When in Rome - Cover

When in Rome

Copyright© 2023 by FantasyLover

Chapter 13

1 year later

Day 712

I’m amazed at what we have accomplished since our return from Macedon. Much of what we completed this year is because so many Macedonians now work for us. The sudden demise of Philip’s war machine led to a downturn in their economy that forced many of them to look for new jobs. We provided them jobs without humiliating them further. They helped with my construction projects in Macedon, including building the roads, fortifications, and draining the marsh.

All the roads and other construction I had planned in Macedon is complete. The men I sent, and the Macedonian workers we hired even built five villae rustica around the edges of the marsh before the workers were released. Most chose to make a quick return trip to their original homes hoping to convince their family to return with them. They intended to take advantage of my offer of free farmland in the fertile ground that used to be the marsh near Philippi.

The marsh is currently about three-quarters drained. The first mile or more around the edges is dry enough to ride a horse across and will be ready to plant in the spring. I offered each man who returned one centuria of the drained marsh this year, which is about a hundred-twenty-five acres. That land is going to be extremely fertile, and the men know it. Next year, when the remainder of the marsh is drained, they will receive another centuria of land adjacent to the first.

Those who chose not to bring family members and stayed have already claimed their section of land. Some of those later let sharecroppers work the land while they continued working for me.

Even though everyone thinks I’m crazy for doing it, I have women collecting seeds for the various hardwood trees growing in the region and starting them in clay pots that look suspiciously like two-liter soda bottles, without the top. After the trees are a few inches high, we’ll replant the areas where we cut down trees for lumber.

Some of my workers continue to cut timber or work in the sawmills. Others still collect pine sap and produce resin and rosin, or collect pine needles and distill pine oil.

Celsus and Theodocio separated out any argumentative Macedonian slaves and put them to work in our Sardinian mines. With the influx of so much new help, they have already opened eight, including a second coal mine. The other operating mines are four gold mines and two silver mines. One copper mine and the zinc mine will begin production within a few weeks, and an iron mine and a lead mine won’t be far behind. They just need more miners. The farm we established there is large enough that it should produce more than enough food for the miners, even when all the mines are open.

Timber for mine supports and for our other building projects is delivered from our Macedonian sawmills.

The Senate already has their mines open. Felixa’s and Tatiana’s grandfathers have their two mines producing and just purchased three more nearby sites. Those three sites include a silver and two copper mines.

The villa rustica for the workers on my primary latifundium has several large underground storage rooms. Two of those rooms are cooled by a cold spring that surfaces nearby. A stone cistern in the first underground room holds enough cold water to keep the temperature lower than in the other underground rooms. A ceramic pipe goes up through the floor above the cistern, allowing them to pump cold water using one of our new pitcher pumps.

Fired ceramic pipes keep the cistern from overflowing and feed a cistern in a second cold room. From there, the water runs underground through more pipes beneath the complex to a cistern where the animals are kept. The overflow pipe from that cistern fills watering troughs for the animals, eventually emptying into the original stream from which we diverted it.

Last winter, all the storage rooms were crammed full of our harvest, and the stone silos in the courtyards of the villa rustica were filled. Celsus was impressed with our harvest, a harvest partially owing to the fertility of the volcanic soil. This year’s harvest should be half again as much per acre as last year because I had a chance to be more involved with the planting and care of the fields, showing them a few modern ideas to improve yields.

Despite the soil’s natural fertility, I insisted that we add compost to our fields, using the compost left from the manure piles for making black powder, and from our huge flocks and herds.

Most of the farm animals taken from Macedon ended up here. Their arrival necessitated the building of additional barns and other enclosures as well as planting much more alfalfa. Some of them went to my troops who bought tracts of farmland to set up their own groups of a hundred farmers.

I also have a feeling that a part of our increased yield was due to the Goddess. What we harvested was more than I had expected, even in the rich volcanic soil and using more modern farming methods.

