Collecting taxes has always been a serious business. Note the soldier standing behind the tax collector. Ostensibly, he is there to protect the tax collector, but more to the point, he is there to terrorize the taxpayer.
Today as in Miriam’s time, you wouldn’t dare fall behind in your taxes. In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam tells her Aunt Hannah about yet another spectacle of tax-collector brutality in the agora:
The tax collector filled a huge basket with sand and lassoed it around the necks of an entire family, the wife, children, and parents of a fugitive of the poll tax. Sinking under its weight in the relentless sun of the open marketplace, they suffered a prolonged and humiliating death. People jostled for a space, bobbing and squatting for a glimpse, stretching their own necks like turtles to see what was happening, but no one dared to offer any help beyond a pitying glance, not even a cup of water, for fear of being held liable for the debt or being tortured for information on the fugitive’s whereabouts. (For more on Roman tax collectors, scroll back to my blog of September 1, 2015, “Collecting taxes in Roman Egypt.”)
So, if you haven’t paid your taxes, do that now. Then, reward yourself with a low-fare trip to Ancient Alexandria. You know what I’m going to say, right? Buy a copy of The Deadliest Lie, the first book in the Miriam bat Isaac Series. Just click here. Then review it on Amazon, just a sentence or two and a sprinkle of stars.