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A book Report on "The Exiles Of The Cebenna"

  I wrote this in 9th grade and I personally hated the book! I was just being merciful when I wrote the report because my LA teacher loved it.

                           The Exiles Of The Cebenna
                             By: John Mason Neale

           “The Exiles Of The Cebenna” is a story about third-century Christians of Gaul being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.      
          In the book, Aurelius Gratianus, a priest in the city of Arles, is trusted with the secret of a passageway leading out of the city. Because of the inevitable persecution of Christians ahead, having knowledge of such a passageway was, indeed, a great blessing.
          A proclamation soon went out that all were to sacrifice to the gods of Rome, or die. It was worked out that the Christians would escape in small groups. Through certain turns of events, Aurelius was put in charge of his own group.
          Aurelius’s “flock” consisted of: Agape, was a motherly deaconess, who was to be a great comfort throughout the hard days ahead.
          Geta, was a faithful slave to the banker, with a great love and loyalty to his fellow “sheep”.
          Elpidia, was a bankers daughter.  She would loose her father in a few days to come. He would not denounce his faith, so he would be put to death.
          Euphrasia, was a bishop’s daughter. Her father would succumb to the torture and make the sacrifice to the Roman gods.
           Sextius Rufus, was a retired centurion, whose military experience would help them through many of their future trials.
           Plailla and Theo9dora, Sextius’s nieces, who were only eleven and nine years old, making them the youngest of the group.
          Aelius Lamridius, was a youth with a lame hip. Even with his pain he was brave and determined not to give the Romans the satisfaction of the death of another Christian.
          Finally there was Drusilla, a woman who had only recently become a widow.

           By night the Christians escaped, with some difficulty, through the secret passageway. Some of the men scouted ahead to Mons Major, where the escapees would stay first. The snow was falling heavily, and the wind was fierce, but they made it.
          The next morning, Aurelius’s flock went back for the others. Before that, however, Geta went back to the city only to return with the news of the banker’s death and the bishop’s humiliation.
          The travelers moved on through the forest for a few days and came to Ad Tarcam were they found out that soldiers had been there looking for them. The group fled to the forest and found Caesar’s Oak, a hollowed out tree with room enough for sixteen people. The weary travelers found some planks and nailed them to the entrance. Young Aelius died there.
            By now the escaped Christians had been found by soldiers and were trapped. All of a sudden, wolves surrounded the tree! The wolves were coming in from all angles. All the soldiers were killed except for one. His name was Varro. Varro swore he would do whatever was needed to save his rescuers. The next day Varro roped a nearby tree, climbed over and attached a torch to the top. The prisoners were hoping the villagers could see it and would come to help them, because eight wolves were standing guard at their tree.
            When the prisoners were nearly out of food a hunting party finally came to the rescue. The Christians had lived in the village three weeks when Aurelius received a letter from his son, telling him where the Bishop was. When Geta came back from Arles, Aurelious decided to go visit the bishop.
          Aurelius, Euphrasia, Geta and Varro left together. The refugees parted with Varro at Mons Major and went on for another day till they were captured. Geta  got away and went after Varro, for he knew that the soldier could help them.
          At the jail, the Bishop came to see his daughter and old friend. The bishop decided to go with them into the arena that morning. When the prisoners were brought in, none of them would sacrifice and so were to be put to death one by one. Euphrasia was first; she was to be lowered into a pot of boiling oil feet first.  As the oil went past her knees, Varro and Geta came with the prisoners’ pardons.
           Because she was burned so severely, Euphrasia only lived four days longer. Her father, Agape, and Elpidia were all by her bedside when she died. Varro saw how her faith had helped her through, and he too became a Christian.

          This book had an interesting plot, but it was difficult to read and follow the story. The dialogue was probably the hardest part of the book for me. I did not much like the ending either.
          The descriptions helped me to visualize the landscapes of Gaul, and I am sure that will help me in my continuing studies of the country.
           In conclusion, I thought the book was interesting, but I would not recommend it to someone my age.

Posted: July 31, 2005 

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