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32 | 7 August 43CE | Plebian | Actress/Musician | Bisexual | Original | Katherine Jenkins





There are two Aelias. You meet first the Aelia that the world sees. This is what 99.9% of people will only ever see. They will see the gorgeous, outgoing, arty, flirtatious and scandalous actress and musician; the poster girl of the White Faction; the Roman Nightingale with a voice like honey; the sensual symbol of luxury and lust. A figure people will cheer in the auditorium but speak of in the lowest terms elsewhere. A figure from the edges of society. People will be happy to flock to her shows and dream of her but be happy to call her a whore and imagine she has no feelings. Knowing that the professions fate has pushed her into has left an indelible mark on her like a brand she can never rid herself of, she has no choice but to live with this and make the most of it. She revels in the passionate excesses and tries not to get attached. She loves having money and spending it because she remembers what it was like to be destitute. Does it hurt that she is shunned by society? Yes. Does it make her scared that she cannot go about alone? Of course. In short, the outer Aelia is Aelia the Celebrity. A closed off, fun-loving party girl, quick with a joke and rushing from scandal to scandal. A person you love to hate and hate to love. A bauble for rich, powerful men; a figure of contempt to respectable wives.


Then there is the inner Aelia. This is the one few have ever got to know. This is the damaged Aelia. The one on whom the wounds of Fate still bleed. The one who craves a quiet life. A life free of scandal. Where she can go down a street without being hooted at or bothered. A life in which she can find a husband who loves her for her. Where she can raise a family who will be untainted with the stain of nefas from their mother’s life. Anyone knowing the Outer Aelia would never believe that she would be content to grow old quietly in the countryside. But she would.


Whilst a large part of what she does is unpalatable, there are aspects of her job that she loves. She knows most people come to the shows to laugh at bawdy jokes, ogly at the skimpy dresses and enjoy cheap thrills at the titillation. However, she is an artist. She has a beautiful voice and loves music. She is skilled at several instruments. She enjoys making music privately as well as in her public shows. She likes pretty things because, when she was a girl, she did not have them. Despite her adult (in both senses) profession, the Inner Aelia is remarkably childlike.


She can be bitchy, catty and cruel. These are just results of the fact that she is treated so cruelly often for no reason by others. She is avaricious and loves money. She will bleed you dry. Most of her patrons don’t care. At least not until it’s too late.




Aelia has been blessed with a pleasing face and form, there is no doubt. Most people would probably not believe it for a second if they ever heard her say that beauty can be a curse but, in many ways, it is true. Her looks, coupled with her occupation, make the default position of those interacting with her to either jump straight to judgment of her or seek to possess her, objectify her. Generally forget that there is a person underneath. She has, however, long since come to terms with this although that is not to say that it does not hurt. She worries that she may never be seen for the real person behind the persona she has to wear to just get by.


Of Greek blood, she has luscious long blonde hair. She has a very full figure and most men are automatically drawn downwards rather than to her eyes. This, in many ways, is a shame for her eyes are crystal blue and are worthy of praise in their own right. She is tall for women of the era. A little over 5 foot 8. To her natural height she often adds further inches by wearing heeled footwear or wearing her hair up in elaborate styles. She aids her natural complexion with a range of cosmetics but tries not to overdo it in the manner of the worst sort of call girl. She accentuates her natural curves with tight fitting clothes and eye-catching jewelry.

Most respectable women would call her trashy and lacking in class. That would be a little unfair. She cannot compete on breeding – she knows she is on the periphery of acceptable society at best, kept within the bounds of it (only just) by her fame. If she is labelled trashy because she likes to spend what she has on bright, wild clothing and trinkets then that is her own choice. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.


Father: Lucius Naevius Diophoros (20CE – 50CE), bankrupt, actor.

Mother: Theodora (? – 43CE), water-organ player, little known about her.

Siblings: None.


The Proculus Players


Branded as a “multi-disciplinary entertainment troupe” this band of actors and musicians are an unlikely and eclectic group of professional artists, loosely cobbled and held together by the wild Gaius Julius Proculus (showbiz manager and entertainment promotor “extraordinaire”, offices round the back of the Saepta Julia, meetings by appointment only, no liability is accepted for personal injury, theft of death…). The group perform in all public and private spheres at affordable and competitive rates. No job is too large, too small or too bizarre. Experienced with animals. Licenced to perform across the Empire. Specialisms include (but are not limited to) mimae, farce, classical Roman and Greek drama, musical performances, dance and acrobatics. Their performance of Plautus’ “The Rope” in 74CE was reviewed as a “must see” by the Roman daily news crier.

