QuoteThe Eagle does not bother to concern itself with those beneath it.
Justinus felt a tinge of amusement, the sky was the limit was it? It seemed childish her notion of ambition and aspiration, that she could do anything she wanted because the sky was the only limit. But no goal? No future? Her mention of being interested in people and motivations made Justinus curious, perhaps cautious.
"You don't bore me. Not now at least, you've the blood of a true Roman with what I've heard, your two values; Family and Ambition, and never believe that an 'underdog' can't rise high, Rome wasn't built by Patricians or Plebians, by top dogs or underdogs, just two Brothers with a dream and the determination to see it through."
Justinus looked away towards the road and let his lips curl upwards in amusement. "Nothing stops a Roman from achieving what they desire... Anything we never had we took; wealth, territory, the Sabine women... Now the world... So if I can give a word of advice, don't let anything stop you and focus your aspiration on a goal rather than the skies limit."
Justinus felt disappointed, strangely, mostly in himself for being some brazen in saying such things, typically people were more coy and didn't speak with such honesty. Not in Rome anyways, but perhaps she could achieve something great? Perhaps her sons may one day bring glory to Rome, and her ambition now would be the reason for their greatness. Justinus felt it a waste of resources to stop trying to improve oneself to ever greater heights.
"But now I've said too much, I suppose I should be going now. Perhaps I'll come visit Aulus again. Thank you, for your reception, Oriana Laecania."
Continuing his run was difficult, he finished a total of five laps before the wound in his hip threatened to collapse him, the sirens call of the warmth inside the Thermae called out to him. So he made his way into the building, limping slightly. Having giving his clothing already to the bath slaves he went straight to the Tepidarium to loosen his muscles before the bath. As he entered he scanned the room and quickly spotted Varus on one of the benches, he wondered where he should sit, side by side as equals and friends? Or perhaps in a position not unlike two negotiators discussing a matter? The man appeared friendly enough, so the former choice wasn't adverse to Justinus and the latter might offend, yet one may interpret sitting closely together as conspiracy for friendliness, or an eagerness to gain or show confidence with a person. In the end, he decided to sit beside him, but at a distance away, about half an arms length so that no one could come between them but neither were they pressed shoulder to shoulder, it was a casual sort of friendliness, continuing the conversation they began outside.
"I see you are enjoying the warmth, comfort is as much needed as discipline after all."
Justinus turned to face the man, "So, what shall be our topic, or would you rather bask in the glowing heat of the Tepidarium in silence for a little longer?"
Justinus paid more attention to his speak of Raetia, he found too himself too involved in the goings of the Legions than really mattered, perhaps it was simply a by-gone instinct of thought from the years he spent in the legion. Yes, that was most likely it.
"The twins are nine, old enough for their studies to advance before they marry in a few years. Lucius is my oldest at thirteen, and has the bearing of one who prefers to stand strongly and proudly, though some day the hot blood of his youth will cool and he will be wiser for it. I was actually considering sending him as a pupil shall we say, of the Legion."
All were truth, he had no reason to lie but didn't necessarily reveal everything, in fact he hoped to set the stage for Lucius to become Tribunus Laticlavius to a legion, or Tribuni Angusticlavii, military service always grants prestige in Rome, even to the pacifists. His mind wandered back to the mans earlier mention of the quaestorship, and he put more thought into his mention. Was it an attempt to gleam who he supports? If Justinus desired it for himself? Or whether or not Justinus would support him? He didn't quite know, it was always interesting when people put an important question such as that out seemingly at random, it often invoked a response without really understand why the question came up, Justinus was cautious but wasn't adverse to stirring up the pot.
"How is Titus? He must be growing strong, I can sense pride in your voice. He'll be a fine lad I'm sure, with a Father such as you, with such a decent career and many more interesting prospects in the Cursus Honorum."
Justinus watched as the young woman approached him and made it clear her intentions to walk him to the gate, it was wrong to deny her the respectful action to escort a senator, though he was typically one to act independently even when it bristles others as it was a good way to demonstrate ones own autonomy without turning into an act of defiance, but rather a way to demonstrate a lack of ignorance. Though in some cases; including politeness, it was better to drop the political method and let the person lead you as though you were clueless of the way. "Thank you, if it is what you wish I will not deny your company, and yes, meeting with Aulus after many years was pleasant enough, he is a good man, though between you me; a bit stuck in the past."
