Face ClaimNoémie Schmidt
Livia could do nothing else than watch in dismay as Aglaea's eyes became wet with tears and she sunk to the floor, too distressed to react in any other way. What was the meaning of this?! Was the look on her face so fearsome that even Aglaea, who knew every single one of her moods, fell to her knees in fright? Anger evaporated into doubt and insecurity and Livia let her arms fall to her sides, eyes trained on Aglaea's dark hair.
As she opened her mouth to order her body slave to stand and explain things properly, Secundus entered the room with no ceremony or even a word of excuse. Already he seemed intent on infuriating her even further, with the offensive way he acknowledged Aglaea first and only then her. Livia gave him a frosty stare, communicating in no uncertain terms that his presence was a nuisance.
"Nothing you need to concern yourself with. I discovered that something of mine has gone missing, and Aglaea seems to know why," she stated drily, still upset but unwilling to bring the subject out in the open in Secundus' presence. If he should discover she had been using silphium all this time, the consequences would be unimaginable. Directing her attention to Aglaea again, she continued in the same hard tone. "I am very disappointed. I didn't expect this of you, of all people."
When her body slave did not react the way Livia had come to expect, a seed of doubt planted itself inside her head. It was unlike Aglaea to hesitate at such a simple request - one she had fulfilled many times before, even. Perhaps... could she be shielding the culprit? But before she had a chance to pose the question, Aglaea spoke.
Surely she had misheard. She had to have. Livia could only stare back at Aglaea, jaw slack in shock as she processed the words. Two thoughts collided within her: 'so you have a lover after all!' and 'but why?' battling to be the first one out of her mouth, and before she spoke either she had the presence of mind to keep her voice low, although her heart seemed intent on beating its way out of her ribcage.
"...Why?" Granted, Aglaea's allowance wasn't a lot, but if she couldn't afford the drug on her own, why not ask Livia about it? Because then she would have to admit her liaison and confess that she had not been telling Livia everything, like she was supposed to. Her lips disappeared into a thin line, and she gave Aglaea a look full of betrayal and disappointment as she folded her arms over her chest. "Why didn't you tell me?!" she hissed, eyes suddenly alight with emotion.
Livia game a noncommittal hum in response to the body slave's polite question, being far more interested in unveiling the mystery behind the missing silphium. If Aglaea claimed she had checked that the amount was right, she had no reason to doubt her - but that still didn't explain why there was barely anything left. She shook her head in confusion, entirely at a loss. "I don't understand. It's the second one, too." The first could have been a mistake, but it happening twice in a row spoke of intent.
A new possibility formed in her mind and Livia blanched, her heartbeat suddenly much louder in her eardrums. "Do you think somebody could be stealing it?" she asked in a quivering murmur, wondering who would have the gall to go through her things. It was almost always Aglaea who attended to her, and when she was unavailable, it was usually a curly-haired girl who tended to do a poor job at it. Minerva help her, if the silly young thing had been fooling around and skimming off her mistress's drug, Livia would have her whipped until the skin fell in flakes off her back!
Before she could voice her suspicions, however, the familiar tones of her husband telling off a slave sounded nearby, and with shaky hands she quickly covered the pot again and shoved it back into the depths of a small chest, closing it in such a hurry that she didn't notice the lid on the pot shook and slid off. Great, just what she needed - quite possibly the slave Secundus had just barked at offered no challenge, so any minute he would come in to berate Livia instead for the gods knew what. A rehash of that dreadful party, perhaps.
Eyes flitting between the doorway and Aglaea, Livia attempted to calm herself, breathing in and out through her nose a few times. "I need you to go buy more as soon as possible," she whispered again, "and make sure it's the right quantity!" She really didn't want any more surprises of the kind.
Another utterly ordinary day, or so Livia thought when she woke up. The small mercy of being in Rome instead of their villa in Tibur was swiftly counteracted by the thousand eyes she felt Secundus had set upon her to control her every move. There were no shackles round her hands or feet, but Livia felt as trapped inside the domus as fresh slaves at the market, uneasy and jittery. Still, it was hardly any different from any other day, and with the same resignation as the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that, she pulled back the covers, swung her legs over to the side of the bed and stood up, stretching her arms over her head in a rather unfeminine way - but nobody was watching, so nobody could reproach her.
