Roman Empire: Citizens Concerned About Violence, Looting, Barbarians
|Thomas Cole, Destruction, the fourth painting in the Course of Empire series.|
Fires spread throughout the city, key aqueducts failed, and looting and violence were on the rise Tuesday night, as citizens debated whether the Roman Empire was finally coming to an end.
"Nonsense!" said Gardus, a local patrician, when asked whether the empire was, in fact, failing. "There's nothing wrong with this empire that a little spirit and discipline won't fix. I'm disgusted to hear people apologizing for the Empire's raping and pillaging. And those slaves, sitting around on their a***s all day -- what do they think, figs grow on trees?"
Gardus, who lives on pleasant hill overlooking the city, told the New York Times that personally, he had barely been affected by the recent turmoil, and that life in the family was much as it has been for centuries. His sons, Romulus and Julius, will oversee the servants as they get older, and for now are studying music, history, and Greek literature with a highly-regarded personal tutor. His wife Cornelia enjoys chariot racing and is active in philanthropy, particularly giving away her clothing to servants after it has been worn.
When pressed about worsening infrastructure problems, illness, and the possible uprising of the Barbarian mercenaries, Emperor Romulus Augustus said there was no cause for alarm or fear. "Rumors that Gaul has been ravaged are entirely false. Our military is strong and true. The plague affects only those individuals with evil and weakness in their hearts. We will be better and stronger when the sick are dead."
With the death count from the plague growing, and hundreds of thousands without water and food, some citizens have called for the upcoming gladiator contests to be canceled or postponed. Nevertheless, Emperor Augustus repeated that the gladiator contests would go on. "The city is a city where we have to go on," Augustus said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
The crowd cheered. "Fight the Vandals! Fight the Visigoths! Rome will never forget!" they shouted.
Barbarians could not be reached for comment.