"Quite a number of families were affected by the civil war," Gaius said. He was not about to embarrass the girl by saying that yes actually they had been quite badly impacted by it as they had lost their father.
"Someone needs to take it seriously," he said to Lucius, and as his brother definitely wasn't going to do so, that only left Gaius.
"Well, I'm grateful for your support even if you can't vote for me," he said to Ovinia. "And no, we have a sister, but she is married and with her husband elsewhere. I am sorry you won't be able to meet her today."
"Didn't we depose the kings because we didn't like them?"
Gaius ground his teeth together. That was a completely different thing, altogether, and Lucius knew it. He was just trying to rile Gaius up, and it was working, dammit.
He supposed it was good practise for when he eventually had a teenaged son to deal with.
The end of the year... Lucius really would be pushing it if he didn't start his cursus before then but in the interests of fairness, and because he truly didn't want to alienate him any further, Gaius nodded and acquiesced. "All right, the end of the year."
Failing that, he would see whether any of his clients would be willing to adopt Lucius, if he truly didn't want to do what was expected of him as a patrician. As even an equite, he might find something more to his liking, though Gaius couldn't see him even as a merchant - even that seemed too far removed for Lucius' tastes. Of course, there was always the possibility that Lucius would find a sense of responsibility somewhere and astonish them all.
He could only pray to Jupiter that he would. A trip to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus suddenly seemed in order...
Gaius sighed. "It's not just gossip, it's mos maiorum - you can't just set aside centuries of tradition and expectation just because you don't like them. Like it or not, there are certain expectations that people have of people in our position in society. Clodius Pulcher may have been adopted into a plebeian family but that was because he wanted to serve as tribune of the people, and you don't have an ambitious bone in your body."
He scrubbed at his face before looking back at his brother. "The issue is, that you can't do anything else, as a patrician - believe it or not, there are laws against it. You and I might think it's completely ridiculous, but I can't do anything about it. I am trying to think of something that you might be good at, that you might like just as much as selling your friends' olives at over-inflated prices - and you wouldn't enjoy that for more than maybe two weeks at the outside. And you're not helping. I don't like butting heads with you, but that's all we ever seem to do any more."
"Basically. People are beginning to talk, Lucius, and when someone of our standing begins to be gossiped about for doing the sort of things you've been doing... it's not good. gens Vipsania is a good one, a solid patrician line, and you should be making a name for yourself doing proper patrician things." Gaius sighed. What was it going to take to steer his brother into more acceptable channels? He was too active for this thing and not active enough. A solid follower, perhaps, but people born into the Vipsanius Roscius line were born to lead.
He massaged his temple; he always seemed to come away from these conversations with a headache, and wished that he could have proper conversations with his brother, discussions about inconsequential things, debated about this bill or that court case, or even the latest ideas in viticulture or something, rather than having this same butting of heads over the same question of Lucius' future.
"Late is better than never, and you're twenty-three. It's not like starting a career at thirty-three," Gaius pointed out, though if Lucius kept on stalling, they'd be in this same position in twenty years' time. "Or the legions, if you prefer actually doing something - you can't say marching twenty-five miles in a day isn't active, and there's plenty of ways to be useful as a tribune?"
He was beginning to feel that he had lost his brother somehow; he would have to visit Longinus and ask for advice - he felt that somehow Lucius and Longinus might have something in common. If only he had some actual suitable concrete suggestion that his brother might accept! Or even simply just think about instead of dismissing out of hand
Well. He hadn't completely dismissed entering a legal career, so that was something, at least.
"Indeed I am," Gaius said, with a smile. If Lucius was at all discomfited by Tullus and his sister and their presence in the house, that was probably his own fault, though Gaius was glad that Lucius hadn't been doing anything worse than picking apples when he'd met Ovinia Camilla.
Though something about the story didn't ring quite right - but he wasn't about to start picking it apart right then and there, not in front of their guests.
