Miscellaneous Social Stuff

Vespasian's Vices

Vespasian

In your younger days you occasionally dallied with young male prostitutes and slaves, a secret vice you kept hidden from everyone, including your family. You always went masked in the streets, or had slave boys shipped to an unused outlying villa owned by your wife, so you think no one ever found out. Though it has been ten years since your last "encounter", your greatest fear is that your past shameful past will be revealed and your life ruined.

Titus Flavius

Many years ago you heard an ugly rumor about your aunt Mancina (wife of Vespasian). Some wag in a bar claimed that he had seen a brace of handsome young slave boys shipped to a remote villa in the country owned by the Vespasian matriarch, no doubt to pleasure a woman grown tired of her old husband. You soundly beat up the liar and will do so to anyone else who dares to defame your kin.

Cassius Aurelius

Four years ago, the city magistrates shut down a house of ill repute on the outskirts of Rome and managed to seize all of the house's records. Apparently it was more than just a brothel, but had been quietly procuring exotic slaves for wealthy clients. Knowing the sensitivity of such material and not wanting to cause a public scandal, you ordered the records to be sealed and sent immediately to your office, where it has provided you with excellent political blackmail material.

One entry that you're not sure how to use concerns a number of shipments of young slave boys to a country villa owned by Mancina, the wife of Senator Vespasian. You've held on to this bit of information and plan to use it only in an emergency.

Agricola

You are aware that four years ago the city magistrates shut down a house of ill repute on the outskirts of Rome and managed to seize all of the house's records. By order of the praetor urbanus, these records were sealed and sent immediately to his office. From your political observations, you are certain that he has been using these records as an excellent source of blackmail material to use against his political enemies. While you've never made use of this knowledge yourself, you know that if you ever want dirt on someone you should speak to Cassius Aurelius.

Ennius, Tully, Domitius, Gallicus, Vespasian

It's well known in certain circles that when the chips are on the table, Cassius Aurelius has an almost magical ability to get his political or business opponents to see his side of things. In other words, he seems to have political dirt on most of the people in town. In at least one case a senator who refused to go along with him was suspended from the Senate when evidence was anonymously given to the censors (the officials responsible both for keeping the public tax rolls and for guarding public morality) revealing that he had been holding orgies for his supporters. Of course, everyone knows that such things happen, but you're not supposed to leave proof lying around!

Tully the Grape

Tully

Just last week you were at a party hosted by Senator Plautus at which you drank a bit too much. Though you pride yourself on being a drinking man who can hold his liquor, the Plautus's served some very strong (and very fine!) wine, and you had to be carried home by some of your host's slaves. You vowed never to repeat that incident, and just hope word of it hasn't spread.

Titus Flavius, Vespasian, Julia

A few nights ago a family dinner was held to honor Titus Flavius for his accomplishments. As usual at such affairs, Julia was invited but not seated at the main table, but Titus Flavius and Julia have grown used to this kind of thing.

The high point of the evening occurred when a distant relative mentioned that he was at a dinner at the home of Senator Plautus a few nights earlier, and Tully the Great was present also. The wine was running freely (Plautus buys from only best Iberian vineyards) and Tully, who happens to have a reputation in the legions for holding his liquor, became so drunk that he had to be carried home by some of Plautus's slaves. At this, Titus Flavius commented that perhaps he should be called "Tully the Grape". The joke was met with uproarious approval by all present and became a source of mirth for the rest of the evening. You've since heard the joke repeated by others.

Cassius Aurelius, Publius, Herod, Gallicus

You recently heard a fantastic joke which you can't wait to repeat for an admiring audience. Apparently last week Tully the Great, who happens to have a reputation in the legions for holding his liquor, became so drunk at a party that he had to be carried home by the slaves, and so the Senate is considering renaming him "Tully the Grape"!

Agricola, Secundus, Rutger

A new joke has been making the rounds in every bar and party in the city, and you've grown somewhat tired of hearing it, but are sure you're going to hear it again tonight. Apparently last week Tully the Great, who happens to have a reputation in the legions for holding his liquor, became so drunk at a party that he had to be carried home by the slaves, and so the Senate is considering renaming him "Tully the Grape". It was funny the first few times (especially when you yourself had had a few drinks), but after the seventh ...