The current roster includes, amongst its more popular members:-


Aelia – actress, dancer, musician. The leading lady.

Titia – actress, animal handler, dancer. Despite the name, is a willowy Celt.

Maxima – actress, dancer, musician. Refuses to talk about her past.

Pretends to be a Palatine runaway from a noble family. In reality, a fisherman’s illegitimate daughter from the Aventine.

Scylus – actor, believes himself to be a proper “traditional” actor just knocking around with this troupe because he needs the money… Cleander – actor, dancer. Aelia’s room-mate and best friend. Known familiarly as “Andy.” A Greek with a Spartan build, he is more fond of his own gender than the opposite.

Grumio – a clown. Co-dependent, passive aggressive, forever arguing comedy partner of Dromon.

Dromon – a clown. Co-dependent, passive aggressive, forever arguing comedy partner of Grumio.

Basil – a dwarf, multi-purpose for all dwarfery. Highly skilled at the water-organ. Long-suffering on account of his short stature.



First thing’s first – a shocking admission. Her real name isn’t Aelia. Shocker! No surprises that it is, in fact, a stage name that is now so prevalent that it has taken the place of her actual name. She was born as Artemisia (“Missy”) in 43CE in Athens, Grecia. Her father, Diophoros, was likewise born in the city although he maintained that he had Roman citizenship and regularly used the Roman names “Lucius Naevius” in front of his Greek one. If pushed, it became incredibly shady as to whether his family did indeed have Roman citizenship. Fortunately it was never tested. In later life, it suited Missy to be thought of as a true, Roman darling and so she used the name Aelia which, for the avoidance of all doubt, we shall call he going forwards.


Her father was the youngest of seven sons. In his early teenage years he ran away from home, determined to make his fortune – by what means, he assumed he would decide on the hoof, as it were. He spoke little to nothing about his family so, to all intents and purposes, Aelia knows no more about it than that. Her father went through a variety of ill advised professions and money making schemes, none of which bore fruit. Eventually, and failing all else, and with debt claims against him leaving him bankrupt, he fell in with a troupe of itinerant actors. This band made an annual tour of the main Greek cities and performed the traditional canon of old Greek greats. In the course of this he met and struck up a casual liaison with a water organ player of Thracian stock, known solely by the name the troupe gave her, Theodora. She never revealed her real name. She never really learned any Latin or Greek. What we know of her is barely more than this. All that is left to say is that she fell pregnant and, in 43CE, gave birth to Artemisia/Aelia and, contracting fever from a difficult birth, died three days later.


There is no need to go into the psychological effect of growing up without a mother on a young girl. You don’t have to be a genius to guess the feelings of loss, emptiness and yearning for comfort that this brings. Her father was completely incapable of looking after his now-motherless daughter and so she became a common problem of the troupe. A succession of women took care of her needs as her father slowly but surely drank himself to death, always lamenting (like a good Greek character in a play) of how great he could have been. He died in 50CE. His death made little actual difference to Aelia save for that she was no categorised as an orphan, rather than just motherless. Adopted almost as common-property of the troupe, her bed and board was covered by the fact she became one of their number, apprenticed to learning the craft of an actress and musician which, unlike her father, she found she had a natural propensity for.


Adolescence smoothed off the early childish blemishes and, from the chrysalis of youth, she blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Her striking blonde hair, cool blue eyes and ample figure (to put it politely) caught the attention. Audiences (or parts of it) loved her. The problem was that so did members of the troupe. Their attentions were innocent at first but soon turned menacing. These early years are not worth thinking about too much. The blanks can be filled in by the astute. With little recourse but to try and “go along with it” she learned the hard way the darker side of show business.


By the time she reached 18 she had had enough of it. She met a farmer’s son, Helios, living in a village near Pella, who fell in with the troupe as they headed towards the ancient capital of Macedonia for a series of shows. Falling in love, the pair’s romance burnt fierce and fast. They agreed to run away and, in fairness, they did avoid the predations of the troupe. Fleeing to Piraeus, they took ship for Syria and moved to Antioch with no actual clue as to what to do. Exposed to the unsanitary and new climate of a foreign metropolis, Helios died, leaving Aelia alone and destitute. With no other way to survive, she managed to avoid the clutches of slavery by working long hours for low pay in a laundry. Fortunately for her, her health and beauty survived what could have been an irreversible ordeal by one of the chance encounters that the Fates litter in our paths and which, if we are but careful enough to pick them up, can change the course of a life forever.


