QuoteLet others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.
Caecina noticed the instant reaction in the room, perceptive to moods as she was. The tension could have been cut with a knife. She glanced furtively at Tertius who had coughed into his cup, and then blushed heartily as Teutus admitted that he was a freedman. So that was the long and short of it. "I see," she said gently. "Please forgive my indelicacy." A long moment stretched on as she scrambled to find a good way to recover, until the young man spoke again, saying that he was interested in trading.
She latched onto this idea and smiled, perhaps a bit too brightly. "Trade sounds fascinating. And you're right, Rome relies on her merchants. I think that would be a wonderful career." She gestured with her wine cup. "Good wine is something the people of Rome will never survive without." She felt that she should let Tertius take the lead here, though, so she stopped rambling and sipped her wine.
Caecina chuckled as the man admitted to burning down a building when he was seventeen, surprised. He didn't seem the type of man to do such a thing, but Caecina had learned that appearances could be extremely deceiving in Rome. "Goodness, that's quite a tale," she grinned. She tucked the story away in her mind; perhaps she could use it as an example of why she was well-behaved when Manius tried to scold her again. She'd never burned anything down, so she couldn't be that bad, right?
The man then went on to say that he didn't deal in gossip much. "Well, more for me," she said with a devious smile. Then he said something that caught her attention - a rumor about a senator with three wives? It was simply unheard of! Gullible with youth, Caecina's mind instantly latched on to the story and she resolved to find out who this mysterious man with three wives was - but then her disbelieving side alerted her to mischief. She regarded him with an amused, suspicious expression. "You know, Lucius," she said at length, "that is an interesting tale. But I do believe you are misleading me, a poor, innocent lady." Then she laughed aloud. "But if you want me spreading such a rumor, I might have to say that it is you who has caught three ladies in your net."
The one thing about Caecina was that she was rarely satisfied with her life. Her father had denied her any attention her whole life, she wasn't satisfied with only having a few beaux to coquette with, she got bored easily. She was a moody teenager and privilege didn't help her be any better behaved - in fact, it added to her sense of entitlement until she was, simply put, a brat. But of course, she didn't think that about herself. She thought of herself as high-spirited with high standards.
She averted her eyes from Manius as she sat on the bed, staring to the side at her mirror. She listened to him speak but as with anything said to her while she was mad, it went in one ear and out the other, leaving only a sense of anger. She sensed him turning into the doorway and pausing, but she was done speaking. She nodded slowly at length and then turned to lay back down on the bed. She would find a way through. She would think about her problems tomorrow.
Caecina's soul always quietened here, where she felt tucked away from the rest of the villa. There were tall hedges that provided shade and seclusion, and at the feet of these were a series of well-tended flower beds containing a variety of brightly colored flowers. Insects buzzed through the air, occasionally alighting upon the flowers and adding a pleasant ambient hum to the scene. But as Lucius began on his list of all the places he had been, she was disquieted. The poor man seemed so detached from the sad events he had seen - the deaths of many people around him, especially. She would never feel so detached from the death of her mother but she wondered if the sheer volume of tragedy he had experienced made them all seem less earth-shattering.
As he finished up, he chuckled, but Caecina didn't quite feel ready to laugh about what he'd just described. Feeling moved, she placed a hand on his arm (which she had to reach up to considerably). "You've been through so much. I'm sorry for your loss." But as uncomfortable as she was with deep emotions and sadness, she pulled away and turned, apparently to examine some flowers, but really to compose herself once more.
After a moment, she cleared her throat and turned back to him, having regained her previous jovial state. "So," she started briskly, mostly to move on from the sad moment, "I am ready for my quiz. Or, perhaps not ready - you don't grade harshly, do you?"
Caecina glared at him openly, now, as he said he knew a brat when he saw one. How dare he speak so about his superior? Manius might be older, but he wasn't in the same social class as Caecina and Marcus, and therefore had no right to speak of him that way. She was thrumming with furious and upset energy now, and she sat down on her bed with a huff, tossing her palla over her shoulder.
Manius spoke again, saying he could try to understand her and that he could be a friend to her. Some kinder, calmer part of her brain recognized that he was trying to help her, trying to keep her from being led astray. But she didn't want to be kind right now. She had just been caught with Marcus, whom she thought she could love, and now they were going to be kept apart. "Only he can understand. I don't want to talk to you," she said, her voice cold but breaking a little bit. She wasn't sure why she was on the verge of crying, but she was all the same - what a curious reaction she was having to the whole situation.
