Chapter 610: Abellinum
Among today’s travellers was a group of men wearing a red short-sleeved tunic, a golden-yellow strophion(belts) around their waists, short black hair and beards, barefooted with a rough face, which is quite eye-catching. But with Theonia’s rapid development, even the poor Bruttians and Lucanians were freed from their terrible situation of freezing and starvation. Hence when the travellers saw such a group in the kingdom’s hinterland, they began talking with each other as they had never seen such a shabby group with a strange appearance.
Finally, a man on horseback came out among the herdsmen leading numerous livestock. He then went closer to the red-clothed men and carefully asked in Greek, “Are you Samnites?”
The few men in red understood what he said but didn’t immediately answer. Instead, they turned their gaze to the only man in the centre wearing a short-sleeved white tunic.
The man in white came forward and said in Greek, “We are Samnites from Abellinum. Is there anything I can do for you, Potentian?”
Although the Potentians and the Lucanians look similar, the Lucanians have already become increasingly receptive to Theonia’s culture, religion and customs since their integration with Theonia for more than a decade. Hence not only have they started changing their daily life and clothes but also the names of their newborn children have begun to have Greek taste. And only Potentia, who had just joined the kingdom of Theonia as a free city, still maintained the Lucanians’ traditions.
Even though the Theonians can easily tell the difference, why can the Samnites, who rarely appear in Theonia, also easily tell the difference? Although the man on horseback had doubts, he didn’t rashly ask. After all, he knew about the Samnites’ temper and even though the peace between Samnites and Potentia continued for ten years since the South Italian War and would still continue as one joined the kingdom of Theonia and the other became its ally, the man on horseback didn’t say more but just simply smiled and said, “I just came over to get acquainted and hope we can take care of each other on our way to Thurii.” After saying that, he performed the Samnite gesture and rode away.
While the other travellers didn’t feel too frightened after knowing that the group of red-clothed men were Samnites and just acted usually even though the Samnites were notorious for their fierceness. After all, they are now in Theonia’s territory, the powerful kingdom that let its people, including its affiliated allies, enjoy a decade of peace. Thus no forces would dare to challenge its authority, and even the mountain bandits became almost extinct in Theonia.
So even if a traveller took a boat from Catania to Rhegium and headed north through Magna Graecia, the Bruttian mountains, the Lucanian mountains, and then to Campania, he could just sleep in the open for more than ten days and still wouldn’t suffer any dangers or even encounter difficulties besides from wild animals. Moreover, he could also ask for help from the Temple of Hades in any city of Theonia.
Safety is the greatest benefit to the people living in this land after Theonia’s unification of South Italia. That is also what made these people who often travel and do business feel the most deeply. Therefore, when they trek in this mountain area, the only thing they would need to worry about is the wild animals. But since the people would crowd the road for many years, the wild animals would now mostly avoid the road. And in recent years, there has been no news of wild animals attacking people and livestock.
In the following rest time, the man on horseback at the front would often come to talk and even warmly invite these Samnites to dine together. How could the cold and hard coarse bread the Samnites carry compare to the dried bacon and hot mutton soup? Thus the man on horseback’s enthusiasm finally dispelled the vigilance of the Samnites, and after two days of friendliness, the group of travellers finally got out of the mountains.
“Chieftain Garni, we will soon be in the mountain pass’ fortress after crossing the foot of this mountain!” The man on horseback said excitedly.
Garni, the son of Berani, the great chieftain of the Hirpini and the former head of the four major tribes of the Samnites, had suffered a crushing defeat in the Samnties’ invasion of Potentia ten years ago. During that time, his father died in the chaos while the Theonians captured him and spent almost two years in the Potentian and Lucanian regions.
When he looked ahead, Garni became slightly dazed as he was familiar with the mountain pass in front of him. Before he was released back to Samnite, Garni was taken to Thurii and stayed in the central city of the kingdom of Theonia for several months. During that period, king Davos, the one who defeated them, warmly received them numerous times.
At this moment, a complex emotion rose in Garni’s heart as he loudly said, “Increase our pace; we are about to exit the mountains!”
His subordinates shouted excitedly while helping the herdsmen of Potentia lead their livestock, carry their goods and advance together.
After these two days of getting along, the travellers found that the Samnites are easy to get along with because as long as you are good to them, they would certainly do their best to help you.
After crossing the foot of the mountain, they began slowing down because of the long line in front of the fortress.
