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In the first century Roman Empire at fourteen, the legal age of manhood, Jacobus' father in Valencia, Spain, contracted him out to relatives in Sicily as an apprentice learning his Jewish family's shipping business. Being what the Greeks called a "natural eunuch", he found himself living in the hold of a ship with two "cut eunuch" Carthaginian cargo slaves who eventually became his lovers. While docked in the Greek port of Corinth, he and his Carthaginians are savagely attacked leaving Jacobus wounded and one of his slaves killed. As his apprenticeship progressed, the family recognized that his natural leadership abilities surpassed his age. By sixteen, he developed a strategy and contacts to enter the Indian trade through Egypt, which succeeded beyond all expectations. He also became the second "spouse" of his cousin, the director of Aetna Shipping.
While hearing of a mysterious Jewish prophet while in the port of Caesarea, he meets Thomas, a friend of the prophet. Preparing for his first trip to South India, everything in his life is changed when his brother-in-law, Simon from the Greek city of Cyrene, was awoken one night by a frightening vision causing some of the family, with their Judeo-Indian partners to take Simon to Jerusalem for Passover.