"Ah, so you were a rabble-rouser, then?" she teased. She always found the more energetic, bad boy types to be more interesting - but it seemed like this man had mellowed out as he had aged, which was interesting as well. Caecina made very little discrimination in her choices of pursuits, whether they were older, mature men, or boys who would kiss her and she could lead around with just the promise of a kiss. Longinus was becoming interesting to her.
She sensed a little bit of amusement at her proclamation of the various things one could learn at a party, and she wondered if he thought her very silly. That was the trouble with older beaux - they often thought of her as an immature girl, gamboling like a kitten. Some found that attractive in her - some did not. "You shame me, Lucius, suggesting I deal in petty rumors," she said with feigned indignance. But then she laughed. "But, yes, just about anything I can get my hands on interests me. Because people interest me. You don't know any fascinating gossip, do you?"
"Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these." - Ovid
"Love will enter cloaked in friendship's name." -Ovid
"Thus I am not able to exist either with you or without you; and I seem not to know my own wishes." -Ovid
"Greatly he failed, but he had greatly dared." -Ovid
Caecina started to feel a bit better as Horatia spoke, describing birth as nearly indescribable, and saying that all one could do was to prepare and hope for the best. Caecina, of course, believed in the gods and goddesses, but had never found them to be particularly helpful in her everyday troubles. Why should they take an interest in her giving birth one day? No, she decided, she would trust in the medicii and midwives. They would be her gods when that day came. She smiled again when Horatia said that she was a lovely woman and that any man would bet his fortune for an hour of her time, and nodded when the older woman said that she could come to her with questions if she wanted to.
"I really appreciate your advice, Horatia. I'll admit, it is a bit easier to talk to you than Juliana." She was sure that she would have other questions once she got the gumption to ask her, but for now, her anxieties had returned to the shadows, to be remembered another day. "And thank you for inviting me into your home. I hope I can return the favor soon."
@Sara Sure, we can wrap it up :)
Caecina had no desire to have a practical stranger explain sex and childbirth to her, especially since the topic had been broached long ago by Juliana, once the woman had gained Caecina's trust. It had been an embarrassing experience the first time, much less having Horatia (who was altogether a very nice woman, Caecina had decided, but still a stranger) tell her all about it. No, thank you, she thought. Death in childbirth, however, was another topic altogether - something all women discussed, young and old, in different ways.
Caecina managed a brave smile when she felt the woman's hand squeeze her gently. "Thank you." Her explanation was illuminating, though not particularly comforting. Caecina reasoned that Horatia didn't owe her comfort, though, and settled with the acquiring of knowledge about childbirth. The allegory about childbirth and battle was an interesting one - she'd have to think about that one for a while.
"I think... my mother was older. I've heard that that can affect a woman's chances of... well." She waved her hand vaguely. "I think that is the one thing about marriage that frightens me. Of course, I've been trained well and I'm ready for other aspects but I suppose hearing about birth doesn't really do it justice, does it?"
"Ah, I see. You must be terribly brave, serving Rome like that. I wish I had your courage," she said with a smile, hoping to stroke his ego to see where the compliment would take them. She really had no illusions about Britannia, having heard from her father's letters to her stepmother that it was a rather filthy place, filled with savages looking to get their fill of blood. Also, she'd heard that it rained there nearly daily - it wasn't her cup of tea, to be certain. But compliments showered upon a man were always useful in gaining his favor. At least, with the men who courted her; she used compliments like a weapon, bestowing them when she was pleased or using their opposite when her pride was bruised. And it was easily bruised.
She smiled as he said it was an excellent reputation. "I'm sure my father is helpful in that regard, at least." Part of her realized how much she was at the mercy of her father's career to keep her afloat - what were beauty and charm when they belonged to a pauper or one not properly connected to the movers and shakers of Rome? Longinus admitted that he was at her mercy to guide him. "It would be my pleasure, naturally."
He laughed and asked why he was even invited to parties like these and she chuckled. "I'm sure there was a very good reason you were invited. And as to why I enjoy these so much, it all comes down to people." She spoke with a feigned, ironic note of wisdom. "People are what interest me, Lucius, and where there are people, there is information to be learned about them. If that isn't enough to satiate you, at least the wine and entertainment are tantalizing," she laughed. Mostly, her specialty was gathering young men about her, but one tired of being in the center of attention sometimes.
Topics I Participated In
Late August, 75AD
Longinus was mulling. He didn't like these sort of parties at the best of times, but certainly not since his return from Greece where the news of his failed engagement was less fresh than before, but still simmered beneath the surface. He saw the pitying looks from friends, the preying glances from unmarried girls and the scornful look of the married matrons that milled through the party. So he'd retreated, as he often did in these instances, outside. It allowed him the fresh air he needed on these hot summer evenings, and a chance to stretch his legs. It also gave him space from the other party goers. Bliss.
