Last year, I told my father that in the course of researching his homeland, I'd come across a tidbit of tantalizing gossip that suggested one of the Samnites, people who inhabited the land over two thousand years ago, was possibly the ancestor of Pontuis Pilate.
"You must be joke," said my dad. "How cans they be knows that? Was too long pass, no record, so many generation living they no can be trace this history."
"I didn't say it was a fact." It was mentioned in an email as the maledetto that could have afflicted us ever since. I wonder about bad juju, about mal'occhio (the evil eye). I sort through the juicy conjecture: we are cursed. This shadow as descendants of Pilate's people has followed us through time. I said, "It's just a story I heard, dad."
This potential ancestor of Pilate's, Gaius Pontuis, led the Samnite army to victory over the Romans. Here's something interesting: the Samnite soldiers did not slaughter the Romans, they embarrassed them. The Romans were stripped of their robes and paraded around wearing yokes while the Samnites laughed, hurled insults and cracked jokes. My people. They display a stunning lack of awareness, foresight and judgement. Perchance this is what passes for compassion in ancient times. A Latin 'live and let live, but first let us laugh' attitude.
When the Romans return and win the next war, they waste no time with games of humiliation; they kill Gauis and defeat the Samnites for good.
Perhaps this was the beginning of our rebellious nature.
Maybe this is the root of all our troubles.