"The Gabinian Affair" presents the memoir written by a retired Roman soldier, Gaius Marius Insubrecus, who served Caesar during his conquest of Gaul and in the subsequent civil wars. He later served under Caesar’s son and heir, Octavianus, in his war against Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra.
As a youth, Insubrecus was caught between two worlds. He lived in the mythical tales told to him by his grandfather about the heroic past of his people, the Gah’el. However, his mother, Valeria, was determined to make a practical and successful Roman gentlemen out of him. On top of all this, he fell in love with Gabinia, the beautiful daughter of a Roman Senator, whose family was determined to kill him to uphold their honor.
Insubrecus tries to escape the assassins sent after him from Rome by hiding in the Roman army, right at the time that the new governor, Gaius Iulius Caesar, launches his legions into the forests of Gaul to stop an invasion by a fierce and ruthless tribe called the Helvetii. Insubrecus is plunged into a world of violence, intrigue and betrayal, as he tries to serve his new patron, Caesar, and to stay alive, while pursued by Roman cutthroats and Gallic warriors.
About the Author
Ray Gleason holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies and MA in English Literature from Northwestern University, and a BA in English and History from Hunter College. He teaches Medieval Literature at Northwestern and writing at Purdue. Ray was born in New York City and has lived in the Midwest since 1980. His first book, "A Grunt Speaks: A Devil’s Dictionary of Vietnam Infantry Terms", uses the terminology of soldiers to reflect on his experience as rifleman and army ranger during three combat tours in Vietnam. Gleason became an advocate for the Vietnam-era generation in his novel, "The Violent Season".
Read an Excerpt
My formal Roman name is Gaius Marius Insubrecus Tertius, the third of that name after my grandfather and an uncle, whom I never met. My oldest son is Gaius Marius Insubrecus Quartus, the fourth of that name. We have been Quirites, Roman citizens, since my grandfather was granted the franchise by the Roman Imperator and Dictator, Gaius Marius, whom he served as a soldier and a Praetorian.
Throughout my life I have been known by other names.
My mates in the 10th legion, called me Pagane, “The Hick,” because I was such a farm boy when I joined up, that they swore a dung cart dumped me at the camp gates with the rest of its load.
I was the Senior Centurion, the Primus Pilus, “First Spear” of the 10th. When my legs couldn’t hold up to the thirty thousand passus forced marches impeditus, with full kit, I was promoted to Praefectus Castorum, the Prefect of the Camps. Then, the other officers, even the legates and the broad-stripe tribunes, called me Prime, “Top.”
Most importantly, Caesar himself, and now his son down in Rome, Princeps noster, our “First Citizen,” called me amice, “friend.”
My dear wife has been badgering me to write my memoirs. I suspect that her interest has nothing to do with an appreciation for Roman history or fine literature. Retirement has not been easy for me, and she just wants to keep me occupied and out of her hair.
I served over twenty-five years in the army, most of it with the 10th Legion. I served from the time Divus Iulius, Julius the God, launched himself into the boondocks of Gallia Comata, long-haired Gaul. I remained with the legions during the civil wars. I was there when Octavianus, Filius Divi Iuli, the Son of Julius the God, who now calls himself Augustus, the “Exalted One,” defeated Marcus Antonius and his Egyptian tart.
I am hard-pressed to remember two years in a row that we weren’t up to our asses in barbarians, Greek hirelings, Egyptians, a Parthian or two, and Romans who were fighting for some other way of running things down in Rome.
Now, I can’t get through a single day without the memories of some dead mate, his throat torn out, staring up at me from the blood-stained grass; or the terror of being locked shield-to-shield with some son-of-a-bitch trying to gut me with a sword or split my skull open with an axe; or the smell of burning huts and human flesh; or the screams of women begging for mercy, when there’s none to be had.
My flesh is cured the color of a leather hide, except for jagged white lines of old scars, when I didn’t get my shield up in time or some bastard snuck one in through my open side.
But, the dream is the worst.
I see myself in a shadowy squad bay with my contubernales, my squaddies, my tent-mates, guys I know are long dead. They’re saddling up their kit for an inspection, telling me to hurry or I’ll be missed.
But, I know they’re all dead. . .long dead.
“Move it, Pagane!” they shout, “The centurion will have your balls if you’re late for roll call!”
I’m not supposed to be here, I think, I’m done with this!
Table of Contents
Dramatis Personae ix
De Qua Causa Scribo Praefatio xiii
A Preface on Why I Write
I Quomodo Civitem Romanam Familia Mea Acquisit 1
How My Family Became Romans
II De Avo Meo ac Terra luventis 23
Gran'pa and the Land of Youth
III De Mama Mea, Qua Muliere Romana Feroce 34
My Mama, a Formidable Woman of Rome
IV De Doctrina Romana 49
My Education as a Roman-and a Few Other Things
V De Amice Novo 64
A New Friend
VI De Natale Sexto Decimo 75
I Turn Sixteen and Learn a Trade
VII Inter Iliadem et Lupinarium 99
Between the Iliad and the Brothel: My Final Lessons in Being Roman
VIII De Fine Pueritiae 138
My Childhood Ends
IX De Itinere Frigido 176
A Cold Journey
Post Scriptum 187
A Glossary of Latin Terms Used in the Story 189