In The Emperor's Chicken Yard: A.D. 409

INTO THE RAVENNA PALACE OF FLAVIUS HONORIUS strode a newcomer, guided by one of the many courtiers and hangers-on at the Imperial court that was available for such duty, at a price. The newcomer was a well-built, sturdy man, thirty-five years old with brown hair and clear, gray eyes named Virgilius Aurelianus, and he was entrusted with a mission: To ask the Emperor of Rome for military assistance from Roman Britannia's enemies, both foreign and domestic. Virgilius Aurelianus was the leader of his faction. The great landowners had chosen him over his rival Vortigern to represent the civilized Britons' interests.

Virgilius had awaited this audience for a number of weeks and had spent a small fortune in bribes trying to obtain an audience with the Emperor. Today he would be able to talk with Olympius, the Emperor's new Chief Minister. With luck, an audience with the Emperor would follow. The veil of courtiers around the throne had finally been pierced. "All it took was plenty of patience and money," Virgilius thought. "Now I shall see if it was worth it."

He had dressed for the part. Although in his veins flowed the blood of generations of hard-drinking, sword-swinging, warlike Celtic chieftains, his family had been Roman citizens for several centuries; the reward of recognizing the prevailing powers that had come to Britannia, then quickly cutting a deal with the Roman invaders. Virgilius wore the ancient dress of a Roman knight, the toga, with every fold and crease properly arranged. Virgilius had even gone so far as to shave off his mustache, the Celt's symbol of warlike masculinity.

Olympius has come to power as a result of capitalizing on anti-barbarian feelings. Last year in August, Stilicho, Honorius's great barbarian general, had been arrested, then executed because the Emperor had allowed his suspicions to be exploited by Olympius, then a mere courtier. The fact that Stilicho had faithfully served the Emperor, and was also related by marriage to the Emperor, had counted for little against the Vandal blood that flowed through his veins. After Stilicho's execution, several thousand of his barbarian officers and men, along with their families, had been killed in anti-barbarian pogroms. A few months later, Alaric the Visigoth, who had been awaiting such an opportunity, forced a terrified Roman Senate to give him tribute in exchange for not sacking Rome. Virgilius knew that barbarians were definitely in not favor in either Rome or here in Ravenna.

Since Olympius had taken great pains to be known as a pious Catholic, free of heresy, Virgilius had worn one item conspicuously: a simple silver cross was suspended from his neck, hanging from a silver chain. This cross would assure all that he was not a Germanic barbarian tainted with the Arian heresy or steeped in the old pagan Celtic faiths.

The throne was empty, as usual. Olympius sat on a chair somewhat lower and to the right of the throne. The wily Olympius was not going to do anything that might set idle tongues to work fanning the suspicions of the moody, fickle Flavius Honorius. The courtier that Virgilius had hired for this occasion, a perfumed, well-oiled, purebred Roman fop named Gaius, cleared a way through his fellow parasites to where Olympus was performing his daily duties.

"And to the Governor of Egypt give this proclamation of the Augustus Caesar Flavius Honorius, Imperator, Consul for Life, etc., etc. You know all of what comes after that," Olympius said to a scribe, waving his hand sideways at the end of his pause. "The grain supply of Rome cannot be allowed to diminish, regardless of the reason. I, Flavius Honorius, know that there are many problems involved in the taxation and transportation of the grain supply, but I rely on you, my personal friend, to take care of this matter of great responsibility that I am sure that you have the ability to handle. You were appointed governor because of your unfortunate predecessor's incompetence. I have the greatest confidence that you will handle any situation that might arise. In the name of the Senate and People of the Republic of Rome, I, Augustus Flavius Honorius, make this decree. Now write this matter up and send it to the Governor of Egypt," Olympius turned to the scribe. "Do you have all that down?"

"Yes, Chief Minister," the scribe said.

"Very well, then. Herald!" Olympius said, nodding to an immaculately clad Roman wearing a toga. "Introduce the next order of business, or visitor, to the Imperial Court."

The courtier that Virgilius had hired handed a slip of parchment to the herald. The herald read aloud, "The Honorable Roman Citizen and Knight Virgilius Aurelianus wishes to petition the Emperor, on behalf of the citizens of Britannia, that the valiant Emperor of Rome deliver them from the hands of usurpers, restore the Emperor's glorious rule, and protect Roman citizens from barbarian raids and incursions from the heathen Picts, Scotti, and Saxons."