One day a tall, recently freed, distinctly odd looking Roman arrived with a bundle of cleaning, needing done quickly. Bald as a coot, this fellow sported an array of frankly bizarre hairpieces which fooled no one. He rejoiced in the name of Gaius Julius Proculus and, with a legacy left by the doting old bat he had been freed by after years as a house slave, had decided to work doing what he loved: in the entertainment business. Proculus had a vision: he believed in bringing to Rome a band of artists, with a varied repertoire, that was representative of the variety of the Empire. As a promotor, he would then showcase these wonders in the capital with a view to making himself rich and famous. Simple, really. That plenty of others were doing so too was by the by. Proculus knew that his band would be better. How? None of the other bands had him as a manager.



In the course of the transaction about the cleaning, Aelia spoke about her experience in the past. Proculus (although no lecher) noticed her charms and – in a bout of inspiration seemingly sent by Apollo himself – claimed he saw an aura of light about the young laundress. This was actually a perfectly natural phenomenon occasioned by her being silhouettes against a window but this is show business, darling, don’t let facts get in the way of a good story! In such a way Aelia became a contracted member of the Proculus Players and we can skip forward to Rome.


As of 75CE, Aelia has lived in Rome for over a decade. All that time she has been a member of the Proculus Players and has risen from being a third-rate supporting actress to becoming undeniably its leading lady. A gifted singer and musician, she is famous for her melodic, sweet and sensuous voice. Song writers rush to her to sing their pieces and often what you hear from her first one day is sung by women in the street or people humming in the course of their business the next day. She would like to be known for her musical talents alone but that is sadly not to be. The Roman audience find actresses bizarre. Most, like she, become sensuous symbols of public lust yet, at the same time, the same audiences can despise her as an outcast under traditional morality. The mob don’t care how realistic her acting of Niobe is – her tears real and her emotions cascading out in a manner that could melt the iciest heart. No, what they prefer is flesh on show and bawdy jokes. The sort of thing you would never want your daughter to do but find it ok in an actress. This, in fairness, Aelia owns. She is beautiful and voluptuous and works it. She is good at the banter needed for comedic acting as well as the more serious tropes of classical drama. Through this, she quickly became one of the leading lights of the acting scene – in contest with the other leading ladies of other acting bands.


The rivalry between these prima donnas is one of the bedrocks of the Roman “tabloid” gossip news-sheets and tavern talk. People have their favourite pin up and argue over the virtues and vices of rivals. Comments one starlet makes about another are repeated over and over again and grow in the telling. Guess who wore what to such and such’s party? Guess who wasn’t invited? You’ll never guess who has taken up with so and so’s ex-boyfriend? This type of talk can be heard all the way from the halls of the Palatine to the fish markets of the Aventine.


Proculus, like other promotors, has capitalised on his leading lady’s partisan celebrity to milk money by using her for publicity purposes. Are you opening a new bar? What better way to get punters in than by having Aelia come to the opening night? Is your bread the best on the Caelian?

Pay us enough and Aelia will be seen eating it. Is your drapery business in the doldrums? Why not consider becoming an official wardrobe sponsor to Aelia and the Proculus Players? You see how it goes?


In this manner, Aelia has come to be linked heavily with the White team chariot racing circles. One of the official “poster girls”, she can be seen on most race days in some manner of eye-catching white ensemble, lingering around the official merchandise stalls and whipping up support in the stands. A few highly publicised (and stage managed) affairs with White team drivers helps keep the rumor mill going. It is not unknown for her and her main rival, the Celtic beauty, Aemilia of the Appius Entourage, pin up of the Greens, to have set-to slagging matches on race day.


She takes her pleasures where she can find them. Such is one of the benefits of falling outside the traditional bonds of acceptable moral society. She longs for a real connection but is realistic enough to know how unlikely that may come to be. So, in the meantime, she enjoys courting scandal and making money. She lives in a flat in an insula on the Esquiline – nothing fancy but not rock bottom – flat-sharing with her best friend and co-troupe member, Cleander.



Lauren | GMT | IM or Discord



Edited by Lauren

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