"I don't currently hold a magistracy, but I hope to be elected aedile next year," he added, not meeting his brother's eye - Lucius' lack of interest in pursuing a suitable political career was something the two brothers very much did not see eye-to-eye over. It wasn't as though Gaius was particularly ambitious, he would climb the ladder as high as he could but if he did not make it to the next rung, well, he would settle for the magistracy and career he had. Much like his mentor Lucius Cassius Longinus, he thought suddenly, though his patron's friend had made it to the dizzying height of Consul - perhaps he should ask Cassius Longinus for an introduction? What point was there in having friends-of-friends in high places if you couldn't actually claim a few minutes of their time to make an acquaintance, after all?
"I think the civil war set several political careers back a bit," he added, reaching for some olives to begin the meal as the slaves began bringing dishes in.
"Let's face it, Lucius, we both know I would rather you did take an interest in the cursus... and we both know you'd rather do anything else at all. Why not save us both the agony? Becoming a lawyer would be at least an honourable way for you to make a living - considering you're a patrician and all, I mean. Not that there's anything dishonourable about earning a living any other way, but there are certain expectations for people of our rank, especially if you don't want to be the subject of gossip and graffiti all over Rome."
He didn't want his brother to be miserable for the rest of his life, but nor did he want to find people talking about them - either of them - behind their backs or when they thought that Gaius couldn't hear them. Presumably Lucius didn't care either way, but he might show at least some concern.
"You can't do nothing all your life, Lucius. What do you want to do?"
"Become a lawyer, then," Gaius flung back. "Use your status as a patrician to help your plebeian friends when they get dragged to court for whatever stupid reason. There's more options than the cursus honorum if that's so distasteful to you, and your olive seller and his friends might appreciate having someone speak for them who cares about actually helping rather than just ripping them off."
He was starting to get a headache. Why did Lucius always manage to do this to him? "Life isn't fair, but it's given you enough privileges, even if you don't want to admit it," he added. "Such as living here rent-free instead of trying to scrape together a few pitiful asses for a room somewhere down in the Suburra."
"Why do you need to be shipped off to... Because we're Roman, not Greek and that's the system we have, that our ruling class - that includes you and me, in case you hadn't noticed - make a name for ourselves on the battlefield and back at home as politicians. And you know as well as I do that each political position only lasts for a year and you have to progress through them all if you want to rise through the ranks. And the way to impress the populace is to be the best damn praetor or quaestor that you can while you have that title."
Gaius paused, and pinched the bridge of his nose. At least, he could concede, his brother wasn't a layabout, doing nothing with his time at all. He just wished that Lucius would spend his time in more suitable pursuits, rather than doing the sort of thing any plebeian would do - or even, gods forbid, the sorts of thing you could find a freedman doing.
Senators weren't supposed to get involved in trade, or any sort of business dealing at all; they used freedmen and slaves for that sort of thing, so to find that Lucius spent his whole day doing precisely nothing but actively getting involved in trade, and at the lowest most basic level possible...!
"There is nothing wrong with it, if you were a plebiean or even an equite," Gaius returned, trying to keep his temper in check - he did not need to start shouting or anything just because his brother was being all sorts of wrong-headed. "But you're not, you're patrician, the son of a senator and brother of a senator, and you are supposed to set an example and be a leader of men. You're more than old enough to take a position as a tribune somewhere - it would give you the chance to do something worthwhile, and to get your hands dirty if you choose, and make a name for yourself. My old legate doesn't currently have a legion but I can find somewhere for you with men just as good as he is."
It felt like banging his head on the wall, or trying to get blood from a stone, yet surely, surely, Lucius would see the sense in what he was suggesting.
June 76 AD
"Dominus, you should not be in here. The guests could arrive in any minute." The old woman looked at Lucius half pleading, half displeased. She was used to him taking up space in the kitchen on most days, but when company was expected, she always got a bit nervous. She was a good-natured person, and she did not like the younger dominus getting into trouble with his brother.
"I know, I know. Give me a moment" Lucius protested, leaning over the table as the slowly dribbled honey on top of the savillum. It had to be done just right. The kitchen was often his refuge from the comings and goings in the house, and since he did not really like other patrician families making social visits, he was trying to stay in there as long as possibly could. Helping out with the cooking in the process. "There. Alright. I'm going. I'm going. Bless you" he grinned at the cook as she ushered him out, but she smiled anyway.
