Face ClaimChanning Tatum
Felix could hear the lictors being dismissed as the dominus arrived back home. With twelve of them following Aulus around, he did not always need his body slave to tag along too; today had been one of those days. Felix had busied himself with small tasks until the dominus returned. And he wasn't alone.
Felix caught Horatia's look as they hurried to the atrium to greet Aulus. She didn't know what to expect either. Behing the matser of the household there was a young, shy-looking woman carrying a bag.
"This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina. And my body slave, Felix. Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful."
He knew her. It took him a few moments to place the face, but Aulus saying she couldn't talk finally brought the memories back. He had run into her, quite literally, at the market once... had it been what, two, three years ago?
Horatia considered the gift with a somewhat reserved look.
"Tacita. Thank you, you shouldn't have. I'm sure Felix would be happy to take you on a tour of the domus once we've figured out what to do with you."
"As you wish, domina." Aulus was probably going to get an earful about surprise slave purchases. Felix gave the girl an encouraging smile. He was not sure whether she remembered him at all. "Shall I find her a place to stay?"
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Felix rarely ever had the experience of people trusting him right away. Certainly not people who were free citizens, but even among slaves, he was usually overlooked or thought to be a brute, so Antheia sharing her thoughts with him so freely was a rare experience. He liked it. She was clever, and also seemed to be friendly and kind.
"To be perfectly honest, if I'd learnt philosophy from a book, I'd probably feel the same. But it's not about winning arguments against fictional characters. Aristo taught me that. It's about making people think about how they live their lives. Not that I felt I did a whole lot of that performing as a novelty at dinner parties,"
Talking about philosophy was probably much better than reading about it. Having someone to discuss and argue with sounded much more entertaining. And much less theoretical. Felix liked hearing other people's thoughts, whenever they deemed to share them. One could learn a lot from that. Antheia seemed a little less enthusiastic about performing at parties. He could understand why.
"Well, I wouldn't say I'm a musician, as such, I'm an amateur really, I just used to play sometimes for my old mistress at dinner. Yes, I think… she grew to think of me as a friend."
Felix nodded, noting the hint of... sadness? nostalgia?... in her tone. She might not have whole-heartedly accepted the compliment, but he gave it genuinely anyway.
"Did the imperial family buy you from her?" he asked more gently. It was a very personal question to ask, and he almost immediately regretted it.
Felix had never really been ashamed of his status as a body slave who had been verna. He was not highly educated, but he could hold his own in all the tasks he needed. He could tell, however, that Antheia could probably run circles around him in literacy.
"No, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy reading. What do you like? Poetry? Oratory? Philosophy?"
"I... like stories" Felix responded, a little sheepishly. "Histories, I guess. I have never quite gotten a taste for philosophy." He liked adventures and old histories and faraway places. He had no ambition to participate or travel to any of them, but they were entertaining to read, and not too theoretical for his taste.
"As for me, I'm not just a philosopha. I wouldn't say I'm any good at it, not really, but I... well, I can find my way around a cithara, and I used to play Sappho for my old Domina."
"A musician too?" Felix arched an eyebrow at her, smiling a little. No wonder they selected her as an imperial tutor. "Your old domina must have appreciated you..."
There was a glint in her eye as she decided to confide in him. Felix, once again, was beginning to suspect that there was more to her than what she showed at first, as a member of the imperial household.
"what I didn't tell them is I hadn't really had any experience of philosophy before I came to Italia. I learnt it all from Aristo - he was a bona fide philosopher from the school of Anthens - while he was serving as my old mistress' tutor. But I count as Greek, and I sound Greek, and that seems to be enough for them."
Felix let out a laugh at her confession. It was almost cheeky, the way she decided to state that she had fooled the entire imperial family... if they cared enough to check on their daughter's philosophy education, anyway.
"Sounds you have a lot to teach her, whether it's philosophy or not" he noted. Any young princess could benefit from being tutored by a clever adult woman.
"Can you... can you read?"
"I can" Felix nodded, still amused. He wasn't an avid reader by any stretch, but he'd learned to read and write despite most people thinking he was dim. It was useful to know, especially once he started serving Aulus as a body slave. "I'm not exactly a scholar, though. Greek or otherwise."
She didn't get annoyed at him for the question, that was good. For slaves, it could go either way, depending on their feelings about where they had come from.
"Oh, didn't the accent give it away? Well, I am pleased. Aristo - an old friend of mine - was always correction my Latin intonation, so I'm glad to see I've made some progress."