One of those methods is using diatomaceous earth as an insecticide. During the short time I had back with my family, I had researched sources of diatomaceous earth in the Mediterranean. Imagine my surprise when I found sources on the north and west slopes of Mount Somma, the older volcano that gave birth to Mount Vesuvius, the eventual destroyer of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Anyway, quarrying diatomaceous earth is now another of my businesses, although a small one. Most of what we produce is used on our latifundia. I figure it will take a few years for the idea of using it to reduce the number of insects bothering crops to catch on. I doubt that people will understand the concept of the sharp, broken edges of the tiny seashells making up diatomaceous earth harming insects by piercing their exoskeletons.

We also use ducks and geese in the fields to reduce the number of insects and to help keep weeds under control.

By applying diatomaceous earth and planting lemon grass amidst the crops as a passive insect repellent, and using the voracious ducks and geese, our insect problems were minor compared to nearby farms.

The brass smiths had a field day with the two pumps I brought back from the future. When I showed the first one to Severus, my steward, I think he was more excited by the pump than most guys would be by the bevy of beautiful women in my life. What he saw was an end to workers having to carry endless buckets of water or digging irrigation ditches, freeing people to do more valuable jobs.

Like Valerius when he built the villae rustica, Severus found it curious that I insisted on copper or ceramic pipes for delivering water anywhere on my properties. Ancient Rome’s reliance on lead pipes might have contaminated the water with trace amounts of lead, although that was still being debated in my time. Many modern scientists felt the lead poisoning was caused by the way they made their wine, not because they used lead pipes for their water supply, but I was taking no chances.

The brass and bronze smiths I brought back from Macedon have been pressed into service making pitcher pumps. Between Celsus’s and my latifundia, we needed more than a hundred. After that, everyone in the area wanted at least one.

The building for my library is finished, as well as the nearby villa rustica. King Philip and his family have moved into the library’s villa rustica, and Philip oversees the library. I showed him our system for keeping the captured documents for each Macedonian city separated so they could be returned once we copied them.

The library has hundreds of glass windows to admit light, and even has glass skylights that extend from the sloped roof, kind of like bay windows.

The men we brought back to make vellum and parchment are busy. I’ve established a small community of them near the scriptorium, as well as others to support them. Aside from the men who prepare the skins to make vellum and parchment, there are skilled men building drying frames, sharpening knives, and preparing the various washes and rinses necessary to turn the skins into vellum and parchment.

Once the skins are processed, another group of men cut them into sheets. Rather than making scrolls, I decided to make books. Hence, yet another group of men, and they have learned how to bind the sheets to make books.

Ships arriving in Puteoli have added vellum and parchment to the list of things they know we’ll buy, as well as clean skins from calves, sheep, and goats. Occasionally, they even bring someone who wants to work for me making vellum and parchment.

Yet another group of workers are learning to make paper. They are still experimenting, trying to determine the best combination of fibers to use. We began with cotton, hemp, and linen, as well as recycled rags.

Others are tending the plants and seeds that I brought back when I returned from my original time. Some of the seeds were for paper mulberry trees, a tree the Chinese used to make an extremely good paper. I also brought back Abacá, Tapa, Ki gampi, and Daphne plants. The seeds I’d ordered online for those plants arrived late in the afternoon before my return to this time. Those plants were used by different cultures to make paper.

I only wish that I’d been able to practice making paper using the various plants and techniques that I’d read about. Still, I explained the processes as best I could to the men and women I assigned to make paper.

For now, a hundred people who can read and write Greek are busy copying the documents we brought back from captured Macedonian cities. Another group of men is translating them into Latin. We even have a few people able to read the languages besides Greek, translating those documents into Latin and Greek.

I’ve divided the library onto five sections:



History and geography



I specifically avoided religion to avoid any criticism about or accusations of promoting or denigrating any specific religion, even though my association with The Goddess is widely known. I also purposely didn’t include a section for literature. This library is intended to accumulate information and then to provide access to that information to the university I intend to start here. The university has just been designed and is still several years away from reality.

