By Daddy X
As serendipity would have it, last week on ERWA Storytime, the WOW (word of the week) was ‘fortuitous’. I figured I’d write something that would knock off two birds, so to speak.
If anybody wants to check the history of this little bit of inanity, you’ll find that it’s mostly historically correct, down to Faustina’s infidelity, Cassius Syrian campaign, Commodus’ imbecility, and a mysterious illness that hit Rome during Aurelius’ time. Of course, we take some…ahem…liberties
The Pax Romana of Antoninus Pius had been crumbling for years. Parthian wars, fought by Marcus Aurelius’ adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, had been won largely by military skill and the competence of General Cassius, currently at the Syrian helm.
And, in just a few months to the future, a vicious epidemic would strike Rome, devastating a major section of the empire’s population.
However, in Cappadocia, the campaign on the battlefield had not yet been resolved. In his commander’s tent, Marcus called for his scribe.
“Scrivinius!” he cried. “Come, take dictation. I feel inspired to continue my work.”
“Yes, my liege. Have you decided on a title yet?”
“I’m thinking… ‘Deep thoughts in Stoicism’?”
“Not bad. How about ‘Thinking Deep’?”
“No, that’s not right either. We’ll come up with something soon enough. No need to jump to any decisions yet. After all, there’s no submissions deadline; I’m the fucking emperor.”
“Haha, my liege. You’re a real card, you are.”
“One should take serious matters seriously. Titles aren’t important.”
“Ahh,” sighed Scrivinius. “Now that you mention it, there is another, more serious matter.”
“And what would that be, my expendable slave?”
“Sorry to say, sir. It’s your wife.”
“Faustina? My love? The Roman people’s ‘Mother of the Camps’?”
“That’s the problem, sir. That’s not what the legions call her.”
“And what would they call her, miserable Scrivinius?”
“I’d rather not say, sir.”
“C’mon, lowly scum. You know I won’t get angry.”
“Oh, my master. You’re always so stoic about these things.”
“Never mind. Is it the boor Cassius? I know Faustina once had an infatuation with that insufferable whack job. Our daughter Lucilla may be his.”
“No. For years your bride has been availing herself of that randy legionnaire, Fortuitous Maximus, sir. He’s spearheads the front lines of the rape squad, making new Romans of Cappadocia’s future issue.”
“Yes, I’ve heard of him. Hung like a horse, I hear. He’s known to be Rome’s biggest promoter. Increases citizenship wherever he’s stationed.”
“Well, he just may be making additions to your family as well, sir, the way he’s boffing Faustina.”
“I can’t be bothered with that horny pudenda. Christ—always hanging around, bugging me to fuck her. At least lately she’s been leaving me alone to my meditations.
“Hey! ‘Meditations’! There’s a good one!”
“Nah. Far too presumptuous. We’ll think up something, my scabrous Scrivinius. What else? Is there anything pending that can’t wait until the book is finished?”
“It’s your son Commodus again. Little prick put garum in the wine, sir.”
“Well, that will never do. Put that twit bastard in his tent and make him study. The fucking dunce could use some sophisticated education. Why is that kid always pulling practical jokes anyway? Doesn’t he have any motivation at all?”
“With all due respect, sir, Commodus doesn’t really have the brains to pull a joke. He likes his wine with fermented fish paste.”
“Damn fool. Where’s his common sense? Okay, what other problems to be addressed? I want to get back to writing?”
“Cassius is getting full of himself again, this time in Syria.”
“What the fuck do we need that desert for? Let him take it. If he’s half the asshole I think he is, his own troops will murder him soon enough and come back to me. Just let things take care of themselves.”
All of it was true. Marcus’ ambivalence to war was an embarrassment to his generals. To them he seemed more interested in learned studies than in maintaining Rome’s territory. Since the rule of Hadrian, Rome’s geographical empire had been shrinking.
Meanwhile, in another tent, on the opposite end of camp, Faustina took her morning ablutions:
“What’s happened here?” asked Sculleria, the Empress’ handmaiden.
“Fortuitous again,” replied Faustina. “The man has no self-control, I’m afraid.”
“By the gods! Will it heal? Both your holes appear so…so disrupted”
“It’ll be okay in a few days. Maybe just torn a bit.”
“Should I send for a surgeon?”
“No, it’s to be expected when you’re fortuitous enough to ride the truncheon that swings between Fortuitous’ legs. It’s how he got the moniker ‘Maximus’. Plus, I have plenty of experience with banquet orgies following a battle. Those soldiers get pretty worked up creating all that chaos. Actually, to get the best action, you have to get there before they get drunk and go out on rape patrol. They lose all their endurance with those things, rendering them useless for days.”
“Shall I apply an unguent?”
“Please. Massage it in easy though. It’s tender down there.”
Sculleria stepped to a shelf and selected a swirled green glass unguentarium from a wooden rack, the bottle seated among several others of various hues. She poured a dollop of liquid into her palm. “But what if the Emperor sees your fanny? What would he say if he wants sex with you? You certainly can’t accommodate him, at least not in these two portals.”
“Fat chance. All that nerd is good for these days is philosophizing and jerking off. Marcus isn’t interested in anything but that fucking book of his. Never a moment for me.”
“But the Emperor has fathered so many of your children.”
“Out of nine, I figure at least six are someone else’s. I know for a fact young Commodus is the issue of Fortuitous.”
The maid muttered, “Not surprised.”
“Not surprised at what?”
“Well they are on the same level. Intellectually, I mean.”
“One doesn’t need brains to wield a lance like that man does. Fortuitous could get any puella in the realm.”
“He does,” Sculleria agreed. “He has any of them, whenever he wants. Neither sheep nor shepherd are spared either.”
“Yes, he certainly does rampage. And by the way, I’ve been experiencing an itch down there. It’s getting worse since we’ve been on the road. Maybe Fortuitous has picked something up.”
“My soldier boy, Frenulous, says he’s itching too. He said Fortuitous took him in the rear last week, and now I’m feeling something suspicious down there as well.”
“Maybe you should tell Marcus. Perhaps he’ll send you back to Rome.”
BTW- For an example of the glass bottle, see my post “Shelf Life” which happened to be the last post of 2013. If you simply hit 2013 just to your right here, it’ll come right up.