Face ClaimSam Hazeldine
"I don't believe we know for certain either way," Aulus admitted. "I suspect that they are local raiders who would probably steer clear but they have been prompted to do so in order for the government to see what our response is likely to be, which will give the Parthian government plausible deniability and make it look as if we're the aggressors if we respond. And in the meanwhile, innocent people living along the border are being needled little by little."
And compared to Parthian cavalry - or even irregular local raiders on horseback - Roman infantry was slow and lumbering. Good when in place and able to respond, but slow to get somewhere - even at the vaunted marching pace of twenty-five miles in a day, they could not respond quick enough to the lightning-fast raids that Aulus understood were taking place in various places along the border. Set the troops up in one place, a raid would occur a few miles away and the perpetrators would be long gone by the time help arrived.
Cavalry would be a good deterrent, but they just did not have enough mounted soldiers to be able to protect the entire border.
"They are. Horses are highly prized among the peoples of that area, and are unlikely to be left unprotected."
Diplomacy would be much the best solution, of course - it always was - but if these raids were done by locals, with or without official sanction from above, Aulus was not convinced diplomacy would be much help.
He popped an olive into his mouth. A moment later he said, "And in the meantime, until it is stopped by whatever means, it is the locals who suffer - it may be designed to turn them against Rome as much as anything else. 'If the Romans can't protect you, we can...'"
"Of course," Aulus replied to her written question. "If there is anything you'd like to learn, I'm sure it can be arranged - just ask your mistress."
He was sure she was an intelligent girl, and adding skills would make her more flexible and employable in the house, and add to her value. Though that wasn't something he really thought about, there was no need to sell her or part with her; she was a good, hard worker, as evidenced by the tidiness of the flowerbed where she'd been working.
"You can tell your mistress if you have any problems, as well - or talk with Felix." Although 'talk' was probably completely the wrong word to use when she couldn't speak, of course. 'Communicate with Felix' just sounded clumsy.
"It may come to nothing, of course, but there have been incursions of one sort or another along the border for a while, despite best efforts otherwise." He rested his forearms on the table's edge, and steepled his fingers. "Lightly-armed bands of raiders can easily evade our more heavily-armed troops, after all, and there are only so many cavalry auxiliaries with a legion. And building fortifications takes both time and money, though that may be a much lesser cost in the long run. And of course, they control a vast amount of trade on the Silk Road to the east, for things such as silk and spices."
It was a pretty puzzle, of course - and those incursions might not come to anything in the end. Equally, they might be the precursor of another war, which he was not sure Rome could win. Even a few generations before, some of their greatest generals had been hard-pressed to win against the Parthians, for whom the 'Parthian shot' was named, and even a technical victory against the Parthian general Pyrrhus had been very nearly as costly as an outright defeat.
"I imagine that it would be," Aulus agreed dryly. There were plenty of good strong marriages that had been built on nothing more than an arrangement between the parents of the happy couple, but equally there were plenty of arranged marriages that had ended in divorce when one partner or the other grew unhappy with the arrangement - or found that they had rather stronger feelings than they should for someone not their husband or wife.
He studied the young man before him with growing respect. "The recent issues in Britannia and along the border with Germania seem to have been solved, but I am not altogether happy with the situation that seems to be developing along our border with Parthia. After all, they have an empire similar in size and power to ours, being the successor to Alexander, and where two such powers meet, there are often tensions. I think it would be well to keep a close eye on what is going on there."
It would likely simmer for a while, of course, but there needed to be a quick and decisive response when - if! - things did come to a head.
"Indeed she was," Aulus agreed. "And you are quite right - it might be a responsibility, but that is no reason to rush. Most men have established their careers before they think about marriage, after all. You have at least ten years or so before you really need to think about taking a wife."
Aulus had married at twenty-nine, but he was rather exceptional - he'd still been a Tribune and probably should have waited until returning to Rome, except he'd been in post in Greece and Horatia had been there and her father had not objected (nor had Aulus' parents, although he'd barely waited for them to receive the news and reply to his letter).
"It is hard, when our society means that men and women live very different lives, but I would recommend finding someone you could consider to be a friend." He was not sure Horatia would appreciate him sharing any of her own slight eccentricities, and therefore refrained; she was very formal and aware of her position in society, and while he appreciated the keenness of her mind that didn't shy away from reading somewhat more unusual texts (in what world could a woman studying military texts be considered usual, after all?), he was not about to share a secret that wasn't his to share.