Just as she brought her hands into a small basin to wash her face a figure came into the room, and a quick glance from behind waterlogged eyelashes told her it was Aglaea. Just in time to start getting ready for the day, Livia thought with a small smile. Having been together for so long, she felt Aglaea knew her routines better than soldiers knew their formations. "Good morning," she greeted airily, wiping her face on a towel and throwing it on the floor after a few rubs.
Getting dressed, having her hair styled, putting make-up and jewellery on... The ordinary regimen of a well-to-do matron. That morning, however, there was something Livia wanted to take care of before doing anything else, lest yet another person - in whom she did not have nearly as much trust - enter the room. With decisive gestures she opened one of the vanity's many small compartments and took out a small round silver pot, about as high as the length of a finger. Inside were a few dried bits of a fragrant herb, its smell reminiscent of fennel. The scent would vanish soon enough, when Livia applied some perfume... but that was not what concerned her.
She removed the lid and beckoned Aglaea to come closer. Inspecting the contents of the box with a frown, Livia handed it to Aglaea, practically shoving it under the other woman's nose, and spoke in a low whisper. "It's the second time it runs out before it should. Did you check before leaving the apothecary that they did not short you?"
Had it been any other slave than Aglaea to address Livia with such impolite manners, they would find themselves on the market the very next day. As it was, she let her body slave hold her arm and said nothing of the thinly-disguised manoeuvre to both direct and steady her; in fact, she was secretly appreciative of it. It had not really felt like she had drunk that much wine while she had been sitting down, but standing up had revealed the truth of her imbibing. "Yes, it's getting late. I do not wish to stay where I'm not wanted," she stated with a huff, smoothing the front of her stola.
She stood as impassively as she managed, swaying only a little before righting herself against Aglaea's arm, and kissed the air by Horatia's face with a loud smooch, rolling her eyes at her sister's words. Peace was nowhere to be found. She did not even know where to start looking for it, and as Livia returned her sister's unflinching gaze with a hard stare of her own, she concluded it was not hiding anywhere around Horatia. "So you will," Livia retorted in the guise of goodbyes, and with short steps exited the room, as much dragging Aglaea as she was leaning on her.
The shock value Livia had been going for was there, much to her delight, and she broke out into peals of childish laughter whilst Horatia and the slave digested her words. The look on their faces had been priceless, but her sister's reaction had also let Livia know that despite her pretty words, there was a line Horatia would not cross, not even for family. And then she wondered why Livia was so little forthcoming with sharing news, she thought with shrewd bitterness. Ah well - should the day for such an act come, she knew where not to seek any comfort.
When the laughter had subsided just enough for her to get in a few deep breaths in, Livia shook her head, looking amused. "Oh Horatia, you should have seen the look on your face!" She put down her cup and brought a hand up to her chest, still giggling at random intervals. "It was a joke. A joke," she emphasised, prolonging the word as if explaining a difficult concept to a child. "Do you really believe I would do something like that? After what I just said?" Her tone took on an edge of hurt, and she looked at Horatia with what was a good impression of pain shining in her eyes. "If I won't divorce him because of what that would do to everybody's reputation, what makes you think I would risk my life to end his? Do you really think me that stupid?"
She picked up her cup again and downed it in one go, setting it down with a loud 'clunk'. "I grew old, that's what happened," Livia replied with finality. Old and miserable. And likely to remain that why for many years, save for a few moments of fleeting pleasure. Tracing the rim of the cup with her finger, she gave Horatia a morose glance before spotting Aglaea's familiar form entering the room, which made her break into a wobbly smile.
"There you are! My sister tires of me, she does not appreciate my sense of humour!" She exclaimed in a plaintive tone, rising from her seat at the same time. The movement made her dizzy for a second, but soon enough the world had righted itself.
