The Slave and His Master, a story of brotherly love Part 1
Off to purchase a slave.
Around the year 138 BC there lived a prosperous Roman man named Macarius. Now Macarius had much wealth. He lived in a villa outside of the Roman city limits with over 150 acres of land. He had dozens of herds of cattle and raised wild horses to tame for trade or sale. On his rich land were orchards of luscious fruit trees. This year the harvest was plentiful. God had supplied plenty of rainfall and sun to nurture and feed the trees. Macarius not only grew wheat to feed his cattle and horses but to help feed his large family of two wives, eight daughters and the 200 slaves he owned. Macarius knew that God was his source of supply.
Macarius was also a Diplomat in the Roman Council Government. He had a position that was of highly acclaimed stature which came with a hardy income. No one was considered for the position unless he himself had wealth and land.The government was something few dared to mess with. One could by themselves into the government if they had enough supply. Macarius was not impressed with the Roman institution but knew that in time he may have some input to help the people that were treated with less then desirable living situations and most were given no respect or dignity.
Although the slaves were to be given certain rights very few took heed to the law concerning their slaves. Many lived in horrific conditions. If a slave was so lucky and had a good master they would be spared beatings and treated as the law mandated. It was not much. The slaves were allowed one new tunic per year and one pair of wooden shoes every two years. If a runaway slave was found he would be branded like a cattle with an f on his forehead, meaning fugitive. He would be bought and sold and chained many times over. A diet of bread and water was to be supplied three times daily with five days off per year. With any graciousness from the slave owner they could choose to pay a menial salary to the slave. A few good slave owners paid a few shekels per year but more paid nothing. Macarius was a sharp and clever man. It came by many years of his experience as a run away slave hidden by a poor farmer that once owned the land Macauris had inherited from him when he passed.
Macarius gathered two of his strong slaves and told them to get two horses and a wagon pull ready, to pack plenty of bread and water and then lay hay in the back of the wagon. They had a long journey ahead of them to the male, Slave Auction Market and would stop for other goods on the return home. Macarius did not favor going to the slave market. In fact he deplored it. He was a man of compassion. He secretly wished he could bring home all of the slaves. He despised that the majority were brutalized, nearly starved and striped of all dignity and pride.
Macarius had held his title of stature as a means for his families protection. By taking the position of Diplomat it was highly unlikely his family would undergo any harsh treatment from any wealthy officials. The Roman government were a wealthy lot and not many messed with their agenda because in doing so one could easily lose his family and all he owned. The more one had the more coverage of protection they had against the evils of the world. The Roman government deemed they were a fair lot but that was far from the truth.
Harvest time was around the corner and Macarius needed to purchase another slave to help in the orchards and fields. He needed to purchase a slave that was stealthy, thick skinned and healthy to work the fields and help with the magnitude of crops at harvest time. Twelve hours after leaving the villa they arrived at the Coliseum. He had Vitus to stay with the wagon and he took Timeus with him to help in the task at hand. Macarius was prepared to pay top dollar for a muscular slave. He brought with him 120 shekels which was the going rate for a top notch slave. Good slaves cost top dollar 120 pieces of silver bought the best. Some were bought to be Gladiators for entertainment and many died young deaths, others came to be quite wealthy because they mastered the position. Thus they were honored because they had money and power. It was a way out. Either one died or grew 'famous' in the entertainment arena.
Macarius was sickened at the site. Over one third of the population of two million were slaves. Many died young lives and had been bought and sold many tines over. Many were fugitives and ran from their despicable masters and were now branded on the forehead with an F to warn buyer, beware, fugitive. The slave traders had to give a warranty on their product so often times the slaves were shown bare naked because the buyers wanted to look them over for strength. Many looked like death warmed over and Macarius just wanted to get out of there and quickly. He only hoped he would not run into any Roman officials he knew that day. Most of the slaves had a chain and a piece of wood around their neck with qualifications, skills and a their name. They stood on various round abouts so the buyers could see and shop for the skill they were in search of.
