Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)
TITLE: Diocletian Rage, 301 AD
By Maria Kana Santos
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My comrades at the university held animated pleasure for entertainment. My professors raved about the grand spectacle, the Circus.
Flavius impressed Alexandria, arrayed the city with colorful streamers and lanterns. Booths displayed greek feasts, wine, delicacies, dancing and music.
I did not possess such burning desire.
I dared conceal in utmost secresy my weariness in vain philosophy. I heard the heretics rejected this new wave of culture. I secretly appalled epicurean wisdom. Divine Supreme good deemed a contrivance to divide. I’d be damned irrelevant to the paradigm of standard criticism. Lastly, Flavius' rage would throw me to the lions.
“It will be a brave show at the Circus, Ilysius ,” my fellow student , Julius, said.
Flavius decreed that every scholar at the school be present. We turned off into the crowded thoroughfare of the populous Necropolis. A continuous stream of chariots, horses, and expectant passersby flowed in animated anticipation.
“I am impatient to reach the Circus. I want to secure a seat on the front benches. I would see it all.” Julius rubbed his palms and flipped his flowing himation onto his arm. Then slapped my back for want of approval with him.
“I tremble at the ghastly wounds, the bloodshed, the struggles of man and beasts. I hardly know, in this case, which is the nobler animal--man or beast.”
Julius, laughed and derided, “The quadruped, surely. The bipeds will only be the hired ruffians, and a herd of Lybian captives.”
“Our fellow creatures, whose doom will be executed in this approved manner of amusement for the aristocrats of Alexandria.”
Laughter roared among the robed students passing by, dressed displaying culture.
“That’s exemplary of Prefect Flavius. What a treat! And for a crown of pleasure, the good Flavius promised a grand finale.”
I suspected a churning in my stomach.
“I will not stay in the Circus.” I hoped to make good with my resolve.
“And miss out on the great event?”
“What? Caitiff Christian prisoners brought into the arena given up for sport for the tigers?”
Julius added, “They’re troublesome lot. Flavius has vented his animosity toward them.”
“Come Ilysius, visiting dignitaries and friends and their wives and daughters will be there.”
I pretended to have not heard it.
But I spoke after gathering up my thoughts, “The gladiators would not have so much compelling challenge. These weakling Christians wouldn’t even budge for a good fight.”
“What a display of martyrdom.” Julius said, and he burst out cynical laughter.
“Like I said, I will not witness to fellow-creatures being torn to pieces.”
“Oh, come on, Ilysius. Julius colored with impatient disapproval, “they chose to die for their so-called Christ!”
“What! For worshiping a different god from whom I have been taught to serve. The Lybian prisoners must reap the chances of war. They took up arms against the imperial government. But these Christians ... they’re not criminals.”
“For the gods’ sakes, Ilysius, “ Julius sneered back, “have you lost your mind to talk as such?”
A mile below the city, marble steps bore the excited spectators at the amphitheatre.
I couldn’t shrink now.
My eye caught an Egyptian noble of priestly attire. Behind him were his wife and daughter--whom I found her name to be Claudia. It appeared that she was there against her will.
I slackened with my speed.
“I will not remain in the Circus to watch the Christians martyred.”
“Martyred!” Julius scorned. “ May the gods forgive you for being led to believe these Nazarenes. They are fanatics and superstitious heretics. I fear for you, Ilysius.”
The sports commenced with the combats of the gladiators with wild beasts—which had been kept unfed, and thus more ferocious. The Lybian captives desperately fought facing the deadly blows of their armed assilants. The applause from the multitude was deafening.
The Prefect stood and raised his hand demanding silence. I feared what was coming.
The herald announced, “And now for the crowning act: The heretics!”
The announcement was received with a burst of applause.
Julius whispered, “You look like that Egyptian girl trembling like a child. See, fanatic fools , a boy too, are sent out. ”
I saw Claudia’s face beseech her father.
Flavius signaled the iron-gates to be opened.
A breathless pause.
And then a shrill scream resounded throughout the stadium.
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