Livia let out an indignant sound at her sister's prepotency, conveniently forgetting that Horatia was in her own home and she was but a guest steadily wearing out her welcome. Where did she get off policing her drink? Narrowing her eyes at Horatia, she let the servant fiddle with the wine, but gave a cheeky retort of her own as her cup was refilled with the watered-down drink. "Add more honey to your mistress's wine, it seems its bitterness is seeping into her." She voiced the command without breaking eye contact with her sister, leaving the slave in a pickle as to whether the order should be obeyed or not. But that was not Livia's problem, was it?
She made a show of sipping at the wine, as demurely as a teenage girl, while inwardly seething over the perceived grievances Horatia had inflicted on her. If she hadn't been so nosy and insisted on speaking of things that were better left off alone, they wouldn't be sitting there sour-faced as if they had bitten down on each their lemon. Livia would not be the first to crack and break the uncomfortable silence; the gods knew she did plenty of that at home. So when her sister spoke, she hid a small victorious smile behind her raised cup and took another sip of what resembled purplish water rather than actual wine.
How very like Horatia to extend the olive branch. She was right in that Livia did not quite know whether she believed her older sister or not, but filled with a desire to test that self-proclaimed loyalty, Livia quickly formulated a plan - one that might just see Horatia fall off her seat. "I appreciate it," she stated seriously, training her green eyes on Horatia's icy blue ones for a few seconds before looking down at her feet as if suddenly ashamed of something, and then glancing up again carefully.
"And I may just take you up on that. Would you help me murder my husband?"
How right Aglaea was - yes, it could have gone much worse. Secundus could have become fixated on Aglaea's short moment of inattentiveness and punished her for it, rather than catching the thief as he seemed so keen to. "Let us thank the gods he was in a good mood today," Livia agreed with a quick nod, wondering to herself how long that rarity would last. But there were other things to do, namely hear her body slave's explanation.
"You did well," she encouraged, cross for a split second that it had taken a stranger to nudge Aglaea's conscience into coming clean. She must have been more afraid of punishment than Livia realised - but by whom? A wave of malaise came over her and she laced her fingers together, dropping them on her lap. Could Aglaea be scared of her? Of what she might do? Or what if she just did not want to share the bits of her life that were truly private with Livia anymore? That was a distressing thought that Livia attempted to smother at once, shoving it deep into the recesses of her mind. Aglaea was speaking to her now, wasn't she? So she trusted her. They trusted each other. How could they not, after all they had been through together?
With surprising effort she pulled herself back together and focused on the other woman's words. "I'm glad he was honest and helpful," Livia forced out with a weak smile. "I fear that your dominus may want to find him, to interrogate him..." It was hardly a matter for the courts, but she wouldn't put it past her husband to have the poor slave roughed up a bit. "Did he tell you who his master was?" If only they could speak to them first, tell them what had happened and how Rufus could still be of help, go the way of diplomacy rather than threatening words... provided they knew who to address first.
All things considered, this ordeal seemed to have turned out a lot better than Livia could have hoped for. Aglaea hadn't tasted the sting of the whip, Secundus hadn't been visibly consumed by rage, and she herself hadn't been the target of any reproach. Surprised at their collective maturity, Livia allowed herself to wonder if this was the start of a new era - one where they could learn to tolerate one another instead of just pretending. The thought was short-lived; she did not dare to hope for improvement.
"I appreciate your trust in me," Livia nodded to her husband, her tone entirely serious; she did not feel comfortable teasing back (would she ever?) for fear the meaning of her words be turned on her. Fortunately Secundus did not stick around to see just what kind of punishment she had in mind, and after he was out of sight and presumably earshot, Livia let out a quiet yet deep sigh, as if her soul was being released from Hades.
She reached out and put her hand on Aglaea's arm, leading them towards a small couch decorated with embroidered cushions and taking a seat. She exchanged a look of relief with her body slave, then cleared her throat. "So, this Rufus. Is he really innocent or is there more to this story?" Livia's words were blunt, but not spoken unkindly.
While Livia was naturally suspicious (or even jealous, an outsider might say) of any unfamiliar men that crossed Aglaea's path, this time her doubts rested more with the circumstances than the serendipitous slave's intentions. She made a mental note to clarify what she really meant later, when they were left alone. "Very well, I believe you" she acquiesced, dropping the subject. Any more probing and even patient Aglaea would grow weary.
