Happy Lupercalia & “Fall of the Roman Empire” Magazine Photos

For Ancient Romans, today was a festival day celebrating Lupercalia! This was an ancient pagan ritual for cleansing the winter days and also to rejuvenate health and fertility in the land. After a religious sacrifice young Roman men would race naked, or nearly naked, around the Palantine Hill in Rome and strike young women in the crowd with leather thongs called februum (yes, February comes from this word!) in order to endow them with a health pregnancy, or (if not yet pregnant), grant them fertility, or so they believed. The word februa in Latin means “Purifications” or “Purgings”. So to honor the season before spring and to get the earth ready to be fruitful again, a fertility ritual like Lupercalia took place to welcome the season.

So, welcome Lupercalia!

Pictures below of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” taken from a French Magazine called Bonnes Soirées, April 1964. https://stephenboydblog.com/fall-of-the-roman-empire/

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Part 6. “The Fall of the Roman Empire” by Harry Whittington – Venus and Mars

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“I’d chose your love…If that makes me finally less than what your father believed me…then I am not fit to rule an empire…Without you, it would be nothing….I am empty and lost, and incomplete without you. I am chilled with cold when you pull away from me here.” He kissed her eyes, pressing his face into the luxurious texture of her faintly scented hair. “Only this is real.” He whispered against her mouth. “For the sake of all gods, let us be wise enough to know that.” His lips moved over her face, and her eyes, along the chiseled line of her jaw to her throat. “All else is half-life–emptiness…not living at all. Only loving you is real–”

Lucilla whimpered, a sound of anguish, no longer afraid of him at all, but filled with dread at the storm he had loosed to rage in her mind and her heart.

“That–is only my body…”She shivered visibly, trying to control herself by quoting her Stoic father. “But I am more than that. I can reason, I can rise above that.”

Livius kissed her with brutal hunger. “There is nothing above this. When the gods bring two people together like this–there is nothing above it for mortals…and not even the gods can help those who throw it away…for anything.”

Lucilla broke away from him, moved distracted  across the storm-lit platform, pressed against the farthest support.

She did not speak to him, but to the storm-clogged dark. “No. Not true. Not true. I cannot rise above this…I don’t want to….I don’t want to reason…I want to love him whom I have always loved–him only…” Thunder reverberated from the earth, rattled against the roof of the sky. “I won’t listen! I won’t hear other voices! I no longer hear any voice but his!” She tilted her head, her hair wild, her eyes fixed defiantly on infinite sky. She shouted her defiance, exultant. “Do you hear me, gods? I love Livius. Do you hear me, world? I love Livius.” Her voice lowered fervently.  “I’ll pray to Venus. Of all the gods, she’ll understand. She loved the god of war, didn’t she, Livius? And not even the ridicule of the world when she was hung in a net in his arms could change that–she’ll understand my love…I’ll bring sacrifices to her shrine. Venus will help us…The goddess is close to me. She’s always been because I’ve loved you so deeply, so sincerely, so forever…Venus loves me because I love you above all else. She loves me and she won’t let me lose you…”

She stopped abruptly, covering her face, sobbing into her hands.

Livius came to her, took her in his arms. Exhausted, she rested her head against his chest.

Her voice was lower, but she spoke with hope, as if purged from old doubting. “And in the morning, I’ll speak to Father. First above all he loves me—he’ll release me from my pledge–” She pressed closer, whispering, “Hold me, Livius, don’t ever let me doubt, don’t ever let me be afraid again.”

Lightning erupted in a violent streak, ripping the blackness from one horizon to another, but they didn’t hear it; they pressed closer and closer in the blinding whiteness.

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Part 5. “The Fall of the Roman Empire” by Harry Whittington – A Higher Rank

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He held his breath, waiting. A second burst of lightning revealed her again.  Livius ran suddenly, going to the foot of the tower, clambering upward in the wail of wind.

When he came off the ladder onto the railing- enclosed platform, Lucilla for one moment remained posed against the sky, like some unutterably lovely statue of a goddess.

When she heard him, she swung away from her intense study of the vistas below her, and heeled around to face him.

For a moment, neither of them spoke, facing each other, removed up here from all the rest of the world, like two distant stars alone in a black firmament. The thunder shook the tower supports as well as the pillars of the earth.

Livius said, “Maybe I should have stayed away. I have no right–”

“I was thinking about you.”

He exhaled heavily. “It’s no good. I’ve known that, even when I was a boy. I knew then you were never intended by fate for me. Ever since I saw you again here, I’ve tried to fight it off –the way I feel about you….But I can’t…It seems all I have that’s good on earth–the way I love you….I love you, Lucilla. I’ve loved you–forever—as long as I have any memory of you, I’ve loved you.”

He took a long stride across the platform toward her. She fixed her gaze on his face in the darkness and sudden glare of white lightning. He took her in his arms, feeling her shudder.

Her face lifted up to his and he kissed her, more roughly than he intended because his love was so intense.

The storm raged, and yet was paled by the storm that had built for so many lonely years inside them.

Suddenly Lucilla cried out, wrenching away from him.

Livius stood, bereft, unable to move, staring at her. She had to come back to him, close in his arms, he was less than whole without her, and there was no longer any denying that she knew this now.

A savage shudder shook Lucilla and she turned away from him, going to the railing, almost as if she meant to walk out into space and end the brutal conflict inside her.

Livius walked to her, pressed himself against her, feeling her tremble, feeling the resistance against him go out of her. He pulled her about to face him.

Lucilla cried brokenly. She had no strength to fight him, only the desperate knowledge that she must. “No….No….No.”

Livius held her closer, whispering, “You love me–you know.”

