The Secret Origins of Atropos

The hotly anticipated third installment of our SECRET ORIGINS series …

Come meet the members of the Medical VS class in these exciting features. Learn their stories, their medical training, their combat skills AND find out how each one met their unfortunate demise.


Atropos was born in 154 AD in a small Germanic village on the banks of the Elbe in the Kingdom of the Marcomanni. Her father pledged her to a tribal leader as part of a debt repayment while her mother was still pregnant with her. As such, she was named Gisila at birth. Throughout her infancy she was traded amongst various tribal leaders until she ended up in the household of Ballomar, the Marcomannic King. She was a precocious child and he greatly favoured her, so much so that she was given the peculiar honour of a rudimentary education. At the age of 10 she learned to read and write Latin and became quite useful during the Germanic negotiations with the Roman military governor Marcus Iallius Bassus. Much to Ballomar’s dismay, she was given to the Romans in 167 AD as part of a truce agreement. As the Marcomannic wars exploded she was shipped to Aquileia and imprisoned briefly as her foster father Ballomar’s army besieged the city.

When the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius arrived in Aquileia around 168 AD he brought with him the Greek physician Galen. Impressed with her ability to speak German, Latin, and a bit of Greek, Galen requested that she be assigned to his service as a scribe and translator. In 170 AD Galen was released by the emperor and he took Gisila with him on his travels throughout the empire. Over the years he became another father to her and she learned all that he had to teach as she transcribed his notes. She learned surgery and anatomy as she assisted Galen with his numerous vivisection experiments. In 175 AD Galen went to Pergamon to visit the gladiators of the High Priest of Asia. He had served as their physician in his younger days. Gisila begged Galen to stay on with the gladiators after he left. She worked as their physician and in exchange they trained her to fight. She employed Galen’s teachings on hygiene, fitness, wound care, and surgical repair. While there she took the Greek name Atropos as she felt it better reflected her fighting spirit.

In 180 AD Galen summoned Atropos to Rome as he battled a new outbreak of the Antonine Plague. She travelled fearlessly into plague infested quarters of the city to catalogue symptoms and provide treatment. Unfortunately, she contracted the plague herself and succumbed.

Atropos carries an eclectic mix of weapons and armour reflecting her cosmopolitan existence. She fights with a trident, a skill she learned from a Thracian Retiarius. Instead of the usual arm and shoulder guards, she wears a Roman cuirass and carries a scutum. Her sandals are Greek, but she still carries the fur coat given to her by Ballomar and wears her hair in the traditional Germanic style. Her scutum is emblazoned with her family crest.

She decided on general surgery the first time the gladiators told her how Galen eviscerated an ape and then surgically repaired the damage as a demonstration of his superior skill.

Careful, she is known to coat the tip of her trident in belladonna!

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