Face claimTimothy Dalton
Quintus Caesar arrived at the games with the full entourage of his family and the Praetorians who escorted them on parade from the palace to the still new coliseum. The procession of so many imperials had become a small spectacle of its own, and - ever a man of the people - Caesar had showered the onlookers with coins and bid them go watch the games and enjoy a few drinks on him.
After the proper portents and speeches had been given, with dedications given to Caesar and the imperials, the first match of the day was set to begin. As soon as the required ceremonies were finished, Caesar quickly had his hands full... though not in political discourse as expected. His youngest son, Drusus - in his typical confounding way - had developed a love of the games, even though he still had a distaste for the bloodshed that accompanied them. He was nearly falling over the front wall of the imperial box, pining to get a closer look.
"Pater..." he started, in a tone that preceded a question. Quintus simply raised his brows, a look that told the boy that his father was listening. "We make the rules for the empire, do we not?"
"We do," he said.
"And we enforce them, right?" Quintus nodded and Drusus continued. "And you are first among your peers, which means that your family is also first among other families, does it not?"
"I suppose that's true," Quintus said.
"Then why do we have to sit up here, where it's so far away from the action that I have to squint to see? Shouldn't we have a closer seat befitting our status?"
Quintus smirked. "Your grammaticus has started teaching the Socratic method has he?" Quintus tussled Drusus' hair, and then gave him an answer to contemplate. "You are right that we hold a power and prestige above all others. Prestige which was earned by my efforts against Rome's enemies. But do you think I fought in wars and won battles just to see another fight from a good vantage?"
Drusus frowned a little. "I guess not... but what about me?"
"Well, my little warrior, you have yet to win any battles."
"So when I win a battle, I can give the order to have the imperial box moved closer to the sand?"
Quintus watched his son, whose eyes were transfixed on the fight. "I suppose you could, but the true measure of a ruler is not what he takes for himself, but what he gives to better his country. Even now if you wanted to see any of these fighters, we could give the order at any time of day or night to have them brought to the palace, to your very room even. None of the people down there have that privilege, and they never will. So we give them this enjoyment to better their spirits, which in the end lends to their support of our family."
"But we can still go see the gladiators after today's matches are over, right?"
Caesar shook his head - more from endearment than annoyance - at his son's lack of attention to the lesson he was trying to impart. "Yes, we can. But step away from the wall."
@Gothic @Anna @Sharpie @Sarah
**OOC: Jumping in to wrap this up. See further note at the bottom of my post.**
The discussion continued on for some time until the sun had fallen and the limit for the day's session was almost at hand. With concerns raised and many opinions given on how to quiet those concerns, the core of the discussion boiled down to funding. Though always eager to look good in the public eye, Caesar knew that senators were not eager to simply hand over their wealth to those of less fortunate standings. He had heard enough for one day.
Caesar rose. "Senators, a great many ideas have been brought forth," he began, "but I feel we have come to a point of simply talking in circles. Therefore, I move to formally adjourn the session so that it might reconvene in a week's time whereupon a fully formed proposal will be brought forth for voting." The Curia was in agreement, and the session was closed, with official notes handed over to Caesar.
One week later...
The follow-up session fell on an awful, rainy day and as a result of the weather the proceedings were delayed until enough of a body was present to vote on the legislation in question. Caesar had reviewed the official notes from the previous week and had invited various senators to meet with him privately so they might expand upon their initial ideas. When the floor was gifted to him, Caesar stood and gave the finer points of the alimenta, all of which were ratified by the house.
The main points were as follows:
Overview: The alimenta will provide general funds, food, and education to orphans and homeless children. It would be available across all of Italia, to children aged 0 through 14, and broken into three stages with the long-term goal of producing citizens who could contribute to society as a whole. Non-citizens (freedmen/pelegrini) could also gain access by way of sponsorship by a patron.
Stage 1 - Ages 0-6 The state will begin construction and operation of large homes/education centers (Domi Alimentum) for young and abandoned children where they will be looked after and given basic education and survival skills.
Stage 2 - Ages 7-14 At the age of 7, children will graduate from the Domi Alimentum and be sent to the homes of sponsors to learn a trade for the next seven years. These sponsors are vetted by the state, and are themselves citizens who are farmers, craftsmen, or temple staff. In return for educating or training the children in their trades, the sponsors receive tax breaks. Sponsors are to be regulated and reviewed twice a year, and if they are found guilty of abuse or neglect, they can be fined (the total of the tax reductions they have received, or more; or imprisoned). Any sponsor who decides to adopt a child will receive double the tax credit until the child comes to the age of majority (15).
