Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story

Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story

Greed, of the Roman Kind, is the next 100 words story following the timeline of Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans and of Echoes of a Battle, the Getae before it. You will find a short explanatory paragraph at the end.

Greed, of the Roman Kind

From his balcony of marble whiter than Venus’ bosom the King found solace in the Seven Hills of his beloved urbs.  Here, in the heart of his Empire all dreams, glory or greed, came alive. By Jupiter!

Yet tonight the same nightmare returned to shake this King awake.

He was an eagle with wings spanning across Mare Nostrum. His heart, fearless. His beak, fatal. He took down the Phoenix in one dive.

Then a temple, ahead, sheltering small birds. He, still ravenous, fell upon them. Again and again. Till the last brown bird killed her chicks leaving the King lonesome.

Copyright © 2021 Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Greed, of the Roman Kind, 100 words story - Scene from Trajan's Column in Rome, The Burning of a Dacian Town
A scene from Trajan’s Column in Rome, scene XXV, The Burning of a Dacian Town

Greed, of the Roman Kind – a few comments

Seven hills – a geographical location found in the heart of Rome

Urbs (Latin) – city.

Jupiter was the Roman king of Gods, is even depicted on Trajan’s Column as supporting the Roman cause in their wars against the Dacians.

The eagle (Aquila in Latin) was a symbol for the Roman army, and a symbol for Rome as the ideal ruler in the global sphere.

Mare Nostrum (Latin) – the Mediterranean Sea, literally translated to ‘Our Sea.’

At the Battle of Carthage (146 BCE), the last to fall was the Temple of Eshmun, where the wife of a Carthagian commander sacrificed her sons right in front of the Romans, then killed herself. The Romans attacked out of revenge and greed, killed all Carthagians, then wiped the city off the face of the earth.

Plutarch wrote in Pompey, on the fall of the Roman Republic: “Greed and personal rivalry… had brought the empire to such a pass… here the whole manhood and might of single state was involved in self-destruction – a clear enough lesson of how blind and how mad a thing human nature is when under the sway of passion.”

For the greed (greed for power and land) of Roman Emperors prompted and accelerated the collapse of moral integrity and tradition, by propelling a corrupt political system that undermined trust. Glory and power belonged to the riches, skills and expertise were no longer appreciated and honored. On the other hand, poverty and virtue were considered a stigma, and soon even the masses became to welcome and fill themselves with greed, thus bringing the foundation of the Empire to collapse.

Thank you for reading. As always, you can find my books on Amazon.

Travel to Râșnov Fortress, Romania

travel to Rasnov fortress Romania for Thursday Doors

Let’s travel to Râșnov Fortress, the oldest and best preserved fortified stronghold in Transylvania, Romania, located atop a limestone hill south of Râșnov city, a mere 15 kilometers from Brașov. Râșnov fortress is declared a historical monument. We were lucky to visit it in 2012 – not a typo. 🙂

We made our way through a separate enclosure surrounded by a stone wall of its own. Then we walked some more, always upwards, as the access to the fortress itself is not made directly.

Knock knock… (Have you read my short history on door knocking?)

Follow me and let’s use this lion brass door knocker to open a few medieval doors for this week’ Thursday Doors.

Travel to Râșnov Fortress, Romania, Rasnov fortress lion brass door knocker on a medieval door

We arrived at Rasnov fortress just ahead of sunset. We strolled along narrow, cobbled streets between houses built with stone.

Walls (for defense) were a mandatory commodity for every fortification, and for each community. Water sources (cisterns, springs) were a must, always located inside the fortress (in case of a siege). A greater effort of ensuring a steady fresh water supply for Rasnov fortress was made between 1623 – 1643 when the rock was dug to a depth of 140 meters.

Travel to Râșnov Fortress, Romania,  old mill wheel

A beautifully preserved home with limestone walls. Slightly modernized 🙂

a beautiful home inside Rasnov fortress

The fortress was built by the inhabitants of this area. It covers 3,500 square meters.

Rasnov fortress homes climbing up into the fortress

I wonder if the fortress’ healer lived behind this door:

an old door inside Rasnov fortress, Romania

The villagers waiting outside his door would have enjoyed this view:

The oldest structures that still exist date from the 14th century, like the wall below. Initially here was a simple wooden fortification built by the Teutonic Knights during the 13th century. Its walls are up to five meters high and 1.5 meters wide.

Rasnov fortress - a very old wall

My favorite spot inside Rasnov fortress. It could be a ballroom, don’t you think? With a view deserving of a Queen:

Rasnov fortress, Romania, view from the ballroom

Apart from tall, thick walls made of rock, the builders would have made use of the location’s efficiency, in this case the hill itself, for defense.

Hard to choose. Here’s a picture-perfect view of Rasnov city that I am saying good bye with:

Rasnov fortress picture perfect view from the top

As always, you can find my books on Amazon.

thursday doors, 100 words story

Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities – where you can discover more doors from around the world.

