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متن انگلیسی درس
Chapter 9 A Man for the People
Senator Gracchus climbed the many stairs inside the Colosseum.
He listened to the shouting crowd and he was not enthusiastic about being there.
He joined a group of other senators near the top of the arena.
“Senator Gracchus,” Falco said with surprise. “We don’t often see you enjoying the pleasures of the crowd.” “I don’t pretend to be a man of the people,” said Gracchus.
“But I do try to be a man for the people.”
The Colosseum was full. The crowd was already beginning to shout the name of their hero and favorite gladiator. “Maximus . . . Maximus . . . Maximus.”
Cassius started to introduce the next event of the day.
“Now, as we celebrate the sixty-fourth day of the games, you will see how kind the Emperor is and how he loves his people!” Servants came into the arena pulling great boxes. They removed the covers and took out loaves of bread. Then they started to throw them into the crowd. Other servants appeared at the top of the steps and threw the bread down. There were thousands of loaves.
The crowd cheered and caught as many loaves as they could.
Commodus chose this as the best time for him to enter.
Below, in the prison area, Proximo stood with Maximus. They heard a great cheer go up from the crowd.
“He certainly knows how to please them,” said Proximo.
“Marcus Aurelius had a dream for Rome, Proximo,” said Maximus. “This is not it.”
“Marcus Aurelius is dead, Maximus,” Proximo reminded him.
In the arena the servants had thrown all the bread to the crowd, and Cassius spoke again. “The Emperor has decided there will be a special contest today. Five years after his last fight in the Colosseum, we bring you the greatest gladiator in Roman history! Today Tigris of France returns!”
The crowd loved a surprise and they cheered in excitement as Tigris drove his chariot into the arena.
He was a large man of about forty-five and he looked dangerous. He wore silver armor and a silver tiger helmet with a face guard. The bright sun shone off his helmet as he rode around the arena with his arm held high. The crowd shouted and cheered even more loudly.
Tigris stopped his chariot, got down, and waited in the center of the arena. He was carrying a sword and a spear and he looked frightening.
When the crowd became quieter, Cassius started to speak again. “And from the great school of Aelius Proximo . . . Caesar is pleased to give you . . . the Spaniard, Maximus!” There were more cheers and shouts from the crowd.
Maximus appeared from his gate. He was carrying only a short sword and a round silver shield. He had no armor or helmet.
Among the crowd that day were a group of people who did not usually go to watch gladiator games. They were soldiers from the Army of the North, with Valerius and Cicero at their center.
They had come to see if it was true that their general was really still alive. When he got close enough for them to recognize him, they were very happy. They shouted to Maximus, but he could not hear their voices among so many others.
Commodus was also watching Maximus closely. “They love him like one of their own,” he said to Lucilla.
“The crowd has its favorite for a time—then they find someone new. He’ll be forgotten in a month,” she replied.
“No,” said Commodus, smiling. “Much sooner than that. It’s been arranged.”
Down on the arena sand, Maximus looked at Tigris. “Only one man with a sword and spear?” he thought. “Something’s wrong. What don’t I know?”
Maximus stopped a short distance from Tigris. They saluted each other, and then Tigris turned to the Emperor and raised his sword. “Before we die, we salute you,” he said.
Maximus did not turn to the Emperor, or salute him. Instead, he bent down and picked up some sand, then let it run through his fingers.
Tigris pulled down the face guard on his helmet. Then he immediately attacked Maximus. Maximus struck back at him.
The two men were equal contestants—both strong and fast.
Maximus was the younger man and he was very confident. He believed that he would not be killed that day.
As they fought, Maximus suddenly heard a strange noise. He could not understand where it was coming from. Then he felt the ground move.
Suddenly, a door opened in the sand behind him and an enormous tiger came out. It jumped at him. He felt the tiger’s breath on his back as he moved quickly to one side, and he expected the animal to land on top of him. But when he looked, he saw that it was on the end of a long chain. This was held tightly by three men near the wall.
Tigris attacked again with great strength, forcing Maximus back toward the tiger. Maximus also attacked, and drove Tigris in a new direction. Then a second door opened in the sand, and another tiger jumped into the arena.
Maximus found a new position and continued to fight, as two more tigers suddenly appeared from the ground.