The thought of having her body slave was a disturbing one, and Livia shook her head almost imperceptibly to signal to Aglaea that she should not bring it up again, lest Secundus actually decided to follow up on that. "I appreciate your concern for my belongings, Secundus," she dipped her head towards him. If he chose to interpret her words as counting Aglaea as one of said belongings, legally he would not be wrong, but Livia saw her companion as more than property: nobody grew as reliant on a chair or stola as they did a slave.
She flinched at the sudden touch, but forced herself to steady her nerves; unfortunately, this meant she turned stiff as a board as her muscles tensed, unsure of what was to come next. So far he had reacted better than Livia had expected - was he in a good mood after all, brought on by the prospect of vengeance? "It's very kind of you to care so." Kinder than most of what she had witnessed from him, and it merited a small forced smile of encouragement. Ideally Livia would have had the mental fortitude to reach up with a hand and place it over his to signal a united front, but she found herself incapable of doing it.
"We will discuss your punishment later, Aglaea," Livia stated coolly, hoping the detached tone was enough to mask her true intentions to do no such thing. She was more than a little interested in learning more about the male slave, though, and relaxed her body a fraction as she listened, full of curiosity.
Topics I Participated In
Late September, 75CE
Aglaea groaned softly as she leaned over the bucket, seated on the floor of her room adjacent to Livia's bedroom. Ever an early riser, for a few days now, the woman had been woken up in the mornings with horrible nausea, yet unable to get anything up. It was a most perplexing ailment, as it seemed to disappear after a while of its own volition. Surely, the cook was doing something wrong, and Aglaea resolved to go and give her a piece of her mind. Just as soon as she was able to rise from the floor.
Life recently had been nothing but chaotic - actually, it had been chaotic ever since Secundus had come into their lives. The man sowed chaos wherever he went, frightening Livia and bullying the house staff, mumbling to himself and forcing Aglaea into the position of protecting her mistress from laying with him. Aglaea had soon decided that she would lay with Secundus and yet protect herself at the same time. Like many Roman women, Livia took silphium in order to prevent pregnancy, and like any good body slave, Aglaea was responsible for retrieving the tincture from the apothecary whenever they ran out. But unlike a good body slave, Aglaea took a small amount every time she saw Secundus, hoping with her limited knowledge of the substance that it would be enough to stop pregnancy and all the symptoms that came with it.
Her head shot up from the bucket with wide eyes. It couldn't be... but what else? No sickness from food showed itself with nausea without vomiting. And now that she thought of it, she was a few days late for her monthly cycle. Oh, God. With the sudden realization hitting her like an enormous weight, she stayed stock still for several seconds, before burying her head in her hands, weeping quietly in despair and misery. How could she ever explain this to her mistress? And what would happen to the child once it was born? How would Secundus react? Would Livia send her away and refuse to ever see her again? And how could Aglaea blame her for that if she did? It seemed a horrible betrayal without context.
She had done everything she knew to do to prevent herself from bearing Secundus's child. She couldn't bring a child into this household with a clear conscience, knowing what sort of father he or she would have. And the consequences this would have for her relationship with Livia, her nearest and dearest friend... her heart broke.
In time, the tears subsided and she began to think logically. She just wouldn't tell Livia. She could wear a tunic that flowed more to hide her bump, maybe bind the bump with cloth to limit the appearance. And then, when her time came, she could slip out of the house, have her baby somewhere safe, and then return to act like nothing would happen. Perhaps she could even leave the child on the doorstep and pretend as though it was a foundling - those were common enough in Rome. Wiping her eyes clear, and feeling the despair and nausea subside, she dressed for the day. She could act as though nothing had happened. She had lied before.
Once dressed, she slipped into Livia's room to help her dress. The day had to go on.