He considered it a disservice that women were dissuaded from learning even theoretical things about the military and politics - but then, would they be content with just the theory? If that was allowed to all women, the exceptional women would then press for political and military careers of their own, and Rome could never withstand that.
Well, that answered that; he'd been told! Aulus managed a smile. "Well, you're a good girl and a hard worker. I just wondered if there was anything you particularly liked to do and would like to do more of? Or are there any skills you would like to learn?"
He wasn't sure why he was bothering so much about a slave - Horatia would probably think he had gone soft! On the other hand, Horatia knew him best of anybody and wouldn't think that because she'd seen him in his quiet moments with the children. It would be Cassius Longinus and Sulpicius Rufus who would think he'd gone soft, and neither of them were here to witness this conversation, thank Jupiter.
Aulus did not have a problem with allowing the girl to communicate the best way that she could, especially as there was really only one way she could communicate. She had grown comfortable enough in the house to reach for her tablet and stylus without thinking about it, which was good.
He found a bench where he could sit down; his height meant he loom over the shorter slave with little effort and he did not want to loom over anyone (well, not today) nor to appear threatening. His position as the master of the house must be quite intimidating enough without adding to it.
"Do you like working in the garden, or is there something else you like doing more?" he asked.
"Indeed," Aulus said in agreement. Tiberius was two or three years older than his own son, who had been about a year old when Aulus had taken Felix and slipped out of the house under cover of darkness to escape the madness that had seized Clemens. Which mean that Tiberius would have been three or four - old enough to for the worry and fear to have made an impression, young enough to not remember all the details of it.
"Your father has always been a wise man," he reiterated. He did not know of any other emperor who had retired, abdicated, in favour of an heir while he was still alive - dictators were expected to resign their imperium at the close of their elected term or the end of the emergency, yet most had seemed to cling to their power until forced by the Fates to relinquish it, usually at their death (Cincinnatus was perhaps the exception and was rightly held up as an example). He had never heard of an emperor following Cincinnatus' example until now.
"It sounds as though your sister and my wife would get on very well - I don't know if Claudia Caesaris has been to Horatia's book club?" Aulus' unconscious smile was that of a proud husband. "She has been running a book club, so-called, for ladies of a high standing in society. I think it's really just an excuse for them to gossip as women are wont to do, but it does encourage them to meet people of a similar standing who they perhaps wouldn't otherwise have an acquaintance with."
He pulled some grapes off the sprig. "I speak from long experience, a wife who has a keen mind is a valuable ally to have. Augustus had Livia, your father has Drusilla, I have Horatia. You are young yet, there's no hurry."
At Tiberius' declaration that he would write to his father, Aulus nodded. Of course he worried about the man who had brought him up - pater patriae Quintus might very well be, but he was pater familias first and foremost, and that was not a role Aulus could fulfil, although he could offer a friendly ear and advice from an older man if and when it was needed. "Titus has his advisors, of course - he will need all the wisdom they can offer, I think. But for you yourself - if you need any advice, or just to have someone to listen, you can talk to me, if you can't talk with your uncles."
Aulus' schedule today was unusually, unexpectedly light, and he found himself in the garden of his house, a place beloved of his wife (and for good reason). It was a beautiful, restful place to spend a few minutes, or an afternoon, however long.
He was not needed anywhere in an official capacity today, and came out to enjoy the cool peacefulness of the garden, wearing only a tunic, glad to forego the complicated heavy folds of his purple-striped toga for a while.
He watched the slaves working for a moment, not needing to interrupt them as he sipped from the glass of wine he was holding. One of the slaves was the girl he had recently bought for Horatia, and he smiled - how fitting that she should be out here, in Horatia's favourite place in the house.
"Good morning," he said after a moment. "How are you settling in?"
"Indeed we do - and your adoptive brother may be just as assured of my loyalty as your father was, whether in service here in Rome or in the furthest corner of the Empire," Aulus said, reaching for some olives. "I think it was just as daunting for your father when he first took the purple. He was older than you are now, certainly, but had to steer Rome out of what had been a very nasty civil war - at least your brother doesn't have to face that. I don't think anyone who remembers the civil war will want another such conflict, which will hopefully make this transition a little easier for all of us."
He wondered what sort of role Tiberius himself would play in this new season - an advisor, certainly, when he grew into that. Possibly a capable military commander or able politician - he would have the example of his uncles to look to for himself, where Titus would have the example of his father.