The sound of music and chatter and laughter filtered from the triclinium through into the garden and he sat on the bench, kicking stones with his sandalled feet. He'd made the effort tonight at least, given he knew Titus and or Aulus would comment if he didn't. Fairly clean shaven (with his perennial stubble not budging...), and cut hair at least. He'd dressed in one of his more formal blue tunic and pallium, but despite dressing the part, he didn't feel ay real mood to party. He continued to kick rocks as the laughter intensified and a couple came into the garden to join him, taking a seat on another bench with giggles - utterly unaware, or uncaring, that he was sat only a few feet away.
Another figure drew out into the garden and he glanced up, hoping it was one of his friends and not another stranger. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but he tried to effect a polite smile on his face.
Early August, 75CE
Why was Caecina plagued with forced visits with people she didn't care to know? It was nothing personal against those she had to meet - she just had a million other things she'd rather be doing! And Juliana had an amazing ability to make connections for Caecina while being miles away at the villa. Today's visit was no different. She had been introduced to Horatia Justina before, and had attended a social gathering, a book club, at her home as well (also spurred on by her stepmother) but had never had a visit with the woman one on one. At the book club meeting, Caecina had made the appropriate niceties and then retreated to spend the rest of the evening with the one young woman she'd known there.
Because she'd never interacted one on one with the older woman, Caecina was going into the meeting today with little to no context or knowledge about her personality, and that intimidated her. The young senatore lady was of the notion that all older women were simply out to get their younger counterparts, to judge their new fashions and hair styles, to judge their adherence to the proprieties. Caecina was absolutely better at interacting with women her age than older women. But at least she had some knowledge about how to appease the old cats, so she was at least prepared on that front.
Caecina dressed especially carefully, choosing a more modest chiton than she usually wore. The fabric was a light blue, Caecina's favorite, and embroidered along the edge's by the girl's own hands, something she could brag about if she needed to defend herself. Her palla was also blue, though darker, and sparingly decorated. Her jewelry was tasteful and not too garish, and she brought along a bottle of fine wine from her father's cellars as a hostess gift. Upon arrival, Caecina was shown into the entryway to wait for her hostess.
Late August, 75 AD
Boring, boring, boring… the lessons with Aia had ended for the day and Marcus didn’t have any plans for the day. He could of course get into a litter and go visit one of his friends, or he could practice his fighting skills, but it was high summer and it was too hot to do anything. He lay on his bed, on his stomach, with Silvanus massaging his back. It felt nice, but he couldn’t do this all day. Maybe a trip to the thermae? That might be nice, to cool down. Or maybe a dip in the Tiber, far from where people lived, so the river wouldn’t be disgusting.
Or… maybe Caecina had an idea on what to do! She often did, he thought. Or else they’d just get some alone-time and kiss. He could spend a day doing that too. It had been a few months now, since their little escapade to the Poppina Via Lata and the Gardens of Sullust, where they promised they wanted each other, but also kept it a secret so far. And a secret their relationship remained all summer. Marcus would sneak kisses from her whenever he had the chance, fighting to control himself to not push for more than what she wanted. She was just so… beautiful and alluring, wasn’t she?
He pushed Silvanus away and had the slave hand him a light blue tunica to wear. Marcus walked though their home in Rome to Caecina’s chamber. The curtain at the door frame was drawn, so he stopped outside and ran a hand through his hair, which most likely fell perfectly as it always did.
“Caecina… are you in there? Can I come in?” He asked out loud and waited as patiently as he could.
Early August, 75 AD
Manius had finally found something, or so it would seem. He’d been contacted by a servant to Quintus Caecina Tuscus, a former bodyguard to his daughter, actually. The actual Quintus was far away from Rome, but in Rome and near Rome was his family and his servants. And since Manius used to know people a little higher up in ranks, back when he worked for Cyprianus, he was still well-known, even if he had just worked at the slave market for over ten years now. Not that he was the kind of man to hang out with his friends all the time, but they knew him. And Manius had of course let it be known, that he needed a job... although for a while, nothing happened. Until this bodyguard reached out to him and it was about time too. He had little less. The landlord had threatened with throwing him out soon.
