The eagles symbolized the might of Rome and, when three of these standards were lost to the victorious Germanic tribes in the disaster for which Qutntilus Varus was blamed, his nephew, Severus, promised the Emperor Augustus that he would recover them. It was a mad boast for Severus was only recently in the public eye as winner of the ""long race"", and of the wreath for the events which had until then gone to Lucilius. Their enmity began then- and ended in a duel to the death in central Germania, where Severus, his promise twice achieved, was living incognito with the tribe that held the third of the eagles. It is colorful adventure with a little known period of history as background. One feels the dying fire of Rome at the end of the Augustan Age; one learns of the ways of the ""barbarians"" as Severus identifies himself with their way of life. And between the two, the loyalty, the drive that had characterized Rome at her height is evidenced despite the dissolution and depravity of the people.