Gladiators

Tully

You've heard rumors that Rutger was popular among the other gladiators, and not just for his martial prowess but also for, well, the size of his sword (wink, wink). You've always suspected as much about gladiators.

Titus Flavius

You are interested in investing in a stable of gladiators, but need both some professional advice and a good lanista. You're considering hiring Rutger to handle this for you. Considering his wealth, he may even be a partner.

You might also talk to Cassius Aurelius, who of course has experience with owning gladiators, though he might end up being a rival at some point, so you'll need to be wary of his advice.

Cassius Aurelius, Secundus, Rutger, Domitria, Agricola, Publius, Gallicus

There are many wealthy patrons of the gladiatorial games in Rome, including both Cassius Aurelius and Valerius Secundus. Cassius Aurelius has long been a major sponsor of the games, and is famed for owning some of the best gladiators in Rome, including of course the famous Cassipor. Secundus is a more recent investor, and still has a fairly new stable of gladiators, but he's been fighting them heavily and moving up the charts.

Secundus

You don't merely invest in gladiatorial games, you invest in the far more lucrative business of gambling on the gladiatorial games. You take a percentage from the bookies, falsify the odds, fix fights, and engage in every form of racketeering which can make money off of sports gambling. You even fixed a few fights involving the gladiator Cassipor (now Rutger) -- he was such a crowd pleaser, that it was necessary to see that he always won, even if it meant drugging or crippling his opponents.

Rutger

Though it took you a long time to figure out what was going on (after all, you're from a culture without money), you eventually realized that a large part of what goes on at the gladiatorial games involves gambling, and that there are shadowy figures who control the events from behind the scenes in order to make money. You're still not particularly sanguine on how some of this is done (what are "odds" again?), but it doesn't take advanced mathematics to understand how you make money off of fixed fights. You know that more than one of your fights was fixed; no one ever told you about it in advance, but it was obvious when you were pitted against an opponent who was drugged, crippled, or simply under orders to lose. You had no problem with this, but hated when you saw it happen to people on your own side. You saw many of your fighting companions go down that way, good friends who died only because the shadowy figures would make more money if that one died on this particular day. You thank the gods that you enjoyed sufficient early success that your celebrity prevented them from choosing you for such a role.

You are certain that Cassius Aurelius is not engaged in these activities. He never gave you an order to throw a fight, and always expected you to do your best. Now that you are free, you would like to find some of the shadowy figures who arranged the death of your fighting companions and kill them a little, just to show them what it's like.

Atilius, Secundus

Atilius's son Septus has been a heavy gambler on the games and racked up some rather enormous debts, about 60,000 sesterces. [Historical Note: For reference, that's about half the average annual income of your typical equestrian, enough to buy a small townhouse in any city other than Rome or a small villa in the country. Also note that typical interest rates on unpaid debts were killers, running up to 100% per annum!] Recently those debts were all bought by Valerius Secundus.

Atilius

You don't have the money to pay back Secundus and need to solve this fast, before the interest begins to pile up. If only you had kept your position in Pontus, you would have had no problem paying this off, but now you don't know how you'll do it. You may have to sell your services to some rich patrician. If worse comes to worse, you can sell off your family's villa outside Rome (you've only got the one), but you'd prefer to work out some deal with Secundus or a third party.

Secundus

The 60,000 sesterces which Septus owes you is chicken feed for a merchant of your wealth. You make more than that in a day! Of course, you're not about to just give it away, but you can certainly afford to lose some or all of it if you can gain some sort of favors or political advantage of equivalent value.

Rutger's Thugs

Rutger, Gallicus

Soon after Rutger gained his freedom, he received a visit from Senator Gallicus, who offered him a unique proposition. The senator required muscle in the streets of Rome, and was willing to pay handsomely for it. While Rutger had lots of money, he was smart enough to realize that it wouldn't last long at the rate he was currently spending it, and this sounded like an excellent opportunity to maintain his now lavish style of living.