He could hear the front door opening as he made his way through the atrium. Uh-oh. Lucius ran a hand through his hair. He had been shaved earlier today at least, but there was still a streak of flour on his cheek, and he needed to put on a better tunic. Oh, Gaius was going to be mad. Lucius quickened his steps, hoping to duck out of sight before the guests walked in.
This was going to be a long dinner...
Summer, 76 AD
Lucius was fully aware that he was in trouble. News traveled fast, even in a city as large as Rome, and the moment he'd spotted some of the family friends in their litters crossing the market, he knew he had a storm brewing over his head. By the time he got home with the Quirialis, Gaius would have worked his way through exasperation and indignation and was probably ready to go straight to lecture.
Lucius did not think he'd done anything wrong. He had been spending a lovely early morning out and about, enjoying the hours before the heat got too bad, and taking a stroll through the markets. He was not really there for the shopping, more like the people; merchants were generally talkative, and they had a lot of interesting things to say. Lucius knew many of them by name. This morning, he was at the Forum Holiturium when a merchant whom he knew for his excellent olives and even more excellent stories about his past adventures around the East struck up a conversation. Suddenly a child showed up with some news from his home, and he was urgently needed; seeing the man was in distress, it only made sense for Lucius to offer to watch the stand for a few minutes, until the man would send someone to take over. It was fun, standing at the stall with the amphorae and bowls of all the different flavors and colors of olives. Some people even made purchases, and Lucius toyed with the idea of living a whole different life as an olive merchant.
But then the litters showed up, and he knew he was done for the day.
Lucius walked into the domus a little sheepishly, looking around to see where the ambush was going to come from.
Gaius Vipsanius Roscius
35 | 22 February 41 | Senatore | Senator | Bi | Original | Tristan Gemmill
Gaius started out in life in the usual way the son of a patrician begins life. He had everything he could wish for, all the prospects of a young man of his rank in Rome could aspire to, loving parents and a home staffed with slaves who were there to attend to every whim. He was a pleasant, fun-loving boy, and would have become a pleasant fun-loving young man were it not for the civil war and the struggle for power which saw his father killed during the purges of the Senate when Gaius was just twenty-one years old, leaving Gaius as the young paterfamilias responsible for a 15-year-old sister and nine-year-old brother. The unexpected responsibility, coupled with the death of a father he looked up to and admired, has made Gaius a serious young man who weighs things carefully before committing to a course of action that may be irreversible and could affect those around him in a negative way.
He is serious but not stern, fair but not judgemental, wanting the best for his little family without spending a fortune to get it. He is very protective of his younger brother, although he does want Lucius to show a bit of ambition and make a name for himself.
He was close to his siblings, especially to his younger brother, and still likes them both very much, but that closeness is now tinged with a feeling that Lucius is somewhat of stranger to him thanks to Gaius' years away during his military service and Lucius has done a lot of growing up in the intervening years; Gaius has missed out on the majority of his brother's teenage years. Their closeness as brothers is also tinged by the feeling that Gaius has to be a father-figure to his brother who otherwise would only have had the example of their slaves and his tutor to follow. His sister is even more of an enigma to Gaius as he has had very little contact with women of his own class during his time with the Legions.
Of average height, Gaius has the olive skin and dark hair and eyes that are so common to the native Italians. He prefers to blend in with the crowd rather than to stand out from it and wears clothing that is hard-wearing and well-made, although of finer quality than the clothing of the working classes or the slaves. He does not dress to excess and the only piece of jewellery he wears is his father's signet ring, now his by right as the paterfamilias of his family. He is fairly muscled from his time with the Legions and the training that he has been through, which has also made him fit enough to be able to march twenty-five miles a day. His time in the Legions also means that his skin is naturally sun-darkened (even Britannia gets some sun in the summer months, after all), and he keeps his curly hair short enough that it does not get into his eyes.