Stage 3 - Ages 15+ When a child turns 15, the sponsor has the choice to 'hire' the child, or not. If the child is hired, they will stay on to work as hired labor for their sponsor, with the sponsor continuing to receive a tax credit. For those children who are not hired: Boys will be enlisted into the military at full recruit pay. Those whom have been trained in crafts will receive additional pay, and most likely will serve away from the front lines. After serving 15 years in the legions, said 'alimenti' will receive a plot of land upon which to live. The sponsors will receive 5% of the alimenti's pay, only while the child is in active service. After 15 years, the alimenti will receive a plot of land and will no longer have to pay any percentage of their income to their former sponsor. Girls will be enrolled as servants in the temples, brought on as handmaidens for one of Rome's noble families, trained as nurses, or any other number of available professions.
Funding: The initial donation to begin the construction of Domi Alimentum is to be made from the leftover booty from Caesar's British campaigns, along with donations from Rome's nobility. Further funding shall come from state financing. Loans will be given by the state to desiring members of the Equestrian order who meet pre-determined criteria. The borrowers are required to repay the loans with yearly payments (plus interest) that will go to fund the alimenta, and makeup for the income lost as a result of the tax reductions given to sponsors. Those who receive loans cannot also be sponsors.
Longevity: Any alimenti who are able to rise into the Equestrian order will be eligible for a loan at a much lower interest rate than standard. Additionally, any alimenti who complete 15 years of service in the legions will also be eligible for loans, or to serve as sponsors themselves. Should the system of sponsorship fail, or borrowers dry up, taxes could be imposed on the equestrian and senatorial orders at large.
**OOC: Thanks to everyone who participated in this thread. We had some really great interactions and ideas. We decided to wrap it up as it had slowed down - mostly because of my own inactivity, for which I do apologize. The staff are already cooking up some great new ideas, so keep your eyes peeled!**
Quintus listened to Claudia's assessment of her brother and cousin as objectively as he could. It was a hard thing for a father to listen to the opinions of others about his own children - even when those with the opinions were family themselves. Quintus, though, had a knack for remaining impartial. He supposed it was a trait he inherited from his own father - to always expect the worst from his offspring until they proved him otherwise. A perfect example was Drusus' relatively recent adoption of a cat and her litter of what ended up being seven(!!) kittens. Quintus expected the boy would let the animals starve, run away... or worse, allow them into Quintus' office where they would ruin his missives. But, he hadn't... yet.
"The ideal man," he repeated her words. "I like that. Together they make the ideal man." He said it again, and then to himself: Together they would make the ideal ruler? "I see much the same as you in regards to the both of them. Titus has taken to the position he has earned by his name alone, and is not afraid to show his perceived importance. Tiberius, contrarily, is a bit more reserved and calculating. A warrior and a politician, it seems. Though, both will have to serve in the field and the curia to win the adoration of the people, the legions, and the senate. That is where their true natures will shine."
Quintus paused, realizing he was talking too much like a military man in front of a young woman who likely didn't care about his musings. A question came to his mind then, but he hesitated a moment before asking - a crack in his otherwise impeccable armor. "Speaking of ideal men," he said softly, broaching the subject, "you are nearing an age where suitors will make themselves known. I trust that is something you have been prepared for?" Quintus assumed that Drusilla, or perhaps Juliana or one of the other women of the family had taken over those aspects of Claudia's upbringing... though he wasn't entirely sure.
He took a steady drink of wine.
Quintus kept a steady gaze on each senator that stood to speak his mind. Each man had a fair point to make, and though the discussion quickly expanded into some of the finer details of the proposal rather than simply focusing on whether or not the proposal itself was one to vote in favor it, Quintus was content. That the senators decided to dive right into the intricacies rather than argue the merit of the idea in the first place was a sign that they were, mostly, in support of it.
After Manius Scaurus returned to his seat, Quintus stood and once again was Caesar. "I commend you, Senator Scaurus, on your determination and dedication to the state, and on your eloquent address to this body." A few 'Here! Here!'s rose to fill the silence of Caesar's rhetorical pause.
"I have heard the concerns you have all voiced," he continued, addressing the senate at large. "Who should receive the benefits of the state's generosity? What should those benefits be? How should the state pay for it? The cost of a project such as I have proposed on an empire-wide scale would be astronomical. Though I am glad there are those among you who consider extending the alimenta to the empire as a whole, my eyes are set on Italia to start. Begin the program here, in the heartland of our empire." In truth, Quintus had considered an empire-wide program, though he had come to the conclusion that such a program would have to be organized and maintained on a more regional autonomous level, as opposed to being controlled from Rome. Now was not the time for such ideas, however.
"In regards to funding," he switched gears, "the initial phase I intended to fund with the remaining war booty from the campaigns in Britannia. Though, that will run out eventually, and when it does an alternative source will be necessary. The three main ideas I have heard I have liked - philanthropy, tax cuts, or tax repayments. Or perhaps a combination of the three. What further ideas does this body have in that regard?"