With money provided by Gallicus, Rutger has put together a small gang of 15 current and former gladiators. (Yes, some of them are still slaves, but most masters are willing to let their slaves moonlight for a little extra money. In this case, the masters just don't know who their slaves are really working for or how much they're getting.) All are combat veterans capable of handling themselves in a fight, and over half are Germans. So far Gallicus has only given them one few job, which he described as a "warm-up exercise"; the group identified a few plebes who would never be missed and then kidnapped them and delivered them to a ship waiting in Ostia.

In addition to his core 15, Rutger has connections to many other gladiators throughout the city and could, with only a few day's notice, throw together a force of up to a hundred for a one-time job. Of course, this would have to take place on a day when there were no major games being held.

Cassius Aurelius, Agricola

Rome has always been subject to banditry, armed thugs wandering the streets and attacking travelers. The vigiles don't even bother to patrol at night, and only have a rudimentary system for keeping track of these gangs. However, in the last few weeks they've received definite reports of a new gang on the streets, a particularly large one with over 20 men, all of whom are especially tall and muscular. One witness actually thought it was an army of German barbarians come to sack Rome, a ludicrous idea! No one's actually reported the gang doing anything criminal, though travelling through the streets at night carrying large bundles is certainly suspicious.

Cassius Aurelius, Gallicus, Vespasian

A few months ago, when Cassius Aurelius had announced that he would soon allow Cassipor (Rutger) to buy his freedom, he happened to be having dinner with both Gallicus and Vespasian. During the meal Gallicus commented that a soon-to-be-former slave like Cassipor, one with physical prowess, intelligence, and great celebrity, was sure to go places in this world, and that if he were the master of such a slave he'd want to make sure that that slave stayed loyal to him even after being freed.

Rutger, Cassius Aurelius, Gallicus

When Rutger was freed, Cassius Aurelius surprised him by allowing him to take 50% of the winnings he'd accumulated during the course of his career, far more than the 10% he had been keeping up to that time. Cassius Aurelius gave him the difference in a single lump sum, making Rutger an incredibly wealthy man, at least for a recent ex-slave.

Gallicus

At the right time, you plan to reveal to Rutger that you were responsible for his windfall prize money. You didn't tell him right off because you want to be able to dole out such little "rewards" to him throughout your business relationship -- you don't give away everything at once. Besides, you'll look incredibly modest if Rutger happens to find this out on his own, and it might even be worth your while to try to arrange for this to happen. He might even be a bit frightened at the scope of your long-range planning, another emotion it wouldn't hurt for him to have for you.

Cassius Aurelius, Agricola

Agricola's brother Velleius Caeculus is a marble supplier who has a contract to supply marble for a renovation project on the private baths in the south wing of the imperial palace, a project being supervised by clients of Cassius Aurelius. To the dismay of Cassius Aurelius and his clients, Velleius has been shipping sub-standard marble, including broken or cracked sheets, which certainly won't do for a bath. Three weeks ago Cassius Aurelius appealed to Agricola to intercede with his brother, but unfortunately the two brothers are not on the best of terms. When Cassius Aurelius hinted that this might be seen as permission to lean on Velleius, Agricola stated in no uncertain terms that that was not the case -- he may not get along with his brother, but he won't allow his family to be bullied. Cassius Aurelius promised that he would not do anything to hurt the Caeculus family and left the matter at that.

A week later, Agricola received word that Velleius had been severely beaten and ordered to "stop sending bad rocks" by a bunch of thugs who invaded his home. Enraged, Agricola confronted Cassius Aurelius, who seemed honestly surprised at what had occurred. He swore an oath to all the gods that he had not ordered the attack, and promised to have the vigiles investigate it to the fullest (though both Cassius and Agricola know how much that is worth). Agricola believed Cassius (the two have known and trusted each other along time), especially when he realized that his shifty brother was almost certainly shipping bad marble to many other buyers.

