Face ClaimDavid Tennant
Theo was heading to the Ludus Magnus for a long day's work when he saw the accident. The slaves carrying the litter pushed a red-headed young man out of the way, and he tripped in the uneven street, going down with a cry of pain. The litter moved on, neither carriers nor passengers paying much attention to the commotion they caused, and people kept on milling about their business. People tripping on the cobblestones was not exactly a newsworthy event in Rome.
"Are you alright?" Theo stepped up to the young man, looking at his ankle, which seemed to be swelling. "Did you twist your ankle?"
Theo had not really been paying too much attention to politics, beyond what he heard on the streets and from the announcers. He had been an equestrian nobleman for a hot minute, but that had all gone before he ever got to the city of Rome, so he had no connections in high places to speak of. He didn't mind, really. The view from up where young Tiberius was sitting must have been quite daunting.
"There are some who say that my father was poisoned. I do not know about Darius, but virtually all those who had a motive were killed either in the purge, or in the aftermath... Then again, there are many who see the Caesarship as a seat of power rather than responsibility, so it would not have to be the same person."
Theo nodded. Rome would have been so lucky, to only have one poisoner with ambition in a city of millions.
"Quintus Caesar is my mother's brother, and my mother also died of an unexplained illness. Darius was her son with her first husband Honorius... So that theory holds weight, until my father Claudius, who was unrelated to my mother's side except through myself and my sisters. One supposes that it could be a combination of both causes."
Theo nodded again, for lack of a better thing to do. When unrelated causes began to combine, then one was facing a near impossible task.
"Is there anything that one can do to mitigate an illness, if it travels within a family?"
"That is a hard question for any medicus to answer." Theo said honestly. "I feel that a combination of different causes would be quite a challenge to untangle. And... forgive me, dominus, but in my opinion it might be an easier first step to rule out poison, than to prove inherited conditions." One was a lot less mysterious than the other, after all. Theo lowered his voice, even though everyone else was keeping a polite distance. "May I ask... are you experiencing any symptoms yourself?"
Theo waited to see if the young imperial would tell him more about his concerns. Maybe they were of a personal nature.
"I don't doubt you follow basic politics; suffice to say that Caesar Quintus abdicated due to failing health."
The medicus nodded, listening intently.
"What concerns me is that he is not the only Caesar who's health has failed him. My brother Caesar Junus, and my father Caesar Claudius, both had much the same, and they declined even to death. It is this trend which concerns me. I am the last male Claudian, and there are fewer of the Flavii-Alexandrii than there were. Rome would suffer, if the Caesarship were to be called into question again, and I would not see her do so. And so I search for some way to prevent my brother Titus from suffering the same fate."
Theo's face took on a more somber look as it started to dawn on him what issue they will be talking about. This was not just basic politics. This was high politics. The highest in all the land, actually. A literal matter of life or death, and not just for the imperial family, but possibly for thousands of people, of things played out wrong.
"Your words agree with your compatriots at the Palace, at least. Healthy eating, fresh air, time outdoors. All things in moderation and nothing in excess. I simply wish I knew what excess might cause such conditions... But I fear that I have wasted your time, medicus."
"No time spent seeking the truth is wasted." Theo quoted quietly "... my father used to say that. And you are seeking truth for a worth cause, dominus."
He was young, and already with such dire responsibilities on his shoulder. Theo thought for a moment. Not about the possibilities - about how to word them.
"Some conditions can affect families, passed down through generations." he said finally "As we inherit our nature from our parents so can we inherit their ailments." he paused "And then there are other possibilities, if people decline despite living a healthy life." he gave Tiberius a searching look. "You suspect there might be another cause?"
Theodorus, ludus medicus, suddenly in the middle of imperial intrigue. Gods, help me. Venereal diseases would have been better.
"I imagine that you did, and more besides, in the course of your considerable service to the Empire."
This kid was good. Theo had to admit that. He already had the makings of a formidable politician, choosing his words carefully, and biding his time in the conversation to learn more. Theo smiled a little at the mention of considerable service. Anyone spending 25 of their best years in the frontier legions did more than a service. But Theo also knew when to choose his words..
"I am interested in the science of avoiding illness, and maintaining health. I anticipate that, as well as treating injuries, you would be responsible for keeping both Legionnaires and gladiators healthy."
There it was. Theo tilted his head. Health was the question. Was the young man worried about getting ill? Some people were, a few to an unhealthy degree. Ironically. Theo considered his answer.
"There are... many books on that subject." he answered cautiously. "Some of it has to do with eating, good air, exercise... My father taught me that a healthy body is one well take care off, avoiding excess of any kind. But... you probably already knew that." Any physician at the palace could have told him the same. "Is there any particular... health issue you wish to avoid?"