There were now four tigers, one in each corner of the battlefield. Maximus had five enemies to fight and he looked for a weak point.
Then it seemed that all four tigers were suddenly closer!
Maximus realized what was happening. When Tigris was near a tiger, the men holding the chain pulled it in a little. When Maximus was near, they let the chain out further.
Finally, Maximus’s strength and speed began to beat Tigris. He knocked Tigris back and they fell onto the sand together.
Maximus quickly jumped to his feet and stood over him, his sword at his throat.
But then one of the teams of servants let go of the chain and a tiger ran at Maximus. He just had time to turn and push his sword upward into the tiger’s shoulders. The animal fell on top of him and died. This gave Tigris enough time to get to his feet, pick up his sword, and prepare to attack again.
Maximus was under the heavy body of the dead tiger but he still had enough strength to throw his shield up at Tigris. It hit Tigris hard on the face guard of his helmet and bent it. It was impossible for him to see through it. Tigris was forced to drop his sword again so he could use both hands to try to pull the cover up.
Maximus was able to squeeze out from under the tiger and pick up Tigris’s sword. The Frenchman was still blindly pulling at his helmet as Maximus knocked him to the ground.
Maximus stood over Tigris with his sword point at his throat.
He looked to Commodus.
All eyes in the Colosseum turned to the Emperor.
Commodus was very angry but tried not to show it. He slowly stood and looked down at Maximus. He raised his arm and held out his hand—thumb down.
Maximus raised his sword to kill Tigris . . . but suddenly threw it down on the sand, next to his head. “You fought with honor,” he said.
The crowd was silent, then suddenly there was an enormous cheer. The shouts of “Maximus . . . Maximus . . .” grew louder and louder.
Commodus turned and disappeared from sight.
Senator Gracchus suddenly sat forward and started to take a real interest in the behavior of the crowd.
Maximus was almost at the gladiators’ exit from the arena when a group of royal guards appeared in front of him. They stepped back as Commodus walked through them and toward the great fighter.
Maximus and Commodus stared at each other, just an arm’s length away. The crowd was quiet now but they could not hear what was said.
“What am I going to do with you?” said Commodus.
Maximus did not reply.
“Once more I offer you my hand,” Commodus said. He held out his arm, but Maximus did not move.
“Are we so different, you and I?” said Commodus. “You take life when you have to, just as I do.”
“I have one more life to take,” said Maximus. “Then it is finished.”
“Then take it now,” said Commodus.
Maximus knew he only had to take one step toward Commodus and the guards would kill him. He turned his back on the Emperor and walked away.
The crowd went mad! They cheered Maximus, their hero.
And then some started laughing at the Emperor and throwing bread at him.
Gracchus could not believe his eyes. Such insults to the Emperor usually resulted in death. But the people were not afraid now. All this, because of one brave man.
Maximus and the gladiators were chained together again for the walk back to Proximo’s school. There were guards walking with them, trying to keep back hundreds of people. They all wanted to get a close look at their hero.
Suddenly, Maximus heard a familiar voice and saw Cicero ahead in the crowd.
“Where are you camped?” he shouted to Cicero.
“A day’s ride from Rome—at Ostia,” replied Cicero. “We’ve been there all winter. The men are getting fat. They’re bored.” “How soon could they be ready to fight?” asked Maximus, “For you, sir? Tomorrow,” Cicero said proudly.
The guards pushed Cicero back into the crowd. He ran ahead and came out in front of Maximus again, further along the street.
This time he pushed a small package into Maximus’s hand. The guards were close and Maximus knew he only had one chance.
“Cicero! Listen carefully!” he said. “You must contact Lucilla, the Emperor’s sister. Tell her I will meet her politician.” There was no more time. Cicero disappeared into the crowd, and Maximus was forced to move on.
Later, alone in the prison at Proximo’s school, Maximus took the little package out of his pocket and looked at it. Inside were the two wooden figures of his wife and son.
“Do they hear you?” a voice suddenly asked.
Maximus looked up into Juba’s eyes.
“Your people,” said Juba, “in the next world.” “Yes” said Maximus, looking down at the figures.
Juba thought about it. “What do you say to them?” Maximus looked at his friend. “To my son, to keep his head up when he rides his horse,” he said. “And to my wife . . . that’s private.”
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