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My Livia

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Assistant executioner

The old centurion sat and watched his fields. He sipped his posca slowly in the shade of an old beech tree as he looked out at the property he had built. In the distance he could see the outlines of two burly slaves, and he watched as they tilled the soil in the heat of the late afternoon. Further away, he could barely make out the aqueduct that ran into the city of Ariminum, and beyond that the great expanse of the Adriatic Sea.

“Titus”, he heard his wife call out. He leaned around the trunk of the tree and saw her standing on the veranda of their villa. Her blue dress stood out against the white marble of the villa. He waved to get her attention, and she gestured for him to come inside before heading indoors herself.

He grunted as he pushed himself up from a sitting position into standing. His knees ached and the scar on his side, an old wound from a Macedonian sarissa, continued to give a dull yet continuous pain; although no one would have guessed. He reached inside his simple red tunic to place his right palm on his scar. This was his medicine, and he found that this own touch was most often the best remedy to calm the aches and pains of age. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, and willed the pain away for the walk back to the villa.

Contented, he splashed the rest of his posca out of his cup onto the dirt next to the tree. He could’ve afforded better drink, he could even have wine made from the grapes of his own vineyard, but he had acquired a strange taste for the foul tasting posca in the legions. So much of Titus Julius Tatius had come from the legions that he barely remembered who he was before. He had worn the the plain red soldier’s tunic for so long, he began to wear it in even more distant memories so the effect was that he had been a soldier all his life.

In truth, Titus had been born into a poor yet educated family in Rome. His father taught the sons of senators, and Titus was groomed to follow in that tradition. The great war with Carthage ended that path as senator’s sons left scholarly pursuits for early graves in places like Lake Trasamine and Cannae. Titus’s father was born crippled and walked with a limp that excluded him from military service. Titus was not so lucky and was conscripted at 16 to bolster the ranks of Rome’s army in Iberia under the command of a young general named Publius Cornelius Scipio. In Iberia, Titus performed well and his literacy proved a valuable skill that allowed him to rise to the rank of Optio within his maniple of hastatii. When the Carthaginians had been defeated in Iberia, Titus volunteered to take part in Scipio’s ambious expedition to Africa as a Princeps Prior within the Principes. Again, Titus distinguished himself as a reliable leader and was awarded a gold armilla for his actions at Zama. When Philip II of Macedon attacked Rome’s Greek allies, Titus again volunteered to serve as part of the expedition under the Consul Galba.

The war in Macedon had ended quickly, and Rome found itself in state of relative peace for the first time in over a generation. There were no need for soldiers like Titus, and he was discharged. He was given 16 iurgas of land for his service near the city of Ariminum on the northeast coast of Italy. Even though it had been over 25 years ago, Titus’s memory of landing back in Ostia at the end of his service, now a private citizen, a farmer no less, still seemed fresh.

Jon Smithie

Wow, this is really well researched and well written. I already like Titus, and curious to see what he gets up to.

BTW, I was struck by the name "Posca." I had no idea it was a common Roman drink. The series "Rome," originally on HBO, is one of my faves, and one of the many interesting characters was Caesar's body slave Posca, who was intelligent, wily, and loyal. I guess the idea is that as a slave, he is just named after any old thing, or whatever comes to mind, like we would name a dog.

Here's the recipe for Roman posca,

Posca recipe
  • 1.5 cups of red wine vinegar.
  • 0.5 cups of honey.
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seed.
  • 4 cups of water.
  • Boil it so that the honey disolves.
  • Let it cool down so that it reaches room temperature.
  • Filter the coriander seeds.



I love the historical details. However, there is one small error:
Philip II of Macedon was assassinated in 336 BCE and succeeded by his son who became known as Alexander the Great. The Battle of Zama took place in 202 BCE. The king of Macedon during the Second Macedonian War (200 - 197) was Philip V. The Roman forces were under the command of Publius Sulpicius Galba Maximus.
This story would be set during the mid second century BCE, when the Roman Republic was rising to become master of the world.