Please don't let it be venereal diseases.
The young imperial sounded mature for his age. Most of the nobility Theo observed in the reserved seats of the arena was boastful, drunk, or generally loud... but this young prince seemed genuinely interested in other matters. Theo gave him a smile. Maybe this would be a good conversation.
"I imagine that you would have seen much on the frontiers. How long did you serve?"
"The full twenty-five years. First on the eastern frontier, and then..." due to the revolt in Achaea, but that did not need to be brought up "in Germania, for the last ten or so. It was definitely a long journey. I learned a lot. As a medicus." He added. He had learned a lot as a Greek person in the Roman legions, and a lot as a man in a war, but once again, those topics did not make for very polite conversation.
"Salve, medicus. I appreciate your time. Will you sit? I am Tiberius Claudius Sabucius."
"A pleasure to meet you" Theo took a seat politelty, waiting to learn the reason why he had been summoned. By the emperor's brother no less.
"Theodorus. You are Achaean, or Aetolian?"
"Corinthian" Theo smiled a little. It still sounded strange, referring to his home by the name of the province, not the city, so he usually introduced himself as such.
"I would assume, from your role at the ludus, that you have considerable expertise with injuries. However, I am interested in your knowledge of illness."
Oh. Interesting. Theo nodded slowly.
"My father worked at the Asclepeion in Corinth as a healer. I trained with him before I joined the legions. My mother worked alongside him as maia. I don't claim I'm an expert, but I try to learn as much as I can. One... sees a lot of things along the limes."
Theo was more than a bit surprised when he was summoned. By a member of the imperial family, no less. He was aware that nobility was watching the games today, but he had been too busy with the gladiators to gawk. It was a rare, but not unusual occurrence on training days.
The gladiator that had gone down with a deep cut on his leg. Theo bandaged up the wound and then had the man transferred to his workshop, where the wound was sealed and stitched up properly. The messenger found him deep in this work, and confirmed that he could finish before he had to make an appearance. Good. Theo would not have left a patient half-stitched. He finished up the job, adding copious amounts of spiced wine and herbs for the pain. The servants transferred the gladiator to his quarters. Theo cleaned up the best he could, washing off blood and sand and running a comb through his hair before he hurried up to the spectators' seats.
The imperial in question turned out to be a prince. Tiberius? Theo only vaguely knew the imperial family, but he knew enough to recognize important people.
"Greetings, dominus" he bowed his head politely to the young man, wondering why he had been summoned. Did he want information on the gladiators for the next games?... "I'm Quintus Flavius Theodorus, medicus to the Ludus Magnus. How can I be of service?"
Despite the very narrow bed, Theo dozed comfortably till late morning, wrapping his arms around his wife and lulled by the even breathing of three very satisfied people. Saturalia had been a definite success. But the narrow bed also guaranteed that once someone stirred, so did everybody else. Theo blinked, eyes still blurry with sleep, as he was poked in the ribs.
"Lazy, lazy men, still asleep at this hour? I'm afraid I can't offer you water or wine, I'm stuck here which is...fine by me."
"Give us some credit, we worked hard all night..." Theo muttered with a smirk, wincing away from the poking. Rufus stirred too, raising a mess of red hair and blinking eyes over the hill of Didia's shoulder.
"Maybe we could try me in the middle next time?"
"I will try you anywhere" Theo was clearly not quite sober yet. Or awake.
"Ah - did you want water, or wine, then?"
"Water." Theo finally managed to sit up too as Rufus got out of bed. Gods, they were a mess, not to mention the room. But it was a good mess. "So... Saturnalia is not over yet, is it?..."
Didia had been right, kissing Rufus was definitely a pleasurable experience. Theo smiled happily as his wife wiggled out from between them, and cleared her throat. The only problem with this situation was going to be sharing attention when there was so much to... do.
"Gentlemen...you know we have a perfectly serviceable bed...?"
"No, I don't know that at all. We might have to try it out to see whether it is serviceable or not."
Theo grinned at the both of them. That bed was going to get tested for sure. It was going to be a bit small for three people (it was just big enough for two), but something told him they were going to make it work.
"There's too many clothes for this experiment, though, don't you think?"
"Definitely" Theo nodded, discarding his own tunic. Rufus did the same, and hopefully so did Didia. Now there was going to be much to look at.
"Dearest Didia, and Theo - who should be in the middle?"
Theo blinked, realizing he had never considered the logistics of something like this before.
"Um... let's try and see?"
