Charley Githler

Charley Githler 

My instincts tell me the time might be ripe for a new movie set in ancient Rome. We haven’t had a decent Rome picture since probably Gladiator. Here’s an excerpt from a screenplay I’m working on. Hoping to interest some enterprising film students at IC, so if you know anyone....

Scene: The date is October 15, 475 A.D. Two citizens have been granted an audience with ACTING CAESAR ROMULUS AUGUSTUS in the courtyard of the Forum Romanum, downtown ancient Rome. Everyone’s in togas and it’s all very historically accurate, with mosaics, statues, and whatnot.

CITIZEN 1: (bowing extravagantly) Hail, Oh Most Divine Acting Caesar! Might we have a word with thee on a matter of importance to Rome?

AUGUSTUS: Hail, citizens. Please. Your problems are your Acting Emperor’s.

CITIZEN 2: It’s the Barbarians, Great One. It’s getting worse by the week. Just since the Ides of Aprilis there have been three chariot drive-by spearings. Dagger attacks occur daily. Dwellings are being pillaged. And some of them are lead-addled, with skin of a pallid hue, and seek alms with excessive vigor. 

AUGUSTUS: Tut, tut, citizens. Top committees of senators labor even as we speak on the Reimagining Imperial Legions Collaborative. By Jupiter, a more expansive, inclusive and effective Legion shall emerge! Someday! Hearken to their debate in yonder chamber.

(Sounds of dithering emanate from a nearby portico.)

CITIZEN 2: It is certainly a long overdue reform, Your Most Exalted Serene Highness. But, and I must stress that this is in no way a reflection on Your Fullness, it seems like the committees are untroubled by a sense of urgency. They’re planning to discuss, and gather something called “input” for years to come, with a ponderousness that is most vexing. Is there not some influence you might exert?

AUGUSTUS: These things take time, citizens. Did His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Nero allow himself to be rushed into hasty action? Ha! I should think not. It would be unseemly.

CITIZEN 1: Most recently, there’s an encampment of Ostrogoths on the banks of the Tiber, within the very walls of the city! Consul Flattus’ courtyard has been entered several times. My own domicile as well. I’m sure you’ve heard about the spice merchant in the Market of Trajan. Should we not do something? I mean, er, Your Magnificence...Sire.

AUGUSTUS: Ostrogoths, you say? Have you brought this to the attention of Brunneis, Tribune of the Plebes?

CITIZEN 2: We did, Oh, Imposing One. She issued a proclamation that the senate ‘heard our concerns and was working to get our community safe for all’ (using air quotes).

AUGUSTUS: Citizens, I saw a mouse with white feet at the vomitorium this morning, which clearly means that we ought not act with undue alacrity. It is well known that we ignore omens at our peril, so we shall wait and see. Sometimes problems just have a way of working themselves out....

(The citizens look at each other and shrug, and we flash forward to a scene of Barbarians ransacking the city on August 28, 476 A.D.)

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