May, 75CE - After The Crush of the Crowd
Even after Aglaea's enjoyable conversation with Rufus, it was time to return home and tell Livia what had happened. The slave wasn't really afraid that Livia would be angry, and she was sure that between the two of them, they could smooth it over with Secundus, if he even found out. But Aglaea was still kicking herself. How could she have been so stupid? She'd been in Rome for fourteen years and never been pickpocketed - and now, the one day she doesn't tie her coin purse on tightly enough, someone in the crowd took advantage of her oversight. And now she had to confess.
Aglaea took the back entrance into the domus, greeting a few friends in the kitchen before seeking out her mistress and finding her in the master bedroom. "Livia - could I speak with you for a moment?" She seemed alone, so she figured it was safe. "You sent me shopping this morning... I got what you asked for but I... I lost the rest of the coin." She bit her lip, trying to judge the woman's reaction. "It wasn't a lot of money, but... I figured you should know."
April, 75 AD - same day as 'First introductions'
Livia had begged and pleaded for days and finally her efforts had borne fruit. To think she would have had to grovel in order to be granted permission to visit her only sister, whom she had not seen in months. Yet here she was, blessedly free of Secundus thanks to his asocial ways ('I can't possibly go with you to see your sister, I know she and her husband laugh at me behind my back!'), if only for a few hours.
With Aglaea dismissed on charitable grounds of 'go and enjoy yourself', Livia felt oddly uncomfortable, almost as if she were naked. Even in an environment that was anything but hostile, her unease only showed how dependent on her body slave she had grown, in spite of the fact that her older sister was sitting just a few feet away.
Now that small gifts and platitudes had been exchanged, Livia was at a loss for words. Had she really wanted to see Horatia after long weeks of nary a word, or had it all just been a convenient excuse to get away after all? She stared at Horatia with a meek yet somewhat fearful expression, hands folded in her lap. What should they talk about?
"So... how was your winter?"
April, 75 AD
Over the last two years Livia had become remarkably good at finding opportunities for slipping away and savouring the short moments of freedom she could find. That morning, one such opportunity presented itself, when Secundus had finally gone to bed in the wee hours of the morning after spending most of the night going on drunken tirades. If previous times were anything to go by, he wouldn't rise before noon, which gave Livia a few hours of blessedly alone free time.
She sneaked out of her room and almost immediately came across Aglaea, as she expected to be the case. "There you are!" Livia exclaimed with unusual yet somewhat contained excitement. "Have the kitchen slaves prepare us a hamper, we're eating outside today. I want to go for a swim."
Her swimming spot was nothing more than a stream that ran through the property and had the unfortunate tendency of drying in particularly hot summer weeks, but it almost felt like a world away. Secundus didn't approve of her doing so: the slaves or a traveller passing by could get an eyeful, and decent Roman matrons didn't do such things. But she wasn't a decent Roman matron any more than he was a decent Roman man, so that made them even in her mind.
"Oh, and bring a change of clothes for us both." Even if Aglaea ended up not joining her in the water, Livia could use them to dry off.
Early February, 75 AD
It had her taken several weeks to form the idea and find the courage to present it to her husband, who was invariably and very demosntratively displeased that Livia would entertain such thoughts. It had taken a few more weeks to warm him up to the perceived benefits of a social visit: did Secundus not want to know what his brother was up to, if only to protect his own interests? Did he not want to know what that slave son was like, again for his own sake? At last he relented, but made Livia swear she would be back before nightfall, and sent her with one of his trusted slaves as a not-at-all-undercover spy; although Aglaea would be going too, Secundus knew the body slave was far too loyal to Livia to be persuaded into reporting to him.
She knew it had been in poor form, but Livia had not dared to send a message beforehand to let Tertius know she would be dropping by - he could have refused by claiming to be too busy, and she did not want her little outing - one of increasingly fewer - to be compromised by a polite denial. So it was that they reached the Esquiline unheralded. A slave rushed off to announce their arrival and as the party of three waited for her brother-in-law to come and greet them, Livia took in her surroundings. The domus was big and airy, and gave off an impression of lively bustle even though everything was impeccably maintained. It felt like the opposite of her own house, which she found gloomy and austere despite being just as pristine in furnishings - any ruined or destroyed objects were quickly replaced with new, whole ones.