Cassius Aurelius, Domitria

A couple weeks ago, Quintus and Domitria happened to be walking together in the south wing of the palace and had to pause their conversation while they passed by all the hammering and pounding going on in the baths in that wing, which are under renovation. When Domitria asked how long it would be before the baths were complete (one of Quintus clients was in charge of the renovation), Cassius related that he was in a bit of a bind. He said that Agricola's brother, Velleius Caeculus, was shipping defective marble sheets to the renovators, and they were unable to complete their work using such materials. Quintus had appealed to Agricola, but that just made matters worse, for Agricola had no sway with his brother but was determined to protect his family from any "heavy-handed" actions by Quintus or his clients. So Quintus was caught in a dilemma -- if he used his influence to force Velleius to meet his obligations he'd make an enemy of Agricola, but if he didn't his clients would be forced to pay for all new marble, not only increasing their costs but also making the renovation run over time (he wanted it finished before the emperor returned from Sicilia).

Domitria looked thoughtful for a moment and then, to Quintus's surprise, claimed that she could "take care of" the problem, though she refused to give any details. A week later, Velleius's men picked up the defective marble pieces and replaced them with high-quality sheets from his warehouse.

Domitria, Rutger

In the pillow talk between Domitria and Rutger, Rutger has often boasted that he would kill or maim any man she pointed him at. To his surprise, two weeks ago she took him up on the offer. A man named Velleius Caeculus had been providing defective marble to a palace restoration project, and Domitria really wanted it completed so she could use the south baths again. And so she asked Rutger to find this Velleius and "convince" him to fulfill his duties to the emperor. Rutger agreed, and two nights later reported that the job had been a success.

Titus Flavius's Family

Titus Flavius, Julia, Vespasian, Gallicus, Publius

Though it's not widely known, Titus Flavius and Julia have an illegitimate 5-year old daughter named Flavia Vespasiana, commonly nicknamed Piperilla ("little pepper", a reference to her fiery spirit and energy). This isn't actually a secret, but they've been in Britannia for the past six years, and the family back in Rome has been loathe to spread the "joyous news".

Titus Flavius, Julia

Titus Flavius and Julia actually have a substantial sum of wealth which they've built up over the years, wealth which is completely separate from that of the Flavii or Vespasiani and mostly unknown to them. The core of these funds came from Julia's extra-legal inheritance from Julia Domitia -- on her deathbed the old lady told Julia Djadeh to take as much portable cash and small valuables as she could without it being spotted by the imperial accountants. This amounted to quite a large sum, and Julia invested it wisely. In addition, she's been steadily adding to it since from Titus Flavius's earnings in Britannia, and it's now quite large, almost as much as that held by the rest of the Flavian family.

This wealth is scattered in land, investments, and goods across the empire, including a substantial percentage in the Dumnonian tin mines, extensive pasture land in Lugudenensis, shares in Etruscan pottery shops, shipping companies based in Gades and Antioch, a major scribe school in Pergamum, and large pile of gold and silver buried in a villa in the Sabine Hills. Because these properties and investments are held "quietly", Titus Flavius and Julia have not been able to exercise the powers of patronage which would normally be associated with such wealth.

While Uncle Vespasian and the rest of the family are aware (and resentful) of this private stash of wealth, none of them have any idea how truly large it is.

Vespasian

You are not happy with Titus's mistress. He shamelessly treats her like a wife, when he should have long ago put her aside in favor of a true Roman wife.

You are furthermore disturbed that the woman seems to be handling all of Titus's finances. While she's certainly competent enough, she is very secretive (just what you'd expect from an Egyptian) and seems to have built up an entire separate fortune for Titus, one which she keeps those properties separate from the rest of the family's, preventing the family from exercising the rights and duties of patronage which should go with such wealth. She's been scrupulous not to use any Flavii monies in her "personal horde" as you've come to call it, which means you can't actually call her out on it.

Secundus

You are aware that over the last seven years Titus Flavius and his mistress Julia have established a far-flung network of properties and investments across the empire, one which rivals that of the entire Flavian family but which has been kept separate from them and even somewhat secret. Most people are probably unaware that this wealth exists. You've always wondered where Titus Flavius and Julia got this money from, since it's an impressively large amount.

Gallicus

Gallicus, Secundus, Cassius Aurelius

In a rather notorious incident back in Narbo, Senator Gallicus ran over a plebeian in the streets with his chariot and didn=t bother to stop. The woman later died of her wounds, and Gallicus offered compensation to her family, but seemed to consider the entire incident a simple nuisance to be dealt with and forgotten. Since the even occurred in the provinces, most people in Rome probably haven=t heard of it.