Felix nodded with a small smile. Her Latin was good. He'd noted the accent before, but only in passing.
"Yes, I suppose I am Greek. I spent my early years there, anyway, and grew up with the language. My formative years I spent in Rome - I was enslaved in the sacking of Athens, you see. I suppose I think of those people as my real family."
Not verna, then. Felix often met other slaves who had been born free once; he always wondered if it was better or worse for them, where they were now. He couldn't hear bitterness in her voice, but that didn't mean she was not keeping her emotions in check.
"Why do you ask?"
"Your name" he pointed out the obvious "And... the philosophy lessons. Nobility likes to get their philosophy straight from the source." he chuckled a little too. "My mother's Greek. But I was born in Rome." he added, as an explanation.
Antheia seemed like a friendly person, but she was also poised in a way that made Felix think she cared a lot about how others saw her, or how much they were allowes to see. He was not going to push the conversation if she didn't want it to. It was not like they were supposed to be talking at all anyway. The last thing he wanted was to make someone uncomfortable.
"I... enjoy a lot of privileges I didn't get before. And I've gelled quite well with the rest of Claudia's girls. I enjoy discussing philosophy with her, getting a perspective so... different to my own."
A small smile played on Felix's lips. When it came to an enslaved woman discussing philosophy with an imperial princess, that was probably a very diplomatic way of putting it. Then again, wasn't that the entire point of philosophy? "I'm sure she values yours too." Otherwise, she would have just picked another tutor.
"Do you mind if I ask... are you Greek?" she had a Greek name, and she taught philosophy, but neither was definite. Slaves often got their names changed by their masters.
Felix trusted Antheia to lead him out of the maze of corridors. He tried to commit some of the route to memory, although he was not sure he would get to navigate this part of the palace ever again. It never hurt to know one's way aound unfamiliar places. He'd learned that a long time ago.
"Oh, no, I've been here under a month. I understand, I really do. This place is a maze if you don't know it well. I've been spending a lot of time just finding my way around. Plus, what they didn't tell Theseus was that if you stick to the left wall, it's lead you out eventually."
Smart woman. Felix smiled as they left the corridor and walked into the gardens. She pulled him along, her hand small in his.
"They also didn't tell him he should pay more attention to the woman who saved him." he noted. Theseus had left Ariadne on Naxus, and that part of the story was a lesson to every man. He'd heard the story countless times from his mother.
"So. How's life being the consul's body slave, then?"
"It's... busy." they took a seat on the bench. It was a lovely spot, something that slaves were probably not supposed to take advantage of whenever the family was around. "Dominus is a good man, and he does good things. But his days are definitely longer now that he's consul." and, obviously, so were Felix's. "How is life as an imperial tutor?"
"Well, the way I see it, it's the job of any decent person to help out another now and then,"
She took the cup back, and Felix smiled in agreement. He generally believed the same. He had duties and obligations, but he tended to be friendly even when he was allowed to make his own choices. And anyone born into the imperial family probably needed a tutor who taught them the same.
"Now, would you like me to show you the way out? There's quite a lovely garden near to Augustus' receiving room; we can wait for your dominus there, if you'd like,"
"That... sounds perfect." he nodded. Sitting in a garden was much better than hovering outside the door. He followed Antheia as she expertly wove her way along the passages and corridors and courtyards towards the garden. She clearly knew what she was doing. "Have you lived here long? Or are you just very talented at navigation?"
"I'm Antheia, personal tutor to Claudia Caesaris. I suppose the consul is in conference with Caesar. I don't think I've seen you down here before, though."
"I haven't really gotten the chance to look around." he admitted.
Personal tutor. Impressive. She must have been a smart woman, then. That she was capable was already becoming obvious by the way she handled the task at hand, weaving her way into the kitchens without disrupting any of the hustle and bustle going on inside. Felix stood by the door, out of the way of others hurrying around. Antheia returned promptly with a cup of water.
"Thank you" he smiled, draining the cup. He was thirsty, and it had been hot outside on the way over. "I appreciate the help. I know it's not really an imperial tutor's job to help out lost strangers." Especially if they were slaves. He did not need to add that. Antheia was a slave too, most likely, but her job came with a different position than the rest of the household.
This place was a labyrinth. Felix wondered how long it took someone to learn all the turns and secret passages, and was somewhat relieved that he served Aulus and not someone who lived in a complex place like this. Well, at least he'd managed to run into someone who was friendly and willing to help.
