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Near Capua 71 BC
Marcus Licinius Crassus, the richest man in Rome, accompanied by his young protege, Gaius Julius Caesar, and his sister, Claudia, arrives at Villa Raptus
The senators are welcomed by Aetius Raptus, the lanista and venatius, and his wife, Domina Lavinia
It is the Lady Claudia's birthday, she has asked to be entertained. Raptus lays on refreshment and a little.... diversion, while he and Crassus discuss the price of 'entertainment'
Teresa, once a prophetess, now a house-slave, is summoned to perform - she predicts that someone here will one day be master of the Republic - the guests laugh, while Crassus accepts the flattery with a smile
Refreshed the party cross the yard - with so many varied mouths to feed Villa Raptus must be not just a home and training school but also a functioning farm
Lady Claudia tours the animal pens - so much to choose from - panther, bear, lion - and money no object!
The party move on to examine the rest of the 'livestock' at their training
The obligatory ritual is performed - the ludi are, after all, still a religious rite
Ceremonials complete, Lady Claudia has her entertainment - a venatio to start with, three lions -at a thousand denarii apiece!
And to follow - four pairs, samnite against retiarius, murmillo versus thracian - the best that money can buy - to the death!
Entertainment over the sand will be raked to break up the clots, the survivors will get a visit to the bath-house and a night with Teresa and her girls. Those who did not... will go to the beasts, while Raptus counts his profits and Crassus dreams of power.
And in the dark of the night one of them, the thracian, will gnaw on an impossible dream of freedom and revenge.
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