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Roman statue of Flora: Chloris found in the Hermitage

Roman statue of Flora: Chloris found in the Hermitage

Appius analysed the crucial scene, which totally changed his life. It all started with the announcement that the rather less popular and recognized Maxentius Claudius from the Claudii family was supposed to visit Aquincum with his new wife, Julia Fabia, the lesser known daughter of Julius of the Fabii family. It was remarkable that Maxentius managed to step into a family that held considerable power, perhaps almost total power, for much of the early Republic until the defeat at Veii. Even after that time, with their family so depleted, the only survivors carried awesome auctoritas only due to their illustrious name. Maxentius wasn’t the brave or paradigmatic person you wish to use to upgrade your social position. On the opposite, Maxentius didn’t manage to prove his military skills in the army structure and he wasn’t from a well-known, respected family. There had to be a crucial, hidden reason why these two got married.

Appius tried to get to the bottom of this issue when Maxentius visited him few days ago. He wasn’t successful. Apparently, Maxentius’s wish or goal was to present his beautiful, young wife, Julia to everyone, just to emphasise his new position. On the way to Britannia, Maxentius visited his old friends and expected a privileged acceptance from the local hosts. He already upgraded his backs by marrying up and extended his already quite developed attitude towards others.

It wasn’t pleasant and easy to control yourself and keep smiling politely. Being politically correct wasn’t the strength of Appius and everyone knew it. For his impulsive, direct way, he used to be overseen by superiors and put into question by colleagues during elections of tribunes or legates. Appius was a perfect teacher and he was respected for his educative contributions. He trained the youth and his straight, sometimes brutal way helped his pupils to find their way in the new, unfamiliar surroundings.

While he was looking at Julia, he saw a girl sweet as sugar, nice as the goddess of flowers and nature, Flora. Her innocent look was broken and her own will was dashed in her eyes. She was sitting as far away from her husband as it was possible without making it look impolite or unwanted. Her fingers trembled nervously and sometimes, her right eyelid shivered irritated. Her smile was neither bright nor minimal, and even if it didn’t look like put-on, it was definitely pretended. She was the proud daughter of a noble, respected man and she didn’t want to harm her father’s position by showing off her unhappiness. Appius thought it was allowed to debate, disagree and negotiate with women – respectfully. Even if he didn’t have many relationships with females, he treated them as ordinary persons. If he had a wife or daughters, he would have wished them to be more than usually expected, which was: simply being nice, conflict avoiding, not upsetting others and not challenging the status quo. He was one of the few representatives of such attitude.

Maybe therefore, Marcus Lucius loved Decima. She didn’t possess extended knowledge of geometry, literature, and philosophy like the noble Roman ladies, who Marcus Lucius normally met. Still, Decima was forthright, square. As she didn’t want to move from Rome, she said it directly. She mostly didn’t argue at all, but it was important to her to stay in the well-known surrounding. For the very first time, she expressed her contrary point of view. She didn’t intend to oppose as a matter of principle, but she spoke from conviction. She was at least true and straightforward in a short way of saying more than simple “No”, instead exerted to “I don’t like it.” He respected it. He accepted it. He left her the freedom of choice.

While he stared at Julia sitting on the floor of the trembling wagon, he started losing his consciousness. The surrounding became blurry, shifted out of focus. Instead of a sad, but still friendly face of Julia, he saw a skin coloured taint with dark strains of hair around it, with light blue speck instead of an average stola, a long, pleated dress, worn over an undergarment called a tunic. It was the traditional garment of Roman women and corresponded to the male toga or the pallium. Julia wore a version with sleeves and ribbons decorated with dainty ornaments. Marcus Lucius wasn’t able to see the tiny little patterns anymore. The patterns made the dress unique and showed the high value of it. Seeing the blurry spots, the dress looked ordinary, like Decima’s dress.