“Ut vestri equus!”
“Now we are in for it”, I thought. The call to prepare for moving out the cavalry corps was given. Calling my adjutant, we prepared ourselves for deployment. Evidently the word was out about Iesu and His seizure by the Temple. We were tasked with crowd control around the precincts of the Lithostrotos- the Gabbatha the Judeans called it. My mind raced trying to make sense of what could be happening; the judgment seat is only used by Pilate in his office as Governor. If it involves Iesu, as it most likely does, then this meant only one thing: The Sanhedrin has decided that Iesu is guilty of a capital crime. Since local governments within the Empire were not allowed to execute anyone, they had to convince us to do it for them. “What kind of idiocy is this?” I thought. There was nothing that He could have possibly have done to warrant execution. Pilate was a hard man- no doubt in my mind- even to executing soldiers in questionable circumstances; but surely for the general good, even Pilate could not see a legitimate reason for a death sentence. Since the Temple party had not harmed Iesu when He was in their power, then it seemed that perhaps He might escape their clutches through the good sense and justice of Rome.
Well, there I was on the Pavement. Having made my disposition of my troops in strategic locations, I warned my subalterns once more to keep the men in line, but most importantly keep the peace- even if it meant a few pricks of the lance or spatha. A bit of blood flowing within a mob is a sure way to make potential rioters remember who is in charge. There is nothing like cavalry for crowd control. Just below the long dais and to the right of the seat, I waited patiently behind a line of infantry. It was astounding to me how quickly the Lithostrotos filled with people. They literally burst upon the open area as if poured out of a large sack, in fairly good order. For all intents and purposes they acted as if everything was choreographed by an unseen hand. Little did I know at the time how close to correct this assumption was.
The crowd kept a wary distance from the infantry shields and forward facing pilum; my mount stood silently behind. The steady movements of his head and neck suggested relaxation to others; however I could feel the tenseness of his back and wondered if he was reacting to my own confusion of the current events, or to something I could not as yet sense. The comings and goings of runners was constant, for it is essential to keep open lines of communication during action. We were all put off by the crowd’s discipline and quiet determination to be present at this particular moment. They were packed in like fish in a basket. Something in the air … then I realized what I felt. It was a particular queasy feeling; the sixth sense developed during many years of service. I recognized the unmistakable sensation I got just before an ambush. Into the corner of my eye Pilate suddenly appeared, and sat down unceremoniously; glancing back at the crowd I heard a collective gasp- and then the next thing I knew I heard Pilate shout across the Lithostrotos,