Caesar debates the situation he faces. He is waiting to meet with Axel, Adoplhus’s diplomat. Caesar talks to himself. “I wonder if Axel knows that I have already met with Talleyrand? If he does, then our meeting will be pure pretense for prying eyes. If Axel is unaware of my meeting with Talleyrand, then perhaps Talleyrand has deceived me by overstating his hand. Either way, it will be unwise for me to reveal my meeting and agreement with Talleyrand to Axel. I must keep my plans secret. Besides, I can either use or dispense with an alliance with Adolphus as opportunity dictates.”
Balbus enters Caesar’s tent. He announces Axel. Axel enters, and Balbus leaves Caesar and Axel to their business. At first, Caesar acts coy, and he talks only about Roman history. The two great men mostly discuss The Punic Wars and their effects on the history of the Western World thereafter. Finally they move on to the current issue of an alliance.
Axel asks Caesar, “If you make an alliance with Napoleon as my sources have indicated, then do you plan to attack Hannibal by sea or pass through Napoleon’s territory and attack Hannibal by land?”
This probing question indicates to Caesar that Axel is unaware of the secret agreement he made with Talleyrand on behalf of Adolphus. Caesar quickly gathers that he has the upper hand in the negotiations. He is pleased, and replies, “If weather and my security situation permits, then I will attack by sea.” Caesar wishes to get Axel to reveal as much as possible, so he continues by asking, “Who does Adolphus plan to attack? Is he at odds with Frederick or Alexander, or do you wish to perceive my dispositions to attack me?”
Axel feels compelled to protect Adolphus. He states his position clearly, “Caesar. I came here to meet you in earnest. I sense you are not on the level with me. Perhaps these negotiations are not the proper course for us.” Axel then sits silently to give Caesar an opportunity to relent, and to recover the negotiations.
Caesar does not appear moved to recover them. He says, “Perhaps you are right, and we should rejoin our former conversation of history instead of negotiations. You are subtle and intelligent just as I am, and a discussion of history seems more appropriate for us at this time. But please, Axel, I hope there are no hard feelings that we could not reach an agreement.”
Axel skillfully saves face with his reply, “Of course not Great Caesar. We must all prepare and protect our interests as best we can, for we are at war. It is true; war makes men enemies when otherwise they would be friends.”
Caesar replies, “Indeed.”