Some of the assembled courtiers grinned when they heard the part about the wish from protection from barbarian raids. Rome had enough problems with nearby barbarians without worrying about far-off barbarians attacking Britannia. A few guffawed, but most of them, with truly Roman hauteur, kept their peace. The guards, most with the blond hair and blue eyes that belied civilized origins, kept a steady glare into a horizon that only a military man in formation sees, not twitching a muscle. Olympius rubbed his clean-shaven, civilized Greco-Roman, priestly double chin for a second. Then he spoke.

"The Emperor is busy right now with a personal matter. But he trusts me to find out the essential details before he troubles his mind with trivial interruptions. After the midday meal we will discuss your petition in another room so that we may speak frankly, Virgilius Aurelianus, Citizen and Knight of Rome." Olympius rose from his chair, and absently pulled on a fold of his toga that had crept up between his ample buttocks. "Herald, what is the next matter?"

Virgilius took that as his signal to bow, then step backwards. His guide to royal procedure, Gaius, followed. The next order of business, an inquiry as to why the taxes from Mauritania were not being efficiently collected, was introduced by the herald.

When Virgilius and Gaius were on the outskirts of the crowd in front of the throne, Virgilius said, "I thought that I paid you to get me an audience with Olympius, perhaps even with the Emperor this morning. When will I get my business taken care of?"

Gaius raised both hands, palms outward, then seeing no sign of discouragement, placed them on Vergilius's shoulders and said, "Don't worry. I've greased the right palms. After the midday meal, you'll have your audience with Olympius. He has been paid as well. Besides, you will get much more done with Olympius than with the Emperor. The Emperor might lend some enthusiasm to the matter at hand, but he seldom sees to it being done. If you can show Olympius his reward in any matter, he will put both his will and the Emperor's prestige into it."

Virgilius chewed on the corner of his upper lip in indecision. He sorely missed his mustache, now gone for over a month.

Gaius continued, " But you are asking for a lot. While all of us Romans want to preserve every part of the Empire, the last few years have found us hard pressed to keep the barbarians at bay. I didn't promise you success in your mission, only an audience. Olympius devotes his mornings to the pageant of high office. It is in the afternoon that he really accomplishes the affairs of state. Patience, my friend. We hang around here, enjoy the show of government, eat a little at the kitchen, then wait to be seen."

"Very well," Virgilius said. "It has taken long enough already. Another few hours will enable me to better present my appeal."

Approximately an hour and a half after lunch, Virgilius and Gaius were summoned to a small room adjoining the main courtyard by a Roman centurion in ceremonial bronze armor. The centurion stood outside the door. Inside the room was Olympius and two massive, blond, German warriors.

"Come on in, gentlemen. We can speak freely now. These wild men don't speak a word of Latin," Olympius said, gesturing at the guards. "And Gaius can be trusted. After all, you have paid him enough for your matter to receive my full attention."

"I thought that you didn't like barbarians," Virgilius said, glancing at the Germans.

"I get along fine with barbarians, as long as they keep their proper station. Which is serving Rome." Olympius pointed at the Germans. "These barbarians are from far away. They are called Lombards. They are completely loyal as long as they are paid well. Us Greeks and Romans have long ruled all the barbarians by employing one tactic: Divide and rule. I sometimes wonder if these barbarians could be encouraged to fall upon those Goths that are currently causing us Romans so much trouble.

"In any case," Olympius continued, "let's get down to business. You want military assistance for Britannia."

"Yes, sir. That is what I want. I realize that you probably have little to spare. But perhaps you could spare a few cohorts, if not a full legion. Your predecessor, Stilicho, stripped Britannia bare of legionaries to fight in Gaul a few years ago. The men didn't return. Now we are having to contend with Picts from the north, Scotti from the west, and Saxon pirates from the east. We have some wild home-grown Celts trying to end Roman civilization in Britannia. A few cohorts could restore peace and keep a rich province in the Roman fold."

"Absolutely out of the question. We don't have anything to spare. Alaric the Visigoth is still in Italy. We must defend the heart of the Empire, not the far limbs. Besides, if Britannia had not rebelled so often, setting up countless usurpers to the throne, you would have plenty of troops now. First Carausus, then Magnentius, Magnetius's successor Attalus, then Magnus Maximus, and now this so-called Constantine III. The legions in Britannia routinely declared their commander Emperor, then he strips Britannia of its frontier troops in order to invade Gaul. Enough of that! Let the current usurper, Constantine, protect you."

