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In fact, Petronius kept his promise.

The next day, after a visit with Chrysothemis, although he slept all day, but the evening had himself carried to the Palatine and had a private conversation with Nero, the effect on the third day before the house of Plautius appeared centurion at the head of several pretorian soldiers.

The times were uncertain and scary. Messengers of this kind were more frequently heralds of death. So from the moment when the centurion struck the hammer at Aulus’s door, and when the guard of the atrium announced that in the hallway there are soldiers, terror reigned throughout the house. The family soon surrounded the old general, no one doubted that danger, above all hung over him. Pomponia, embracing arms around his neck, clung to him with all your strength, and her blue lips moved quickly while uttering some whispered words; Ligia, her face pale as linen, kissed his hand; little Aulus clung to gowns – from the corridors, the rooms lying on the floor and intended for handmaids of servants, from the arches of the lower housing, the whole house began to pour swarms of male and female slaves. Were heard cries of „Heu, heu, me miserum!” – Women broke into great weeping; some scratched their cheeks, or cover his head scarves.

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Alone old chief, accustomed for years to look death straight in the eye, remained calm and only his short eagle face became as if carved from stone. After a moment, silenced the screams and commanded the attendants to the service, he said:

– Let me go, Pomponio. If my end has come, we will have time to say goodbye.

I removed it from the light – and she said:

– Bogdajby your fate and mine, for Aulus! Then he fell to his knees, he began to pray with that force which fear for some dear one alone can give.

Aulus passed into the atrium, where the centurion was waiting for him. It was an old Caius Hasta, his former subordinate and companion of British wars.

– Hello, chief – he said. – I bring a command, and the greeting of Caesar – and here are the plates and a sign that come in his name.

I am thankful to Caesar for the greeting and order performance – said Aulus.

 

– Hello, Hästö, and say, with which you come to order.

– Aulus Plautius – began Hasta – Caesar learned that in thy house is dwelling the daughter of King Lygian, which that king during the life of the divine Claudius gave into the hands of the Romans as a pledge that the boundaries of the empire will never be affected by Lygians. The divine Nero is grateful to thee, O chief, for, thou it for so many years gave hospitality at home, but did not want any longer to burden your house, and considering also that the maiden as a hostage should be under the guardianship of Caesar and the Senate – orders you spend it in my hands.

Aulus was too much a soldier and too hardening husband to order to afford the grief, vain words, or complaint. However, the wrinkle of sudden anger and pain, appeared on his forehead. Before that frown legions Brythonic trembled once – and even now still face Hasty rebounded terror. But the view of the order, Aulus Plautius felt defenseless. For some time they looked at the plate, a sign, then lifted up his eyes to the old centurion, he said calmly:

– Wait Hiasto, in the atrium till the hostage will be released to you.

And after these words he passed to the other end of the house to the hall called oecus where Pomponia, Lygia, and little Aulus were waiting for him in anxiety and fear.

– No one is threatened with death or banishment to distant islands – he said – and yet Mr Caesar is a harbinger of misfortune. About your concern, Lygia.

– About Lygia? – She exclaimed in amazement Pomponia. – Yes – answered Aulus.

And turning to the girl began to speak:

– Lygia, you were reared in our house as our own child and she and Pomponia love you like a daughter. But you know that you are not our daughter. You are a hostage, given by thy people to Rome, and guardianship over thee belongs to Caesar. Now Caesar takes you from our home.

The chief spoke calmly, but a strange, unusual voice. Lygia listened to his words, blinking, as if not understanding what’s going on; Pomponia’s cheeks became pallid; at the door leading from the hallway to the oecus, they began to appear again, terrified faces of slaves.

– The will of Caesar must be fulfilled – said Aulus. – Aulus! – Exclaimed Pomponia, embracing the maiden with her arms, as if to defend it – it would be better for her to die.

Lygia, nestling up to her breast, she told her, „Mother! Mother!”, Unable to bring himself sobbing other words.

On the face Aulus again bounced off the anger and pain.

– If I were alone in the world – he said grimly – I would not give her alive – and my relatives might give offerings Jovi Liberatori … But I have no right to lose you and our child who may live to happier times … I’ll go even today to Caesar, and I begged him to change his command. Do you hear me – I do not know. Meanwhile, farewell, Lygia, and know this, that I and Pomponia ever bless the day in which zasiadłaś at our fire.