Before that can happen, I need an adequate supply of paper. Only then will I send emissaries to the governments of Rome’s allies, asking for permission to send scribes to copy scrolls, documents, and tablets in their countries. After starting with allies, I hope to then send emissaries to neutral countries.

I’m sure that the different nations will insist on being able to buy paper from us, hence the need to have an adequate supply. For now, our first batches of paper are being used for the Greek-language copies of captured documents.

Since Valerius had so much on his plate with all the new buildings I wanted, he brought in men to help supervise different parts of the construction. One of those men supervised the building of ten huge glassblowing workshops on the estate I inherited from Lucius. Each shop now accommodates eight glass blowers, each with two assigned apprentices who, while still learning their art, are now able to make rudimentary glass panes without supervision.

They also built twenty blacksmith shops, each big enough for six smiths to work simultaneously, along with their apprentices and assistants. I’m sure that I’ll need more later, but this is a good start. Ten shops for brown smiths (working with copper or brass) had been built so there was a dedicated team to build the pumps. Silvanus, the steward of that estate, had been stunned by the increased scope of my plans.

While those were being constructed, Valerius started building five greenhouses, sans the glass. The greenhouses were each about one hundred fifty feet long and fifteen feet wide, narrow enough not to need support columns for the roof. We made one narrow path down the center so that we could walk and push a barrow.

Now that the windows for the library are done, the glassblowers are focused on windows both for the villae rustica and for my greenhouses. The glass panes for the greenhouses are all the same size, making them easier to mass-produce. Once the glass is installed, the greenhouses will provide us with fresh produce this winter. The first was completed and planted a month ago. Panes in other sizes are being made for the villae rustica.

Junius, the former number two man to Severus, is the new steward of my original latifundium and just shakes his head in disbelief when he sees the crops growing inside the first greenhouse. Heated water from a nearby hot spring keeps the inside warm all winter and can be diverted when the weather warms up enough. Eventually, one greenhouse will grow nothing but black pepper bushes.

Another man that Valerius brought is finishing construction of the Senate’s new military base. I had him build more barracks and a huge mess hall, as well as numerous other buildings, including:

An armory

Workshops where armorers can repair weapons and armor

Blacksmith’s shop

Latrines using septic systems

Baths using water from the hot springs

Apartments for married troops

A main office

Stables enough to house horses for the men training there

Kennels for war dogs being raised and trained

Officers’ quarters

A series of small temples for approved Gods and Goddesses

A hospital

All it will lack is a bowling alley, a movie theater, a swimming pool, and a base exchange.

The first new land I claimed in Iberia (Modern Spain and Portugal) was a strip of the east coast, roughly ten miles wide beginning twenty miles south of Saguntum. Saguntum was the first city that Hannibal attacked on his way to confront Rome. I’m building a new city where Valencia was eventually built. That city will become an agricultural empire with thousands of acres of wheat, corn, oats, barley, and rice. I also intend to grow the orange and lemon trees I brought back the seeds for, as well as more of the fruit trees we got seeds for from Damascus.

Livestock will be easy to raise since the alfalfa stays green year-round. The hills along the western edge of my giant Iberian latifundium are being covered with grapes, olives, and fruit trees. Within a few years, I hope to have every acre outside the city planted. Severus was astounded by the size of what I call the Valencia latifundium and eagerly agreed to supervise construction and then oversee it for me.

I offered each of my Iberian slaves the chance to return there and work for me, and all but a handful accepted. Marilla went with me to show off our daughter to her family. Once we reached Saguntum, I gave each of my Iberian slaves a horse, food, and ten silver denarii. “Go find your families. Let them know that you are alive and well.