Livia looked to her body slave for encouragement, who provided it with a small nod. This was out of line and she knew it, but she hoped Tertius would forgive her and let her into his house. Her desire to meet with him and his new heir - Teutus, she recalled - was genuine, and she wanted to be optimistic that they would see it.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Echo
May, 67 AD
It was unusual that a visit to one of Juno's many temples would elicit such enthusiasm within a not-particularly-devoted Livia, but to her it was one of many steps in preparing for the grand event next month. When June rolled to an end and was replaced by stifling July, she would be a married woman. To the man of her dreams, and not some bald, gouty old fart older than pater. Unable to keep the excitement to herself, Livia giggled out loud and only just barely managed to keep herself from clapping in delight.
As she walked alongside Horatia in direction of the temple, their body slaves following respectfully behind, Livia could feel her sister's eyes on her. It was always so hard to tell with Horatia, but she hoped her sister was less disapproving of her choice of husband than their father - ideally, she wouldn't disapprove at all. But why should they? Gnaeus was so dashing and handsome and strong and brave, and his family was old as bones, and to think he wanted to take her as his wife! After all that had transpired in the last few years, at last the gods smiled upon her.
Stopping impulsively in her tracks, Livia turned to Horatia and took her sister's hands in hers with a grin. "You will dress me, won't you, Horatia? In mother's stead?" Never mind that one of the slaves would probably do a better job of it; she wanted to share that moment with her sister.
27 | 4th March 48CE | Senatore | Matron | Heterosexual | Original | Noémie Schmidt
If the Livia of twenty years ago and the current Livia were to meet, they would hardly believe they were the same person. Unfortunate life events have forced Livia to adapt and reinvent herself, and each time the end result has differed markedly from the starting point. To those who only know her superficially, she is a quiet and withdrawn thing whose favourite pastime appears to be sewing, leaving some to wonder if she is trying to live up to the deified Augusta of the same name. When in more familiar company, glimpses of the inquisitive and outgoing child she once was surface occasionally. Regardless of who she is with, Livia makes the effort to commit to (an unfortunately good) memory small details and information about the other party; not only does this leave them with a favourable impression of her but it also allows her to direct the spotlight away from herself and onto others.
Livia measures her words and acts carefully and holds tightly on to what little measure of control she is afforded. The gaiety and spontaneity of her youth eventually gave way to calculations and worst-case scenarios; her passivity and hesitance to act before all outcomes and consequences are accounted for are not innate, but acquired. She possesses an attention to detail in everything she does, be it from making additions to the hem of a palla to giving orders to her slaves. Perhaps because of this, combined with the few opportunities she has to be the one in charge and her need for someone else to be the weakest link for once, slaves find her a hard mistress to please.
A blonde like some of her relatives, Livia’s hair is long and naturally wavy, its curls exaggerated by elaborate styling. Whereas she used to take pride in it and would gladly spend hours having it cared for by ornatrices, nowadays it looks rather dull, with only a passable amount of effort put into it. Her green eyes, once shrewd and vivacious, seem tired and lifeless. Livia’s smiles are few, quick and short and she finds it safer to chuckle lightly when something amuses her than to break out in full-fledged laughter.
Petite and slender at just 157 cm, Livia cuts no imposing figure. Her body has not changed much in the last ten years – no sagging breasts, rounded hips or flabby belly -, but the same cannot be said of her posture: though she still sits and stands up straight, she almost always lowers her head to avoid eye contact and appears to be lost elsewhere within her mind, mostly uninterested in what goes on around her. Her garments are of fine quality but sober in colour and fashion, although the accompanying jewellery is often more eye-catching and intricate.
