Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Postcard From Agde: Elen in Trier - Work in Progress

The Porta Nigra.
The Porta Nigra Trier 
 A sense of place has been the theme of my recent posts. My new novel  has three locations – Romano British Wales, the Brigante North, and Roman Trier.

Here is a girl who  has risen to great heights  but still longs for home

Elen in Trevorum: 383 AD

‘….One big problem here in Trevorum is the heat. There are times when I dream of the storm rain coming off our great inlet at home; and I dream of the cool air on my face as I walk down the mountain to the Other Place. And in my dream I feel the wind in my hair as I urge my grey horse forward on the track by the salt flats. Most of all I dream of that first time I met Macsen in the Brigante North when I was washing my hair in the cool water of the holy well.

…I met this man in the great receiving chamber in Trier. Macsen and I were sitting on our thrones – a great throne for Macsen and a smaller throne for me. I have to say that ne either of them is as grand as my father’s throne at home, made of the tusks of a great dragon that roamed our land in ancient times. They’re not even as grand as the gold and silver throne of my Brigante grandfather. But I suppose they w’ll have to do.
… In those early months I’d got used to the parade of people coming to pay tribute to the new emperor. They are escorted into the chamber and bow and scrape and luxuriate in the ceremony. They bow deeply before Macsen and less deeply to me. Truly these people only have eyes for the new emperor. After a while the ceremonies make me weary, especially now that I have this wriggling child growing inside me.
But on this day, just as I about to rise and tell Macsen I need to rest,  I keep quiet, aware of a mutter of expectation among the crowds of people in the long room. All eyes turn to the great golden doorway. Some of the people are standing on tip-toe to get a better view.
That  was when a tall rangy man in very simple clothes walks in. Macsen mutters in my ear. ‘This is Martin, the holy man out of the city of Caesarodunum. Remember I told you about him.’ As he approaches I note a big bluff fellow, more farmer or fisherman than priest; in height and girth and straight gaze he reminds me of my father. 
He approaches the throne and greets Macsen first with the soldier’s greeting of a hand slapped across the chest. Then he bows to him. I know from Macsen that he was twenty years a soldier before he became a holy man.  Now he turns and bows equally deeply to me and looks me closely in the eyes….
Model of Augusta Trevorum - Roman Trier 

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