“I hope that your treatment as my slaves, as well as the new ideas you’ve seen will encourage you to return and work for me as free men and women. I intend to build a city that is bigger and wealthier than Saguntum. You have seen what happens when I start a project; everyone involved benefits. I hope you will invite your families and friends to join us so that they may benefit from better living conditions.

“I’m sure that some of you will decide not to return, choosing to stay wherever you came from originally. My hope is that most of you return and bring others with you. You’ve each seen that I keep my promises. You saw that I offered everyone from Iberia the chance to return, promising their freedom.

“Ask the women among you. I promised that they could decide for themselves whom to marry and that I would not force them into my bed. The only woman here that I took to my bed is Marilla, and I told her that I would before buying her, offering her the chance to tell me not to buy her.

“I promise each of you will receive two saltii of fertile farmland to work and I will help you obtain the tools, seeds, and animals that you need.”

Only two didn’t return and only four returned alone. Several convinced half of their community to return with them. The two hundred forty-five who returned brought nearly three thousand others with them. An equal number remained behind, awaiting word in a couple of months to see if I kept my word before throwing their lot in with us.

My second Iberian latifundium was along the southern coast where Almeria of modern Spain is. This area would also become an agricultural center, although not as extensive as I planned for the Valencia area.

By then, the Senate had requested that we lead an expedition against the pirates in Cilicia as soon as we felt we were ready.

Having heard reports that several of our cargo ships had to fight off pirates during the frequent trips between Puteoli and Macedon, I had been eager to start the attack as soon as our newest batch of recruits finished training.

Along with training more Roman troops, we trained more than a thousand of the enslaved Macedonian troops who were eager to prove themselves and earn their freedom. We also trained two thousand of the slaves that we took from the Macedonians and freed, and another thousand former Roman soldiers who volunteered to join us.

A thousand of those troops and a thousand of my original troops raided Cilicia, an area along the southern coast of modern Turkey and adjacent to the modern Syrian border. We also sent two thousand partially trained troops to guard captives on the voyage back to Puteoli so that none of our fully trained troops had to do it. A thousand of the newly trained Roman troops went too, partly to gain their first battlefield experience using our methods, but mainly to remain behind to control any territory we captured. Two thousand Roman troops trained the old way accompanied them.

Cilicia has long been a haven for pirates. Its rocky coastline has an abundance of small, hidden bays that are ideal places for pirate ships to lie in wait for passing merchant ships and offers a quick refuge after attacking and capturing a ship. The fast and maneuverable pirate ships could easily catch the heavily laden merchant ships.

With hundreds of our ships carrying slaves and loot from Macedon, several had run-ins with the pirates, as did some of my merchant ships visiting Cyprus or Ptolemaic Egypt, and even ports in the Aegean since the pirates didn’t confine their raids to the coast. The pirates sailed brazenly across much of the eastern Mediterranean and southern Aegean Sea. Fortunately, our archers were able to fend off each pirate attack.

This would be a practical test of our newest weapon, a smaller version of the catapult. This catapult launches an amphora that is only one congius, or just over three quarts.

The catapults disassemble into parts small enough for three mules to carry, and we can reassemble them in less than three hours. They still have a range of about two hundred yards, well beyond the range of enemy bows. We’ve supplied four types of ammunition for the smaller catapults. In addition to our usual quicklime and napalm, we added ten-pound precast concrete balls.

The concrete is cast in two-piece bronze molds. Concrete is poured through a small opening in the top of the mold. Several of these balls bouncing or rolling through the ranks and files of an enemy’s advancing troops will ruin the day of many of those troops because a shield won’t stop them.

The final type of ammunition is a grenade: black powder with dozens of small pebbles or sharp pieces of slag from our smelters mixed in.

Our expedition included over a hundred warships, mostly triremes and quinqueremes, although there were several deceres and cargo ships to help carry so many troops. There was nearly an equal number of cargo ships carrying horses, and arrows. They also carried more catapults and ammunition for the catapults, as well as other supplies. Other ships carried the Roman occupation troops and the mules to pull two-wheeled supply carts and to carry the disassembled small catapults.