Travel to Făgăraș Fortress, Romania

travel Fagaras Fortress Romania thursday Doors

We travel again to Făgăraș Fortress, Romania, sliding down the memory lane for Thursday Doors, after we glimpsed at its Iron Maiden and looked up at some of its wrought iron lanterns.

A (very short) history of Făgăraș Fortress, Romania

Făgăraș Fortress blossomed from a 12th century wooden forth surrounded by a simple moat and dirt retaining wall into a stone and brick fortress finessed between the 14th and 17th centuries, to become the jewel of a castle any visitor can enjoy today. We were lucky to visit during the pre-Covid era. 🙂

It was Ladislaus (III) Kán, a Hungarian oligarch who ruled Transylvania independently until his death, who saw potential in the location of Făgăraș fortress (namely to protect south-east Transylvania against Tatar invasions and later Ottoman ones) and who started revamping the wooden fort.

Ladislaus was quite a character, doing everything in his power to strengthen his authority and increase the size of his voivodeship. Although he was a partisan of King Andrew III of Hungary (1290–1301) Ladislaus seized the opportunity to capture King Otto of Hungary (a rival of wannabe King Charles I) while the King was visiting Transylvania in 1307 and even to get hold of the royal crown of Hungary!

It took Ladislaus until 1310 to acknowledge King Charles I as his sovereign and return the royal crown of Hungary (that was kept during these years in one of his many castles in Transylvania, perhaps even Deva castle, the center of his domain).

One of the Hungarian Crown’s customs and ‘only’ for good behavior was to offer various counties to Wallachia Voivodes who asked for their political protection – such as the lands of Făgăraș and Amlaș (today Amnaș, in beautiful Sibiu county.

Thus Făgăraș Fortress was, over the centuries, home to a few important rulers of Wallachia (Țara Românească): Vladislav Vlaicu, Mircea the Elder (Mircea cel Bătrân) (1386-1394 and 1397-1418) – grandfather to Vlad Țepeș, and Michael the Brave (the first ruler to gather under his reign all three Romanian principalities) who gifted the fortress to his wife, Doamna Stanca. If Michael gifted Făgăraș Fortress to his wife out of love or feeling guilty for his wondering eye, that’s another story.

Is there a secret passage underneath Făgăraș Fortress?

Word of mouth mentions a secret passage running well underneath the moat and connecting the cellars of Făgăraș Fortress to the monastery of the Franciscan Church, some half a kilometer south-east.

The church is a maze in itself and the secret passage allowed the priests to reach the fortress (in safety, especially during foul weather) and celebrate Mass in the Diet Hall (then a chapel), but it was also a secondary, secret way out from the fortress.

Fagaras Castle1520 Orthodox religious book, Easter sermon
Fagaras Fortress, a 1520 Orthodox religious book containing the Easter Mass sermon

On the hazardous life of medieval books

I see water damage on the book above and the margins of its covers look frail. Like all medieval books that reached us it bears the marks of the events it witnessed from the moment of its creations – with a sensible purpose in mind – to the moment of its rediscovery and thoughtful placement on the cultural patrimony list.

Not all medieval books had such a happy faith. Some were forgotten and lost to decay, others were trimmed or stripped of decorative plates or covers. Some medieval books were even symbolically destroyed, burned in bonfires or other random and catastrophic events of a violent nature, like a war or a rebellion, while others were practically reused as wrappers and binding materials.

On medieval Transylvania and the orthodox Romanians of that time

Throughout the Middle Ages and up until Hungarian Kingdom fell under the hand of the Ottomans (Battle of Buda in 1541) the Principality of Transylvania, although it held political autonomy, was under the hand of the Hungarian Crown. So much so that the Hungarians, the Saxons, and the Szeklers living here formed the Unio Trio Nationum in 1437, agreeing to support each other’s political and economic interests, while the majority population, the native Romanians, were seen as a tolerated nation without representatives in the Diet.

The consequences of the Unio Trio Nationum became obvious in the organized religion too, Transylvania being recognized as a multi-religious principality with the Orthodox Church being one of the tolerated faiths.

Thus, the survival of an early 16th century Orthodox volume celebrating the Easter Mass is a celebration in itself.

The priest’s book, Historia Domus, in which each pastor includes the main events witnessed, with entries dating back to 1773 (and still available in the church) does not mention such a secret passage. Yet this does not mean that one did not exist before 18th century or it was simply considered a secret too big for words.

Don’t you think?

Travel to Făgăraș Fortress, Romania for a secret passage

Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities – where you can discover more doors from around the world.

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans, 100 Words Story

falx gladius Daoi Romans

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans was inspired by the Dacian – Roman wars that are a great part of Romania’s ancient history, especially the battle from Tapae when the Dacians, under the ruling of Decebal, defeated the Roman army.

Before reading Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans a few historical terms need explaining.

Who were the Dáoi?

Dáoi, [ˈd̪aːoːihː], (wolves) is the name by which the Dacians (part of the original tribes inhabiting today’s Romania) called themselves. We know from Strabon (historian and geographer, 63 BC – 23 AD). Even the Dacian battle flag, named Draco, looked like a wolf head with several metal tongues and a dragon’s body. It made a terrible, hissing sound whenever the wind blew through it.