Justinus was momentarily worried that his comment might cause offense, though he could hardly reason why he would be, the opinion of an equestrian girl hardly mattered, especially one whom is likely far from the politics of the senate.
"Well, I hope your walk was lovely enough, its a temperate night and pleasant."
He walked forward, instinct driving him to seize the initiative though he did so slowly to allow her to quicken pace and lead.
"I am curious of one thing, Aulus has no other children it seems, so what will you do with the estate when it passes unto you? What are your ambitions in life?"
It was an honest question, he found many Romans had many different aspirations, he was sure his own children each had a different role in life but they could do whatever they wished so long as it benefited the Familia, and for their loyalty to always remain with their blood. What would she do? He wondered? Most likely marry someone and start a new family with the modest estate passing to her descendants, it wouldn't be a wrong choice but justinus found it unimaginative.
The dinner was largely uneventful, Aulus was as he remembered though perhaps a bit older but that would true for himself as well. He enjoyed his meal and the conversation as basic as it was. Justinus had the feeling that his host was a man on his deathbed who wanted to reminisce of his younger self. Stuck in the past Justinus thought, though he did so with as little contempt as he could muster, it was more pity that he thought it, men who lived in the past oft had poor presents and no thoughts towards the future, mostly he thought Aulus was bored and hit the pinnacle of his ambition and thus had nothing to do with his time besides talk and meet old comrades.
Despite this, Justinus felt strangely grateful for the invitation it wasn't frequent that he got to saw a familiar face, nor take a break from his responsibilities - of which there were many. Though his thoughts wandered throughout the dinner he maintained his focus upon Aulus whose conversation largely consisted of talking about skirmishes, military life and other brothers in arms, though he did inquire into Justinus' health and family and Justinus informed him of his wife and Fathers death, but proudly spoke of his children "Lucius is a fighter. I suspect he'll be a fiery young man soon and will need a tempered wife to curb his worst tempers, he takes great interest in fighting, sports and pays little interest to other studies, though he retains quite enough to satisfy me. Gaius and Junia are twins, a gift of the gods. Gaius often wants to act like his older brother, but the boy is of more a... Scholarly disposition, I might send him off to Athens to learn Greek and philosophy as my Father did to me, Junia will need a husband soon as well, she is precious and innocent yet, I do not find myself eager to see her grow older and open her eyes to the ugliness of the world, but it will happen and all I can do is prepare. Still, Aulus, I am here for you and I am interested in what has happened with your life since your retirement from the Legion."
Justinus listened to Aulus recount his story, the birth of his daughter, her marriage (and death of her husband), the death of his own wife which Justinus sympathized with, he knew the pain of losing ones spouse. They talked for what seemed to be hours, but really only lasted over the course of the meal. Justinus waited for Aulus to rise before he did, and the two men approached each other, grasped hands and embraced for a moment before saying farewells. Aulus looked for his daughter to see his guest off but Justinus stopped him "Shes out for a walk remember? I suspect I'll see her when I leave, thank you for the dinner, I will pray to Scalpis for your health and sacrifice to Jupiter and Juno for your fortune and future." He nodded once to the man before turning on his heel and leaving through the door into the humid night. He looked from his left to right, expecting to see Oriana somewhere on the grounds.
He ignored her comment on 'interesting military stories' while it was true that veteran soldiers often spoke of their military service with each other, there was nothing heroic about war. The poets embellish far too much for the sake of the Legatus who receives all the honours, but all he experienced was a lot of marching and fortification building, the few skirmishes and battles he fought in were accompanied by deafening screams, the sound of metal clashing or weapons piercing flesh, the smell of sweat, blood and excrement assaulting your nostrils as your vision narrows and a primal instinct you never knew you had awakened inside you, a kill or be killed mentality exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Justinus had dreams sometimes, sometimes he killed his own Father in battle, other times the German spear struck his face instead of his hip or he ended up killing and killing enemies of Rome until he was buried, suffocating under their corpses. No, nothing glorious of battle and war, its necessity outweighs the cost of it. Nothing remained of his military life, except a few idle praises and nightmares... Strange, that the dreams only began after he retired from the Legion, he never lost a wink of sleep while he was still a soldier.
