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The Further Adventures of Captain Sputo Hall.
One of the Captain’s first lives affected western civilisation deeply. Born a twin, he learned a pattern of self sacrifice which was to plague him for many incarnations. He and his brother were prophesied to rule a great city. The boys’ uncle had them given to servants at birth to be exposed. Their mother, a temple virgin claimed to have been impregnated by Mars in the form of a sacred flame. So, a good start to his first visit to planet Earth.
The boys were placed in a basket and set adrift upon the local waterway. During a time of flood, the basket was drawn away, found by a shepherd and rescued. The shepherd had been forced to drive off a she wolf to save the boys. What was the shepherd doing wandering a flooded river during rain? He was mourning. His wife had just, half an hour earlier, delivered a stillborn son. The gods had taken and the gods had given, twice over.
Being raised by a shepherd has its advantages. The boys learned to lead the flock rather than drive it. How to pick the best from a seemingly amorphous lump of similar individuals and for the Captain, when to sacrifice what was necessary for the good of the whole flock. An idyllic childhood in many ways, the boys learned the flow of the seasons, the time for mating, the time for weaning and the time for culling. Now these ancient sheep were not as productive as modern sheep but they produced enough from what was available to sustain their foster parents and the twins.
Their foster mother was in awe of them. They were a double gift from the gods who chosen to first bring her pain. Of the two she favoured Sputo, even though she never knew him as such. He was the brighter of the two, the stronger and the deeper. His brother though was cunning and good with people. These characters combined in one individual would have been formidable. In two brothers it led to the inevitable conflicts.
At the age of eighteen their foster mother died. Their foster father decided it was time to tell the boys of their origin. He had been making discreet enquiries during their lives as to where they may have originated. Stories from travellers, at markets and two days before he was widowered, in a dream, convinced the shepherd of their noble, semi-divine natures.
The shepherd spoke with his sons. Not only were they the abandoned sons of a temple virgin, their maternal grandfather had been the rightful line of kingship in the up river city of their birth. An uncle had usurped the throne and the rightful heir was living in relative poverty under the power of this usurper. Their mother still served as a temple virgin.
Availed of this information the twins decided to travel up river to right the wrongs of the past. Sputo was concerned for the shepherd, now alone with his flock. The shepherd though had withheld some of his dream from the boys and sent them on their way. Tears trickled from the old man’s eyes as the boys strode forth to rebalance the wrongs of the world with righteousness as only the young can think they are doing.
Entering the city, the boys paid homage to Mars at the temple where their mother laid eyes upon them for the first time in eighteen years. Warned by her inner knowing not to proclaim them as sons yet, she blessed them, received their sacrifice of a young ram lamb and sent them onwards to the palace. In a scene to be repeated throughout human history, blood was spilled. The rightful king installed, their mother revealed herself for whom she was.
Having completed what they set out to do, the boys were now at a loss as to what to do. Having been made joint heirs to the childless king now sitting on the throne, they did not want to fill in their days with admin now they had tasted a little adventure. Together they decided to found their own city downstream.
* * *
The founding of a city may seem a major undertaking these days but it was a relatively simple task in the times the boys lived. The wandered forth, found a vacant area and chose a spot containing seven hills with a river flowing through. Around these seven hills they dug a boundary ditch, sacrificed to the gods and their city was founded. Yes, yes, the mundane business of finding citizens, erecting buildings and so forth were yet to be completed but these things were simply processes.
The twins worked diligently digging their boundary ditch. The question of what to call their city arose. The Captain’s brother suggested they ask for a sign. Who ever received the most auspicious sign would have the city name after them. Given the boys were demigods, this seemed a good idea. As the days went by they looked for signs. One morning the Captain spotted six geese flying towards him. This he declared as the sign from the gods. His brother also spotted the geese and their reflection in the river. By this means he claimed to be twice blessed as compared to the Captain.
Despite what has come to us from history, the Captain agreed and the city was then called Rome after the Captain’s brother Romulus. Once the boundary was established and the city named, it became obvious the Captain or as history knows him in this incarnation, Remus could see only trouble brewing. Having two brothers,one city and one city name, Remus could foresee civil wars between their descendants. It was about this time I wandered into town having heard about this new city and the possibilities this offered.
The boundary being marked out was not sufficient for a new city. It needed walls. I set to work building these with Remus who told me of his worries of future civil strife. The Captain came his first decision to sacrifice himself for the greater good. I was in on the scheme because I am his rememberer. The idea was to give Romulus a chance to set a powerful precedent for the future of the city. Whilst the Captain and I were busy building walls, Romulus was working on gaining citizens. A few of us had already moved in but many more were needed. Despite the enormous tasks ahead of Romulus he would visit the walls each day to see how we were going.
A city’s wall is a sacred thing. To breach it or treat with disrespect by say, jumping over it, would be an act of blasphemy. Playing on this the Captain’s plan was awe inspiring in it’s audacity.
One afternoon Romulus arrived to inspect the wall building. When he was fifty paces off, Remus, the Captain, ran off a little way and charged the walls,leaping into the air as he approached the section I was working on. As he leaped into the air to cross the sacred walls, I swung my spade to stop him. Stop him I did. He was dead before he hit the ground. Romulus ran up, tears flowing for he knew what his brother had done. He stood there, holding my eye, standing over his deceased brother and spoke the following words: “Such is the fate of all who test the walls of Rome!”.
The rest is, quite literally, history.
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