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Chapter 16 - The deputation from Caesarea before Cyrenius.
16,1. As I had barely finished speaking, twelve men came around the old house; it was six Jews and six Greeks. The Caesareans, camping in a few huts, had received the news through their shepherds and fishermen that the Roman governor gave old fisherman Mark a large piece of land, which, as his full property, was surrounded by an insurmountable wall. The Caesareans, however, regarded all land far and wide around the city as communal property and now wanted to know from Cyrenius, with what right he could take from city property, since the city had always paid its tribute from that, both to the Romans and to Jerusalem. I, however, had already secretly given Cyrenius a hint in his heart, and he knew in advance what it would all be about, even before anybody from the deputation had opened their mouth and that is why he was sufficiently prepared in what he would reply to the highly unmistakably plaintive deputation.
16,2. After all curtsies had been made, a fine Greek by the name of Roklus approached Cyrenius, opened his mouth and spoke, “Most just, strict, and serene lord, lord, lord! We approach you with regard to the fact that through your munificence (generosity) the old warrior and now fisherman Mark was given, as enclosed property, an important part of our communal lands that are allocated to strong tribute. We have sadly learned this an hour ago from our shepherds who feel sad about the beautiful piece of land.
16,3. What other kind of misfortune hit us otherwise well-off Caesareans is shown by the ruins still steaming here and there. We are now in the full sense of the word the most miserable beggars in the world. Good for the ones who managed to save some of their belongings during the mighty fire! That was not possible for us poor fauns because the fire spread so fast, and we and still more of us had to be very thankful to the gods that we escaped with our lives. Some livestock are now our only possession and we became nomads once again; but how can we keep even this last possession if your munificence towards native Romans takes our best lands away from us, fences and gives them as full, untouchable property to the ones who have the luck to be in favor with you?!
16,4. Thus we want to pleadingly ask you if the now so very lucky Mark will have to give us compensation or not! Without any compensation this actual seizure would be in our most difficult situation something that the history of mankind will find hard to present anywhere and at any time. – Highest Lord, what should we paupers expect?”
16,5. Cyrenius says, “What are you saying and what do you want, you shameless half men?! This lot of land has belonged to this mountain and this fisherman’s hut for five hundred years and was completely worthless because it was a pure sand and gravel steppe. However, twenty more acres of land belonged here; they were not enclosed and were thus left to the free use of the township. In addition, you have presented yourselves as complete paupers and beggars, who were bereft of all their belongings! What am I supposed to say to such wicked lies?! I know that your houses were destroyed by fire and know exactly how high your loss runs; but I also know about your large estates in Tyros and Sidon and know that you, Roklus, own so many treasures there that you are easily on par with me! And the eleven who came with you are the same!
16,6. You twelve have so many treasures and riches that you alone could rebuild the city destroyed by fire at least ten times over; nevertheless you come and complain to be poor and want to accuse me of injustice because old Mark, who is an honorable man in every fiber of his body, had his bare and rightful property separated from your own! Tell me what I should call you!
16,7. Go and look at the land behind the garden wall that is still Mark’s property. There are well over twenty acres of land. I sell it to you for ten silver pennies. If you think it is worth it then put down the ten silver pennies and the land is yours! There is no worse soil in the entire world, except for Sahara in Africa because you will find nothing except for sand and gravel and here and there a vestigial thistle shrub!
16,8. You, however, are rich people, can bring soil from far away and cover this small desert and turn it into fertile land! You can also build an expensive aqueduct from far away in order to be able to properly water the cultivated land during the usually dry summers and you will thus have brought a quite tolerable piece of land into your possession! But you will not achieve anything with me with such unfounded claims and I will factually prove that according to your current most unjust petition only the most powerful is always right! – What do you want to do now?”
16,9. Roklus says, very intimidated by the energetic speech of the chief governor, “Lord, lord, lord! It is not us who claimed a right for ourselves; we are just representatives of those who in earnest lead a miserable existence in the destroyed city. We have already done a lot for them and the whole community, now entirely poor, has out of gratitude transferred the surrounding lands into our full possession and told us that these lands on the waterfront belong to the communal property as well!
16,10. If so, we thought, then it cannot be all the same to us if somebody appropriates a part of it, cultivates it and encloses the cultivated part with an insurmountable wall and that magically fast, - which of course could be possible for you war trained Romans, since in the field you know how to set up in a few moments a camp for a hundred thousand men!
16,11. Now since the matter is completely different, we step back from our claim and go home! The honest man can have the remaining twenty acres of land outside the wall enclosed as well and we hereby declare that he will never be disturbed in his free ownership neither by us nor by the township. But we do believe that because of his exclusive fishing rights he has to pay the traditional tithe to the city from now on!”
16,12. Cyrenius says, “Oh yes, but you must prove at what time the city has acquired this right by adverse possession! I do not know of any document in respect thereof, as I have not seen anything like that during my local, now thirty-five year long duty. Not until my rule was the previous spot raised to a city and that to honor my brother, who had ruled Rome for over twenty years. Thus I am very well acquainted with even the smallest circumstances of your city! I do not know anything about this city having the right to demand a fish tithe; but I do know that the city has been unlawfully demanding such a tithe and my Mark was constrained to always pay it to you, for which, if he was a bad man, he could demand a full refund, which, however, he will not do because he is too honest and too good of a man. But I can assure you that he will not pay such an unlawful tithe to you in the future!
16,13. Instead of now giving you any right, I am hereby letting you deputies of this city know that according to the power invested in me by the emperor I am making old Mark colonel over the city and its wide surroundings and give him all the power that I myself have and that subsequently he alone shall pronounce judgment on you and all your issues and all of you will have to pay the obligatory tribute to him! I am letting you know this verbally now, but he will absolutely lawfully identify himself before you with the writ, the staff, the sword and the golden scale of justice! An appeal to me will only be allowed in very special cases, but apart from that he will have to decide everything! – Are you satisfied with that?”
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