Robed, sweat-streaked, black laborers strain on thick hemp ropes attached to the ship. Timbers creak, sails rattle ineffectually. Upon the cliff, above a scattering of crumbling bricks, the tombstones of a once proud Nineveh.
Chin resting on polished wood railing, Horatio stares at the submerged, forward-projecting prow, watching for rocks. His thoughts go to Rome. It is January the first, the feast of Jupiter Optimus. The senators wearing purple-bordered togas will be carried outside on ivory ceremonial thrones, many among the milling crowd from the provinces and seeing their senators’ faces for the first time.
“Oh Jupiter, preserve Rome,” Horatio prays.