Now that we’ve reviewed a few of the major types of gladiators, we move on to some tidbits concerning the Roman army.
In Dominus, the first book of the Dominus series, you’ll recall this exchange in Chapter 2 during the infamous slave auction scene at Gnaeus Decius’s estate on the Quirinal Hill:
“A bloody bearded barbarian? Oh, Gaius—sometimes you are so predictable. I should have known, love.”
“He’s stunning, Luc. Look at those long, sinewy limbs and that exquisite voluptuous bum. It’s hard to say for sure from this distance, but his dark hair looks excessively coiffed, don’t you think? These crass dealers so often err on the fussy side in terms of presentation. But no matter, that can be easily fixed.”
Lucius rolled his eyes. “It’s drugged, Gaius. Look at the way it’s standing, bobbing and swaying back and forth. There’s no way to know its true nature when it’s stupefied on whatever concoction they forced down its throat.”
“That’ll wear off.”
“Yes, it will. And when it does, you, my friend, will have a wild savage on your hands.”
Gaius smiled, glancing sideways at his companion. “This one will require a firm hand.”
“I hadn’t realized you were looking for a project, darling.” Lucius groaned.
“It must be the will of the gods.”
“Now you’re a philosopher as well? Horseshit! Do not bring the gods into this. It’s the will of your insatiable cock, darling. A powerful force of the cosmos in its own right.”
Max reappeared, panting.
“What’s the report?” Gaius asked.
“It’s a Dacian, sir, recently captured by scouts during a reconnaissance mission along the mountain border.” Max stopped to catch his breath. “No known diseases or physical faults. The beast is heavily drugged, Commander.”
Speculatores were scouts in the Roman army. According to some scholars, they operated in ‘plain clothes’ in enemy territory, often disguised as travelers or merchants, and collected information about enemy camps, movements, supplies, etc. Each legion would have a number of men assigned to espionage duties (estimates are 10 scouts for each legion), who would report to their activities to a centurion. The centurion would then report his findings up the normal chain of command—at least, that’s how it was supposed to work.
A band of Roman soldiers charged with such surveillance and information gathering took part in the capture of Allerix (and his friend, Gorgas) near the Carpathian mountains in Dacia following Roman victories at the end of the Second Dacian War. If you’ve read the entire first book, you know that our beloved bastard, Gaius Fabius, has a very personal stake in the details of this reconnaissance mission. Stay tuned. 😀