So he is saying he put his hand on her head, and though he tried to keep calm, but at the moment when Lygia turned to him eyes flooded with tears, and seizing his hand it to her lips press in his voice quivered deep fatherly sorrow.

– Farewell, our joy and light of our eyes! -rzekł.

I quickly went back to the atrium, not to let himself be unworthy of a Roman commander and emotion.

Meanwhile Pomponia, when she had conducted Lygia to the cubiculum began to soothe her, comfort her, add her encouragement and speak words – sounding strangely in that house, where near them in an adjoining common room, it was still lararium and fireplace, on which Aulus Plautius, faithful to ancient custom, devoted offerings to the gods home. Here’s trial time has come. Time Virginius had pierced the bosom of his own daughter, to liberate it from the hands of Appius; formerly yet Licorice voluntarily paid for the life of disgrace. The house of Caesar is a den of infamy, of evil, of crime. „But we, Lygia, know why we have no right to raise hands on ourselves! …” Yes! The law under which both live is another, higher, holier, however, allows to defend ourselves from evil and shame even the defense of life and the torment came to pay with. Who comes out clean the dwelling of corruption has the greater merit. The earth is that dwelling, but fortunately life is one twinkle of an eye, and resurrection is only from the tomb, for which there bears rule of Nero, but Mercy – and instead of pain is joy, and instead of tears – the wedding.

Then she began to talk about himself. Yes! Quiet it is, but in her breast there is no lack of painful wounds. Here in front of her Aulus was a cataract, not yet descended on him spa light. She must also educate her son in Truth. So when you think that this may be the end of life and that to come might moment of separation from them, a hundred times greater and more terrible than that temporary one over which both now pain – can not even comprehend what way he can be without them, even in heaven happy. And many nights through already, many spent in prayer, begging for mercy and grace. But she offered her suffering to God – and waiting – and trusts. And now, when a new blow struck her, when the tyrant’s command takes her through the head – the one that called Aulus light eyes, yet trusts, believing that it is the power of the Neronową greater – and mercy than his anger.

And even more pressed to his chest head girl is slumped and after a while her knees and covering his eyes in the folds of her peplum, remaining so for a long time in silence, but when she stood up, her face was evident a little peace.

– I feel sorry for you, mother, and father, and a brother, but I know that resistance is not could use to nothing, and lost all of you. But I promise you that your words will never forget the house of Caesar.

Once again, she threw her arms around his neck, and then, when the two came to oecus, began to say goodbye with a small Plautius – from Greek old man, who was their teacher, of the tire-woman, who had once been her nurse, and with all the slaves.

One of them, tall and broad-shouldered Lygian, whose home was called Ursus, and that in his time with his mother League and with it came another of their service to the camp of the Romans, fell now at her feet, then bent down to the knees of Pomponia, saying, :

– About domino! Let me go with my lady, to serve her and watch over her in the house of Caesar.

– Not ours, but you are a servant of the League – said Pomponia – but dost thou commit you to the door of Caesar? And how you can watch over her?

– I do not know, knock, Jeno know that iron breaks in my hands like a tree …

Aulus Plautius, who arrived at this moment, having learned what was going on, not only did not oppose the wishes of Ursus, but he declared that they do not even have the right to detain him. They refer Lygia as a hostage by which stands up Caesar – and therefore are obliged to send her retinue, which passed with her to the care of Caesar. Here he whispered to Pomponia that under the form of an escort she could add as many slaves as it deems appropriate – since the centurion could not refuse to accept them.

The League was at that certain comfort. Pomponia also was glad that she could surround her service of their choice. In fact, besides Ursus, she appointed to her the old tire-woman, two from Cyprus adept at brushing and bathing the two wenches Germanic. Her choice fell exclusively on adherents of the new science, when the Ursus confess it has been a few years, Pomponia could count on the loyalty of this service, and at the same time enjoy the thought that soon grains of truth are planted in the house of Caesar.

She also wrote a few words recommending care Lygia wyzwolenicy Neronowej, Acte. Pomponia had not seen her, although at meetings of confessors of the new science, but she had heard from them that Acte had never refused them service and that is avidly letters of Paul of Tarsus. It was known, moreover, that young wyzwolenica lives in constant sorrow, that is the essence different from all domowniczek Nero and that in general there is a good spirit of the palace.