It was Saturnalia, after all. They had all the time in the world. And Theo was definitely willing to try new things.
Didia was comfortably wedged between them now, and Theo smiled against her shoulder as Rufus kissed her. He wondered if they had kissed before. Either way, they could take their time. Rufus' hand found his, and the warmth between the tree of them was both comfortably and slightly maddening.
"I think I'm in love, with you both. How does a man get so lucky?"
"Never let the gods hear you say those words" Theo warned him, looking over Didia's shoulder. Being too lucky was usually frowned upon by divinity. Voicing it, even more so... But it was Saturnalia. Crossing boundaries was to be forgiven. "You know what, don't talk at all." he added with a smirk before he leaned over to kiss him too.
Topics I Participated In
It was rare that Rufus was sent on an errand by his master; he was his master's personal attendant and errnads were generally given to house-slaves to run. This one had been deemed important enough to dispatch Rufus himself, though, and he was glad of the little bit of freedom to leave the house and take the message, which was for the lanista of the Ludus Magnus.
The only reply he'd been told to wait for was a 'yes' or a 'no' (and Rufus' master being who he was, the expected and only acceptable answer would be 'yes') which answer he'd received. He was on his way home and hadn't managed to get very far when he had to move out of the way of a litter that was being carried along the street with little regard for the pedestrians already in it.
He hastily stepped backwards and, as he did so, caught his foot on the edge of a pothole caused by a missing paving stone and went down, hard. It was a moment before he could gather himself, and look down at his ankle, which was throbbing. He hadn't heard or felt anything break, but there was a definite swelling at the joint, and he sucked in a breath.
mehercle but it hurt!
It was only practice, not a true competition, and whilst practice battles drew a few spectators - often owners of the gladiators - it was usually only a few loiterers or those who enjoyed watching half-naked men sweat who would attend. Tiberius was neither, but he was only half watching; the young Imperial was deep in thought, otherwise relaxing beneath a canopy. The Ludus was simply a place to be. Sometimes it helped to get out of the palace when he wanted to think. Oddly enough he was less likely to be disturbed here. And he was thinking, very seriously. Titus was Caesar now, suddenly, at a young age, and Tiberius - who admitedly was no older and his relative level of wisdom was debateable - saw it as his duty to support Titus in guiding and guarding the Empire. He also wanted to guide and guard Titus so that he was able to do so, not least because he was his brother, but also because if anything affected Titus, it could potentially lead to a period of instability in the Empire, which it could ill afford.
The Empire seemed to burn through Caesar's at an uncomfortable rate, and the pool of potential heirs was reducing. This was one of the many things that preyed on Tiberius's mind as he half watched a bout end. One of the combatants had been injured by a blow from his opponent's weapon, and lay on the sand, shifting in pain. Whilst gladiators were generally looked down on as the slaves most were, they still had value. Sure enough, within a few moments the medicus of the Ludus appeared, working quickly to stabilise his patient. Tiberius couldn't see much, but it was only minutes before the man was moved by two attendants, under the direction of the medicus.
Hmm. The beginnings of an idea began to form.
Tiberius turned to one of his attendants and asked the man to find out the name of the medicus, and ask that when - and only when - he had treated his patient to his satisfaction, he come and speak with the young Imperial.
The medici who usually attended the Imperials had no answers. But sometimes those who sat outside the arena saw more of the combat.
Then, suddenly, it's over. His foe, some stupid name like 'Gaius' or something, opened his guard just a little too much, and Owyn leapt through it. Three heartbeats, and the man was on his back, gasping for breath, most of his throat torn out and an eye missing. Standing over him, you didn't really feel the pain at first. Owyn's shoulder was broken, or stretched, or torn. He could feel blood running down his leg from where the bastard had dug his gladius into his thigh - hence why he was limping - and most of his left arm was bruised and cut up.
Didn't really matter. He wasn't going to die. This fucker was.
The command came. Thumbs up. Get it over with.
An hour later, they had his lorica hamata off, and he was sat upon some high table in the hospitium. They'd gone to fetch some bloody medicus, a new one. He'd likely reset his shoulder, then stitch up his leg, then send him on his way. Owyn wasn't a pretty sight, dusty and bloody - they'd not even washed him off with water yet. His hair was cut short, his chin freshly shaved. All that lay across his back was the dark grey tunic.
He was in pain, now, but fuck you - he was used to it. Everytime he so much as twitched his right arm, lances of agony coursed through him. His leg was filthy, covered in gore. He had...part of the man's eye, under his fingernail. He couldn't move his right arm, so Owyn just sat there, trying to pick it out with his teeth.
