Danube Divide

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The Battle of Hadrianopolis, 378 AD, Roman legions versus Gothic warriors -- ancient historian Ammianus called it the worst defeat in Roman history since Cannae. Theologian Rufinus said it was the beginning of evils for the Roman Empire then and thereafter.

Fifteen thousand Romans, two-thirds of the Eastern Empire Legionary forces, lay dead or dying on a Thracian plain, but for four men on opposite sides of the battlefied, no conflicts of cultures, religions or territorial ...

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Danube Divide

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The Battle of Hadrianopolis, 378 AD, Roman legions versus Gothic warriors -- ancient historian Ammianus called it the worst defeat in Roman history since Cannae. Theologian Rufinus said it was the beginning of evils for the Roman Empire then and thereafter.

Fifteen thousand Romans, two-thirds of the Eastern Empire Legionary forces, lay dead or dying on a Thracian plain, but for four men on opposite sides of the battlefied, no conflicts of cultures, religions or territorial boundaries could keep them apart. Nor could the mighty river that separated their homelands -- The Danube. Despite all obstacles, these men will find their way to conquer the Danube Divide.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608200320
  • Publisher: MLR Press
  • Publication date: 5/3/2009
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Read an Excerpt


It is a stench like no other: the foul odors of the battlefield, the end of it, the dead and the dying. Sights and sounds are equally gut-wrenching, but unlike the smells, they don't stay with a man. It is the stench that permeates his being forever, constantly returning to haunt him, rekindled by the most common of unrelated aromas--meats raw or cooked, fruits fresh or rotten, flowering plants pleasant or pungent--all are channeled from his nose to his brain, reminding him of what he saw, what he heard, and what he did.

The scope of this battlefield is unimaginable. Fifteen thousand Romans lay dead or dying. Had the sun not set, another five thousand would have joined them. Only darkness prevented their Goth combatants from slaughtering those few who did escape.

Under a twilight sky shrouded in fire smoke, the aftermath and its smells and sounds create nightmares. Some of the cavalry horses continue their struggle to stand, with hooves and legs severed, with arrows imbedded in their flanks, gashes from swords and spears penetrating deep into their breasts. And in their struggles they mercilessly, and mercifully, kick and crush the men laying all around them, the dying. Screeches of animals are equaled in volume by the gasping groans and pitiful pleadings of humans begging for medical assistance or death, but powerless to bring about either. It is the Germanics, the victors, who will end their misery, if and when they choose to do so.

In the heat of an August afternoon, in the clouds of dust, in the smoke of grassfire on a Thracian battlefield, in the stench of a foreboding future for Rome itself, the Battle of Hadrianopolis, 378 AD, sent shockwavesthroughout the Empire East and West, along with a clear message--the Empire's superiority was no more. No borders safe, no city a refuge.

"Good grief, Theo! Who wrote this?"

"Who do you think?"


"Right you are, Gregoric. Looks like he has finally started his memoirs."

"He's so dramatic. And the smells. Always talking about the smells."

"Yes, well, it is one of the few things he remembers correctly. Guess where he's gone."

"Into the city? Selling our crops?"

"Right again, Gregoric."

"You better go see if you can talk some sense into him, Theo. He'll be in the agora making speeches. Telling of long-forgotten battles nobody cares about."

"Yes, and the merchants will be threatening to have him arrested for disrupting their business."

"Just like last year. Poor Drusus. He's old, tired, and confused. He should come and join us."

"He will join us when he's damned good and ready, Gregoric."

"I know, Theo. I am sorry. Go speak to him. Try and convince him to come home, while I prepare the readers for our story."

"Ah, good idea, Gregoric! Tell it from the barbarian point of view."

"Yes, we will. Historians usually make us the villains, which is not necessarily the case."

"Better try to limit the big story best we can, though. Tell more about us and less about everybody else."

"Agreed, Theo. Romans and Germanics as background, but we are the story. Now, go, before Drusus gets beaten to a bloody pulp."

Greetings from Ephesus, the once-glorious city on the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. From time to time we are allowed (by powers we are forbidden to name) a visit to the villa three miles south of the city where Theo and I once lived--when we were of the flesh. Drusus lives here still, just an old man all alone in a house perched on a cliff one hundred feet above the beach. Make no mistake, we are sent here to protect Drusus from himself. He has lived too long and gets further confused if I try speaking to him, but usually he understands Theo.

Drusus takes his annual walk to Ephesus trying to sell crops no longer planted in fields no longer cultivated. The shipping agents are gone. The harbor itself is useless, filled with silt from the Cayster River. Ocean-going ships can no longer enter, but Drusus forgets.

Theo and I lived a good, full life, a span of more than seventy years. We are Germanics, paternal cousins, Theo four years younger than I. Theo is the son of Erenfried; I am of Magneric. We are nephews of their brother, Alberic, tribal leader of Tervingi Goths, and it was our ancestors who, sadly, ransacked Ephesus in 262 AD and burned the glorious temple of the goddess Artemis, whose temple was two times larger than the Parthenon in Athens. Emperor Constantine rebuilt Ephesus sixty-some-odd years later, but the Artemis temple ruins were left to rot. Poor Artemis, no longer the deity of choice!

A few years after the temple's destruction, the original owners of our estate built this house. Some materials salvaged from the Artemis temple were used in its construction. From the west-side windows and porticoes of the house, we can see the Aegean and its rolling shimmer, smell its saline freshness. Many a glorious sunset did I watch from my portico, and at times I imagined I could see all the way to Thessalia. I couldn't, of course, but I dreamed it because of a man who came from there. He is my part of the story. Theo is responsible for Drusus.

Titus Drusus Latinius is a Roman citizen, born in Macedonia to a military father, a Roman patrician killed in battle before Drusus reached the age of two. When eighteen years old, Drusus joined the Roman legions. Theo found him laying on the battlefield of which Drusus wrote. The scene was just as he described it. Gut-wrenching, even for us, the victors, Gothic tribes of Tervingi, Greuthingi and Alans, along with our temporary allies, the Huns. Our tale does not begin in a field near Hadrianopolis, but Drusus's part in it does, so that is where Theo will start, if he ever...

"Oh, good, there you are. Is he coming?"

"Yes, Gregoric, but he will take his time. A three-mile walk, and you know how Drusus loves to meander along the shoreline."

"Water brings him pleasant memories, Theo."

"Me, too. Are we set?"

"Yes. Tell them how you met your handsome young Roman soldier."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    Funky story 2

    We made it to the gym, and I ran into the building, Simipour disapearing back into her pokeball. The place was deserted, half the lights out and flickering. The gym was dim, and it looked spooky. Carefully scanning for Team Plasma grunts, I made my way to the roller coaster track. Immediately, a car pulled up and I hopped in, shivering from the cold night rain. This time, I didn't get the thrill I had gotten from the first time I had rode the roller coaster. I still shrieked as I went over the hill and in the looped dee loop. Finally the cart creaked to a halt and I stepped out as it zoomed away. "Elesa?" I called out in a hoarse whisper, my voice bouncing off the walls. No reply. I stepped forward and saw a tiny spark over in the corner. Warily, I walked over, and recieved a jolt of electricity. I cried out as the energy fizzed through my body, crackling around my skin. When it finally wore away, I stood stiffly, feeling worn out and abused. "Oh my gosh, I am so sorry Touko! I thought you werw Team Plasma!" Elesa cried, getting up and racing over to me. I nodded numbly, my skin tingling painfully. "I's all right." Elesa looked relieved until a voice called from around the corner. I snapped out of my shock and whirled around. Ghetsis.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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