Great Moments in Cinema, XIII

CRASSUS Are you on guard duty?

GLABRUS My dear Crassus, congratulate me. Or better still, let us congratulate each other.

CRASSUS I congratulate us.

GLABRUS Tomorrow I lead six cohorts of the garrison against the slaves on Vesuvius. The whole city is turning out to see us off.

CRASSUS Great merciful bloodstained gods! Your pardon. I always address heaven in moments of triumph. Did Gracchus have something to do with this brilliant affair?

GLABRUS Yes, he even proposed it. Rather decently, too.

CRASSUS And you? Do you think I made you commander of the garrison to control some rock patch on Vesuvius? It was to control the streets of Rome!

GLABRUS I only take six cohorts. The rest of the garrison remains.

CRASSUS Under whose command?

GLABRUS Under Caesar’s.

CRASSUS Excellent, excellent! Finding Gracchus in control of the mob and the Senate, you felt compelled to hand over the garrison to him also.

GLABRUS I see. I’ll refuse. I’ll withdraw from the expedition.

CRASSUS One of the disadvantages of being a patrician is that occasionally you’re obliged to act like one. You pledged the Senate to go, and go you must.

GLABRUS If Gracchus should decide to move against you–

CRASSUS He won’t! Has no need to. He has, with your assistance, immobilized me altogether.

GLABRUS Your legions are still in camp outside the city walls.

CRASSUS My legions? Do you truly believe I’d order my legions to enter Rome?

GLABRUS I only point out that you can if you have to.

CRASSUS Are you not aware of Rome’s most ancient law that no general may enter the city at the head of his armed legions?

GLABRUS Sulla did.

CRASSUS Sulla? To the infamy of his name! To the utter damnation of his line! No, my young friend. One day I shall cleanse this Rome which my fathers bequeathed me. I shall restore all the traditions that made her great. It follows, then, that I cannot come to power or even defend myself by an act which betrays the most sacred tradition of them all. I shall not bring my legions within these walls. I shall not violate Rome at the moment of possessing her. Go. Prepare your troops at once. March out of Rome tonight, but the city tribute is impossible. We’ve already been made to look a fool. Let’s not add the trappings of a clown. Leave by unfrequented streets, without fanfare, without even a drum! Sneak out.

GLABRUS As you wish.

CRASSUS And for heaven’s sake, my young friend, try and see to it that you don’t have to sneak back again. Farewell.

Spartacus

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