Historical setting: 563 C.E., on the western shore of Gaul
Nic has met an old friend, another who is retired from the Imperial Navy.
“Hey, Brother Lazarus,” Nic calls me into the reunion. “This is Buff; he was once a rower for the fleet also!”
“I just figured Old Nik was ready for dry dock when I saw his helmet here for trade.” Buff offers me his weapon’s hand for the handshake — gesture of peace. “Glad to make your acquaintance, Laz. If you’re his friend you’re my friend. And like they say, Mi casa, su casa. I’m having a pig roast tonight. There is plenty for all.”
He gives directions to Nic to find this great party in the wood.
Nic is keeping a watchful eye on the maneuvers of small boats around the moorings. He points out to me that one such small boat was just lowered from one of the merchant ships at a mooring, and … He recommends we go to the wharf where the goods are stashed bound toward Hispania.
Indeed, he meets with the captain and the mate of a ship bound for Iberia. He pays our passage, so we have assurance that we will be riding the next northeast wind across the wide Bay of Contabria to an Iberian port.
Buff’s pig roast in the wood provides a welcome chance for Nic to see some of his old friends from his many years in the Navy. It gives me a bit of a view of a community I never knew existed. These older men are lone, like Nic, having no wives or families after all their years at the oars. I don’t think these veterans of the Navy have taken a vow, as one would find among monks. Rather their life pattern may have been something of the happenstance of years at the oars with so many ports and rarely a home. (Footnote)
(Story continues Tuesday, July 14, 2020)
(Footnote) Fiction allows assumptions based on nothing more than logical conclusion. So this blogger concluded some who completed their years in the military might have been alone in those later years. But in our world of fingertip facts how can a blogwright resist scouring the internet for actual studies on the lives of ancient soldiers in retirement? With less clarity for 6th century rowers, 110509.pdf was retrieved 2-26-2020: Scheidel, Walter, “Marriage, families, and survival in the Roman Imperial Army: demographic aspects Version 1.0” Princeton/Standford Working Papers in Classics, November 2005, Walter Scheidel. email@example.com