Lyttos, Provincia Creta et Cyrenae, AD 212.

…It is the fourteenth year of the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus, also known as the Antoninus Caracalla, the ruler of the great Roman Empire.

This is Crete, a large island halfway from the Greek mainland to the Egyptian coast. Island with a history, important and famous for its Minoan civilisation, the true ancestors of the modern Greeks, and its mysterious palace of Knossos in its greatest city of Heraklion, situated at the north coast of the island.

But the times of the great naval empire, which ruled the entire Mediterranean, the alpha and the omega of the old world are now over, dead and buried with the arrival of Romans, who conquered it and gained control in the year of 69 BC, a siege under control of the most hated Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus, a bloody war that lasted almost three years.

But today, at Lyttos, this small village at the top of a green hill, just 30 kilometers away from the island’s largest harbour, the city of Heraklion, everything is peaceful and quiet. Its residents, mostly rich traders and artisans working in the big harbor are resting in their small but beautiful light blue colored houses made of the finest island´s stone. It´s the beginning of the new summer, and the air is hot, so most of them are spending time sitting and talking under the shadows of the narrow stone streets.

Everybody except of one resteless soul, which, in this very moment, walks up and down under the shade of a large summer terrace. A soul who thinks of his new cunning plans, plans that are not always legal but even less well-intentioned. This man is the richest in his village, and one of the richest in the entire island. An old tradesman in his late sixties, short and fat, almost completely bald, except for a few fluttering hairs on his shiny scalp. Always wanting more money, more food, more wine, more everything. Never willing to give anything but always eager to receive.

A typical skimmer!

What a poor soul he is!

But you think he knows this?

Of course he does, but he doesn´t give a damn, as long as his thick belly is full.

I bet he would even steal the last crust of bread from the biggest poor!

This poor old soul gained a great fortune by selling goods which are mostly forbidden on the markets of the Mediterranean, on the pretext that it was in the interest of the king himself. Most of this trade consists of the sale of big wildlife animals from Africa and Asia, such as elephants, lions, giraffes; as well as those two-legged animals, the most valuable of them all, the black African slaves.

Yes, that’s what they’re called here, the black two-legged animals.

(to be continued…)

(Cover Image & Source: Minotaur vs Theseus @ Simon Zhong