At least it was something, he thought, even if it was good and probably more than what he deserved. He’d been bodyguard a few times before, both for Domitilla (whom he was so foolish to fall in love with) and to Cyprianus (who was also dead now), but at least he’d tried it before. He was told that the young girl was of the marriable age and that she might soon find herself a husband, but that she’d also lately landed herself in a few situations, where she ought to have a man looking closely after her. And after the earthquake, her old bodyguard had been injured and he was close to being retired anyway. So he reached out to Manius, who responded fast, because he really did need a job. He just hoped he really was able to keep her safe. He failed with Salacia, after all. Her too.
Manius had dressed in the finest outfit he had - he didn't know yet if they would offer him a home too in the domus, or if he would still stay in his own - and then he went to the right address at the Palatine. His hair was short and curly and he had actually visited a barber to remove the worst stubble on his face, which was needed after his most recent fall from grace. It had been his last money spent, so it was a good thing he was getting a new job, finally – and a proper job with a good pay even, for a Senatorial family! At least, he hoped they would want to keep him. He hoped they'd not change their minds about him.
A servant allowed him in and told him to wait in the atrium. So here he stood. Quietly, with his hands folded on his back, waiting to meet his new mistress. Hopefully it wouldn’t go wrong this time, but by now, he barely trusted his own thoughts on that. It always went wrong somehow.
Late July, 75 AD
It had been a good while since that evening at the Gardens of Sullust, where he had been caught off guard by a thunderstorm and had to seek shelter in one of the pavilions there. And on the same night, a lovely young lady, Caecina Tusca, daughter to the proconsul of Britannia, had done exactly the same. That is how he met her and he was plenty entertained by her wit, her charm and their conversation – and her own attractiveness of course. So much that he almost found it a pity that he was already in his mid-40’s. Of course other Senators might be happy to consider such a young woman a future wife of theirs, but Tertius didn’t like the idea… at least not of her as his wife. If he should have a wife, he would like for her to be more mature and not someone who was younger than his own son. That would be strange.
There was someone however, who should be looking for a wife, and that was his son and his heir, Teutus. He was a freedman and he could not hold office or follow the course of honor, but any children he had, they could reach proper ranks once more. And Teutus did carry the Varus name name, so any children he had, would do the same. Teutus was the one who would carry on the family name. It was all on his shoulders, especially since Secundus had no children. He hoped Caecina would like Teutus and that he would like her as well, and that her father would deem it a proper match despite Teutus’ rank.
An invitation had been sent to Caecina Tusca at the Palatine, not far from the palace, as she had explained to him. It was the end of July now, almost a month after that fateful morning of the earthquake and Tertius’ domus was more or less restored now. He had considered leaving Rome and inspecting the villa in the countryside, but decided against it, because he wanted to bring Charis and with how far her pregnancy was now… he didn’t know if it would be safe for her. So in Rome they remained. Maybe they would travel after the child was born.
Right now though, there were other important matters. The triclinium had been made ready, Rhoda was busy cooking in the kitchens and Teutus had also been informed that he should attend dinner with Tertius tonight, because they were having a visitor. Tertius had of course told Teutus how he met the young lady and that he had merely invited her to thank her for her kindness on the night of the thunderstorm. She sent for a litter for him too, after all. Now he was resting in a chair by the atrium, waiting for the guest to arrive and hoping that Teutus would be able to entertain her too.
Caecina had always been a fan of the races, and even more a fan of the Greens. She remembered fondly all the races she had been to over the years, and reflected that she had even more of a reason to enjoy them than when she was young: the attractive men who drove the chariots. Today, after a morning spent in the markets, she decided to treat herself and Astraea to a race. Caecina watched the whole thing with vigor, adamantly rooting for her team, both with her comments as well as her pale green chiton, which highlighted her eyes quite nicely.
Afterwards, she sent Astraea to fetch a litter, leaving her with a lucky opportunity to go and speak with the charioteers. A little harmless flirting never hurt anyone! The stables seemed the most logical place to check, and besides, she loved horses, so at least she would get the opportunity to meet them. As she made her way in, she looked around, stricken by what a male environment it was. So coarse and brash. She enjoyed it quite a lot! The girl stopped by a stall to examine the horse within, a handsome bay stallion that reminded her of her own Mirandus.
1. What would completely break this character?
Caecina is, at heart, a survivor. She has an unbreakable spirit and a will to survive and even thrive, even if she has to do everything herself. If everything went wrong in her life, she would find a way to survive it. Of course, if her family members died or if she lost her wealth and status, she would be sad. But she would get through and find a way to prosper.
2. What is/was the best thing in this character's life?
At the moment, the best thing in Caecina's life is her friendship with Marcus (and her blossoming crush on him!) Tied for first place with this is her relationship with Juliana, who is like a mother to her. She relies on Juliana for guidance and friendship, and on Marcus for fun and entertainment.
