“Oh... Of course not, my apologies. I can tell you it’s nothing you want to hear from an old woman you’ve just met.”
She kind of did. Maybe just out of scientific curiosity, but since the death of her grandmother, who had been closer to Thalia than her, Clio did not really have a close older female companion to confide in. She was not about to ask intimate questions from a celebrated author she had just met, though. She knew better.
“You’re very clearly clever. All your interests are very worldly, very present in physical reality... I don’t think I’ve asked after your name either. Here, why don’t you sit?”
"Oh." Septima blushed a little and took a seat, touched by the compliment. "My name is Septima Minor. My... family and friends call me Clio. I have a twin sister, Septima Maior. Thalia, we call her." she added with a small smile. The sisters looked a lot alike, so she'd gotten into the habit of warning people in advance, to avoid awkward situations.
"That doesn't make sense. So the fountains aren't sacred, but the water in them is..."
"There is no life where there is no water" Clio clarified with some reverence. In the cult of Isis, the water of the Nile was sacred, as it had kept Egypt alive in the middle of the desert since times immemorial. Something that could give life like water did had to be held in respect. This was why festivals like the Fontinalia had started, to remind people how precious their water was.
"Which fountain should we pick for our garland? How about the large one?"
"Sure, we can do the large one" she smiled at her sister, heading that way. There were other people placing garlands, chatting, sharing drinks, and laughing. Some young men were splashing around in the water. One of them noticed the sisters carrying flowers, and commented to his friends, loud enough to be heard: "Look, even the nymphs are coming out for the festival!"
“Scholarly like your grandfather?”
So, she did know Grandfather. He was known in literate circles, at least as a person if not for his actual scholarly works. Septima smiled and gave a little nod. If she ever got to the level of scholarship that her grandfather had, she would be very proud of herself.
“Let’s say that you’ve written something, something scholarly, what would be about?”
That question, while she considered the matter a lot, was quite unexpected. Septima bit her lips. She was interested in many things at once, and it was hard to rein her attention in long enough to choose one of the many wonders the world had to offer.
"I am... interested in history. I like to read about what Rome used to be like, and how things were invented and built... that kind of thing." she admitted. It was one of her many interests, but one that surrounded her every day. "I also like nature. Minerals and animals and things." she felt a little embarrassed about not having a clearer picture of her literary interests.
“You also shouldn’t be pressured to pigeonhole yourself somewhere, let your writing reign free. I wrote everything under the sun over the years until I realised what I like best, a little like the marriage bed.”
Septima blinked, a little shocked by that last statement, not sure how to take it. She liked Valeria Flacca's outspoken nature, but she kept getting surprised by it.
"I... wouldn't know?... I'm not married yet."
“Now that’s wonderful. Is your grandfather an author, would I know of him if you named him?”
"Gaius Petronius Aquilius. He raised me and my sister." Septima was proud of her grandfather, both as an author and as a parent figure. At least he never discouraged her from writing, or pursuing scholarship. Then again, she had not really talked to him yet about doing it seriously. She wasn't even sure yet if that was something she could be able to do.
“It wasn’t hard because it was something that I wanted to do,”
Septima admired people, especially women, who had that attitude. She hoped to be equally determined and motivated one day.
“I was married by that point and pregnant with my first daughter. When you have nothing better to do than lie around in bed, it also makes it easier to simply not care anymore, though I’m not recommending it... But it does have it challenges. There are many who expect or want you to quietly sit aside and leave the performance and participation to one’s husband. Even with myself, I’m an exception in some literary circles, excluded from others.”
She was already a married woman, fulfilling the role of a Roman matron and mother, when she did her writing. Septima tried to picture herself running a household, making a baby, and working on her writing, but honestly, she could barely picture herself doing one of those things. She nodded as Valeria mentioned that she was excluded from some circles. It was more amazing that she had been included in some.
“I take it then, you’ve been thinking about it at least? If you ever need another pair of eyes or guidance, I would be happy to provide it.”
"That... yes, I have been considering it." Septima admitted with a small, grateful nod "I am not sure yet what my genre would be, however. I enjoy scholarly works, but those take... a lot of work. And I am not sure how skilled I am at poetry or... what genres would even be fitting."
“Nothing like me?”