"Oh, well you're not far off; you're almost at the kitchens. Though I think the place is busy right now with preparation for some kind of grand meal. If you wait outside, I'll pop in and fetch you a glass, if you like,"
"I'd greatly appreciate that" Felix nodded, returning the smile, and followed along.
"I can slip in easily without... without... attracting attention. Come on."
Felix chuckled at the look she gave him. If he felt out of place in the narrow passageway, he would definitely cause a scene in the kitchens if he walked in uninvited. Many people mistook him for a bodyguard when he followed Aulus around.
"Thank you...?" she didn't give him a name yet. "I'm Felix. Body slave to consul Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus." Which both explained what he was doing on the Palatine, and hinted at his pride at his master's new position.
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Aulus had the wit to dismiss his lictors before entering the house - Horatia had despaired when she'd learned he was not only entitled to twelve lictors as a Consul, but couldn't dispense with them. He had promised to try to make it easier for her by not having them in the house when they weren't needed, although the domus was certainly big enough for them - they had families of their own, anyway, and probably appreciated being able to see them from time to time.
Aulus and the new slave, Tacita, were therefore alone as the ostiarius opened the door to admit them. He caught the eye of one of the house slaves in the atrium and bid him fetch his mistress, and Felix.
He hoped Horatia wouldn't mind his gift, however odd she might think it.
"This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina," he said as his wife made her way towards them, Felix behind her. "And my body slave, Felix."
He smiled at his wife, urging Tacita forward. "Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful."
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There used to be a time when Felix would have never, in a million years, dreamed about one day visiting the imperial palace. It was simply not something a household slave ever thought about, and even after becoming Aulus' body slave and confidante, he still did not set his sights that high. And yet, now his dominus was consul, and Felix suddenly had access to the most elevated place in Rome. Well, as much as a slave had access to anything... But he was physically present in the palace, and while Aulus was discussing important matters behind closed doors, he was given a little bit of time to himself.
The Palatine was a stunning place. Felix was used to the Calpurnius household, but the imperial palace was above and beyond anything he had seen in his life. This was not his first visit, but it was the first one when he did not have to stand at attention behind Aulus the entire time, and honestly, he was not sure what to do with his time off. He stood by the door for long minutes, thinking his dominus might ask for something or send him on an errand, but other than some slaves moving in and out of the room with cups and plates, nothing happened. The other body slaves meandered off to the coolness of the porticus nearby, or the corner of the gardens. Eventually Felix grew thirsty and moved away from the door, heading down the hallway he'd seen the household slaves go, hoping to find one of them to give him a drink. Any maybe food. But as he took turns and walked down corridors, Felix had an increasing sense of being... a little lost. Or maybe more than a little?
24th of June, Fors Fortuna
Months ago, Alexius met the very handsome and friendly Felix when he’d gone out for a night on the town. He’d interrupted a gang of guys about to beat someone up; and that someone turned out to be Felix. This Felix was someone he’d like to meet again and they had actually planned meeting for Vinalia Prima in Aprilis, but for some reason, Felix never showed up that night. Alexius had gone to his house as planned and patiently waited for his new friend to show up, but he never came and Alexius grew impatient. It was Vinalia and he couldn’t wait all night.
So he had moved on since then, a lot had happened and at the same time, not much at all. His son had met a girl and Oriana’s father had decided she no longer needed a bodyguard to live in the house. Alexius had to move out and maybe that was for the best; the affair he had with her was doomed anyway, so he didn’t even know why he stayed. Well he knew… he had feelings for her and they were returned, but how could she ever marry a mere freedman, when she deserved so much more?
Now he had a new home and Lexus had of course moved in with him. They got along fine, although most of the time, they didn’t see each other much. Lexus had a job and Alexius took little jobs here and there too, to make everything work and so they could pay for their home.
It was late June now and time for another of his favorite Roman festivals – the Fors Fortuna. And didn’t he enjoy it? Not just because there was usually a lot of wine and pleasure involved, but also because it was the good fucking Fortuna they celebrated! The goddess of luck, the one who turned wheel and hopefully in the right way! He did earn his freedom once, years ago, and he would thank her for being alive and healthy and for having brought his son back to him.
On the way to the temple, he walked past the home Felix showed him months ago and he stopped for a moment, kind of hoping he might actually see Felix again. And Fortuna worked in his favor, even today. Or perhaps, because it was today, she did it. The great Fortuna!