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She tried to pull away, tilted her head back, her slanted eyes brimmed with tears. She spoke tiredly, as if her will and energy were spent, leaving her without spirit. “Yes, I love you. I want you. It has always been you. First. Only. Always. I want no other man…But I–I’ve been afraid, too, that this day would happen.”  The tears spilled, slow drops on her high-planed cheeks. He mouth trembled. “There were times–knowing it—I didn’t even want to live….Not without you…It made me doubt life—or any reason for living…Oh, I doubted life, but I–never doubted the way I loved you.” She stood straighter. “I am pledged, Livius. You know that. I promised by father—”

“Come away with me, “Livius said. “Now. Anywhere. Wherever a man and a woman can be alone.”

He eyes distended, her voice showed her shock. “I–am Caesar’s daughter.”

Livius tried to smile. “I’ll make a woman of you. That is a much higher rank.”

Lucilla shook her head, crying. “I couldn’t live that way.”

“I could. I could live any way, as long as it is with you.”

She breathed out, disengaging herself, leaving against the platform railing, slowly regaining control of her emotions. Her voice was truly incredulous. “Run? Hide? Give up everything?”

“What do we really have–on this earth–except each other?”

“Forsake our vows – our pledges?”

“Gladly. Gladly.”

There was such force, such power and need in his voice in his voice that Lucilla felt helpless against his will, his strength. “How long does this madness last?”

“Forever.” He drew her closer. “But even if only for a month – a week –”

“You’d trade your duty and your honor for this?” She stared at him, frightened. “And you are the man my father wished to be his heir.”

His laugh was bitter, tormented. “I’m not the man to take his place, Lucilla.”

“Of course you are. Father knows you’ll grow, learn–who else but you?”

“I don’t know. But not me.”

“You are the only man, and you’d throw it away like  this.”

“Let me tell you the truth, Lucilla. If I had to chose between being Caesar’s heir- or your love.” He shook his head, holding her closer, convulsed with a sudden shudder.

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Part 4. “The Fall of the Roman Empire” by Harry Whittington – Livius in a Storm

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The storm hung suspended above the earth, growling, flashing in livid white from black clouds ready to burst as night came.

Livius walked along through the encampment, glad for the early darkness over the face of the world. The soldiery, auxiliaries, the wings, the visiting dignitaries were all withdrawn to their quarters. Pale lights glowed across the castra, but Livius kept himself to the shadows.

He could not remember ever having felt so lonely, so abandoned. he felt the hot flush of shame crawl across his face, even in the chill wind. The emperor had silently rebuked him before the whole Northern Army, and gods knew he deserved it.

Lightening flared, but he strode on, wincing against its fire, but not slowing, not seeking shelter. The gods hadn’t yet created a storm to match the one going on inside himself.

How in the name of the gods had the good Aurelius ever considered him capable of administering the affairs of the civilized world? And worse, how could he even secretly have tried on that purple toga for size? What a stupid fool to imagine himself ready in the least way to replace the godly Aurelius. What did he know of the troubles of the empire, the commerce, the industry, the treasury, the building, the political dealings with the senate and the magistrates of all the provinces? He was no statesman, only a soldier, and he had proved to the world today, not even a very disciplined one. He walked faster, as if trying to escape his own hounding thoughts. He heard the sentinels on duty, but he moved past without glancing toward them. He heard the enlisted men off duty yelling and arguing, perhaps drunk on their sour wine. He did not slow his steps. He found a broken javelin. He paused, knelt, picked it up and walked again, holding it in his fist. It seemed to him this weapon was itself a symbol of the men who made the Roman army great. Marius had joined the metal point of the javelin to the shaft with a wooden pin that snapped when the hurled javelin struck; Julius Caesar had made the head, except for the point, of soft iron that bent on impact of a blow. Javelins used by Roman soldiers could never be used against them. These men had made such inspiring contributions to the army and the profession of warfare. What had he done?

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He swore back at the raging thunder. Much about the present day army distressed him, but he had no answers. It seemed to him the centurions had too much responsibility and authority, and they abused it. Still, Julius Caesar had taught that the centurion was responsible for discipline, and you could not weaken their power over their men. But sometimes the brutality and immorality of these petty officers sickened him. He had seen men flogged almost to death for misdemeanors. Men of the ranks had to bribe the centurions to avoid floggings, avoid extra duties, to get any privileges. Centurions had come to count on bribes as part of their income. and some of them became inhumanly cruel and vicious. He had no answers even for such a minor, yet far-reaching problem. He had been a fool to consider for one drunken moment the possibility of his becoming Caesar of the empire. The gods forgive him.

Livius flung his head back, staring at the storm-riven sky, needing to be purged of ambition,  vanity.

A metallic flash of lightening suddenly stood the encampment watchtower in stark relief against storm-torn sky.

Livius, gazing at the structure, caught his breath. At first he thought it was a hallucination, a need for his own anguished mind in his loneliness. Lucilla stood alone on the lower platform, as alone as he in the night storm.

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Stephen Boyd as Batman????

This is a very interesting blog I came across about Stephen Boyd and Peter Sellers. I have looked and looked for some piece of news or corroborating article to confirm anything in this blog and came up empty. Apparently, at least according to this blog, Stephen was set to play Batman–yes, that Batman! – and Peter Sellers his enemy Harvey Dent. It started filming at Cinecitta in the summer of 1966 (according to my info, Boyd was busy filming Caper of the Golden Bulls) and Sellers immediately clashed with Boyd either about Sophia Loren or his current paramour/wife Britt Ekland, and the whole thing fell to shambles. Fantasy or reality? If I find out more I will pass it on!

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Tension in the air? Boyd, Sellers and Loren on set of The Fall of the Roman Empire

http://reluctant-gentleman-muses.blogspot.com/2012/04/batman-and-robin-dir-blake-edwards-and.html?m=1