient One, it has been decades since we have sworn friendship with another. The protocols have grown dim in my mind.”
“All in good time Aeturnus. I am content to wait.”
Thank the Gods she’d brushed off the insult. His mistake could have cost them all dearly.
Verna motioned them all into the stone walled room. “I hope the soaking tub will be hot enough by the time we have finished tending to your cleansing.”
Hot enough was the verdict and the dragar lay back in the water to absorb the heat. Thalia chose a simple sweet woodruff and almond oil for her hair which Verna rubbed between her palms, sending the scent into the air, before working it into that inky mop of curls. Bird talked quietly with her, trading old stories, chuckling occasionally while Verna concentrated on tugging a coarse comb through the strands and then taming the wild mess before her with a myriad of small braids.
Tod wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to have Honey and ‘Mara working on him at the same time. Distracting thoughts floated through his mind with every push of their palms, every tug of their fingers along his muscles. Urgh. He needed to keep his mind on the coming ritual and the potential skirmish.
Of course the young women couldn’t resist pulling naughty faces at each other across Tod’s back. They were about to explode with the giggles when Thalia stood up ready to dress bringing them back to the moment, it was time to robe their dragur.
Honey had fetched out her father’s best tunic. His sister, Verna, had sewn it using a length of her finest weaving and bordered it with Suicca-the-Good’s most colorful tablet5 bands6. A proud garment.
Tod was suitably impressed when Honey held it out to him.
“Truly, fit for a king. Thank you dear heart.”
Verna had decided to bring one of Semni’s best robes out for their guest; gossamer fine linen from Egypt, dyed a rich red with a double hand span over-dyed with Tyrrhenian purple for a border. It could have been part of an emperor’s wardrobe.
Thalia was dumbstruck by the value of the magnificent garment as Verna formally begged: “Take this as our guest gift, although it is truly not enough to show how much we value your friendship.”
It felt good to be embedded in human rituals again. She could almost forget that she’d been dragged into the stagnant leech filled pond of a night-walker’s existence.
The food had been cleared away and the bonfire re-fueled by the time the dragar were companied back to the circle. Nemeta had overseen tapping a barrel of their best new ale and one of flowery mead, the pitchers stood ready to pour out the first libation.7
When the circle had reformed, everyone had changed into their best clothing. Tod, and Verna took their places alongside barley wreathed Brandr. They all knew there were some clans in the barbaric east that still followed the old ways, sacrificing the Corn King to bless the fields with his blood and scattered flesh. The Aeturni prided themselves on being too modern, even Romanized, for such primitive beliefs. Their symbols and the prayers still pleased the Gods.
To show respect, Brandr covered his head with a corner of his best cloak before he grasped the shallow bowl in his outstretched right hand. Verna held a brimming pitcher while intoning: ”The Goddess has generously brought our crops to fruition, and in the fullness of time Lugh of the clever hand has granted our harvest.” Carefully she poured ale into the extended bowl.
Then it was Tod’s turn. “We sacrifice the King so that he may return to the ground to be reborn and renewed.” Seizing the barley wreath that crowned Brandr’s head, he laid it in the gleaming bowl, leaving it soaking in the new ale.
His gaze traveled around the shadowed circle, over the old and young, all held their corn dollies at the ready. He nudged Brandr.
“We pour this libation to honor the Good Spirit that watches over us,” Brandr declared, whereupon he reverently bowed and tipped the bowl to send his brew soaked crown into the fire, “the sacrifice goes consenting!”
Many voices shouted, “The sacrifice consents!” as they gave the dollies to the fire.
Thalia nodded knowingly to herself, in her day it would have been wine mixed with the blood a fine bullock, before then it would have been a handsome youth, but always with consent.
