Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Raiders! Another McGuffin: Crocea Mors

Crocea Mors

Another legendary sword is Crocea Mors (“Yellow Death”). It is a gladius - a Roman shortsword. It was wielded by Julius Caesar at the time of his conquest of the Celts. The sword itself was one of the finest blades in the Roman arsenal, and in the hands of a skilled fighter like Caesar was said to slay anyone it struck.

According to British legend as recorded by the scholar Geoffrey of Monmouth, during Caesar’s invasion of Britain, one of his hardest battles was against the ancient British prince Nennius. The prince’s chariot broke through the roman lines, and Caesar found himself fighting hand to hand. He stabbed right through his enemy’s shield and dealt the prince a fatal wound, but in so doing Crocea Mors became stuck in Nennius’ shield. Amazingly, despite his wound, Prince Nennius managed to stagger away from the battle and escape on his chariot. He continued to fight on for another 15 days - using Caesar’s own sword - before finally succumbing to his wounds. He was buried with the sword at his side in a tomb whose location is now lost.

Crocea Mors is a potent blade (+2 to hit) but its association with Julius Caesar , the original great dictator and emperor, that makes it of immense value. In the 1930s the person who would most like to find it would be the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who fancies himself a modern incarnation of Julius Caesar and the leader of a renewed Roman emperor. Mussolini would stop at nothing to acquire this symbol of Caesar’s military prowess for himself, even sponsoring covert archeological missions on England’s soil.


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