3. What was the worst thing in this character's life?
Losing her mother, by far. She still has nightmares about the night that her mother died in childbirth, and the days afterward of silence.
4. What seemingly insignificant memories stuck with this character?
5. What is this character reluctant to tell people?
6. How does this character feel about sex?
Like a good unmarried Roman girl, Caecina is a virgin. She is curious about sex and hesitantly anticipating her wedding night, likely having some virginly, romantic ideas about the actual act. Caecina is also pretty frightened of the idea of childbirth, since her mother died trying to give birth to her sibling. She is so young and full of life that the idea of being suddenly snuffed out because of a pregnancy is sometimes what keeps her up at night.
7. How many friends does this character have?
8. How many friends does this character want?
9. What would this character make a scene in public about?
10. What would your character give their life for?
11. What are this character's major flaws?
12. What does your character pretend to care about?
13. How does the image this character tries to project differ from the image she actually projects?
14. What is this character afraid of?
Late June, 75CE
Back to the villa it was, then. As much as Caecina loved the city, it often became unbearably hot there and it was preferable to retreat to the villa, at least so that she could enjoy the shade of a nice tree. And, of course, it was time to pay her stepmother a visit as well. Caecina and Juliana had been growing steadily closer over the years, until Caecina thought of her like a friend and confidante, even like a mother. Being in the villa also gave Caecina a chance to spend time with her younger siblings, who looked up to her. The young woman always felt like she must be on her best behavior around the young ones, in order to set a good example for them.
As Caecina's litter drew up to the villa, she stepped out and breathed in the country air. At least it wasn't so dusty and crowded as the city. Just then, the door opened and her younger siblings spilled out, running to embrace her. Caecina laughed as she was overwhelmed by the children, picking up Quintus Minor to give him a hug and a kiss. As she set him down, she saw Juliana and she grinned warmly. "Ave, Juliana. It is so good to see you."
It was a beautiful day at the villa, and as such, Caecina was doing just what she liked to do. She had arisen that morning and put on an older chiton and palla and, accompanied by a guard or two, had ridden out into the countryside to enjoy the fresh air and cool breeze. After an hour of riding, she returned to the villa and bathed, dressing this time in a pale blue chiton with a darker blue palla. Afterward, she helped herself to an informal lunch in the kitchen and then advanced into the garden.
The girl was in an expansive good mood. Only a few weeks ago, she had turned seventeen and all the cares in the world were far from her mind that day. All she wanted to do was to enjoy the day, exploring the gardens and avoiding her lessons for the day. She felt that she had had quite enough of book learning for the week, anyway. She was not the kind of girl to enjoy reading overmuch, but rather enjoyed her freedom and ability to twist her tutor's arm into letting her out of a lesson early. After a few minutes of walking around the gardens, examining the variety of plants and flowers, Caecina found a bench and sat, soaking up the sun. What a day to be alive!
It was a late afternoon and she had snuck out. Septima felt a little excited as she walked down the street, alone – there was no chaperone and her sister wasn’t here. No slave, nothing. She was on her own! Of course it wasn’t the first time, but she grew more brave and bold and she just wanted to go out and try and live life a little bit. That’s all she wanted. She wore a light green chiton today, with a simple (but beautiful!) dark green palla over her shoulders. Her long hair had long, wavy curls and was pulled a bit back from her face. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. It was a beautiful day.
She didn’t really have a plan for where to go. Maybe she’d go and see a race, on her own? Or a gladiator match. She’d love to see that, without any escorts, so she could truly try and experience it. Or maybe she would just go and watch them train. She’d heard they could be quite handsome, some of them, big and muscular brutes and she was kind of interesting in looking at that.
But maybe if she came close to the ludii, that’s where she would go. Maybe a trip to the market at first, buy something to eat for herself and then find a nice place to eat it. There were many places where you could buy a quick meal when you were out and about.
Septima finally arrived at the large marketplace. She stood for a moment, just taking it in. It was then she saw a girl from far away, but thougth she looked familiar – an old friend of hers that she had not seen in years. Septima smiled and decided to approach her, but the girl then walked away with her escort and Septima followed her. They disappeared in the crowd though and Septima stopped, not sure it was a good idea to follow. Maybe it wasn’t her anyway.
It was then someone walked by her and bumped into her and then hurried away. She arched a brow, not sure what that was about and headed back to the market to find some food. She reached for her purse and… it was gone!
“Oh no…” She looked towards where the person bumping into her went, but they were long gone now, she imagined. This was not good... and she was hungry!