Assistant executioner
Thanks to everyone who has said encouraging things so far. I hope to maintain your expectations. Special thanks to Naraku for catching my error as well.


Titus made his way up the path to the villa. Nestled amongst low hills in the northwest corner of property, the sheen of villa’s white marble had begun to dim as the evening shadows grew. The villa had cost Titus a small fortune, and always seemed to be under construction. His wife was the primary driver behind the expansion of the villa; she strove to make their rural life mirror the resplendence she had seen in Rome. Her desires and Titus’s coins had shaped and reshaped the land until it barely resembled the plot Titus had first come into.

When Titus first arrived, the fields were uncultivated and covered in weeds. The hills were marked by patches of beech and spruce trees. Titus spent most of the first year cutting down the trees, and selling the lumber to the carpenters of Ariminum. During this time, he lived rough and slept under the stars. His initial attempts to grow millet the next year were marked by unanimous failure: most of the crop didn’t sprout and what did was soon devoured by pests. The experience convinced Titus to seek help.

Titus could have easily sold his plot to one of the large estates that were emerging throughout Italy, but he elected to try one more harvest. In the summer of his second year, he purchased Alec from a slave trader in Ravenna. Alec was nearly 10 years senior to Titus, and had been an olive farmer in Epirus before he was enslaved. Alec taught Titus everything he knew about farming, and later that year they had their first successful harvest. Titus did most of the manual labor while Alec balanced the books, and preformed more of the nuanced tasks to ensure a successful crop. Their first few years together bonded the men, and Titus grew to respect Alec. Over the years, the relationship had developed so that Alec was a slave only in name: he was free to speak as he pleased and frequently took Titus’s coins in their nightly games of Latrunculi . Now Alec, like Titus, was an old man and hardly did any work for the villa. Titus had offered Alec his freedom in his advanced age, but Alec had declined and elected to stay with Titus and his family. Titus was secretly glad.

Titus owed much of his financial success to Alec’s skill. His fortunes had blossomed when Alec suggested that they grow grapes. What started as a supplementary source of revenue soon became Titus’s cash crop. The grapes grew voraciously, and soon Titus had cornered the local market in Ariminum. With his business established, Titus set out to start his household.

Titus found a suitable wife in Agrippina Balba Caesonia, the daughter of a low level bureaucrat in Rome whose first husband had been killed at Utica in Africa. When Titus brought her back to the vineyards outside Ariminum, it became clear that a proper family would require a proper home. A small three bedroom homestead was built and would form the core of the future villa.

Gradually, Titus began to expand the business and homestead: He purchased 8 additional iurgas from a senator who had let the land lie fallow. Titus bought burly slaves from Gaul and from the mysterious lands to the north to tend the vineyards as he began to focus more on the logistics of the business. He bought a small storefront near the harbor in Ariminum to sell his grapes directly to the winemakers and traders within the city. The original homestead was expanded to include an atrium, a spacious foyer capable of seating 40, a water feature, and a small sanctuary that featured imported bronze statues of the gods. Then, more bedrooms were added as well as a space for housing the increasing number of slaves. The latest addition to the villa was a small bath; Titus didn’t particularly care for it and still preferred to go into Ariminum to use the public baths. The number of slaves expanded as the villa did and soon over a dozen slaves maintained and worked on Titus’s property. One of whom was Livia.


Rebel Leader
Staff member
Well crafted. Keep writing! :popcorn:


Angelus Mortis
Staff member
Haha well what am I going to say. I think I still have a 50,000+ word monster unfinished and the witch is still undead!
Can you even remember her name? I always wondered where you came up with the names of your characters.

Anyway, none of that will help our Titus in this story, I suppose.


