"In what kind of a sieve do you propose to carry water?" came the next question. "A sieve," said Brinnaria, "is a sieve." "Not at all," Commodus objected. "There are sieves and sieves." "Well, of course," Brinnaria reflected, "I do not mean a broken, worn-out or imperfect sieve, nor one incompetently made." "Just so," the Emperor amplified.
Elated with these praises, which gradually extinguished the innate sense of shame, Commodus resolved to exhibit before the eyes of the Roman people those exercises which till then he had decently confined within the walls of his palace and to the presence of a few favorites.
It was the geese that saved the capitol. You cacklers can preserve your Commodus."
Then it was represented, circumstantially, that, after the detection and foiling of Capito's conspiracy, you had taken ship for Spain, made your way to the camp of the rebel, Maternus, won his confidence, suggested to him the idea of a secret march on Rome, of the assassination of Commodus during the Festival of Cybele, planned for him the details of that secret march, managed it for him and come all the way from Spain to Rome with him.
"You see why I hesitate?" Brinnaria nodded. She judged it no time to speak, and, had she wished to speak she could hardly have done so. "I might not have hesitated," Commodus resumed, "if Calvaster had come to me.
Commodus, like the overgrown boy he was, burst into roars of laughter. The Pontiffs laughed, the Senators laughed, even Manlia and Gargilia laughed. "It's a trick!" Calvaster repeated. On the face of Commodus mirth gave place to wrath. "Isn't that enough water for you?" he roared. "Anybody would think, the way you behave, that I am the minor Pontiff and you the Emperor. I'll teach you!"
Commodus had now attained the summit of vice and infamy. Amidst the acclamations of a flattering court, he was unable to disguise from himself, that he had deserved the contempt and hatred of every man of sense and virtue in his empire.
"Is that a fair statement of your proposal?" "It is," Brinnaria replied. "What kind of water do you propose to carry?" Commodus asked. "Spring water, rain-water from a tank, aqueduct-water, or what?"
The veteran went off without a word to give his orders to the men below- ground, whose duty it was to drag the cages to the openings of tunnels in the masonry through which the animals emerged into the sunlight. There were ten such openings on either side of the arena, closed by trapdoors, set in grooves, that could be raised by ropes from overhead. Commodus picked up one javelin and poised it.
The most full and minute list of articles of luxury on which custom duties were levied, is to be found in the rescript of the emperors Marcus and Commodus, relating to the goods imported into Egypt from the East.