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Aeterna Roma RPG

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Blue eyes met blue eyes - wasn't it strange that in a nation of olive-skinned people with dark hair and dark eyes, both Aulus and his wife had blond hair and blue eyes? (Well, mousy-brown hair and gloriously red, but both of them had hair far lighter than was commonly seen in the streets of Rome!)

"Of course I trust you, my dove," he said. He had never had any reason to doubt that, and never would - she had been the exemplary Roman wife since the day they had married. She might have blamed herself for things, like talking to that thrice-damned Praetorian tribune who had then set out to cause as much trouble as possible for them, but that was entirely his fault, and Aulus was not some tyrant who would keep his own wife and children in their own home as the Athenian men did in centuries past (if the stories were to be believed!)

"You have only ever tried to do what you think is best," he said - he had noticed, even if she did not think he had. It mattered to him that she knew he had seen it, too.

 

@Sara

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With a small, satisfied sigh she dropped her hand from his face into his lap to squeeze his own hand.

Theirs was an odd sort of marriage - not exactly a love match, at least not on her side at first, but nor was it arranged for political or familial benefits although it was beneficial to both families. Fundamentally though, odd as the conception of their marriage was, it had been - by pretty much any measure - a success unrivalled and a significant reason for that was that it was built on solid foundations; trust, respect, empathy and so forth. 

She did not, even as guilt nibbled away at her, think that the remaining deceptions would erode those solid foundations. It was more than likely Aulus kept his own secrets from her, and that didn't disquiet her in the least. 

Relieved she had at least got one thing from her chest, she sighed again in contentment and moved to lean her head on his shoulder. "We should talk of happier things," She suggested, trying to nimbly deflect any further questions although he didn't seem particularly inclined to ask regardless, "You haven't given me an update on your baths for a while." She turned her face up to his, obviously teasing.

It sometimes felt that Aulus had three wives; Horatia Justina, the Senate and the bloody Calpurnian Baths. 

 

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"They're coming along - I promise I will take you to see them once it's possible to show you exactly what area is which, right now the walls are about as high as my shoulder and there are heaps of rubble everywhere - anything less like thermae would be hard to imagine," Aulus said. "I thought you were bored with hearing me talk about them, anyway?" He smiled down into her face before dropping a kiss on the tip of her nose.

"What of your own projects, or do you not have anything in hand at the moment?" he asked, pressing another kiss to the corner of her mouth.

 

@Sara

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She chuckled feeling the tension ease out of her, helped by the kiss and the fact that he was willing to engage in conversation on much more light-hearted topics. "Never bored," She smiled softly, obviously joking, "I'll just be glad when they're finished, my love." She gave a little chuckle. 

Shaking her head she sighed; "I've been trying to put my mind to something for a while, besides the book club there's nothing on the horizon," She didn't say it morosely, merely just laying out the truth with an even tone and a little shrug. "I know the Augusta has her charities and I was thinking of something similar, but I'd have to ask my father for the funds and I'm not sure he'd agree to any ideas I might have had." She supposed she could have taken funding from Aulus - or practically his father - but she wasn't sure how the lines blurred given her status in the familia and the fact that she hadn't married Aulus cum manus. Of course her husband took care of the day to day expenses of her life, but part of that - she suspected was funded from her dowry. Any big purchases or...setting up a charity, she had no idea.

 

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"Well, if your father doesn't want to give you funds for whatever you want to do, I will - or rather, I can persuade my father to do so. And it will have your name - I already have my baths, after all." There were buildings throughout the Empire that were built and dedicated by women, after all - and Horatia had left her mark on Raetia. He supposed that anything she wanted to build in Rome (or anywhere else) would be along similar lines.

"Do you have too many ideas, or none at all, for projects?" he asked, curious. He thought it was most likely the former, but it was possible for even the most inspired person to run out of ideas and inspiration.

 

@Sara

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She gave her husband a soft smile and inclined her head. He surely knew she'd never ask such a thing of him; Horatia Justina was a stickler for formalities and seeking compensation from her husband's family when he shouldn't have been giving it was a step too far for her. 

With an embarrassed look, she reluctantly admitted; "The latter." She sighed and shifted in her seat to him a little, relishing the intimacy after the uncomfortable conversation of a few moments ago slipped from them, "I start on a project and then it is either unfeasible or somebody else has already done it or it won't be any good." She chuckled, "I never thought I'd be a woman bored but alas...here I am." She had her children and the household and her books and friends but...there were only so many hours in a day those could fill up.