The cheers and laughter echoed in the hallways of the insula, and outside on the streets. It was the most joyous of Roman celebrations, one that Theo truly learned to enjoy since his move to the City. Even though they were a small household, a mere apartment in the insula, he and his wife were happily preparing for their first Saturnalia together. They did not own slaves who could have turned the day around on them, but there were still sweets to eat, spiced wine to drink, games to play, and gifts to give. In the spirit of the festivities, Theo was trying to do his very best in preparing said sweets, with honey and flour and walnuts. A plate of fresh pomegranates stood on the table, one of them already opened and spilling ruby red seeds. As soon as Didia returned from running some errands, they would have the whole rest of the day to themselves. The games would not start until the following day, which gave the medicus leave from his usual work at the ludus.
When he head the door open, Theo glanced over his shoulder, grinning with a smear of flour on his face.
A week after A Little Help
Didia struggled with her load, her arm dragging down, weighed down with the basket overflowing with goods but covered with a square of linen to try and be discrete. Appius had walked with her, both for protection and just because he wanted to see the Ludus but he had strict instruction not to bother Theo or the Gladiators, and instead sit in the free seats and see if any training fights were happening whilst she unburdened herself. He had been confused and queried why she was trekking all the way to the Ludus after the stall closing time, just to deliver a gift to a man she barely knew. She had explained that Theo had treated her friend Lucia for a minor infection, and was delivering it on her behalf. Appius had only half-believed her, but had been too interested in going to the Ludus to put up any more of a fight.
As they entered the complex (after some slight begging to the guards at the entrance) Didia's eyes widened in surprise. She didn't know what she was expecting but the...mundane barrack-type rooms and slaves milling around was not what she was expected. She pulled one aside to quickly ask where the medicus' rooms were, and the training ground and after a firm word with Appius not to cause any trouble, she let him be led to where he could watch a fight or two, whilst she diverted to Theo's work area. She snuck in a corridor, down past rooms (bedrooms?) until she came to a heavy oak door. She kicked it with her foot three times and said, in an inflated accent, disguising her voice; "Delivery for the medicus!" Gods she hoped he wasn't in the middle of surgery.
Immediately after One Night In Rome [M-V]
Didia stumbled up the stairs, breathless from her run all the way here and from the anxiety that just wouldn't settle. What if he'd followed her here? She hadn't stopped to look back once she was free of his grip and had just bolted as fast she could back home. Oh Gods above, what if he'd followed her? She couldn't go home, not in this state, not like this - with blood dripping down her neck from the first wound and staining her tunica from the second. She hurriedly climbed the final set of stairs, up past her own landing, to Theo's. She sometimes called on him at this hour - it was evening but she saw light from under his door and she steeled herself to knock. She felt panic rising again and glanced behind her as she desperately tried to smooth away her tears and right herself. It was to little avail though and realising she couldn't delay any longer, she knocked.
She must have looked a state; eyes wide with panic and tears, hair askew, a nice bruise and scratches blossoming on her shoulder blade from the force of his foot and the wall and the small cuts from the knife. She had no sense of how deep they were but they stung. The one on her neck throbbed now and the other, just above the band of her strophium was still dribbling blood - she could feel it - although she dared not look lest she be ill again. She knocked again, heart rate rising and thrumming in her blood. "Theo?" She called out, her voice hoarse, "Theo please answer the door!"
QUINTUS FLAVIUS THEODORUS
43 | 9 April 31 CE | Plebeian | Medicus (Ludus Magnus) | Bisexual | Original | David Tennant
Theodorus is friendly, curious, and talkative. He is eager to ask and eager to learn, and has no qualms about starting up conversations with complete strangers. He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a keen interest in the workings of the human body. No issue is too small to marvel at, and no mystery, illness or ailment is too insignificant to present a challenge. Blessed with a scientific mind, Theodorus like to study his patients as much as cure them. He does have a friendly and easy-going disposition, which tends to put his patients at ease (unless they are annoyed by how much he talks, which tends to happen). He has a hard time adhering to strict rules and regulations, despite his time in the military, and has no talent for diplomacy, but he is honorable, and honest to a fault, which can be to his advantage (although it is a double edged sword sometimes).
There is also another, less often shown side to him: Despite his interest and enthusiasm for medicine, the suffering he has seen on the frontier has not passed him by. Sometimes he tends to get melancholy, and he is angered easily if he sees people needlessly hurt. He has no qualms about human bodies, but he does not handle the sight of unnecessary cruelty well. Also, despite his friendly and talkative nature, when a situation gets dire, he changes into his more serious, veteran medicus self, sets pleasantries aside, and he goes to great lengths to save a patient's life.
