"Music is a great pleasure, isn't it?" he said. To listen good singer or musician was a very enjoyable experience, after all, and one he did not get to indulge as often as he might have liked.
"You would like to travel?" he said, looking down at her. "Is there anywhere in particular you would like to see, or does the place not matter so much as the journey there?" He couldn't help shrugging at her question. "Politics is work, of course. I like reading, or listening to someone else read, if they can do it well. I would quite like to see some more of the Empire - places like Ephesus and Antioch would be interesting, I think, and Alexandria, although senators aren't allowed to go to Egypt ever since Mark Antony went and set himself up with Cleopatra."
Mark Antony probably wasn't the best subject to mention even in passing, not in this place dedicated to Augustus and his descendants, and Gaius gave the inscription an apologetic look.
"Oh, that is a very good way of putting it! Yes, I do feel that he's my responsibility rather than my brother, though he doesn't exactly help that. I sometimes think he feels I'm an antagonist rather than a brother, or something." He turned to look at her - perfectly turned out, expensively dressed... "I don't know how your brother comes to the same conclusion about you, though, unless it's simply the differences between men and women that he can't fathom." Gods knew there were enough of those to keep anyone puzzled.
"What do you like to do? Stay in, go out, go shopping, go sightseeing?"
How in the world were men and women supposed to negotiate this tangle of their very different spheres enough to build a solid marriage? Gaius supposed that was why the majority of marriages in their social stratum were arranged by the parents.
"I would say, you have my commiserations, but I'm the eldest and can't empathise at all," Gaius told her. "Or is it sympathise? Well, I can feel sorry for you without completely understanding what it's like to have older siblings, whichever way round it is. He smiled. "And you see - I am not totally serious myself all the time. I hope you weren't expecting some hoary decrepit old Senator when you accepted my invitation the other day."
Though he probably seemed ancient and decrepit when compared to Lucius. Not that he didn't love his brother, he just wished they were a little more similar with more in common than they seemed to have.
She was nineteen, though... That made him nearly twice her age. Now, there was something almost guaranteed to make him feel ancient and decrepit!
"In my family, it's just me at thirty-five, my married sister who's thirty and Lucius who's twenty-three according to the calendar, even if he acts eight years younger."
"I spent time in the country, but I also spent time here in Rome. Both have their good points as well as their bad,as most things do." He smiled, trying to ease the conversation out of its awkwardness and into something more comfortable for all of them. "You're not kept awake by the cart wheels rumbling past for most of the night, in the country, for one thing."
The savillum was surprisingly good, if a little on the sweet side; his brother (if his suspicions were correct and it was Lucius who'd made it) had been a little heavy-handed with the honey. Still, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
The country meant a retreat, time away from the pressures of a career - not that Lucius needed such a thing. He could hope, though. Time to relax, enjoy the simple pleasures...
"Admittedly, when in the country, you don't have access to a proper library or public baths, but every good villa should have its own bath-house, and one can always build a library."
"It's never easy to leave people you love, especially when you know you're going to be away for a year or more," Gaius confessed. This conversation seemed already so much easier than that dinner had been.
"Irreverent is a... very good description, actually. I daresay he means well, but there's no gravitas to him." Gaius sighed. That was, perhaps, the biggest issue.
It was nice to hear that Lucius thought well of him, though he would never have guessed it.
"And do any of your brothers act so... Irreverently? I would guess not, but do you have a younger brother, or are they all older than you?" He didn't know how to discover whether they had anything in common - rolling their eyes over Lucius would only work for so long, after all.
"Why pretend when we both know it was arranged?" Gaius said, consciously having to shorten his stride to keep from outpacing her. "I must apologise for my brother, the other day," he added, very aware that she probably thought the worst of him despite this second meeting, just because of Lucius' outlandish behaviour.
"He means well, but..." He shrugged. "I don't think he quite knows when to stop - he seems to have got stuck at the age of fifteen or so, permanently."
If she had refused to see either of them again after that dinner, Gaius honestly wouldn't have blamed her for it.
"I hope it isn't," Gaius managed, startled, and managed a smile of his own. "I mean, I've been to the Campus Martius plenty of times, but this is the first time I've been here, I think."
