A very nice review of Palatine from a lovely lady who totally gets it.
She understands that ‘my’ Nero has no great malice, he is just a man who can do whatever he likes: so he does.
He’s also not terribly bright.
For those of you who know your Roman history this is a fairly momentous first meeting.
“This is Flavius’ nephew.”
Epaphroditus took another look at the boy. “I have heard much about you, your heroics at the siege of Yodfat pleased Nero greatly. He had you marked for a good position when you returned to Rome. This new emperor I am sure will be willing to recognise your successes.”
“You’re talking about my brother. I’ve never been to Judaea. I’ve never been anywhere. I’ve not done anything.”
“Oh,” said Epaphroditus, then to Caenis, “Am I?”
“You look a lot like him.”
A platitude that failed placate Domitian, who said, “He’s ten years older than me.”
“I was going to say you look like him when he was your age,” soothed Epaphroditus.
Domitian did not look soothed.
Caenis put an arm around her stepson, “Come on lets join Flavius. They’ll start the entertainment soon.”
1) Tigellinus strode in, his unsteady gait betraying his unusual wakefulness; he was drunk, roaring drunk.
2) But Tigellinus was afternoon drunk. He was the Praetorian prefect. A friend to Nero. He thought himself invincible
3) “I thought you weren’t coming.”
“Why would you think that?” slurred the prefect.
“Because you weren’t invited.”
“Wasn’t I? I go to everything, it is my thing. Besides I’m the pre, pre, pre, the soldier thing, I look after the emperor.”
4) Dribbling from the side of his mouth, Tigellinus had yet to experience the all-time killer hangover that was waiting to hit him, or the painfully stiff neck incurred while sleeping curled up by an ornamental fountain
5) Diplomacy had never been Tigellinus’ strong point. It was difficult to know what his strong point actually was, each positive aspect to his nature being anchored down firmly by the negative
The main difference between Palatine and Galba’s Men is that Palatine is all about a well executed conspiracy. Whereas Galba’s Men is about a series of misunderstandings that lead to terrible events.
And this time round the terribleness is going to effect not just those at the top.
What Nymphidius Sabinus unleashes in Palatine is going to have consequences for everyone.
1) Baths of the Diocletion in which is held the Epigraphical museum.
I cannot tell you how useful this museum was. Want to know what sort of jobs women had back in classical times?
Or the wording of a curse?
Or the proper job title of a palace freedman?
This is the place to go to.
It also houses a funerary inscription to Tacitus. Yes, that Tacitus.
It is an inscription found on the Esquiline Hill in a quiet little side street. It lists the titles of one Imperial Freedman name of Tiberius Claudius Epaphroditus.
I think we can surmise he was not a modest man.
I pretty much spent the whole day here, making copious notes.
1) His path from imperial slave to pre-eminence had been a treacherous one; he’d survived by successfully skidding between palace factions, keeping his head down when others were literally losing theirs, and by being really quite good at his job.
2) Epaphroditus was just old enough to remember Livia, though not her husband the Emperor Augustus. If asked to recall he offered some vague waffles, infected by the freedman’s insistence that his life began on the day of his manumission from slavery. This was a shame since he possessed the type of tip top stellar imperial gossip that sadly never makes the history books.
3) With an absurdly generous emperor you could find yourself at the end of the day up by a seaside villa, a dozen slaves, and two bags of denarii just for complimenting Sporus’ slippers. Epaphroditus had done very well for himself.
4) Aphrodite was an intelligent woman, and even if she had not caught Mina’s suggestive eyes, the quick flash of panic that ran across her husband’s countenance would have alerted her. He smoothed it away and offered her the smile he utilised whenever he was about to suggest something he knew she would object to.
5) The grounds and house were confiscated and shortly after the old Eemperor’s death they were discreetly handed over to Epaphroditus. A reward which had garnered much palace speculation.
1) An evil, raised scar ran across his neck, the origins of which had been hotly discussed by several generations of imperial slaves.
If it gave comfort that some brave soul had once stood up to Straton, the fact that he had survived such a deadly encounter had given rise to the all too plausible rumour that he was immortal.
2) Pressed against Juba’s naked back, the overseer decided to start his day off on a high. Feeling something distinctly stiff pushing into his spine the slave squeaked, “You can’t.”
Which made Straton chuckle. Because he could.
3) Love was an emotion that hit the overseer periodically every few years and always culminated in an absolute disaster that had Felix threatening to slice off his penis with a meat cleaver.
4) Turning to his side Straton removed a dagger from his hip with something akin to annoyance, punching its owner (a pale slave he had whipped earlier that day) in the face impatiently and gesturing Mina to follow him. Mina had one thought: “What a man!” Then immediately scratched it as the consequences of spending too much time with eunuchs
5) Straton only legitimately took orders from one man, Felix. Anything else he deigned to do had been carefully weighed up as to its “fun factor”. Coshing Sabinus would definitely fall under that category