Flavius was content with commanding the training base so Major Lucanus received a promotion to Colonel and led the mission against the pirates. Originally, I had planned to go but the women in my life and the Senate vetoed that plan. Even the Goddess let me know that I wasn’t needed this time and that it would be a good chance for Lucanus to prove his leadership ability.

Their first contact with the pirates was a sea battle just offshore from Coracesium (modern Alanya, Turkey). Our large fleet could hardly go unnoticed in the Mediterranean, so the pirates knew we were coming. During the sea battle forty pirate ships were sunk with napalm. The rest succumbed to the quicklime or hurriedly rowed ashore and tried to blend in with the population of Coracesium.

After capturing Coracesium, and the pirates attempting to hide there, Major Lucanus worked his way along the coast, raiding small ports and harbors. When he ran out of targets, he sailed for Zephyrion (or Zephyrium, which is modern Mersin, Turkey). Word of our exploits in Macedon had obviously spread, and a simple demonstration of our catapults brought the peaceful surrender of the city with the citizens turning over all the pirates hiding in the city.

A short sail up the Cydnus River brought them to the biblical river port of Tarsus, a heavily fortified city at the southern end of the Cilician Gates. Since before 4,500 BC, the Cilician Gates has been by far the best and most used pass north through the treacherous Taurus Mountains. The north end of the pass opens into the Anatolian Plateau and the interior of modern Turkey. Tarsus required a demonstration of our catapults, showing that they could deliver projectiles inside the city walls before they surrendered.

One final stop several miles east of Tarsus brought the capitulation of Adana (modern Antakya, Turkey), the last of the Cilician cities of any consequence. Even before my dream, I knew that our attack and subjugation of Cilicia would be challenged by Antiochus the Great of the Seleucid Kingdom. He and Philip V of Macedon had been co-conspirators in planning attacks on Ptolemaic territory, sensing weakness there since the new king was barely ten years old. Cilicia was Seleucid territory.

Adding the fact that Adana was barely a hundred miles from the Seleucid capital of Antioch on the Orontes, it was a given that the Seleucids would attack. In addition to letting me know not to go on this campaign, my dream told me it would be more than a year before Antiochus would attack, and that his attack would be strictly ground-based troops that marched and rode to the confrontation. Evidently, Antiochus was currently licking his wounds and regrouping after his latest campaign to the east.

The raids against the Cilician pirates were hugely successful, capturing two hundred pirate ships, and sinking over two hundred more. The captured pirates were shackled and sent to Puteoli. From there, we distributed them to open the remaining mines on Sardinia or to the five mines we were starting in Iberia. Once the mines were fully staffed, men were put to work in a marble quarry or other quarries, providing rock for building walls around the two cities I was starting in Iberia.

The captured populace of the subjugated Cilician cities also went to Puteoli. The single women claimed by the troops stayed with the soldier’s family or wife if he had one. Otherwise, I gave them jobs and provided for them until the troops returned.

Near the end of the campaign, the Senate approved my suggestion to offer amnesty to any pirates who turned themselves in. Those surrendering were transported to Iberia to start a new life, along with their family and their belongings. They could either work for me or receive one century of fertile land to farm.

Four thousand men turned themselves in, although I think a lot of them claimed to be pirates just to obtain free land. The subjugation of Cilicia took five weeks and netted tons of plunder taken from captured and killed pirates, their ships, the captured cities, and from many of those who turned themselves in.

Those who elected to receive land could choose any available land near one of my two latifundia. I suggested creating towns of a hundred families and many followed my advice. Others opted to join existing towns.

The raid on Cilicia led to further actions. Pirates who turned themselves in directed us to several major pirate bases on Crete, which led to the conquest of the entire island. The pirates in the first city our troops attacked on Crete refused to surrender. They believed that they could hide among the general population in the city.