Rutger, Titus Flavius

You have heard rumors that back in his home province, Senator Gallicus holds Achariot races@ in the streets in which he purposefully runs down citizens who can=t outrun or dodge his chariot.

Life Saving

Publius, Tully, Agricola, Domitria, Vespasian, Rutger, Cassius Aurelius

Last year, Publius Maximus saved the life of young Pulcher Minor and some of his friends, who were almost run down by a run-away chariot in the streets of Rome. Publius, who happened to be nearby, risked his life by leaping aboard the spooked horse and bringing it to a halt. This event made quite a stir in the city, and for a while Publius was a minor celebrity.

Religion

Domitius, Agricola, Ennius, Cassius Aurelius, Tully, Vespasian, Gallicus

Members of the Senate are currently debating whether or not to ban a new religion known as Christianity, a Jewish heresy. There is some tolerance for Judaism in the empire (despite the best efforts of hardcore conservative Romans), and there is even some talk of allowing individual Jews to become citizens while retaining their legal dispensation from sacrificing to the imperial cult. The Christians, however, seem to hail from only the most radical Jews, and many senators see no reason to tolerate their rebellious behavior. At the moment the matter is only in preliminary discussions, but the religious faction has announced that they want the consuls to bring it to the attention of the full senate within the next few months.

There is also some talk about banning Mithraism in the legions, but that=s certain to go nowhere. While the Cult of Mars still holds the most popularity among the common legionaries, worship of Mithras is becoming increasingly popular among low-level officers such as the tribunes, and they have enough pull to prevent any serious action against them. Besides, the emperor would never allow any senatorial law which might provoke division within the legions.

Ennius

The members of your senatorial faction are strongly opposed both Christianity and Mithraism. You may have a different personal opinion of the matter, but your clients and allies require that you do what you can to see both of these mystery religions banned and destroyed.

Vespasian

The members of your senatorial faction are generally opposed to Christianity, though they don=t care about Mithraism. You may have a different personal opinion of the matter, but your clients and allies require that you do what you can to see that religion banned and destroyed.

Cassius Aurelius

The members of your senatorial faction are generally supportive of Mithraism, or just about anything to do with the legions. You may have a different personal opinion of the matter, but your clients and allies require that you ensure that the Senate pass no legislation which works against Mithraism.

Tully, Titus Flavius

Young Pulcher Minor is known be Ainterested@ in various eastern cults. Though he=s smart enough to be discrete about it, it=s certainly apparent to his father and his commanding officer. He has dabbled with both Mithraism and Christianity, and seems to be drawn to their simplistic moral codes. While Mithraism is officially tolerated (and is, in fact, particularly popular among the legions stationed in Britannia), any Christian leanings could prove to be a political liability and both Tully and Titus Flavius have ordered the young man to immediately cease such thoughts and forego any further contact with Christians or their teachings.

Agricola

You are secretly a Christian, though as far as you can tell you=ve managed to hide it from most. While Christianity is not illegal, that could change at any time, and even legal it would be a cause for shame. You continue to sacrifice publicly to the Roman gods (a requirement for a man of your position), but rationalize this as meaningless mummery, though you often feel guilty about it. Every week you slip away from the palace to attend secret religious services in the city. You will do what you can both to advance the cause of Christianity and to hide your own connection with it.

Publius, Gallicus

From spying on Agricola=s movements, Publius has determined that his commander is secretly attending Christian religious ceremonies every week. He has reported this information to Gallicus. Though Christianity is not illegal, he would almost certainly be dismissed from office and possibly accused of treason were this to be brought to light.

Aurelia, Severas

While living in the east, both Septimius and Aurelia Severas have developed some Christian leanings. Though both continue to sacrifice to the Roman gods, they have listened to Christian preachers and see some merit in this new religion, which has many adherents in the Decapolis.

Titus Flavius

From contacts you=ve retained in Palestine, you have heard that the Decapolis has a large and growing population of Christians. You distrust this anti-Roman religion and wish to see it stamped out before it becomes dangerous. You would be interested to see how your old friends the Severas=s are dealing with this incursion of fanatics.