"I entered into the Senate just a few years ago, before then I looked after my ailing Fathers estate and raised my Children. There is really nothing quite special about me." Simple, he believed there was nothing really special about him, a certain confidence is warranted and he maintains it but aside from personal goals what sets him apart from other senators? His will? Determination? He certainly wasn't a sycophant or a great warrior hero, he had neither royal blood (Though the Junia are nothing to scoff at) nor a background of great prestige. He was a retired soldier turned politician.
But that would change some day, he would claim renown and prestige, he would pass that to his children and they will surpass him, he will create a dynasty for his family so that they are respected, loved or at the very least feared. He didn't have much time to do so however, he was leaving his prime and soon would be a ailing old man like his Father or Aulus. He needed to generate reputation before then, and his mind always comes back to how? He wouldn't succumb to sycophancy, he was too proud and such boot lick behaviour earns scant rewards, what you do receive comes at the cost of disdain from everyone except the most arrogant or megalomaniac. Marriage would be a easy route, but it would have to be to the right woman with strong family connections, or one to match his own ambitions at the very least.
Seeking higher appointment, and then doing something noteworthy seems the strongest course... Something... Radical, but not unpleasant to most. He would need too elaborate further on such things, but for now he must focus his mind on dining with a old comrade and engaging with his daughter.
"Though it may seem quite dull, I try to avoid embellishing myself..." Justinus didn't know what to say to the young woman, she was much older than his own children, though they sometimes ask about war and battle, he has few things to say to them as well, they hear enough stories from others; historians, philosophers and poets, but own detail always interested them, especially because of the reputation of the name mentioned. "Though, I fought against Prince Thorstan, under Cneaus Flavius Alexander Germanicus as a junior officer before he was called to Rome. He was a great man." Justinus didn't need to lie, Alexander Germanicus was a man of noble bearing, back then he was beneath notice though he had spoken to him a few times and been present during ceremonial events or formalities. The seasoned commander was a figure to follow and model oneself after, though only to shape youth. Now that Justinus was older he was his own man, and would only follow his own examples.
"Well, perhaps we've kept Aulus waiting too long... Though I would be interested in speaking with you again, at dinner, later tonight or on some other occasion." He didn't smile necessarily, but his face softened and his lips curled upwards, some would say he was a joyless man but Justinus was one who kept his good humour tame, along with most other emotions, to keep a cool head and not be blinded by ones own feelings, he knew this in war and knew it now in politics.
Justinus looked to the young man, and he recognized him immediately as a Greek. He had practically been raised in Greece and knew the distinguishing features between them and Romans, while some seem to think that they are of nearly identical appearance.
"Greetings, I am Cleisthenes, of Athens. A pleasure to meet you."
Athens? The very name reminded him of his past, his tutoring by Greek philosophers in the areas of arithmetic, geometry, Greek and oratory. It was a simpler time then, with his cousin and teachers, far from the intrigues of Rome and enjoying the white sand along the coasts.
"Athens. A beautiful city. I spent some time when I was a boy. My name is Justinus Junius Calvus and it is a pleasure to meet you as well. Tell me, what brings an Athenian to Rome?"
He took a moment to look upon the boys features, he was handsome though less masculine, he certainly didn't have the look of a soldier, or sailor, which only narrowed his professions down to either mercantile, political or scholarly.
"Thank you." He replied simply, he wasn't one for embellishments where it wasn't due, though he good comment on her beauty that would be an improper statement to make to the girl in private, and would be disrespectful to his host. But where was the harm in conversation before he met Aulus? It would just be a bit of probing on his part he supposed, after all... Aulus was a man he had fought beside, and Justinus wanted to know more of the mans family, how he adjusted to life.
Justinus wasn't sure what to say to the young woman, she was prepossessing yet he detected something... Venomous, inside her, though he supposed that was true for many sons and daughters of Rome who are raised in the corrupt politics of the city. "How is Aulus' health? And yours? I wasn't aware that he had children, It would please me to hear more about you and not just from Aulus; Fathers always have a habit of embellishing their children after all, especially to guests."