Lucanus gave the citizens of the city one day to turn on the pirates and to point them out. When they didn’t, he began emptying the city, one neighborhood at a time, seizing everyone and everything. By the time the first group of enslaved citizens was being herded aboard our ships, the remaining citizens turned on the pirates. The pirates who survived their wrath were manacled and returned to Puteoli as slaves. Lucanus sent most of the citizens back to their homes. Since the city had resisted at first, he took one in five instead of one in ten, including all the single women and the craftsmen he knew I wanted.

Looting in that city was only slightly heavier than in cities that had immediately surrendered and turned over the pirates. Lucanus saw how quickly the Macedonian cities had recovered from our looting and taking only a tenth of the population and had decided that my idea was a good one.

Lucanus sent citizens from Coracesium into every other city on Crete before he attacked, much like I had sent the captured and released Macedonian troops to talk to the city leaders of Thessalonike. Only one city refused to turn over the pirates, probably because it was a small city, and everyone was involved with piracy in one way or another.

Once the pirates were cleared from the area, he staged one final attack, against the small island of Delos. Aside from its strategic location in the Aegean, the island was worthless. It had no tillable soil to speak of, and hence no forage to raise animals except maybe a handful of goats. The only water on the island came from one spring and the rain. Everything else had to be imported. The one thing they did have was a huge slave market, with most of the slaves supplied by pirates and the Seleucids.

There, Lucanus’s fleet engaged the second largest fleet, pirates who had tried to hide in plain sight, pretending to be merchant ships.

Afterwards, Lucanus released any ships belonging to Roman merchants or merchants from allied Greek states. He also released ships from Ptolemaic Egypt. By then, all the Greek states had buried the hatchet because those who weren’t allies were terrified that Rome might attack.

Ships from the Seleucids, Carthage, or other non-ally countries, along with the pirate ships, were confiscated. There was so much loot and so many slaves that the ships, both ours and the newly seized ships, had to make three round trips back and forth to Puteoli.

When the ships returned to Delos on their second trip, I insisted that they bring back the twelve lion statues that were part of a temple to Apollo. The twelve statues were eventually set on pedestals lining the driveway of my villa. I’d seen the weather ravaged statues when I visited the island during a vacation in my original time and always liked them, although I’d been saddened by the severely deteriorated condition of the statues. To prevent their deterioration, I immediately had men paint the statues, so they looked more lifelike.

As planned, Roman troops had remained behind to occupy Crete and Cilicia, now the two newest provinces claimed by Rome. Once again, each of my troops that participated in the expedition received a silver honor coin. This one said “Cilicia” instead of Macedon. The crews of the ships again earned a bronze honor coin and a bonus of ten silver denarii. This time, half of the oarsmen had been freemen, former Macedonian slaves that we had freed.

While Lucanus was attacking the pirates, I spent ten months building a working windmill, well, ten months minus the time for two trips to Philippi, three to my two new properties in Iberia, and one to the newest property on Sardinia.

My newest Sardinian property was being planted with thousands of cork oak trees. I imported the acorns and had people plant them across the hills and lower mountain slopes of twenty saltii. Even more were planted on the otherwise unused slopes surrounding our mines.

It will be at least twenty-five years before we can harvest cork for the first time, which is why I chose such a remote location to plant them. It will probably be something my children deal with. I also had them start more cork oak trees in clay pots. This coming winter, they will transplant the potted trees to replace any acorns that didn’t sprout.

Anyway, I finally finished the first windmill about a month after the last of our stone and mortar cisterns was completed. The cisterns were built atop an elevated stone base and were dome-shaped with a small opening at the top. The opening had a raised lip about a foot high and was just wide enough for a man to crawl through. We covered the opening with a round piece of precast concrete to keep out dirt, animals, and bugs. We had dug a well near each cistern and lined it with stone before covering the well. The day after the first windmill was complete, we raised it and attached the windmill pump that was installed in the well.

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