Bowls were filled with the ale and passed from hand to hand. Bird shouted “let us salute the Gods with the heart’s blood of the Barley King.” A signal for voices to be raised in the ballad.8
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy;
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail (our land)
Even Thalia dipped her finger into the ale to show participation. Sweet, bitter and flowery, as was the scent, although the terroir of the herbs added a rocky undertone. Their wine was overly sweet also, too sweet for her tastes, but she might actually have a sip of the new brew – just to be sure she’d gotten the flavors right.
Old Nemeta stepped up to pour the next libation, Brandr again covered his head and held the sun hued bowl. Bird spoke the offering.
“This is for our heroes who walk between the bright surface of generous Gaia and the underworld. For Ancient Semni, for long lived Thalia, and for our beloved Tod. In your names I offer this drink.”
The ballad was taken up again as more ale was passed around.
And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
Tod watched Thalia actually take a sip from her bowl. It must be because she was so old that she could do that without puking her guts up.
He was so taken with watching Thalia, Bird had to call him twice..
The bard and Honey stood in Brandr’s place, an embossed length of leather draped over her left arm. Mild faced she beckoned him. When he stood between them he cocked his head in question. Surprisingly Bird handed him the offering bowl before gently turning him to face the people.
Honey whispered, “right hand, hold it in your right hand.”
Duh, he was a priest, he should have known that!
Bird spoke for the third time. “This offering is for endings and new beginnings. Tod has bound himself to us the Aeturni and we have sworn fealty to him. Now we pass to him the cloak and aegis of our Semni, may it carry her blessing.”
Honey filled the shining bowl from a fresh pitcher containing honey wine. Tod bowed his head properly and threw the wine on the fire.
Again she whispered, “Try to drink that last drop yourself, you should be fine.”
When it was done, the bowl was passed back to Nemeta who took careful charge of the sacred object.
Not sure of what was coming next, Tod had settled on holding his best stony expression when four handedly Bird and Honey opened out the finished side of the goat skin to exhibit faint embossing of scales and the Gorgoneion.
Involuntarily Thalia gasped. She hadn’t expected to see such a sacred object here in the back end of nowhere. Was that Amaltheia’s hide9 or had Semni stolen the cloak from the breast of Alexander?
Hair side out, the cousins draped the cloak over Tod’s shoulders and pinned it in place with the great Gorgoneion boss.
He couldn’t help himself, the young dragur was drawn to run his fingers over the worn indentations in the hide. He could feel that the designs had been refreshed once or twice, perhaps now it would be his turn.
“Now, Tod, you act under the aegis of Semni and the Aeturni. May your gaze be as powerful as Medusa’s and your wrath as devastating as the Sky God’s.”
Bird seized Tod’s shoulders and kissed each of his cheeks then moved over to salute Thalia with a firm, “Welcome Guest.”
By the time the last of the people had embraced their guest the children were stumbling and whining a little with fatigue and the adults were a little slaphappy from the strong drink.
Someone called “Bird, Aia! Some music to finish off the night!”
Thalia, too was a little punchy, she must have been to ask the bard if he had a tamburello10, which she had played as a girl.
Indeed he did, he’d had it out for Aia to practice on.
“D’you mind? It’s got a lot of jingles ’round the sides?”
Thalia struck it a few times and gave it a rattle to get a sense of the instrument before she nodded.
Bird pulled out his pipes for a bit of a toodle and Aia cleared her throat.
“We’re all set then?” Off they went with a gay bouncing melody.
In two heartbeats the crowd was off, feet thudding in time with Thalia’s rhythm, shoulders leading into each measure.
The children livened up enough to dance a couple of rounds while the toddler gaily held her arms up and stomped in her own little circle, the baby just bounced enthusiastically.
Soon enough the little ones had crumpled into sleepy heaps and the adults took turns carrying them to bed.
The bonfire had died to bright coals by the time the children were settled and everyone drew the benches close for a council of war.
Many folk had lit fires to celebrate the Lugnasad and the rogues had a multitude of flickering beacons to attract their attention. No doubt it would be several nights before they turned to this side of the river.
The dragar would track them just to be sure. If there was a good opportunity they would take them out.