"My family are very well, thank you - my son will be taking his toga soon, and will embark on his own career in a few short years." And Calpurnia would likely marry in a similar space of time. Both things that were more ageing to a man than talk of a career with a young man he wasn't related to. "We have spoken of your brother, of course, but how is your sister, and the rest of your family?"
Topics I Participated In
A new home, a new family to serve…while yes that meant a new routine, change was something Tacita was very familiar with. She had been a part of Aulus’ household now for about 4 months and although she had been a surprise to the household, she had certainly done her best to try and fit in. When it came to duties she was also fairly easy going – she wasn’t overly familiar with the more ornate jobs a female slave might do but she was good with general household tasks.
This day found her assisting the gardener- which meant she got to be outside enjoying the sun. She took off the satchel she always carried with her, which gave her the ‘voice’ she didn’t have and set it on the ground next to her then knelt next to the flower bed. With the beautiful July weather the plant was flourishing, but there were some dead blossoms on it which needed to be removed. Tacita stretched out a hand and with a gently twist the blossom came off in her hand. Taking a moment before reaching for the next dead head she looked down at the one resting in her hand- gardens had always amazed & intrigued her. It amazed her that something so beautiful could come from a seed in the dirt. She set it down and reached for the next one ready to remove it as well.
(Open- to anyone in Aulus' household)
The Curia was slowly emptying of people after the most recent session of the Senate, and Aulus found that he was one of the last to leave, having been waylaid by some ancient senator who must have been twice his age if he was a day, who only wanted to talk his ear off about taxes, the grain dole, the cost of games these days and other inconsequential things.
He turned to head from the august chamber, pausing before he emerged into the sunlight and the presence of his lictors (Horatia had a point about them, even if Aulus wouldn't admit it - they did rather get in the way when you wanted to be a private citizen... on the other hand, part of the thing about being Consul was that you weren't a private citizen for the entire time you were in office. It was rather the point, after all!)
There was someone else taking a momentary breather in the shade of the Curia's colonnade, a young man who must be just starting out on his political career. At first Aulus thought it was his son, but Titus was still a few years short of joining the Senate.
"Claudius Sabucius," he said, once he caught a better look at the other. "Good afternoon - I trust you didn't find today's session too tiresome?"
Aulus had the wit to dismiss his lictors before entering the house - Horatia had despaired when she'd learned he was not only entitled to twelve lictors as a Consul, but couldn't dispense with them. He had promised to try to make it easier for her by not having them in the house when they weren't needed, although the domus was certainly big enough for them - they had families of their own, anyway, and probably appreciated being able to see them from time to time.
Aulus and the new slave, Tacita, were therefore alone as the ostiarius opened the door to admit them. He caught the eye of one of the house slaves in the atrium and bid him fetch his mistress, and Felix.
He hoped Horatia wouldn't mind his gift, however odd she might think it.
"This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina," he said as his wife made her way towards them, Felix behind her. "And my body slave, Felix."
He smiled at his wife, urging Tacita forward. "Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful."
@Sara @Jenn @Chevi
31st October, 60AD
Horatia fiddled with the stem of the goblet of wine she held in her fingers. When she was a girl, dreaming of her wedding as all good young Roman women did, she hadn't exactly pictured this. A short, sharp ceremony in Athens with few of her friends and family, and none of her husbands, followed by an intimate party. It wasn't exactly the grand affair she had planned, but she had found it perfect in its own, unconventional way.
At least she'd managed to procure a suitable outfit in the six or so months since her father had agreed to the match and haggled out the details. She wore the traditional white tunica recta, tied with the knot of Hercules. It had pained her that her mother hadn't tied it, as she ought to have, but she couldn't leave Livia and Lucius to attend and so had stayed in Rome - with her best wishes sent by letter. The red veil which has sheathed her face during the remarkably short ceremony was now pinned up into the six braids of her up-do, sheathed by a floral coronet. She looked the part, even if she didn't exactly feel very wifely; being in a foreign land and with Aulus' military colleagues surrounding them at the gathering.
They'd process to the house that Aulus had rented for her and a few slaves shortly, the small party gathering through the streets as they would have in Rome - but with much less fanfare, and more derision from the Greek locals, no doubt. For now though, she was content to sip her wine and make polite small talk to the men and women that had been invited; friends of her family in the province, and his most likely. Occasionally she found her eyes wandering back to Aulus - her husband - and a light flush came to her cheeks. She tried to distract herself with inane conversations; and she was currently embroiled in one with a friend of Publius' about his families villa. According to him, Formaie was far nicer than Baiae. She nodded and prayed that somebody would come over to save her from the dullness soon.
