In the second year B.C. the Emperor Augustus decided to call a conference for world peace, 'Pax Mundana', and despatched a young sea tribune, Titus to collect and escort to Rome the three great Kings from Africa, Asia and the Baltic. This, in the first place, is the story of how Titus carried out his unusual assignment, the hazards and dangers of his voyages and his difficulties, both practical and diplomatic, with his noble charges. But no less important than the sea tribune is Quadrantus, the Master of the square-sailer in which he travelled. It is soon apparent that this is no ordinary ship and Quadrantus is no ordinary master: a giant of a man, he runs his dumb crew with uncanny precision and his navigation and seamanship verge on the miraculous. After the fruitless conference, Titus and Quadrantus escort the three Kings on what seems a hopeless mission to King Herod. Guided by a strange star, the Kings are landed near Philippi, and the half-whispered stories of the phenomena which heralded the Birth of Christ and the legend of a fourth King who set off for Bethlehem with his fellows yet failed to arrive, are given an unexpected twist when seen through the mirror of Norbert Coulehan's narrative.
rank of sea-tribune in the planning section of the Roman marine.
Persistence gained him early sea-duties. Family prestige brought him rapid promotion. Beardless, he became officer-commanding Mediterranean grain convoys; a hard school for a young seaman and a service of rich interest to a budding naval architect. Junius soon discovered that the pirates who preyed on Roman shipping were better served by ships than himself, and sought to improve the standard of escort-craft under his command.
He developed an interest in the liburna, a swift, hard-hitting twindecker which could work to windward under sail and was highly manoeuvrable in enclosed waters. In the course of time he drew plans for tactical evolutions with these craft, and frequently amused himself at sea by deploying them in mock attacks against his convoys.
When the civil war broke out it was natural he should fasten his fortunes on those of Caesar's nephew, Octavian. He was recalled to Rome and given command of the light forces u
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