One of Quintus' first projects since assuming power in Rome a decade earlier had been to allot funds - where it could be spared - to restoring public buildings, and especially temples. Rome itself had taken her fair share of damage in the chaos of the political uprest that saw several riots, and near warfare in the streets of the city. One building that had received special attention was the Mausoleum Augusti - where the ashes of the family of Caesar were interred.
From Divus Julius to Claudius, including all their children and wives (those so honored at least), the Mausoleum held within it the remains of some of Rome's finest (and most villainous) leaders. Quintus had ensured that the ashes of his late sister, Lucilla, were interred. He had also had an urn created for the mostly detested Caligula, as he was the father of his wife, and set it as a reminder of the power each Caesar held, and what could come as a result of its misuse.
On that very day, 136 years earlier, Divus Augustus had been born. Quintus saw it as an opportune time to speak with the young men whom - at that time - were on paths to inherit the stewardship of Rome. Having already spoken with his son earlier in the day, Quintus had invited his nephew Tiberius to meet him at the mausoleum after his day of meetings had been concluded.
If he was entirely honest with himself, there was something about his nephew that Quintus liked. He of course cherished his own children, and though they had not been born into the purple (save for Drusus) they had taken to the spoils of their increased statuses with gusto. In Tiberius, Quintus saw pieces of himself. Born a mix of two houses - one ancient and decorated, the other coming into its fame; born the shadow of his father, and forced to live up to - or over - such expectations. Yet, Tiberius had faced even more. Had things gone as Claudius undoubtedly planned them, Tiberius would be emperor... perhaps with Quintus or another uncle as his adviser or protector.
Yet, he had instead given up his Caesarian name and remained a Claudian. Quintus intended to test his resolve on that matter.
"Ave, nephew," he said, when Tiberius came into sight.
After Titus Faustinus had declared the official start to the meeting, Quintus gave a nod to the senior statesman and then took the floor for himself. There was a moment of silence, as he looked around the Curia to examine the faces of the men in attendance. He could remember in years past when the Senate had been almost empty of notable men and families - some because the families had been exiled or nearly wiped out, some because their scions had retired for fear of their safety, and some because they did not wish to be seen openly defying the will of less-than-understanding emperors. Quintus had spent a great deal of time extending leniency to the senatorial class, while also maintaining a balance with the rising upper-equestrians. A military man through-and-through, this day he was to speak of a social matter closer to home.
"Gratias, Faustinus," he said to the Princeps Senatus, and then returned his attention to the sitting senators. "Senators, there are a great many matters of discussion open to us. Indeed, I have been busy these past weeks with reports coming in from the east and from the limes about the movement of the Graeci against the Parthians, and the Germani against one another. As Romans we have for a long time cast our eyes out to other lands, our focus on the next conquest, or the next piece of glory we can claim for mother Roma. It is in our blood, one could say, for us to spill the blood of others." He paused, turning his gaze to the other side of the Curia.
"Yet, ten years ago it was neither the blood of the Germani nor the blood of Parthians we were spilling, but the blood of fellow Romans, fellow citizens of our great empire. I was not present in our great city when the tyrant Clemens took power, and I was not witness to the atrocities he committed. Though I know the severity of the reports I heard in Asia were enough to fill me with a resolution to secure and protect my beloved homeland. Had I been able to take a road to Rome that was free from bloodshed, that spared the lives of my fellow Romans, I surely would have. Alas, the fates saw to influence more ambitious men to lesser actions, and battle could not be avoided. There is not a day that passes where I do not lament the loss of my brothers-in-arms, even as they plied those arms against me. For they believed they were fighting for Rome, however misguided they might have been.
"Here in our city, men and women fought and died. In Italia they did as well. Not only our soldiers, but our people. I, too, suffered the loss of my oldest son, a wound I share with many of you. Now, a decennium and more after we have peace, there is again a need to protect that which is ours. Yet before we can march against outward enemies, we must first look inward at our future.
"We cannot speak to the Glory of Rome and marvel at our marble architecture and triumphal arcs without taking a closer look at the naked and starving orphans hiding in the shadows of those same structures. Those children are the future of Rome, yet what future do they have when they have little choice but to live as beggars?"
Caesar paused, surveying the Curia once again before continuing. "I am proposing an alimenta - a nourishment - of our Italian homeland. To provide food, education, and housing for the poor and the disenfranchised children and their caretakers so that we might strengthen the heart of our homeland, and bring hope to its future. Any and all ideas and suggestions for the implementation of such a program are welcomed."
With that, Caesar returned to his seat and the floor was open again.
((OOC: If there are any questions about this, send myself or one of the other staff members a PM or message on Discord.))