Virgilius looked Olympius in the eye after his tirade, and said, "Sir, I am not part of Constantine's conspiracy. In fact, my greatest enemy, Vortigern, is the son-in-law of Maximus and a supporter of Constantine. I have always opposed the stripping of soldiers from Britannia's frontier to benefit foreign adventures by usurpers."

Olympius rubbed his chin momentarily. He met Vergilius's gaze, then said, "I know that." Vergilius's straightforward defense of his conduct and love for his country had caused Olympius to drop the regal "we." Few people dared to contradict the Chief Minister of the mightiest country in the known world.

Olympius caught the error, then continued as if he had not made a lapse. "We know that you have always opposed these usurpers. Our intelligence service still functions well. I will talk to the Emperor, perhaps he can spare a cohort or two after we put down Constantine. In return, will you serve as Governor of Britannia? We need a man we can trust, not someone who will become another rebel, usurper, or heretic."

"Yes, I will sir, if you choose me for such an office. I serve Britannia by serving the Empire!" Virgilius said.

"Best serve the Empire first," Olympius said dryly. "I cannot promise you anything. We will talk to the Emperor today. There are a few matters in dealing with the Emperor that you need to know." Olympius turned to Gaius, who had been skulking a few paces away, not wanting to get involved in any disagreement between the man who paid him and the man who could make his life miserable or even impossible. "Gaius, have you taught this man the courtesies and protocols necessary for an audience with the Emperor?"

Gaius stepped forward. "Yes, Chief Minister, I have. I will personally vouch for his behavior."

"That you will do indeed. But first I will go over a few things with Virgilius in order to make sure that I won't be out in the cold. You are dismissed, Gaius. If you see Virgilius soon, without him getting to see the Emperor, you can count on my displeasure, not to mention Vergilius's. Wait outside this room, while I talk with Virgilius."

Gaius bowed at Olympius. He turned and glanced pleadingly at Virgilius as if to say, "Now don't disappoint me or get me in trouble." Then Gaius left the room, closing the door behind himself.

Virgilius spent the next quarter of an hour convincing Olympius that he indeed knew the proper etiquette for a formal audience with the Emperor. Olympius listened with a straight face, occasionally yawning at the well-rehearsed recital of the do's and don'ts of protocol. When Virgilius started repeating himself, Olympius raised his hand for silence, and asked, "What is the reason behind these formalized rules that you learned in order to ask a powerful man for something that you want? Would you care to hazard a guess?"

When Virgilius looked confused, then started to say something, Olympius grinned and said, "I tend to be overly precise in some of my wording. Hazard is indeed the word to use for someone not knowing how to behave when he is before this Emperor. Hazard is the word to use even for someone who knows how to deal with the Augustus Flavius Honorius." Olympius's grin faded and he started circling Virgilius like an old, experienced centurion circles an especially stupid raw recruit who needs to know more than the bare minimum of training necessary for survival.

"Those rules that you have learned at great expense of money and time are indeed useful, up to a point. They are forms used to show respect for the person who embodies the Glory of Rome. Forms are used mainly in the pouring of concrete, however. If you wish to get something useful done, Virgilius Aurelianus, you will have to use those forms up to a point, then manage to persuade Honorius to do something for the good of Rome and himself. Explain to him why giving a few cohorts to Britannia benefits both himself and Rome."

"Is that all the help that I can expect from you, Chief Minister?" asked Virgilius.

Olympius, stung, stopped circling. He stood in front of Virgilius and looked directly at him. "You have gotten more help from me than you would ever be able to pay for, Virgilius," Olympius said. "I am merely explaining to you the current reality. The success of your mission depends upon you. Which should make you afraid when you realize that the odds are against you. The Emperor knows that Constantine comes from Britannia, the latest in a long line of usurpers from that province. He will bring that matter up. Your best tactic is to proclaim your loyalty to his dynasty and point out to him that when he eliminates Constantine that it would be cheaper to send a legion to Britannia and put an end to these rebellions. Britannia has avoided much of the fighting that Gaul has suffered, and accordingly has much more property to tax. Ask for a legion, expect a few cohorts.