Thalia had the impression that there were quite a few, maybe as many as nine rogues destroying the countryside. There would never be enough blood for that many – what stupidity to band together like that. They were probably half crazed with hunger.
The humans swore they would see to their arms, make sure that there were plenty of darts and sharpened poles. It was good that the wood had already seasoned and the tips just wanted heat treating. Even simple Quintilius was handy with a sickle but was too easily provoked. Normally he was very good but he had to be carefully managed.
Close to dawn they advised each other to “Stay sharp!” and parted, the Aeturni to their beds and the dragar for a quick look-see at the other river bank.
Nights passed, Thalia and Tod trailed the scent of death, which lay heavily in the night, keeping track of the rogues. Rumor had it that bandits were slaughtering the country folk and making off with what they could. There were holes in that theory but it was the best anyone could come up with.
Periodically the red cloaked soldiers marched through, but since they mostly patrolled during the daylight hours it was not surprising that they couldn’t find more than burnt barns and hungry livestock.
Tod preferred to keep company with Thalia, she kept his darkness at bay. He didn’t like being alone with the madness of the rogue dragar. They passed the time speaking of their homes, neither had revisited their birthplace. Tod vowed to spend time amongst the true mountains soon. That glimpse from the top of this plateau had made him ache for his home alp.
Thalia had never gone back, she feared seeing how far great Συράκουσαι (Syracuse) had slipped from its glory. She had been dragged away from her homeland before it bloomed; before Archimedes the great engineer, Sappho the poet or Aeschylus the playwright lived there. But she’d heard the stories and was proud. Surviving to hear of her country’s glory was the only thing that made her happy about being a night walker. The rest sucked. Absolutely.
Tod was good company though, he could keep his mouth shut and was willing to fuck if she was in the mood.
Traveling wasn’t bad if someone had your back.
Still, this pussyfooting around in back alleys trolling for a meal did nothing for their spirits. A good battle would lift their sour mood.
Every evening, soon after they rose, they visited the place of the Aeturni to spar and go over strategies. Both Tod and Thalia were proficient archers and trained the young mothers and older children with weapons they could wield from shelter. Bird, already well versed with the bow, guided the youngling’s practice for hours each day.
Brandr was well known to be deadly with the quarterstaff and was happy to engage Tod or Thalia of an evening, they all learned something; Honey and Verna refreshed their skills against each other then turned to Brandr for a two on one. No fairzies? – too bad, this battle would be life and death.
Imaginary battle lines were drawn, plans and positions were revised. If the rogues were seen to be heading towards their home they were determined to have enough warning and get into position.
It was decided that for the duration Cunorix and the dogs would keep the cattle up in the pastures. There was no reason for the mad ones to bother the cows and goats except through sheer meanness – and if the barns were burnt, well at least they would still have the livestock.
So they waited, and every evening there would be the smell of smoke and dead things – not just hearth fires, but hair, cloth and leather burning too.
Three nights, then four. There were families on the roads, fleeing the ‘bandits’, thinking to take refuge in a city until the threat had moved on. No real information though; and no idea where they went to ground.
Every place on the other side of the river that Thalia had made her own had the rogue’s stink on it, had been overturned and fouled. She didn’t dare rest anywhere over there.
Old Nemeta thought that perhaps they had enthralled blood slaves, which is what made them so dangerous. Such minions, neither dead nor alive, were able to be up and about during the day but preferred to skulk in the shadows. Snarling pye-dogs11, guarding their masters.
Thalia looked straight at one of the oldest human beings she had ever seen. “How is that different from what you do?”
Nemeta looked right back at her, unafraid, the mind behind those hooded eyes understood more than it now saw, her seamed face kept her emotions hidden within the wrinkles.
“It’s magic, like all magic it is bound by intent. We are bound by the intent to protect and prosper,” she turned stiffly to look out over the river, “Greed, perhaps, power surely.”