Justinus took the time to look around the interior of their home, the marble finish and the furniture. They weren't wealthy from his observations, but neither were they poor. None of this was unexpected... After all, Aulus would be an Equite, he had no strong family ties that guaranteed high station and fabulous fortunes, everything he had he owed to Rome and his own labours, which was admirable, Justinus would never show disrespect a man who constructs is own fortune rather than relying upon others.
Finally he focused on Oriana once more, her patrician features were appeasing. What he remembered of Aulus' face his daughter seemed to bare none of. He ceased his observations however without posing the question, he didn't want to appear quizzical and confuse the girl, though he certainly may have appeared so for a moment, worse would be if she mistook his intentions as being less than pure, and frighten or disgust her. Either way, it didn't matter. She likely took after her mother and that was the end of it, for now at least...
Justinus listened to the man proclaim his intentions for the bathes, and Justinus felt a twinge of envy; he would much prefer the baths to running more laps, but to enjoy only comfort would make one puerile, complacent and arrogant, qualities the Justinus despised and that he saw in many Senators, they desired power for powers sake and thus turned into sycophants, but that would not be his lot... He would push his body and mind for power because he knew he was to only one with the actual resolve to punish wrong doers, resist temptation and build security, the glory of Rome would last forever, and with effort, so would his dynasty.
Thinking of such things always made him think of his children, and his wife which he remembered with regret... Rather than being with her, loving her as he should have he fled away to the Legions and all but abandoned her, the short time they had together before she died were bliss and he wished for just a few years more. Plautia, his first and so far, his only wife, the bearer of his children - his legacy.
Justinus pushed such melancholic thoughts, it wouldn't do to unbalance his humours.
"My name is Justinus Junius Calvus, and yes... I believe I've heard your name on the senate floor. Even speak a couple times... Your oratory, I would say is skilled though it would seem that it would fall upon deaf ears when other senators bray rather than debate when the mood is choleric. You're a moderati are you not? Ah, I suppose it doesn't matter now... I would desire a hot bath myself at this moment, but I just began my laps and I must stick to my discipline of at least three around the the Thermae. I suppose I will see you inside if you are retiring from your own exercise?"
Justinus approached the villa with hesitation in his mind, Aulus Ordovian Laencanius was a man he remembered enough of him to not make this an awkward meeting, they had fought and bled together along the Rhine from when Justinus was still a boy, but aside from their soldiers bond there was little to make of it, regretfully. Still, sometimes a bond between warriors could be stronger than familial bonds, and it didn't necessarily surprise him that the man wished to reconnect, though he knew nothing to speak about besides what they've been doing since their service and old war stories, while Justinus was certainly proud to speak of his children's achievements he wasn't the kind of man to eagerly speak of his service, it wasn't glory that he sought... At the time so long ago it was mostly an escape and afterwards it was a haze of a military mindset and lifestyle, the Legatus sought praise and glory, but the soldiers just followed orders... Much of his experience actually seemed automatic, responding to orders and relaying them, building fortifications and long periods of waiting or marching. Those years went by in an eyeblink when he reflects on it, nothing special to mark between them aside from the ceremonies accompanying his promotions, the battle against Prince Thorstan and his own injury, which made his right leg limp with the stiffness of the scar. Though when he was along the Rhine, it was though his life outside of the Legion was a dream, that it never happened... Strange wasn't it?
Approaching the door to the villa he brought his fist up and knocked twice, there was no tact in his knock, only a bluntness. He expected a slave or the mans wife to answer the door, but instead was a young woman in fine clothes and jewelry, there was no way she was his wife, unless the man had wiles he didn't know about, but who would allow their daughter to marry a man much past his prime?
"Welcome Senator," she said as Justinus found himself looking at her green eyes, so rare for a Roman in a land where the sun shines brightly. "It is an honor to have you at the Laecani Villa."
Justinus responded with a polite form of bow, it wasn't ceremonious like one would give to a member of the Imperial family, it was simply a way of greeting/supplication as he was a guest to this home. "Thank you," he replied "I assume you are you're fathers daughter, for one so young and finely dressed. My name is Justinus Junius Calvus, though I am sure you are aware of that already. If I may know yours? Or does Ordovian Laencanius reserve that introduction for himself to make?"