The woman laughed, and Septima suddenly realized how her words might have been misunderstood. "Not as good" she muttered sheepishly, fidgeting with the edge of her palla.
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that. It’s like they say: if you write, you’re a writer, if you choose to be one. Besides, I’ve always been of the opinion that each have their own merit and brings something individual to the table.”
Was she a writer? Septima did write, different kinds of things as her interest changed, but she never thought of herself as an author. Would she choose to be one? Her grandfather probably would not object too sternly, as long as it did not interfere with her other prospects. Septima tried to imagine herself as a writer, reading her works just as Valeria Flacca had done. Could she pull that off?...
“Do you ever share it or perhaps, do you intend to publish one day? Not that you must. It’s just that I remember, I always wanted to put my writing out there. I wish I had sooner.”
"I do... I share it with my grandfather. He writes too. But I haven't... made anything public yet. My sister is more of a natural performer than I am." she admitted "Was it... was it hard? To publish something? As a... as a woman?"
Rome did not have enough female authors to celebrate. It was a sore point for Septima Minor, who had her own literary ambitions. Her grandfather encouraged her in his own way, but still, she wished she had more female companions, or even a mentor, who shared her interest; Thalia was a sweetheart, but when it came to literature, she had the attention of a half-drunk butterfly. Therefore, when she heard of the reading of Valeria Flacca, she was more than excited to attend the event in the park.
Valeria Flacca had been known as a poet, but Septima had not encountered her in person before. She took a seat to the side at the reading, and listened to the poems with rapt attention, at least as enthralled by the author's appearance and presence as she was by her words. Finally, someone truly interesting! She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she stayed longer than many of the guests, who were slowly milling around, and leaving after some pleasantries.
“Seems as if there are many poets here today. Do you write as well?”
"Oh." Septima was shaken out of her thoughts by Valeria Flacca's voice, and she stood up, smoothing down her dress as she realized the woman of the hour was talking to her. "No, I'm... no, I wouldn't call myself a poet. I do enjoy writing, but... it's nothing like you, my lady."
“I’m not sure I’m very good at being discrete.”
Thalia knew herself, and Clio knew her sister. She was friendly and attractive, and did not have to do much to draw attention even when he was not trying. She was definitely the more popular of the two of them; Clio tended to get lost in her own thoughts, and put on a thinking face that made most interested parties retreat.
“Really? Sacred fountains, hm… do you think they’re still sacred? Can they cure the sick… or are they sacred in another way? I wonder why they are not sacred anymore. Where did the... sacredness go, if they are not sacred anymore?... I can’t imagine Rome without the aqueducts. They’re everywhere!”
Clio chuckled at her sister's questions. Thalia was generally patient with her historian ambitions, but not terribly interested, unless a topic came up on occasion that somehow caught her fancy.
"The first one was built almost four hundred years ago." she noted, almost without thinking "By Appius Claudius Caecus. And no, I don't think they are still sacred, otherwise people would not be swimming in them for fun. But, to an extent, every water is sacred, of course." she nodded at the wreath they were carrying. Fontinalia was all about celebrating the fountains of Rome, after all. And celebrating they did; as they got closer to the Piscina, someone called out in Greek, and splashed some water their way.
Fontinalia was one of the holidays Septima Minor enjoyed. She was devoted to the gods of Rome, as well as the gods that now belonged to Rome from Egypt, but that did not mean she was comfortable with all the rites and celebrations that went with them. She enjoyed her peace and quiet, and tended to get nervous in large crowds - and Rome, even on a good day, was the definition of a large crowd. Sometimes, devotion and excitement carried her on, while other times she felt like never leaving the house (Lupercalia was one of those times).
Fontinalia was a good one.
The would have been out at the Piscina hours ago, if it had not been for Thalia trying to look her very best. As if she had to try. While the two sisters looked very much alike (except for the eyes), Thalia didn't really have to try to look good; she was effortlessly stunning in a way Septima Minor never quite grasped. Today, she was content with a buttercup-colored dress and a matching palla that she let her sister pick out for her for the festivities. Her hair was pinned up in a simple way, decorated with an abundance of flowers. Septima Minor liked flowers. They were fascinating.
“Oh I hope someone else didn’t already decorate the fountain we decided on. It’s going to look so pretty, isn’t it?”