He prefers to dress neatly rather than showily, which extends to wearing his toga only when he cannot get out of doing so - i.e. on formal occasions and for meetings of the Senate. Otherwise, he will wear a knee-length tunic, belt and pallium, with suitable footwear.
Father: Marcus Vipsanius Roscius
Mother: Claudia Lemonia
Siblings: Vipsania Roscia (b. 46); Lucius Vipsanius Roscius (b. 53)
Spouse: Not married
(41AD) Gaius Vipsanius Roscius was born into an old patrician family on a chilly day in the late winter of 41, during the reign of a new emperor, Drusus Claudius Sabucius Caesar Augustus. His father was a senator and the young Gaius spent his early years as the beloved son of a loving family, wanting for nothing. He was five years old when his younger sister was born, though his parents and the slaves reassured him that it did not change his position, that it just made him more important because now he had a sister to look after.
(53AD) Sisters were all very well, but he finally gained a playmate when his brother was born in 53AD, when Gaius was twelve years old. Gaius was a schoolboy now, his care having passed from his mother and the female slaves to a pedagogus and the school-masters and tutors, and he now had much more contact with his father than he had previously had – a formidable figure in his senatorial toga and wielding more power as a magistrate than the young Gaius could dream of, especially when his father took the time to talk over cases, simplifying them for his son's understanding, and encouraging Gaius in his games of senators. There was nothing Gaius wanted more than to grow up to be like his father, and earn that look of pride on his father's face.
(54-56AD) He is blissfully unaware of any tensions in the Senate or among his father's friends, or the political struggles that are ongoing, though there are hushed conversations between his father and his friends when they don't know Gaius is nearby.
Things continued in much the same vein into Gaius' teenaged years. His education was now under a rhetorician, where he learned the skills that would be necessary to making a successful career as a soldier, lawyer or politician. He enjoyed all the outdoor pursuits open to him, learning to ride and swim when in the country at the family's villa near Naples. He is vaguely aware that there is a new Emperor, Darius, but the knowledge has no bearing on him nor does it really mean very much, though there are some quiet murmurs that the previous emperor, Drusus Claudius, may have been poisoned, although he was allowed to accompany his father to Rome to witness the funeral procession now that he was formally an adult, having taken the toga virilis a bare few months before, soon after his fifteenth birthday in 56AD.
(60-61AD) Gaius was nineteen when the first real stirrings of what was to come began with the proscriptions of Manius Rutillius Cyprianus, who had been made dictator mere days before. He had taken more and more interest in politics in consideration of the fact that he was soon to begin his own political career, so it was with a great deal of caution that he requested the position of tribune with Decimus Junius Silanus in the wilds of Britannia. He had not been there more than a few months when Junius Silanus was killed and Gaius’ fellow tribune, Lucius Cassius Longinus, became de facto commander in the province, at only two years older than Gaius himself.
(62-64AD) Gaius was barely twenty-one years old when he received news that his father had been killed alongside other senators by the Praetorian Prefect, Clemens. The news rocks his world as he loses his father and becomes paterfamilias and guardian of his brother and sister in a single stroke, while he is on the far side of the Empire and can do nothing. He became more serious, in contrast to his commander, and threw himself into his work in an effort to distract himself, but could not truly rest until Longinus returned to Rome in 64, accompanied by Gaius, who returned home to find that his brother was on the verge of taking his toga virilis, and his sister married - a marriage arranged by their mother, to which Gaius had given his blessing without ever being able to meet the man concerned, and having to nominate one of his father’s freedmen to stand in his place.
Gaius is torn between his duty to his family and finishing his term as Tribune, and ends up taking the long view - he should finish his term in order to have the best possible chance in his political career later on, and returns to Britannia with Longinus in 66, where he stays for a further two years, returning to Rome in 68. His military duty discharged, Gaius returns to the family estate to try to salvage what he can of his relationship with his siblings and work out what to do next.
He runs for Quaestor in 69, the youngest he is able to do so as a patrician.
Gaius is content to remain in Italy, climbing the political ladder as far as possible. He has little taste for military glory, but will take what military posts he needs in order to further his political career, while also encouraging his brother in his own aspirations, and trying to find a wife for himself.