As Claudia commented on the adventure that his childhood must have been, Quintus took a moment to recollect on all the things he had seen and experienced. In hindsight, and to someone full of youth who had yet to see the world, he could understand how adventurous and exciting it all seemed. To him at the time it had simply been what was expected of him, or what he needed to do in order to prove himself.
He came back into focus on the conversation as she spoke of the children in the greater family. He smiled softly as she rattled off updates on each of the children, not unlike a quaestor reading a report to his legatus. A mix of ambition and competitive spirit had driven Quintus and his siblings, and had pushed and pulled them together and apart, not unlike the moon with the waves. Some had succeeded - most notably himself, Lucilla, and to a lesser extent Octavius and Jullus - and others hadn't. He had always attributed their drive as a mix of the blood they had inherited. The Cornelian political prowess and competitive nature to serve above and beyond, and the Flavian ambition for one to prove himself, or herself, worthy.
Quintus considered what traits his children might have inherited, or even Claudia herself. As the daughter of Claudius and Lucilla, what parts of each of them did she carry with her? But then she asked if there was anything in particular he wanted to know, which caught him slightly off guard.
"Only anything you feel you should tell me." He paused for a small sip of wine. "Though, I didn't call you here to speak with me to interrogate you." Quintus placed trust in his greater family, and hoped that they would build a stronger bond than he had with his own brothers and sister.
"Though..." he considered a thought in his mind. "If I were to ask you the strengths and weaknesses of each Titus and Tiberius, as it concerns their personalities, what would you say?"
In his younger years Quintus detested even the thought of having to attend a meeting of the senate. He had always been a man inclined toward acting, and had seen the senate as a means for rich, bored men to argue and speak of what they might do while not actually doing anything at all. Even after he had taken the purple, Quintus found every excuse he could to be on the fringes of the empire fixing something, leaving the senate to his most trusted advisors and relations. After a decade of leading Rome back to a place of stability and peace, a more relaxed life in Rome gradually became more and more comfortable for the old warrior.
Caesar carefully maintained the delicate balance between his power and the senate's, though not without help from his family and allies. He was seated in his place between the two consular chairs, giving nods to each senator as they caught his gaze. Others came forward to speak with him in private before the official start of the session, but once the Princeps Senatus took the floor, silence reigned, and Caesar listened along with every other man. There were many matters to be discussed, and many important decisions to be made.
Quintus listened attentively as his niece shared what she would of her life. He remembered his sister at her age, in her teens, when one day was the most glorious-blessed-by-the-gods day, and the next Pluto himself had come to earth to wreak havoc. If Claudia truly was so similar as her mother, Quintus could only presume she had a similar womanly side to her - or at least that's how he saw it.
As she spoke on the time she spent with Drusilla, Quintus couldn't help but feel satisfaction in the fact that Drusilla was in his life. That she had been spared by the gods and not an absolute lunatic who'd lost her wits, or a vengeful witch upon her return to Rome was itself the work of the gods... or her strong will. That she further spent her time with the needy only served to strengthen the view of the Flavian name, and perhaps restore some faith in her own. By joining her, Claudia too could only help to cement a strong public image.
Then she spoke of riding. "Lucilla was a strong rider," he commented. "We raced often as children, before I left for training. I won't admit that she bested me, but she came close." He laughed at the memory. It was strange how with age the spite and jealously he felt for his siblings had turned to nostalgia through memories. He made a mental note to have a separate meeting with this Praetorian Decimus, but made no comment to Claudia of it.
"It is good to be busy, keep your mind active and learning. Tell me, how are you getting along with your siblings?" He was mostly curious about Tiberius, though any news on Flavia was not unwelcome.
Over the years Quintus had become better at being around children. For a long time he had ignored them until they were of an age to be able to do something - or such had been his thinking in the past. It wasn't until he observed his son Titus - and his brother, until he passed - and how inquisitive they were, how quickly they learned and mimicked, that he understood the importance of showering love and attention upon adolescents. Yet, once the children grew into young adults, Quintus largely reverted into his more spartan outlook; not that he was unapproachable, or impossible to speak with, but more that he made sure to keep a distance. He would dole out affection and approval as it was necessary, but never give it for the sake of giving it. Young women were an entirely different beast to tackle.
A soft smile crossed his face as Claudia spoke to her wish to live up to Lucilla's standards. He thought to himself that Lucilla was the only person ever able to live up to her standards. Even still, it was an admirable goal for his sister's daughter.
"As well as I could hope," he said in response to his niece's concern. "I believe the youth and vigor of Drusilla and Drusus keep me young," he added with another smile. "And you? I must admit I am not entirely attuned to the issues of a young woman such as yourself, but I trust you are healthy and satisfied with things in general?" He didn't honestly expect that Claudia would tell him anything otherwise, but it was worth the effort to ask.