"Very" she smiled at her sister over the abundance of colors and scents that the garland represented. It was beautiful work from flowers freshly picked.
“I wonder if there’s going to be music too. And maybe someone set up a shop that sells food and drinks? We could stay a little while. Oh, do you think anyone’ swimming in the pools today? That would be interesting.”
"You mean men?" Clio ventured with a chuckle. She knew her excitable sister all too well. "I bet they will be. Don't let them catch you looking, though." There were already a lot of people around the Piscina. Some fountains were already decorated with flowers and garlands, and people seemed to have the same cheerful anticipation as the twins. "You know, these used to be the sacred fountains of Rome before the first aqueducts were built..."
15 | 21 May 59CE | Equite | None | Heterosexual | Wanted | Vanessa Morgan
Septima Minor is a kind and friendly soul with an abundance of patience. She is a lot more introverted than her sister, with a quiet curiosity and a keen sense of observation. This does not mean that she doesn't enjoy company or have friends - she just never pushes herself into the center of attention. She enjoys reading, learning, and organizing and cataloging things she finds interesting, such as books, plants, and curiosities. She has a scholar's mind, or so her grandfather calls it. She writes things to her own entertainment, but secretly hopes to write books one day, even if she has to hide her true identity to do so. It would be her only act of rebellion. Apart from her scholarly interests, she also enjoys the company of her cats, which now number half a dozen around the household. Her favorite is a short-eared Egyptian tabby cat named Nefertari. Cats are not the only thing tying Septima Minor to Egypt: She is a devout follower of the goddess Isis.
The only thing that sets Septima Minor apart from her sister is the color of her eyes: Hers are green, while Septima Major's are blue. She has a slight build and brown skin with tones of gold. Her hair is dark brown but grows lighter from sunlight in the summer; she likes to wear it down, or casually pinned up to keep it out of her eyes, but she is not a fan of elaborate hair pieces. She enjoys rare jewelry, more for interest than for value, and flowing dresses of different colors. She doesn't paint her face unless she has to, but enjoys watching her sister to do so; seen next to each other, this is mostly what sets the two Septimas apart. Septima Minor has a shy smile and a quiet laugh, except when she carries a conversation about her favorite topics and forgets herself. In those cases she can get quite animated.
Father: Gaius Septimus Tunisius (deceased)
Mother: Petronia Aquililla (deceased)
Siblings: Septima Major (twin)
Grandfather: Gaius Petronius Aquilius, 70 (he’s like a father to her)
Grandmother: Aurelia Paulina (deceased)
Aunts and other extended family:
Petronia Aquila, 36 and her children:
Gaius Petronius Aquilius Urianus, 15 years old, cousin but more like a brother Uriana Petronia, 10, like a sister, cousin but more like a sister
Petronia Aquila Minor, 34
Petronia Scribonilla, 33
Petronia Aquiliana, 27
Septima Minor was born as the second child of a set of twins, preceded (by mere minutes) my her sister Septima Major, whom she considers her elder sister in every sense of the word. When the twins were two years old, their parents were killed in the civil war, and the girls were spirited away to the household of their grandfather, who raised them with love and care. Septima doesn't remember these events, or her parents, but she carries some deep seated anxiety that she doesn't know how to explain.
When the girls were four years old, the family mover to Rome - aunts, grandparents, the whole household. The two Septimas grew up there, spending a lot of time together, and with their cousin Gaius, who was the closest to them in age from the whole family. Over the years, he became a true brother to them, often mistaken to their sibling or even third twin.
While Septima Major had a close relationship with their grandmother, Septima Minor was always more fond of her grandfather, Gaius Petronius Aquilius. She shares his interest in people, stories, history, and the world around them. She also has an interest in the wonders of nature, and a patient mind that organizes and catalogues things. The passing of her grandmother shook her, but not as deeply as it did her sister, so Septima Minor supported Spetima Major through the painful goodbye the best she could. Since then, she has been keeping company to her grandfather more often as well, sharing moments with him to cheer him up, accompanying him on his walks. She has no daydreams or prospects of marriage yet; the whole thing seems a little strange to her, and she is in no hurry to enter the life of a Roman matron just yet.
Chevi | Central Europe | Discord