Batiatus addresses his gladiators with news of Gannicus and Oenomaus.
"Behold the champion whose recent performance inspired good Varus to return the house of Batiatus to proper position. Behold Gannicus!"
But Gaia and Lucretia know it was not Gannicus' fighting prowess that won the primus; Gaia: "Inspired performance indeed!"
Batiatus turns to Oenamous: "No longer a gladiator. Now and forevermore to be revered as your doctore". Doctore: "Your will, my hands"
Doctore thinks his promotion has damaged his friendship with Gannicus ("He must now heed my commands and
does not embrace it"), but Melitta knows the change in Gannicus is because of what he was forced to do to her.
When she tells her husband that "some acts cannot be avoided when stripped of choice", the words cut both ways.
The whip sits uneasy in Doctore's hand.
Batiatus revels in his good fortune: "The house of Batiatus--no, the house of Quintus Lentulus Batiatus--rises to the fucking heavens!"
As Batiatus joins Gaia and Lucretia in intimate celebration, he acknowledges Gaia's assistance: "Your
place in this
will not pass without much fucking gratitude". Gaia, grinning: "The kind I fear the most".
Their frolic is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Batiatus'
father, Titus: "Quintus! Gather yourself. I would have words!"
"I leave this house in your care, and this is what greets me upon return". Titus also disapproves of Quintus' maneuverings for the primus.
Lucretia orders a feast prepared, and tells Melitta to procure honeyed wine for Titus.
Batiatus: "We must prove this fucking house in order and prompt decision for his quick return to Sicilia!"
Batiatus: "I secure the primus and he acts as if I shit upon the name Batiatus!" Lucretia: "You raise it beyond anything he
imagine. He will see this and bitter tongue will turn to praise". Batiatus: "He would sooner bite it off than have it betray himself".
Ashur and Dagan are the butt of the gladiators' jokes; they laugh as Ashur spits out the urine-soaked food they have
given him. When Dagan rises
in rage, Ashur stops him with the promise that "we will see smile removed soon enough".
Ordered to spar with Crixus, Barca easily bests him: "Is my long, hard weapon too much for you, little man?"
Gannicus advises Crixus on how best to fight against Barca; 'Crixus! You fought well
against my two swords. Rid a hoplomachus of his spear, and he is left with only one weapon".
Titus takes Quintus to a meeting with Tullius; Quintus: "You would have me sit with
fucking man?" Titus: "I would have you silent while I attempt repair of damaged relation".
When Quintus argues with Vettius, Titus orders him outside while he continues negotiations with Vettius and Tullius.
Titus reports the results of the meeting: Primus lost, Batiatus' men to fight each other: Barca vs. Gnaeus,
is furious. Titus: "This is price due for attempting to maneuver men above your station. Be thankful it was not more costly".
Meanwhile, back at the ludus . . .
Varus arrives unannounced with Cossutius. He threatens to withdraw the primus
from the house of
Batiatus unless Cossutius is provided the same carnal pleasures that Tullius had experienced to procure it.
Not knowing the primus is already lost, Lucretia reluctantly agrees that Cossutius may, for his
amusement, choose one of the gladiators to have sex with one of her virgin slaves. Cossutius
Naevia and Diona to decide which he wants. Diona is paired with a dirty, brutish man.
"You know why I chose this man? So crudely etched, smell of shit hot upon his breath? Because this world is filled with
the grotesque. And the divine. They exist together, two sides of a coin. You cannot have one, absent threat of the other.
And words cannot convey the true nature of this. It must be experienced. It must be felt. And never forgotten".
Lucretia: "Cossutius. You were well satisfied?" Cossutius: "Praise laid upon your house has not been
exaggerated". Varus: "It is a wonder. Such base diversion would be impossible to conceal in Rome".
Diona emerges. Cossutius has his wish: she will never forget.
Auctus and Barca find their bird pens destroyed--and Ashur and Dagan sucking bones.
Ashur: "You soiled our food; why should we not make meal of your fucking pets?"
The ensuing melee soon involves most of the gradiators.
It is well under way when father and son return.
"Is this what my house has fallen to? Brother setting upon brother? So far removed from the honor of the arena where such
contest holds meaning? This points to reason the gods have turned from us, stripping the primus from our hands". Gannicus:
"I do not fight in the games?" Titus: "You do not". The price that Gannicus, Melitta, and Diona have paid has been for nothing.
The men learn who their opponents are to be. Crixus: "Am I to fight?" Auctus: "You are to die! At the end of my spear!"
The day of the games arrives. Lucretia offers honeyed wine to Titus ("You find my
weakness"), but she refuses to give any to Quintus ("It disquiets your stomach too much").
Titus: "Today presents rare opportunity. Auctus, a man forged beneath my rule, to face Crixus,
forged beneath yours. The outcome to prove if son has learned anything of worth from father".
Batiatus speaks to Crixus before the games: "You have shown great promise in practice and exhibition against
Gannicus. Yet this is the arena. This is where men become gods. Legions with far greater training and skill than
fallen upon this sacred ground, many beneath Auctus' spear. But I do not think that you will be one of them.
You have the blood of a champion to rival any my father has ever heralded. Do you wish to behold such miracle
come to pass?" Crixus: "It is all I desire". Batiatus: "Then seize fucking glory! And see us both proven worthy."
Barca and Gnaeus fight first. Barca defeats him easily, but Varus spares his life. Titus: "You are overly kind".
Varus, exchanging sneering looks
with Tullius and Cottius: "Your house has been most accommodating, should be rewarded".
Varus tells Titus he is to introduce the final battle. Titus: "The honor is unfit a lanista". But he addresses the crowd:
"I present the
final offering from the House of Batiatus. Entering the arena, a virgin upon its sands, I give you Crixus! Murmillo!"
Crixus enters the arena, to jeers and boos.
Titus continues: "His opponent, a warrior unmatched in skill and honor. I give you Auctus! Hoplomachus!"
Crixus is immediately in trouble, unfocused and swinging wildly. Soon he is injured.
But when Crixus is nearly beaten, he remembers Gannicus' advice, destroys Auctus' spear, and--Auctus is defeated!
He roars as the crowd chants his name.
It was Crixus in the arena--but Batiatus feels the victory as his own!
Crixus has earned the mark of a gladiator: "I swear to be burned, chained, beaten, or die by the sword, in pursuit of honor in the arena".
Titus: "Your Gaul, still yet a recruit, defeated a gladiator I considered among the best of my men. It would appear I underestimated
Crixus. As I did my son". Quintus: "You honor me, father". Titus: "No, you honor yourself, when cleared of plots and schemes".
"Nothing pleases more than to see reason take
hold of senses. And a house righting its path".
Quintus: "I will see it continued in your absence". Titus: "Absence?"
"No, I will stay at your side. And together we shall see the house of Batiatus rise to former glories, huh?"
Quintus: "You remain here?" Titus: "Until breath flees wearied flesh, calling me to the afterlife"
This is not what Batiatus had planned . . .