Hasta undertook to deliver the letter himself Acte. Considering it natural that the daughter of the king must have a retinue of his servants, he did not make the slightest difficulty in taking them to the palace, marveling at the rather small number of them. He asked haste, however, fear not to be accused of lack of zeal in carrying out orders. The hour of parting came. The eyes of Pomponia and Lygia were filled with fresh tears; Aulus placed his hand on her head and after a while the soldiers, the cry of little Aulus, who in defense of his sister threatened the centurion small fists – conducted Lygia to Caesar’s house.

But the old chief had to cook for myself litter, meanwhile, shutting himself up with Pomponia in adjacent to oecus pinacotheca, said to her:

– Listen to me, Pomponio. I go to Caesar, though I think in vain, and though the word of Seneca’s nothing left for him does not mean I will, and in Seneca. Today, more mean: Sofroniusz, Tigellinus, Petronius, or Vatinius … As for Caesar, and he may not have heard he never in his life of Lygian and if demanded the delivery of Lygia as a hostage, it was because someone had to podmówił, it’s easy to guess who could have done it.

She raised her eyes to him quickly. – Petronius?

– This is.

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A moment of silence, then the general continued:

– Here’s what it is to admit over the threshold which of these people without honor and conscience. Cursed be the moment in which Vinicius entered our house! He brought us Petronius. Woe League, for not seeking a hostage, but a concubine it.

I provided him with anger, with rage and grief for a foster child became more hissing than usual. For a time he struggled with himself and just clenched fists showed how this internal struggle is hard.

– I worshiped the gods so far – he said – but at the moment I do not have them on the world and that is the only one mad, malicious monster named Nero.

– Aulus! – Said Pomponia. – Nero is only a handful of rotten dust before God.

And he began to walk with long strides after mosaic Pinacoteca. In the life of his former great deeds, but no great misfortunes, so it was not used to them. The old soldier he had become attached to Lygia more than he knew, and now he could not be reconciled with the idea that it had lost. Besides, he felt humiliated. He is weighing on the portfolio, which he despised, and at the same time he felt that before its power his power is nothing.

But when at last potłumił in anger, who mixed his thoughts, he said:

– I think that Petronius did not take away us her to Caesar, would not want to expose the fact of Poppea. So, either for themselves or for Vinicius … Today even find out about it.

And after a while the litter bore him in the direction of the Palatine, Pomponia, when left alone, went to a small auditorium, which does not cease crying for his sister and the threats against Caesar.

Aulus rightly guessed, however, that will not be admitted to the presence of Nero. They told him. that Caesar is busy singing with lutenist and that Terpnos

He does not accept those whom he has not called. In other words, it meant that Aulus did not try and see the future with him. While Seneca, though ill with a fever, received the old general with honor that belongs to him, but when I heard what he meant, smiled bitterly and said:

– One of you I can give service, noble Plautius, it is – does not prove never to Caesar, that my heart feels your pain, and I’d like you to help, because if Caesar received the least in this respect, suspicion, know this, that would not give you the League , even if he had to any other reason, but to me do so in anger.

There also advised him to go than to Tigellinus, Vatinius than to than to Vitellius. Perhaps money could accomplish anything with them, you may also wish to make to spite Petronius, whose influence are trying to undermine, but most likely betray before Caesar, as far Ligia is Plautiuses way, and then Caesar, the more that it did not give. Here the old sage began to speak with a biting irony that drew against himself:

– You remain silent, Plautius, remain silent for whole years, and Caesar does not like those who are silent! How you were not hovering over his beauty, virtue, singing, over his declamation, carriage driving and lines. How could you not glorify the death of Britannicus, not to say a speech of praise matkobójcy and submit wishes of suffocation Octavia. Lack of foresight, Aulus, which we who live happily at the court, have the extent appropriate.

So he is saying he took the cup, which he wore at his belt, drew water from a fountain impluvium, freshened burned lips and continued:

– Ah, Nero has a grateful heart. He loves you, because you served Rome, and his name became famous at the End of the World, and he loves me, because I was his master in his youth. Therefore, you see, I know that this water is not poisoned, and I drink it quiet. Wine in my house would be less certain, but if thou art thirsty, you drink boldly of this water. Waterworks lead her all the way from the Alban Mountains and wanting to poison her need to poison all the fountains in Rome. As you can see, you can still be safe in this world and to have a peaceful old age. I am sick indeed, but it is rather a sick soul, not the body.