"As for what help you can expect from me, I have indeed taken your money. I will get you your audience with the Emperor today, after you have been suitably prepared for it, which I am doing now. I am convinced that Rome needs to save a prosperous province like Britannia from the barbarians. But I look after myself first. If you anger the Emperor, you are on your own. If he wants your head, I will be the first one to deliver it. I am telling you this so that you know where I stand. Do you comprehend what I have said?"

"Yes, First Minister," was the reply.

"Very well, then. Now shut-up, listen, and think before you say anything stupid. You say something wrong to me, you only lose your money and time. You say or do something wrong when you are in front of the Emperor and you might lose your life. Is that what you traveled so far for?"

Virgilius didn't answer the rhetorical question. Olympius continued without pausing for his answer, but started winding down.

"The Emperor is a changeable man. I will keep him on the course that favors your cause, if the Emperor so initially decides. Of course, I expect to be reimbursed for services rendered," Olympius said, pausing for a few seconds.

Virgilius caught the meaning. "The people of Britannia will generously reward your understanding and compassion, First Minister."

"As well they should," Olympius said with apparent satisfaction. "If you get what you want from the Emperor, you had best quit while you are ahead. If you get into trouble with Emperor, you had best quit while you still possess your head. Whatever happens, good or bad, make a polite departure, then leave when I motion you to go. By the way, have you heard about the Emperor's favorite pastime?"

"Poultry?" Virgilius asked. He still couldn't credit the commonly repeated court gossip. How could the Emperor be more interested in the affairs of birds rather than the concerns of human beings that depended on him?

"Exactly. We will visit the Emperor about a half-hour after the next feeding. That is when he will be in the best of moods. If he explains anything about the breeding of his birds, or any other such thing, look interested, but uninformed. If you step in any chickenshit, best pretend it is the finest of soft carpets. And under no circumstances do you even hint that these birds should be eaten. The last fool to say anything so stupid is still probably rowing in the galleys. The Emperor usually feeds his birds now. Are you prepared to talk with him today?"

"Yes, First Minister," Virgilius said.

The two men spent the next half hour rehearsing what Virgilius would say to the Emperor. Then Olympius's secretary informed Olympius that the Emperor usually received him and his visitors at that time. Olympius acknowledged the message, then he and Virgilius walked towards the Emperor's private outdoor courtyard, where Honorius kept his chickens and the servants had the duty of cleaning up after the fowl and feeding them a full meal after the Emperor had the pleasure of watching the hungry birds scramble at his feet when he fed them.

When they arrived at the open, grass-carpeted, square courtyard which enclosed Honorius's villa, the Emperor, a slightly built young man in his late twenties, deliberately moved to where the poultry droppings were the thickest.

Olympius thought, "The Emperor is either capricious or not in a good mood today. Looks like Virgilius will have to kneel in some shit. He had better do it without hesitation if he wants to get something done. Perhaps the sight of a stranger kneeling in shit will improve Honorius's disposition. It's much too late to turn back now. So here we go." Olympius caught Virgilius's eye, then he made a downward motion with his hand. Virgilius looked at Olympius's hand motion, then nodded slightly.

Honorius continued scattering wheat to the milling fowl at his feet. Bold ducks crowded and jostled at the Emperor's feet, with chickens keeping a wary distance. The fowl, seeing the two men approaching the Emperor, moved out of the way of the strangers and took new positions in back of their master.

Olympius bowed before the Emperor. Virgilius had to kneel one pace behind Olympius's back and bow his head while Olympius announced his name and

the purpose of his visit in the royal presence. Honorius gave permission for Virgilius to arise to his feet and approach the royal presence. Honorius smiled a nasty little smile when he saw the brown splotches on the formerly immaculate, white linen toga where Vergilius's knees had pressed against the ground. Olympius thought that the smile omened possible success.

"What is it now, Olympius?" Honorius asked petulantly. "I was just beginning to enjoy myself until you turned up. Who is this?"

"Sorry to have to bother you, Augustus, but the affairs of state must sometimes intrude upon the pleasures of us all," said Olympius. Turning to Virgilius, he said, "This is the Most Loyal Ambassador from Britannia, Virgilius Aurelianus. He has come from afar to beseech your support in bringing Britannia back to your excellent rule."

