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May 74AD

The Aventine Baths were some of the best in Rome, and right on Paulus' metaphorical doorstep. And, like the other baths, the patrons needed only to pay an as in order to have access to the full glory of the Roman bathing experience, from the tepidarium to the caldarium to the finely decorated frigidarium. And if that wasn't enough, there was a library and palaestra (exercise ground) too.

Paulus, not being a scholar, ignored the library in favour of the baths. It was hot work, overseeing his staff and organising a decent auction (today marked the fifth copy of the Boy With a Thorn in his Foot that Paulus had seen this month, and today's offering had been a particularly bad copy of the original statue - the original was probably shoved in some back room in the Emperor's palace).

Now, if some of the statues here came across his threshold, he might turn a decent profit. The one over there that pretended it was Plato (and was probably some totally unknown Greek instead) was a far better copy than the anaemic thing he'd seen this morning.

"I don't suppose that really is Plato, though," he found himself remarking to the man on the bench next to him as the slave massaged his shoulders - true bliss, to be under the hands of a skilled masseur!



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