To the Senate and People of Rome from Q. Cassius Sextus, Senior Tribune, Legio XIV, Hale!
I am commanded by Didius Claudius Meritus, Governor of Phrygia to offer the following report into the causes of the late unpleasantness in the city of Atarbraxis, since renamed Pentium. I know you will be all familiar with the facts regarding the results of the rioting - the Forum ruined, approximately half of the city's dwellings either destroyed or severely damaged by the ensuing fires, etc. etc.
The casualty figures have been confirmed at four legionaries missing presumed killed and numerous barbarians killed and injured. As His Excellency the Governor has said, we are not likely to win any votes in the 'My favourite Empire' stakes in this part of Asia Minor.
A Court of Enquiry was convened on the Callends of March to carry out a thorough investigation into the events that lead up to the riots. I believe I can do no better than include here a verbatim transcript of the evidence of Legionary Publius Bilius Ludo, the only surviving eyewitness. According to his Centurion, this Bilius 'isn't the sharpest point in any Phalanx but a good man in a scrap.' He is certainly an unprepossessing individual and is heavily scarred as one expects from a twelve-year veteran. Again, according to his Centurion he does look like 'the beaten finalist in a Christians v. Lions series.' I mention this because we do feel that his appearance may have had some bearing on the events under investigation.
Sworn Statement of P. Bilius Ludo, 4th Maniple, 1st Century, Legio XIV.
"It was like this, sir. Me and the other boys from my maniple got a local pass on the Nones of Februarius. Well, after four months of marching and fighting, we was ready for a few wets and a bit of female company, apart from Marcellus Gaius that is, 'cos he swung his sword the other way, if you get my meaning.
Anyroad, we goes into this wine shop - can't remember the name - and orders up a flask or two of their best Falurnian. Saving your presence, sir, but it was Godawful muck! Tasted like something wrung out of a Gladiator's Jockstrap. Me and my mate Quintus took exception and went to have a word with the Landlord who unfortunately slipped and fell down the cellar steps. You know, it's really weird how surprised folk look when they're suddenly dead like that.
We left that place and I do admit we didn't settle up; but then again, they didn't give us Falurnian like what we ordered. If there's been a complaint, sir, I'm really sorry and I offer to pay half right here and now, if that would help. We visited a couple or three more wine shops and there wasn't no trouble at all - unless you count the misunderstanding with Gaius and the eunuch but that all got smoothed over. I mean, Gaius wasn't to know it was the public library.
We was all feeling quite mellow by then and decided it was time to meet the ladies. No, sir, we don't go the Regimental Brothel. Anyone who'd prod them uglies is too effing lazy to masturbate, if you wants my opinion. So we found a local knocking-shop but there was only one girl working and she didn't speak no Latin. She wasn't bad, though, if you ignored the moustache. So we formed a line, respectable like, and went at it. She was a lousy tumble, if you'll pardon my Greek, sir. She just lay back and moaned. Didn't wiggle about at all. We figured she must've been of the Sapphic persuasion, if you catches my drift.
Anyhow, we was just suggesting to Gaius that he could give it a go - with that moustache he could've pretended couldn't he? - when her pimp shows up and starts hollering and yelling in Barbarian. None of us could speak the lingo but we figured he was trying to renegotiate the price. Turns out he was this party's husband! These barbarians, eh? Pimping their own wives! Well, I must have tripped on me tunic 'cos my head sort of made contact with his nose and he went down in a heap. I swear it was an accident, sir. The others would tell you the same. If they was still alive, that is.
So we left there and went down to the Forum to look for a more high-class sort of place where they knows how to treat a randy soldier. On my mother's life, sir, we didn't know she was a priestess and the donkey didn't seem to mind. I think it was just about then that the first fires started."
It was the conclusion of the Court that the entire incident arose from the inability of the local populace to speak Latin. The Governor has imposed a fine on the city of six thousand talents of silver and has ordered compulsory attendance at language classes. As for Bilius Ludo, I can do no better that quote the First Centurion: " With his sort, you never know whether to promote 'em or crucify 'em!" His Excellency, who is, as you know, a renowned disciplinarian, has ordered a fine of two weeks' pay and 28 days stoppage of leave. This has been accepted by the rank and file of Legio XIV as harsh but fair, in the circumstances.
The incident is now considered closed and rebuilding goes on apace.
I have the honour to be, sirs,
Your obedient servant
Quintus Cassius Sextus