Theodorus is sinewy rather than muscular, and tall rather than bulky (5'7"). His hair is dark brown and cut short, and he tends to sport stubble more often than not (sometimes he can't afford a barber, and sometimes he simply forgets). His beard is starting to turn salt-and-pepper from its earlier dark color. He has brown eyes with wrinkles that signal both good humor and a lot of nighttime squinting over books. He tans easily under the Italian sun, and has a bright, friendly, occasionally quirky smile. He has slender hands and deft fingers, which is an advantage in his job. His face is especially expressive, and makes it hard for him to lie, or even feign emotions, even if it would be to his advantage. He also finds it difficult to sit or stand still, and he has a tendency to pace and gesticulate while thinking or talking. He usually wears simple tunics, cloaks of common colors when the weather requires, and broad-brimmed hats to protect him from sun and rain. He is most often seen carrying his bag stuffed with medical tools, supplies, and book scrolls.
Siblings: 3 younger sisters - Iokaste (41), Ligeia and Chryseis (39)
Extended family: None
31 CE - Theodoros is born in Corinth, in the province of Achaea. His father, Demetrios, is a physician in the local Aesclepeion. As the only male child, Theodoros is trained by his father from an easly age in the science of medicine. His mother is also well versed in the use of herbs and remedies, and supports local women with advice in medical matters. She works as a maia, a midwife.
33, 35 CE - Three daughters are born to Demetrios and Aglaea - the older is named Iokaste, the younger twins are named Ligeia and Chryseis. The household is noisy and happy. Theodoros loves his younger sisters, but the more he learns about medicine, the more he wishes to see more of the world, gather more knowledge and experience, and explore more ways of healing people.
47 CE - With his father's (hard-earned and much begged) blessing, once he is 16 years old, Theodoros joins the Roman army on the eastern front, and becomes a medicus-in-training attached to the Legio XII Fulminata. During the occasional skirmishes along the frontier, he gets his first chance to treat battle wounds. He is mentored by a veteran Ionian Greek medicus named Marinos. They mainly speak Greek, but Theodoros' Latin is improving.
52 CE - Revolts break out in the province of Achaea. Romans move potentially dangerous auxiliary units (those with a significant number of Greek soldiers that might sympathize with the rebels) away from the province. Theodoros is moved to the Rhine frontier, to Germania Superior, and serves as medicus to the Legio I Germanica. He has a hard time adjusting to the new scenery and the new languages, but his skills as a battlefield medicus are improving fast. Back home in Corinth, his family weathers the conflict in relative safety. Theodoros loses touch with them, except for the occasional (once a year, once in two years or so) letter.
62-63 CE - Tumultuous years along the Rhine frontier. The legions of Germania Superior play an active role in politics, and when the frontier weakens, the German tribes begin to see an opportunity. Theodoros faces the Luggi & Marcomanni invasion with the legion, and sees more bloodshed than he thought he would in a lifetime. The Roman legions are eventually victorious, and the frontier is strengthened again, but those two years leave a deep mark on Theodoros, who tends to mask the memories with a mix of dark humor and dedication to his vocation. He throws himself into studying medicine any way he can.
72 CE - After 25 years of service, Theodoros receives his military diploma, and with it his Roman citizenship. He takes the name Quintus Flavius Theodorus, in honor of the emperor. As per Augustus' orders almost a century ago, he also receives equestrian rank, and a piece of land... in the province of Pannonia. Theodorus (now using the Latinized form of his name) is dreaming of traveling to Rome to continue his studies of medicine, or maybe traveling Achaea and Egypt to learn more. Reluctantly, he travels to Pannonia instead to inspect his newly granted lands - and finds them little more than a field or rocks and thornbushes. The taste of equestrian citizenship sours in his mouth. He quickly finds a local buyer for his land, and sells it for a meager amount of money, that is only enough to get him to Rome and set him up in a small apartment for a few months. Since he cannot produce the minimum income required to maintain his equestrian rank, even though he is still a citizen, he slides back to the level of plebeians.
73 CE - Theodorus arrives in Rome and finds a place to rent in a building of apartments. Since he has no income and no connections, he looks for a job that fits his skills. He is eventually hired as a medicus at the Ludus Magnus, where he can put his battlefield experience, and his expertise with flesh wounds and broken bones to good use. After the initial distaste for the gladiator games, he realizes that there is a lot to learn, and that there is money in making sure the expensive slaves don't die of minor wounds. Eventually, he moves into a small room at the Ludus, and continues practicing as a medicus, with occasional forays to consult other physicians and healers around the city.
Chevi | CENTRAL EUROPEAN| DISCORD