 

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"Well, there are all sorts of things you could do," Aulus said. "A women's only library, maybe. A lecture hall or somewhere for philosophers and other peripatetics to gather. A theatre, if you want to appeal more to the masses. A new building for any of the guilds you might like to patronise. A temple, even, if you chose."

He thought that she would prefer something more suited to educating people than erecting yet another temple, of which Rome had several dozen already, and some gods had more than one temple in the city.

"You'll find something, you always do - I have never known you to be at a loss for very long," he added reassuringly.

 

@Sara

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She studied him as she considered - in a very 'Horatia', methodical way - all the options he laid out. She'd been through most of them already and discounted them; she didn't wish to fashion a temple - it seemed a fruitless endeavour when there were already so many in the city. A lecture hall would be exactly the sort of thing she might consider, but the plan had come to naught when she considered that a female sponsor might be off-putting to some of the more notable philosophers. It was the same issue she had with a women's only library. 

Sighing, she turned her face to his and frowned, trying to read his mind. "If you were not married to me, and you were just a very important man in Rome and you heard that some stranger, some patrician woman with a husband and a family and a domus to run, this patrician woman you didn't know personally had deigned to clear land from the plebs to construct a women's only library, or a lecture theatre..." She arched a brow, "Honestly - and I mean honestly - what would you think?" 

She chuckled, "I won't be offended. It's what worries me about some construction project, it's why I've been leaning more towards a charitable endeavour...or something outside of the city." 

 

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"A charitable endeavour?" Aulus couldn't say he was exactly surprised at the idea, of course. "There are still places within the city where it would be possible to build something, without having to clear land first," he said. "I know you're tired of hearing about my baths, but I considered more than one place that would be suitable before actually going ahead with the plan - I would be willing to show you, if you did want to put up some sort of building."

He did consider her words, though. "There are women throughout the Empire who have contributed all sorts of civic buildings, you wouldn't be the first." He rested his forehead against hers. "I think I would consider her to be unusual in being so civically minded, but I wouldn't think it a bad thing, not at all - after all, one of the most prominent buildings in Pompeii is the cloth merchants' guildhall, built by one Eumachia."

 

@Sara

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Horatia made a noise of quiet approval; "Mhmm." But nonetheless a frown creased her brow. He might very well consider that it was fine for a woman to construct a building (or sponsor it at the very least) but she didn't see it in her future, and she doubted her father would lend his support to such a scheme. Her husband was a rare gem; a man that saw a woman's value beyond her abilities in childbed and the home, but she was not deluded enough to think that every man would be so understanding - her own kin included. 

"I'd prefer a charity, I think." She said after a moment of quiet reflection. "Something for the women in the city," She narrowed her eyes and then glanced across at him, "Perhaps an expansion of my book club. Reading and writing lessons for those less able to afford tutors? I know several female businesswomen would benefit from not having to employ scribes..." Although it occurred to her that such an idea may be even more controversial than constructing a lecture hall...

 

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"You are unconvinced - I can tell," Aulus told her and aimed a kiss for the tip of her nose. "For women who are in business already... That is a good idea. There is less fuss about plebeian women going into business, and of course they are the ones most likely to have missed out on even a basic education. What about expanding your book club the other way, too, and becoming a patroness of the arts - a second Gaius Maecenas, perhaps?"

It was a shame that women were so often in the shadows - and yet if they were not, the world would be a peculiar place indeed.

"Whatever you choose to do, you will have my full support - but you know that, don't you?"

 

@Sara

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Horatia smiled lightly at his support, nodding her head slowly. "Exactly." she affirmed. Businesswomen were so often in need of the very support they were denied, she knew that - even so far removed from their lives in her current position. A charity dedicated to upskilling them would be controversial in the way that all charities aimed at bettering women's lives seemed controversial, but it would also be for the benefit of the city. What would Rome be, after all, without its businesses?

"And I think I shall leave patronage of the arts to more..." She thought for a moment over the right word, "...Vibrant women." she loved to read, but only enjoyed music in the way that most women of her class did and obviously she didn't partake in much theatre. No - she was happy with her idea, she just needed her father to approve the funds and potentially find a slave or two to help get it off the ground. "I know." she glanced to him now with a soft expression on her face, "And that's why I love you." 

 

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It might be a good place to leave this here? 

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