Macarius could not help but notice a young lad all of about 14 years old chained to a large stake pounded into the ground. Parents often sold their own children to the slave market for the money. He suspected this young lad had been sold and traded in many times. His large browns eyes looked like they belonged to a beautiful woman. The eyebrows were a perfect shape and the eyelashes naturally very long. He chuckled to think how much his wives had their slaves work on their own brows to get this look. Around his neck was written. Handles dung. Name Balbus. He stutters and rarely talks.
Balbus was stark naked. His wounds from a fresh beating looked to be open and sore. His scrawny body could not manage the fields. His ribcage showed like he was close to starving. He had dreadlocks down his back. It was obvious the owner had returned him and after several beatings. There were old scars down his back. Macarius felt compassion as he had never before. He had seen such as Balbus but this lad touched his heart. Macarius knew he was to purchase the young lad. He also knew he would be scorned and laughed at behind his back. Macarius could purchase fifty slaves and the best ones at that. Balbus had chains around his feet. Macarius told the slave handler to loosen him and bring hm forward. Macarius knew he was going to purchase Balbus but knew it was in his favor to play the part. He looked him over. He asked the slave handler about the boys skill. 'There is not much skill in this stubborn lad. He is often beat because he has not enough strength to offer much work. He clean's up the dung from the animals for fuel sir.' The slave handler told Macarius he would sell the stammerer for 80 shekels. He does not speak and when he does he stutters ike an idiot. Since the boy is weakly and does not require much to eat you can get him to work the dung for his keep. His owner no longer has use of him.' 'Fine', answered Macarius and gave the slave handler his 80 shekels.
Before the slave handler went to fetch the chains Macarius said, 'that will not be necessary. He will not run not with my two strong slaves traveling with me' 'Fine have it your way Sir Macarius. I will not guarantee him for anything but dung worker. He is not suitable. I do presume you will keep that in mind in case the thought comes over you to return him in the allotted time frame of three months. You remember what I have told you. He is the skinniest I have seen in a long while so you will not need to feed him much and should get your moneys worth. I suspect he will be dead in a few months time anyway. That is the only guarantee I will give for this stuttering lad.' 'Enough slave handler. Now take your shekels and off with you, be gone. Does the lad have his tunic or wood shoes? Oh never the mind. I will tend to that myself.' The slave handler went off and knew he made a good deal that day. He knew no one in their right mind would purchase such a boy for such a price. Besides his tunic was covered in dung and smelled and slave handler did not want to fetch it. The lads pair of wooden shoes were taken away for his mouth, since he would not speak and only stutter.
Vitus and Timeus were not surprised at their master. They too were once slaved and beaten. They desired to serve their master and very well at that. Both young men were grateful to be alive and work the fields and have clothes on their back with plenty in food and water.
Macarius told Balbus. 'Today you have a new name. You will be called Johan which means, 'God is Gracious.' The name from the past is done, over with. I do not want you nor myself to hear it again, do you understand Johan?' 'Yeeeeesyss mmmasstter.' stuttered Johan. His heart had never felt this way before. Macarus saw a glimmer of hope in those big brown eyes. He told Timeus to fetch the new tunic in the wagon for Johan and give him as much bread and water as he wanted, when they were out of sight. Johan looked up and his eyes shined. He thought, 'this is not possible. Is this a dream or am I really wearing a tunic with no dung on it?' He got into the back with Vitus and thought he would be chained. When he was not he was beside himself, in his heart. This was something he never thought possible. He did not remember his parents. He was sold into slavery at a young age. He recalls them telling the slave handlers that he was six years old and worked hard for his keep and would grow into a stealthy worker. That was the last kind word he ever heard about himself.
Johan stuffed his face with so much bread and water he thought he might be sick. He noticed his tummy poked out a bit, the bread blew it up. He was told to rest until they reached the market place. He lay his head down and said, 'I know you not God, I heard your name once by a slave and now again because my new name means something about God. If you hear me I think you saved me.' His skin hurt to the touch but that was the least of his concerns at the time. The warm sun felt like a heating pad on his hurt skin. Johan went into a deep slumber.
© Copyright Skye Tudae
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