Assistant executioner

During his wife’s first pregnancy, Titus had suggested purchasing a wet nurse. Agrippina fervently refused, but agreed that the child would eventually need a body slave. Titus purchased Livia, a name given by Titus, from a market outside Rome while on a trip to visit Agrippina’s family. She was barely in her teens, but spoke some latin and was healthy. His wife was incredulous when he brought the quivering girl home, and demanded he return her for an older woman. Instead Titus placed her under the watchful eyes of Alec and the older house slaves. Livia was a fast learner and soon became skilled in the intricacies of cooking, cleaning, and entertainment. Titus remembered fondly how at the end of each week she would show him what she had learned; he felt a strange sense of pride he watched the young girl beam over a new recipe or a melody on the Tibia.

Although Livia was too young to nurse the child herself, she otherwise fulfilled the role of the nutrix as Titus continued to grow his business and his wife lavished in the rewards. As the boy grew, Livia’s role transitioned to become the body slave for Titus’s rambunctious son. Titus fondly reminisced the times when he would be interrupted by the sound of shattering pottery followed by his son running down the halls of the villa hotly pursued by Livia.

Livia had grown up with Titus’s children, and his affection for her hadn’t withered even when he had daughters of his own. Livia, like Alec, held a special place in the household. She was never branded, and was rarely punished for the her occasional failures. Titus remembered when his son had accidentally slashed his forearm while playing with Titus’s old sword while Livia wasn’t paying attention. Titus and his wife had been enjoying an afternoon repast when Livia, now a teenager, ran into their chambers cradling his crying son. Titus quickly dressed the cut, and took the boy into Ariminum to have it closed. His wife demanded Livia be flogged, but Titus insisted she had potentially saved their son’s life. His wife relented when Titus put Livia on half rations for two weeks, but the punishment only lasted a few days before Titus relented. When Livia turned 16, Titus had even gone to Ravenna to buy her 3 linen tunics; he gave them to her under the condition that she would not tell his wife. Now, Livia was in the blossom of womanhood, and Titus hoped that she would help his son expand the family’s business into Ravenna and the surrounding countryside.


Stumbling Seeker
Can you even remember her name? I always wondered where you came up with the names of your characters.

Anyway, none of that will help our Titus in this story, I suppose.
I just mangle existing words and follow the firm rule ... don't try to make names sound 'exotic' by throwing lots of random apostrophes and xh's and q's in, and don't give evil or threatening characters or places any names that sound evil and threatening to our ears, unless there is reason to believe that they chose that name themselves to sound scary to people who have a similar language as us. And of course any promises of mine with regards to writing are not worth much but I vow Tsilsne shall rise again with ample time before the solstice.

But let's not derail this thread with whispers of the undead and threats of self-immolating witches ;)


Assistant executioner

The villa was covered in shadow when Titus reached the veranda. Inside, slaves had begun to light torches and the villa was soon filled with the hazy luminescence of the torchlight. A Nubian boy silently approached Titus as he entered the villa. The boy held up a pitcher to refill Titus’s cup.

“Not now Nonus.”, Titus said coolly as he gave the cup to the boy and continued deeper into the villa.

Titus entered the grand foyer to see Alec reading scrolls at a desk set against one of walls. The old slave didn’t look up from his work as Titus watched him silently from the other end of the room. The foyer was quiet except for the occasional crackle of the torches, then the sound of bare feet slapping against the marble floors became audible. The sound crescendoed and seemed to echo around the empty foyer. Titus turned suddenly to see his youngest, Lucia, come running into the foyer from another entrance. Lucia’s unbridled energy pleased Titus endlessly and he eagerly embraced her as she ran into his arms. At 11, Lucia was too heavy for Titus to carry anymore, but he briefly spun her as she locked her arms around his neck.

“Father!”, she giggled as he set her back down in front of him.

Titus caught his breath before he replied with equal excitement, “What is it, my darling?”

“Oh father, we had the most wonderful day in the city.”, she beamed.