He couldn’t help but grin, when that handsome creature emerged from the house, hopefully to also participate in the festival, “Felix! How good to see you! And on this blessed day, even!”
October 74 AD (location: Sitting just outside of the Spurius' Slave market)
She had been in the household about 7 months and felt like she had a family. Her immediate superiors were Corva and her husband Linus and they were good to her. To her they replaced the parents she never knew. Corva had sent her out to the garden to pull a handful of herbs and produce. Once that was done and delivered to the kitchen, she was given a basket of food to deliver to their Dominus. Tacita changed into a clean tunic as she was going to his place of work and knew she was expected to make a good impression. “Stay at the warehouse until you are sent back" Tacita nodded her head, grabbed her carry bag and headed off with the basket.
She arrived in the Emporium Magnum- if she hadn’t been born and raised in Rome seeing the number of people milling about would have terrified her, especially with her deficits, but she knew the merchants that they usually dealt with and those merchants had gotten to know her unique circumstances. Tacita pulled the basket in close so that it didn’t get bumped. She wove her way between the stalls until she arrived at their warehouse. Tacita entered the building and after her eyes adjusted to the light change, she saw the various slaves for sale as well as the staff that he employed. She got the attention of one of the workers and gestured to the basket. Tacita was informed that he wasn’t present at the moment but she could leave the basket in his office. She nodded her head and delivered the basket. Once done, she stepped back out into the main room where slaves were milling about. With everyone milling about and her being a young woman, she was careful to make sure she was staying out of the way and cautious with those she didn’t know. Tacita had a basket of mending thrust into her hands. She found a spot just outside the door where she could maximize the light and enjoy the fresh air. She took the first item to mend and after checking for what needed to be done she began to stab the fabric with a needle.
Aulus had no idea what the time was when a slave came banging on the door of the servants' quarters, bearing news that te Praetorian Prefect, Clemens, had proclaimed himself Emperor (which Aulus was aware of) and that he was out for the blood of anyone connected with the Junii-Silani and Flavii-Alexandrii (which Aulus most certainly was not aware of).
"I have to leave Rome," Aulus informed his anxious wife.
"I can't stay here, they know me, they know who I am, they know where to find me..."
"But what about me - what about Titus?" She held the baby up in wordless appeal.
"You'll be safer once I'm gone. But you should go too - we can't go together because I'll put you in too much danger. I have to go - tonight, when it's dark and we can be more anonymous."
Horatia laid the baby back against her shoulder. "'We', Aulus?"
"Two men, in tunics and cloaks - it's still cold, that won't look out of place. I can't take Linus, everyone knows he's my slave." They probably didn't, of course; nobody looked at slaves, but it would only take one person to see the slave's face and recognise him and the game would be up, and Aedile Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus would join his ancestors decade before he had anticipated doing so. He was only thankful that his father was still in the family villa at Baiae.
"Go to my father at Baiae; I'll leave enough money for that journey. You might have to walk, it'll help you stay anonymous. Take Linus, or one of the others - a plebeian family getting away from the riots won't look too strange, several of them still have families with farms away from Rome. Hide Titus in the slaves' quarters till you go - hide yourself there, pretend the family left for the country."
"And what about you? Who will you take?"
"I'll take Felix. He's about as anonymous as they come, despite his size, and people will think twice about troubling us. I doubt anyone will actually connect him with this household, anyway."
"Where will you go?"
"Where do you think? I will plan to make my way to join Quintus wherever he is and maybe we can stop this madness that has seized Rome."
It was a few hours later when Aulus, clad in a dark anonymous tunic, layered over two more, and with a cloak around him for both inconspicuousness and protection from the weather, clasped his wife and infant son in his arms, perhaps for the last time, and turned to leave his father's house from the anonymity of the slaves' side door, the taller shape of the house slave Felix following him. Aulus took a breath and grasped Felix' arm, drawing him level. "We can't be seen to be master and slave, not now. It's too dangerous. Call me... Davus. Call me anything you like, but do not let the word Domine pass your lips before we are out of here."
He did not dare to think what might befall him if the slave decided that he could maybe get his freedom by betraying his master.
