Gaius leaned into the corner, his four horse chariot started to slide as it entered the corner. The spectators in the stands gasped. He was leading the race, but this was a race to the death. If he let anyone get ahead of him now, it might all be over.
The Emperor was presiding over this final event at the Circus Maximus. It nestled between the Palatine and Aventine hills, on the level ground in the Murcia Valley. At this moment, that was the last thing on Gaius’s mind; Pontius was edging up beside him.
Behind them the circus was littered with the carnage of fallen charioteers. Pontius and Gaius were all that remained. One would die, the other… was in the Emperor’s hands. If his thumb turned down, the Praetorian Guard would soon be upon him.
As they came out of the corner, their wheels touched, after a short slide with both chariots locked together, Pontius’s chariot flipped. Gaius charged ahead, with the crowd cheering. He slowed his chariot, and pulled up in front of the Emperor.
The Emperor stood, surrounded by his guards. The crowd went silent. Gaius held his breath, and waited. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Emperor lifted his arm. Would it be life, or would it be death? Gaius hoped, that if it was death, it would be quick. As if making his decision, the Emperor rotated his thumb.
As the spectators stood and cheered, Gaius breathed a sigh of relief. He mounted his chariot, and started his victors circuit of the circus. The crowd cheered again, and threw flowers, some of the wealthier spectators threw bags of gold, or similar treasures.
“At last, I’m on my way,” Gaius said to himself. And he completed the circuit, and headed out of the circus.
Text (c) 2016. Images courtesy of Google image search, and may be under copyright.