Atilius, Publius

Atilius Regulus is one of a growing number of Mithras-worshipers in the legions. Mithraism is especially popular among young officers, and Atilius was responsible for making a few converts to the cause during his tenure in the XXXIInd Legion, something his commander Publius Maximus was not particularly happy about. Mithraism is a Amystery religion@, full of secret meetings and rituals, something no commander likes (unless he himself is an initiate). However, Mithraism is officially tolerated by the imperium, and many legionaries have no problem sacrificing to both Mars and Mithras.

Herod

You have heard rumors that Titus Flavius Vespasianus is secretly a Mithraist, a claim that would not be surprising at all. While Mithraism is certainly tolerated in the legions, it is not acceptable in a high-level Roman politician. If this information came out, it would certainly prevent any possibility of Titus Flavius becoming Domitius=s heir.

Secundus, Herod

Though he sacrifices to the Roman gods, Secundus is secretly still a practicing Jew, though certainly a morally lapsed one. Still, whenever he is in Jewish lands, Secundus attends Jewish religious services and offers sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. This is, of course, known to Herod and his family, with whom Secundus often stays when he is in Judaea, and they help cover for him with the Roman officials who could technically retract his citizenship were this known.

Severas, Aurelia

You have heard rumors that Secundus is still a practicing Jew and that he attends Jewish services whenever he is in Palestine. While you personally see nothing wrong with this, you are also not averse to using this information as a bargaining chip.

Hermedes

Atilius

As a boy you were tutored by a Greek slave named Hermedes, a man whom you greatly respected. Unfortunately, when you reached adolescence Hermedes was sold on and you lost track of him. Just last week, you ran into him in the baths of Rome. He is currently working as the chief scribe of senator Gallicus. You would like to buy him from Gallicus, and have him around for old time=s sake. Unfortunately, there=s no way you can afford to buy him, but maybe you can work out some sort of deal. [Economic Note: Good slaves are expensive, and someone with Hermedes= credentials must be worth a lot; chief scribes don=t come cheap! You would expect to pay anywhere from 50 to 100 thousand sesterces for such a slave.]

Gallicus

Your chief scribe is an old Greek slave named Hermedes. You take him everywhere with you, so he=s with you here in Rome. Though an excellent scribe, he=s getting on in years, and you=ve been considering replacing him. You=re already looking for a buyer for Hermedes, before he ceases to be worth anything. [Economic Note: Good slaves are expensive, especially good scribes. Normally you=d expect to pay 50 to 100 thousand for a scribe with Hermedes= qualifications, but considering his declining abilities and the few years left in him he=s probably worth only a tenth of that. Of course, if you can convince someone otherwise, you might be able to sell him for a much higher prices.}

Affair

Vespasian, Herod, Domitius, Agricola

Five years ago there was a minor scandal in Rome when a censor caught a married patrician woman (the daughter of one of Senator Vespasian=s clients) sleeping with a Jewish merchant (a client of Herod Aemilianus). Both Herod and Vespasian rushed to keep the matter under wraps (translation: spread bribes left and right), and managed to have the incident placed under the jurisdiction of a quaestor who was willing to judge it privately. While all parties agreed to have the woman=s punishment be decided by her husband, there was much disagreement over the sentence for the merchant. Vespasian argued for death, but Herod managed to convince the quaestor to merely impose a huge fine and exile the merchant from Italy for life.

However, before the merchant could leave Rome, Vespasian petitioned the emperor to step in, and the emperor ordered the Praetorian Guard to assist in whatever way the senator saw fit. They arrested the merchant on his way to Ostia, accused him of violating the terms of his exile, and summarily executed him.

Cassius Aurelius, Ennius, Tully

You are aware that five years ago there was a minor scandal involving Senator Vespasian and Herod Aemilianus and their clients, but you never heard the details. They both spread around lots of money to keep the matter quiet. You were using your own influence and connections to look into the matter when the Praetorian Guard became involved in the cover up and executed a Jewish merchant on the road to Ostia. At that point you figured it was best to just stay out of the matter. However, you=d still like to know what happened.