Lysander in 5 Quotes:
1) Lysander was a tall man, elegantly so, well proportioned, trim. He was a pleasing addition to any room positioned by the door, with his fine voice and words. What he wasn’t was strong, nor much of a fighter. He’d never needed to be. He was an announcer, all he had to do was talk and stand; you didn’t need muscles for that.
2) Lysander, head bowed, not from respect but from the memory of the last time he’d delivered bad news to the empress and she’d flung a shoe at his head.
3) Lysander’s mother Lysandria had been a hairstylist to Agrippina, mother of Nero. Now retired she had got through a surprising number of husbands since her freedom. To be widowed once was a misfortune, twice a tragedy, five times bordered on the suspicious.
4) Apollodorus’ top breeder for the last thirteen years was going to be put out to pasture finally. The announcer was secretly relieved, though publicly he crowed his successes to anyone who wasn’t fast enough to flee; privately he had found it more and more dispiriting to have sex with girls who clearly didn’t want to have sex with him.
Freebies, as the announcer always referred to freeborn girls, were different to Lysander’s mind. If they slept with you it was because they wanted to not because they’d been told to or because of what you might be able to secure for them, a promotion or cash. They would be soft and willing, and Lysander could not wait to try one out.
5) All that seemed normal in the palace was considered quite differently in the outside world. This Lysander had discovered when he’d commented over supper one night on how Apollodorius had paired Ampelius with Penelope in the breeding programme and what a duff match it was because everyone knew she hated him and she’d been so keen not to be sown by him during the last round that she’d shoved a vinegar soaked sponge up her _. Which was the point at which Philo abruptly, and rather rudely Lysander thought, changed the subject.
As everybody who is in Galba’s Men appeared in Palatine, here is a taster of some of the journeys various characters will be undertaking in Galba’s Men.
For some there will be adventure, for some tragedy, for some joy and for others despair.
Though he’d enjoyed his break spending time with his family he was starting to get just a little bored. An Otho scheme was always worth hearing, if only for the sheer level of preposterousness it invariably held.
The world is neatly divided between those who can make an amusing anecdote out of being chased out of the Temple of the Great Mother by a dozen Syrian eunuchs armed with costume jewellery, and those who prefer to bury the story in red-faced humiliation. Alex fell firmly into this second camp, hurrying back to the palace thoroughly ashamed as the Galli priests stood in the temple doorway bouncing up and down and yelling at him in their strange native tongues.
They reached the far end of the scrum, Mina jumping to her feet and looking back at the pandemonium she had somehow got through.
It was possibly the most energetic act he had ever committed. His arms burned from the effort and his feet scrabbled and scraped on the bricks but the thought of freedom from those whirling nutters gave him the necessary spur.
Philo was thus a man on the edge, a precipice of an edge which he expected to plunge off at any moment.
“May I say how attractive you look tonight?” came a melodious voice.
Its owner was not a handsome man; he was bulky with bowed legs yet he was rewarding her with the most charming smile. Statilia felt almost giggly under his appraising eyes.
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
Artemina, Mina to her friends is an attendant to Empress Statilia Messalina.
She holds the title of Keeper of The Towel, a job she has got via a sexual relationship with Epaphroditus.
There is some references made to a previous role involving flowers and a nursery that she was extremely keen to escape from.
Aged around seventeen she is best friends with Alex and Sporus. Maintaining a complete ignorance of Alex’s feelings for her.
It’s mentioned that prior to her relationship with Epaphroditus she attempted to seduce Philo and failed due to his running away.
She images herself in love with Epaphroditus though it is very apparent he barely even thinks about her. During Sabinus’ coup against Nero he doesn’t once think about her safety. He later gives her a dose of a nasty sexually transmitted disease.
Mina thinks the only way to progress up the palace hierarchy is by sex, firstly with Epaphroditus and later with Titus Vinius. However it is through the influence of Straton that she sees another path.
Her friendship with Straton is based on a delusion. Mina blinds herself to Straton’s nature, which might bring out the softer side of the overseer but leads her to completely misunderstand his interest in Philo believing them to be having a passionate love affair. One which she is keen to facilitate.
Mina is extremely brave, beloved of gossip and stronger than she gives herself credit for.