It was true. Seneca lacked the strength of the soul that had such Kornutus or Trazeasz, so his life was a series of concessions being made a crime. Sam could feel it, I understood that a follower of the principles of Zeno of Citium another should have to go through, and he suffered because of this more than the fear of death itself.

But the chief interrupted him now acerbic musings.

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– Noble Anneuszu – he said – I know how Caesar paid you for the care you otoczyłeś his young years. But the author of kidnappings us a child is Petronius. Show me the way to him, point influence, which is, itself, and, finally, use of the entire speech, which you old friendship for me to be able to inspire.

– Petronius and I – said Seneca – we are the people of the two opposing camps. Ways to him, I do not know anybody’s influence can not be. Perhaps with all his corruption he was still worth more than those scoundrels whom Nero surrounds himself today. But he argued that he had made a bad deed, it is just a time to lose; Petronius long ago lost the sense that the bad from the good sets. Prove to him that his act is ugly, then the cause for shame. When you see him, I tell him: „Your act is worthy of a freedman.” If this does not work, nothing will.

– Thanks and for it – said the chief.

After being ordered to carry to Vinicius, whom he found fechtującego the home lanista. Aulus, at the sight of a young man Handing peacefully exercise, at the time of the attack on Lygia met, kidnapped terrible anger that too, just the curtain fell for Laniste, burst into a torrent of bitter reproaches and insults. But Vinicius learned that Lygia had been kidnapped, so terribly pale that even for a moment even Aulos could not accuse him of complicity in the assassination. Forehead young man was covered with sweat; blood, which at the moment fled to the heart, flowed again hot wave to his face, his eyes began to pour sparks, his mouth throw random questions. Jealousy and rage thrashed him alternately as a whirlwind. It seemed to him that Lygia, once przestąpiwszy threshold of the house of Caesar is lost to him forever, and when the Aulos pronounced the name of Petronius, suspicion, as lightning flashed through the mind of the young soldier, that Petronius mocked him, and that either the gift of the League he wanted to win new Caesar’s favor, or it wanted to keep to himself, That anyone seeing Lygia not wanted her at the same time, did not fit his head.

Passion, inherited his lineage, it hovered now like a wild horse and subtract him unconscious. – Commander – he said in a broken voice – back to each other, and wait for me … Know that if Petronius were my father, I would still avenged on him harm League. You go home and wait for me. Ni Petronius nor Caesar will not have her.

Then he clenched his fists to the waxed masks standing in cupboards in the atrium, and burst – These masks deadly! Sooner kill her and himself. So saying, he jumped up and throwing again Aulus word: „Wait me,” ran like crazy to the atrium, and flew to Petronius scattering along the way passers-by.

Aulos and returned home with a certain confidence. He thought that if Petronius persuaded Caesar to the kidnapping of the League for its devotion to Vinicius, Vinicius to escort her to their home. Finally, no small consolation was to him that Lygia, if not rescued, it will be avenged and unobstructed by the death of shame. He believed that Vinicius makes everything promised. He had seen his rage and fury knew innate whole kin ago. He himself, though he loved Lygia as a natural father, he would have preferred to kill her than give to Caesar, and if not for the sake of his son, the last descendant of the family, would inevitably did. Aulos was a soldier, of the Stoics only heard, but the character was not far from them, and his concepts, his pride death marked the easier and better from shame.

When he returned to the house quieted Pomponia, he poured into it his courage, and they both began to await news from Vinicius. At times, when the atrium were heard steps which the slaves thought that it might Vinicius drain them dear child, and they were ready from the depths of the soul to bless both. But time passed and no news was forthcoming. In the evening, until the hammer was heard at the gate.

After a while a slave entered and handed Aulus a letter.

The old chief, although he liked to show self-control, but it took a little trembling hand and began to read so eagerly, as if it were his whole house.

Suddenly his face zmierzchła as if it fell on the shadow of a passing cloud.

– Read – he said, turning to Pomponia. Pomponia took the letter and read as follows: „Marcus Vinicius greeting Aulowi Plaucjuszowi. What happened, happened by the will of Caesar, before which schylcie head, as I bow our Petronius.”

Then come the long silence.

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