Jump to content
Pontia Comina

Flames of Rome

Recommended Posts

Jan 74CE.

Midday. 

Tending to the flames and guiding the younger Vestals, some still in training on how to best tend to it was vital for the future and survival of Rome. Pontia took both her duties and her position as the Virgo Maxima, the head Vestal virgin quite seriously and wanted to ensure that one of them were dishonoured. Or shamed. She brushed off the remaining flour from baking the mola salsa, the sacred bread that was used in nearly all of the Roman rituals with their Gods and one of the temple slaves approached her to inform her that someone was here to speak with her. Occasionally, she would be approached to speak about spiritual matters or to have a will securely locked away in the safe keeping with the Vestals as they had done since the days of the Republic. 

Her hands removed the last of the flour, and her hand placed on the shoulder of one of the younger Vestals and whispered in her ear to keep an eye on the flame. Always tend to it while she was on duty. 

If the flame went out. It was a sign of anger from the Gods -- and the Vestal in question would either be flogged or buried alive. 

She walked out and onto the steps of the temple, there were people in the background walking around and it was clearly part of the busier part of the city, and smiled at the visitor. She wore the "brides wear" the typical clothing of the Vestals, her hair styled in the "bride" fashion although she would never marry. Her duty to Rome and Vesta would always come first. Her face was free of any cosmetics, and the way she held herself could give the impression of her being taller than she actually was. 

"Salve, is there anything that I can help you with?" She greeted politely. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Ave, Vestalis Maxima." The young man replied with a respectful bow, as the seniormost of the Vestals approached him. Tiberius was well aware of the sacred trust guarded by these consecrated women, that in turn safeguarded the Empire from within. Vesta, goddess of the hearth, was one of the oldest gods, and the most central to their wellbeing. If one's house was not in order, how could anything else be?

He wore several tunics in the cold of the turn of the year, but the toga he wore over the top was of the finest linen with a border of dyed silk and gold thread. Not that he was particularly fond of ostentation, quite the opposite, but he understood that such efforts denoted respect.

At a simple gesture the slave who had accompanied him within the atrium stepped forward and held out the basket he carried. It contained a generous quantity of dried fruits, fresh baked flat breads, nuts and a jar of salt; simple but welcome sustenance in  the cold of the year. "Tiberius Claudius Sabucius brings an offering for Vesta, and I hoped we might speak privately." He said simply. The Vestals were themselves a powerful cult, supported by the Imperials. He assumed that she would know who he was.

@Gothic

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She recognised him. Tiberius, the son of Claudius and the adopted son of Quintus Caesar. Her head gave the slightest of nods, and her lips curled upwards slightly in approval at the gift of dried fruits, breads, nuts and salt. Simple yet appreciated. Her face was free from cosmetics and her hand reached down to touch the basket in order to accept the gift that was offered. No doubt these gifts would be used by the Vestals, or those who served them. Quintus Caesar, as the Pontifex Maximus, was currently the acting head of the order and was technically the Vestals father in the eyes of the Gods. Yet he did not reside with them, and gave Pontia a considerable amount of political clout. 

"And the servant of Vesta is happy to speak with you, Prince Tiberius," She answered, her hand gestured towards a marble seat that would give them both privacy and a chance for people to ensure no whispers concerning her chastity could not be taken. Plants surrounded them that provided sweet aromas, and it was a moment of peace and quiet in the overwhelming senses of Rome. Silently she gestured with her hand for him to come and ensured there would be space between them. Yet to sit close enough for them to speak privately, without the need to raise voice nor to yell in order to be heard. 

"Come Prince," Pontia said, still with her regal smile on her lips, "How may the head servant of Vesta assist you today?" She asked, patiently waited for him to answer and was curious about why he had decided to seek her out. 

@Sarah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The slave carrying the basket bowed as Pontia placed her hand on the basket, and stepped aside, leaving Tiberius to accompany the head Vestal to the quite alcove with it's bench and potted plants, as private as one could be with a consecrated servant of the Gods. Sworn virgins, any hint of scandal could be the downfall of one of these sacred women, and the punishment for suspected indiscretion was severe. Yet even more severe were the repercussions for Rome herself, should one of Vesta's sacred servants fail in their vows. Ever mindful of the future of the Empire, Tiberius held no interest in even tempting such.

Settling onto the bench at a close but discrete distance, Tiberius considered his words. He knew what he wanted to say, this was no idle visit, but sometimes the 'how' was as important as the 'what'.

"I will be embarking on the Cursus Honorum this year." He began simply. It marked his transition from the traditional education of childhood into the training that would set him on his future path in adulthood. "I do not expect any particular trouble, but I am aware that the will of the Gods is unknown, to most of us." The last was said with a faint, wry smile. "I wish to ensure that, should anything happen to me, nothing will be left to chance. I would lodge a will in your keeping, if I may."

Not that Tiberius owned a great deal himself, being largely provided for as a member of the Imperial household, but he might acquire some possessions over the next two years. He doubted that Quintus would tolerate any loose ends and would no doubt tidy things up himself if necessary, but the young prince would prefer not to leave any, should the worst befall him.

@Gothic

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pontia did not rush him when he took a moment to gather his thoughts. Patiently she waited for him to answer her and inclined her head politely when he first mentioned the Curus Honorum. The natural progression for any Roman noble male. It was his duty to Rome and to the state. His wry smile was soon joined by her own, the Gods had any things in store and not even she knew. There were oracles and prophets of many of the Gods, both Roman and foreign who would whisper what they believed to be true. 

