Forum and Odeon

 

The citizens of Philippopolis used to flock to the forum to buy food and rare expensive goods, to learn the gossips and the latest news about the vast empireThe citizens of Philippopolis used to flock to the forum to buy food and rare expensive goods, to learn the gossips and the latest news about the vast empire

Maximinus Thrax was an interesting figure, a self-made man in Roman terms. Born and raised as a shepherd, but extremely strong, smart and just, he entered the army and within years made himself the favorite of the emperors Septimius Severus (193-211), Caracalla (198-217), Elagabalus (218-222) and Alexander Severus (222-235). Upon the latter's death the empire was so unstable that the legions under Maximinus Thrax's command proclaimed him an emperor, and he gladly obeyed. He felt uncertain in his position though, and revealed an unpleasant brutal side of his character. Brutal or not, he was the emperor, so statues of him and of his son, the good Verus, appeared on the forum and several other public sites in Philippopolis.

They didn't stay there for long. In 238, The Year of the Six Emperors, the opposition overwhelmed Maximinus Thrax. He and his son were condemned to damnatio memoriae, the worst fate any emperor could fear. Every physical trace of their existence should be destroyed, from mentions in history books to honorary inscriptions and statues.

That was why the apprentice was squatting here, in the cold drizzle. He had to delete the names of the two men, the feared and the loved. The cries of the slaves who were waiting to tear down the statue and the pediment and to carry them away with the other rubble of the condemned emperor's memorials, brought him back to reality. The hammering of his chisel echoed through the cold and unnaturally quiet forum and mixed with the delicate rumble of rain pouring down the stone spouts. He carved out the name of the son, then that of the father, although not too carefully as he was cold and had more inscriptions to delete. One of them was on a milestone to indicate the 11th mile from Philippopolis on one of the main roads to the city. It was still in the workshop when the news about the Maximinus Thrax's dеposition arrived.