“I’m glad dear, I can’t wait for hear about it over a good meal.”, Titus said as he placed a loving hand on her head of long black hair. Titus looked up to see Lucia’s body slave, Servina, sauntering over.

Servinas’s arms were constantly folded across her chest so to make her look perpetually disdainful. She stood a few feet away and eyed the scene. Servina was from the mysterious lands of the north. Her pale white skin almost matched the long blond hair she wore in long braids over her shoulders. Servina’s small but muscular form was displayed to all as she only wore a loincloth and a breast cloth. Many of the slaves at the villa discarded the bulkier cloth tunics during the sweltering summer months, but Servina had always abandoned the more modest tunics Titus provided at the nearest opportunity; much to Titus’s chagrin. Agrippina found her husband’s dismay over the sight of the near nude slave humorous and she condoned Servina’s attire while in the privacy of the villa. Titus had disliked Servina since his wife had purchased her earlier in the year, but she had served Lucia well. Something in Servina’s piercing blue eyes made Titus wary. The mesh-work of scars on her back indicated that someone had taken severe efforts to tame her, but Titus feared that there was still a dangerous flame inside her.

“Come now little domina, let’s prepare you for dinner.”, Servina said in her thick accent. She smiled coyly at Titus as she turned to follow Lucia out.


Assistant executioner
Thank you for the patience as I continue to develop these personalities. My hope is that some of this background pays off when one (or some) of these characters wind up in a serious mess. I promise that these entries will get more salacious (or crux-ey if I could make my own adjective) as time goes on. But for the time being, I hope you enjoy the next installment.


Titus followed a few paces behind Lucia and Servina, his eyes fixated on the scars that laced Servina’s back. His son’s voice brought him out of his trance. “Father”, he turned to see his son urgently approaching with Livia obediently in tow, “Father can I please leave tonight?”

Marcus was his only son, and the oldest of his three children. He was a well built young man with the same dark black curls that Titus had in his youth. Years of helping his father run the vineyards had tanned his complexion and gave him a slightly muscular build. Titus loved his son dearly and was constantly worried that his son would be stripped from him by Rome’s next conscription. Two years earlier when a horde of Gauls appeared at one of the alpine passes, there had been a rumor of conscription. When the horde dissipated so did Titus’s fears momentarily. Marcus was disappointed, but Titus had a hard time hiding his relief.

Like so many young men, Marcus dreamed of adventure, and overseeing the slaves in the vineyards was far from the glory he sought. But as the heir to Titus’s business, Marcus would inherit a world he wanted nothing to do with. Titus could sense his son’s frustration. To alleviate Marcus’s growing angst, Titus had begun sending the young man on errands unsupervised. When Titus learned that a new shipment of spice and slaves from Syria was set to arrive in Rome, Marcus had eagerly made preparations to leave. Marcus had traveled to nearly every city in northern Italy, but Rome would be the longest journey yet. Marcus’s excitement was palpable.

Titus stammered as he tried to collect his thoughts, “Tonight? I thought you would leave with your sister in the morning. You can’t possibly make it there before sunset.” He said offhandedly.

“Please father. We could stop at that inn near Spoletium where you and I stayed when we last went to visit Aunt Aelia. I want to arrive before the markets open.”, he asked persistently.

Titus pretended to think it over before he turned to Livia, “Is the cart stocked and the horses set?”, he asked firmly, but let a little smile in at the end. He hoped Marcus didn’t notice.

“Yes”, she said with a nod and smile. Whatever ill ease Servina could cast on Titus could be as easily taken away by Livia. The mere sight of her soft hazel eyes and her long brown hair tied in a simple top knot brought Titus comfort. She looked at ease in her loose white tunic as she continued, “we are more than prepared to start the journey.”

“I see you’ve planned in advance as usual, Livia. Well my son, you have my leave to go. But first, have dinner with your family. You know I am an old man and might not have many dinners left.”, Titus said jovially. The trio laughed as they walked from the foyer into the triclinium.
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