A will was his right as a Roman citizen. Unless he was convicted of treason and all of his properties would be returned to the State. From what she heard of Tiberius, he was a good and honourable young man who would serve Rome well. Something she hoped that all the young men (and older) would aspire to be. It was polite of him to ask although it was her sacred duty to protect the wills of all the Roman citizens to be read after their deaths had taken place. 

"You most certainly may," She answered, while she knew about some things, she did not know everything concerning a will. Tiberius would need to speak to one of the older men in his family about writing a will and what needed to be in it. Pontia regarded him for a moment. A boy would soon need to learn about what would come.

"Nearly every family of yours placed there will with me. I remember your mother coming to place hers, it was not long after you were born." Pontia said, she was not the head Vestal back then. Her predecessor was until her passing. 

@Sarah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tiberius needed to speak with Caesar, about several things, it was simply a matter of finding time. The ruler of the Empire was understandably busy, and even his adopted son wasn't necessarily high on the priority list, depending on what else called for his attention on any give day. But he could make certain that he had everything else in order, so that Caesar wasn't left asking questions he couldn't answer.

"Thank you." He said simply. "I'll have the document drawn up and brought to you for keeping." The Vestals were entrusted with the wills of the Empire; he knew that his would be safe with them. It felt like an oddly mature thing to be doing, whilst at the same time acknowledging his mortality, which was hard because young people secretly believe that they'll live forever.

Pontia's next words were a little unexpected, though they shouldn't have been. He came from Imperial and Senatorial lineages, of course his families had placed their wills with the Vestals as well, even as he intended. And of course they had included the wills of those very close to him. Even those he hadn't known. But the thought of his mother doing the same thing gave him pause. He and his sister had been born after their father had died; and their older half-brother Darius, now Caesar, had already survived an assassination attempt. Perhaps she foresaw what was to come.

"Would you... tell me what you remember of her?" He asked diffidently. His own memories of her were those of a small child, as they were of his brother Junus. He'd never really known Darius. So many family members, gone. "What happened to her will, after her death?" He asked. Presumably it had been read and honoured.

@Gothic

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pontia smiled and nodded politely when he answered that the document would be brought to her for safe keeping. He was young yet the Gods never knew what was in store for him. She smiled, nodded and reflected for a moment to consider how she should say her memories of the late Augusta were. How many of the memories did he retain of his late mother? Did he remember anything about her?

"Your mother was devoted to the Gods yet was not blinded by them. She prevented many conflicts before they arose to boiling point, she patroned the arts considerably and while charitable, she could be ruthless in defense of those she loved," She paused, smiled and hoped that he knew that she would include him, and his siblings in that too. Rome herself was included in that. "She was an avid horse rider and was rumoured to have knowledge of military strategy," The Vestal continued, much of her time with the late Augusta was spent from a distance and relied heavily on rumour. 

The next question caused her to frown. 

"The will was legal and enacted. Your mother had vineyards, properties, slaves, horses, and more," She said, like many of the wealthier citizens of Rome, the Augusta had large holdings of wealth. "Unfortunately, I imagine there were those with greedy fingers after the assassination of Honorius Caesar and Junus Caesar who tried to seize the assets for themselves." She explained, later his mother was deified for the honours she had given the empire and prayed to. 

"The rise of your uncle meant many assets were returned to your family. To be divided between her surviving children." She answered.

Rufia Flavia, Claudia Caesaris and himself. 

@Sarah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pontia had Tiberius's full attention as she described the mother he only vaguely remembered. Most of it correlated with what others had told him, that she was an intelligent woman, caring and kind but also canny in the way of politics and strong in the face of challenges. A worthy Augusta. The latter was less well known to him, that she'd been a keen rider and possibly a military strategist. The latter seemed to underline her canny intelligence, the former a more personal interest. Tiberius liked horses, they were simpler and less demanding than people, but still with their own needs and quirks. When he was young he'd been enthusiastic about the chariot races, but the the Vestal's words brought a sudden urge to improve his riding skills, as a way of being closer to his mother.

His father he'd never known at all, and most of the time he felt that he knew him more as 'Caesar Claudius' from official records and descriptions of him in his professional guise. And he wondered what Drusus Claudius Sabuchius had been like.

The head Vestal's next words caused Tiberius to mirror her frown, ever so faintly, though in truth what she told him was no surprise. Of course there had been grasping and greedy fingers when it seemed that the Claudean line of Caesars was at an end, the family destroyed. And really, what did it matter? Things were things and replaceable; it was more the sentimental value of what had belonged to his parents, that he had barely known. In the end his family had retained stewardship of the Empire, and that was a far greater trust. But not everyone could be Caesar, and their family would need to support themselves. Things that he should discuss with his uncle, now that he was of age. Presumably his father had left a will too, though likely his holdings had gone to Tiberius's uncle, as the new paterfamilias and supporter of Tiberius's generation.

"Thank you, Vestalis Maxima, for your words. You bring me closer to my family." The young man said gravely, meaning every word. "May the Gods grant us more peaceful times." He added quietly, glancing away for a moment. But the Gods already had; under Quintus the Empire had known peace. Tiberius was determined that it should continue so.

@Gothic

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...