The crowds gathered outside the Coliseum in anticipation of the games. This was to be one of the largest Gladiatorial contests of the year and most Romans wouldn’t miss it. There were banners and signs poking from the masses, supporting or decrying their particular cause. The crowds were chanting for their hero and each side was trying to drown the other out. The wine started to flow and sometimes the words got a little heated and there was some minor shoving between the factions of fans, but all in all it started orderly. The Roman Guards were able to maintain control with only a few deaths.
The heroes of each side arrived in splendor and all the pomp the Romans could deliver. Each hero had been carefully selected to fight for their cause in front of the Emperor and the members of the Senate. On the one side was the hero, Atonio Gaius, there to ensure the Roman government stayed out of the lives of regular Romans and let them continue to choose their own paths. The other side was the hero, Marcus Plius, of those who wanted to define what would be recognized as a legitimate lifestyle by the Roman government.
The stage for a long and bloody contest was set. The crowds filed into the Coliseum and tried to take their seats but the excitement and the anticipation was simply too much for most. The Emperor entered and was both cheered and booed. The Senators took their seats amid a similar reception. The tone of the people was hot and their blood lust was at a
point. The people were on edge and they were eager to
see which champion would reign supreme.
The Emperor stepped from his private box to address the people.
“Citizens of the Republic! Today we embark on a new chapter in the evolution of
He returned to his throne and the people looked at each other quizzically. They applauded his speech gently. The Emperor signaled the emcee to begin. The emcee bowed and turned toward the crowds and beckoned for their silence. The crowd slowly died to a murmur.
“To honor you, the people, the Emperor has decreed this day of games to determine once and for all what kind of Republic we shall be. Your champions are ready!”
The crowd erupted into cheers as the gates to the arena opened below and two magnificent men entered riding the finest chariots of the day. They waved and motioned to the crowds and the horses pulled them in large circles. They were dressed in similar fashion and there was little way to tell the two hulking men apart. The only difference was what they represented to their fans. They dismounted their chariots and approached the center of the arena on foot. The crowds shouted for them with full throated vigor as they walked.
“Those who are about to die, salute you,” they both shouted up toward the Emperor’s box and to the people in the stands. The crowd went wild and all the building up was finally at a head. The two gladiators turned from the Emperor and faced each other. They drew their short swords and adjusted their shields. They slowly began circling each other. The sun beat down on their hardened bodies and the dust from the arena floor was getting stirred up with their movement.
“It is the people’s right to choose the life that makes them happy and not be subject to the government’s definitions of happiness,” said Atonio Gaius as he lunged forward with his sword.
Marcus Plious blocked this first jab with his shield and replied, “The people need the government to tell them what is moral and just, otherwise there would be anarchy”.
Atonio lunged backwards and swung his sword to evade the fast and sharp blade of Marcus. The crowed roared and cheered the action.
“A government of the people and for the people shall not be defined by their government, but the will of the people,” said Atonio as he countered Marcus’ lunge and deftly spun around him.
“The people want a legitimate lifestyle defined by the court and I am to bring them that,” said Marcus.
“Not enough of the people want that, and that is why I am their champion,” said Atonio as he swung for Marcus’ head.
“You’re a fool,” said Marcus as he ducked, “the people are not ready to handle this issue themselves, that is why I must fight”.
Their swords met and clashed and their shields slammed together for hours in the blistering heat of the day. They would not give up however and they continued to spar and thrust at each other.
“It is about equality,” shouted Atonio as he swung his sword.
“It is about the safety of the children,” countered Marcus.
“The children are fine. It is your fear that holds you back,” said Atonio.
“It is your perversions that make you pariahs,” yelled Marcus.
“My cause is about equality for all,” said Atonio.
“Your cause goes too far,” said Marcus as he pushed Atonio backwards toward the Coliseum walls.
The great crowds continued to cheer, yet the Emperor yawned and the Senators started filing out of the stadium.
“My cause is just,” said Atonio as he rose from the dirt and swung again at Marcus’ head. He ducked again and countered, striking Atonio’s shield.
The Emperor rose from his throne, almost unnoticed by the masses as they continued to cheer their champions on. His aides and confidants followed him closely out through the concourse and his waiting chariot. The head of his guards and long time friend, Michael Desimus, walked along side the Emperor.
“My lord, does the game displease you,” asked Michael.
“No. But I have a feeling it will go on for a very long time and no matter the end no single group will be happy with the result,” said the Emperor.
“Then why do it my lord? Why have the games at all,” asked Michael.
“To show the people that their concerns are my concerns,” said the Emperor.
The Emperor placed a hand on Michael’s shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze. He nodded and moved toward his chariot and rode off toward the palace.