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Mid April 77AD It was mid April and the weather was warming, trees were blossoming, and most importantly the first green sprouts of wheat from the grain which had been planted earlier in the season had been confirmed in the fields; the grain was fertile and growing and Rome would not starve. Ceres' blessing was on them for another year. In celebration, as was traditional each year, sacrifices of pork, wheat, salt, and incense had been offered to Ceres. Her statue had been draped in garlands of spring flowers and ceremonially paraded from her temple to the Circus Maximus, where she held the seat of honour next to Caesar himself, who sat in the Goddess's presence. There were to be races today, not of the chariots of which Romans were so fond, but of horses, in the more traditional form. Their riders would goad their individual steeds around the track, whilst the spectators looked on. Imperial Area Immediately below where Titus sat with the decorated statue of of Ceres was the space reserved for the rest of the Imperials. Tiberius occupied this area, cool under a cloth canopy, clad purely in white as was traditional; a bright tunica and toga candida. Immediately about him there was space who those whom he had invited; family of course but also the younger generation of the Senatorial class, both male and female, whilst the more senior Senatores and their wives had space reserved to either side of the Imperials, within conversation range should they desire. It was an arrangement intended to demonstrate openness and largesse, whilst also allowing his own generation - stunted somewhat by the chaos of the purges - to meet, mingle and forge their own friendships and alliances. As he watched the stands gradually fill, Tiberius wondered whether he would be able to spot Jason's cousin in the race.
Mid April 77AD It was Cerealia. The year had turned, the days had warmed, the grain fields were sprouting and Ceres had found her daughter Prosperpine and was enjoying having her at home again. Varinia could understand how she felt, now that she'd been enjoying sharing her son's home for the last few months, after years of separation. And enjoying her freedom, of course. She had grown more accustomed to it over those months, and was really starting to enjoy being able to do even just simple things when she wanted, as she wanted. Like making little flatcakes. Flour and water and eggs, honey and dried fruit soaked in wine, all mixed together and fried on a griddle to make little warm, puffy rounds of deliciousness. She'd packed them into a basket lined and covered with cloth to keep them warm, and carried them down to the insula's inner courtyard. The building was home to a range of people, from those who lived in multi-roomed insulae like themselves, to those who lived behind their shop fronts on the ground floor, to those who rented single rooms on the top floor. Every one of her neighbours whom she'd met had been lovely so far, and she was looking forward to meeting more as they celebrated the turning of the year. On top of the basket she carried a spray of wildflowers that she'd collected early that morning from down by the river and these she strewed over one of the tables that had been set in the courtyard, before placing her basket on top of it. She was pretty certain that Alexius would appear once he smelled food, and of course there was her own household. Who else might appear, with a plate or basket if they could afford to share food, or just themselves if they could not? All were welcome in her eyes. This would be fun.
Azarion's race was over. Jason didn't know whether his master had purposefully waited until the riders had crossed the finish line or not before sending Jason to chase up the slaves who had been supposed to be bringing the wine up to the Imperial Box, but either way, he'd seen his cousin beat the Red who'd beaten him in the chariot race that Jason had missed, the Equirria races. The tunic he was wearing was a decent rust colour, with two strips of violet cloth sewn to it, obtained by overdyeing red cloth with blue dye (or blue cloth with red dye), a mimicry or mockery of the pristine white tunics with the bright purple stripes worn by the Senators, of whom Tiberius was one. It was enough to mark him out as an Imperial slave, though, which was something because it meant that he reached his destination without too much hassle. If only the slaves with the amphora were there... They were not. "How typical!" @Faustus