Tod liked the sparring, it felt good to learn something new – neither he nor Thalia had ever had much chance to do work with a quarterstaff. Maybe it was because they hailed from bare mountainous slopes with many vantage points and clear lines of sight. In the more wooded lower areas it was a snap to make or replace a quarter staff – one did need a longish bit of good oak that could be sawn lengthwise. One night Thalia told him of the staffs carried in the Pirenèus, that impassible range to the south west. They were mysteriously carved and made of medlar12. Although a herder’s crook could be used to much the same effect…. his home alp with the occasional twisted stone pine, was more suited to bowmanship. Thalia was pretty handy with a spear too. Deadly actually.
So he crouched to one side of the fire lit practice area, forearms balanced on his knees watching Brandr surprise Thalia again and again. They’d both stripped down to the basic subligacula, Thalia also left her strophium in place, she’d said tits were such a bother in a fight.
Brandr hadn’t come up against an actual dragur before – he’d been born thirteen years after their Semni had met her final death – so he sparred against a legend. Even so, her preternatural speed didn’t prevent her from running afoul of his staff.
The firelight created silhouettes of them both, Thalia’s pallor and singing braids made them look even more like a highlighted Corinthian black figured piece. That asshole legate had been so enamored of anything Greek that he would pose with his cherished vase whenever he entertained foreign delegates. He thought it made him look cultured. Bleeecccch. Tod didn’t like thinking of that time so he looked beyond the sparring partners to the children play fighting on the other side of the fire.
Better, the sight provoked good memories, he and Artos boasting of the damage they would do to the Romans, threatening to strike them thus, pow!; smack their swords aside, thwap! Send their arrows true to the target, bzzzpt!
Verna watched keenly as Buck and Ivor feinted and dodged with the best of them, occasionally advising the combatants to correct their stance. Addy and Andy waited their turn just outside the bit of sand used as the children’s arena.
It was a bit of a challenge to watch the children through the rapidly dancing limbs of Thalia and Brandr. Brandr stumbled more and more frequently, while Thalia stayed energized and was bouncing on the balls of her feet.
Tod was surprised when Verna strode over to take the smith’s place, he thought perhaps she was a bit too stiff to take a dragur on. “I may be slow, but I still need to practice. Would you indulge me Ancient One?”
Thalia cocked her head then nodded; they began with warm up exercises and basic strikes. Verna’s form was still perfect, but she was creaky.
The anticipation made the wait seem longer. Tension kept their sleep light and the elders feared they’d grow stale. But like every event, in retrospect it seemed to rush upon them.
Moments stood out.
When Tod dropped down through the smoke hole to alert them before resuming his post . They seized their weapons before they were truly awake and their expectation thrummed to a crescendo, everyone’s heart beat faster until the peak of battle lust seized them and darkened their eyes.
The first scream jolted those in the long house. That sound was to echo in their ears long after the skirmish had done.
Of course Thalia drew first blood. And second.
The Aeturni had braced themselves for when the ragged minions crashed into their home. The invaders only froze briefly at the array of bristling spear points and sharpened knives.
Cunorix, who had come down from the high pasture, and all set to loose the dogs, peered around the yard, there was nothing to see but a blood spattered furore. Neither Thalia nor Tod could be distinguished in the melee. The dogs were frantic, their powerful barks joining the clangor. The Hound Master hauled on their collars until they faced the inside of the house and the backs of the minions. Sic ’em!
Then Nemeta, who had decided to reassure herself of the back door, came up against two of the minions. They foolishly dismissed the stooped ancient and found themselves skewered together by the warrior’s spirit hiding amidst the arthritic joints. “Hai!” were her last words, it was as she would have wanted it.
It was all over but the shouting.
1Probably Mt. Etna in Sicily.
2In Greek mythology, Metis (Μῆτις, “wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”) was of the Titan generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus. Wikipedia
3In 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. 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.
4Lineage was a big deal in the Bible – see the begats- in Roman society, in the generations of the Pharaohs, every where you looked. To know someone’s lineage was to place them in context. See http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ONNames.shtml for further information.