If he was supposed to come right out with some impressive fact about this tomb or that inscription, he'd just blown it. He could practically hear Cassander rolling his eyes - and if Lucius heard about this, he'd never live it down.
"I suppose that means we ought to do our duty and explore to fulfil our obligation, then?" he said. "We can't have anyone thinking that you aren't the very best example of Roman womanhood, can we?"
The Mausoleum wasn't a place that Gaius would have picked for a romantic meeting for two. On the other hand, it wasn't supposed to be a romantic meeting per se, and on the third hand Gaius wouldn't be able to come up with anywhere as good for a private meeting that couldn't have even a hint of impropriety about it.
He supposed it was a wonder that Ovinia Camilla had agreed to a second meeting (or that her brother hadn't put her father off wanting one) - the dinner had only narrowly avoided being a disaster, after all.
"Remind me not to have any more private dinners with Lucius around unless there's more than two other guests," he said, allowing Cassander to fuss with his pallium until it was arranged to their mutual satisfaction. The deep terracotta colour of his tunic and the dark green of the pallium that Cassander had finally finished arranging both demonstrated his wealth in the evenness of the dye and the saturation of the colour. The sand colour of Cassander's tunic was a perfect counterpoint.
The walk from the Piscina Publica to the Campus Martius to their arranged meeting-point took the pair of them through some of the busiest parts of the city, and Gaius would not have been surprised to have found his brother at any of the stalls they passed, turning his hand to being a leather-worker or date seller or something equally as plebeian and embarrassing.
It was not to be, thank all the gods - either Lucius had developed some sense, or he was at a stall in another part of the city.
And now to wander around the Mausoleum, taking in inscriptions to past and divine Emperors until he ran into Ovinia. Hopefully not literally...
"Domine," Cassander said from behind his right shoulder - at least he could trust someone in his house to be where they were supposed to be, doing what they were expected to do. He turned, enough to see his body slave indicate a lady with two slaves following her, and nodded in acknowledgement before directing his steps to intercept her.
"Lady Ovinia, what a pleasant surprise to meet you here," he said, once he was close enough to talk.
At this rate, Gaius was very much of a mind to exercise his potestas and pack his brother off somewhere as Tribune whether he wanted it or not. Waiting for him to make his own mind up about a career had not seemed to produce any serious thought about any such thing and Gaius' patience was wearing thin.
He had given his brother until the end of the year, though if he had to live through another such dinner as this he might well curtail that time.
"I understand the savillum was made by a trainee cook. If it not up to your standards, I am sure that the cook in question could be set to cleaning the floors while they contemplate their choice of position in this house," he said, almost positive that it was the product of his brother's work.
"What of yourself, Ovinia Camilla? Do you prefer the country or life in Rome?"
Early August, 76AD
Ovinia frowned, studying the inscriptions as she roamed the halls of the Mausoleum. Her father had chosen the venue for this meeting and had agonised over the location; he wanted somewhere formal enough that she didn't seem a silly young girl, but not stuffy. He wanted it to be in public so - despite her retinue of two slaves - no rumours of impropriety would follow her, but he didn't want somewhere crowded. Eventually he'd settled on the Mausoleum, and Ovinia had begrudgingly agreed and trekked (in her litter) halfway across the city to the venue.
She was fashionably early and the crowds of tourists and such from the morning had departed, leaving a handful of clustered families and acquaintances wandering the halls. She numbered among them, with her bodyslave and a male household slave following behind her a few paces back.
She wasn't sure what she was expecting from this meeting. The dinner definitely hadn't been a disaster but nor had it gone as well as some previous meetings with potential partners. She couldn't read Gaius much at all, and despite Tullus' firm words that he was a good, kind, pleasant man, Ovinia hadn't been able to get much of a read on him beyond the pleasantries they'd exchanged. She blamed his brother for that, and the awkwardness that had pervaded the evening. Hence - this time, they were alone. Or as alone as was proper.
She shrugged her palla closer around her shoulders as she moved through the draughty halls. Despite it being the height of summer and roasting outside in here she was feeling the chill and regretted wearing such a thin chiton, ornate and expensive though it was. She cast a glance around the halls, eyes narrowed and trying to spot him before moving on to the next inscription.
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.