Father: Marcus Horatius Justinus (alive, 63)
Mother: Livia Calavia (deceased in the Civil War)
Publius Horatius Justinus (alive, b. 35 AD)
Horatia Justina (alive, b. 42 AD)
Lucius Horatius Justinus (alive, twin brother)
Spouse: Gnaeus Hortensius Clarus (b. 43 AD, d. 70 AD)
Secundus Quinctilius Varus (b. 28 AD)
Early miscarriage (69 AD)
Stillborn daughter (70 AD)
Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus (brother-in-law via Horatia)
Titus Calpurnius Praetextatus (nephew)
Calpurnia Horatia (niece)
Tertius Quinctilius Varus (brother-in-law via Secundus)
- Teutus Quinctilius Varus (nephew-in-law)
- Antonia Varia (niece-in-law)
Quinctilia Varia (sister-in-law via Secundus)
- Sergia Auletia (niece-in-law)
- Marcus Sergius Auletius (nephew-in-law and lover)
CHILDHOOD [48 – 60 AD]
Livia Justina was the last-born of the four Justini siblings, a few minutes after her twin brother Lucius and with an even better pair of lungs despite her small size. Named for her mother, who fell ill shortly after the birth but eventually recovered somewhat, Livia grew up a curious and lively child, constantly asking questions about everything and anything and keeping up with her brothers and their boisterous playing whilst their older sister Horatia kept a watchful eye on them. She remembers little of her earlier years in Rome but has fond memories of the family’s time in Hispania and the freedom to run about and play that she and Lucius had there. Eventually they returned to Rome, where Livia began her incursions in the world of learning. Unlike Horatia with her fondness for reading, Livia preferred more active pursuits like swimming or playing ball and discovered a natural talent for sewing and weaving.
TEENAGE YEARS [60 – 66 AD]
Puberty brought not only its own set of worries, but also a deeper understanding of the turmoil Roman society is plunged into. Between half of her family leaving for Greece for a couple of years and all the rioting and constant fighting for power in Rome, Livia grew up far more cautious and fearful than she should have had to, keeping a low profile and urging her twin to do the same. Their mother was added to the long, long list of victims of the civil war on one fateful day, and Livia struggled with vivid nightmares of the violent demise for months on end. Peace was finally achieved after years of fighting as Quintus Caesar was victorious and life could start to resume its normal pace. For Livia this meant that the much delayed affair of finding a suitable husband and becoming a proper and virtuous matron began in earnest.
ADULTHOOD [67 AD - present]
In 67 AD and after a great deal of persuading and convincing her father, Livia married Gnaeus Hortensius Clarus, heir to an old and distinguished family and five years her senior. Having already caught one another’s eye at several occasions long before the wedding, the couple’s impressions were confirmed as they quickly grew fond of each other and had a happy marriage in between Gnaeus’ career-related absences. Their bliss was marred by an early miscarriage in 69 AD, but Livia got pregnant again soon afterwards. However, news of Gnaeus’ sudden and unexpected death in Judea sent her into preterm labour and Livia gave birth to a daughter too premature to survive. The next two years saw Livia grieving deeply and undergoing drastic personality changes to the point where she avoided visits or gatherings and became somewhat of a recluse.
In a clumsy and misguided attempt to bring his youngest daughter out of her mourning and back into Roman society, her father arranges for her to marry Secundus Quinctilius Varus, paterfamilias and older than Livia by almost twenty years but still unmarried and childless. Too apathetic to fight the decision, Livia does as expected of her and exchanges vows with Secundus in 73 AD. The union could not have been more disastrous: her new husband is very prone to sudden, unpredictable and terrifying bouts of bad temper, fuelled by his past tribulations in Germania, and Livia grows even quieter and more withdrawn, trying her best not to provoke his fury. Unfortunately it is not always enough, and Livia has found herself slapped, kicked, dragged by the hair and on the receiving end of various indignities more times than she cares to count. Whereas a more spirited woman would have returned to her father’s house and demanded a divorce at once, Livia feels that the failure of yet another marriage would bring shame to her father and siblings as well as their families by association, and has subconsciously convinced herself that she deserves her fate for having failed to honour her first husband’s legacy and bring a living, healthy child by him into the world.
Her suffering has recently been somewhat alleviated by an illicit liaison: Livia has found a measure of compassion and solace in the arms of Marcus Sergius Auletius, the son of her husband’s sister and an ambitious young man who is none too fond of his uncle. For the time being only their respective body slaves are privy to the affair, although rumours may start to circulate should the pair grow bolder or less careful.
Liv | GMT+1 | PM here or DM Liv#5452
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