"Isn't Britannia the place where all those usurpers, including the current one come from?" Honorius asked.

"Yes, Your Highness, but the Ambassador doesn't favor Constantine. He wouldn't have come all this way to see you if he was a traitor. He has something to say that might interest Your Highness," Olympius said.

"I bet he knows nothing about chickens except eating them." said Honorius. He turned around to his flock and said in an indulgent tone, "There, there, my pretty birds. I won't let anything happen to you."

Virgilius shot an exasperated look at Olympius when the Emperor turned his back. Olympius caught that look, and waved his hand up and down as if to counsel Virgilius of the need for patience. When the Emperor evinced no sign of paying attention to either Olympius or Virgilius, Olympius coughed and said, "It was the Emperor's wish that he be advised of all affairs of state. Do you wish for me to expedite this matter, Your Highness? Or shall we come back later when you have less important matters to attend to?"

Honorius pondered Olympius's questions for a second, then said, "Oh all right. If I listen now, perhaps you won't bother me again today." Honorius then walked fifty feet to where a marble bench was placed next to a sundial.

Olympius and the thoroughly astounded Virgilius followed the Emperor, as did some hungry ducks that had eaten all their grain. Vergilius's guide to protocol, Gaius, had never prepared him for anything like this. Virgilius and Olympius carefully avoided stepping on any of the fowl making up the strange procession.

Honorius sat on the bench and said, "What do you want, Virgil from Britannia?"

Virgilius didn't bother correcting the Emperor's mispronunciation of his name. He plunged into the conversational opening. "Your Majesty, the loyal people of your province of Britannia suffer from the raids inflicted upon them by the Picts out of the North, the Scotti from Ireland, and Saxon pirates from the continent. They have pillaged and burned some smaller towns. People are afraid to plow the fields or travel on the roads. The flow of taxes to Rome is thus impeded. Therefore, the people of Roman descent have sent me here, Your Majesty, to beg you for help and assistance in restoring your rule." Virgilius paused to await a reply. Olympius looked bored, and said nothing, looking at some ducks that started quacking for more food.

Getting no response, Virgilius slightly raised his voice. "If you could spare a legion, Augustus, or even some of the troops taken from Britannia a few years ago by Stilicho in order to protect Gaul, your loyal citizens in Britannia could maintain a proper defense against the barbarians. I beseech you, Your Majesty to protect both your interests and those of your loyal citizens." Virgilius paused, not knowing how to proceed in the face of the Emperor's silence.

"Why don't you ask Constantine for assistance?" Honorius suddenly asked. "He has plenty of men from Britannia and Gaul to raise a rebellion against me. If he had stayed at home, he could have protected all my supposedly loyal subjects in Britannia. Yes, why didn't you ask Constantine for help?" he repeated while he got to his feet and glared at Virgilius. The ducks scattered, quacking at the sudden movement and the loud tone of their master's voice, leaving behind a few feathers and some splotches of manure.

Honorius watched his birds leave. He scowled at Virgilius. "See what you made me do!" he exclaimed. "Now they won't trust me for a while!"

Virgilius, surprised at the Emperor's outburst, stepped back a pace.

Olympius stepped forward and said, "Don't worry, your Majesty. They will be back when they get hungry. Perhaps we should discuss the matter at hand, now that they have left. The Ambassador, here," motioning towards Virgilius, "is your most loyal servant in the province of Britannia. He wouldn't have dared brave your displeasure, Your Majesty, if he had something to hide. Virgilius wants what is best for both Britannia and Rome."

Honorius resumed gazing at his departed fowl. He sighed and said, "What would you have me do, Olympius?"

"Perhaps you can spare a legion for Britannia after you have finished with Constantine. Britannia is a rich province and a legion loyal to yourself would tend to curb the flow of usurpers from that place."

"Write up a proclamation promising whatever you want me to say. I'll sign

it. Now go away and leave me in peace!"

Virgilius interrupted, "But, Your Highness! That doesn't do anything for your subjects in Britannia, here and now! The Britons need your assistance right away!"

Honorius favored Virgilius with a cool glance. "The people of Britannia have my permission to depose their island-bred traitor that is overrunning Gaul at any time that meets their convenience. Britannia has my permission to fend for itself until the time that I deign to dispose of Constantine. This is my final word on the matter!" Honorius walked past Virgilius toward his departed ducks.