5Tablet Weaving (often card weaving in the United States) is a weaving technique where tablets or cards are used to create the shed through which the weft is passed. The technique is limited to narrow work such as belts, straps, or garment trim.The origins of this technique go back at least to the early Iron age. Examples have been found at Hochdorf, Germany, and Apremont, France. Tablet-woven bands are commonly found in Iron age graves and are presumed to be standard trim for garments among various peoples, including the Vikings.
7A libation is a ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to a god or spirit or in memory of those who have died. It was common in many religions of antiquity and continues to be offered in various cultures today.
8Taken and adapted from Robert Burns’ “John Barleycorn”. Of course not the same lines that were used in Tod’s time, but
with the same intent.
9AMALTHEIA was the she-goat (or, according to some, Nymph) nurse of the god Zeus who nourished him with her milk in a cave onMount Ida in Krete. When the god reached maturity he created his thunder-shield (aigis) from her hide and the horn of plenty (keras amaltheias or cornucopia) from her crown. Amaltheia was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Capra–the group of stars surrounding Capella on the arm (ôlenê) of the Auriga the Charioteer. The goat on the arm no doubt represented the stormy aigis-shield of Zeus which in classical art was sometimes depicted slung across his arm. The rising of Capella marked the onset of stormy weather for the Greeks. Indeed, the word aigis denoted both “stormy weather” and “goat-skin,” hence their close connection in myth.
11an owner-less half-wild dog of uncertain breeding. Perhaps derived from the word Pariah.
iWilliam Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.
HOSPI′TIUM (ξενία, προξενία). The hospitality of the Romans was, p621as in Greece, either hospitium privatum, or publicum. Private hospitality with the Romans, however, seems to have been more accurately and legally defined than in Greece. The character of a hospes, i.e., a person connected with a Roman by ties of hospitality, was deemed even more sacred, and to have greater claims upon the host, than that of a person connected by blood or affinity. The relation of a hospes to his Roman friend was next in importance to that of a cliens (Gellius, V.13). According to Massurius Sabinus (ap. Gellium, l.c.), a hospes had even higher claims than a cliens. The obligations which the connection of hospitality with a foreigner imposed upon a Roman were to receive in his house his hospes when travelling (Liv. XLII.1), and to protect, and, in case of need, to represent him as his patron in the courts of justice (Cic. in Q. Caecil. Divin. c20). Private hospitality thus gave to the hospes the claims upon his host which the client had on his patron, but without any degree of the dependence implied in the clientela. Private hospitality was established between individuals by mutual presents, or by the mediation of a third person (Serv. ad Aen. IX.360), and hallowed by religion; for Jupiter hospitalis was thought to watch over the jus hospitii, as Zeus xenios did with the Greeks (Cic. c. Verr. IV.22, ad Quint. frat. II.12, pro Deiotar. 6), and the violation of it was as great a crime and impiety at Rome as in Greece. When hospitality was formed, the two friends used to divide between themselves a tessera hospitalis (Plaut. Poen. V.2.87, &c.), by which, afterwards, they themselves or their descendants — the connection was hereditary as in Greece — might recognise one another. From an expression in Plautus (deum hospitalem ac tesseram mecum fero, Poen. V.1.25) it has been concluded that this tessera bore the image of Jupiter hospitalis. Hospitality, when thus once established, could not be dissolved except by a formal declaration (renuntiatio, Liv. XXV.18; Cic. in Verr. II.36), and in this case the tessera hospitalis was broken to pieces (Plaut. Cistell. II.1.27). Hospitality was at Rome never exercised in that indiscriminate manner as in the heroic age of Greece, but the custom of observing the laws of hospitality was probably common to all the nations of Italy (Aelian V.H. IV.1; Liv. I.1). In many cases it was exercised without any formal agreement between the parties, and it was deemed an honourable duty to receive distinguished guests into the house (Cic. de Off. II.18, pro Rosc. Am. 6).