June 30th, 76 AD
Alexius life had not been going according to the plan lately. Not that he ever really had a plan, but lately, things had just taken a wrong turn. Not that it was all entirely bad, not that he was bored or didn’t have any lovers or anything like that, but he’d been feeling strange. He couldn't really explain it. All he could hope was that tonight might help. It was now about half a year ago, that he went to talk to Thessala, or rather, let it all out in a good spar with her, that he found out about the event. Thessala had heard rumors that the gang who ran the Domus Venus were considering to put up a day and night of entertainment. A private night, an exclusive night and it wouldn’t just be the kind of entertainment that the Venus was famous for. No, it would be all sorts of things. Including gladiatorial games. It was going to be a big event!
That was the first time he heard about it, back when Thessala told him what she'd heard. Then a month or so, he was invited to talk to them. It came out of the blue and he didn’t know what they wanted, it wasn’t like he wanted to be a bouncer at the Venus! Brothels were not really his thing, not at all, in fact. He always felt so bad for the women and men and boys and girls working there, forced to sleep with anyone instead of being able to choose, like he did. But the Venus didn’t want him to become a bouncer or a guard, no… they wanted to see him fight in an arena. And wondered if he’d fight a woman. Because they had managed to get a deal with a ludus about one of their most fierce and famous gladiatrices. With that, they gained his interest and then they also offered plenty of coin for his efforts.
Alexius always felt like he was in need of coin. Good wine wasn’t entirely cheap, after all. And to always have food and wine in the home to offer guests, well, that was not cheap either. So he agreed to the deal. He’d fight as a gladiator again. Purely for entertainment, there would be no Caesar there to say one should live and one should die. They could draw blood, of course, and one would win and another would lose, but killing was not on the menu for the evening. You couldn't continue entertaining people if you were dead, after all...
It was now a year since the most recent earthquake and apparently that was the perfect occasion to celebrate. He hadn’t really fought in an arena since he was freed, but everyone knew he’d never forgotten about it and he had even at times considered returning, for real, and not just for one night only. That’s what this was though. Now, he could barely wait. He'd worked hard and exercised to return to his former strength - and here he was. Dressed and armored as he’d been in the past, as a Murmillo… walking through the tunnel underneath the seats, the tunnel that led to the private arena. The tunnel that led to the roar of the crowd and a proper fight against a proper opponent. He couldn't help but smile.
@Chevi @Sara @Sharpie @Liv
Aulus had visited the Temple of Juno where he had offered a sacrifice in thanksgiving for his wife and their marriage, and then gone on to the Temple of Jupiter to offer a sacrifice for the continued health and well-being of the Emperor, and to ask for favour in his quest for consulship - and for wisdom if he was elected (he would go and make similar sacrifices at the Temple of Minerva if he was fortunate enough to be elected).
Although he had Quintus Augustus' approbation, so that was something. He wasn't about to take it for granted, though - anything could happen between now and then, of course.
And of course he'd asked for the priest to take the omens for him, to find out if the gods were in favour or not of his ascending to the Consulship. He was ambitious, to be sure, but his was an ambition tempered with pragmatism, knowing that he wanted nothing further, nothing higher in Rome than that. A friend of Caesar's, not a rival - never a rival. He had supported Quintus Flavius Alexander through the grim dark days of civil war and would continue to support him, and his heirs.
The omens, as far he could ascertain, were favourable, and he left the smoky darkness of the temple feeling more settled and certain. He paused on the temple steps to throw his toga back (he had covered his head with a fold of it as was usual when conducting a ritual) and rearrange its folds into something more becoming a senator and less like a priest, and took a deep breath of the clean fresh air.
December 15th, 75AD
The villa in Baiae was a balm for Horatia's soul after a busy few months (years, really) with her family. She'd spent many happy months here during Aulus' long absence, with her in-laws and children and by herself, and always revelled in its serenity. She'd never asked her father-in-law whether he'd purchased the property himself or inherited it but either way it must have been worth a small fortune given its proximity to a sheltered beach and the lush orchards that stretched to the distance. She knew Titus and Calpurnia enjoyed it as much as her; Titus she suspected because he could pester his grandfather into telling stories from his youth, and Calpurnia because she felt like a proper grown-up in the company company of her refined grandmother. For Horatia it was the peace that she enjoyed the most.