Virgilius, astounded, made as if to walk after Honorius but Olympius grasped his right arm above the elbow. Olympius said nothing, but he gestured towards some German guards, who were quietly watching Virgilius for signs of evil intent to the departing Emperor. Then Olympius led Virgilius out of the Emperor's chicken yard.

"I haven't accomplished anything that I was sent here to do," Virgilius said when they had left the courtyard. "My mission was a complete waste of both time and money."

"How much did you expect to accomplish, Virgilius Ambrosius? A revival of Rome so that she can rescue a wayward province that has spawned much dissension? I think that you are a good and loyal man, if perhaps a trifle naive, Virgilius. Your mission was doomed from the start. Best thank God that you still have your head atop your neck."

"Couldn't we try to see the Emperor at a more opportune time?" asked Virgilius. "Perhaps the Emperor wasn't in a very good mood."

"No. The mood that you saw was as good a mood as the Emperor ever has.

He hates for anything to interfere with his pastime." Olympius rubbed his chin. "Perhaps I should have slipped him some papers to sign. He would haven't cared what they said just as long as it doesn't cut into his time with the chickens. I can't do that now. He'll remember your scaring his ducks."

Olympius sighed as he looked back at Virgilius. "In any case, tomorrow I will have papers containing what the Emperor decreed signed and given to you. Then it would be best if you left Ravenna. This is all that I can do for you, Virgilius."

"I come all this way, spent all that money, just to get a paper saying that us Romans in Britannia have the right to look out for ourselves. I assumed as much before I left home," Virgilius morosely said as they trudged towards the small room that they had left a short time ago.

When they arrived at Olympius's office, Virgilius thanked the Chief Minister for his time and support, not mentioning the money that he has spent to get the Chief Minister's ear. They parted on polite, but strained terms.

The next morning, Gaius came to Vergilius's room in the inn. Virgilius was scraping his cheeks with a razor, but leaving his upper lip untouched.

"The Chief Minister sent me to deliver the Emperor's proclamation for you to give to your countrymen. Olympius sends his regrets that things didn't work out as well as you had hoped. He wishes you a safe trip back to Britannia." Gaius said, as he laid the scroll on Vergilius's cot. "I think that the Chief Minister has a high opinion of you, Virgilius. As do I. I hope that you don't blame me for not getting what you came here for."

Virgilius finished shaving the whiskers off his chin. He placed the razor in his traveling bag and started to buckle on his sword belt.

"Not at all, Gaius. It is hard to blame anyone for my own blindness. Now I see everything clearly."

Virgilius looked Gaius squarely in the eye. "For over 300 years us Britons have looked to Rome for protection after Rome took away both our freedom and the desire to protect ourselves. Now Rome can't look after herself, so this letter," Virgilius said, pointing at the scroll that Gaius had placed next to his traveling bag, "says that we now have the freedom to fend for ourselves. I wonder if we will be able to do so. Britannia is like a sheep, protected and cared for years, then suddenly put out into the wild and expected to live with the wolves. I am not very happy to have learned this, Gaius.

"But you need not worry. I thank the Chief Minister for getting me this letter inscribed with the new reality. I also thank him for his time and patience. I would like to thank you as well, for getting me those audiences that I wanted."

"It was nothing, Virgilius," Gaius protested.

"We both know better than that, Gaius," Virgilius said, opening his purse and depositing a small gold coin in Gaius's hand. "Tell the Chief Minister what I said. You may also tell him that I am leaving for Britannia today. Good-bye, Gaius."

"Godspeed, Virgilius," Gaius said. Then he left Virgilius in his small rented room.

Virgilius quickly read the scroll. He grunted in acknowledgment as he rolled it back up. After fastening on his cloak, he took his belongings with him as he went downstairs to settle his account.

As he went outside toward the stable where his horse was kept, Virgilius thought, "It is good to finally be free of this burden. I have learned a lot, though, due to this trip. Now I can go on home, back to my wife and child.

"I have really missed Helena's love. I wonder how baby Ambrosius is doing without me. Ambrosius is a Roman name, though. Perhaps I should give our next child a good Celtic name. What was the name of my great-granduncle on my mother's side, the one who fought the Romans when they invaded Wales? Uther? Yes, Uther! My next manchild will have the good Celtic name of Uther!"