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Aquilinus is a young centurion in Legio XVII, stationed in Castra Vetera on the Rhine. In his late twenties, he has already been over a decade in the Imperial Roman Army, joining just at the tail end of the Roman expansion into Germania on the east side of the Rhine.

He was awarded two Phaelera (medals) for bravery in battle during Drusus' campaign to the Albis (Elbe). Later, when he was optio he was awarded a torques (neckband) of gold for outstanding leadership in keeping panicing men from fleeing, and returning them to the line, and as centurion he was given the Corona Muralis for being the first over the wall of a rebellious Chatti tribe's fortress.

Originally from the great city of Rome, Aquilinus enlisted in the army at age 20, seeking adventure and an escape from poverty. The Roman army saved his life, because it stopped him from escalating from a life of petty crime and thuggery into far worse. After several months training he was sent to the frontier to join Legio XVII in Germania Inferior, stationed at Castra Vetera. There he met an experienced optio, Marcus Caelius of Legio XVIII. The two men became fast friends, and could often be seen together during the limited leave time the more junior Aquilinus was granted.

By contrast, within Aquilinus' legion was a centurion with a terrible reputation, Lucilius Fabilus. Nicknamed Cedo Alteram ("Fetch me another") for his habit of breaking his cane on the backs of legionaries he would beat for various infractions, real or imagined, Lucilius was princeps in the 1st Cohort of Legio XVII, a position of authority and respect, and no one dared cross him. If ever the word nemesis had personification, he was it.

Photo: Appian way - the most famous of Roman Roads.

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