Preview from First Pages
There was a great deal of excitement when Octavian rode into the military camp at Capua with Agrippa, Cornelius, and one thousand cavalrymen. The six hundred soldiers at the camp had heard of him. Now they were excited to meet him in person. Agrippa watched as his friend walked among them and shook their hands.
The next day, Octavian and Agrippa left the camp with a bodyguard of fifty cavalrymen and headed to the nearby town of Calatia. Cornelius stayed behind with the rest of the men to protect the twenty million sesterces they’d brought with them.
As they rode along, Octavian said, “I wonder how many we’ll actually recruit today.”
“I don’t think too many men will walk away from two thousand sesterces,” said Agrippa. “That’s more than twice one year’s pay, and you’re offering it up front. I wonder if you aren’t paying too much.”
“This is more of a political strategy than a military one. Our men in Brundisium will be handing out our pamphlets, telling Antony’s soldiers about our offer of two thousand sesterces just before Antony stands up in front of his men to tell them what he’s paying.”
“How much do you think he’ll offer?”
“My guess is five hundred sesterces or less. If this works out the way I want, his men will jeer him!”
“He’ll be mad!” warned Agrippa. “We’ll definitely have to get back to Rome with our soldiers before he does.”
Octavian said, “After this meeting, Cornelius has one arranged in Casilinum. He thinks that we’ll be able to recruit all ten thousand veterans from these two towns alone. If we do, we’ll be back in Rome well before Antony. He has to travel twice as far as we do, going to Brundisium and back.”
It was cool that afternoon in Calatia. Octavian was wearing his thick black cloak over a simple grey tunic as he walked toward the courthouse. Agrippa smiled as he followed behind him. People always took notice of Octavian’s blond hair, especially the young women. When they reached the courthouse, he walked halfway up the steps and turned around to face the more than five thousand retired soldiers who’d come out for him. When he raised his arm in a salute to them, they cheered boisterously. As he stood there waving, he reminded himself that they were cheering for Caesar.