She sat in a cluster of rooms designed, many moons ago, as the womens domain but they opened up into the rest of the house not unlike her father-in-laws tablinum. She'd spent the morning with her mother-in-law in the pursuit of womanly virtue. Calpurnia, to her embarrassment, had taken to bed. Her courses had started the month before and unused to the light-headedness and aches that accompanied it, had withdrawn to curl herself into her blankets in her room. Horatia tried to ignore the knot in her stomach that the start of her monthly bleed meant her daughter was well and truly becoming a woman, and weaving with Aurelia was a perfect distraction. It was not one of her favourite pastimes (although she vastly preferred it to the monotony of spinning the wool), but it was distracting and allowed her to concentrate on nothing but the interlacing and placement of the threads. She knew her family and their reputation would be under intense scrutiny on their return to Rome if Aulus' position as Consul was confirmed and she needed to keep her mind occupied so as not to dwell on it.
Aurelia had excused herself a little over an hour ago for her own respite and a lie down. Horatia, however, ever the perfectionist had decided to occupy herself with unpicking the threads that lay at odd angles and re-doing them from scratch. She worked in silence, errant strands of copper hair falling into her eyes which she had to swat away. She was dressed informally in plain stola and her hair artlessly done up, the very picture of relaxation. She suspected her husband, son and father-in-law out on some boys errand and was not expecting company when the sound of footsteps echoed and she turned her face up, her features melting into a relaxed smile. "Do not mock me," She warned with a gentle grin - she was not known for her weaving prowess and exclaimed her disinterest in it on more than one occasion to her husband, "And do not think I'm suddenly going to take up weaving every day when I'm back in Rome."
(Takes place in the evening of Ave Imperator! and Into the lion's den)
Aulus returned to his home feeling far more light-hearted than when he had left it that morning. He had almost not needed to head to the Castra Praetoria, not with Caesar's reassurance ringing in his ears, but some part of him had needed to meet the man who had unnerved his wife and threatened his children and slaves. After that meeting, he had no compunction whatsoever about leaving him to Caesar to deal with. He was still none the wiser as to why he had turned on Aulus' family, but the threat had gone and it felt as if a sweet breeze had blown through the house.
One of the house slaves offered him a cup of wine and, when questioned, the information that the mistress was in her own private study. Aulus dismissed the boy and turned to find Horatia.
He paused quietly at the door of her room, not wishing to disturb her if she was in the middle of something that could not easily be set aside. He smiled, the fond expression coming easily to his face as he watched her before knocking, the private pattern used just between the two of them.
(Title: The situation as it was before the war)
6th of October, 75 AD
Given the tragedy brought on by the earthquake only a few months earlier, Titus didn't quite feel right celebrating his birthday with huge festivities or partying from dusk to dawn - besides, this was no milestone year, just the passage of time signalling that he had officially grown older. The previous day - the actual day of - had been spent with family, featuring a relaxed and pleasurable evening with far too much food including Betua's mouthwateringly good placenta cake, and only a tiny hiccough when Valeriana loudly and vehemently expressed how unfair it was that she received no gifts, skilfully ignoring the fact that it wasn't her birthday for that to happen.
Tonight's celebration was simple as well, though less child-friendly. Going out for drinks with friends was also very agreeable, even more so when they had a decent-sized chamber and an own dedicated servant all to themselves. Drinking alone was no fun, though, even when it was Falernian and Caecuban, and Titus busied himself with deciphering the multitude of humorous scrawls on the walls and snacking on bread and olives before the others arrived - his stomach would thank him later.
@Echo @Sara @Sharpie
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Tacita woke to both Corva and Linus telling her that she would be going with Claudus to the office today. She got up from her bed and put on a simple but clean tunic. Tacita took her bag, had a quick breakfast, then headed out with Claudus. They headed through the Roman streets, weaving through various side streets until they hit the market warehouse. When they entered, Tacita hung her satchel, with her wax tablet, up on a wall hook- she wasn’t allowed to use it at work unless Claudus gave her permission. Tacita gave a quick look to Claudus with a ‘do you need anything’ look and he shook his head then waved her away. He headed off towards his office and she grabbed a nearby broom and began to sweep the room.
@Sharpie (for Aulus)
Other Characters by this Player
- 29 posts
- Player: Sharpie
- Face Claim: Tristan Gemmill
- Location: Roma