Theme Music for Centurion

A few years ago, I heard this music in a restaurant and immediately fell in love with it. I asked about it and learned it was from from a group called ERA. It has an epic feel to it, and there was something noble about it, like the hymn of some ancient race that had long since died out, leaving behind only this song for others to remember it by, and maybe, just maybe, by it be inspired in some way.

I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to it, and each time it resonated with me in ways I can’t explain.

Amazing how music can do that, don’t you think?

The more I listened to it, the more I felt it would be good theme music for a soundtrack if the book ever became a film.

Though it is an instrumental piece, I just learned only minutes ago that ERA had written lyrics to the music, which I found quite compelling. Suddenly I knew why the music resonated within me. I’ll let you read the lyrics, then I’ll give you a peek into something I wrote later in the novel, and you’ll see why I felt the music a kindred spirit.

I Believe

One day I’ll hear
The laugh of children
In a world where war has been banned.

One day I’ll see
Men of all colours
Sharing words of love and devotion.

Stand up and feel
The Holy Spirit
Find the power of your faith.

Open your heart
To those who need you
In the name of love and devotion.

Yes, I believe.

I believe in the people
Of all nations
To join and to care
For love.

I believe in a world
Where light will guide us
And giving our love
We’ll make heaven on earth.

I believe in the people
Of all nations
To join and to care
For love.

I believe in a world
Where light will guide us
And giving our love
We’ll make heaven on earth.

Yes, I believe.

I believe in the people
Of all nations
To join and to care
For love.

I believe in a world
And giving our love
We’ll make heaven on earth.

I believe

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/era/i-believe-lyrics/#EJsyBopUxItryf1e.99

Now (I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this!) here are my words. The centurion has just returned to Alexandria, the city of his childhood, and he goes to the library that became the womb to so many of his childhood dreams.

*****

Lucius goes to the library alone, feeling the company of other officers an intrusion on this most sacred of places that occupied so much of his childhood. As he enters, he takes a deep breath. In that musty moment, his youth comes back to him. How he loved the woody smell coming from the honeycomb of shelves that held scrolled papyri, loved the luxuriant feel of leather parchments, loved the slightly cool sensation of clay tablets warming in his hands. He especially loved the codices, books of folded papyrus with holes bored in them near the edges and their wooden covers, all held together by leather thongs. The wood, smells of forest. The leather, of herded cattle. And the papyrus, of marshes around the Nile in summer.

It was like sniffing a goblet of aged wine, where he could smell the earth from which the grapes had been harvested, with all the fragrances in the loamy soil, the moldering leaves, the broken twigs, the darkness, the moistness, the sweetness. It was all there in one whiff. And it was wonderful.

Lucius touches an ancient scroll, then moves his fingers from one to another, slowly, reverently. He has missed the feel of Egyptian papyrus, something he has forgotten. The texture is smoother than what he encountered in Syria and Judea, because the process for making it is more painstaking and the raw materials more pure. It is as if the reeds along the Nile, from which the papyrus was made, grew up knowing the value of words in shaping ideas, the value of ideas in shaping citizens, the value of citizens in shaping cultures, and the value of cultures in shaping history.

At his fingertips lie shelved the greatness of three cultures—Roman, Greek, and Egyptian. The Egyptians were better farmers, he had concluded as a boy. They were better breeders and more awe-inspiring builders. The Greeks were better thinkers, better writers, better at almost everything. But the Romans, the Romans were better soldiers. They were, in fact, the best the world had ever seen. As a boy, he stood in awe of their stories, dreaming of the day when he would be old enough to join their ranks.

These shelves were the safe harbors that launched his boyhood dreams. Dreams that caught the winds of adventure and made chesty sails of his slackened years in Alexandria. How he loved the sea—the sight of it, the sound of it, the smell of it. It is what separated him from distant lands and, at the same time, what joined him. He was just a voyage away from anywhere. How many voyages had he stowed away on in his imagination so many years ago? So many he can’t remember.

He sees a scroll of Gallic Wars, written by Julius Caesar himself, a chronicle of his military campaigns, battling the barbarians, from the Germans to the Britons. It was the first book that set his young mind to dreaming . . . of the greatness of Rome . . . of the glory of war . . . of going off to sea.

His hands move across the numerous scrolls that make up Virgil’s Aeneid, which extolled the greatness of Rome from the day of its fabled beginnings. Then his eyes fall on Livy’s monumental work, History of Rome. How he loved Livy as a boy. Fragments of stories come back to him. He remembers one fragment where Terminus, the god of boundaries, had refused to be present at Rome’s birth. Its citizens interpreted this as an auspicious sign. So did Cicero, who concluded in The Republic, “The empire of the Roman people shall be extended to the farthest ends of the earth.”

Lucius suddenly realizes that he has helped fulfill this prophecy, having returned from those far reaches and extending the Empire there.

It had seemed so noble. It had all seemed so noble. Once.

The man in him wonders. Will a day ever come when men will clash with words rather than swords, and weaker ideas will fall in battle instead of fathers, sons, brothers, friends?

Or is it the boy in him that wonders such things?

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2 Comments

November 13, 2013 · 9:22 pm

2 responses to “Theme Music for Centurion

  1. Elizaberth Van Liere

    Ken, you’ve drawn me into another world. Yet, the last paragraph and the last sentence bring me into today. And yes, I can hear the music in the background. Looking forward to the completed book. Elizabeth

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