Originally, there was only an outpost here as the western exit of the mountainous area was already guarded by the Lao Fortress, so the Theonian Senate didn’t plan to build another fortress on this side. However, since the construction of the Thurii-Nerulum road, the extension towards Lucania, the annexation of the Potentia region and the Samnites and the Campanian’s initiative to ally…the influence of the kingdom of Theonia in the north has increased. As a result, the trade and cultural exchange between the centre of Theonia, Thurii, and the central west coast of Italia became more frequent.
Thus every day, besides countless people crowding this road, there are also a lot of wagons and livestock. In addition, due to the strong wind and heavy rain in the mountain area, many fallen trees and rocks would block the road. Hence the need to maintain the road frequently. Moreover, the Theonian Law states that all cities must do their best to ensure the people’s safety during their travels. But with the winding roads in the mountains that would need three days to traverse and its remote location and many travellers, robberies and injuries would occur from time to time, as well as the wild animals’ attacks… So when the Senate assigned the safety of this mountain area to Thurii, the Thurian city hall assigned the kingdom’s Department of Road Management and the guard station to send personnel to patrol, repair, and protect the travellers on the road. And to make them feel at ease when working, Theonia expanded the outposts and converted them into fortresses.
And with the increasing number of travellers, the Thurian merchants found business opportunities. After all, the travellers would still need half a day of walking to reach Thurii as soon as possible after trekking the mountain roads for three days. And since the people couldn’t eat and sleep well in the mountain areas, and most travellers couldn’t continue their travel without having a good rest, the merchants built inns, restaurants and shops here…and after several years, the fortress’ area now turned into a lively town in the mountain.
Finally, it was the turn of the herdsman from Potentia. The guards in front of the gate frowned as they looked at the herds of livestock and asked, “Is there anyone in charge among you?”
“Me!” The man on horseback squeezed in front of the soldiers.
“Where are you from? What are you going to do in Thurii?”
“From the area near Compsa in Potentia; It is to sell my livestock in Thurii.”
“How many cattle? How many sheep?”
“12 Cattle and 108 sheep.”
The clerk beside the guard made a mental calculation and said, “You need to pay 12 obols.”
The man on horseback was shocked, so he asked, “Why do I need to pay?”
“This should be the first time you have taken this route to Thurii to sell your livestock, right? Maintaining this mountain road is difficult, and with you bringing so much livestock, they would naturally eat the grass and leaves on the side of the road, so when it rains, the mud would easily block the roads. Moreover, the livestock’s excrement would scatter over the road, which is troublesome to clean, and its smell would also attract wolves. Therefore, the Department of Road Management states that you need to pay one obol for every ten cattle and sheep passing through this mountain road as payment for the road’s maintenance and an additional salary for those maintaining it. If you don’t believe me, you can go there on the wall and read the announcement with the Senate’s seal.” The soldier justifiedly said.
In fact, twelve obols aren’t that much, and the man on horseback was also straightforward, “No need, I believe you.”
After paying the fee, the herdsmen drove their livestock past through the gate slowly.
Garni and the others then stood in front of the guard. But before he could ask, Garni immediately said, “We are the Samnites from Abellinum and were invited to participate in this year’s Rugby Tournament.” After saying that, he also pulled out a letter, “This is a letter of attestation issued by the praetor of Compsa, Kesima.”
As a matter of fact, Garni had already experienced this when they passed through the Lao fortress. After looking at Garni and the other Samnites, the guard politely said, “Wait here for a moment. Someone from the athletes’ camp will soon arrive to receive you.”
After a while, they saw a young man coming toward them. He had short blond hair, thick eyebrows, big eyes and a slender body. Even though he looked somewhat childish, he stared at them delightedly. As he walked toward Garni and the others, excitement and curiosity showed on his face. Once arriving next to them, he began observing them, which slightly displeased Garni.
At this time, the young man smiled and said, “Thurii welcomes you, o brave warriors of Abellinum! The Senate had tasked me to lead you to the camp.”
His bright smile had immediately dissipated the unhappiness in the hearts of the Samnites.
Currently, the Rugby Finals of the Kingdom of Theonia were no different from when Theonia was established, with more than 50 teams participating in the games. In addition, there are also Hades’ Day and the subsequent Harvest Goddess Festival. With having too many events, the city hall of Thurii didn’t have enough manpower to deal with such a massive event, so Davos later suggested to the praetor of Thurii to recruit volunteers among the Thurians to make up for the shortage of manpower, and this proposal was adopted and implemented.