Turtledove
Advertisement
Flavius Antigonus Papias
Fictional Character
by Laura Frankos
"Merchants of Discord"
Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: Greek citizen of the Roman Empire
Religion: Christianity
Date of Birth: 2nd century
Occupation: Merchant
Children: Unnamed son

Flavius Antigonus Papias was a Greek merchant in the Roman Empire. He and his son traveled to Brocolitia under armed guard to trade at the market there. None of the other merchants, Secundinius, Tertullus, and Brocco, particularly liked Papias, even though they had specific reasons to hate each other, and Papias was the least quarrelsome of the group.[1] Papias and his son were also Christians, but they were careful to keep that secret. While Secundinius knew this fact, the other merchants they traveled with assumed he was a homosexual.[2]

All four stayed in the inn of Gaius Julius Decuminus, which was uncomfortable. Brocolitia's decurion, Quintus Vestinus Corvus, took a hand in forcing peace on the four. On the very first night, Brocco, Secundinius, and Tertullus began quarreling over the private room; Secundinius snored, and they were tired of hearing it. When Corvus intervened, Decuminus suggested the Greeks have the room, since they'd been quiet. Papias refused, and in turn suggested Secundinius should have the private room, so as to isolate his snoring from everyone else. Corvus and Decuminus both agreed with the logic.[3]

The next day, Corvus and the fort's standard-bearer, Calpurnius Firmus, went to the market to buy wine for the fort's mess.[4] They briefly visited Papias' wagon first, where Corvus purchased a few items. While examining a box, he inadvertently found a secret compartment with a ring inside, which Papias quickly informed Corvus was not for sale. Corvus recognized the significance of the ring, but kept it to himself.[5]

One the third morning, Secundinius was found murdered at a shrine to Belatucadrus. Corvus and Firmus went to the shrine and examined the body, finding a knife wound to the belly.[6] They then went to the inn. Decuminus reported that Secundinius had quarreled with Papias the night before, and Papias refused to speak of a matter publicly. Then Secundinius attempted to argue with Brocco and Tertullus in turn. Then all three left the inn.[7]

The investigation seemed to point to Papias first, especially when Firmus found a bloody knife in Papias' wagon. However, during interrogation, Corvus revealed that he knew Papias was a Christian, which was a sect not fully understood in that part of the Empire. While Papias insisted his beliefs would not allow him to commit murder, Corvus concluded that Papias was too smart to have actually killed Secundinius, but until other evidence turned up, Papias would have to remain in custody.[8]

However, Corvus proved dogged, and soon deduced Tertullus was the killer. Tertullus confessed, and Corvus took him into custody. Tertullus asked Papias' for forgiveness, which Papias freely gave as required by his faith. Privately, Corvus doubted that the courts would be as forgiving.[9]

References[]

  1. Crime through Time III, pg. 29, mmp.
  2. Ibid., pg. 38.
  3. Ibid., pg. 31-32.
  4. Ibid., pg. 32.
  5. Ibid., pg. 33.
  6. Ibid., pg. 37.
  7. Ibid., pg. 38.
  8. Ibid., pg. 39-40.
  9. Ibid., pg. 44.
Advertisement