30 | October 23, 44CE | Slave | Body slave | Bisexual | Wanted | Channing Tatum
Felix is quiet and observant, which often makes people think he is not clever, but that is far from the truth. While he has always been an introverted person, not many things miss his attention, and even though he was raised without much of an education, Felix has a good deal of common sense. When he does voice opinions on something, he usually does it in a short and sharp fashion, occasionally with a hint of sarcasm if he can allow himself the liberty (which only really happens around Aulus). He is fiercely loyal to his master, stubborn about completing tasks that he was given, and proud of his role as a shadow and constant companion to Aulus. He admires his master, but also is starting to believe that if he ever won his freedom, he would be able to strike out on his own and make a good life for himself. He is discreet, and has a clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to following orders from Aulus - who occasionally even allows him to argue against questionable decisions. This, however, rarely happens. Felix has a great deal of trust in his master. He is a kind and gentle person at heart, but his loyalty can sometimes override his instincts when Aulus' life or reputation is on the line. He is curious about the world and especially Rome, and soaks up information even when he appears to be doing nothing but what a slave is expected to do.
The first thing most people notice about Felix is his build. He is tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and strong limbs, which often gets him mistaken for a bodyguard, or occasionally a gladiator or soldier. While he is none of those things, he carries himself with quiet strength, and if needed, he uses his height to tower over people in need of some intimidation. He wears his dark blonde hair cut short and he is usually clean shaven, which makes him look somewhat younger than he is. He is deemed handsome by both men and women who care to take a better look, instead of passing over him because he is a slave, a shadow of his master. He has green eyes, and usually an observing look on his face, but occasionally, when he allows himself to voice his opinions, he can do so with a small smirk, or even a quiet laugh. People who don't know him see him as stoic or even dim, but if someone watches him long enough they will notice the tension in his posture, ready to act on a moment's notice, and the curiosity in his eyes.
Father: Castor, slave
Mother: Philomena, slave
Children: probably none
Extended family: none
Other: Body slave to Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus
44CE: Felix is born in the household of Tiberius Calpurnius Praetextatus as verna, a house-born slave. His Greek mother, Philomena, works in the household's kitchen, his father, Castor is a stable hand from the northern part of Latium. He was also born a slave, but he claims some Etruscan ancestry.
50CE: Felix is put to work around the household as soon as he is old enough to carry out simple tasks. He is not deemed particularly clever, so no one bothers to have him taught reading and writing. He speaks Latin, but he also picks up some Greek from his mother. He is a quiet and observant child.
58CE: Growing up, people's idea of Felix as someone well-built but not particularly bright becomes the general consensus in the household. He is given tasks that require manual labor, and with his adolescent years he grows into his physical strength. He is not deemed useful enough to become a body slave to one of the members of the family. The lack of approval stings, but it allows Felix to be alone with his thoughts. He observes the household and the people in it, and keeps his comments to himself. He is curious about many things - the world, the legions, politics - but he is in no position to satisfy his curiosity.
62CE: Felix is eighteen years old, and his world suddenly turns upside down. His master's son Aulus, who recently returned from his military service to Rome, is forced to flee the city due to the purges of the senators early in the year. Aulus decides not to take one of his body slaves on the journey, since they are too recognizable, so he selects Felix in a hurry from among the less conspicuous slaves of the household - mostly for his strength and quiet nature. Felix suddenly finds himself in the middle of a life or death adventure. Aulus and Felix make an unlikely pair of traveling companions, but the young slave proves his loyalty to his master, and also shows a surprising deal of common sense along the way. After a narrow escape, he accompanies Aulus to Cappadocia, where they join up with Quintus Flavius Caesar Alexander Augustus. By the time they arrive back to Rome in August, Felix is a loyal companion of Aulus, and stays by his side as a body slave permanently. He is still quiet and observant, but now he has someone who actually recognizes the sharp mind behind the stoic exterior.
63-74CE: Felix accompanies his master to the Rhine frontier, then to Britannia, then to Raetia. He picks up some useful skills on the way, some out of curiosity, and some out of necessity - he learns to read and write, to handle a dagger in defense of his master, and some words in various languages. Mostly, he watches over the affairs of Aulus, completing all tasks he is given discreetly and loyally. His admiration for his master grows as he watches his career advance, and his loyalty deepens into something that is beyond mere survival, or even attraction. Over the course of their flight from Rome, Aulus and Felix shared some intimate moments, which reoccur sporadically in these years, although Felix never initiates them or flatters himself by thinking his master feels any special attraction towards him.
74CE: Aulus returns to Rome and so does Felix. Felix sees the City in the whole new light: instead of a household slave, now he is a personal companion to one of the most ambitious people in Rome. The City is suddenly full of possibilities.
Chevi | Eastern European | Discord