Dacian flag, wolf head with dragon body
Dacian flag, Draco, wolf head with dragon body

Have the Romans ever been defeated when at the height of their power?

Yes. During 86- 88 AD, when the Roman Empire was ruled by King Domitian, and their empire’s east border was marked by the Danube River, Dacian King Duras led his troops of Dacians in an attack of Moesia (south of Danube). King Duras ruled Dacia after Burebista and right before Decebalus.

The Dacians attack from 86 AD took the Romans by surprise. As a result Roman King Domitian arrived in Moesia to see to the province’s increased defenses and to plan a further attack against the Dacians, north of Danube…

What is a falx?

The falx was the Dacian’s weapon of choice. It had a curved blade that was sharp on the inside edge. Romans were so impressed by it that they adopted it as a siege hook.

Transylvania during the Roman Dacia until 4th century AD - Roman monument commemorating the Battle of Adamclisi shows Dacian warriors wielding a two-handed falx, weapon later used by Romans as siege hook
Roman monument commemorating the Battle of Adamclisi shows Dacian warriors wielding a two-handed falx, weapon later used by Romans as siege hook

What is a gladius?

A gladius is a sword used by Roman foot soldiers.

Today I have two versions for my 100 words story as my family is torn between them 🙂

Which one do you prefer?

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans (version 1)

The Romans rolled towards Danube like a giant mill stone, carving roads through grasslands, converting free-thinking tribes into proud Roman citizens.

The legionaries’ sure-footing hesitated only once. Not after they traversed Danube to enter the land with thick forests… Nor after they rattled their two-edged gladius against the local’s deadly falx… And nor after the natives surprised them with advanced weaponry and war tactics.

But later, when their opponents showed themselves from underneath their wolf-skin coverings. Immortal beasts, not humans. Unafraid to trade their life for eternity. Unimpeded to kill or be killed. True wolves.  

They were the Dáoi, Dacians.

Copyright © 2021 Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans (version 2)

The Romans rolled towards Danube like a giant mill stone carving roads, converting free-thinking tribes to proud citizens.

The legionaries’ sure-footing never hesitated, nor did their hand when thrusting the gladius to hilt. Their eyes never flinched from slaying enemies. Acta, non verba.

Until they traversed Danube entering an eerie forested land. Here, their double-edged gladius rattled against the local’s single-edged falx. Their reinforced shields half-split as did their helmets. Their progressive self shrank. Bewitched, they argued, by the immortal wolf-spirit inhabiting these lands. Beasts, not humans. Trading their lives for eternity and land (terra) not for victory.

The Dáoi.

Copyright © 2021 Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

~~~

Transylvania during the Roman Dacia and until 4th century AD might also interest you.

Discover more 100 words stories on my blog here.

Thank you for reading. Want more? Discover my books through Amazon.

Echoes of a Battle, the Getae, 100 Words Story

Echoes of a Battle, Getae, Romania

Echoes of a Battle, the Getae, is the next 100 words story following the historical timeline of Romania’s past. Although most of these stories focus on Transylvania, ‘Echoes of a Battle’ looks at the Getae, a Thracian tribe that occupied the left and right bancs of Danube River between 6th – 1st centuries BC.

Next to the Dacians who lived in the mountainous area of Transylvania, towards the valley of Mures river, the Getae are some of the first ancestors of the Romanians.

Their bravery and fairness was legendary.

Echoes of a Battle, the Getae

It was the chickens’ cry that covered the lost echoes of metal ringing against metal, not the widows’ and mothers’ heartache. In the aftermath of battle, the lambs’ bleating sang for the souls rushed to Zalmoxis’ kingdom, not the wake preceding the burial.

‘Prepare the feast!’ Getae King Dromihete ordered. ‘Balance after battle, Zalmoxis’ word.’

The gold plates their Thracian prisoners ate from shone under the bonfires and the gleaming stars above, more tonight. Around, the Getae’s wooden spoons kept a peaceful rhythm against wooden dishes.

Freed by daybreak, the prisoners broadcasted about a tribe worthier, wiser than any others.

© Patricia Furstenberg, 2001, All Rights Reserved.

The seed of this story

Ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the Getae that they were “the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes”.

We also know that around 300BC Getae king Dromichaetes won a great battle against Thracian king Lysimachus (successor of Alexander the Great and ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon). The Getae held Lysimachus captive, yet in the aftermath of his victory Dromichaetes ordered a great feast. During this feast the Getae ate with the same wooden spoons and plates they always used, while the Thracian prisoners and Lysimachus received gold spoons and plates and were afterwards released.

Thus, Dromichaetes wished to prove that a rich kingdom like the one ruled by Lysimachus is in no need of a poor land like the one his people occupied.

Dromichaetes also release Lysimachus knowing that freeing an enemy king would bring them greater political advantage than his punishment.

Transylvania from the Iron Age to Roman Dacia (1 100 BC – 150 AD)

Discover more 100 words stories on my blog here.

Thank you for reading. Want more? Discover my books through Amazon.